Salvation

Free Gift

Salvation FREE

Genesis 3:7-8 – And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. (KJV)

 Sin…it’s just a little word but it has huge consequences. Adam and Eve were only given one “do not” rule….and they broke it. The Bible tells us that after eating of the tree God told them not to eat from, their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked. The very instant they sinned they knew they were naked. God didn’t have to tell them. They knew. They knew their sin had left them exposed.

Like most of us, their first reaction was not to call out to God and say, “God, I mess up. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” No, instead they tried to cover things up. They sewed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness and then when God came to visit…they hid. Isn’t that what we do when we know we’re guilty of something? Try to hide it, cover it up?

From that moment until now, sin has left us all exposed. Exposed to the consequences of sin. For some that might be poor health due to bad eating and exercise habits. For some it might be legal consequences due to bad life decisions. For some it might be a poor relationship with God because we’ve put other things at a higher priority than God. For some it might be a failed marriage because other things were more important than your spouse. Some might experience job loss because laziness, theft or poor work attendance. No matter what the sin is, it comes with consequences and every sin has the consequence of being separated from God.  Every sin has a consequence…a penalty that has to be paid. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The penalty we pay for sin is death. Eternal separation from God.

Adam and Eve get a bad rap for being the first sinners, but we are just like them. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That little word “all” means me and you. Like Adam and Eve, we tend to hide ourselves from the presence of God. We stop going to church. We say there is no God. We stop spending time with Him on a daily basis. We stop reading the Bible and praying. We get angry at God because of the consequences of sin. We turn our backs on Him so that we can live whatever life we want… and yet… the feelings of guilt and shame haunt us.

sin leaves us exposedWhile sin leaves us exposed, God stands read to clothe us in His righteousness. That means we don’t have to continue to live with guilt and shame. 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection, we can be made new because His blood washes away all our sin. Jesus paid the penalty for us. You are never too far gone for Jesus to cleanse you too. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift.” You can’t earn it. You can never be good enough. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.” Even if we based our most righteous act in our entire life, it wouldn’t be good enough to gain salvation.  But the good news is salvation isn’t dependent on being good enough. And that’s good news because it means that we can come to God just as we are. We don’t have to get “cleaned up” first. In fact, it’s God’s job to clean us. And we become clean when we place our faith in God and the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ who paid the penalty of sin for us. God offers it to each one of us as a free gift, unearned, unmerited, undeserved…FREE. You can’t buy it, earn it, or work for it. You can never be good enough on your own. It comes only through confessing your sins to God, asking for forgiveness, admitting your need for Him, and placing your faith and trust in Him.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. –John 3:16

 “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” — Romans 5:8

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” — Romans 10:9-10

“For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  — Romans 10:13

Whoever…that means you.

What will you do…live in guilt and shame or run to the open arms of Jesus, confessing your sins to him? Will you place your faith in Jesus, take Him at His word? With your whole heart, will you believe that Jesus is God’s Son who died for you, paying your penalty of son in your place? Will you give Him first place in your life, making Him your Lord? If your answer is yes, don’t wait another minute. Acknowledge to God that you are a sinner and confess Him as your Lord and Savior.

Call on Him now. He’s waiting for you.

 

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

 

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