God’s Gift Of Salvation

Leave a comment

How Do I Please God?                                                                                Image

Many people believe that when they die God will accept them into His presence because they have lived good lives. They might point to the fact that they have given money to charity, that they have attended church, or that they have not done anything “really bad.”

What Is Humanity’s True Condition?

Nevertheless, in the Bible, God says that no one can live up to His righteous standard. “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12).

Earlier in the book of Romans, the author Paul goes further to describe humanity’s miserable condition and the reality of God’s wrath against us for our evil: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In short, humanity is completely unrighteous in God’s sight, and God is going to judge humanity for its sin and evil.

Where Does Sinful Humanity Go When They Die?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

How Do We Escape?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask.

What Is God’s Way Of Salvation?

Despite our inability to save ourselves, God made a way of salvation for sinful humanity. Describing this plan is the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s solution is His own Son: Jesus Christ.

Just prior to John 3:16, John describes who Jesus Christ is. He identifies Jesus Christ as the “Word” when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Simply put, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Many other passages confirm this fact: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5); “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).

What Did Jesus Christ Come To Accomplish?

Why did Christ take on a human nature? Why did He have to die? Christ took on a human nature to live the perfect human life that we could not live ourselves. “For we have not an high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Most shocking is the question of why Christ had to die on the cross. Because God is infinitely just, He cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. Either He must punish us for our sins, or He must punish a voluntary substitute. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ was the voluntary substitute for sinners, and “He humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8b).

So not only did Christ live a perfect life in our place, he also died the death that we deserved to die, and He absorbed God’s wrath on our behalf. Therefore, the Bible can say, “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” (Romans 5:10b)

If Christ had remained on the cross or in the grave, it would all be just a sad story—but Christ did not stay dead. As a declaration that God is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, God raised His Son from the dead, and in His resurrection all who believes in Christ have the hope of a future resurrection to eternal life. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man came also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

How Do I Receive This Free Gift?

In light of this amazing sacrifice, we might imagine that the cost of such a salvation on our part would be higher than we could afford. God has already told us that our good works do not save us. Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as 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)

Advertisements

Letter From God

Leave a comment

My Dearest Child                                                 ,Image

                You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1). I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2). I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3). Even the hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31). For you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27)In me you live and move and have your being (Acts 17:28). For you are my offspring (Acts 17:28). I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5)I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12)You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book (Psalm 139:15-16). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). And brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).

                I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me (John 8:41-44). I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. (1 John 4:16) And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.  (1 John 3:1) Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. (1 John 3:1) I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. (Matthew 7:11) For I am the perfect father. (Matthew 5:48) Every good gift you receive comes from my hand. (James 1:17) For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. (Matthew 6:31-33) My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3) My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. (Psalm 139:17-18) And I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) I will never stop doing good to you. (Jeremiah 32:40) For you are my treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5)

                I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:41) And I want to show you great and marvelous things. (Jeremiah 33:3) If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. (Deuteronomy 4:29) Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) For it is I who gave you those desires. (Philippians 2:13) I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) For I am your greatest encourager. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17) I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. (Psalm 34:18) As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. (Isaiah 40:11) One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. (Revelation 21:3-4) And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. (Revelation 21:3-4) I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. (John 17:23) For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. (John 17:26) He is the exact representation of my being. (Hebrews 1:3)

                He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. (Romans 8:31) And to tell you I am not counting your sins. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. (1 John 4:10) I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. (Romans 8:31-31) If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. (1 John 2:23) And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. (Romans 8:23-39) Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. (Luke 15:7) I have always been Father, and will always be Father. (Ephesians 3:14-15) My questions is…..  Will you be my child? (John 1:12-13) I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32)

Love,

Your Dad

Paul Tanner  paul@thecatholicword.com

Put on the New Self Colossians 3: 1-11

Leave a comment

Several hundred years before Paul’s day, Colossae had been a leading city in Asia Minor (present day Turkey). It was located on the Lycus River and on the great east-west trade route leading from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to the Euphrates River. By the first century a.d. Colossae was diminished to a second rate market town, which had been surpassed long ago in power and importance by the neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (see 4:13).

What gave Colossae New Testament importance, however, was the fact that, Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus, Epaphras had been converted and had carried the gospel to Colossae (c.f. 1:7-8; Acts 19:10). The young church that resulted then became the target of heretical attack, which led to Epaphras’s visit to Paul in Rome and ultimately to the penning of the Colossian letter.

Perhaps as a result of the efforts of Epaphras or other converts of Paul, Christian churches had also been established in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Some of them were house churches (see 4:15; Philem 2). Most likely all of them were primarily Gentile.

We, as Christians, are to set our sights and our focus upon Christ as Lord, who raised us to new life, for this is our authentic reality and Truth. We trust in Christ who sits at God’s right hand in honor and power in the reality of heaven. We are heaven bound; we are to set our thoughts and hopes on Him.

Let Christ fill our thoughts and take hold of our will so we need not give a thought to earthly troubles and fears. We are in Christ; we died to Him and now He is our genuine world and life and we share in His glory. We can put sin and our sinful ways to death, those earthy wants and needs that are bad and cause harm to others and us. Have nothing to do with evil or sin or any kind of anger, greed, bad language, lying, or any thoughts of impurity or idolatry. For these things stir God’s anger and we do not want that.

When we have received His grace and forgiveness, why would we go back to what hurts others and us? Strip off this old nature of sin and put on His nature of fruitfulness and renewal by clothing yourselves in His goodness with your new nature within you that He created. Neither our nationality nor socioeconomic status matter when we are in Christ; all that matters is that he is real and true and lives in us all.

It is not enough just to know what we should know; we must do as we are called to do. We need to not only engage His Word, but also obey and practice its commandments. If not, we are not living as an authentic Christian. How do we do this?

Paul tells us to put to death our old man-our sin and evil desires-and not only embrace our new lives in Christ but reside in them as well. We are to make Christ first in order to receive His blessings and empowerment! That way, Jesus is our focus and attention rather than our own agendas. Then, we will lead lives of distinction, maturity, and character (Matt. 6:33; Rom. 6:1-14; Eph. 2:1-10).

There is no reason or necessary function for an authentic Christian to be drawn to sexual sin, greed, rage, dirty language, gossip, slander, malicious behaviors, or idolatry ruling our hearts and minds. Such things cause us to seek other things to be our god and direction in life. We may not be able to remove sin completely, but we can move away from sin and towards our Lord. We can throw off our wrong desires, and live a life that is real, impacting, and triumphant! Do not allow your life to be hidden or unproductive. You are so much better than the world says you are or people on the street or work say you are; you have power from on High! You were dead; now you are alive in Him. What more can you possibly need or want? Christ is all that matters and He is living, working, and guiding you as a Christian!

SCRIPTURE:

Put On the New Self

1Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.5Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— 11a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

QUESTIONS:

  • What does this passage say?
  • What does this passage mean?
  • What is God telling you?
  • How are you encouraged and strengthened?
  • Is there sin in your life for which confession and repentance is needed?
  • How can this change you so you can learn and grow?
  • What is in the way of these commandments affecting you? What is in the way of your listening to God?
  • How does this apply to you? What will you do about it?
  • What does God want you to share with someone?
  • What kind of clothes can you buy to make you feel like a new person? How does this make you feel? How is this like being in Christ?
  • How have you set your focus upon Christ? How have you failed at this? What does it mean that Christ is Lord and has raised you to new life? How does this motivate you?
  • How is Jesus Christ your real reality and Truth? What does it mean to you, to trust in Christ? How is He your reality?
  • How do you feel that you, as a Christian are saved by grace and heaven bound? How does this help you today and in the future to set your thoughts and hopes in and with Him?
  • What can you do to put to death sin and your sinful ways, such as bad wants and needs?
  • What causes God’s anger? Do you think this is just? What about when you are angry? How and why is your anger sometimes sin?
  • How do the sins listed in this passage ignore grace and forgiveness, thereby hurting others and us?
  • What do you think God needs to be doing in you? What are you going to do in allowing Him to do so?
  • How does your trust lead to your obedience of God’s commandments? How does it motivate you knowing that your trust in Christ will produce holy living as a result of Christ working in you? What stops you from allowing this to happen?

Paul Tanner                           paul@thecatholicword.com                               thecatholicword.wordpress.com

 

More or Less

Leave a comment

 

Paul Tanner

Paul@thecatholicword.com

Jesus Heals Many

Leave a comment

Scripture

 Image

38 Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. 39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. 40 While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. 41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ. 42 When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. 43 But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea

Luke 4:38-44 New American Standard Bible (NASB)


Exposition

It is Sabbath morning after an eventful service at the synagogue. Peter invites Jesus over for dinner, but cautions him, “Master, it will take a little longer to put the meal on the table. My mother-in-law is sick, and Miriam has to do everything herself. Could you look at Miriam’s mother when you come? (Although this is unconfirmed, some research shows that Miriam is Saint Peter’s wife. Research also shows that Saint Peter’s name could have been Cephus)

Jesus glances over at Peter with just the trace of a smile, and follows him in the bright Saturday sun through the narrow streets to Peter’s house. Inside the room, Jesus takes a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dark. In the corner on a mat is the, old woman, her body one moment wracked with chills, and then burning up with fever. She is moaning softly.

Miriam draws Peter aside. “Peter, mother is worse. I’m afraid for her.”

Nevertheless, Jesus has already moved to where the suffering woman lies and bends over her. Speaking a word of rebuke to the fever, he touches her hand, and then helps her up.

Peter is saying, “Master, mother isn’t at all well….” but Jesus stops him saying, “Peter, she’ll be fine. She’s well now.”

“Miriam,” crackles the old woman, wonderfully spry considering her bout with influenza. “Let me help you….”

Questions


What does Jesus’ ministry of laying on of hands for healing teach us about him?

  • How did Jesus treat the sick people he encountered that afternoon and evening in Capernaum? What kind of example does that set for us to follow?
  • Which was the more important motivator for Jesus: compassion or duty? Did they ever conflict?
  • Why is it so hard to maintain a Quiet Time? What have you found that enables you to set aside this time. Any tips to share with the rest of us.

Lessons for Apostles


What are the take-away lessons for apostles from the healing in Capernaum and Jesus’ call?

  • Jesus took time to individually minister to people, even after “normal” working hours.
  • Jesus took a Quiet Time away from others to hear from his father.
  • Jesus’ sense of mission from talking to his Father allowed him to look past the constant requests for ministry from needy people to see the bigger picture. Without perspective, the good can be the enemy of the best.

Before we conclude, let me ask you a personal question:

  • Do you practice a personal Quiet Time at least five days a week?

You do not have to tell me how difficult it is — I already know. 🙂 However, DO you? If you are serious about growing as an apostle, this step is indispensable for you. In encourage you to persist in carving out even a few minutes on a regular basis. The rewards are much greater than the sacrifice.

Prayer


Lord, what a privilege it is to observe you as you care for people. Yet I see that you care for your Father’s will more than even the people. Help me to keep that essential balance in my own life. Help me to spend time with you so the time I spend with people will be more power-filled. Forgive me where I fall short. I love you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

There is a longer version of this, containing narrative for the verses. If you would like to read the entire lesson, please feel free to contact me:

Paul Tanner

Paul@thecatholicword.com

%d bloggers like this: