DO YOU NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?

There has been much debate as to whether or not baptism is necessary for salvation. The short “technical” answer is no, because one could not possibly be baptized if they called on the Lord while in the throes of death as was the cause with the thief on the cross.

However, I think we miss the real meaning of baptism when we argue away its importance because of we single out thief on the cross.

Way too many Christians have never been baptized, and unfortunately, some feel no urgency to be baptized. We have people who claim to follow Jesus who have never been baptized 6 months, a year, or even two years after conversion. This is not good!

In the Bible, baptism was part of the conversion experience, even though there are rare exceptions such as the thief on the cross. That the thief on the cross was never baptized is not a valid excuse for a person to put off being baptized for months or even years.

If you are reading this and you claim to be a Christian, but you have never been baptized, make it you priority to do so as soon as possible. All throughout the book of Acts, baptism held a place of great importance and was the first act of obedience for those who received the forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. If the Lord Jesus commanded it, and the apostles in the book of Acts made it a priority, then who are you not to obey?

Consider the words of the apostle Peter:

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him. 1 Peter 3:18-22

The Amplified Bible translates verse 21 (in bold print in the text above) as follows:

Corresponding to that [rescue through the flood], baptism [which is an expression of a believer’s new life in Christ] now saves you, not by removing dirt from the body, but by an appeal to God for a good (clear) conscience, [demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…

The ESV says, Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Baptism is a command of God for all who believe in Jesus, and when anyone who claims to be a Christian delays, or makes excuses, rather than just obeying the Lord and following his command, something wrong with their understanding of what it means to be a Christian. When the gospel is rightly appropriated, there is repentance of sin which is a turning away for the old life, and obedience to the command to be baptized which identifies you with the new life you receive in Christ Jesus – a life that is marked by obedience and surrender to the Savior.

If you haven’t been baptized, and you claim to be a Christian, or a follower of Jesus Christ, make it your priority to be baptized as soon as possible.

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. ~ Acts 22:16 

SUPER ABUNDANT GRACE

Some within the hyper grace movement have attempted to defend their position by claiming that the apostle Paul describes grace as “hyper”. In taking this position, they often reference Romans 5:20

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. ~ Romans 5:20

When Paul speaks of grace abounding, his intention is not that of the modern day “hyper grace” message, which promotes a view of grace abounding with doctrinal error. The apostle John tells us that Jesus was full of grace and truth, and of his fullness (grace and truth) we have received grace upon grace.

The grace of God does not abound with error. It abounds with truth!

The actual meaning of “abound” is “super abundant”, and Paul is making a clear distinction about God’s grace being super abundant in contrast to the effects of sin on humanity. Regardless of how many sinners need forgiveness God’s abundant grace is able to reach all sinners with salvation. God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus, never runs dry.

Paul is not teaching that God’s grace absolves Christians of any responsibility to live godly and walk in obedience. The very fact that God in his grace has reached out to save us from our sins, ought to teach us that God doesn’t want us to live in sin.

Paul clarifies his position regarding the abundant grace of God just two verses later by saying,What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? ~ Romans 6:1-2

A popular text that is often quoted by those who embrace “hyper grace” teachings is found in Romans 6:14 where the idea of servitude and obedience are sometimes read into the word “law”.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” ~ Romans 6:14

The call to obedience and godly living is not law. It is instead the very freedom that the grace of God has purchased for us through the blood of Christ. Because of Christ, we are not under “the law” but under grace.

Notice that Paul says, “the law” rather than law. The idea that Christians have no law to live by is error. When Paul declares that we are not under “the law” he is referring to the Law of Moses as was given to the children of Israel.

When the New Testament speaks of our not being under the law, because of our union with Christ, it is referring to the law covenant which separated Israel from all other nations. It is not referring to one being a “free willy” (doing as one pleases with no regard for the consequences that may occur). As those that have been saved by grace, we have a mandate upon our lives to live godly and holy.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. ~ Titus 2:11-15

Consider the following from the text above:

  • Saving grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and wordily lusts.
  • Saving grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly.
  • Saving grace teaches us to do these is anticipation of the coming of Christ.
  • Jesus gave himself for us to purify us to be zealous for good works.
  • These things about grace are to be instructed with all authority.

It is unfortunate that there are people who take a truth like grace and read their own thoughts into a text while ignoring other texts which disqualify such notions. Attempting to qualify the errors within the hyper grace movement by claiming that Paul referred to grace as “super abundant” is a far stretch from the truth.

Whenever a doctrine is based on taking isolated words, phrases, or singling out certain texts while ignoring the volume of other scriptural texts, error quickly ensues. A good example of this is the very loose interpretation of Romans 6:14 cited above: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace”. Yet if those who interpret this text as meaning complete freedom from any obligation would simply read the next verse (or even the entirety of the chapter) it wouldn’t take much to understand that they have misunderstood Paul’s intentions in verse 14. Consider verses  15 & 16

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? ~ Romans 6:15-16

The entire theology of hyper grace can be refuted by these two verses, which by the way is Paul’s clarification of what he has said in verse 14. God’s super abundant grace is not super abundant in leading us into no obligation to obedience, and godliness.

On the contrary, God’s grace is superabundant in saving us from our sins and leading us into holiness by godly living and obedience to righteous.

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 6:17-23

 

THE GOSPEL OF GRACE

Recently, I heard a minister make the following statement: “If I commit the sin of adultery, I am not an adulterer. I’m a child of God who committed the sin of adultery and my heart is going to hate that. If I commit a sin of stealing, I am not a thief, I’m a child of God who committed the sin of stealing. You see, I don’t get my identity from what I do…”

This comment was made by a minister who advocates the position that all present, and future sins of believers are already forgiven in advance, which of course never need to be repented of because they are already forgiven.

I find it interesting that he said regarding adultery, “my heart is going to hate that”, yet repenting to God and seeking his forgiveness is out of the question in his theology.

When the heart is conscience of sin, we need to come to God for cleansing from sin. The apostle John tells us, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God”. ~ 1 John 3:20-21

Many Christians have embraced a false doctrine about sin because they have embraced a false doctrine about grace. Grace does not eradicated us from the responsibility of repenting of our sinful conduct when we knowingly sin against God. Instead, grace gives us the power to not sin when we yield to God.

The apostle John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”. 1 John 2:1-2

Jesus is our advocate with the Father when we sin, and he is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Make no mistake about it, when you as a believer knowingly sin, you need cleansing and that is why Jesus is your advocate with the Father.

Now, in view of this, consider the words of the apostle Peter, who speaking to Christians says the following:

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? ~ 1 Peter 4:12-17

Peter tells believers, “let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” 

Notice that Peter uses the terms “murderer” and “thief”. The notion that if a Christian steals, commits adultery, murders, yet he isn’t a thief, adulterer, or murderer is not consistent with the sound teachings of scripture.

The popular grace doctrine that teaches Christians that they never need to repent because all their present and future sins are forgiven in advance is dangerous because it denies the real effect that sin can have on a Christian.

Sin hardens the heart and sin that goes unchecked in the life of a Christian can cause them to eventually be hardened against God. The writer of Hebrews says the following to his fellow Jewish brethren, who he referred to as “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling”.

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end... ~ Hebrews 3:7-14

The notion that we, who are Christians, are already cleansed from all future sins and never need to repent again, even if we commit adultery or murder is not the doctrine of scripture.

In 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit confronted the Corinthians for the sin of fornication in their midst.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. ~1 Corinthians 5:1-2

If Paul inspired by the Spirit of God, reprimanded the Corinthians regarding this sin, then why do those who claim to be “grace teachers” not understand the severity of such sins in the life of a Christian? According to Paul’s letter to Titus, God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts”.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. ~ Titus 2:11-14

Paul then tells Titus, These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” ~ 15.

Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians moved them to repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says the following to them:

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11

Paul later expresses his concern about the lack of repentance of some among them.

For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:20-21

The ideology that sin is no longer an issue which Christians need to address because all “present and future sins” are already forgiven is nowhere taught in the scriptures. The teaching of scripture is that the “provision” for the cleansing of all sin has been made, but the one who lives in sin, or refuses to confess his sin, cannot be in fellowship with God.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. ~ 1 John 1:6-7

Those who teach a twisted view of grace claim that the book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus forgave us once for all, therefore all sins, including present and future sins are already forgiven in advance. According to this rational, if a Christian man commits adultery, that sin is already forgiven and cleansed even while he is in the act of committing the sin.

Such is not grace teaching. Rather, it is the doctrine of demons.

The Bible teaches us that Christ’s sacrifice was once for all. This does not mean that God can’t see our sins when we sin, or that sin doesn’t affect our fellowship with God. Neither does it mean that we do not need to repent when we know we have sinned. It simply means that there is no longer any need for the continuation of sacrificial offerings which were offered for sins under the law.

Jesus’s sacrifice will cleanse us, and keep on cleaning us when we sin if we continue in faithfulness towards Christ. Jesus is a priest forever after after the order of Melchisedek  (He is both Priest and King at the right hand of God). There will never, ever, be a need for another sacrifice or another priest. Christ is sufficient forever!

The “once for all” texts in the book of Hebrews have to do with the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice for the cleansing of sin. Those texts do not communicate the idea that all future sins have already forgiven in advance, resulting in Christians being absolved from any accountability for their future sins. Remember the author of Hebrews warns his fellow Jewish believers, whom he referred to as, holy brethren and partakers of the Heavenly calling, of allowing their hearts to become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Those who teach a twisted view of grace sometimes like to quote the text “But 
he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:17, to support their claims. However, this text is not in context of the ideology that present and future sins are already forgiven. Notice the two verse before 1 Corinthians 6:17

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbidWhat? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:15-16

Paul is not teaching that we are immune from the effects of sin because we are one spirit with the Lord in verse 17. Paul is contextually addressing the severity of fornication and the need to abstain from it because of our union with Christ. Thus, Paul says, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” ~ 18.

What Paul is teaching is that when a Christian sins against his own body by fornication, he sins against Christ, because his body is a member of Christ. As Christians, our bodies belong to the Lord and we are called to glorify God with both our body and spirit. It is with this in mind that Paul proceeds by saying: What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Finally, we need to remember the teaching of Paul in Romans 6. Paul begins by saying:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? ~ Romans 6:1-2

Being dead to sin is a reference to our calling in Christ. In the next several verses (3- 10) Paul teaches about the power of the death and resurrection of Christ over sin, which we are called to experience by faith in our daily lives, but we must walk in fellowship with Christ.

The power of Christ’s death and resurrection becomes our victory over sin through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who helps us yield to righteousness rather than yielding the impulses of sin in our flesh.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? ~ Romans 6:11-16

Blessings…

WHEN GOD LOOKS AT YOU, DOES HE ONLY SEE JESUS?

A common misconception about grace which many Christians have embraced is the idea that God can no longer see their sins or flaws because God only sees them through Jesus.

While there are many texts which could be cited to refute this idea, we need only to look at the words which Jesus spoke to the churches in the book of the Revelation to find to find out whether or not this idea is credible.

Let’s begin with Jesus’s message to the church of Ephesus.

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. ~ Revelation 2:2-5

Notice that Jesus knew both the good works the Ephesians were doing as well as the bad  things which were displeasing to God. Even though the Ephesians had some good works for which he commended them, Jesus reprimanded them for their wrongs.

Jesus declares that even though he knew their good works, there was something that was causing him to be against them. They had left their first love, and Jesus refers to this as a “fallen” state of which they needed to repent.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. ~ v.5

Those who teach, and those who embrace the idea that God cannot see their sins because of Jesus have embraced a belief about Jesus that is not consistent with the words of Jesus. Many who embrace the idea that God cannot see their sins because of Jesus also believe that there is no need to repent when they sin because all their past, present, and future sins are forgiven. Yet Jesus tells his people in Ephesus to repent and warns of judgment if they do not.

Now lets consider the words of Jesus to the church at Pergamos.

I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. ~ Revelation 2:13-15 

Again Jesus begins by acknowledging their good works, and again he exposes their sins, saying, “I have a few things against thee”.  This is not consistent with the idea that God can’t see our sins and only sees us through Jesus. Jesus points out the sins of his people and tells them to repent. One of the sins in their midst was that some of them were holding to the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, something Jesus says he hates.

The writer of Hebrews says, For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. ~ Hebrews 10:30-31

Notice that the text says, “the Lord will judge his people” in context to the severity of God. It does not say the Lord can no longer see his people’s sins and therefore there is no need to repent when you sin.

These words are sobering when we compare them to Jesus’s words above which were spoken to the church at Pergamos: “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth”. ~ Revelation 2:13-15

Finally consider the words of Jesus to the church of Thyatira.

I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. ~ Revelation 2:19-23

These too, are sobering words and agree with that which was written by the author of Hebrews (cited above). Jesus does commend those in Thyatira who have walked uprightly in verses 24-28 and promises them reward for their faithfulness.

It should be noted that in each instance (the church of Ephesus, the church of Pergamos, and the church of Thyatira), Jesus says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:7,17,29).  And in each case Jesus promises reward for those who overcome.

Teaching Christians that God only sees them through Jesus and therefore can no longer see their present sins is to teach something other than what the Spirit was saying to the churches in the book of the Revelation. We serve a Holy God who is a loving Heavenly Father, and his desire is that we be pure and holy in his sight. Through Jesus and by virtue of his Spirit he has made provision for us to be pure in his sight, but we must follow him in obedience and faith, and turn from our sins with repentant hearts when we do fail.

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit. ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

 

 

WHY WOULD A LOVING GOD SEND ANYONE TO HELL?

Why would a loving God send anyone to Hell?

The answer to this question is very simple: Because they hate him, and they hate his ways, and they despise his grace and mercy when he reaches out to them in forgiving love.

God has never sent a repentant sinner to Hell and he never will. Only those who reject him will be condemned.

We do not protest when a human judge sentences a murderer or a rapist to life in prison, yet we sometimes question why the Judge of all the earth would punish the ungodly who refuse to repent.

If any sinner turns to God, who is the righteous Judge, and repents of their sins, God will forgive them.

The question we ought to ask is why does God show mercy to the most wretched of sinners who repent? If we answer this question, we will quickly find the answer as to why God sends some people to Hell.

God is good, and he is far richer in grace and mercy than any of us can comprehend. God doesn’t desire for anyone to perish. It gives him no joy to judge the ungodly. God desires for all people to be saved.

Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live? ~ Ezekiel 18:23

Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ ~ Ezekiel 33:11

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Notice that each of the verses above refer to repentance, or turning to the Lord. Yet some people love their sin and refuse to repent. In John 5, Jesus told some of the Jews who rejected his message: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,  yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life”. ~ John 5:39-40

Refusing to come to the Lord who is merciful, gracious, and forgiving, is the reason why  people die in their sins, and people refuse to come to the Lord because they love sin.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” ~ John 3:19-21

Why would a loving God condemn an unrepentant sinner to Hell? Because God is a Just God. Why would a Just God forgive a wretched sinner who repents? Because he is a merciful and loving God.

The answer to many of the questions we have about why God would do this, or why would he do that, can be answered when we take to heart the whole counsel of scripture regarding the attributes and character of God.

MY PURPOSE IN LIFE?

Feeling as if you have no purpose can lead to depression.

I want tell you (and possibly you have never heard anyone say this,) the need for purpose is one of the great deceptions by the spirit of this age.

By feasting on the need for purpose within God’s people, ministries are making big profits with this proverbial carrot on a stick that keeps God’s heritage from their true calling, which to rest in God, who by his grace will fulfill his good pleasure in our lives as we trust in him.

The constant quest for purpose can lead a person’s soul into anxiety and discontentment, so much so that there is no rest in the soul.

Yet the call of Christ is quite the opposite.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~ Matthew 11:28-30

When we examine God’s people within scripture who made a significant mark in their generation and within history, they were were minding their own business when God arrested their attention for his purpose.

The truth is, God has a purpose for all of our lives, and that purpose is spelled out in the New Testament. He has called us to peace. He has called us to find our joy and rejoicing in knowing him, and that is the purpose to which we are called.

When we make it our aim to rest in him and rejoice in the fellowship of knowing him we will see his hand in our lives. The end result is our calling (what we refer to as purpose) will spring forth unto his glory.

Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep (rest). ~ Psalm 127:1-2

FAITH IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. ~ Romans 3:24-26

The word propitiation in Romans 3:25 does not mean appeasement, and has nothing to do with God pouring out wrath on Jesus at the cross.

The word propitiation, comes from the Greek word “hilasterion,” which is employed by the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) for the mercy seat. Also in Hebrews 9:5 it is translated as mercy seat.

A close observation of the context of Romans 3:25 shows that the word “hilasterion”…

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JESUS OUR SIN OFFERING

Rooted and Grounded In Christ

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him(2 Corinthians 5:21).

Paul’s reference to Christ being made sin for us is derived from the Old Testament motif of the sin offerings. The sin offerings were offered to make atonement for sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the word atonement was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness. This is the context which surrounds Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5.

Literally, Paul is telling us that Christ was made to be the offering for our sins, and that is how we are reconciled to God. Christ was made to be our sin offering not our literal sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the words sin and sin offeringare translated from the same Hebrew word “chattath”. One writer pointed…

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FORGIVING OTHERS

We all experience offenses, and are at times faced with the need to forgive others, but what do we do when the wound is deep?

Being wounded is not a sin, but if we don’t address it, it can turn to bitterness (which is sin), even though we say we have verbally forgiven the offender.

Forgiveness in word only usually works when it is something minor, but when we have been cut to the heart, forgiving in word only is often not enough.

I have have found in my nearly 40 years as a Christian that when I either pray for, or do something kind towards the one who hurt me, the offense loses its power in my life. Praying for the one who wronged you, and/or doing something kind for them brings God’s love into the situation, and when you pray for them, or do something kind, God’s love flows through you, bringing healing.

When God saved us he did not forgive us in word only. He did something to demonstrate his love. The resurrected Christ, who died for us, will forever bear the scars of the crucifixion – scars we caused him. Yet those scars are not there to shame us or condemn us. They are there to heal us – by his stripe we are healed.

We are healed because those scars are the evidence of his love for us. There is no such things as the body of Christ without scars. And just as his physical body bears the marks of the crucifixion, even so his spiritual body (the church) is called to bear the marks of true forgiveness towards those who have hurt us.

Praying for the person who hurt you, or doing a kind deed is an “act of forgiveness” and as Christians we are called to be people of forgiveness.

If we forgive in word only it is possible we will continue to carry the hurts from those who wounded us, but when we return the offense with compassion, we experience healing, perspective, and the offense then becomes a life experience from which we grow in wisdom and grace.

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. ~ 1 John 3:18

DESTINY ~ FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The constant emphasis on “destiny” by modern day preachers is an illusion. No where in the New Testament is there such emphasis. The emphasis in the New Testament is our sanctification.

In the Ephesians, Paul tells his Gentile brethren in Christ to no longer walk as other Gentiles walk in the vanity of their minds.

Paul expounds on putting off the old man and putting on the new. It is within “this context” that Paul tells us that Jesus gave himself for us that he might sanctify and cleanse us by the washing of the water by the word, so that he might present us to himself as a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that we should be holy and without blemish.

The constant appeal to a better life (promotions, careers, advancements, personal achievements, personal greatness, personal success) is not a message from God.

While there is nothing wrong with individual success and achievements (and God will help us if our priorities and motives are pure), these are not the goal of the spiritual life to which we are called.

God did not set apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the church to teach success in life strategies. He gave these gifts to men to build the church up in Christ.

The fulfillment we are looking for will never be found in an outward destiny regarding our individual success. It can only be found in the joy of true fellowship with Christ which comes through the in the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. 
While there is nothing wrong with individual success and achievements (and God will help us if our priorities and motives are pure), these are not the goal of the spiritual life to which we are called.

God did not set apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in the church to teach success in life strategies. He gave these gifts to men to build the church up in Christ. 

If we will to the