Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

1 John 1:7-10

In 1 John 1:7-10 we see some of the most revealing truth in scripture around sin.  John begins by painting a picture of what the future could be.  “But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ does, then we have wonderful fellowship and joy with each other, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from every sin.”  The positive outcome we can all experience is ‘fellowship and joy and cleansing’.  But there is a big IF….we have to be living in the light.  We know that on this side of eternity, sinless perfection is not possible. Yet we can still live in the light, so John does mean perfect obedience.

So perfection is not the goal.  The Christian life is described as walking, which implies activity. Christian life feeds upon contemplation, but it displays itself in action. “Walking” implies action, continuity, and progress. Since God is active and walking, if you have fellowship with Him you will also be active and walking. The question is will you walk with Him, or on your own path.  We need to admit we’ll miss the perfection required for salvation, but know that Jesus came to take care of that if we’ll walk with Him.  “If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth.” We are sinners in need of a Savior.

So we need to admit it and follow the path to being forgiven.  Confess, repent, receive God’s grace, be saved.  It all begins with the recognition that we are sinners and need to be forgiven.  “But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” God has offered forgiveness.  He paid the maximum price to be able to give it to us freely – Jesus, His only Son, went to the Cross carrying our sin – and the result is God’s gift of grace.  It is ours for the taking, but it does require us to take action.  We have to be willing to take the act of faith and receive Jesus Christ as Savior.

God had a perfect plan, and He executed it fully. “And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.” That was the sole purpose for Jesus coming to this earth.  He came to live among us as a human for 33 years, but ultimately He came to carry our sin to the Cross and defeat death and sin and provide victory for eternity.  It boils down to us being willing to admit we are a sinner.  We are.  Scripture is clear that all of us have sinned.  Just a quick glance around the world, or the room validates that truth.  But the positive result of faith in Christ – eternal life based on God’s gift of grace – can only happen when we admit our sin and take the step to have that forgiven through Jesus’ death on the Cross.  “If we claim we have not sinned, we are lying and calling God a liar, for he says we have sinned.” Are you lying to yourself?  We all need a Savior.  Are you sure of your eternity?

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1 John 1:1-3

We’ll continue with John’s writings as we read through his work as translated in The Living Bible (TLB).  In 1 John 1:1-3  John gives us his pedigree in the faith and reminds us that he was there with Jesus. “Christ was alive when the world began, yet I myself have seen him with my own eyes and listened to him speak.” The beginning John wrote of is not the beginning of this world; nor is it the beginning of creation. It is the beginning of it all, the beginning there was before there was anything, when all there existed was God. Jesus was there for that, and yet, John tells us that very same Jesus came to this earth and became man and John was able to experience His life with Him.

It wasn’t a viewing from afar.  John was right there. “I have touched him with my own hands. He is God’s message of life.” Jesus has been audibly heard, physically seen, intently studied and looked upon, and personally touched.  He is the real deal.  But more than being a human, God sent Him to earth with a message of hope and life for all of us.  John’s words have the weight of eyewitness evidence. He did not speak of a myth, nor was it a matter of clever story-telling. He carefully studied the eternal One, and he knew what he was talking about.  Jesus came to bring life, and He did it through relationship.

God became accessible to man in the most basic way, a way that anyone could relate to. This eternal One can be known, and He has revealed Himself to us. “This one who is life from God has been shown to us, and we guarantee that we have seen him; I am speaking of Christ, who is eternal Life.” John makes the equation very clear: Jesus=eternal life.  There isn’t any more to it than that.  Guzik writes ‘the important things in life are not things at all – they are the relationships we have. God has put a desire for relationship in every one of us, a desire He intended to be met with relationships with other people, but most of all, to be met by a relationship with Him. In this remarkable letter, John tells us the truth about relationships – and shows us how to have relationships that are real, for both now and eternity.’ He points the way to Jesus and the eternal life that a relationship with Him will bring.

John continues to testify to the reality of Jesus.  “He was with the Father and then was shown to us.” God didn’t just send a message of hope and salvation.  He sent His very own Son to this planet to bring to us the opportunity for eternal life.  It isn’t rocket science, it merely requires faith.  We can have eternal life if we meet and receive the gift of grace from God.  It’s ours for the taking, but we do have to take that step. “Again I say, we are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard, so that you may share the fellowship and the joys we have with the Father and with Jesus Christ his son.” We can share in the hope of eternity through Jesus.  Have you taken that step of faith?

John 4:42-47

John 4:42-47 has Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman and the people from her village who have come to see Jesus based on her testimony and invitation to ‘come and see’.  They’ve heard Jesus’ teaching, and believe He is the Messiah and Savior.  “They said to the woman, We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world”!  They came to see Jesus based on her words, but they realized that salvation comes from a personal relationship with the Savior, and they have come to believe in Him and make that personal.  She did what was needed to get them to the Savior. He did the rest!

Jesus moves on.  “After the two days he left for Galilee. Now, Jesus knew well from experience that a prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up. So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, not that they really had a clue about who he was or what he was up to”.  Galilee was Jesus’ country – where He grew up. Because those from His home area felt so familiar with Jesus, they did not honor Him the way they should have. The locals from His area were impressed but it was dependent on the wonders arising from their sight of the signs He had performed in Jerusalem, not on a realization that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Jesus is in Cana, the place He performed His first miracle.  “Now he was back in Cana of Galilee, the place where he made the water into wine. Meanwhile in Capernaum, there was a certain official from the king’s court whose son was sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked that he come down and heal his son, who was on the brink of death”.  Jesus had made His home in Capernaum. Though Jesus was at Cana now in this chapter, the official travelled the 20 or so miles from Capernaum to Cana.  The situation is dire, and he came to beg Jesus to come heal his son.

This official believed Jesus could help because he knew that Christ had performed a miracle at the wedding.  Signs and wonders from God are obviously good things, but they should not form the foundation of our faith. We should not depend on them to prove God is alive and who He says He is. In themselves, signs and wonders cannot change the heart.  It requires us to have a personal relationship with the Savior, belief from our heart, not in what Jesus has done or can do, but in who He is and how He can change our hearts.  The official has faith in Jesus, not as Savior, but as someone who can do miraculous things.  That isn’t saving faith.

John 4:35-41

John 4:35-41 has Jesus schooling the disciples on the harvest.  He has just told them that the harvest is plentiful and they shouldn’t just sit back and wait.  “These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time! The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant”.  Jesus used the idea of food and harvest to communicate spiritual ideas. The idea of harvest meant that there were many people ready to enter the Kingdom of God, and that the disciples should see themselves as workers or reapers in that harvest.

Spurgeon wrote ‘Expect a present blessing; believe that you will have it; go to work to get it, and do not be satisfied unless you do have it’.  Jesus challenges the disciples to get after it.  “That’s the truth of the saying, This one sows, that one harvests. I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others”.  This is a huge principle around evangelism.  It is rare that someone takes a non-believer from their place of non-belief, to become a Christ Follower.  Most of the time bringing someone to Christ requires time and the investment of many along the journey.  Jesus is teaching the disciples that although they hadn’t done anything to bring the Samaritan people to the place of being ready for harvest, they were in a place to be able to do that following the hard work of others.

The villagers had come to see Jesus.  “Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out! They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days”.  The Samaritan woman testified that Jesus knew all about her and those who knew her believed.  At that moment they did not know enough to trust Jesus and His work on the cross; but they could most certainly believe in Him as the Messiah of God. They did believe because of the word of the woman who testified.  Our most powerful witness is to share the impact of Jesus in our life, just as the Samaritan woman did.

They ask Him to stay, and Jesus obliges. This was remarkable in light of the opinions of most of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day regarding the Samaritans.  They were second class citizens and not worthy of a Jew interacting with them.  And because He stayed, the impact continued to grow.  “A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say”. The remarkable testimony of the woman at the well-connected these Samaritans from her village to Jesus; but in hearing Jesus teach themselves, they came to a deeper personal faith in Jesus as both Messiah (Christ) and the Savior of the world.  If we bring people to Jesus, He does the rest!

James 2

James 2 begins with some strong words about how we treat people in our patch.  “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,”  while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become  judges with evil thoughts”?  There is no room for partiality in God’s kingdom.

God expects us to love all people everywhere.  “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it”.  Can we get to heaven and eternity by our own efforts?  James makes it pretty clear that won’t happen.  God only allows us to become perfected when we keep ALL the law.  One failure point disqualifies us from being good enough to be free from it’s conviction.  And how we treat others is definitely one area most if not all of us will fall short.  Treating people with partiality is a sin.  Failing in one area – committing one sin – puts us without entry to eternity with God.  It’s why we need Jesus.

James goes on to make clear that faith alone is not what it looks like when one becomes a true Christ Follower.  “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him”?  James starts with a question about what salvation really looks like.  And then he goes on to answer it quickly.  “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works”.  If we truly have faith and a relationship with Christ – we will be moved to live out that faith through works.

Works are a result of faith, but not really a choice, but rather a result. James uses Abraham as an example of what faith will do in our life.  It comes alive and leaks out through works.  It isn’t something we keep to ourselves. “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed  by his works”. We can’t contain our faith and keep it to ourselves.  It has to come out and bless others.  “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”.  It isn’t that works are part two of a salvation experience with Jesus.  But rather that true faith in our Savior and Lord can’t be contained and held within. It will come out of us.  It is a sign of a true relationship with the Savior. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead”.

Colossians 2

Colossians 2 has Paul encouraging the church at Colossae to focus on their walk with Christ.  “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving”.  We need to do a much better job in helping Christ Followers understand what it means to truly walk in Him.  Becoming a Christ Follower is not a point in time event – sure it happens at a point in time – but it is the beginning of a lifetime relationship where He not only has become Savior, but also Lord of our life.  We receive Jesus and need to root down in Him, but also then work to build up our faith which we do for the rest of our life.

Growing as a Christ Follower is critical to keeping us on the right path.  The world is filled with tools the enemy uses to try and drive us into the ditch.  “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ”.  There are many false teachings and deceitful traditions that will lead us astray if we aren’t rooted in the Truth.  But Jesus alone is the answer.  “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority”.  There is no other book, no other source of truth, than Him alone.

When we receive Christ and follow in believer’s baptism, we are “buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead”.  Baptism is the symbolic public expression of our faith in Christ, where we put off our sin as we go into the water and are set free through His cleansing grace as we come up from the water.  Jesus has already won the victory over sin.  But as humans, we certainly have not, and need the saving grace God offers us through Christ’s death on the cross to set us free from the penalty of our own sinful nature.

Sin is a big deal.  In our modern world, sin is downplayed as a ‘poor choice’ or ‘no big deal’.  Not so in God’s eyes.  “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross”.  Truth is we are dead to God because of our sin.  He can’t just look the other way.  His holiness and righteousness demand that He deal with sin in our life.  That’s why Jesus went to the Cross.  There has to be a payment for the sin we commit, and Jesus paid that price once and for all at Calvary.  All we have to do is receive that free gift of grace and mercy and make it our own.  We can go from dead to eternally alive by choosing to make Jesus our Savior and Lord.  Have you done that?

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3 has Paul telling us about his call to be a minister of the gospel of Christ.  He was under house arrest because of his missionary efforts to bring the truth to the Gentiles, which wasn’t at all popular with the religious leaders of the day.  Paul was tasked with unveiling a mystery: “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”.  All Christ Followers are one – believing Jews and believing Gentiles are joined together into one body of Christ, into one Church, and no longer separated before God.  This is very new thinking in Paul’s day, and one met with much resistance.

But Paul sees it as an honor to unveil God’s plan to the masses.  “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities  in the heavenly places”.  Christ’s death on the cross revealed God’s finished work of grace for all people, and Paul’s mission is to tell the world!

It wasn’t something that was without resistance and Paul encourages the church to stay the course.  “I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory….that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being”.  Paul was under arrest because of this message, but during that time he was used by God to write the letters of Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon.  Even though times can be difficult, the Holy Spirit dwells in us and will strengthen us in His power.

Why does Paul challenge us to not lose heart?  Here is his answer: “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”.  Spurgeon writes “Two expressions are used: ‘rooted,’ like a living tree which lays hold upon the soil, twists itself round the rocks, and cannot be upturned: ‘grounded,’ like a building which has been settled, as a whole, and will never show any cracks or flaws in the future through failures in the foundation.”

The cross pointed in four ways, essentially in every direction, because . . .

  • God’s love is wide enough to include every person.
  • God’s love is long enough to last through all eternity.
  • God’s love is deep enough to reach the worst sinner.
  • God’s love is high enough to take us to heaven.

Paul wants us to lean deeply into the everlasting and unmeasurable love of Christ.  In that love we are filled with the fullness of God.  Clarke writes “Among all the great sayings in this prayer, this is the greatest. To be filled with God is a great thing; to be filled with the fullness of God is still greater; but to be filled with all the fullness of God utterly bewilders the sense and confounds the understanding.”  That’s what God offers us through our relationship with Christ.  Do you have that?

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