We Can Know Jesus Christ Today!

For November 29, 2020
Some contend the distance between Heaven and Hell is approximately twelve to eighteen inches—the distance between the head and the heart. So to clearly communicate this fundamental yet essential spiritual truth, the Lord appeals to the human heart by telling a most wonderful story about God, our loving Father; Jesus Christ, the One and only Son of God, and the world, or all humanity.

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:13-18 NIV).

The Lord insists that we must be Born Again to experience Heaven. He also uses childbirth metaphors to compare normal water birth (embryonic fluid), and the second spiritual birth that the Spirit of God performs inside of us and affirms the law of reproduction: flesh only produces flesh, while the Spirit will only produce spirit (John 3:3—6).

In other words, normal human childbirth does not produce spiritually transformed lives. It only produces more of itself—flesh. Likewise, the Holy Spirit of God does not reproduce sinful humans since it is inconsistent with His holy nature.

There must be a dynamic, spiritual transformation inside us before we can see the Kingdom of God, because we are spiritually broken due to Original Sin, the internal condition that produces outward signs of moral depravity. Our Fall occurred after our ancestors, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. As a result, we are born without a love for God or godly things, and we choose to disobey Him, just as they did (see: Genesis 2:16–17, 3, Romans 5:12).

Concerning our wretched internal condition or Natural Man, one scholar comments,

[The Natural Man] will make no effort to remove his moral corruption, for he does not desire its removal. He is satisfied with the state of his heart, and lives according to its inclinations. He is the voluntary slave to sin, and is therefore pleased with the slavery. 1

Some think that Fallen Nature, sin, and moral depravity are all outdated and no longer apply. They are convinced that we as humans do not need God’s intervention to experience His joy, peace, and fulfillment on earth and in Heaven forever.

When asked about their sin and their need for God’s great salvation, they reply: “Me, a sinner? Impossible! I have the ‘right’ name, and I have all the ‘right’ connections, and all the ‘right’ things this world can offer. I don’t need anything!”

There is a real danger when our pride and self-righteousness deceives us into a false sense of self-security. Fooled into thinking that God accepts us as we are as sinful, broken creatures, and that we will make it to Heaven because we have an exhaustive pedigree of “right” things.

But unless those “right” things are the byproducts of our spiritual change, we will continue to miss the mark even on our best day. Psalm 14:2-3 NKJV illustrates this point,

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

It is this nature that makes us think, speak, and act—often without provocation—in ways detrimental to others and us that we need to change. However, the good news is that God will change our governing disposition from vile and sinful to pure and holy, through the Born Again experience or regeneration as this writer observes,

Regeneration is that act of God by which the governing disposition of the soul is made holy…It is God turning the soul to Himself.2

A computer contaminated by a virus can still function, but not at its optimum level. However, once the virus is removed, the hard drive is reformatted with new software installed; the machine can function at an optimum level according to its original design. Much like this computer illustration, sin contaminated us, and we need spiritual reformatting.

First, we must acknowledge that we are contaminated by sin and confess our sin to God through repentance. (We must also show that our repentance is sincere by our willingness to resist the continual practice of sinful behavior. Here, we show we are “sick and tired” of being “sick and tired” of a life of sin, guilt, and shame.) Then, we must place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who installs His spirit-directed software—the Holy Spirit—who enables us to function according to our original design at full capacity.

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that in Christ, we are God’s completely new creations, whereby loving and pleasing God is our new all-consuming, lifelong objective. No longer do we seek the things of the world. They have become dead to us, and we are no longer subject to them. Our new aim is to live lives that emulate our Lord and live for Him to the best of our ability forever.

We were once proud and selfish; now humble and selfless, once aggressive and villainous; now assertive and virtuous. In place of deceit, we now practice sincerity. Once we sought to victimize others through hypocrisy, betrayal, and lies. Now we interact with God, others, and ourselves with authenticity, faithfulness, and truth at all levels.

Our spiritual transformation is all-encompassing as the Holy Spirit, who now dwells on the inside, enables us to perform the perfect will of God on the outside. Won’t you come to know Jesus Christ and let Him transform you today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

We Have The Living Word Of God!

For November 22, 2020
The Word of God (Bible) is remarkable, and there is no other book like it anywhere. In over three thousand years of recorded human history, its promises and admonitions remain trustworthy and faithful as Psalm 12:6 (AKJV) affirms,

The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

My loving parents introduced me to the Lord and encouraged my spiritual growth and moral development. Often, we shared about our Christian faith journey, and we talked about our favorite Bible passages. Here’s the AKJV passage that most emphasized the beauty, wisdom, and practicality of the Scriptures to us,

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb (Psalm 19:7-10 AKJV).

As we grow more familiar with the truths and promises of the Bible, the Holy Spirit gives us biblical promptings to help us navigate life’s uncertainties successfully. We are the living proof of God’s marvelous plan of redemption, whereby Jesus Christ reigns in us as Savior and Lord.

We authenticate our faith in God by His Word and the person of Christ. Both of these revelations deserve our reverent consideration,

Two great revelations stand at the center of historic Christianity: the personal revelation of God in Christ and the propositional revelation of God in the Scriptures. The Christian claims that God has disclosed Himself in the Scriptures and in the Savior, in the written Word and in the Living Word of God. The evidence that the Bible is the written Word of God is anchored in the authority of Jesus Christ.1

We can find comfort in knowing Jesus Christ authenticates the Bible because He is the most important person in human history,

By any and all standards Jesus Christ has always been regarded as the greatest figure in human history. On any list of the world’s greatest men we always find at its head Jesus of Nazareth. Regardless of whether or not men acknowledge him as Savior and Lord they must pay tribute to Him as the world’s outstanding man.2

The Bible is our perfect guide to living in the New Testament Age. As we read, study, memorize, and apply its principles to our lives, we grow into His productive people of faith and grace. Then, we become expressions of Christ’s prophetic role by filtering everything we think, say, and do through a Bible-based perspective. In other words, we are people of the Bible who abide by its principles.

Although we may listen to secular experts for advice, the Word of God is the lamp and light to our footpath. Faithful meditation on its precepts will discourage alienation from God while aiding us in resisting the habitual practice of sin (Psalm 119:11, 104-105).

In the twenty-first-century, more than ever, we need specialized knowledge and skill to be considered competent in our profession. Physicians study medicine, attorneys study law. Likewise, we Christian study the Word of God to be competent practitioners of our Christian faith.

We are spiritual beings, and our existence depends on Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God. He became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14). From His Word, God gives us the life-giving resources that help us to grow spiritually and morally, because His words are spirit and life (John 6:63).

Thus, the Bible is a holy book that we cannot read casually as we would a newspaper or novel. Instead, God must provide us with the spiritual insight to interpret and apply it correctly under the guidance of spiritually mature Christians who can teach the Bible exegetically.3 Then, we “read out” of the Bible God’s instruction for our lives and grow spiritually.

Even after the dust settles, the Lord can use us mightily to provide answers to questions and problems posed by our ever-seeking world. With His Spirit, prayer, and His Word, we can inspire and transform a world in need of spiritual refurbishing.

As Christians—now more than ever—let’s embrace the Word of God and live out its principles of faith, hope, grace, and love.

What a Wonderful Savior!

Whatever Happened to Happily Ever After?

For November 15, 2020
In His Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21—35), the Lord teaches a profound lesson on forgiveness and social civility. However, this lesson also has a stern and somber warning that is most relevant today,

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:28-35 NIV).

In this story, the Unforgiving Servant mismanages a portion of the Forgiving King’s estate and is solely responsible for a several million dollar debt. By law, the Forgiving King should have had the servant and his family imprisoned with his property confiscated until the entire debt was settled.

The servant had nothing to bargain with. He owned nothing that would satisfy a debt that would have taken him several lifetimes to repay. In addition, the likelihood of him repaying the debt from prison was utterly impossible.

When the servant begs for forgiveness, the Forgiving King does something extraordinary. Moved with compassion, he extends unmerited favor toward a debtor in desperate need of complete forgiveness, as one commentator notes,

In the parable of the unforgiving slave, the first slave owes the king ten thousand talents. Given the enormity of his debt, the slave’s promise to repay everything is absurd. The king does not merely postpone or reduce the debt—he cancels it.1

Ultimately, this parable is a lesson on how God, who is the Forgiving King, loves and forgives all of us in ways that far exceed our ability to comprehend (or repay). We often take for granted the enormity of our sin debt, which has been forgiven, forgotten, and canceled through the redemptive work of Christ on Calvary’s Cross. It is our faith in His work, and not in our works, that brings us into a loving, forgiving, eternal fellowship with God.

Our “happily ever after” is found, not in a political ideology, social movement, “cancel culture,” censorship, wealth, influence, notoriety, or power. These are the broken cisterns God says will “hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). It can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ—and Him crucified.

But unfortunately, immediately after the forgiven and restored Unforgiving Servant leaves the king, he meets another servant who owed him a few dollars. Compared to the massive debt forgiven, this minuscule debt should have been easily forgiven—and forgotten!

Yet, the Unforgiving Servant explodes in anger and assaults his fellow servant by grabbing him by the throat, violently choking him, and yelling, “Pay me what you owe me!

The unfortunate fellow servant acknowledges his debt and begs for mercy. But instead of demonstrating forgiveness as he received, the Unforgiving Servant responds towards his fellow debtor with savage and utter ruthlessness by punishing him with harsh treatment and imprisonment until that minor debt was paid.

One might think that appropriate force was applied to secure an outstanding debt. But this line of thinking is flawed since understanding and compassion were warranted here. Both servants encumbered a debt beyond their ability to pay, and the likelihood of servicing the debt from prison was a remote possibility.

The Unforgiving Servant prospered from the Forgiving King’s graciousness. Yet he showed excessive ruthlessness toward his equal—a fellow servant who was in need of forgiveness! The Unforgiving Servant refused to acknowledge that they were both equal debtors…totally unable to pay their debts.

The Unforgiving Servant also failed to realize God created us to inhabit the earth as equals. And since we’ve all sinned and missed the mark (Romans 3:23), we are debtors to God and to each other equally by default. In other words, we are guilty of committing sinful acts against God or each other, either directly by commission or indirectly by omission.

Thus, none of us are “perfect,” nor should we encumber another person or race with the debt of unforgiveness. All of us are offenders whether we share the same culture, color, or language, and we must be willing to accept that no one particular race “cornered the market” on victimization or being victimized. Other races have faced discrimination, injustice, and hostility throughout history around the world.

Moreover, our inherent sin nature will ensure injustice, exploitation, and victimization will exist and thrive as long as we live on earth.

The parable ends with the Forgiving King confronting the Unforgiving Servant about his unforgiveness and cruelty, and He turns him over to the jailers to be tortured until the massive debt is paid. The parable’s central message is clear, God forgives us, and He expects us to forgive others in like manner! A stern, somber warning follows in verse 36,

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

As forgiven followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to promote an environment where people can forgive and live “happily ever after.” Born Again, we can exhibit a higher level of spiritual and moral acumen that forgives, accepts, and embraces others equally to enhance and preserve civil society. Thus, as a Christian, I have to acknowledge God created us to love, forgive, and support each other. Otherwise, our alternative is repression, anarchy, hostility, and more senseless violence.

Our love and forgiveness contrasts the snobbery and prejudice the world accepts and embraces. The miracle of our Christian synergy validates God’s grace in a cold, cruel, and lonely world where smiles are rare, and people are too busy to establish and maintain meaningful connections.

We yearn for such opportunities and enjoy fellowship with our brothers and sisters as we share meals, celebrate birthdays, weddings, and other special occasions where no one feels like a stranger or an outcast.

Jesus Christ is a friend who sticks closer than a brother does (Proverbs 18:24), and He has equipped us to love and care for our Christian brothers and sisters everywhere. Although we may disagree about dogma or our form of worship; we may even be separated by race and/or culture.

Because the Holy Spirit lives within us, we can look beyond our human differences to unite in Christ; as we see each other—not through our eyes—but through the eyes of Jesus Christ who laid down His life for His friends (John 15:13).

I am troubled over how passionately we express disdain towards those in political leadership who do not share our political views. Our expressions are  often to the point of hatred when we should demonstrate how we are one in Christ as blood-washed and blood-bought Saints of God.

Under those circumstances, our evangelism is never frustrated, nor is Christ’s witness invalidated due to our petty human divisiveness. Instead, we proclaim how God loves and seeks reconciliation with a sin-cursed humanity. We can celebrate our diversity by treating each other with the utmost respect, acceptance, and honor. Here, our fellowship is never optional—it is compulsory.

The world craves this unifying message of acceptance of others through Christ, which offers us a glimpse of what Heaven will be like with its rich diversity of people united under the lordship of Jesus Christ. John saw our future in this context, while he was on the Isle of Patmos:

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb (Revelation 7:9–10 AKJV).

Because we are all precious in His sight, we can view each other through His loving eyes.

What a Wonderful Savior!