Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Did Jesus Die?

Image credit: FreeFoto.com / Ian Britton

Hello every one. I pray that all of you to have a blessed Easter. The last couple weeks has been quite busy for me. My wife's aunt came from Chicago to visit, then at the same time I had to work extra hours every day. Not to mention I had a number of things to get done around the house. While it was a good couple of weeks, there was just not much time for blogging. But I am excited to get back and get an article posted and visit the blogs which I follow.

I have a confession to make. Over the last year I have not been out witnessing like I use to. A friend of mine and I use to go out after church on Sunday's sharing the message of Jesus with anyone who would listen. But he moved on and I have been quiet. The Lord has been prodding me as of late to get out there and share the gospel again. Over the last couple of days I have been reflecting on some of the experiences we had sharing the gospel with the lost. Often times we would speak to someone who professed to be a believer in Jesus and attended church regularly. I use to like asking them the following question to see where they stood in their relationship with God. "Suppose I was someone in your life which you cared deeply about. Maybe your brother, or something. I came to you saying, 'I have cancer and in 30 days I will be dead. I do not want to have to go to hell. What must I do to be saved.' What would you tell me?" It was sad to see how many people did not know how to answer this question. I remember one young woman who replied, "Well, you should have thought about that sooner." I replied, "really now, that is what you would say?"

While I do not remember exactingly how the rest of the conversation with this woman went, below is a dialog that would explain to someone the answer to the question I asked above.

I ask, "In a few days from now is Easter Sunday. Do you know what the meaning of it is?"

Response, "It is celebration of the resurrection of Jesus."

I ask, "Do you know why Jesus had to die?"

Response, "That we would be forgiven of our sins."

In the book of Genesis, after the sixth day of creation, God considered His creation to be "very good." See God created man to live forever in His presence. There was to be no death. Creation was not just good, but "very good." (Genesis 1:31) God gave Adam and Eve one commandment, and that is to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree God had commanded them not to eat. As a result, sin entered into the world. That day Adam and Eve died spiritually and also began the path toward a physical death. See, the wages of sin is death. Not only did Adam and Eve have to die, all their offspring must also die because that sin nature has been passed on to them, that is all of us. Any one of us would have done the same thing as Adam and Eve, and disobeyed God. The bad news is, if we die in our sins, then we will be eternally separated from God. But God put into motion a plan to redeem His fallen creation.

When someone tells a lie, they are guilty of being a liar. If you or I have ever stolen anything, then we are guilty of being a thief. If you have ever taking His Holy name in vain, the bible says that He will not hold you guiltless. (Deut. 5:11) To further that, James says, "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17) We are all sinners, it is impossible to live a sinless life. Yes it is true that God is a God of love and mercy. He is a forgiving God who wants to forgive all for their sins. But God is also good and just. As a result, He must judge and punish sin. If He does not, then He not good. Could you imagine a judge in a court of law letting murderer go free just because he promised to not do it again? If a judge is good, then he must uphold the requirements of the law. We cannot on our own live a sinless life and meet all the righteous requirements of God in order to enter in to the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus can, and He did.

Jesus being God, came down from heaven to earth. He lived a sinless life fulfilling all the requirements of God. Then He went to the cross, shed His precious blood so that we could live. He took the sin of the world to the grave, but the grave could not hold Him. He defeated death, and on the third day, He rose from the dead. He paid the penalty for our sins on our behalf.   

So what must I do to be saved? The Bible says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10) We cannot be good enough to enter into heaven. We cannot do enough good works either. God did everything to make it possible for us to receive this free gift of salvation through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. However for a gift to be a gift, it must be received. We receive this gift by placing our faith and trust in Jesus alone for our salvation. Repentance goes hand in hand with faith. To believe in Jesus in not just an head knowledge. If we have true faith, it will change who we are. If you have not received Jesus as Lord and Savior, I encourage you to call upon Him today. Repent of your sins and put your faith and trust in Jesus.

"For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Is Christ Divided?

Photo Credit: WikiCommons / www.forestwander.com

Sectarianism Is Sin


10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul(1 Corinthians 1:10-13 NKJV) 

One certain church had a pastor who was getting up there in years. A Godly man he was who stood firmly upon the Word of God. We will call him Steve. He was a man who rightly divided the word of truth and preached the full counsel of God. Steve pastored this particular church for some 30 years. The church also had a youth minister whom Steve saw great potential in. The youth pastor's name is Brian, who likewise stood firmly upon the Word of God and rightly divided the word of truth. Pastor Steve decides to start sharing the pulpit with Pastor Brian in order to give him experience. All is well at first, but soon the church was dividing. All the younger members started demanding Brian take over as head pastor and the older members were demanding Pastor Brian to be gone saying, "we want our older pastor preaching."  

One must always remember the cross of Christ divides the saved and the unsaved, but not the body of Christ. Some mistakenly accept all forms of doctrine for the sake of unity. But this is not what the above passage is saying. "If someone comes preaching a different gospel, let him be accursed." (See Galatians 1:8) The foundation for a unified church is found on the centrality of the gospel of Christ. Can we meet in agreement here? If so, then we are able to come together and to be one in Christ. If the church above hired a pastor who did not believe in the resurrection, then we have a problem. On the other hand, if one church believes in a pre-trib rapture, for example, they would want a pastor who believes like wise. This is understandable. While two may disagree in the timing of the rapture, they still may be accepting of each as brothers in the Lord and serve Him in many ways together. Also, it is OK to have our favorite teachers, but we must remember we may only be a few steps away form having a sectarian spirit. If our boast is in any teacher, then we are in danger of fractions and divisions. Paul finished the first chapter of Corinthians with a key to remember; "that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:31) This is key to avoiding a sectarian spirit; keep our boast on the Lord, and not on ourselves, anyone or anything else.

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14 NKJV)