Saturday, March 31, 2018

Passover-Easter Plea: God's Love Overcomes Sin, BUT, Only By Blood

I wish each of you the best that God has to offer. This is a beautiful world that God has given us to temporarily enjoy, yet, as almost any news broadcast shows from around the world, our lives are troubled greatly by human sin. But, despite all the awful things that people do to one another, we have much for which to be thankful, so, may all praise and glory be unto God for all His provision to us, through His Messiah, His Christ.

This is the Passover-Easter season (over 3,500 years old), steeped in rich history, prophecy, and great fulfillments. A thorough reading of history and the Bible shows us that, above all, from the first sin of Adam and Eve to the sufferings, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has provided a trail of blood dealing with human sin. That bloody trail cannot be discounted unless one deliberately or ignorantly fights against the evidence that God has provided, and one turns one's back on that evidence. The trail of blood initially covered the sins of those who believed God's promises. But, in the blood of Jesus Christ, the sins of everyone in the world is washed away IF and only IF we personally and deliberately repent of our sin and then receive God's Christ/Messiah as our Savior by faith. John the baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

By and since the shedding of the blood of God's Christ (God's perfect sacrifice for sin), there is no more payment or blood that can be offered to pay for anyone's sin, for to sacrifice anything else for sin, or to try to sacrifice Christ again, insults the one pure and holy offering that Jesus already made in His own sinless blood.

We live our temporal lives, like the changing seasons, but, this earthly life isn’t forever. For what, then, are we really preparing? What are we doing with our fleeting time, since this earthly life must end one day? Are we pleasing God or just ourselves? The answer lies within the riches of God's Holy Bible, if we will but humble ourselves before God, asking His Holy Spirit to teach us, from His Bible, what we need to know to get saved and live in Him, with Him, and for Him, now and forever.

I offer this as a spiritual exploration, for I am but a sinner saved (March 15, 1984) by faith alone in God’s mercy in Christ, as you already may be, or surely can be, according to His exclusive promises in His Word (the Bible). IF you profess to know Him as Savior, please accept this as an invitation to godly self-examination and restoration unto God, and that we might have peace with all who choose Christ according to His Word. May this truly be a time of holy remembrance, repentance, and joyous salvation, as God desires.

I, also, urgently, write this to those who reject Christ or His Bible, for they have declared their intent before God, effectively pretending themselves to be their own god or judge. Also, I, pleadingly, write this to those who cling to religion or religiosity, whose formalisms (in their departure from the Bible) have led them into error, as they think that they have already attained some optional formula to placate God’s requirements for dealing with their sin. These latter have said, “I’m all set.”, effectively blindly transforming their religion into their god and themselves to be their own eternal judge.

Many souls among us, in this world, also name the name of Jesus Christ and God with zeal or distant yearning. Therefore, I write this for the encouragement and edification of all who would read this, with the intent that each one might trust, believe, learn, and grow in faith, believing on and trusting in the only living Christ of God, as God proclaims in the Bible. I offer this to those who wonder about and seek God’s salvation. I offer this to those who have yet to choose Jesus, alone, as well as to those who claim Him according to the Bible and freely confess Him as Savior, without apology or fear before mankind, seeking to live in Him daily, in all fullness of His Holy Spirit and in accord with His Word.

Those who already accept and trust God’s Word, also know that the lost souls of this world have no part in Christ Jesus nor in His salvation, until they deliberately and personally turn to Him in repentance and faith, as Jesus said…, even as God requires of us.

I bless God Almighty and His Creator, Christ Jesus, that this Spring season is slowly coming upon us: a time that most of us rejoice in the passing of winter’s clutch (goodbye, snow removal); a time of anticipation of new life springing up (whether we enjoy getting our fingers in the dirt as farmers or gardeners, or not).

At this season, some, among us, celebrate by communing in the remembrance of the pure life, atoning blood, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We celebrate that He chose to endure our punishment for sin, instead forcing us to bear it in the lake of fire forever for ourselves, as we deserve. In His eternal love, Christ Jesus did that to set us free from the bonds of sin, to enable us to serve Him in truth. May God help us to not forget that He came to set us free, and that He did NOT come to preach, establish, or teach the practice of religion, or religiosity, but rather that believers should walk by faith with Him, testing all things by the Bible.

God wants us to flee away from sin and to choose Him, flee to Him for salvation and a new life; to be born again in repentance (from sin) and faith in Jesus, in order to love, serve, and abide in Him. Fundamental to repentance is the idea that God wants us to agree with Him about what sin is. And, He says that those who fail to agree with God and His Word about the nature of sin, deny themselves the gift of His salvation because theyhave sought to deny or hide their own sin. God wants us to turn away from sin and the world (repentance) to live His way in Christ, not according to our own definition of righteousness.

If we are Christians (by biblical definition), and not just calling ourselves that for religious reasons, we need to celebrate the living Christ of Passover and Easter, by open and unashamed discussion of who He is and what He has accomplished for us, with mutual appreciation of His perfect selflessness, and holy joy in His resurrection. It is time for us to make Jesus known as THE focus of this season, and for our conversations to be fruitful before God. So make these days, and every day, days of holy remembrance and godly action. Otherwise, how can God truly be honored or smile on us if we treat the name and sacrifice of His only begotten son as a by-word instead of as "the main event", especially on a day when we say we gather in His name to celebrate His power and victory over death? God alone knows each of our hearts and our motives. Therefore, may God help us to put aside our flesh and to think on Christ fully and tenderly, even as these days of remembrance demand of us. IF we find the exploration of God’s Word and our dependence on Him to be burdensome, let us be wary of our natural inclinations.

The world offers all sorts of distractions that cater to our flesh, as it tries to keep our eyes, hearts, and minds off of what God wants for our lives. I, too, am guilty of chasing earthly appetites and distractions. Each of those, I must freely confess to Christ, my Creator, the Almighty, seeking His Spirit's help that I may be less worldly and more focused on my Savior, Christ Jesus. We can boldly plead with God for mercy about such things (IF we really repent), because, Jesus came to set us all free from sin and the world; free to choose God and God’s ways.

In His holy love for us, Christ paid a terrible price during the beatings and crucifixion of Him, to accomplish God’s only plan of salvation for us. He did that, because, as sinners by nature, we are incapable of saving ourselves, AND because only Jesus' sinless blood could satisfy God's wrath against sin, forever. Because of that salvation that Christ offers us, we do not have to live like the world lives, in sin. IF we have truly believed on Christ and scripturally received His gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, then we are eternally secure, in Him alone. Yet, when we drop our guard and force ourselves to succumb to earthly temptations, we still need to repent of our new sins, but, His salvation sustains us.

In God’s call to each of us, He wants us to learn what the self-sacrificing (agape) love of Christ really is, according to His Word, not by worldly standards or definitions, and surely not by feelings, for God tells us that “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?”). God loves us in Truth, as unconditionally offered in His plan of salvation, because He made us in His image. But, though that agape love gained for us God's salvation, let us not be ignorant or forget that He hates our sin, for it was our very sin that provoked Jesus to volunteer to die to save us from our own sin nature.

All the cruelty and murder that was heaped on Jesus was to all the shedding of His holy blood because of and to specifically pay for my sin and yours, and He bore every one of our sins on the Cross. Even though we had not yet been born, He knew all of our sin that was to come, and yet shall be, in our lives. He knew that we could not save ourselves from our own sin. His sacrifice for us is not something of which any Christian should be ashamed. Nor should we be ashamed of our desperate need to depend on Christ for His perfect, and only, salvation.

What, but earthly, fleshly sin, motivates us to haul out the ‘easter bunny’ false god, so that we don’t insist on teaching our children that the only reason for this Holy Day is that the Messiah, the Christ of God, Jesus, died for our own sin? Surely, God's love and our godly love, both, demand (Ezekiel 33) that we warn others (including our children) of His truth about sin and idolatry. In this Holy Day of remembering the sufferings and death of our Savior, we should rejoice in His resurrection AND be soberly, lovingly fearful of insulting the sacrifice of our risen Savior, because He, alone, gave His own life on our behalf. Our children need to know the whole living truth that God sets before us, lest they die in their sins, thinking that Passover-Easter is 'just some religious thing', or for their entertainment or personal gain. God has set all real Christians, adult or child, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings, as watchmen to proclaim God's Word, faith, and His biblical ordinances. If we fail to do as He says in Ezekiel 33, the blood of those in the lake of fire is on our hands.

God did not send us, Christians, into the world in pajamas to pursue our own appetites at our own leisure, but He sends us out in full battle gear, even as He promises to be our rear guard to watch our backs. Therefore, we need to challenge ourselves to remember that God says that He doesn’t accept anyone or anything else interceding for our sin, and that He demands that we address our sin, personally, with Him.

Furthermore, God defines idols and false gods as anything that we allow to lead us away from worshipping and obeying Him. Though I openly reject the idolatrous pagan mockeries of Christ, that are called Easter bunnies and Santa Claus, yet, that doesn’t necessarily make me a ‘good Christian’. For, whenever I fail my Savior by lusting after or indulging in anything that causes me to neglect my Christian duty to God (according to His Word and Holy Spirit), then I make myself into an idolater, worshipping that which I have allowed to distract me from God’s Word and His ways. My idolatry breaks my fellowship with God and is not good for me, nor for those around me. Therefore, in this Christian war within ourselves, between our flesh and spirit, whatever idols or false gods I make or entertain, I need to repent, to be at peace with my Savior, the one true God.

In contrast to God’s view, our flesh and the world love the pursuit of sinful things. Who can't see or understand that? Our own flesh and the world love sin so much that they hate it when someone exposes our sin, or theirs, or our, respective, philosophical or religious hypocrisies. Because we are sinners by nature, and in our daily actions, we prove ourselves to be hypocrites, to one degree or other, but we still need to accept God’s challenge that we need an attitude and behavior turnaround, especially IF we call ourselves “Christian”. God says that there is an eternal gap between what God loves and what the world loves. (This Bible link may shock some, but this is truly a holy beacon to us all. May we test ourselves by it.)

From the beginning of humanity, God has challenged people to prove whether the kind of love we choose is bringing us closer to God or closer to the world, for God’s love will lead us to cherish, honor, and obey Christ more, leading us away from sin and the world’s influences. However, even the most earnest worldly love will lead us to follow, protect, and engage in more worldly and fleshly things. Jesus said, “…where you treasure is, there will your heart be also.” If my spirit, heart, and mind are not filled with the things that God says that He wants in my life, then I shall be filled with the things of the flesh and the world.

No matter how seemingly innocent the person, activity, or trinket, if that thing, person, or event leads me away from God’s Christ, away from honoring God, away from God’s Word and His ways, then I shall have sinned by my actions, feelings, or attitudes, having allowed myself, even forced myself, to be distracted away from the goal that God set for me in Jesus Christ. Let us not forget that we have been warned about putting stumblingblocks in the paths of others, especially misleading or abusing children. God wants children to be taught about Him, His Word, and His Christ, not about things that would become excuses for children to push God away.

I speak boldly about these things because God is adamant about them. I’ve been called names by some, reviled by others, and even threatened, because I insist on clinging to God’s Word and His ways. I rejoice in such anger and mockery, etc., knowing that Jesus bore far worse, and that He took it all to His cross, including all my own selfish, spiteful sins. As our world deteriorates morally and spiritually, there may be far more severe tests for Christians until Christ catches away His church body. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Real (biblical) Christianity is not a religion, nor a sect, nor a denomination, but life itself, in Jesus Christ. 

Christ and God’s Word assure us that, for all who will choose to live godly (and I know that I fall way short), there are many times that we shall be attacked for our insistent adherence to our scriptural faith, as we strive to obey Jesus and warn others of the judgment to come. Therefore, I caution all Christians to take heed, as the apostle, Peter, warns Christians: there are worldly people who say it is strange when Christians try to live as Jesus commanded us to do. Peter cautions that the world will even speak evil of Christians who don’t follow the world’s acts and teachings. Even Jesus said that He sends His followers out into the world as “lambs among wolves”.

God has made one eternal peace offering for all of us. There is no other way. IF we choose to accept and abide in it, then we have eternal life. It is secure in God’s hands, but let us not abuse God’s good will toward us. Our redemption is not a call to pick and choose our favorite sin of the week or the year. God’s redemption is not about religion, not about learning to be religious, not about arguments, not about feelings or “being nice”, not about ‘getting along’ while ignoring sin, and surely, not about secular or humanistic philosophies or preferences. Jesus Himself said those things are an abomination to God.

Please bear with my impertinence, as I ask that you read and carefully weigh God’s call to all of us, even as the angel announced at the birth of God’s Christ:

Luke 2:8-20
8  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18  And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

God’s salvation is available to everyone, but, only on His terms. God’s salvation cannot be bought, sold, earned, or lost. Any willing soul can accept God’s terms and receive God’s gift in Christ. If there are any who would doubt or reject God’s assertions, I encourage and even challenge them to humble themselves to read the Bible from cover to cover asking God to reveal His truth to them. What would that cost, but relinquishing a little pride?

I had to learn salvation's precious lesson the hard way, through many 'hard knocks', until I, finally, humbled myself to read the Bible for myself. Only then was I able to see my sin nature exposed, as I read Exodus, and saw my own rebellious selfishness exposed for the sin that it is. Thank God that I repented and received God’s Christ.

For those who reject that challenge, I urge you to, at least, read the Bible’s books of John and Romans, that the essence and vitality of God’s eternal peace offering might catch your attention and pique your spiritual thirst and hunger, that you might allow Jesus Christ to put away your sin forever, as He has promised in response to your repentance. Digest this Passover-Easter message and challenge and you will have truly partaken of the eternal meal and message in which God wants us to share and live with Him and one another. For, the Word of God, His salvation, and His working through believers, are truly godly meat, drink, and nourishment indeed.

In Jesus’ love,
Craig

Sunday, March 25, 2018

There Is Only One Way To God's Salvation

God created humanity, Adam, saying, "Let us make man in our image." Then Eve was made from Adam. In their free will that God had given them to choose Him and His ways, yet, they chose to sin, afterward, in guilt, hiding themselves, ignorantly thinking that God wouldn't notice... just as people do today. Guilty self-delusion is nothing new to humanity. Adam and Eve hiding and covering themselves with leaves were the first acts of religion... NOT what God wanted, nor what He had ordained. From that first human sin, people have been trying to figure out almost any way to get rid of, deny, or cover their sin, EXCEPT by doing things God's way. If we do not deal with our sin God's Way (as shown to us from cover to cover in the Bible), even our most sincere and urgent religious efforts stink to God, like a nasty litter box, in which the cat scratches and scratches but is unable to hide or mask the waste and odor left behind. Read the Bible for yourself and you'll see that truth.


Right after Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God's command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God made a blood sacrifice and clothed Adam and Eve in the skin of that animal. God then told them that He was going to raise up one Savior for all human generations, that we could have confidence in trusting God for all things, including our eternal salvation. That theme runs throughout the whole Bible, because God has always wanted us to walk with Him and desires a personal relationship with each of us.


Even as Old Testament people were blasted for failing to do things God's way, in the New Testament Gospels, Jesus says that very few people try to enter at the Gate that God has provided. Jesus sharply says that anyone who tries to get in by any other way is a thief and a robber. By Christ's own words, it is plain that most people are only paying lip service to God and His plan of salvation, as the bulk of humanity tries to work out their own religious angles and gimmicks, fooling themselves and others, as they try to fool God. The bottom line is that most people fail to really trust, love, and obey the promised Messiah, Christ Jesus.


The hitch for human beings, and the main cause of our failure to trust God and His Christ, is that we love our sin and the world so much that we do not wish to part with either: we do not want to repent of our sin and accept God's Way (Christ Jesus) and His ways. Please note God's carefully worded comments, through Peter, to the religious leaders, as Peter spoke, by the Holy Spirit, about their jealously instigated the execution of Jesus Christ. Also, listen to the very words of Jesus, as He instructed those around Him as He walked this world.


Acts 4:11-12
11  This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.


John 14:5-7
5  Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
6  Jesus saith unto him,
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
7  If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.


I beg of you to heed God's Word, the Bible. Examine yourself according to His promises, for those never change.


Please don't end up like the man who threw away eternal life.