Monday, September 27, 2004

I suspect you are a sinner!

I suspect you are a sinner!

I wouldn't say that to your face, but I know it is probably true. The Bible says "all have sinned". That means I have too, and I admit it. I know that you don't like to be accused of sin. I don't either. It hurts.

I would, if I could, tell you that it's alright, everybody sins, you don't mean to hurt anyone., you have a good excuse, and it don't matter anyhow. And if it only hurts you, it's nobody else's business anyway. Maybe that would make you feel better.

But if I were a real true friend and cared about you wouldn't it be better that instead of lying to you, I shared with you the real peace and comfort that I found when discovered the real truth is that Jesus loves me, and when I confessed to Him that I was a sinner he forgave me for all my sin! I mean it, He did! I am not worthy of the least of his notice, yet for you and me He humbled himself, came to earth as a man, gave his life for us, that we might be free from the guilt of sin, have power to defeat temptation and sin and inherit eternal life. What is more, it is not for any good thing I have done or that you could do, but it's a free gift because He loves us so. Why don't you confess your sin to Him now and ask Him for this free gift? He will give it to you, He really will!

I would like to hear from you. Post a comment.
Maybe you would like to read my earlier post in this blog: "What Jesus Said.", and the little epistle the Apostle John wrote in the Bible. Look for 1 John in the New Testament.



Friday, September 24, 2004

Our Mission

Our Mission

Colossians 1: 24Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

As I pondered what Paul meant here, at first I was puzzled, for I fully believed that Jesus’ work was completed on the cross. I know that the work of redemption for our salvation was complete. But after he was resurrected He gave clear instructions:

1. Wait for the filling of the Holy Spirit.

2. Go into the entire world.

3. Preach the Gospel.

4. Make Disciples.

After Jesus had ascended his physical body was no longer here, and so we have been made his ambassadors. Our preparation for this task is the infilling of the Spirit. Paul said, “We have this treasure in vessels of clay.” And those who are filled become the Church, which is His body in the world today. Paul personally felt that holy obligation to accomplish that mission which was given to him, that is to build up the church of Christ. When we are transformed by the new birth these things must happen:

1. We repent and turn from sin.

2. Our sins are forgiven.

3. We are made a new creation in Christ.

4. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

<>We all gladly receive the first three of these, but sometimes we do not understand about the fourth one. The scripture says, this is the deposit or seal (confirmation) that we really are children of God. It involves our will, our determination to obey God’s will in our lives. It means that we will strive with all our heart to maintain this wonderful relationship. Paul warns us not to quench the Spirit or grieve the Spirit for in so doing we jeopardize our growth as a Christian, on the other hand, if we continually seek God’s will in our lives by reading the Word and yielding to his will He will have our all and we will be filled with the Spirit and exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.. This is the qualification we need to be effective in reaching others for Christ. Then we will feel that holy obligation that Paul experienced.



Thursday, September 23, 2004

A Great Prayer

A Great Prayer!

The Apostle Paul’s Prayer For The Colossians.

Col: 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Clearly Paul wanted them and us to know God’s will. But so often we think we have some kind of ideal what God’s will is, but because it seems fragmentary and “iffy” we add our own “wisdom” to make it more suitable to our desires. Paul tells us here the secret of really knowing God’s will. He says it is through spiritual wisdom and understanding. Spiritual means the work of God’s spirit. In order to have the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in our thinking we will have had to surrender our ways, our ambitions and our agendas completely to God. In other words Paul prayed that they would be authentic Christians, submitting to Christ by faith, born again and filled with the Holy Spirit.

10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might

He is saying that once that transformation has taken place in our lives, we who were unworthy become worthy to bear the Lord’s name. God is pleased with that. The fruit we will bear is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The strength we will have is God’s strength.

So that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully

Why would Paul want us to have endurance and patience unless he thought we would need them? I am sure he foresaw all the pain, frustration, calamities, and persecutions that Christians would encounter but he also saw the Joy at the end. He prayed that we would not only be properly equipped to handle it all, but be victorious and joyous!

12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.



Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Christianity, The Most Misunderstood Religion In The World

Part III

Christians Do Not Understand The Grace of God Either

In the first two parts of this article I concentrated on the misunderstanding of unbelievers, now I want to show you how many who profess to know Christ also have an inadequate understanding of God's infinite grace.

Grace has been defined as "the unmerited favor of God". When we look at the moral condition of mankind in Jesus day, we can't help but wonder why God would even care at all about pagans who completely ignored Him or the Jews who circumvented Gods law with their own rules and regulations. But God's grace is so caring and universal that John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." This gives us a faint idea of the depth and quality of grace.

But His grace also makes provision for a Christian's care, maturity, and reward that are even more amazing. A Christian has a special standing because trusting Christ, has transferred us from the kingdom of this world to "the kingdom of His dear Son". We have become the beloved of God. We now can sing, "This world is not my home. " for our citizenship is in Heaven.

Jesus said, (John 15:5)"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

This is the framework in which the true believer lives. He is confident that he can remain in Christ as long as he believes and is obedient.

In the Epistle Paul wrote to the Ephesians he told them of the great privileges we have as those predestined in God's grace' In Chapter one he says:
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.
15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.

In Chapter two he goes on:
4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

He goes on in chapter three, to pray for us. Paul's prayer is not for things he knows nothing about but for the same things that he has experienced in his own life and therefore knows that the are not only available for us but they are what the Father desperately wants us to have. This is that wonderful prayer!

14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

We have not begun to realize the wonderful blessings God has prepared for us here. We have misunderstood and far under estimated the magnitude of His glorious grace that, as Peter said, allows us to partake of the Divine nature. And all of this says nothing about the Glory that will be revealed to us in the day when we shall see Jesus Christ face to face. In 1 John 3:2 it says: Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Have you begun to tap these riches? They are for you too. I confess I have only begun, but like Paul says in Philippians 3:14:
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.


Thursday, September 09, 2004

What Jesus Said To Me!

I was only half awake. It was four o'clock in the morning and someone was trying to talk to me.

He said, "Do you think you could put this conversation with me on paper? I need to get to the hearts if some people that I am very concerned about.

"Yes Jesus", I said, as my whirling mind tried to make sense of what I had just heard.

He said, "Do you have questions about me?"

"Yes," I said, "Who are you?"

This is what Jesus said!

"You are the one that I that I love and am concerned about! I want you to know that I am the proof that God loves you. There are some other things you should know about me as well.
" Because my Father so loved the people of the world, I, Jesus, His unique and only Son, was sent to earth so that no one would need to perish because of their sin, but could have a wonderful life now and forever. So I willingly, yes, even gladly, was nailed to the cross in agony and pain, and gave up my life, to make this new life possible for everyone who believes in me. Because of this, they who will believe will be spared the awful penalty of sin, and enjoy eternity with me in Heaven.
In other words, I am the way to Heaven, the ONLY way to Heaven.

"Don't make me laugh", I said, "Heaven is just for dreamers".

"Yes", He said, "Unless you believe in me and that your soul lives on forever, Heaven does not make any sense to you. But one day your life will come to an end and you will wish that you had prepared for the heaven that I know is real for I came from there to offer you safe passage to that beautiful place. There will be no sin, no evil, no deceit allowed to enter there. Only those who have accepted God's love and forgiveness that has been purchased by the blood I shed on the cross will be admitted.

"But Lord, It's hard for us to believe that someone who was executed on an ancient cross has any bearing on our lives today or on our eternal destiny".

" Listen," He said, " If I had not died on that cross and then came back from the dead to prove I was really God's Son, who would have believed? But because I am alive, millions have trusted me with their lives and have received this new life. Many have been heroes and martyrs driven by their love for me to spend their lives ministering to the needy and communicating my love to others. And I continue to add to my following all that turn from their sin and believe on me.

"Lord", I said, how does that work? Can I be changed like that?

Jesus replied, "Yes you can! This is how it works. My Father and I are of one mind and one spirit and when we planned forgiveness and salvation for you, our most cherished creation; we had to take into account the eternal principles of truth and justice. Satan has lied to you. He has told you that sin is pleasurable and profitable and you believed him. You have chosen to follow his lead and have sinned by disobeying the very laws that were lovingly designed to keep you from evil and harm. We cannot lie and say it didn't happen, nor can we continue to accept that kind of behavior, because we have designed and predestined you for something far better. The death penalty is prescribed for sin. In justice it must be carried out. The Father said to me," Son, you and I and our Holy Spirit are the source of all goodness. Surely we can find a way to have mercy on these loved ones the enemy has damned." "Yes", I replied, "I know we can".

"It sounds like an awful dilemma to me. How did you solve it?"

" So we devised a plan". He continued, "Father would commission me and send me to the earth to be born as a man and live with men so that we might know and feel the plight of men. I did that and I experienced many things. Since I was the first man who ever walked on earth without sin, Satan tempted me in every way he had devised to tempt you. Satan was more active against me, for he had much to gain if he could discredit me. Since I had a body like yours I had all the passions and cravings that you have. I knew the tiredness and weariness and frustration you endure. Now I could understand your feelings and problems. I can really sympathize with you. Because I love you so much I determined that I would pay the death penalty for you.

It worked out that envy in the hearts of men in the corrupt religious and political systems of that time shortly brought me a death penalty. I had been successful and true to my Father's instructions. Even Pilate said of me 'I find no fault in him.' However now I faced the most difficult part of the plan. Though I dreaded the horrible death on the cross as bad as that was, but it was the, I-can-hardly-say-this, taking on me your awful load of guilt and sin so it could die with me on the cross. As I took it on I could feel the horror of your guilt and the dread and fear of death and hell. I knew that my father loved me, but how could he do this to me! How could He ask me, his Son, to carry this filthy sin and then actually forsake me as I hung on the cross just because he hates sin so much? I asked him if there was any way I could escape it. He didn't answer. I thought, no, if I abandon this plan there would be no way in heaven or on earth to save the ones we love so much. Yes, I could have called ten thousand angels to save me and let you die. But my love wouldn't let me do that. Now I scarcely remember the nails and the spear and the gore. It was wonderful to be able to pay the penalty for your sin. However, the Father didn't leave me there! I came back with victory over sin and death and the grave! I did pay the penalty for your sin! My blood, which flowed from the cross, fully atoned for all your sin. It is my free gift to you. All you need to do is to confess your sin and turn from it and it will all be forgiven and forgotten. The angels will have a party in heaven and rejoice and praise the Father, because you have come home".

"Lord," I said, "Please forgive me for not realizing how much you love me and how much it meant to carry my sin to the cross. I guess I didn't realize how bad sin really is. Can you tell me about that?

He said, " Sin means breaking God's law, that is, doing what we know is wrong because we don't love God and others as we should. Since God's law was lovingly designed to protect and enhance your life, you are at risk if you ignore, or disobey it. When you disobey it you show contempt for my love and care, saying, in effect, that you know better than I do what is best for you. It appears, then, that you have no respect for my wisdom or the fact that I have created both you and the world in which you live. Even though I love you dearly, I cannot ignore your hateful attitude.. Fellowship between us therefore is broken. I can no longer comfort you with my presence nor protect you by my power.

"But Lord," I said, " I am not a bad person. I try to do what seems right, but I get confused sometimes and things don't seem to go right."

Jesus said' "That is because your mind and spirit are disoriented because of the conflict within. Your conscience requires truth and justice but you sometimes balk at these when your personal gain or comfort is at stake. The guilt you carry damages your mind as well as your emotions and your body. You are unable to love, as you ought. You show disregard for your neighbors who are influenced by you and should have a good example from you. The whole fabric of society is poisoned by your lack of strong moral principle. Because I love you so much I am deeply hurt because you push me away and then pretend everything is all right and sometimes even claim you love

"Whew!," I spouted, " I had no idea that sin was like that. No wonder you hate it".

"But that isn't all", Jesus continued, "My Father has created you in his own image, the very greatest product of his creative genius, and I, in love, have purchased your salvation by my death on the cross to provide forgiveness for your sin.
How do you think I feel when you reject all this so that you can sin as you please? I know, and I want you to know, that a sinful life will bring you neither peace nor joy, only disillusionment and frustration. Satan adds to your trouble and pain by leading you deeper into sin. Then you resent any effort my servants or I make to help you. I am disappointed that your potential as one of my followers is being wasted and your influence is working against me. Sin is a horrible master. It is only by my grace that it has not led you farther n to the depths of wickedness than it has. When sin takes hold you cannot escape without my help. I still love you, long for you. It makes no difference how far you have gone or what you have done. I am ready to help you. Trust me. Let me welcome you home.

Evidently Jesus didn't mind all my questions and I was beginning to like the honest and gentle way He talked to me. But it seemed to be going too far. I thought: I had better try to politely turn him off.
" Lord," I said to him, "I appreciate your love for me, but there are many things about my way of life that I like. I'm comfortable and happy with my friends who would think I had become a religious nut. I like the pleasure I get from doing a lot of things that I don't think you would approve of. Besides I don't know if I am capable of becoming the kind of person that you want me to be. It seems you ask a lot of your followers. I feel as though I have lived too shabby a life to ever change that much anyway. So lets just forget about it."

"My dear one." He said, "Nothing is to hard for me. I turned the rogue who was Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. I have been changing lives by the thousands. You can trust me. I offer you a life with joy and inner peace, with purpose and power and an unlimited future.

"I was startled that He called me His dear one. How did He get that close to me? He must really love me. ------ L-Lord, I stammered, "I don't understand at all about how people can start a new life, being 'Born Again' as they call it. It just seems impossible that I could ever do that. Wouldn't I have to be a preacher or missionary or do some great and good things in order to earn your love and respect."

"It is really quite simple", Jesus said, it is nothing you do. You can't earn it or deserve it. It is something I do for you. It is a free gift. You don't deserve it. You never will deserve it. I am the one who paid the price on the cross for your forgiveness and salvation. All you need to do is accept it. I will send the Holy Spirit like an unseen breeze through your soul with cleansing and energizing power, and He will fill you with a kind of love you never had before and a peace and joy you cannot understand. Your conflict with God will be over and your attachment to sin will be broken. For if I make you free you will be totally free! If you believe in me, and what I did on the cross for you, and promise that you will try your best, with my help, to stop sinning, I will see to it that you are 'Born Again". You will then be able to live a truly worthy life until I take you home.

"Lord", I said, " You make it sound awfully tempting but I really have to think about it. Maybe I can get some things in my life straightened out. Maybe some things will change so that I can see my way clear to do it. But right now it seems like a to big and too scary a step to take".

"My dear one," He said, "It never will get any better or easier than it is now. It can only get worse. Sin will never let go of you! You can't even begin to change your own life. Trust me now. I will be with you every step of the way. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I want to be your very best friend. You have never been closer to me than you are right now. This is your time.

You and I know that life is uncertain. This may be your only time. Think about it. Trust me to change you and give you a new life. Will you?"

I waited a while but He said no more.

What should I do?

I decided to give my life to Him. I'm glad I did!

What will you do?

I Gave MY Life For You

I gave My life for you,
My precious blood I shed,
That you might ransomed be,
And rescued from the dead;
I gave, I gave My life for you,
What have you given for me?

And I have brought to you,
Down from my home above,
Forgiveness full and free,
My pardon and my love,
I bring, I bring Rich gifts to you,
What have you brought to me?

Francis R. Havergal 1860

Friday, September 03, 2004

Most Misunderstood Part 2

Part II

Why? The world does not understand God's GRACE!

Are you under the LAW or under GRACE?

There are two ways to deal with sin.

In our world Law has been exalted as the way to achieve domestic as well as international tranquility. There are enough laws, rules, regulations, precepts, commandments and suchlike to fill tons of books and boggle the minds of even the best lawyers. They cover every phase of human life. Relatively few of them are obeyed or given much attention. However our focus is and has been so much on law that we ignore the fact that God has two ways of dealing with sin. One is LAW the other is GRACE.

The moral law expressed in the Ten Commandments refers to the revelation of the will and purposes of God in the Old Testament. These commandments have become the foundation of the system of justice in much of the world today.

The Ten Commandments were not given only for the Hebrew people but are abiding laws for all people. Men knew the moral principles of these laws from Adam's time, apparently intuitively. People even in the most primitive societies know most of them. They convey duties for everyone and reveal to us the basic morality required by God.
Without God, the Commandments lose their foundation.
Law is one of the primary concepts in the Bible. It is based on the commandments, which God revealed to Moses.
These ten laws define negatively the relationship between God and mankind. The first four Commandments are related to ones relationship with God. The next six Commandments have to do with human relationships. Right relationships with others follow being rightly related to God. Being rightly related to God compels one towards right relationships to one's neighbors. Here one can see the wonderful balance that is maintained in the Law. Duties to God and to our peers are not separated.

Jesus respected the Law and often referred to it. Jesus was both a critic of the Law and a supporter of it. He was critical of the law as taught and practiced by the scribes and Pharisees. The enemies of Jesus frequently accused Him of violating the Law. It is clear that keeping the letter of the Law had become more important to some of the Jews than the purpose or spirit the Law.
On several occasions Jesus set His own teachings over against those of the elders (Matt. 5:21-6:34). Jesus' greatest conflict came over the Sabbath. He rejected their interpretation of the Sabbath Law and said that the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8); that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27); and He taught that it was permissible to do good deeds on the Sabbath (Mark 3:4).
Jesus inaugurated a new era in which the Law as understood by the Jews of His day would no longer be the guiding principle for the Kingdom of God (Luke 16:16). Nevertheless, Jesus claimed not to have come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-20). That is, Jesus moved the understanding of the Law from its external, legalistic meaning to its spiritual one. Moving from outward observance to inward motivation and intention is Jesus' concern (Matt. 5:21, 22, 27, 28).

He pushes the Law out to its ultimate meaning (thus filling it full). In this sense Jesus affirmed the heart and the spirit of the Law. He moved to a deeper level of meaning, to the spirit behind the Law, which God had intended from the beginning. Jesus did not give us new law. When Jesus was asked which commandment is the greatest, He said, "You shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind," (Matt. 22:36, 37). Jesus said the second commandment is like the first, "Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt. 22:39). Then He said, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:40). To the surprise of many, Jesus summed up the whole Law and the teaching of the prophets with these two commandments. Behind all of the Law had stood these two great principles of love for God and neighbor. It is important for us to remember that love can never be adequately portrayed in rules or in teachings. It can be seen in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the establishment of the age of Grace. Jesus emphasized them in a way that would forever change how we should look at them.

Grace is God's way of dealing with sin. Paul had a lifelong struggle with the Law. By the term "law," Paul meant the Law of God as contained in the Old Testament. He also spoke of a kind of natural law, which existed in human beings (Rom. 7:23, 25). The "law of sin" meant conduct determined by sin. Paul also used law in this sense when he referred to the "law of faith" or the "Law of love"-that is, conduct determined by faith in God or ones love for God. (Rom. 3:27-28).
Paul's attitude toward the Mosaic Law can be summarized under several main points. First of all, he recognized that the Law had been given for a good purpose; it was holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12, 14; 1 Tim. 1:8). The demands of the Law were not evil, but had the effect of pointing out the sin of human beings (Rom. 7:7). Because of man's sinfulness, the Law became a curse instead of a blessing (Gal. 3:10-13).
Second, Paul believed the Law was given for a good purpose, but it could not save (Gal. 3:11; Rom. 3:20). If persons were to be reconciled to God, it would be by means other than keeping the Law. The third theme we find in Paul is that Christ freed us from the requirements of the Law of Moses by His death and resurrection (Rom. 8:3, 4). Therefore, Christ has become the end of the Law for Christians (Rom. 10:4), and it is faith that saves and not Law (Eph. 2:8, 9). God's Grace that establishes the law of love makes it possible.
Paul, like Jesus, saw the Law fulfilled in the command to love (Rom. 13:8; Gal. 5:13). Only with the aid of the Spirit of God can we meet the requirement to love, which fulfills the Law (Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8).

Paul saw the Law as no longer to be viewed legalistically. Nevertheless, it is still the revelation of God, and it helps us to understand the nature of our life in Christ (Rom. 8:3; 13:8-10; Gal. 3:24). Law is the way of self-help, trying to earn one's own salvation. Grace is God's way of salvation, totally unearned (Rom. 3:24; 4:4; 11:6; Eph. 2:8). Grace is obtained by faith in what God has done in Christ (Rom. 4:16). God's grace comes to repentant sinners, not to those who think they merit God's acceptance (Rom. 5:20-21). It is through Christ's atoning work on the cross that God's grace comes to us, setting us free from the bondage of sin (Rom. 3:24-31). Christ is the representative who breaks the reign of sin and brings life and acceptance with God through divine grace (Rom. 5:15, 17). . It was in the beloved Son that God's grace came to us. (1 Cor. 1:4; Eph. 1:6-7; compare 2 Tim. 1:9). God's grace abides in us (2 Cor. 9:14); we stand in it (Rom. 5:2). Our calling, our witness, our works are all based on the power of God's grace in our lives (2 Thess. 1:11-12). Paul taught that the true experience of God's grace changes one's life in the direction of righteousness (Rom. 6:1, 14-15). Grace never gives freedom to sin. But reproduces, in all who experience God's grace, gifts of the Spirit for ministry and service (Rom. 12:6; Eph. 4:7)

You can receive God's grace today!

Pray this way:
Dear Lord, I want your GRACE although I may never fully understand it. I have sinned many times and in many ways. I am terribly sorry. I believe Jesus atoned for my sin when he died on the cross. Please forgive me. I sincerely want to live a new life. AMEN!

(There is no magic in these words. You may express your prayer in your own words. Your truthfulness and sincerity is what will bring faith and deliverance.)

God loves you and so do I.
Howard S. Dimmick

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Most Misunderstood!


Why? The world does not understand God's GRACE!

Many people think Christianity teaches that:

1. You are a sinner but you must not commit sin.

It really teaches:

1. That you as a sinner cannot help but sin, for your good and loving nature, the image of God, in which you were created, has been corrupted by sin. God's word in Genesis 1:27 says: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God's word in Romans 3:10 says: As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; Romans 3:11 says: there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. Romans 3:12 says: All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." Romans 3:20 says: Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. Rom 3:21 says: But now righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (Rom 3:22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, (Rom 3:23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Rom 3:24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

2. If you sin God does not love you.

The Bible really teaches:

2. God always LOVES you for His very nature is Love. "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. 1 John 4:16." Rom 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He loves you in spite of your sin and rebellion against Him. However he will never force you to submit to Him. He says: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20.

3. God punishes you if you sin.

3. God does not punish you for sin now. He knows that the sin itself will hurt, damage and punish you. It is sin that will evenually separate you from God eternally. He has provided a real remedy for sin: It is his grace, through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. This remedy not only pardons all past sin but provides power to be free from sin so that you never need to sin again.

4. If you do not sin too much you will go to Heaven.
5. If you do enough good deeds, you will go to Heaven.

4 & 5 The sin you have committed or the good deeds you have done has no bearing in your right to go to heaven. Jesus has prepared a place for all who have trusted, that is, put their faith in Him and the remedy for sin he has provided by his grace.

Most people, therefore, think that:
6. That it is generally more fun and profitable to sin than to be good.
7. Sin, when I do it, is not so bad.
8. Somehow I will get by. Someday God will have mercy on me.

6, 7,and 8 That is only wishful thinking. The penalty for sin is death. We sin because we do not love God and our fellowman as we should. God's grace includes filling our hearts with His love, so that we can be free from sin .

9, When I sin, I have a good reason. I don't really want to hurt anybody.

9. This shows how twisted your thinking has become because you don't understand or accept God's grace.

10. I could stop sinning if I really tried and if I believed it was worth the effort.

10. You cannot stop sinning. If you have ever really tried, you know that you can't. Sin will never let you go. Jesus has the only remedy for sin. He will forgive your sin and will give you the power to stop sinning. Believe in Him today. Accept his grace. Get your life straightened out, and begin to really live!.

Do you know what God's GRACE is?
Let me explain the difference between LAW and GRACE.

Do you want to live under Law or do you want Grace? Consider this:

God's law is good and was given to us to show us how we should live. God's penalty for sin (law-breaking) is spiritual death.
Grace is the forgivenes and power over sin provided through Christ's sacrifice for us on the Cross.

Law is the way God tells us what is right and wrong, it is the way men deal with sin and crime.
Grace is God's new way of dealing with sin.

Law sees sin as an evil act of disobedience.
Grace sees sin as a motive and intention to do selfish, evil or mean things that hurt God, yourself or others.

Law exacts judgment, condemnation and punishment for sin or crime.
Grace grants mercy and responds to the confession of sin and true repentance with pardon and forgiveness and provides for and enables renewal, reconciliation, and restoration of fellowship with God and our fellowman. It enables us to have victory over sin.

Law backs up its demands with fear, power, and punishment.
Grace loves unconditionally and places great value on the sinner.

Law puts down and degrades the lawbreaker.
Grace forgives, restores and empowers him.

Law condemns and sentences the perpetuator.
Grace accepts and cherishes him.

Law regards a sinner as a criminal never fit to live freely in society.
Grace sees him as a precious soul in need of love and restoration.

Law has no hope for him.
Grace will, when he repents and turns from his sin by believing that Jesus is the Son of God, and trusts God's provision for salvation, grants him salvation and eternal life.

Under Law he is always a convict.
Under Grace he becomes a newborn child of God!

Are you under the LAW or under GRACE?

Continues in Part II