Embrace Dishonor for Jesus

Acts 6:41b (HCSB)  …rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the name of Jesus.

Under command of those who hated the name of Jesus, the apostles were beaten and shamed in front of everyone.  What was the response of the apostles?  To rejoice!  These were not sadists.  They did not desire punishment or physical pain, but when it occurred, they knew that they had not deserted Jesus as they had in the Garden of Gethsemane.  This time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they stood for Jesus without apology and without fear of what man would do to them.  We have this same Spirit within us that gives us the power and ability to withstand persecution.  In fact, dishonor is part and parcel of living as a Christian and should come to no surprise when it happens.  We do not desire to be rejected, but can we say that our response is rejoicing when it does?  In our American culture we are often quick to assert our rights, but I wonder if we miss out on some of the fellowship with Jesus and other Spirit filled Christians when we do not endure dishonor with peace.  God is so great, that as a tool used in his Kingdom work, we know that we are honorable in His eyes, even if we are discarded as worthless by the world.

Philippians 1:8-30 says:  Not being frightened in any way by  your opponents.  This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance.  For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.

Paul is clear that when we believe in Jesus we will suffer at the hands of those who do not.  In Philippians, he encourages the saints while he awaits possible execution for his faith. In Acts, the other Apostles went back to their Christian family and told of how they were able to endure the same mistreatment as followers of their Lord and Savior–Jesus.  My prayer today is not that we would suffer, but that when it comes, in whatever form, we would perceive our rejection as connection to Christ, rather than mistreatment from men.

When Jesus Calls

Matthew 4:21-22  Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.

If you believe in Jesus that means you have been drawn to Jesus by God the Father–you’ve been called (Jn. 6:44).  This is the general sense in which you answer the call of repentance and testify that Jesus Christ is who He claims to be.  When this happens your life completely changes and you are now set on a new road in life.  The brothers in this passage immediately left their material possessions, their job, and their security and simply went with their Lord.  They started a new life.  Unless we are willing to abandon everything else, we are not able to answer the call of Jesus.  We cannot stay with the boat and our father (so to speak) and also follow Jesus.  Consider this quote from Jesus:

Luke 9:61-62  One said, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

What Jesus is really showing here is that to follow him there can be no excuses.  There can be no other affection that would compel you FIRST to say:  “Let me do _____ first.”  Jesus says that if this is your response, you are not fit to be His disciple.  If we have answered the call to Jesus Christ we must remember that our dedication to Him is extreme and it is complete.  All other things in life are a distant 2nd to Him and all things are subject to being cut out of our life if Jesus requires it.

 

Result of Original Sin

Genesis 3

The curses that man and woman received after their disobedience flowed from their original purpose when they were created.  Man was created to take dominion over all creation–plants and animals.  Woman was created to “complement” (Gen. 2) man.

The woman’s curse was relational.

  1. Pain in childbirth
  2. A conflict in marriage whereby she experiences desire and pleasure with her husband, but at the same time there is now a leadership role and authority whereby the husband is expected to be accountable for his wife.  We find out later, that according to the apostle Paul, this is because the woman was deceived and incidentally deceived her husband, whereby causing herself to be under his “rule”(Gen. 3:16).  Here is how Paul explains a woman’s role in the new church:  1 Timothy 2:11-14 “A woman should learn in silence with full submission.  I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent. For Adam was created first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and transgressed.  But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good judgment.”  In these verses we see reference to the curse, both in childbearing and in man “ruling” over his wife.  This curse is noticeably awful in certain circles where women are mistreated and treated as less than human.  However, in Christianity, there is a proper orientation towards the woman and she is cherished once again as his “complement”, though the effects of the curse still remain until the final return of Jesus and the authority of the man persists in the house.

The man’s curse was occupational.

  1. As the woman would experience labor pains, the man was cursed with painful labor.  He was taken out of a garden that instinctively yielded wonderful fruits and vegetation and was placed outside into a land that would require his own efforts to bring forth food.  Obviously, man is not the caliber of gardener that God is and therefore man would always strive to produce for himself and his family and constantly be working in difficulty.

 

Speaking in Tongues (Languages)!

Acts 2:3-4; 8; 11 (HCSB) And tongues [or languages], like flames of fire that were divided, appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  Then they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability for speech (brackets added)….How is it that each of us can hear in our own native language…We hear them speaking the magnificent acts of God in our own languages.

Key Points:

  1. The word tongues (glossa) in verse 3 is the same word in the greek as languages in vs. 4.  Therefore, you could translate the word the same vice versa.   The greek word is sometimes used to mean a literal tongue and is also used to mean languages we speak.  The point is that it is a language.
  2. The word “fire” in vs. 3 is the greek word πυρός .  It is the same word used in Revelation 19:12 to describe the eyes of the triumphant Jesus returning to earth to destroy the wicked with the Word of God.  Moreover, it is the same word used in Matthew 3:13 when John the Baptist says of Jesus, that “He Himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  This fire is the power of God.
  3. The word divided in vs. 3 is the picture of the different languages that the apostles would speak being given to them.  In other words, as the languages “rested on each of them”, this meant that one apostle was able to speak the Parthian language, another apostle was able to speak the Elamite language, and still another was able to speak an Asian language, and so on and so forth as is referenced in Acts 2:8-9.
  4. This was a gift of languages.  There was no part of the human being in it except the literal tongue that was used to speak it.  In vs. 4 it says that “the Spirit gave them ability for speech” or to speak the language that rested on them.  First was given the language that they would speak, then the Holy Spirit gave them words.  The gift of languages that comes from this event is totally derivative of the Holy Spirit and cannot be authentically duplicated by human effort.  This applies to every gift of the Holy Spirit–either you have it or you do not.  Either God gives it to you or He does not.  You cannot achieve it by your own will.
  5. (Vs. 8) The bystanders, who we find out are unbelievers who turn to God to be saved, do not understand how they are hearing their languages because they see these apostles all speaking different languages and know that they are not from their region.  Moreover, they are noticing that all of the apostles are doing this together towards the crowd (vs. 6) which reinforces that something very strange is happening.
  6. (Vs. 11)  The apostles were not having a conversation with the individuals of different nations, they were “speaking the magnificent acts of God” out loud.  Not to them in particular, but they were just speaking the words and the bystanders were there to hear them–it reminds me of a street preacher just declaring the Word of the Lord to whomever will hear it.
  7. (Vs. 14)  When Peter started talking to people specifically it was because the people of Judah and Jerusalem…THE JEWS…that spoke their same language, could not understand them and assumed they were speaking gibberish; they declared that the apostles were drunk.  This is when Peter explains to them what is happening and cites several passages from the Old Testament regarding signs and wonders such as these, as well as the authenticity of Jesus’s claims of being the Messiah.  BOTH the unbelieving Jews and the unbelieving gentiles were targeted in this outpouring of miraculous intelligible speech.

Cross Reference Points

  1. 1 Corinthians 14
    1. Speaking in tongues (languages) itself is not directed at people.  It is directed at God because it is the act of praising God as we see in Acts 2:11.  Paul confirms this in 1 Cor. 14:2.  In Acts 2 we see the foreigners hearing the apostles speak the acts of God in their own language spontaneously as the Spirit comes upon them, not interacting with them individually. This then shows that when a person speaks in tongues they are not talking to a person, but from the outward appearance, they are talking to themselves. Point of fact, they are talking back to God as He (the Holy Spirit) gives them “ability for speech” (Acts 2:4).  Those around them benefit from the utterance–at least they will if they are speaking by the Holy Spirit!
    2. Paul indicates that it is also possible for a person to interpret the foreign language that they are miraculously speaking, IF they are given that ability from God.  It follows that they may not be given that ability and if that be the case, they should not speak in their foreign language in front of others who do not know the language because it would useless to anyone (except the speaker who feels edified because he/she is using their gift).  Additionally, if they speak in this foreign language that no one can interpret, Paul states that people will think they are crazy, much like the Jews did on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  Because the Jews were then convicted of their misspoken judgment when Peter stands up and declares the Word of the Lord, it stands to reason that he was interpreting the spoken message in tongues.  This also shows that the individual has control over their gift, knows what they are saying and doing, and can choose not to use it (or use it).
      1. If I have the gift of exhortation, it flows from me.  I am pressed to use it.  It is hard for me not to encourage, correct, and inspire others…but not impossible.  I can choose not to speak.  When I do speak in this gift of exhortation, there is something that comes from within me that does not originate from me.  But I am able to manage it; tame the tongue so to speak (James 3).  There may be a time when I cannot explain the gift that I have, but the gift is there nonetheless, if the Spirit has chosen to give it to me.  Other church leaders are there to confirm and send me out to use it in God’s service.
    3. If you can speak in a foreign language by the power of the Holy Spirit, you should ask God for the interpretation of the words you’ve been given so that you can share that information with those around you who do not know the language.  Then you will be prophesying, exhorting, or teaching those around you.  If you are among unbelievers who speak the foreign language you are miraculously able to speak, then you are free to exclaim the acts of God so that they can hear them in their  own language and see the miracle taking place.  The point is that if someone in the general area does not understand what you are saying, the only person you are edifying is yourself and that is not the purpose of Christians, or the gift of languages.

Conclusions

  1. Tongues (languages) are a sign to people who do not believe in Jesus that the Holy Spirit, and consequently, Jesus, are real and that your testimony is valid (1 Cor. 14:22).  The actual miracle that takes place when a person speaks in a foreign language they have not learned is the sign to unbelievers.  The content is able to edify believers and unbelievers alike, that is, if there is someone able to interpret the words.
  2. If you speak a foreign language miraculously and you are not out in the marketplace declaring the acts of God in that foreign language, where others understand it, but instead you are in the church–you shouldn’t even speak in the foreign language (unless someone knows the language and can interpret it)…instead you should speak the interpretation of that language which is the Word from God so that your brothers and sisters can understand.  If you do not have the interpretation from God, you should not speak the message in a foreign language, unless there is another individual in the room who says that they can speak that foreign language and interpret it.
  3. Speaking in a tongue (foreign language) is completely from the Holy Spirit and does not originate from a single human thought or impulse.  Like any other true gift given from Him.

REMEMBER THIS:

The gifts are given by the Holy Spirit.  He gives them as He chooses.  If you have the gift of the Holy Spirit that He has determined to give you, it cannot be invalidated.  It is real.  But just because there are certain gifts, does not mean that He has to give them.  He chooses.  God determines where and when His gifts are used.  We cannot speak in tongues (foreign languages) just because we want to.  He must miraculously grant us the ability to speak in such a way and we will know that it is from Him.  The gift of tongues (foreign languages) is a gift that can be validated, like every other gift.  Either the hearer will know the language and declare this or the message that is interpreted by the individual who received the interpreted message will edify the listener.  That is it.  So I say, if the Spirit has granted the gift, let it be done in the manner outlined above and be validated in this way.  If the Spirit has not granted the gift of tongues which is demonstrated by a lack of validation, then let the counterfeit gift remain unspoken.

Be His Witnesses

Acts 1:6-8:  So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Lesson 1:  Do not worry about when the Lord will do what He is going to do.  He has the authority, we are His slaves.  This sounds crass but the level of submission required as a Christ follower mirrors that of slave to master.  It is a good thing we have a wonderful owner.  We should not be preoccupied with end times prophecy and the day that He will return. A warning of God’s judgement to come is good, but excessive pursuit after knowing the details of His return is frivolous and ultimately not in our lane.  It is going to happen.  God knows when and how.  We don’t.  We won’t until it happens.  Stop being anxious and declare the good need we do know! The disciples were very sad that Jesus was leaving and they wanted to know what He was going to do and when He would be coming back.  He tells them not to worry about future events because knowing God’s timeline is not part of their authority. If they knew the details then they would share them with the world and obviously God did not feel they, or any of us, needed to know them–so we won’t.  If anyone would have known the details about His future plans, it would have been His apostles because they were given “apostolic authority”.  But, they were simply to go with the flow of God’s schedule and be His witnesses.  They needed to refocus on their authority which was given to them–to share the good news (a privilege given only to His children).

Lesson 2:  The apostles were men who had seen Jesus throughout his entire ministry, including after His resurrection.  Acts 21-22 talks about how they chose the man who replaced Judas–specifically that He needed to be a man who was with Jesus from his baptism by John until that moment.  These were apostles.  Witnesses of Jesus Himself during His earthly ministry and after His resurrection.  One caveat to this is Paul, who was not commissioned with the 12 during Jesus earthly ministry, but who was commissioned by Jesus directly when He appeared to Saul, later named Paul, on the road to Damascus.

Consider these 2 passages as well:

  1. Matthew 10:1-4
  2. Acts 9:26-27
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:1-9

When we evangelize today we bear the good news of the gospel.  We bear witness to the soul saving power of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit that has saved our souls.  We are not apostles today–we are Christians with other gifts.  Reread the text and you’ll clearly see the qualifications of an apostle.  We did not see the earthly Jesus, but we have been given His Holy Spirit. Some were given as apostles, and those apostles are gone.  Other offices remain but this one does not…and IT’S OK!

Acts 1:21-23; 26  Therefore, from among the men who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— beginning from the baptism of John until the day He was taken up from us—from among these, it is necessary that one become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So they proposed two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias…Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles.

Let us bear witness this year to Jesus whom has been revealed to us beginning with his apostles 2000 years ago and shared until this moment today!

Goals for 2018

Habakuk 2:2 “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (ESV)

A person without goals is like a ship without direction.  Not having goals is like a military unit that has no mission.  The individual without goals will live reactively and not intently.  I need the structure of goal setting in my life because without it, I fall into a reactive state of mind and do what I “feel” like doing, rather than what I “intend” to do.  I don’t know about you, but what I “feel” like doing is a lot of stuff that gratifies my selfish desires and gets me fat, lazy, sinful, isolated, and stagnant.  I want to live 2018 with a sense of purpose and I pray that my goals demonstrate a purpose that Jesus Christ approves.  These goals are subject to revision as the year progresses.

Spiritual

  1. Read the Bible in one year
    1. Do daily devotions using the D.A. Carson’s reading plan (Volume 1).
  2. Journal/Blog every week this year
    1. Write SOMETHING/ANYTHING in my blog every week.  This is part of my Bible study.
  3. Pray everyday
    1. Start and end my day with prayer.
    2. Pray for each member of my immediate family by name.
    3. Pray for my friends by name.
    4. Pray with my wife and kids everyday outside of meal times.
  4. Go to church every Sunday, or if I cannot, teach my family from the Scripture.
  5. Constantly seek to walk in the Spirit everyday and stay away from temporary fixes.
  6. Seek God in prayer every time I have a decision to make for my family.
  7. Memorize the book of Philippians by June 1.
  8. Memorize a second book of the bible.
  9. Exhort without apology.
  10. Identify and lead a group of individuals in becoming more Christlike together.
  11. Preach a sermon every quarter, wherever the Lord guides.
  12. Encourage others constantly.
    1. Never talk about anyone behind their back and say something I would not say to their face.

Physical

  1. Weigh 185 lbs. by March 6.
  2. Maintain a balanced diet the whole week, with one cheat meal or desert on the weekend.
    1. Do not eat more than 2500 calories in any given day, except cheat day.
      1. On cheat day, no more than 3500 calories.
  3. Run 3-4 times per week
  4. Do weight training or body weight exercises 3 times per week.
  5. Achieve a 300 APFT by the end of 2018.
    1. Never complete weight training day without doing my required reps for push ups and sit ups.
    2. Do 3 sets of max pull ups every weight training day.
    3. Do a timed 2 mile run every month.
  6. Do a half marathon in the summer
  7. Run 100 miles in February

Mental

  1. Reduce anxiety
    1. Live each day fully and in the moment.
    2. Do not worry about anything outside of my control.
    3. Spend 5 minutes per day in silence appreciating my environment.
  2. Pursue truth
    1. Be aware of what I “want to hear”
    2. Apply to myself what I would apply to others.
  3. Do not put others down
    1. Always remember I am part of a team
    2. Seek to find the best in people and call that out
  4. Honor my commitments
    1. Never change my plans unless an emergency.
    2. Say “No” if I am not certain I can accomplish it.
    3. Commit to less and allow free time in my life

Professional

  1. Be the best Therapist I can be
    1. Read one book on therapy every month
    2. Finish my case notes every week.
    3. Journal every week on my counseling strengths and weaknesses
    4. Start a new counseling related program/group on campus
    5. Talk less, listen more
    6. Arrive to work 5 minutes early every day
  2. Be the best Chaplain I can be
    1. Be mindful during every drill
      1. Do not worry about what is going on back home
    2. Remain faithful to my spiritual disciplines
    3. Prepare a sermon for every drill
    4. Be physical prepared to pass an APFT during every drill.
    5. Read one military publication every quarter.
    6. Read a Chaplaincy related book every quarter.
    7. Read one Christian book every quarter.
    8. Meet new soldiers during every drill.

Personal

  1. Watch less T.V.
    1. Only one movie per week and only one 30 minute program per day.
  2. Listen intently when others talk–ALWAYS.
  3. Love and Respect my wife at ALL times.
  4. Give my wife a compliment everyday on 3 levels–physical, spiritual, and practical.
  5. A date night with my wife every week.
  6. Alternate date night with each of my daughers every week.
    1. Sophia one week, Ella the next week, then Ava the following week.
  7. Teach my daughters something from the Word every day.
    1. Read something from the Bible to my kids every night before bed.
  8. Put my kids to bed every night that I am home.
  9. Give my kids baths every night that I am home.
  10. Stop and listen to my kids when they talk to me.
  11. Never give up on my wife.  Always love her.
  12. Do a minimum of 30 minutes housework every day–the most necessary duties.
  13. Finish house by March 6.
    1. Work on house a minimum of 30 minutes, until finished, every day except for Sunday.
  14. Call mother and father every week.
  15. Call grandparents every month.

Finances

  1. Balance budget every month.
  2. Do not spend more than we take in every month.
  3. Reduce debt every month.
    1. Eliminate credit cards by lowest number first.
  4. Give presentation to my wife every month on our financial standing in all areas.

Creative

  1. Create a marriage group that seeks to rejuvinate and empower marriages–especially men in their leadership role.
  2. Create a men’s weekend where men identify with their God given role in their families and work through issues that are holding them back.

Rejected By Mankind

Isaiah 53:1-4

Think of the Disney movie Aladdin.  Remember when Jasmine, the princess, dresses as a commoner and goes out into the market place and people mistreat her until she reveals who she really is?  Jesus pulled a Jasmine when He came to this world!

If God didn’t reveal the truth to us, we would never get it.  Jesus is unexpected.  He does not come in the form that we want Him to.  When He lowered Himself to nothing he confused us because He became the opposite of ourselves.  Our nature is to become the most impressive, accomplished, and noticeable person that we can be if only to prove to ourselves that we can.  When we seek out trainers or mentors, we seek out those who are better than everyone else–those who stand out as winners.  When Jesus took the form of a human being he became so lowly that he became a stumbling block to people.  He became a rock that people would trip over.  Everyone looks up, but Jesus was down low and they fell trying to reach God when Christ was at their feet–washing them!

Why did He do this?  To show what love really is.

Jesus could not pay for our sins without being killed.  He had to be killed by the people He would save in order for them to one day see that His sacrifice is their salvation and in so doing, would become their example of Godliness.  If Jesus had come in the fullness of His deity they would not have killed Him because they would have been unable to stand in His presence.  But when He hid his deity inside of a human being where they could not see it, it revealed the character of God without the flashy glory and awesome majesty that He has.  And we hated it!

I say “we” because even though “we” were not there 2000 years ago, crucifying Jesus, we have each crucified Him with our rebellious lives.  Think of the disciples.  Jesus’s blood was on each one of their hands.  Judas betrayed Him, but they all deserted Him.  No one stepped up and took His place.  No one stood up and vouched for Him.  He was completely rejected, completely alone, and utterly abandoned.  Everyone of us, even those who have known Jesus their whole lives as they can recall it, have not seen Jesus for who He really is and have sought their own lives before His.

Isaiah says in 53:2 that “He didn’t have an impressive form of majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.”  This does not mean that Jesus was physically ugly as a human being, but that as a human being, He would not be sought after as God.  In the form of a human being, all the while being God in the flesh, no person would desire to worship Him.

When Jesus, who is equal with God, was rejected by every human being, he became our mentor.  Today, we worship a King that we would have let die on a cross, had He not showed us the error of our ways and revealed His true self to us.  Not a single person accepted Jesus during His weak and fleshly existence on this earth.  Not truly.  It took His miraculous resurrected body to appear and His Holy Spirit to enter for us to see who He really is.  The man behind the curtain.  This Jesus. Today, embrace your humble Lord, follow humility to death, and you will be truly and utterly blessed, as you will know what it is like to be a real Christian.

 

 

The True Faith

Philippians 1:29–“For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.”

Why is life so hard?  Because we fail to grasp our identity in Christ.  To be fair, it is to be expected.  In order for life to be easy, truly easy, we must RADICALLY ACCEPT our identity in Jesus.  Anything short of an understanding and acceptance of the true Christian faith will lead to constant frustration, disappointment, confusion, and a lack of joy.  Because this message is so important, a concise outline is necessary so that the reader can understand.

What to expect:

  1. To be misunderstood…constantly…and to be OK with it.
    1. Isaiah 53:7a-He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter…
  2. To suffer…a lot.
    1. John 15:18-19If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of this world the world would love you as its own. 
  3. To have peace in spite of being hated, misunderstood, and unloved.
    1. Philippians 4:6-7–Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
  4. The Lord knows we are going to be hurt by people.
    1. Matthew 10:16a–Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves…
  5. Christianity is a suicide mission…for our flesh!
    1. Matthew 16: 24-25–Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.

So, what is there to do but embrace the persecution of the world and rest ONLY in the Lord who has commissioned each of us to die every day at the hands of those who will test us to see if we will walk by the flesh or walk by the Spirit!  The love of Jesus is enough to substitute the lack of love by every other human being on earth!

One Way In & One Way Out

Romans 5:12-21

When Adam sinned he caused death to be brought into the world.  He did not cause all men to be sinners, each person sins on their own–Adam introduced death and disobedience to the world.  Before Adam sinned, there was no wrongdoing, but after he disobeyed, the world was cursed with the plague of sin all around them.  Verse 12 says that “death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  This would imply that if a man could keep from sinning, he would not taste death. Of course we know that there is only one who has ever not sinned.

Ironically, a perfect man could not survive this world we live in even if he was to not die as a result of his moral perfection.  This world would kill him.  Death reins in this world.  Satan reins in this world.  That is why this world is an alien planet to those who actually are able to reach righteousness.  They are not of this world and are going to another one, but to get there, they must die first.  John 17:16 records Jesus saying “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.” Also, he told Pilate at his crucifixtion trial “My kingdom is not of this world…” (Jn. 18″36).

It may seem unfair that because Adam sinned and introduced sin to us, that we should not be held accountable for what he did.  And we are not.  We are held accountable for our choice to sin.  You may say that “we wouldn’t have sinned had Adam not sinned though!”  Why would anyone think they would be stronger than Adam to resist temptation?  We are all human.  The point is not that Adam sinned, but that God fixed it.  Don’t get hung up on the what ifs.  Jesus Christ stepped in and took care of the sin issue IF WE ARE WILLING TO LET IT GO!  The issue is not that it is unfair because we may feel that we would never have sinned, it is that we are so selfish that we CAN’T STOP!  And because we can’t stop, some will choose to keep sinning instead of being forgiven through Jesus Christ.  These individuals will unfortunately never be at peace with God and will never be allowed to enter heaven.

Because Adam sinned and disobedience became the new way of life for all people, there would need to be something to stop it.  Punishment does not serve to effectively change any behavior–at least not at a fundamental level.  Though it is one valid reason not to engage in bad behavior, it is not the most effective tool to stop it. Psychology teaches us that.  Punishment is condemnation.  Punishment is a consequence for an action and nothing more.  So what would stop all of the bad behavior?  Nothing!  It can’t stop because sin is the default in this world!  Death is the consequence of all our bad things that we will never cease.  We would have to be reborn in a different dimension in order to escape the cycle of sin and death.  Enter Jesus.

This body of flesh and bones will die and become part of the earth.  There is no way to stop it.  Genesis 3:19 says, “for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”  The fountain of youth exists, but it cannot save this body.  We must let it die and accept that it will.  It is actually better that it does so that we can have an opportunity to embrace the salvation that comes with a fresh start.

There is a second death–a spiritual death–that waits for those who have not been cleaned of the sins that they have committed.  While the body must die, the spirit does not have to.  This is what Jesus came to save–our spirits.  He promised nothing of saving our bodies, they are nothing to us anymore but vehicles of sin and death.  However, the world seeks to preserve these rotting bags of decaying flesh as long as possible because it is the only hope they have.  Know that there is only ONE WAY OUT!  That is through the spirit saving work of Jesus Christ who eliminated eternal spiritual death.  Only Him.  No other religion, no other idealogy.  Just Jesus.  Nothing else can reverse the effects of sin.  It is just as impossible to fix it as it was to not sin in the first place.

 

Anyone Can Go To Hell

Romans 3:10-12  “As it is written: ”There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God.  All have turned away; all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.'”

Unfortunately, the idea that people are generally good, is faulty.  Even if people are actively trying to help those in need, they are still, by nature, disobedient to God at their very core and continually seek their own way rather than His.  We can do many good things for ourselves and others, but not be doing God’s will.

Jesus’ claim to fame was that He always did exactly what God the Father wanted Him to do (Jn. 8:28-29).  He never acted out of his own will (Jn. 5:30).  But whatever He did was done perfectly.  Jesus was “good” because of His obedience to the will of God which was preceded by His faith in God.  Our goodness is not measured by the accumulation of good things done for others–at least God does not measure goodness in this way.  Jesus’ own goodness was not measured in this way.  He obeyed the voice of God, but that does not always mean doing the tasks of “goodness” that we consider good.  Sometimes what is good may actually be very hurtful to us, or even to others (as they perceive it).

We are able to be considered good only because Jesus was considered good.  Without Jesus we would be left holding our sin, even if we did believe in God.  But because Jesus becomes our substitution, we are able to both be bought back to God and live in faith, which gets us to heaven.  When we are hidden IN Christ, God only sees Christ.  Which is a good thing that He does not see us!  If He saw us, He would see our evil nature.  But not everyone is hidden in Christ.  Those who try to be good enough by being kind and loving will never attain the level of righteousness of Christ–which is the standard for entering heaven.

Therefore, if Mother Teresa was not hidden in Christ, she did not make it to heaven.  If Hitler was not hidden in Christ, He did not make it to heaven.  Everyone is judged on one standard–faith in Jesus Christ.  Since Mother Teresa Jesus as her Lord, then one can assume she is hidden in Him.  But the concept is that even if someone spent their every waking moment doing great things for humanity, but were not living by faith in Christ–they will not be good enough to get into heaven.  Their hidden thoughts of rebellion will be exposed, although their outward works may be very good.  The Bible talks a lot about wicked people going to hell and righteous people going to heaven.  You can’t be righteous without being hidden in Christ and you can’t be hidden in Christ without believing He is God Almighty–the One and only–with a conviction that produces a submission to His will.  Your faith is proven to be real when you demonstrate faith in Him by rejecting the compulsion to follow your own will.  This therefore produces works of repentance!!

If we belong to Him we are slaves to Him and any good deed we do is expected, not extra.  The demand is that we obey and follow Him.  Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14-15)  That is a unique type of friendship.  It is not like our friends in our human lives.  With God, He is our master and we are His slave, but He allows the slave to be His friend.  How kind of Him!  But we dare think of him as just another “bro” that is on the same level as us.  This is God Almighty who has created everything in existence and breathed life into humanity.  He is not our equal–we are His subjects.  But He is gracious enough to treat us with such love and compassion.  Not as we would treat slaves and those beneath us.  But instead, He would die for us.

Consider this excerpt from one writer:

  • For the redeemed, obedience is not an option. Christ’s commandments are not suggestions. Our actions, attitudes and desires must be submitted to Christ’s Lordship. We obey because we are His blood-bought servants. This perspective is foundational for obedience and our walk with Christ, but it is not the whole picture. We have to know who we are before we can know what to do or why we do it. That’s why the first foundation of obedience is our identity as a [slave] of Christ. Remembering who you are in Christ is essential to growth in obedience. Do you realize that you are a slave of Christ? (Hauffe and HackSlaves of Christ, 2016).

Remember, start with submitting to Jesus’ Lordship in your life which is giving him authority over your will.  This means that He may demand that you stop watching sports, or going running, or doing a certain ministry, or being friends with a certain individual, or working a certain job.  But it also means that he may not.  The key is that as His slave, we are driven everyday by the exciting opportunity to do what God wants us to do.

Free will?  Sure, if you want to be disobedient! 🙂