“Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin?” February 9

 

Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin? - The Old Testament sacrificial system only provided a temporary covering for sin, like making minimum payments on our sin debt. Even though we no longer sacrifice bulls or lambs, many of us live much the same way, thinking a good deed here or showing up at church once in a while will keep the Creditor off our backs. Only to have the interest, the guilt and consequences of sin, pile up. But there is good news ...Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin?

 

The Old Testament sacrificial system only provided a temporary covering for sin, like making minimum payments on our sin debt. Even though we no longer sacrifice bulls or lambs, many of us live much the same way, thinking a good deed here or showing up at church once in a while will keep the Creditor off our backs. Only to have the interest, the guilt and consequences of sin, pile up. But there is good news …

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 29 & Exodus 30
Psalm 20.6-9
Proverbs 7.6-23
Matthew 25.1-30

 

“Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin?”

 

Exodus 29 & 30

The Final Sacrifice

 

Imagine … this Sunday morning before going in to worship, you have to stop outside the church and sacrifice a bull, then take some of the blood and put it on the altar with your finger and pour the rest of it on the altar. Afterwards you take the fat that covers the intestines, the fatty part of the liver, and the two kidneys and burn them. Then you take the bull’s waste, the skin, and the rest of the flesh out in the parking lot to be burned! All this after baking bread, having oil poured on your head, and taking a ritual bath! (And you thought just getting the family out of the house was hard!)

It’s a funny picture, but a serious subject. Why would God require all of that? And why would He want us to understand? Continue reading

“Betrayal!” January 23

 

Betrayal, Wrong Roads & Swallowing CamelsHow do you respond to betrayal? Do you play that video tape over and over in your mind, allowing it to burn into your brain, turning to anger, then bitterness? Or do you surrender it to God? Do you view it through the sovereignty of God or simply through your feelings?

And what about wrong roads, have you ever asked yourself, how did I get here? This isn’t where I wanted my life to end up. Or have you ever gotten so focused on straining out gnats in your life (or someone else’s) that you swallowed a camel?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 45 & 46
Psalm 12.3-4
Proverbs 4.14-17
Matthew 15.1-20

 

Betrayal!

 

Genesis 45 & Genesis 46:

Understanding the Sovereignty of God

 

A great famine has brought Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain. He recognized them immediately, but they have no idea who he is. Remember he was only a youth when they sold him to slave traders. Now he looks like any other Egyptian official.

Joseph has been testing them, perhaps to see if they’ve changed, but he can stand it no longer:

¹Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence (45.1-3).

What a reunion for Joseph and Benjamin! But I can’t imagine the shock the other ten brothers must have experienced.

14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him (45.14-15).

The most amazing part of this story is what John MacArthur calls “a masterpiece of recognition of and submission to the sovereignty of God” (MacArthur Daily Bible).

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt (45.4-8).

Think about it. Fifteen years had passed since that day when his brothers betrayed him. There were ten of them—older and stronger. They had thrown him into a pit. Imagine the terror of overhearing them arguing about whether or not to kill him and what they would tell their father. Later we learned that he pleaded with them, but they wouldn’t hear it (Gen. 45.21). The text says:

“And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming” (Gen. 37.25).

They sat down to have lunch while they debated his fate!

Then there was the long journey to Egypt. Did he hope they might change their minds and come after him? But no rescue. When he arrived in Egypt, was he put on an auction block?

At some point, Joseph must have made a decision to make the most of his circumstances and the Scripture says, “The Lord was with him” (Gen. 39.2). He served his master Potiphar well, rising to the job of chief steward, and was loyal even in the face of temptation. Then he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. Even there he was faithful and ended up being given a position of responsibility.

Even so, imagine the nights spent lying awake and wondering why? Why would his brothers do such a thing? Why would God allow it? When did he surrender it to God? We don’t know, but without a surrender he could not have responded as he did.

What do you do when someone has sinned against you? Do you play that video tape over and over in your mind, allowing it to burn into your brain, turning to anger, then bitterness? Or do you surrender it to God? Continue reading

“Scary Words: ‘I never knew you'” January 9

 

Scary Words, "I never knew you" - Jesus gave a pretty serious warning in Matthew 7 when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven ..." Are there people, sitting in church every Sunday, who believe they are headed for heaven when they're really in danger of hearing those words, "I never knew you, depart from me ..."? Read today's post to see what won't save us. Don't let pride or fear of what people might think keep you from seeking answers if you think that could be you!Jesus gave a pretty serious warning in Matthew 7 when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven …” There are people, sitting in church every Sunday, who believe they are headed for heaven when they’re really in danger of hearing those words, “I never knew you, depart from me …”

Read today’s post to see what won’t save us. Don’t let pride or fear of what people might think keep you from seeking answers if you think that could be you!

Also, read about the importance of removing the logs from our own eyes before we can be any help to others in “Judging Hearts & Log Removal,” what it really means to live “Life on the Rock,” about “God’s Favor,” “Our Higher Standard,” and from our Old Testament reading, “Why did Sarah laugh at the promise of God?”

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 17 & 18
Psalm 5.8-12
Proverbs 2.10-22
Matthew 7.1-29

 

Scary Words: “I never knew you”

 

Matthew 7.1-29:

Judging Hearts & Log Removal

 

logs

Verses 1-5 remind us of the dangers of judging the hearts and motives of others (although we are to judge sin and even, at times, to lovingly rebuke one another, more about that in a later commentary).

Verse 5 points out that we must first judge ourselves! We are to see the sins of others as specks in comparison to ours. Our sins are the “logs” or “planks” that keep us from seeing clearly!

 

I never knew you!

 

Verses 21-23 should serve as a serious warning to us:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”

This passage should remind us that there are many people sitting in churches who think they are right with God, but who Jesus says are in danger of hearing, “I never knew you!”

Believing in God, coming to church, reading your Bible, teaching in church, serving in ministry, taking sacraments, doing good works, prophesying (God spoke through pagans and even a donkey once so this is not a test of spirituality), casting out demons, and doing wonders cannot save you!  Continue reading

“One Last Chance, Purgatory & God’s Wrath” December 24

 

One Last Chance, Purgatory & God's WrathMerry Christmas Eve,

Like all great books, the last chapters in God’s Word are “hold-your-breath” exciting. Today we’ll talk about “The King” who was born as a babe but will one day return in power and glory. The climax will be a great battle where the fighting will be so fierce that the blood will be four feet deep in places and take place over an area of 200 square miles.

In the final days of the Tribulation, people will be given one last chance to hear and believe the gospel. An angel will offer them that last chance, but warn them if they take the mark of the beast, their eternity will be sealed for all time. And those of us who die before that time must decide, before we die, because there’s no purgatory, no last chance to realize “Oops, I made a mistake!”

We’ll also talk about seduction, not just the devil’s open seduction of many in the last days, but sexual seduction in personal relationships.

And speaking of great books, did you know that the Bible is the best selling book of all time? Of course, it’s not just any book. It is God’s revelation of Himself to all mankind, penned by men, but breathed out from the heart and mind of God.

Be sure to think about how you will get to know this greatest of all books. And don’t forget to talk to anyone else God has placed on your heart about reading through the Bible this coming year. I would love it if you would share this post on your favorite social media. Also, The MacArthur Daily Bible would make a great and reasonably priced last minute Christmas gift. It may be just the motivation someone needs to get started!

I pray that today will be a restful day without too many last minute things to do. Let’s all remember to take time tonight and tomorrow to think about what it all means … which is so much more than all the commercial hustle and bustle. And I hope you will make time to attend a worship service.

On to today’s readings …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zephaniah 1-3
Psalm 147.1-6
Proverbs 30.18-19
Revelation 14

 

Zephaniah 1-3:

He’s the King and He is good!

 

When Mike and I were talking about the book of Zephaniah, we were reminded of a scene in the first Narnia movie. In the book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the conversation goes like this:

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

When you read the book of Zephaniah and see God’s wrath and judgment on sin, Continue reading

“The Second Death & A Righteous Judge” December 22

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge - Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He's sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He’s sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. 

In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nahum 1-3
Psalm 145.17-21
Proverbs 30.16
Revelation 12.1-17

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge

 

Nahum 1-3:

Patient, Merciful & Righteous

 

Chapter 1.3, 7 sum up this book:

3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.

God is patient and merciful (“slow to anger”). His desire is that all would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.4).

But He can’t be good and be a liar. He can’t be a righteous judge and give evil a pass (“acquit the wicked”). There is a debt to be paid for sin in the court of heaven. For those who put their faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross, it has been paid in full, but for those who reject the truth, the penalty is death.

But physical death is not the end. We will all live forever. The question is … “Where?”

Death is separation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden they were separated from God. They no longer had the spirit to Spirit communion with Him they had enjoyed. They didn’t die physically, at least not immediately, though they would since they were, also, barred from eating from the tree of life.

As their children, we are all born spiritually dead and unless Jesus returns before then, we will die physically.

But there is a second death (Rev. 2.11), Continue reading

“Do you think you are saved?” December 7

 

Do you think you're saved? - “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT). Strong words! What did Jesus mean? How can we know that we won't hear those terrible words, "I never knew you"?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Strong words! What did Jesus mean? How can we know that we won’t hear those terrible words, “I never knew you”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 5 & 6
Psalm 139.1-6
Proverbs 29.19
1 John 5.1-21

 

Do you think you are saved?

 

1 John 5.1-21:

Assurance of Salvation

 

praise worship

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (v. 13).

God used the Apostle John to write the gospel of John so that, “… you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20.31). Then in 1 John He inspired him to write so that believers might have assurance of their salvation.

He wants us to be confident that we have eternal life! But eternal life is not just a reality when we die, we can have eternal life now, because eternal life is in a person—the person of Jesus Christ!

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (v. 11).

If you are “in Christ” and He is “in you,” you have eternal life.

 

Believe you are saved?

 

Do you believe you are saved? On what do you base that belief?

Have you placed all your faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone? Or do you believe that your salvation rests on something you do? Do you understand that you could do nothing to save yourself (not baptism, not sacraments, not being good enough)?

“…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).

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 (Eph. 2.8-9).

We’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

But in Matthew 7 Jesus warned us that there will be many people who think they’re saved, but aren’t:

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Was Jesus contradicting other passages that say we’re saved by grace through faith? No, the “doing the will of my Father” is grace-powered and love-driven obedience. It’s the kind of obedience that flows from genuine heart change. It’s the fruit of our salvation.

But He was driving home the point that “good works,” even religious looking good works can’t save us. Only knowing Him personally, having an intimate relationship with Him by acknowledging that we’re sinners who can do nothing to save ourselves and by putting our faith and trust in what He did for us on the cross can save us.  Continue reading

“Will we be children of light?” November 12

 

Will we be children of light? - Israel had failed miserably concerning God’s purpose for their nation and were now faced with the fire of God’s judgment. Jesus told us as His followers we are to be salt and light. More than ever, our world needs believers who will obey that command. It won’t be easy. Salt sometimes stings and darkness doesn’t like the light, but both are desperately needed.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 15 & 16
Psalm 123.1-4
Proverbs 28.20
Hebrews 8.1-13

 

Will we be children of light?

 

Ezekiel 15 & 16:

Fruit, Salt & Light

 

In chapter 15 the nation of Israel is pictured as a fruitless vine. While the wood from fruitless trees is useful for building and other purposes, vines that are unfruitful are useless except to be burned in the fire. The nation of Israel had failed miserably concerning God’s purposes and God was warning them of the fire of His judgment.

Jesus said much the same thing in Matthew 5:

13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

And in verse 14:

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Our nation and our world, more than ever, need believers who will be salt and light. It won’t be easy. Salt sometimes stings and darkness doesn’t like the light, but both are desperately needed.

Left alone, darkness will only lead to more darkness: more anger, more hate, more crime, and more evil (Rom. 6.19). We must shine the light of truth and the love of Christ into hearts if we want to see any lasting change. While God uses laws to restrain evil (Rom. 13.1-7), only God can change a heart.

Salt acts as a preservative. It keeps food and, in this case, a society from rotting. You don’t have to watch much news with screaming protesters, violence against police and others, and disregard for civil and moral laws to know that the culture around us is rotting.

We must not be intimidated into silence or embarrassed by the truths in God’s Word. Instead we must speak the truth in love (Eph. 4.14-15), humbly correcting “those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2.25-26). 

Ephesians 5 reminds us:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.14 Therefore He says:

“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

Let’s go and be the children of light God has called us to be.

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 123.1-4:

Looking to the Lord

 

Psalm 123.2 is a picture of complete dependence on God:  Continue reading

“Does Salvation + Time + Knowledge = Spiritual Maturity?” November 9

 

Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? - Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? Does it come from years of church membership? From learning how to use Bible software or getting 10 devotionals in your in-box? Does it come with a degree in theology? Or from attending Bible studies week after week? If not, what does it take?Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? If not, where does is come from? From years of church membership? From learning how to use Bible software or getting 10 devotionals in your in-box? Does it come with a degree in theology? Or from attending Bible studies week after week? If not, what does it take?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 9 & 10
Psalm 121.1-8
Proverbs 28.16
Hebrews 5.1-14

 

Does Salvation + Time + Knowledge = Spiritual Maturity?

 

Hebrews 5.1-14:

Where does spiritual maturity come from?

 

Does Salvation + Time + Knowledge = Spiritual Maturity

Does it happen simply because we show up for church week after week? Or get baptized, learn how to use Bible software or start serving in church? Does it come from attending Bible studies or displaying a Christian bumper sticker?

It’s not to say any of those things are wrong or that they can’t happen as a result of spiritual maturity, but in themselves they don’t make a mature disciple of Christ. In fact, James 1 says if we’re hearers of the word and not doers, we delude ourselves (Jas. 1.22-25). Often that delusion concerns our own maturity and level of obedience. We think we’re “OK” because we do Christian things.

Going back to our Hebrews 5 passage, let’s read it in the New Living Translation:

11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

The writer of Hebrews was addressing those who “ought to be teaching others” because of their exposure to the Word and Christian experience. Instead they were still babies and needed milk.

But solid food, food that is fit for those who are spiritually mature, is for those who have trained themselves or practiced doing what God says. Spiritual maturity comes as a result of obeying the Word on a regular basis.

But before you can grow spiritually, you must be born spiritually (Jn. 3.3). Do you need to examine yourself to see if you are “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13.5)? Do you struggle with doubts about the genuineness of your relationship with God? Make sure you understand the gospel. Don’t let another day pass without having the assurance that you belong to Him.

If you know you belong to Him, could there be some area of life where you are blinded by hearing and not doing? We all need to pray regularly for God to help us avoid spiritual blind spots and if there is some area where you know you’ve not obeyed God, repent and ask for His forgiveness and grace. Then step out in obedience.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 9 & 10:

Marked by God

 

Even as God prepared to bring His judgment on the people, He commanded an angel to go out and put a mark on every person who loved and worshiped Him and who grieved over the spiritual condition of the nation, just as He did before the death angel passed over in Egypt.

The same is true today. All those who belong to Him, those who are born again by the Spirit of God, have His mark. Ephesians 1.13-14:

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

There will be a day of judgment for everyone. But sadly, there are many who look good on the outside, but because they don’t have a genuine relationship with the Lord are not sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Continue reading

“Truth & Lies” October 21

 

False ProphetsJesus called Satan the father of lies and He warned the religious leaders of His day that they were listening to the wrong voice. In the garden Satan sold Eve a bill of goods and in Jeremiah’s day, he spoke through false prophets who told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad. False teachers and false prophets are saying much the same thing today. Others may propagate lies because they are misinformed and listening to the wrong voice.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 27 & 28
Psalm 119.33-40
Proverbs 27.18
2 Thessalonians 3.1-18

 

Truth & Lies

 

Jeremiah 27 & 28:

False prophets

In the garden the serpent told Eve, “You will not surely die!” In other words, your disobedience won’t result in painful consequences.

As if to make His point that the devil is a liar, God recorded pages and pages of genealogy and after each name it says, “… and he died and was buried with his fathers.”

In Jeremiah’s day, false prophets told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad, but it too, was a lie.

Today, the false prophets may not look as obvious, but they’re out there. They’re preachers and teachers. They’re counselors, psychologists and therapists. They’re teachers and university professors. They’re politicians and judges and activists and Planned Parenthood employees.

 

They Prophesy Falsely …

They prophesy falsely when they say, “The Bible isn’t all true. It’s just a book of myths.”

But God says:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1.20-21).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3.16).

Or, when they say “Jesus was a good man, but not God.”

But Jesus said “I and My Father are one (Jn. 10.30).”

He can’t be both a good man and a liar.

Or, “Jesus loves everyone just the way you are. There’s no need to change.”

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk. 1.15).

They prophesy falsely every time they say to an unrepentant sinner, “You don’t need to feel guilty. You need to do what’s right for you.”

Guilt is not always a bad thing. Apart from Christ we’re all guilty, so guilty that the only remedy was for Jesus to die in our place! Often the guilt and consequences are the very things God uses to draw people to Himself.

2 Corinthians 7.9-10 says:

9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

They prophesy falsely every time they say to a young woman, “You won’t suffer any problems as a result of this abortion.”

But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good (Rom. 2.8-10).

Or “Just accept who you are. You were born that way.”

We were all born sinners though we’re inclined to sin in different ways, but that’s precisely why we need a Savior.

And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Cor. 5.15).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5.17).

Or when they question God by asking, “What kind of a God let’s all these bad things happen?” As if God is obligated to bless a people who have denied His right to rule them!

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2.10).

Or, even, when they say, “Just ask Jesus into your heart” without talking about the need to repent and turn away from sin.

Joel 2.12 says, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

And Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Lk. 26.20).

And Acts 26.20 says, “… and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”

It’s not that it’s wrong to pray a prayer of salvation, but it isn’t a “magic formula.” Each person needs to first understand and accept the gospel: that Jesus died for guilty sinners, that He rose from the dead so that we can have new life, and that He is Lord not just Savior (Rom. 10.9-10).

prayerThe acceptance of that truth may be expressed in a prayer. It may happen in a church pew, at an altar, in a home, an alley, or a hospital bed. It may happen as the Word is preached, as the gospel is shared one on one, or as the Spirit of God brings gospel truth to remembrance. It may look very different from one life to the next, but in some way an understanding of our inability to redeem ourselves (Rom. 3.10-12, 23, 6.23), that Christ died the death we deserved (Rom. 5.8), and that He offers us salvation as a free gift (Rom. 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9) must come alive.

If you’re reading this and that truth is coming alive in your heart, talk to God. No fancy words are required. Admit you’re a sinner and ask Him to forgive you, accept what He did for you and ask for His help to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. It’s that simple.

 

As for the False Teachers …

And as for the false teachers … there will come a time when some will hear what Hananiah heard at the end of 28.15-17:  Continue reading

“If you died tonight …?” August 20

 

If you died tonight ...? - If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don't leave your eternity to chance!If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 31 & 32
Psalm 98.1-3
Proverbs 23.17-18
1 Corinthians 2.1-16

 

If you died tonight …?

 

1 Corinthians 2.1-16:

The Power of the Gospel

 

Verses 1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

That is something we all need to remember as we witness to our friends and loved ones. We can’t “talk them into anything.” The power lies in the gospel and in God’s Word. We need to share the truth with them by pointing them to the Scripture.

bible johnMartha Peace, who wrote The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective, said that before she got saved her friends had told her to read the book of John, and to keep reading it until it made sense to her. She was depressed and pretty messed up, but she did. And one night after reading it a number of times, faith came alive in her heart!

We certainly don’t want to beat people over the head with the Bible, but we must realize that it is the Scriptures that contain the power of God for salvation!

 

If you died tonight?

 

What about you? Are you are reading this and wondering, “Would I go to heaven?” Please don’t push that thought away. Seek God about it. Pull out your Bible or get one. Begin reading the book of John. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. You can read more about the gospel and salvation here.

Or maybe you have been in church for a long time or you went when you were younger. Maybe you “prayed a prayer” once, joined a church, got baptized … but you still have doubts. The aging Apostle John said this about why God had him write the book of 1 John:

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 Jn. 5.13).

Did you notice that phrase? “…that you may KNOW”! God wants us to have confidence and peace in knowing that we belong to Him. He wants us to understand eternal security. Read more here. We can have eternal security, but it is not based on what we do, rather it is a faith transaction.

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 (Eph. 2.8-9).

Leave me a comment and I will put you in touch with a solid biblical church in your area if you would like to talk to someone about your eternal destiny (I won’t publish it, if you prefer). Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 31 & 32:

If … if … if

 

Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (vss. 1, 9), if I had not been generous (vss. 16-21), if I had treated my employees unfairly (v. 31), if I had trusted in wealth rather than God (vss. 24-25), if I had hidden my sin (v. 33), if I had stolen (v. 39), etc., then I could understand all this.

We are often a lot like Job. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.

After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!

But soon … God will begin to speak and answer all of them. Continue reading