All Hail the Sinner

Last time in God Gave Us Debt and Taxes we talked about how God’s creative work continues to bless us today in our daily life. Today we cover the second part of the Apostle’s Creed covering Redemption. The second part of the creed is:

And [I believe] in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

This is the longest section of the creed, but also the most wonderful.

The Pain of Love

The first portion of this section covers the belief that Jesus is also the God Who created us.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth.

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority

Colossians 1:16, 2:9-10 NASB

The very God that created us, came and paid the penalty for our sins. What great love this should work in our hearts for Him. That He Who needs nothing, gave everything just to be with us. Yet, how often do we feel we have not been given enough?

What is Certain

Taxes

There was a man who, after attending church and hearing a sermon on greed could not sleep. For a week he had restless nights worried by what he had heard. So one night he wrote a letter to the IRS saying, “I have been unable to sleep for the last week knowing that I had cheated on my income tax. Please find enclosed a check for $200”. Beneath his signature was written, “P.S. If I am still unable to sleep, I will send the rest.”

Death

They say the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Apparently, for the man in our story, taxes were semi-optional. Christians tend to add a third thing to that list though, guilt. If you listen to most Christians today you would think that you are an unsaved heathen if you do not writhe in guilt for one hour every day (three on Sundays).

Also, you can’t just have any kind of guilt. It must be Christian guilt. Don’t worry about your sins. Jesus has taken care of them. But don’t you dare miss the church potluck, or skip that Christian band playing downtown on Tuesday evening. But worst of all, do not, under any circumstance say “No” to the little old lady at church asking you to volunteer to hand out bulletins, vacuum the floor after service, and change the light bulb in the light fixture on the highest point of the fifty-foot sanctuary ceiling. God just can’t tolerate that.

Freedom in Death

Those are lies straight from the pit of hell. The next time someone tells you anything like that, look them straight in the eye and say, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matthew 16:23)

Jesus died for you. You do not have to live a certain lifestyle to get His blessing. He took care of that for you. It is done. In your baptism, you died with Him and now He lives in you.

Crown the Sinner King

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus was made sin on our behalf to die on the cross and save our poor wretched souls. But it did not end there. God raised Him up to reign forever:

But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to Me, You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.

Psalm 2:6-7 NASB

Jesus is King! Not in the future, at some distant day of rapture, but today and now. He reigns, He rules, He governs everything. So don’t be afraid. You are a member of His kingdom. He has brought you into His fold and He will never send you away (John 10:28).

Not only do you belong to Him, but He belongs to you. You can never cry out and not be heard by your Savior. He will always come to you. It may not be how you expect and He may not do what you want. However, He will be there all the same.

So rest in the arms of the Lord. Trust in Him and ignore those silly guilt-laden Christians. The Lord loves them too and He will save them in spite of their misguided attempts to help.

Next Time

I hope this post will help many of you out there to get past some of the lies well-meaning Christians have been spreading. In the last post, we covered what God has done in His creation. Today we covered what He is doing for His people. Next time we will cover the work God still has to do. But for now, I would love to hear from you. Has this post been helpful to you? Have you been encouraged not to give up on God? Feel free to let me know in the comments below, or send me a private message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

Advertisements

God Gave Us Debt and Taxes

Last week in God is Rich Because He Has Nothing we discovered that God has given us forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation freely. But what good does that do us today? It doesn’t pay our bills and it does not help us get a more comfortable lifestyle. So what good does God do for us here and now?

The Creed

Last time I said we would start going over the Apostle’s Creed. Today we are going to look at the first of the three sections:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth

It is short, sweet, and to the point. But there is a lot more to it than just another debate on the origins of the universe.

Debt & Taxes

There was once a woman in court because she had failed to pay her debts. Over time she had racked up thousands of dollars on various credit cards. The judge, surprised by how extensive the debt was, asked the woman “Can’t you live within your means?”. The woman, in all seriousness, replied, “No your honor. In fact, it is all I can do to live within my credit”.

Isn’t that the way? Every day there is a letter from someone wanting money for some service. When there isn’t, the government is knocking at our doors for their ‘fair share’. It seems like no matter how hard we try there is never enough to go around.

But that is not how God wants it to be.

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man’s heart.

Psalm 104:14-15 (NASB)

We Believe

You see, when we confess that we believe that God created everything, it goes much further. We profess that God also sustains His creation with everything they need. He gives us our clothes, food, and drink (Gen. 3:21, Deut. 10:18). He gives us a home to live in (Ps. 68:6) and most of all a family (Pr. 18:22, Ps. 127:3).

What is more, we believe He does this freely out of His own goodness, not based on our performance (Acts 14:16-17). Have you ever been told that if you aren’t good enough you will not be blessed by God? There is a kernel of truth to that but it is often carried too far. God does not remove the basic blessings of life as a punishment for not being perfect. This is the teaching of Jesus: “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45)

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NASB)

Contentment

Now, this is the part where I am supposed to tell you not to be like the woman in the story above and live within your means. I am not going to tell you that though. I am going to say, live without your means.

That’s right, if you are hungry, give your food to someone who is even more hungry. Are you tired? Give rest to someone who is even more tired than you. God does not give us the blessings of this life so that we can be comfortable. He gives them so that we can be a blessing to others. By so blessing others we will receive the blessing, “Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecc. 11:1)

Paul learned to be content, not because he learned to do without (an important lesson in itself), but because he learned our goal is not to accumulate blessing to have enough, it is to give away blessing to have a superabundance (Prov. 11:25).

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

Philippians 4:11-14 (NASB)

Believe You are a Blessing

So look around you and see the blessings God has given you. Then go out and be a blessing to others. If you can’t see the blessings you have (go find a homeless person and they will point them out to you) but also go to church and swear. Show those stuffed shirts your freedom in Christ! If that is not a blessing, nothing is.

Next Time

Today we learned just how good God is to His creatures in this life. Next time we will go more into our freedom in Christ in the second part of the Apostle’s Creed. For now, I would love to hear from you. Have you lived believing God will smite you if you put one toe out of line? Do you have the guts to swear in church? Has this helped you in any way? Feel free to comment down below or send me a message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

God is Rich Because He Has Nothing

In my last post, Love Kills we spoke of God’s one desire to bring us into a full union (or communion) with Him. Now, Let’s talk about how we gain this freeing union.

Saint Dobry

In Sofia, Bulgaria there is an old soldier, Dobri Dobrev (shown above). This man is 102 years old. He lost most of his hearing in World War II. He lives off of his war pension of about 100 dollars a month. He spends his time begging. However, he does not keep any of the money for himself. He gives all of it away to local churches and orphanages to help them pay their bills.

The Generous Beggar

God works much like this good man. Though He does not have to beg for alms, He gives away all He has. He gives away first the complete forgiveness of sins past present and future as written in Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. He also gives away eternal salvation and glorification (righteousness) “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

The Children

These beautiful gifts are given only to those who have faith in Christ. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) But what does that mean? Are we to believe Jesus was a real person? Or that he did certain things?

True faith is specifically to believe everything that God has shown us in His Word, the Bible. But also more specifically, we are to believe in such a way that we are totally confident that these gifts apply specifically to ourselves and not just to others. Are you an alcoholic? Then, believe Jesus died on the cross thinking particularly of every drink you were going to take. Do you steal? Believe Jesus was whipped and had flesh torn from His body specifically for every item He knew you would take.

The Whole Book?

Have you ever tried to read the whole Bible in a year? It can be pretty tough. Especially if you miss a couple of days. Trying to catch up could be really difficult. Imagine trying to memorize the whole thing! Well, Christians long since came up with a better solution.

While reading and memorizing as much of the Bible as you can is a great practice, it takes a lot of time and devotion which is impractical when teaching someone what to believe for the first time. So Christians made creeds and confessions, to sum up, the faith. The shortest and oldest of these is known as the Apostle’s Creed because it is said to have been written by all 12 of the apostles. The creed contains a summary of specifically what we should believe and it all focuses around what God has given to us.

Next Time

Today we discussed the general gifts given to us by God through faith. Next time we are going to dive into the Apostle’s Creed and discover the three gifts God gives to us and what we are to believe about them. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you. Have you ever thought that Jesus suffered and died specifically for your sins? Does this make His story more personal and relevant to your life? I’d love to hear more from you so feel free to post a comment below or send me a direct message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

Love Kills

God is crazy, we are dying, and everything is great!

My previous post Deadly Deliverance spoke on how Christ was the perfect person to pay the debt we owe to God. Today I hope to explain a little more about the nature of what we call the Godhead.

Trinity in Unity

John the beloved was arguably the closest disciple to Jesus. After Jesus ascended into Heaven he wrote this about God, “there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” (1 John 7:8) The phrase “in agreement” in Greek is literally “for the one thing”. That is, God is after only one thing.

God is Crazy In Love

C.S. Lewis wrote, “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them”. We are not worth anything and yet God wants us to share in that Unity of which John spoke.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists flew two planes into the Twin Towers in New York City destroying the buildings and killing many. At the base of those buildings is St. Paul’s church. This was the church in which George Washington was inaugurated. It was also the only building in that vicinity that was not destroyed. You see, a large Sycamore tree stood next to the building and took all the weight of the debris. It killed the tree but saved the church.

Creating us was not enough for God. As the Church, we have a tree that protected us (and still does). The cross of Christ. Christ left that beautiful unity in order to bear the weight of all the debris in our life, and not only to carry the load for us, but to pull us out of the deepest pits we have dug for ourselves, reaching even to hell to pull us to Himself and then into unity with the Trinity as Jesus Himself prayed that those who believe “may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us” (John 17:21).

We are Dead and so we Live

This great love, caused us to perish too. As Paul says, “if any man is in Christ [that is, brought into the unity of God’s love through grace] he is a new creature [or new creation]”. The old has died, and along with it all of its burdens.

Jesus isn’t all that died on the cross that day. Our sins, death, and the Devil himself died too. They no longer hold any power of us if we remain with Christ. When we sin, it is already covered. Doesn’t matter if the sin is a ‘religious’ sin like not going to church, or if it is a sin in that we miss the goal. Such as believing that we are unqualified for the work we have to do, or thinking that we could never have anything better than what we do now or used to long ago.

Sadly, many don’t think they can believe that because their religion tells them that there are yet more requirements to live up to. Keep these commandments, read these books, listen to this music and on and on. Well, don’t buy it.

Dance like a Fool

2 Samuel 6:14 says “David was dancing before the Lord with all his might”. You are not only saved, you are promised eternity in the communion of God. So go out and dance like King David, the man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Be free to mess up.

You know you are living the Christian life when people think you aren’t saved. When David danced the Scriptures record “that Michal the daughter of Saul [David’s wife] looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart”.

Be like God. Be so crazy in love with Him that you can’t help but be free from everything and everyone that tells you that you aren’t good enough to be loved. Don’t be afraid to die for the love. Die to all that holds you back from being the beloved creation of God. The one thing God is after is you. So run to Him, and never let go.

Next Time

In the next post, I hope to talk more about what God has done for us. He is such a good God, even in the bad times. We often forget just how unreligious God can appear. So let’s explore the topic together next time. For now, I would love to hear from you. Has your understanding of the practical nature of the Trinity been expanded? Do you better appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made for you? Do you truly know just how free you are? Let me know in the comments below or send me a private message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

Deadly Deliverance

In My Sins, God’s Injustice we talked about why God is justified in condemning those who fail to live up to His standard, the Law. We also learned that there is no hope for us to succeed in following His commandments perfectly. So today we will discuss why we don’t have to.

The Covenants

As we discussed before, God has certain requirements for us. These requirements are ultimately rooted in the covenants (or conditional promises) God makes with us. Such as the covenant God made with Adam to not eat from the tree, or with Israel to keep the Law. All of these ultimately failed because we were unable to fulfill our end of the deal.

The God-Man

This is where Jesus comes in. When a person falls short of their side of a deal with God we end up in debt to God. Just like a person who misses a payment on a loan ends up a little bit more in debt. The problem is, our debt is infinite because the God we offend is infinite. As James says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10). So we can’t hope to pay Him back.

But, God can. Since God is infinite He could pay back an infinite debt. Especially since the deal is between Himself and humanity as God said: “Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today”. That would be very merciful! But would also compromise His justice. So to be just God must require the debt to be paid by man.

The Hypo-static what!?

This leads us to what the theologians call the hypostatic union. It is a big word to explain who Jesus is. This concept says that Jesus is God who took up human flesh (“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” Colossians 2:9) in order to both be merciful (by paying the debt Himself) and just (by requiring human nature to pay the debt) as Peter teaches, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24.

In the same way that we could not write our name without picking up a pencil God “picked up” human nature to allow Himself to pay the debt in the perfect way.

The New Covenant

In light of the act of Christ God said: “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant’ “. God made a covenant of faith, salvation through the free grace of God. Paul writes it in this way “But now Jesus has obtained a superior ministry, since the covenant that he mediates is also better and is enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6).

Next Time

Next week I hope to dive in a little more into the nature of God and Christ. How Christ is able to be fully divine and human without compromising the oneness of God and preserving the justice of our Father. As well as how this covenant of free grace works. In the meantime, I would love to hear questions and comments from you. Is this the first time you have heard of the hypostatic union? Has the concept of how Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and how it frees us ever been explained to you? Let me know in the comments below or send me a message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

My Sins, God’s Injustice

In last week’s post, Bold Sinners Saved Freely we discovered our inability to live up to God’s requirements, that God has already met the requirements, and finally, that our relationship to God should be one of gratitude to our Savior. Now we will begin exploring those categories in greater detail. Today, we start with our inability to be righteous.

Be Perfect

God requires us to be perfect, “you are to be perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Lev. 19:2). We definitely fail at this (after all, isn’t that why we are here?). As Jeremiah notes “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” and Paul writes “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be”.

But God did not make us this way. We did this to ourselves by choosing sin. When Adam and Eve fell from their righteous state, we fell too. No human could ever be born righteous. Now we must be reborn of the Spirit. But that is a topic for later.

The Big Question

This leads to the big question, Isn’t God unjust towards us? We fell because of decisions our ancestors made, we are required to hold to a standard we did not ask for, and He has promised eternal punishment to any who fail. What kind of loving God is that?

The Secret King

I am sure you already expect the answer to be a resounding NO! You would be right. But why? Though it is absolutely true that in the Fall of Adam and Eve humanity became broken, something else, something more subtle happened. Sin became king.

When God’s command was broken in the garden, the Devil gained dominion over the Earth. And when he gained control, we followed Him. Any time we have ever given into a selfish desire or thought badly of others we acknowledged his rule in our life. We became part of the cancer of sin that infected the world. Paul puts it a different way in Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-“.

Adam and Eve started us down the wrong path, but ultimately we made our own decision to fail God’s standard. A standard God had every right to make since He made us. The inventor is certainly allowed to make the owners manual. Since God is of infinite glory and majesty, disobedience to Him demands infinite (that is, eternal) punishment.

Conclusion

But, our all good God did not leave us in this condition. He gave us a way out to freedom, Jesus Christ. In my next post, we will explore the glory and the wonder the person of Jesus brings to us. Until then, I would love to hear from my readers point of view. Did your parents or pastors ever explain the reason behind our need for salvation? Were their explanations different from the one you read today? Feel free to comment below or send me a private message through my Contact Page.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.

Bold Sinners Saved Freely

Now that we know who a Christian is (if you don’t, check out my last post Back to Basics, Onto Glory) we will now move onto how a Christian should relate to God. Today, many wish to make God their friend. While He is truly our friend, this is a great diminishing of who God is. As one person put it “A God not just enough to condemn is not strong enough to save”. So let’s take a look at the three main points in our relating to God.

  1. You and I are terrible at being righteous. Isaiah writes “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment, And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away”. Have you ever been told that you have to try harder, do better at being a Christian? Do not listen to those people. No matter how hard you try, you are going to fail. You might look good, you might be able to convince your church friends that you are holy and good. But, no matter how convincing an act you put on, you still won’t want people to know the real you. Also, you will still be condemned.
  2. That last part was pretty depressing. So let’s get the Good News (the Gospel). The second thing we need to know is this: That God has done everything for us to be considered righteous. Our duty is not to be righteous. Jesus has done that already. Paul writes “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”. Not only has God made us righteous, He has also provided a way for us to be forgiven for our daily sins. By confessing our sins we may receive the forgiveness God already has for us. There is never a sin too great. God longs to forgive us and wants you, specifically you, to be saved.
  3. So we have had the bad news and the good news. Now for the great news, you are free! Thanks to God, you are free from sin, free from the law, free from those judgemental people always waiting for you to fail. You can look them straight in the eye and say, “On God’s authority I am allowed to screw up”. You are also free to give thanks. Paul says, “Therefore do not be partakers with them [that is the disobedient ones]; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light … trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord”. It is our duty, or rather the duty of the Spirit within us, to learn what things are pleasing to God and do those things. Not for salvation’s sake, not because we have to. But because we love God in return for what He did. That, just as we wish to please our loved ones because we care for them, so too we should wish to please God because He has done so much for us.

Now there is a lot to unpack in what we just went through. That will be what we are going to do in the next few blog posts. So if you were going along and found anything you would like to see discussed in greater detail put a comment below or send me a private message through my Contact Page. Also, if you have anything you would like to add to the conversion please don’t hesitate. I would love to hear if any of this is new to you or exciting you about your faith.

Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.