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The Wages of Sin is Death

Romans 6:23 tells us that, “the wages of sin is death.” For this reason Jesus died to pay the price for sin. Not that He sinned, but that He took upon Himself the sin of all humanity and died for all who would accept Him as their atoning sacrifice and therefore be cleansed of their sin. I Corinthians 5:21 says, “He (God) made Him who knew no sin (Jesus) to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In Genesis we see God fellowshipping with His new creation Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God told them of every tree in the garden they can eat free, with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said if they eat of that tree they shall surly die. (Genesis 2:16).

Although Adam and Eve tried to pass the blame of their sin to another, they were still held accountable for their actions resulting in the fall of all humanity. They could not blame the serpent for their sin. They made a conscious choice, do we obey God or disobey God. Although they knew the command of God and the consequences of their disobedience they personally chose to disobey God thus they sinned.

Did Adam and Eve die that day as God said they would? Yes. They died spiritually. They lost fellowship with God and were removed from the Garden of Eden and cast into a mean cruel world now corrupted by sin to labor by the sweat of their brow until the day they physically died. Sin has grave consequences. Had Adam and Eve not chosen to sin they would still be alive today. They would not have earned the wages of sin.

The bible speaks of three types of death, spiritual death, physical death, and the second death which is eternal death. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” and again in Colossians 2:13, “you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” Paul wasn’t talking to people who were physically dead but spiritually dead.

Sin separates us from God. God’s heart is to have a relationship with us. However, sin prevents us from having that relationship with Him. Separation from God is spiritual death. For this reason Jesus died for us so our sins can be forgiven and we would no longer be spiritual dead but alive in Christ and through Christ. Romans 6:23 not only tells us that the wages of sin is death but also says that the free gift of God is eternal life. Accepting the sacrificial atonement of Christ cleanses us from our sins and reconciles us into a right relationship with God.

The bible is clear-all have sinned. Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;” Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God;” I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us;” I John 1:10, If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (God) a liar and His word is not in us.”

Since all have sinned, all stand in need of salvation through the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross. Because of the sacrifice Jesus paid the bible says in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” As we see clearly that all have sinned we see just as clearly that the offer of salvation is for all. Romans 10:13 says, “For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

Unless we are caught up in the rapture we will all die physically. However, we are not physical beings, we are spiritual. For those who have accepted Jesus atoning sacrifice and received salvation from their sins the bible says, “I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” There they will remain with the Lord spiritually until the resurrection of the dead where they will be given resurrected and glorified bodies, the same type of body that Jesus already has.

Those who refuse to accept Christ’s atoning work of salvation from their sins will then stand before God after their physical death and be judged for their sins. At the time of their judgment they will be cast into the eternal lake of fire where there is no longer any hope of redemption. The bible calls this the second death. (Revelation 20:11-15).

For this reason the church and every individual Christian should take with absolute urgency the mandate to preach the gospel to all creation. How else will they know? If they choose to reject, they have made their choice. However, they have made the choice with the knowledge of the command of God to accept His Son, and the consequences of choosing not to.

 

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

The ultimate act of love is seen in the act of God so love the world. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t wait for us to change our wicked ways and then turn to Him. Apart from the power of the blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit we can’t turn to God. Apart from the work of God we would never even want too. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

We did not choose to love God, He chose to love us. I John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” He chose to love us despite the fact that we were living in rebellion against Him. He loved us enough to pay the price for our sins on the cross of Calvary, suffering greatly in humiliation and anguish knowing that His sacrifice would purchase redemption of sin and reconcile us into a right relationship with Him. We love the Lord today because He first loved us.

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus demonstrated His love towards us by laying down His life. As a result of the cross God also requires us to lay down our lives. Not as a dead sacrifice, but as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Because of the mercies of God, which is the act of Jesus on the cross, we are urged to give our lives as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.

Jesus told us to preach the gospel to all creation. In order to do this we must sacrifice. We will sacrifice our time, our energy, and sometimes our money. We may think that the world is wicked and cruel and therefore is not worthy of my sacrifice. But, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we worthy of Jesus sacrifice?” Absolutely not! Fortunately for us, God didn’t give us what we deserve; instead, He gave us grace and mercy-because of His love. We to are called to demonstrate grace, mercy, and love to a hostile and often rejecting world. We as Jesus did, are to overlook the hostility and rejection of the world in love, hoping to win a few for the Lord.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). God loves the world and everyone in it. Does He love their ways? Of course not. This is why He sent His Son to die on the cross and save them from their sins empowering them to repent and live for Him. Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” The feet of those who carry the gospel to the unsaved are beautiful to God. They are carrying the good news of Jesus salvation to the world in which God loves so they can hear, and therefore believe. But how will they hear unless we love them enough to go and tell. By telling we carry on the ultimate act of love-God’s sacrificial love.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The Gift of Conviction

“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:8

Jesus taught the disciples many wonderful truths about the Holy Spirit. Just before His ascension Jesus told His disciples to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49.) On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit fell on each believer filling them with power from on high to fulfill the ministry Jesus called them to, and to teach and lead them on their journey of life. Today everyone who believes in Jesus receives the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:9-11.) However, as believers we need to daily seek being field with the power, anointing, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We seek Him by staying focused on spiritual things, (Romans 8:5), and through prayer.

The word convict that is used in this scripture is a word that requires action. When God convicts us we humble ourselves before Him agreeing with Him that He is right and we are wrong. It should produce repentance within our lives. In reality God is always right; if God then convicts us of a wrong we must repent or stand in danger of being in rebellion against Him.

We shouldn’t fear God’s conviction. God’s heart is not to bring us down but to build us up. We should rejoice over God’s convicting work in our lives. God convicts us of our errors to restore us into being healthy and productive. Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit we would never know we are sinners standing in rebellion against a holy God. Nor, would we ever know His righteousness, or His righteous standards. Even if we did know of His righteousness and His standards we would not have the ability to live in accordance to it. Praise God that the Holy Spirit empowers us, teaches us, guides us, and convicts us to live in harmony with the Him. Truly, the Lord has not left us on our own. Even those who continue to rebel against the Lord are convicted of His coming judgment and are therefore still without excuse.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Beautiful Feet

“HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” Romans 10:15 NASB

           Clearly the church is failing in regards to evangelizing this lost world. Thom Rainer recently wrote in a blog titled, Where Have All the Baptisms Gone? “I recently reported the latest statistics for our denomination. It’s not a pretty picture. Our membership declined again, this time by 105,708. And our baptisms were down to 314,956, the lowest level since 1948. But in 1948, we only had 6 million members. Today we have 16 million members. We are reaching less people for Christ, even though we have 10 million more members than we did in 1948.”

Even the most spiritually blind person among us today can see that this world is becoming morally bankrupt while they slip further from the Lord. Immorality of every sort is socially acceptable toady in almost every facet of society, even in many churches. Bible believing Christians are left asking the question why. Why is this world slipping further and further away from God’s righteous standard?

We are quick to make excuses that it is a sign of the times we are living in. We say the Lord is coming back soon and we are therefore seeing the apostasy. There may be truth in these statements, but this truth should cause us to work even harder for the kingdom and not less. We are even quick to pass the blame on everyone else. We say that the government, the judicial system, the news media, and the entertainment industry for the most part are anti Christian liberals who stand against us. We say things like, “If we can get Washington right we will reclaim this nation for the Lord.” However, there is a major problem with statements such as this. It is not the government’s job nor responsibility to lead this nation to the Lord-it is the churches.

The clear picture that statistics such as this, that Thom Rainer quoted, and many more like it, is that the church is not doing its job. God has given a clear biblical mandate to all Christians to share the gospel message of Jesus. Just prior to His ascension Jesus gave the final instructions to His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel. (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47-49, John 20:21). Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” He said, you shall be, or you will be, My witnesses. Jesus intentions for His church to share the gospel are abundantly clear.

Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:13, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said in the next verse, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked them in verse fifteen, “But who do you say that I am?” At this time Simon boldly answered in verse sixteen, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In the next verse we see that Jesus was greatly pleased with Simon’s answer and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus then renamed Simon Peter saying, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.”

When Jesus renamed Simon He called him Peter which is Petros in Greek. Petros is a small stone or a rock. A brick can fall under the category of a petros. It is certainly not a foundational stone that someone would build a house on. Rather it would be the small stones, like bricks, that would rest upon the foundational stone.

After Jesus named Simon Petros, He said “upon this rock I will build my church.” The word that Jesus used for rock was a different word than the one He used for Simon Peter. Jesus used the Greek word petra as the rock that the church would be built upon. Petra is a large rock, a foundational stone that is much different than the small stone, petros, Simon was called. Clearly Peter is not the foundational stone that the church is built upon; Jesus is. Jesus is the one who gave His life so He could redemption the church. To say any other is the foundation of the church is not only biblically inaccurate, it is outright blasphemous.

Peter clearly understood what Jesus was talking about. Peter wrote in I Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Who is the living stone? Jesus is. He is the one that was rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. We are the ones who come to Him also as living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. This is the perfect portrait of the church.

The church is not a physical building, an address, or location. The church is a spiritual house. Jesus is the living stone that is the foundation. We are living stones being built up on that foundation. Just as bricks are laid atop of the foundation of the building we are laid atop of Jesus who is the foundation of the church. We are also laid atop of all of the other believers who came before us such as Peter. Peter was named Petros because he was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ. Upon our confession of Christ we are saved and therefore laid atop of the foundation of Christ as the church.

After Peter gave us this wonderful picture of the structure of God’s spiritual house he then gave us an understanding of its function. He said in I Peter 2:9, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Jesus didn’t save us to give us a get out of hell free card. He saved us out of darkness and into light so we would have a relationship with Him and so we would proclaim to the rest of the world, which remains in darkness, of His excellencies and His marvelous light so they too would be drawn to the light and have a relationship with Him and not stand in darkness separated from God doomed to eternal condemnation. Clearly, this is one of the main functions of the church; the whole church.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” If the gospel is truly the power of God for salvation, as the Word of God says that it is, and we refuse to share the gospel we are then guilty of condemning this world to hell. How will they repent of their sins if we don’t tell? How will they walk out of darkness and into the marvelous light if we don’t tell? How will they know their sins will eternally condemn them if we don’t tell? “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15).

The feet that carry the good news may become callused, bruised, and bloody; they may become dusty, dirty, and grimy; they may become tired, weary, and worn, but they are beautiful to God. Far, they are bringing the good news of Jesus to a lost world of whom He loves.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Fasting and the Work of the Church Go Hand in Hand

“Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:1-3 NASB

I often hear pastors and minister fuss that they can’t get their congregation to move out of the pews and into the community for the sake of the gospel. I must admit I have grumbled those same complaints more than a time or two myself. However, we often fail to realize the fact that we are in a spiritual battle and not a physical one. We are only effective in winning a spiritual battle if we fight the battle with spiritual weapons of warfare. Fasting and praying is one of the greatest spiritual tools God has given to us.

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. As we look out into our world it doesn’t take long to understand just how plentifully full the fields are with the lost who need to be harvested with the power of the gospel. Yet, we are often left disappointed when we see so few doing the work of the Lord. God has clearly called all Christians to share the gospel.  Unfortunately most Christians have never shared the gospel with anyone. Jesus said that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He would send workers into the field, in other words, Jesus is telling us to fight this battle with spiritual weapon of prayer.

We see in this text of scripture the church at Antioch praying and fasting. While they were praying and fasting the bible says that “the Holy Spirit said.” It isn’t coincidental that the church was seeking God through prayer and fasting and then heard from Him. In fact this should be the norm, just as the church seeking God through prayer and fasting should be the norm.

When the Holy Spirit spoke He told them to, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” They prayed to the Lord of the harvest and God answered by sending out workers into the harvest field. God was calling Barnabas and Saul, (Paul), to go out into the world and preach the gospel to the lost.

Before sending Barnabas and Saul into the mission field the church at Antioch prayed and fasted once again for their newly appointed missionaries. Notice that they didn’t send them out into the fields of spiritual war to fight the battle alone. Although Barnabas and Saul were sent out and the others remained, the church was spiritually in the mission field fighting the spiritual battle as partners in the trenches of spiritual war with them. The church continued to fight the fight with them by praying and fasting. Through the power of prayer and fasting we can stand alongside missionaries, pastors, and evangelists all over the world; even if they are on the opposite side of the world at the time-far it is a spiritual battle.

When Paul went out into the mission field and preached the gospel, many were saved. He formed churches and trained leaders who would help lead the church so he could go into other cities and do the same. The new believers needed a church to help them grow in their walk with the Lord. At the same time there were still many lost people in those cities that needed to hear the gospel. These cities were now the spiritual responsibility of the new churches.

Paul knew what an enormous task the churches had in reaching their community and training new believers. He also knew the power of prayer and fasting. Acts 14:23 says, “When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

Are we reaching our communities, cities, counties, states, and nation with the gospel? Are we praying? Are we fasting? Lost people are not simply caught up in a philosophical thought that is contrary to the gospel; they are in spiritual bondage. Before we can change their philosophical view, we need to call upon the Lord of the harvest to transform and change their spiritual condition through the power of the gospel. Once they have accepted the gospel they are spiritually teachable and ready for the church to teach them to observe all that Jesus has commanded. It begins with prayer and fasting, it continues with prayer and fasting, and it ends with prayer and fasting.

prayingman

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Prayer and Fasting

“And He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29 HCSB

Today in the Catholic tradition marks the first day of lent. Lent is recognized by Catholics all over the world by going to their churches and having an ash cross marked on their foreheads. This day is called Ash Wednesday. Lent is a forty day period of fasting that starts forty six days before Easter, symbolizing the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying. I am not a Catholic, nor do I participate in their traditions such as lent or Ash Wednesday. However, fasting is clearly expected of all Christians.

The bible does not give us a mandate to fast and pray for any certain length of time. The bible does however give us several examples of people praying and fasting. Ester fasted for three days, Israel fasted for seven days, Daniel fasted for three weeks, and Moses, Elijah, and Jesus fasted for forty days. Nor does the bible give us a prescribed method of fasting. We find in the bible absolute fasts, (no food or water), partial fasts, vegetable fasts, and even fasts from sexual relations. There are a multitude of examples in both the Old and New Testaments.

Fasting is clearly not a spiritual diet. It is for the sole purpose of seeking God for a singularly specific reason. It is a time of demonstration to God of how serious we are for the need in which we are praying and seeking God for. It is a time when we are willing to deny ourselves and seek God.

In this text of scripture we find a father who has a son that is demon possessed. The demon that has possessed him is trying to destroy him. While Jesus was up on the mountain the father brought his boy to the disciples for them to cast the demon out. Jesus had already given the disciples authority to cast demons out and they rejoiced that the demons were subject to them in Jesus name. (Luke 10:1-20). However, they could not cast this demon out. Jesus came down off of the mountain in the midst of their failure to cast the demon out of the boy. Jesus with no trouble at all cast the demon out. Later that night the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast this demon out. Jesus then said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

Clearly in the New Testament church fasting and praying was a regular part of life. Not so much today is it? If have preached on fasting plenty of times only to be told by people who have been in church their whole lives that this was the first time they have heard a sermon on fasting. What a shame. Could it be that our prayers are not being answered because we sling shot quickie prayers to the throne of God thinking that is sufficient? Are we not willing to deny ourselves for the purpose of modern day fathers and mothers who stand at the feet of the church looking and longing for a move of God on behalf of their children of whom Satan and his demons are trying to destroy. Will we not fast for their sake or even the sake of our own children, churches, community, and nation? Or are we too consumed with us?

Jesus gave us very specific instructions for fasting in Matthew 6:16-18. Jesus said in this text, “When you fast”, as if it is an expectation from Him. Will you join me in praying and fasting for our children, churches, communities, and nation? They stand in great need. The good news is, we have a great God!

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Power from on High

“And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:49 NASB

Just before Jesus ascension into heaven He gave these instructions to His disciples. At this same time He instructed them to go into all of the word making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19,20). Although the disciples spent three years under the teachings of the master teacher, Jesus, prior to His sacrifice, and then another forty days with Him after His resurrection, they were still unqualified and unprepared to proclaim the gospel. Jesus told them to go into Jerusalem and wait. He specifically told them to wait for the promise of the Father, the power from on high, which is the Holy Spirit Himself. Only after they receive the power of the Holy Spirit could they be His witnesses. (Acts 1:8)

Apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we too are unqualified and unprepared to do anything for the Lord. We may have the greatest education, the most well funded and organized programs, and the highest form of zeal in our heart, but apart from the power of the Holy Spirit these things are utterly useless.

The disciples were obedient to the instructions of Jesus. They went back to Jerusalem and waited. They waited in a constant state of prayer and expectation. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit filled each one powerfully. After receiving the power from on high they went out into the streets of Jerusalem where Peter preached the gospel and three thousand souls were saved.

I believe one of the main reasons we aren’t seeing revival within many of our churches is due to the works of the flesh. We aren’t dependent upon the power from on high-the Holy Spirit. The other reason is unrepentant sin within the church which grieves the Holy Spirit and hinders His power. Both of these abominable acts leave the church self-sufficient making it inefficient.

Today when someone accepts Jesus as their Savior they receive the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:9-11). However, as Christians, who have the Holy Spirit within us, we can still grieve His power. How then as Christians do we obtain this power from on high? The same way the disciples did. First, we believe and therefore are obedient to the words of Jesus. Second, we then wait in prayerful anticipation, dedicating ourselves to praying for God’s power until the time comes when we are so full of God’s presence and power within our lives it can no longer be contained. Third, we then leave our upper rooms, walk out into the world, and through the power from on high kick down the gates of hell. Fourth, we repeat these steps again, and again, and again.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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