Salvation

Good Friday: Jesus Paid It All

Good FridayYou sent Your Son to be our Savior — to rescue us from sin’s power by taking our guilt on Himself and dying to pay sin’s awful price. Mercy and truth thus met at the cross; righteousness and peace kissed each other. Your wrath against sin was perfectly satisfied; Your justice was fully vindicated; Your truth was forever established; Your grace was brilliantly magnified; and all the demands of Your law were perfectly fulfilled. In the process, You lovingly brought us into a place of safety, honor, glory, and everlasting salvation! You made us Your children and heirs — joint heirs with Your only begotten Son. Truly “there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

As we contemplate all that Christ did for us on the cross, our hearts are filled with humble gratitude. Surely He bore our grief and carried our sorrows. He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him; and by his scourging we are healed. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. And You have graciously and tenderly drawn us to Him, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.

O Lord, what gifts these are to us! Give us grace and pure hearts to worship in spirit and in truth, that our praise may be acceptable to You. May Christ Jesus be fully on display in us through both our words an dour works, so that others may see and be drawn to the pure light of the gospel.

–John MacArthur, At the Throne of Grace
(Eugene, OR:Harvest House Publishers, 2011) 24-25

 

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Salvation

To be…or not be… like Cornelius

CorneliusWho was your role model that you looked up to when you were young? A movie star? An athlete? A teacher? I doubt there has ever been any kid anywhere who ever said, “I want to be like Cornelius.” As a Christian, we all should say, “I want to be like Cornelius.”… or should we? Certainly there are many Biblical people that would be wonderful role models. But let’s look at the kind of person that Cornelius was.

According to Acts 10, Cornelius lived in Caesarea. This ancient port was also the administrative city of Palestine on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Israel. Around 22-10 BC, Herod the Great, king of Judea, rebuilt the small settlement and enlarged it. He named it after the emperor, Caesar Augustus. (Encyclopedia Britannica, online). It was here that the centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, Cornelius, lived, breathed, worked, and modeled Christianity…not just for the people of his day, but because the writer of the Book of Acts under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit documented his lifestyle, Cornelius is a Biblical role model for us today…but he was missing a very important piece.

In the very short verse of Acts 10:2, we learn five things about Cornelius that makes him an example to follow:

1) Cornelius was a devout man. There was no question as to the beliefs he stood for. He showed deep religious feelings and commitment. He was totally committed to Christianity.

2) He was God-fearing, faithful, genuine, steadfast, unwavering, sincere. He was in it wholeheartedly. He was enthusiastic, zealous, and passionate.

3) Not only was Cornelius devout and God-fearing, but also his whole household. He was the leader of his home and his beliefs trickled down throughout his family, his servants…everyone in his house.

4) He gave alms generously to the people. Instead of seeking to steal from the people or make himself richer, we see a man who is giving away to others.

5) Cornelius prayed to God always. Cornelius is the first Gentile recorded in the Bible to become a Christian. When you continue reading in this Chapter 10, we see where God told Cornelius that his prayers had been heard and that he would send Peter to him to tell him what he needed to do. The catch is that Cornelius was living the Christian lifestyle better than most Christians do and Cornelius wasn’t actually yet a Christian.

Cornelius was “doing” all the right things….but he missed the “main” thing. He was being religious…but that is not enough to obtain eternal life. From the outside, he looked, smelled, walked, talked like a Christian. He worshipped the one true God. He gave to others. He prayed always. He even led all his household to believe in Christianity. If there had been a great big First Baptist Church of Caesarea, he would have been there every time the doors were open and he might have even been selected as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, usher, or some other committee to serve on. But Cornelius had yet to hear the gospel, repent of his sins, and give his life in surrender to God. So God sent Peter to him to tell him about Christ’s death and resurrection. After Peter preached to him, Cornelius became “born again.” Salvation does not hinge on us “doing” the right thing. It hinges on a “heart” thing. It comes when a person believes that Jesus is the only Son of God, who was born as a baby from a virgin, lived a sinless life, and was then crucified on a cross as the payment for our sins. He was then buried in a tomb for three days and rose again from the dead. One must also acknowledge their own sins and ask God to forgive them and he or she must willingly surrender their life to the control and leading of the Holy Spirit. Let’s not be just living through the motions. Let’s make sure our hearts have made the decision to make Christ Lord of our lives….and then live under the power of the Holy Spirit so that God would consider us devout, God fearing, bringing our household (and friends) to Christ, giving generously to other, and praying always.

 

Salvation

Created For Him

night-skyWe know that in Genesis 1:1, the Bible opens up saying, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” My son memorized this verse in kindergarten. It is probably a verse every child learns, if they attend church. However, over in Colossians 1:16, we learn something else about the creation of the heavens and the earth. In this verse, Paul wrote to the church of Colossae, telling them that Christ is Lord of creation. He wrote, “For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Those last two words give us the why of creation…for Him. The all-powerful God of creation created the entire universe and every living thing, including you and me…for Him! The sad thing is that we tend to live our lives as if God is created for us…to do what we want him to…to pour out his blessing on us….to take care of our every need….to save us from all the messes we get ourselves into.

God doesn’t really need us. It isn’t as if God were lonely. Before he ever created us or the angels he had God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. When He chose to create us, the Bible records God saying, “Let us make man in our own image. (Genesis 1:26). Before creating us, God had all the angels in heaven worshipping him. In Revelation 19:6 the Apostle John wrote, “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” The prophet Nehemiah wrote, “You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You.”  Paul wrote over in Acts 17: 24-25, “The God who made the world and everything in it…is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything.” He did not need to satisfy an ego craving to be worshiped. He has no low-self-esteem issue. He is totally secure in who he is. He is I AM.

So if God doesn’t need us, then why did He bother creating us and why does He keep pursing us with an everlasting love instead of destroying us because of our sinful nature? It’s a question that has been asked countless of times throughout time. In fact, King David wrote in Psalm 8:3-4, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers…what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

Even though he doesn’t need us, the simple truth is he chose to create us…for no other reason than out of Love. God tells us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3). Because he is omniscient (all-knowing, 1 John 3:20), He knew before He ever created us that we would sin and our sin would cause Him to send Jesus to die for our sins. Titus 1:2 tells us that our hope of eternal life was promised by God before time began. Yet He created us anyway…and loves us with an everlasting love. A love so great that it cost His only Son His life just so God in all of his holiness could have a relationship with us.

Because of His great love for us, we should have a desire to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Because we have been loved with an everlasting love, even in our sinful state, we should be more than willing to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:30) As a result of God’s infinite love, grace and mercy toward us, we should recognize that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesian 2:10) and that we were created “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) It isn’t “good works” that get us in to heaven. Paul wrote, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast.” The good works is a result of our faith lived out as we surrender our lives to God and His plans for us. God gives us a choice to accept Him by faith. He longs for everyone to come to Him by faith, repent of their sins, and surrender their lives to him. In 2 Peter 3:9, we read, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Yet, the choice is ours to make. We choose to accept Him or reject Him.

So while God may not need any one of us, we certainly need Him. We are dependent on Him and as we trust in his promises, we can know He has a specific plan for each one of us…plans that are for our absolute best…plans that will give us a hope and future (Jeremiah 29:11). If you have not already trusted Christ as Savior, would you be willing to surrender your life to Him right now and begin an exciting relationship with the God of creation who chose to create you and to love you with an everlasting love? If you have already made that decision and given your heart to Christ, do you need to cry out like the Psalmist and say, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6) Do you need to humble yourself before God and pray and seek His face and turn from your wicked ways, asking God to forgive you?” Maybe you’re still searching for God’s purpose for your life. Colossians 1:16 answers that question. You were created for Him. Maybe you just need to take a moment and praise him for His everlasting love towards you and worship Him.

We all know ourselves better than any other human being know us and God knows us even better. I stand amazed in the presence of God, knowing all my own personal faults, mistakes, and sin and wonder how He could love…with an everlasting love that chose to create me anyway…even though I would be the cause of Him needing to send Jesus to die for me. He did the same for you.

Salvation

Is it Time for You to Return to God?

Joel 2 13

Have you ever thought that you have sinned so much that God would not ever want anything to do with you? Maybe it isn’t how many sins but that you have one big bad sin that you have lived with for a while. Maybe you had a time in your life as a child where you asked Christ into your life but now that your older you are not living a Christ-filled life. Maybe you have turned away from God out of anger. Maybe you’re not a “big sinner” but more like you have a problem with lots of little sins or even just a sin here and there that catches you at your weakest moment. Whatever is keeping you from turning back to God, there is no reason to stay away. Joel  2:13 says, “Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate slow to anger and abounding in love.” The Bible is full of people who messed up with some pretty big sins, yet when they asked God to forgive them, He did and He was able to do amazing things through their lives. Take a look at these well-known Bible people:

  • Noah got drunk
  • Jacob was a liar
  • Moses was a murderer
  • Rahab was a prostitute (yet through her descendants, Christ was born!)
  • David was a murderer and adulterer
  • Jonah ran away from God
  • Peter denied Christ
  • The Disciples fell asleep while praying
  • Martha was a worrier
  • The Samaritan Woman was divorced….more than once and when she met Christ she was living with a man she wasn’t married to
  • Paul persecuted and killed Christians before his Damascus Road experience

My friend, there is absolutely nothing keeping you from experiencing God’s forgiveness and mercy except for your own hard heart and stubbornness. That little voice telling you your sin is too big is nothing but a lie from Satan. The voice telling you you’ve sinned too much; yup, that belongs to Satan too. That voice saying you’re not good enough? Yup, that one too. Here is what God says:

  • “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3
  • “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him, might be saved.” John 3:16
  • “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your hear that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For I is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
  • “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:15
  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

While there are many other verses that tell of God’s grace, love and forgiveness, one of my favorite examples in the Bible is when a woman in the New Testament was caught in the very act of adultery. Under the Jewish law, the woman was to be stoned to death. The Pharisees, however, saw it as a prime time to try to trick Jesus and trip him up in his theology so they bring the woman to Jesus and ask him what they should do with her. Jesus doesn’t say a word. He just leans over and begins writing in the sand. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Jesus wrote. Maybe he wrote a list of sins, we don’t really know. All we do know is that whatever he wrote, one by one the woman’s accusers turn and left until none of them are left standing there. Jesus than asks the woman, “Where are your accusers?” When she looked around and saw they were all gone she tells Jesus there are none. Jesus’ response was, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

Dear reader, whatever your sin…big or small…a one time sin or your so caught up in it you can’t seem to stop… if you will come to Him with a repentant heart and ask him to forgive you, Jesus stands ready to take you by the hand and say, “I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The lyrics from “O Come To The Altar” by Elevation Worship says it well. Read the lyrics here or click on the link in the song title and hear it on youtube.

Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling

Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling

Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Salvation

The Sun Stopped Shining

Luke 23 44-45Today, North America will experience a full solar eclipse. The moon will pass between the sun and the Earth, blocking out all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, with the moon completely blocking the sun for about two minutes and forty seconds (nasa.gov). The last time the U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979. Some schools have decided to close, some offices are allowing employees time to see the eclipse, and communities are having viewing parties. If you plan to see it, be sure to have the correct, ISO approved glasses to avoid serious damage to your eyes that could cause blindness in the future!

The Bible tells us about another day where it was about noon and darkness covered the land until three in the afternoon because the sun stopped shining. (Luke 23:44-45a) On that day, Jesus Christ hung on a cross, bearing the sins of every person throughout all time. As he bore our sin, God could not look upon his own son as he suffered for you and for me. In that moment, God turned his back on his son. As a mother with a 21 year old son, there is no way I could ever turn my back on my child and certainly not in his biggest moment of pain and suffering. Yet, God did because he loves you and me enough that no matter what sin we may have committed or currently are involved in, He wanted to have a relationship with us. Our sin, however, keeps us separated from Him because He is Holy. Jesus willingly endured the torture of the cross and willingly gave His life to pay the penalty for our sin.

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Our sin has consequences and there is a price to be paid for it. Just as you are paid a wage for the work you do each week, God has a paycheck to give you for the sins you commit and that paycheck is…death. But don’t panic yet!

There is good news! Jesus took payment we earned on himself in our place. Jesus’s death on the cross covered that debt and because he died in our place, he is able to offer us the gift of eternal life. If I hold in my hand a beautifully wrapped present and extend my hand to you, how does the gift become yours? Because it is a gift, you can’t earn it. You did nothing to earn the gift and if you pay me for it, it ceases to become a gift. There is only one way the gift can become yours. You must reach out and accept it.

How do you accept the free gift of eternal life? You must receive it by faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and it’s not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: not of works, so nobody can boast.” You begin by acknowledging that you have a sin problem. Romans 3:23 say, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That little word all means you. It means me. It means every single person that has ever lived with the exception of Christ. It is because he lived a sinless life that made him able to offer his life in place of ours.  Ephesians 2:1-3 says, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Deserving of God’s wrath. Our problem is sin.

Like any other problem, there is an answer. Ephesians 2:4-10 gives the answer. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The answer is God’s grace extended to us through the death, burial and resurrection of his only son, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 tells why God allowed Jesus to die for us. “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.” God loves all of us. It doesn’t matter what color skin we have, what our past looks like or what our present life looks like. It doesn’t matter how “big” your sin is because we are the only ones that puts value on sin. To God, a little small sin as just as big as the worst sin you can think of. Sin is sin and only one will keep you from eternal life. But because of his love and grace, he allowed his Son to take the punishment we deserve. The Bible says, “Christ died for our sins…and rose (from the dead) on the third day” (1 Corinthian 15:3,4). “But God showed His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) It also tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us so that we can be made righteous in the sight of God and this is what makes eternal life possible.

Just as the only way you could possess a wrapped present from me is to reach out and take it, there also has to be a response from you towards the gift that God offers you. You reach out and accept His gift of eternal life by acknowledging your sin, asking him to forgive you of your sin and placing your faith and trust in Christ alone. Act 16:31 tells us, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” In John 6:47, Jesus said, “Truthfully I say unto you, He that believes on Me has everlasting life.

For Christians, I hope that the eclipse we experience today will be a reminder to you of what it cost Christ for your gift of eternal life. For non-Christians, I hope that as you experience the eclipse, you will think of this other moment in time when the sun did not shine as Jesus hung on a cross in payment for your sin.

If you wish to accept the free gift of eternal life right now, you can simply pray the prayer below with a sincere heart and God will hear you.

“Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. Right now, in this moment, I trust you as my Savior. I believe that you died for me and rose from the dead as payment for my sins. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer, let us know in the comment sections or send us a note through the contact us page. Also, find a local evangelical church in your area and talk with the pastor and let him know of the decision you have made. He can then help you as you follow in obedience to God and grow as a Christian.