A Defenseless War

A theme that runs throughout Paul’s letters to the various churches is that all humanity has turned away from God.  Yet, when it comes to God’s power and wrath no man is exempt.  

God is eternal and will one day reign supreme.  So why does God tarry?  What is He holding out for?  Well, one reason could be that He is holding out for all humanity to turn back to Him.  The issue is family.  We are His family.  The problem is that one half of the family has chosen God and they want to be free from the shackles of sin while the other half has chosen sin.  Sin is like a jail cell and the door is wide open to come and go.  Some people like living in sin because it gives them what they want.  So they feel comfortable in it and do not want to leave that cell.  Well, one day that cell door is going to shut and lock, never to open again.  The people inside will be trapped and never get out.

Another reason could be control.  God is in control so we do not have to worry about it.  All we have to do is the only work He wants us to do – to keep believing in Him and believing in His son Jesus Christ and that He is who He says He is – the Son of God.  Everything else flows from that belief.  The desire to love God and everyone else; the desire to live godly lives as the Bible instructs us and to live the beatitudes and display behavior thaNot praises God,  The list could go on.  All we need to do is believe and nothing else.  That is it!

For God to send His Son to earth, He had to choose a place to send Him.  God’s choice makes the Jews privileged – “for you are a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, a people set apart”.  God has looked on the Jewish nation with favor.  They will be judged for their part in the death of Jesus but judgement does not cancel the divine.  God’s faithfullness is unalterable.  God is incapable of changing His promises.  God’s character and nature is love.  So what is the character of man?  It is any lack of conformity to the will of God.  What gets in “conformity’s” way? Sin.  All sin gets in the way of a relationship with God and with others.

I am personable to my own sin.  Inotherwords, I am accountable for my own sin and no one else.  There are three different answers or way to respond to sin.  We can either deny, blame, or realize(embrace)it.  If I do not make myself accountable for my own sin then I have no need for a savior.  Paul says the complete opposite.  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  This is not what society wants to hear.  They do not want to hear that they are sinners.  There is a universal message here.  If we are left to our own sin then we are not seekers of God.  

No one lives up to their own moral code.  When it comes down to it, when I am standing before God I am defenseless.  For God knows all and sees all.  That is why I need a Savior.  I do have one piece of defense when I am standing before the throne and that defense is Jesus Christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Faith Alone

We come to Christ by faith alone.
We are called to be holy before a holy God.  As we read in the Bible, Abraham was saved by faith in God’s promises.  Our God is one and He is eternal both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We see God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit at work throughout the Bible.  At work for the fulfillment of God’s plan for the redemption of man.  We cannot work hard enough to earn God’s grace and mercy.
God forgives sin apart from works.  “God saved us by His grace when we believed.  We cannot take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”(Eph 2:8-10).  Our works are a great thing but it does not earn us our salvation and our ticket to heaven.
When we take a trip to any location we see signs along the way as we travel to where we want to end up.  However, a sign is not the destination but it merely points to the way of the destination.  Romans 4:13 says “Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law. but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith.  In this world we depend on the law and its provisions but in God we depend on His promises and precepts.
God forgives sin, apart from works and religion.  Apart from the”do’s” and “don’ts” and observances.  We are free in Christ because of what He did for us!  His death on the cross broke the shackles of sin.  It is about being close to God and in His presence.  It is about a relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ, for if we are apart from Christ then we are as good as dead.  The strength of our faith lies in the trustworthiness of Jesus, our source of faith.  That is how God forgives – by faith in Jesus Christ.

 

 

Anathema Part 2: What does the Bible say about curses?

God has a lot to say in the Bible about curses.  Most popular is the passage in the Old Testament that comes in the first book of the Bible.  After the creation of the universe and of man, in Genesis 3, the woman was tempted by the serpent and bites the apple giving some to the man.  God then curses the serpent, then woman and then the ground and lastly man – in that order.  In most cases in the Bible, curses are used by God for punishment and disobedience.  Then in the last book, Book of Revelation 22:18-19 states “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book.  If anyone adds anything to them, then God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the Tree of Life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”

The Bible starts with a curse and ends with a curse like bookends on a bookshelf.  So what about the books in-between?  Can a curse become a blessing?  Looking further into the O.T., the story of Joseph is one that demonstrates this concept of a curse turning into a blessing.  It starts with the curse of  Joseph’s brothers hating him so much that they take his multi colored coat and spot paint it with animal blood then presenting it to their father.  They take Joseph, throw him into a pit and then sell him into slavery.  Thrown into prison, he interprets dreams and is eventually called to do the same for Pharaoh.  Pharaoh is so pleased that Joseph is made Prime Minister, second in command.  The climax of the blessing is Joseph saying to his brothers, “Selling me into slavery, you may have meant this for harm but God has blessed me and has sent me on ahead of you to provide for you and to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Gen 45:4-7).

The New Testament demonstrates this in similar fashion with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  The crucifixion was used as a criminal’s death and the Jews accused Jesus of wrong doing.  He was cursed by the Jews and nailed to the cross like a criminal.  The Jews said to Pilate “Crucify Him! May His blood be on us and our children.” In so doing, Jesus’ was blood was shed on the cross and the blessing is that we need Jesus’ blood on that cross for our salvation.  By shedding His blood on the cross and our trangressions being nailed to the cross with Him, Jesus saved us from a death that was rightfully ours.  It was this statement that the Jews cursed themselves with that actually turned into a blessing.  Isaiah 53 known as the suffering servant passage portrays this well as the reason for Jesus’ life and His refusal to defend Himself.

Another example is the ten lepers.  They were cursed with leprosy, came to Jesus and asked for His mercy.  He healed them but only one came back to praise Him.  His faith and the cleansing of his leprosy made him see the true meaning of what Jesus had done.  When he returned Jesus says “Go, for your faith has healed you.” His leprosy, which was a curse, perpetuated the faith he needed to come and stand before Jesus to ask for mercy.  The leprosy turned into a blessing and his faith healed him.