3 January 2013

How Does the Death of Jesus Save?

One way to understand the meaning of the death of Jesus is to imagine a courtroom scene in which we are on trial for our sins and God is the judge. Our sins against God are capital crimes. God Himself is our judge, and according to divine law our crimes deserve the death penalty. Death, in a spiritual sense, means eternal separation from God in unending torment. That's a very serious judgment.
By shedding His blood on the cross, Jesus took the punishment we deserve and offered us His righteousness. When we trust Christ for our salvation, essentially we are making a trade. By faith, we trade our sin and its accompanying death penalty for His righteousness and life.
In theological terms, this is called "substitutionary atonement." Christ died on the cross as our substitute. Without Him, we would suffer the death penalty for our own sins....
The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way: "And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). For God to forgive our sins, His judgment had to be satisfied and that required the shedding of blood.
Some object, "Shedding blood seems so barbaric. Is it really necessary? Why doesn't God simply forgive us?" Because God is holy, He must judge sin. Would a just and righteous judge let evil go unpunished? At the cross, God poured out His judgment on His Son, satisfying His wrath and making it possible for Him to forgive us. That's why Jesus shed His blood for your sins, my sins, and the sins of the whole world....
God unleashed His wrath on His Son so that we might be spared that awful fate. This is the central message of the cross and the reason for our hope: God forsook His Son so that He might never forsake us. God assures us, "'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). Isn't that a wonderful promise?
Chuck Swindoll


"Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed."
~Cavett Robert

How Can I Be Sure I'm Saved?

If we think the Bible teaches universal salvation, we may arrive at a false sense of assurance by reasoning as follows: Everybody is saved. I am a body. Therefore, I am saved.
Or, if we think salvation is gained by our own good works and we are further deluded into believing that we possess good works, we will have a false assurance of salvation.
To have sound assurance, we must understand that our salvation rests on the merit of Christ alone, which is appropriated to us when we embrace Him by genuine faith. If we understand that, the remaining question is, "Do I have the genuine faith necessary for salvation?"
Again, two more things must be understood and analyzed properly. The first is doctrinal. We need a clear understanding of what constitutes genuine saving faith. If we conceive of saving faith as existing in a vacuum, never yielding the fruit of works of obedience, we have confused saving faith with dead faith, which cannot save anyone.
The second requirement involves a sober analysis of our own lives. We must examine ourselves to see whether the fruit of regeneration is apparent in our lives. Do we have a real affection for the biblical Christ? Only the regenerate person possesses real love for the real Jesus. Next we must ask the tough question, "Does my life manifest the fruit of sanctification?" I test my faith by my works.
R.C. Sproul

Living Greatly

"The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility."
~Thomas S. Monson

22 December 2012

The Christmas Heart is a Giving Heart

"Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart."
~George Mathew Adams

Who can add to Christmas?

"Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life."
~Corrie Ten Boom

The Real Spirit of Christmas

"Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."
Calvin Coolidge

18 December 2012

We Need to Find God

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls."
Mother Teresa

The Life of a Man Consists of.

"The life of a man consists not in seeing visions and in dreaming dreams, but in active charity and in willing service."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Being a Christian.​..

"Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ."
~Billy Graham

What Message Did the Angels Bring?

We were on our way to a certain judgment, but God sent Jesus. Because of His death and His shed blood, we have now been reconciled with God.
That was really the essence of the angel’s message to the shepherds as they watched over their flocks on that first Christmas Eve. Part of that message was, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV). A more literal translation of this statement would be, “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth among men with whom God is well-pleased.”
That is the key to peace on earth, peace between nations, and peace in a family: Peace on earth among men with whom God is well-pleased.
How do we please God? It is only through Jesus Christ, only through the way of reconciliation He has made available to us. So if we want to be reconciled to God and want to be reconciled with others, then it must be through Christ.
So many of us need reconciliation today. Husbands need to be reconciled to wives. Parents need to be reconciled with children. Sinners need to be reconciled with God. We all need reconciliation.
Sin is the great separator. Ever since it entered the world, it has divided people throughout human history. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, sin immediately began its work of separation. It separated Adam and Eve from God. It ultimately separated their sons, Cain and Abel. It was all because of the separating impact of sin.
But at the cross of Calvary, Jesus eliminated the wall that separated us from Him. He brought about reconciliation..
Greg Laurie

Your Relationsh​ip with Christ

"If you're married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife 'I love her' the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity? And that's how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ is that it is the most important thing in my life."
~Tim Tebow


6 December 2012

Why Did Jesus Come?

We marvel at the fact that God humbled Himself and was born in a cave. But why did He come?
First, Jesus Christ came to proclaim good news to the spiritually hurting, to preach the good news to us. He came to heal the broken-hearted. Medical science has found ways to reduce and even remove pain. But there is no cure for a broken heart.
Jesus came to set people free who are bound by sin. Jesus came to open our spiritual eyes to our spiritual need.
He came to lift up those who are crushed by life. He came to give us abundant life. Jesus came to lift us from the physical realm of the senses to the spiritual realm to show us that there is more to life.
He came to give His life for us. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He came to die. Jesus Christ came to this earth to seek and save those of us who are lost, just as a shepherd seeks a lost sheep.
So in all of this hustle and bustle, wrapping paper, mistletoe, and brightly colored lights, let’s get down to the bottom line. Christmas is about God sending His Son to die on a cross. He was born to die, to give us abundant life, to give us a life that is worth living.
Greg Laurie

3 December 2012

Holiness Is the Strength of the Sou

"Holiness is the strength of the soul. It comes by faith and through obedience to God's laws and ordinances. God then purifies the heart by faith, and the heart becomes purged from that which is profane and unworthy. When holiness is achieved by conforming to God's will, one knows intuitively that which is wrong and that which is right before the Lord. Holiness speaks when there is silence, encouraging that which is good or reproving that which is wrong."
~James E. Faust

Christmas Means...

"Christmas means 'giving,' and the gift without the giver is bare. Give of yourselves; give of your substance; give of your heart and mind. Christmas means 'compassion and love' and, most of all 'forgiveness.' How poor indeed would be our lives without the influence of His teachings and His matchless example.
He whose birth we commemorate this season is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God, the Redeemer of mankind, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace."
~Gordon B. Hinckley

Meekness Is Vital

"Meekness is vital to becoming more Christlike. Without it one cannot develop other important virtues. . . Acquiring meekness is a process. . . More meekness does not translate to weakness, but it is the presentation of self in a posture of kindness and gentleness. It reflects certitude, strength, serenity; it reflects a healthy self-esteem and a genuine self-control.
~Neal A. Maxwell

24 November 2012

Gratitude through Prayer

"Prayer is an essential part of conveying appreciation to our Heavenly Father. He awaits our expressions of gratefulness each morning and night in sincere, simple prayer from our hearts for our many blessings, gifts, and talents.
"Through expression of prayerful gratitude and thanksgiving, we show our dependence upon a higher source of wisdom and knowledge—God the Father and his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". 
~Robert D. Hales

Gratitude = Humility

"Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief....
"Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil.
"Where there is gratitude, there is humility, as opposed to pride." 
~Gordon B. Hinckley

How Can I Have Eternal Life?

Each of us faces the same dilemma. We have a sin debt that we owe to God but no way to pay for it. None of our solutions - living a moral life, being religious, or doing more good deeds - can take care of our problem.
God Himself has provided the solution - one that both satisfies His justice and grants us mercy. He sent His Son to pay the penalty we owed. Jesus was qualified to be our substitute because He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21). He willingly took our place on the cross and experienced the full measure of the Lord's wrath against our sinfulness. In dying for us, Christ secured our salvation by paying the debt for all our past, present, and future sins. When we trust in Jesus and surrender our life to Him, He becomes our personal Savior and Lord.
The great tragedy is that many have heard the gospel and rejected it. Some are like the rich ruler who placed his trust in material possessions and turned his back on the truth. Others have refused to even listen. Another group is convinced they are heaven-bound, based on erroneous confidence in their own good deeds. Only those who have entered into a relationship with Jesus through faith in Him will be welcomed into heaven.
If you're wondering, How can I have eternal life? there is only one answer: through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We have an Enemy who actively seeks to blind people to the truth (2 Corinthians 4:4). Pray that many who are separated from the Lord will trust in the Savior and gain everlasting life.
Charles Stanley

21 November 2012

How Would Your Life be Different if....

"How would your life be different if...you began each day by thanking someone who has helped you? Let today be the day...You make it a point to show your gratitude to others. Send a letter or card, make a call, send a text or email, tell them in person...do whatever you have to do to let them know you appreciate them."
~Steve Maraboli

20 November 2012

Gratitude can Transform Common Days

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
~William Arthur Ward

What “Living Water” Did Jesus Offer?

The story of the Lord’s encounter with a Samaritan woman is a wonderful example of His loving response to hurting individuals (John 4:1–42). Jesus is always reaching out in love, even when we do not recognize His extended hand.
Although this meeting may have appeared accidental, it was really a providential appointment with the Messiah. As the woman reached the well, Jesus initiated conversation by asking for a drink of water. His direct approach surprised her and opened the door for a dialogue that would change her life forever.
Throughout the exchange, Jesus’ goal was to help the woman recognize her greatest need so He could supply her with the only gift that would meet that need: salvation and the forgiveness of her sins. She had spent her life trying to find love and acceptance in all the wrong places. Christ offered her the living water of the Holy Spirit—the only thing that would quench her spiritual and emotional thirst.
Like the Samaritan woman, we can at times be so intent on getting our immediate needs met that we fail to see God’s hand reaching out to us in love, offering what will truly satisfy. Only Christ can fill our empty souls for eternity and provide for our essential emotional needs now.
This world is filled with wells that promise to provide love, acceptance, and self-worth but never fully satisfy. When your soul is empty and the well runs dry, look for Jesus. He has a divine appointment scheduled with you, and He will quench your thirst with His Spirit—if you let Him.
Charles Stanley

Are Some Sins Worse than Others?

Christians tend to categorize sins, rating some as small and inconsequential, but others as huge and far-reaching in the damage they cause. In reality, no one sins in isolation. Each disobedience to God affects not only the sinner but also countless others in both the present and the future.
If we were to separate Adam and Eve's sin from its context, few of us would convict them of great transgression. All they did was swallow some fruit from a tree with a "do not eat" sign. Today people think nothing of ignoring commands - even biblical ones.
But God has a totally different view of our sins. Each one is followed by negative consequences. Adam and Eve's disobedience led to pain and frustration in two basic areas of fulfillment - relationships and meaningful work. The whole earth fell under sin's curse, and every person born since then has entered the world with a sin nature that alienates each one from the Lord.
That first rebellion plunged humanity into a terrible condition. Civilization is now plagued by countless ramifications of the innumerable sins committed by human beings throughout the ages. Is it any wonder the world is in such sad shape? Sin not only causes suffering; it robs us of God's best. The Garden of Eden is closed and locked to sinful mankind.
The good news of Christ's grace and forgiveness is our only real hope in this fallen world. Though unpleasant, focusing on sin's consequences is necessary at times to remind us of the greatness of our salvation and to move us to obey God, even in the small things. Each obedience is huge to Him.
Charles Stanley

16 November 2012

Count Your Blessings

"We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count."
~Neal A. Maxwell

15 November 2012

The Gospel: A Daily Need?

The gospel isn’t simply a set of truths that non-Christians must believe in order to become saved. It’s a reality that Christians must daily embrace in order to experience being saved. The gospel not only saves us from the penalty of sin (justification), but it also saves us from the power of sin (sanctification) day after day. Or, as John Piper has said, “The cross is not only a past place of objective substitution; it is a present place of subjective execution.” Our daily sin requires God’s daily grace—the grace that comes to us through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Churches, for example, have for years debated whether their worship services ought to be geared toward Christians (to encourage and strengthen them) or non-Christians (to appeal to and win them). But this debate and the struggle over it are misguided. We’re asking the wrong questions and making the wrong assumptions. The truth is that our worship services should be geared to sinners in need of God’s rescue—and that includes both Christians and non-Christians. Since both groups need his deliverance, both need his gospel.
Christians need the gospel because our hearts are always prone to wander; we’re always tempted to run from God. It takes the power of the gospel to direct us back to our first love. Consciously going to the gospel ought to be a daily reality and experience for us all. It means, as Jerry Bridges reminds us, “preaching the gospel to yourself every day.” We have to allow God to remind us every day through his Word of Christ’s finished work on behalf of sinners in order to stay convinced that the gospel is relevant.
Tullian Tchividjian

10 November 2012

What Does it Mean to Seek God’s Kingdom?

A verse every Christian should commit to memory is Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God? God’s kingdom is the rule and reign of Christ in our lives. Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This is praying for a day when God will bring heaven to earth and will bring His rule on this planet. God still has a plan for planet Earth. He will rule and reign here, and as believers, we will rule and reign with Him. So that is in the future.

But when we pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven,” we are also praying for the rule and reign of the kingdom of God in our lives. This is when Jesus is in charge. On one occasion Jesus said, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), where He was speaking of himself. When you are under His lordship, and when He is in control of your life, that is the kingdom of God. It is not rules and regulations, but “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

Have you, as a Christian, surrendered your life to Christ? Have you said, “Lord, I want Your will more than I want my own will. I am willing to surrender to You now”? Because you cannot pray, “Your kingdom come” until you first pray, “My kingdom go.” Have you done that yet?

A lack of faith can bring a lot of anxiety into our lives. So instead of worrying, we should put God and His will first in our lives. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
 Greg Laurie

23 May 2012

When We Have Charity...

"When we have charity, we are willing to serve and help others when it is inconvenient and with no thought of recognition or reciprocation. We don’t wait to be assigned to help, because it becomes our very nature. As we choose to be kind, caring, generous, patient, accepting, forgiving, inclusive, and selfless, we discover we are abounding in charity."
Silvia H. Allred

22 May 2012

Where Did Pentecost Come From?

If you go back and read the Old Testament, you will discover that Pentecost was one of the Jewish feast days. Only they didn't call it Pentecost. That's the Greek name. The Jews called it the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks. It is mentioned five places in the first five books—in Exodus 23, Exodus 24, Leviticus 16, Numbers 28, and Deuteronomy 16. It was the celebration of the beginning of the early weeks of harvest. In Palestine there were two harvests each year. The early harvest came during the months of May and June; the final harvest came in the Fall. Pentecost was the celebration of the beginning of the early wheat harvest, which meant that Pentecost always fell sometime during the middle of the month of May or sometimes in early June.

There were several festivals, celebrations, or observances that took place before Pentecost. There was Passover, there was Unleavened Bread, and there was the Feast of Firstfruits. The Feast of Firstfruits was the celebration of the beginning of the barley harvest. Here's the way you figured out the date of Pentecost. According to the Old Testament, you would go to the day of the celebration of Firstfruits, and beginning with that day, you would count off 50 days. The fiftieth day would be the Day of Pentecost. So Firstfruits is the beginning of the barley harvest and Pentecost the celebration of the beginning of the wheat harvest. Since it was always 50 days after Firstfruits, and since 50 days equals seven weeks, it always came a "week of weeks" later. Therefore, they either called it the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks.

There are three things you need to know about Pentecost that will help you understand Acts 2. First, Pentecost was a pilgrim festival. That meant that according to Jewish Law, all the adult Jewish men would come from wherever they were living to Jerusalem and personally be in attendance during this celebration. Secondly, Pentecost was a holiday. No servile work was to be done. School was out. The shops were closed. It was party time.

Finally, there were certain celebrations and sacrifices and offerings which were prescribed in the Law for the day of Pentecost. On Pentecost, the High Priest was to take two loaves of freshly baked wheat bread and offer them before the Lord. The wheat bread was made from the newly harvested wheat.

In short, Pentecost in the time of the Apostles was a great and grand harvest celebration. The streets of Jerusalem were clogged with thousands of pilgrims who had come from every point of the compass to celebrate the goodness of God and the bringing in of the wheat harvest.
Dr. Ray Pritchard

9 May 2012

اعتماد به خدا

وقتی به خدا اعتماد می کنید، در واقع قدرت مافوق طبیعی او فعال شده و وارد زندگی شما می شود. در نتیجه، تحمل مشکلات کمرشکن آسان می شود، مسیر زندگی شما در نقشه الهی قرار می گیرد و برکات و معجزات خداوند را در زندگی تان مشاهده خواهید کرد.
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8 May 2012

The Solutions to Our Problems

"Many times the solutions to our problems await only our discovery that we already have the key to the answer. The need is for us to learn to use it effectively."
Barbara B. Smith

What Is Faith?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

The Greek word for "substance" is hupostasis. It is a scientific term, the opposite of hypothesis or theory. It is that which rests upon facts. In chemistry it would be the chemical which settles at the bottom of the test tube after you have made an experiment. Dr. A. T. Robertson translates substance as "title deed." What is the title deed? What is the substance? It is the Word of God, my friend. If your faith does not rest upon the Word of God, it is not biblical faith at all. It has to rest upon what God says. Actually, it means to believe God....

Paul wrote to the Colossian believers, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9). To know the will of God is to know the Word of God. He prayed that they might know the Word of God. The Greek word for "knowledge" which Paul used is epignosis. There were Gnostics in that day who professed to have super knowledge. Paul told the Colossians that he wanted them to have super knowledge which was genuine by knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, and he believed that the Holy Spirit would make it real to them.

Therefore faith rests upon the Word of God. Our dogmatism comes from the Book....

"The evidence of things not seen." In the Greek the word is elegchos. It is a legal term meaning "evidence that is accepted for conviction." When I was studying classical Greek in college, I observed that this word is used about twenty-three times in Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. Evidence is something you take into court to prove your case.

Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a "hope so." Faith is substance and evidence - substance for a scientific mind, and evidence for a legal mind. If you really want to believe, you can believe....
Dr. J. Vernon McGee

4 May 2012

Let Us Have the Courage to...

"Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully, but also as a determination to live decently. A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well."
Thomas S. Monson

How Can I Have Peace of Mind?

If you want peace of mind, the Scriptures are very clear on that: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

That’s a benefit that is yours if you can see that by faith you’re saved and that God by His grace has extended grace to you not because of merit, but because you have a need. You can’t save yourself, and He’s agreed to do it. Now, if you rest in Christ—believe Him—then you can have peace of mind.

But if you mean that you want to go through this world wrapped up in cellophane or packed in cotton, you’re just entirely wrong about that. Because when you get on a plane, for instance, and you get in a storm and it begins to wobble up and down, you’d be a very strange individual if you don’t lose a little of your peace and become a little bit concerned about the situation.

But you can have that deep peace of mind only through Jesus Christ.

J. Vernon McGee

30 April 2012

Pray for Wisdom

"Pray for wisdom and understanding as you walk the difficult paths of your lives. If you are determined to do foolish and imprudent things, I think the Lord will not prevent you. But if you seek His wisdom and follow the counsel of the impressions that come to you, I am confident that you will be blessed."
Gordon B. Hinckley

27 April 2012

Does Prayer Make a Difference?

Prayer is the lifeblood of an intimate relationship with the Father. But believers often have questions about its power and effectiveness. Don’t hesitate to take your queries to the Lord, dig into Scripture for answers, and seek the counsel of a trusted spiritual mentor. Prayer is too important to neglect.

Will God’s plans fail if I don’t pray? God is not subservient to believers or dependent upon their prayers. The time we invest in speaking with Him involves us in the work that He is doing in our lives and in the world, but He will carry on without us.Laboring alongside the Lord is our privilege.

Does my prayer (or lack thereof) impact God’s work? I believe that Scripture indicates the answer to this question is both yes and no, depending upon the situation. There are times when God’s purpose is set. He is in control and has determined the best course. In the Old Testament, the Lord often prophesied what He would do and then brought those events to pass.

In other cases, “you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). There are some good things that He holds back until we put out prayerful hands to receive them. But because God is a loving Father, He also pours our blessings that we wouldn’t even think to request.

Believer’s prayers have tremendous impact, particularly on their own faith and life. Do you understand what an awesome privilege it is to kneel before the all-powerful Father and know that He listens and will respond? God loves to be good to His children and answer their prayers.
Charles Stanley

24 April 2012

Two-Way Communication

"In striving to establish two-way communication with God we must not become so busy diagnosing our personal circumstances and seeking the advice of others that we fail to ask and listen for God's vital instructions to us."
Jill Todd Banfield

23 April 2012

The Pure Love of Christ

"It is knowing and feeling the pure love of Christ that brings exquisite joy to our souls. It is knowing that forgiveness for our mistakes is possible. It is through the Atonement of the Savior, who satisfied the demands of justice and offers us mercy, that hope and joy are possible."
Coleen K. Menlove

21 April 2012

Richard Holloway

"God is waiting eagerly to respond with new strength to each little act of self-control, small disciplines of prayer, feeble searching after him. And his children shall be filled if they will only hunger and thirst after what he offers."

20 April 2012

Saved by Grace? How?

The first greeting with which Paul begins each of his epistles is grace, and he uses it with its full Christian meaning. Grace! God's grace! The unmerited favor of God toward humanity.

It seems unnecessary to have to emphasize that grace is unmerited, for that is the definition of grace. Yet we must emphasize it. For man always imagines that God loves him for what he is intrinsically. We imagine that God has been gracious to us because of what we have done - because of our piety, because of our good deeds, because of our repentance, because of our virtue. But God does not love us because of that. And God is not gracious to us because of that. Paul says that "God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Christ died for men who were hideous in His sight because of sin. And we are like that. You are like that, and so am I. If we are ever to understand the grace of God, we must begin with the knowledge that God has acted graciously toward us in Christ entirely apart from human merit.

... God tells us that we have not the slightest claim upon Him. We deserve hell at His hands, and anything He might do for us is grace however insignificant. But God's grace is not insignificant. And it certainly does not stop with a single act. It is not a dollar-a-day grace. It is a grace that has made us millionaires in Christ.
Dr. James Boice

What Did Jesus Mean by "the Son of Man"?

The term the Son of Man occurs in Matthew 32 times, in Mark 15 times, in Luke 26 times, and in John 12 times. In the first three Gospels the title is always recorded as having been used by Christ of Himself and never by angel, by man, or by demon. Of the 12 occasions in John, 10 are from the lips of Christ; only twice was the expression used by men, and then only for criticism and unbelief: "We have heard out of the law that the Christ lives forever: and why do you say, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Those are the only two occasions in all the Gospels where the term is found upon the lips of any but Christ. It is Christ's own description of Himself, and it is the term that links Him to humanity and shows His intimate and positive relationship to the human race.

For particular illustration I take the story of the temptation, where the Lord is seen standing entirely upon the level of humanity. He was in the wilderness, being tempted as man, as representative of the human race; and that is not my view merely, it was His own statement. In answer to the first temptation He said: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone." That is to say, in effect, I am in this wilderness on the human level, as the Son of Man taking the place every other person has to take. I obey the law of God that conditions the life of humanity.

In answer to the second temptation, He said: "It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve." Thus, He put Himself within the Divine limitation of every other human life and declared that He was living according to the law which every other human must obey if he would come to the fulfillment of his life. In answer to the third of these temptations, He said: "It is said, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Thus, He declared that the law which governed Him was exactly the same as that which governed other people. Therefore, the terms that indicate His relationship to men are those that prove His absolute kinship with the human race, His complete identification with human experience.
Campbell Morgan

What Are the Basics of Discipleship?

Isn't it interesting that Jesus Christ never said to make disciples by taking them to church—or to a Bible study group, for that matter. Not that these activities aren't an integral part of a disciple's growth, but the Lord has something much more personal in mind.

[The] word entrust [in 2 Timothy 2:2] was a first-century banking term that literally meant "to make a deposit." Paul is saying in our text, "You have learned things from me, Timothy; now I want you to take that truth and personally deposit it into the lives of other disciples."

When you teach a child something about Christ, you are making a deposit into his heart; when you share Scripture or prayer with another believer, you are making a life-on-life deposit that Christ would define as true discipleship.

Frankly, my writing at this very moment reflects what I've had modeled and taught to me by others. That's what discipleship is: taking what Jesus Christ taught us and depositing it into the lives of other believers.

There are three components that define true discipleship. The first is touch. You can't disciple at a distance. The only way iron can sharpen iron is through personal connection. This is the touch that invests when others withdraw; it perseveres when others disappear.

Second, you must make the commitment of time. You won't be able to reproduce your life and passion for Christ in a day. You didn't grow overnight—we humans aren't like Jack's beanstalk! We're more like apple trees that need a lot of time to grow before fruit begins to appear.

The third component is truth: the truth of God's Word. This keeps the discipleship process on track, rather than one opinion contradicting another. Without truth, discipleship of any kind—coaching a team, tutoring a student, teaching an instrument—will not have permanence. The center of spiritual discipleship is the truth of Scripture.


Evidence of the Crucifixion Beyond the Bible?

The Roman historian, Tacitus (who was born in a.d 55), wrote in his Annals (15:44) an explanation of how Nero, the emperor (who died in a.d 68) blamed Christians for the great fire of Rome in order to deflect rumors that he had started the blaze. In this passage Tacitus alludes to a fact which no one disputed: Christ had been crucified under Pontius Pilate:
All human efforts . . . of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus , and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.

It was common and undisputed knowledge in the second half of the first century that Jesus Christ had been crucified. If there were any question that he had died in this way, it would have been eagerly disputed wherever Christians preached. But it wasn't. The fact of his death by crucifixion was not questioned.
John Piper

5 February 2012

A Gospel for Losers?

The gospel ... is not just for the all-star and the illustrious and the legendary. It's for the loser. It's for the defeated, not the dominant. It's for those who realize they're unable to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders—those who've figured out that they're not gods. It's for people who understand the bankruptcy of life without God. It's for people who recognize that while they're definitely deficient, God is more than sufficient.

Jesus came to show us that the gospel explains success in terms of giving, not taking; self-sacrifice, not self-protection; going to the back, not getting to the front. The gospel shows that we win by losing, we triumph through defeat, we achieve power through service, and we become rich by giving ourselves away.

In fact, in gospel-centered living we follow Jesus in laying down our lives for those who hate us and hurt us. We spend our lives serving instead of being served, and seeking last place, not first. Gospel-centered people are those who love giving up their place for others, not guarding their place from others—because their value and worth is found in Christ, not their position.

Do you remember, in Gethsemane, when Jesus told Peter to put away his sword (Matt. 26:52)? He did this to show us that in God's economy, winning this battle involves dying rather than killing.

When we understand that our significance and identity is in Christ, we don't have to win - we're free to lose. The gospel frees us from the pressure to generate our own significance and meaning. In Christ, our identity and significance are secure, which frees us up to give everything we have, because in Christ we have everything we need.

Do the Best You Can

"We each do the best we can. My best may not be as good as your best, but it's my best. The fact is that we know when we are doing our best and when we are not. If we are not doing our best, it leaves us with a gnawing hunger and frustration. But when we do our level best, we experience a peace."
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

3 February 2012

How Do We Make Disciples?

Down through the centuries, Matthew 28:19 has come to be known as The Great Commission. Jesus came to His disciples and spoke these final words to them in person before ascending to heaven:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (NET)

Effective Bible study always begins with good observation. Take note of the punctuation at the end of the verse. That's a comma. There's more:

teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20 NET, emphasis added)

In verse 19, Jesus gave us the assignment, but He didn't leave it there. He assured us of His continual presence as we obey His command and, just as importantly, he told us how to do it. How are we to make disciples? By baptizing them and teaching them to obey.

The Greatest Reward

"What greater reward could a parent desire for all [the] years of loving care than to have her children good and noble, wise and intellectual, with a love of truth, virtue, and God in the hearts."
Ellis R. Shipp

23 January 2012

The Gospel: A Daily Need?

The gospel isn’t simply a set of truths that non-Christians must believe in order to become saved. It’s a reality that Christians must daily embrace in order to experience being saved. The gospel not only saves us from the penalty of sin (justification), but it also saves us from the power of sin (sanctification) day after day. Or, as John Piper has said, “The cross is not only a past place of objective substitution; it is a present place of subjective execution.” Our daily sin requires God’s daily grace—the grace that comes to us through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Churches, for example, have for years debated whether their worship services ought to be geared toward Christians (to encourage and strengthen them) or non-Christians (to appeal to and win them). But this debate and the struggle over it are misguided. We’re asking the wrong questions and making the wrong assumptions. The truth is that our worship services should be geared to sinners in need of God’s rescue—and that includes both Christians and non-Christians. Since both groups need his deliverance, both need his gospel.

Christians need the gospel because our hearts are always prone to wander; we’re always tempted to run from God. It takes the power of the gospel to direct us back to our first love. Consciously going to the gospel ought to be a daily reality and experience for us all. It means, as Jerry Bridges reminds us, “preaching the gospel to yourself every day.” We have to allow God to remind us every day through his Word of Christ’s finished work on behalf of sinners in order to stay convinced that the gospel is relevant.
 Tullian Tchividjian

Why Do We Need to Develop Patience?

On any given day, we may encounter frustrating people and situations, such as the slow driver, mischievous child, or uncooperative co-worker. We may feel like lashing out, but God wants us to stay calm and be patient with everyone (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Why should we want to develop patience?

Our calling. Though once alienated from the Lord, we have been made part of His family through Jesus’ shed blood. As God’s children, we’re called to live a life worthy of Him—one that is characterized by humility, gentleness, and patience (Ephesians 4:1–3).

Biblical teaching. Scripture tells us to be tolerant of one another, bearing each other’s burdens, and responding with kindness.

Jesus’ example. The Lord demonstrated patience toward Peter’s impetuous actions, the crowd’s demands, and the leaders’ false accusations. We are to cultivate an attitude of composure.

Healthy relationships. Our impatience can hurt others and close off dialogue. Responding calmly gives room for the other person to confess wrongdoing, explain his attitude, and make changes.

God’s approval. The apostle Paul wrote that we are to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction (Romans 12:12 niv). When we quietly endure our suffering, we find favor with the Lord (1 Peter 2:20).

The Holy Spirit is conforming us to Christ’s image. As we cooperate with Him, He will develop in us the ability to persevere—without becoming agitated—when waiting or provoked. A calm demeanor in times of delay or adversity can be a powerful witness to the transforming work of God.

Saint Augustine

"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."

19 January 2012

The Light of Christ

"There are all kinds of darkness in this world: darkness that comes from sin; darkness that comes from discouragement, disappointment, and despair; darkness that comes from loneliness and feelings of inadequacy....The light of Jesus Christ is stronger than any darkness we face in this life, if we have faith in Him, seek after Him, and obey Him."
Virginia U. Jensen