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Archive for November, 2011

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us
(for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)
The First Adam

What we know about the first Adam, at least as it pertains to today’s verse, is found in God’s admonition to him recorded in Genesis 3:17-19:

Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

We see some recurring themes…

The Last Adam

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.”
The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

We know from 1 Corinthians  that Jesus Christ is the last Adam, but what’s the connection to the first Adam? Is there any significance in the phraseology of the texts?

The short answer is yes — the first Adam’s sin brought about the curse, the thorns, and the sweat — the very things the last Adam assumed for the sake of all mankind. Jesus took the entire curse upon Himself, He bore the thorns, and He sweat the blood. Furthermore, He prepared His body as bread that by faith we might partake of the Lord’s Table and receive His mercy and grace.

“…The Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23b-26

Saved By Faith

Jesus overcame perfectly the curse of Adam’s bomb. He was the only One who could have.

In that light, why would anyone think that some sort of work is required? The work was finished on the cross and all we have to do is by faith believe it’s finished. Any personal effort towards salvation is pointless. Attempts to adhere to the law, to rules, and to regulations are futile.  Simply receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Do you believe?

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines the word ‘believe’ this way:

The word implies, with this assent of the mind, a yielding (obedience) of the will and affections, accompanied with a humble reliance (submission) on Christ for salvation.

Do you believe?

What About…

“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:17

What’s that all about?

James is simply telling us that works are a result of faith and faith is not a result of works. In other words, Christians do not have to go to church, pray, fellowship, or spend time in the word — these are the things we get to do. Because of our love and gratitude towards Jesus, for what He has accomplished for us, it is our desire to submit our lives to Him and obey His commands.

If you desire not to do these things, there is a possibility you don’t really believe what you say you believe.  Ask the Lord to search your heart.

Do You Believe?

  1. Are you submitted and obedient to Christ Jesus?
  2. Do you fear being submitted and obedient to Christ Jesus?
  3. Can you describe your fears?
  4. How have you overcome your fears?

Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God, Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever, Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; The Lord raises those who are bowed down; The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He turns upside down. Psalm 146:3-9

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Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,

and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:1

It’s the law!

Imagine if it were the law, that when you met a young man or woman and became ‘serious’ you must write love letters, you must hold hands, or you must buy flowers. It certainly is an inane concept isn’t it? It’s silly because when you fall in love with a person these types of things come naturally — they do not need to be legislated.

Love Does More

This is essentially Paul’s message to the church.

We are free of mandatory rites and rituals of religion; we are free because love does more than legalism. Legalism (just so we’re on the same page) is that doctrine that says, Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ ~and~ something else.”

There is no something else.

It’s just faith in Jesus Christ. If anyone adds the word ‘and’ after the sentence, “Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ, ” run away. Jesus proclaimed that He finished the work on the cross.

It stands to reason that if legalism can drain the passion out of an earthly relationship, it will consume a spiritual one as well. All we need do is examine the church to see all the depleted souls who have given up on Christ because of man’s imposition of religious duty. This ought not to be.

Faith in Christ Jesus on its own will result in free display of passion; enthusiasm, zeal, and love. They cannot be legislated.

If that statement is true, why then do we see flocks of faithful people, those who had routinely declared, “It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship,” walking away from the church?  It’s no wonder why legalists felt it necessary to impose rules and regulations as an aide to salvation.  In that slim, sliver of light, legalism is an admirable, albeit misguided, gesture.

What’s the Answer?

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

Focus.

The reality is that many seemingly faithful people leave the church because they have not been properly discipled. In far too many instances they don’t even know what the word faith means!  Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines the word in this manner:
Evangelical, justifying, or saving faith, is the assent (obedience) of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of God‘s testimony, accompanied with a cordial (sincere) assent of the will or approbation of the heart; an entire confidence or trust in God’s character and declarations, and in the character and doctrines of Christ, with an unreserved surrender of the will to his guidance, and dependence on his merits for salvation. In other words, that firm belief of God’s testimony, and of the truth of the gospel, which influences the will, and leads to an entire reliance on Christ for salvation.”
Chances are if a person struggles with a definition that implies belief, submission, and obedience to God, they probably won’t stay in church very long. Then there are others who remain, but choose to redefine the Christian vocabulary to meet their own desires.  As a result we have always had false teachers who impose their liberal and concocted interpretations on the unschooled, which is all the more reason why Christians must be discipled in the Word, the Way, and the truth of God.
The properly discipled believer will gratefully subject himself to the authority of Jesus Christ — simply put: rules and regulations are not necessary.

Bashing Religion

Never!

Although I used the words religion and religious in a negative context, I am not bashing those institutions. I savor the components of religion (prayer, worship, communion, baptism, marriage, etc), for these are the things I get to do. I do not consider them the things I must do.

Nor do I worship the components — I worship Jesus!

For me, religion is the word that defines the elements of my faith that can bring me into a closer relationship with the Lord. In that context, being religious is not the horrible thing that some believers have made it out to be.

I willingly confess, “I am religious!”

I pray religiously, I study the word religiously, I go to church religiously, I partake of Communion religiously, but I only worship, honor, serve, and obey my Lord and Savior.

And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Romans 5:11

How about you?

  1. Are you a victim of legalism and/or religion?
  2. Are you faithful in the truest sense of the word?
  3. Are you allowing yourself to be discipled in God’s word?

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…The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:17-22

Total Access

Did you know that you have access to the power that raised Jesus from the dead, the power that mounted Him upon His heavenly throne, and the power that gave Him dominion above all things? The heart of Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians (and to us) is that every saint would know this truth. Jesus wants us to know these things as well so that we might not struggle in bondage.

“Bondage to what?” we ask.

“Bondage to anything!” God would say.

Addiction, depression, anger, laziness, you name it! In our weakness we have the strength in Christ to overcome any of these things. Essentially all we need do is receive it and utilize it. If God had the power to raise His Son from the dead, we may be confident He has the power to break our bonds. I know it’s true because He did it in my life ~ Jesus supplied the power and I accepted His gracious gift. In so doing I discovered that everlasting recovery comes from a Person and not a program.

Blinding Fear

But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. Matthew 14:24-25

The disciples were in bondage.

Blinded by fear, they saw the destructive tide, but failed to see where the waves were in relation to Jesus. Again, the Ephesians passage serves to remind us that all things are under His feet; and not only under His feet, but over our heads.

Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Ephesians 5:23b

Bearing Burdens

Do you know someone in bondage?

Remember, Paul’s Ephesian prayer is for the born again believer, therefore assistance to the non-believer in bondage begins with the Good News. Any effort outside of the authority of Christ Jesus is a temporary fix at best. Freedom from bondage comes when the Christian receives a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, when by understanding they are enlightened ~ when the hope of His calling, the riches of His inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of His power is known. Since God does the healing and also provides the power, our duty is to share the Gospel: the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the breaker of all bonds.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6a

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Before I formed you in the womb I knew you… Jeremiah 1:5a

180 MOVIE

The 180 Movie is either horrific or heavenly, depending upon who you ask. I’ve seen it and it’s my opinion that it is a gift of God. I can say that with authority because lives are being changed and souls are being saved because of its viewing. There aren’t too many movies around these days that have that kind of impact.

The 180 Movie is a thirty-three minute, pro-life documentary, the purpose of which is to share the divine truth regarding the abortion epidemic and thus change hearts and minds. Dramatically the movie points out God’s plan, His will, and sadly, our ignorance.

It also divides its viewers:

Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:8-9

You can watch the 180 Movie here.

Do You Blog?

If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ and would like to help propel this tsunami of truth, you can visit the Preparing the Way website for details.

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…  Ephesians 1:3

Happy Thanksgiving

Paul’s in jail.

When he writes, ‘Blessed be God the Father who has blessed us,’  he is sitting in a Roman prison; he breaks out in praise despite the fact he’s in lock-down. I find that to be incredible.

How can he do it?

I submit to you there are at least two reasons. First, Paul comprehends that blessings don’t just come from Jesus, but are realized in Jesus. Grateful believers are those who recognize and draw upon this indwelling relationship.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Secondly, Paul has seen the future in Christ.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows–such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows–how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Corinthians 12:2-4

Consider Your Platform

By our standards, Paul had it rough. His platform was a lowly prison cell, yet he used every inch of it to bring honor, glory, and praise to Jesus Christ.

Tim Tebow has a platform too. As an NFL quarterback he is regularly interviewed on television and always gives the glory to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, despite being ridiculed from one side of the country to the other.

It’s safe to say that your platform is somewhere in between Paul’s and Tebow’s.

How are you using it?

When it’s your turn to speak, is the name of Jesus mentioned?

I’m reminded of an up-and-coming Christian musician who recently appeared on one of the nation’s most popular afternoon television shows. Did he give Jesus any of the glory? The short answer is no, he did not. He did however take the time to promote himself and his secular agenda.

???

All Christians must remember that God provides the platform and if we consistently misuse the opportunities, they’ll be given to someone else. Plain and simple, it’s arrogant, selfish, and prideful when we fail to recognize the One who has made us new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Thankful?

  1. Has God given you a platform?
  2. Is Jesus a part of your conversations?
  3. Do those under your roof know you know Him?
  4. Do your neighbors know you know Him?
  5. Do both your friends and enemies know you know Him?

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Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8

It’s A Fact

We will reap what we sow.

It doesn’t matter if we are saved or unsaved, if we sow the seeds of our flesh, we will harvest corruption. The fruit of those occurrences will always be made manifest.

Manifest How?

I am not proud of it, but I have seen X-rated movies and more than a few adult magazines in my life. The good news is that I have been forgiven for all that illicit activity. Nevertheless, those seeds were still planted. So guess what types of images pop-up into my mind occasionally. You guessed it.

Here’s the reality: those images appear because I planted the seeds that gave them life in my brain.

Plant Better Seeds

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

It’s been years since those aforementioned sins of mine and I am pleased to announce that although the images are not completely vanished, their appearances are fewer and farther apart. Why? Because I have been consistently sowing new seeds; seeds of faith and seeds of the Spirit, and the good fruit is crowding-out the bad fruit. Slowly but surely, my Spirit crop is overtaking my fleshly one.

Praise Be to God

Be patient. If you are sowing good seed, the yield will be evident in due season and according to God’s perfect timing. In the meantime, do not be deceived, you will reap what you sow.  God will never be mocked,.

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What purpose then does the law serve? Galatians 3:19

Heard on a Plane…

“Would you like a beverage sir or some peanuts?”

“I’ll have a diet coke please.”

“Would you like a parachute as well?”

“Huh?”

“A parachute sir. Your life will be much better if you have one, I guarantee it! In fact, your life will be prosperous, full of peace and joy! Having a parachute is the only way. I have one and you should have one too!”

“Thank you, but I have no need for a parachute. I’m very happy for you though. I’m glad your parachute gives you peace, comfort, and joy.”

The Critical Information

The attendant, not wanting to upset the passenger, failed to tell him that the plane was in fact going down. Why upset him (she must have assumed) when he seemed to be having such a good time. However, failing to share the critical information ultimately would lead to this man’s destruction.

The Purpose of the Law

The Law (the Ten Commandments) lets us know that we are all going down. It does that by letting us know that we are all sinners. Tell most folks about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and omit the Law, they will likely respond that they have no need for saving. They probably consider themselves to be good people.

The Law declares otherwise.

“There is none righteous, no, not one…none who understands; There is none who seeks after God..” Romans 3:10-11

No one seeks after God, at least not until after they realize that God was seeking them first. God sought us first by providing the Law as a mirror. This mirror reveals to us how we truly look to Him: dirty. It is this realization, that we are sinners in need of salvation, that leads us to the parachute that is Christ Jesus.

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… Psalm 19:7-8

One More Time

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

  • Are you going to Heaven?
  • Are you a good person?
  • Do you know the Law?
  • Have you taken the Roman’s Road?

*Two words about analogies: they’re flawed.  Whenever we take a biblical truth and attempt to explain it  by making  a worldly comparison (as I did with the parachute story), we fall short.  While some analogies help us to understand biblical concepts, at the end of the day we must solely rely upon the truth of God’s Word.

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