Category Archives: Salvation

Leave That Place of Death!

Photo by Greg Ortega
Photo by Greg Ortega

Ephesians 4:22-24   (ESV)

22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Romans 13:14   (ESV)

14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.It does not take long for a beggar to put off his rags and take instead a new suit of clothes, and it need not take a moment longer to put away habits and thoughts, ways of speech and life which are unworthy of the children of God. Do it now, and look up to the Holy Spirit to keep renewing you in the spirit of your mind.

“If the Holy Spirit be ungrieved He will witness to our sonship; He will enthrone Christ as King of our life; will keep the self-life in the place of death; will give us a hunger for the things of God; He will give power in witness-bearing. In order to have a strong and blessed Christian experience, the one thing is to see that we do not grieve the Spirit. I do not think that we can grieve Him away, but we may greatly limit and restrain His gracious work by insincerity of speech, the nursing of an unforgiving spirit, any kind of over-reaching or fraudulent dealing, impurity of speech, or failure in love. We may be bound, so as not to be able to move our arms, by a number of cotton threads, quite as tightly as by a strong rope-thong. Let us take care not to grieve Him by such inconsistencies.” —F.B. Meyer

At the moment of true faith, when, in recognition of the utter sinful rebellion of one’s being in the sight of God, a person accepts that God’s perfect mercy was shed in Jesus Christ, and His Grace is available for cleansing, that old, self-life sinfulness dies with Christ on the Cross. The poor, mourning soul is buried with Christ and called out, like Lazarus, grave clothes and all, to new life. The New Man is regenerated with life from the Risen Lord who tells us to come out of the place of death and encourages us and those of our family to remove the grave clothes.

Put off the old man! that’s the command to remove the grave clothes Come out of the tomb! We’re to leave the place of death and the clothes that are only appropriate in such a dark and loathsome place. We are to walk, not remain lame. We are to show ourselves to the Priest, Christ, that we are truly cleansed, not continue to live in blindness or corruption among the leper colony.

In addition to putting off the things of the dead self-life, we are to put ON the things of Life, the garments that have been provided by the Father for the wedding feast. How many will attempt to attend the wedding feast without the appropriate garments? They will be cast out because they never received the cloak of righteousness that comes from the Father because of His great Grace, recognizing the payment He made through His son, Jesus Christ.

We understand through quantum theory that one particle can exist equally in two places. So, it is not hard to imagine how we can exist in the Heavenly realm with Jesus as our representative, whose Spirit resides within us, as well as bodily in this earthly realm. But we must increasingly associate ourselves with the Ascended Lord who sits in the throne room of Heaven, a very real place, rather than this temporary shell of what we know as reality.

We should be like travelers who, as we draw closer to home, we see landmarks that are more reminiscent of Home than of the places through which we traveled. These landmarks should encourage us and remind us of the Home to which we’re traveling.

The Old Man resides in the place of death and values the grave clothes over anything else. The riches of this world, the recognition of fellow dead men will one day be revealed to our sight in stark detail that will not be missed. In that day, the dead men of the rebellion will know how foolish they’ve been and will see clearly how useless their wealth and status is against the Lord. They will feel like the primitive savage confronting a modern army. Their spears will be like toothpicks and their witch doctors will be revealed as frauds. The LORD will roll over the rebels decisively. There will be no resistance. There will be no hope.

Death and the grave cannot survive in the purifying Light of Life. Not for an instant.

Put off the Old Man, leave the grave behind. Put ON the New Man, who is Christ our LORD.

It’s Better To Receive Than To Give!

christmas-decorations-with-blue-glass-ornaments
“You cannot stop the dry-rot by grand alliances. Nothing can save a nation in whose heart the worst forms of corruption are being nourished, except a wholesale return of God and a seeking of His face. It is certain that if this lesson were profoundly learned and then practiced, the horrors of a world in arms would come to a speedy and a blessed end.” -F.B. Meyer
 
Everyone talks of wanting Peace On Earth … yada, yada, yada… Meanwhile, the wholesale rebellion against God continues as atheists and CINOS (Christians In Name Only) sell themselves to the worldly culture of Self (not the magazine).

Continue reading It’s Better To Receive Than To Give!

Entering the True Sabbath

Photo by Lotte Lohr
Photo by Lotte Lohr

John 5:16-17 “For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

Sunday is a day of rest! Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby and perhaps other less high-profile Christian-owned businesses are not opened on Sunday. In the not-too-distant past, American businesses at large were not opened on Sunday in observance of the “new” sabbath of Christ’s resurrection.

*the old Sabbath was Saturday, the 7th day of the week. This is still observed by traditional Jewish and Messianic Jewish religions.

Where I live, alcohol of high percentage cannot be sold on Sunday, meaning those who wish to imbibe must make provision for that want on the Jewish Sabbath or before.

When I was young, my family tried the approach that no work, no play clothes, should be done or worn on Sunday.

All of this is very consistent with the religious nature that is in all humans! The Pharisees and the devout in Israel during Jesus day took careful note of who was working on the Sabbath (Saturday, for them).

So, it’s very interesting to see that Jesus healed many people on the Sabbath. 

The verse in John 5 underscores this. They persecuted Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath. Verse 18 goes on to say they sought to kill him because, in addition to doing work on the Sabbath, He claimed equality with God (by what he said in verse 17).

So, what’s the importance of Jesus working on the Sabbath? What did He mean when He said, “My Father is working until now, and I myself am working?”

It is entirely possible, and extremely likely, that we misunderstand what the Sabbath is.

The first “sabbath” was on the 7th day of Creation. It is not important to argue the literal 24 hour days of Creation week, or theorize whether God needed to rest. God doesn’t grow weary, He’s God. The act of Creation didn’t drain Him. The Rest Day was His way of telling us something. But, we often misinterpret things and boil them to the simplest, and often most ridiculous thing.

God “rested” when His Creation was complete. He took Creation from darkness to a full, thriving creation with mankind as His image-bearers presiding over all He’d made. Man-Adam was perfect and in authority over the lower creatures and ecosystems that God had made.

The work of sustaining the cosmos, however, never stopped. So, God was still working, spinning the planets in orbit, creating new stars, active in each molecule and atom that holds our reality together.

The Fall, Adam’s choice to rebel against God to be one with his bride, stripped the world of this state of rest. Suddenly, all of Creation groaned with pain, thorns and futility, striving to keep the perfection it had, but failing to meet the demands of God’s design.

In the Fallen world, there is no rest, only vain toil.

Immediately, God gave a promise of His Son who would crush the serpent, the symbol of evil and the tempter who introduced rebellion to our race, and would satisfy the justice of God by bearing the penalty for our sin.

In the Law, God gave the people of Israel this idea of the Sabbath rest. not only on the 7th day, in recognition of God’s completed work which required no additional act of creation, but pointing to something else! There was also the 7th year of rest where they’d not plant crops and let the land rest.

Jewish people seldom kept these Sabbath rituals, working on their own for their increased profit.

Our mistake, however, is to see this as God being concerned that His people simply follow some religious rule.

God’s not interested in us following a list of rules. He wants our hearts!

The recognition of the Sabbath rest was to point, once more to God’s completed work, not our efforts on our own behalf.

The Pharisees observed the Sabbath, but had hearts that were thinking that their religious acts were saving their souls! They were the most pious, most religious people you could imagine. They prayed out loud in the streets. They let everyone know they were fasting. They gave money to the Temple instead of their aging parents (look how they loved God!).

And they expected that all these “righteous” acts proved their salvation as God’s special people.

They were so exclusive in their works-related religious salvation that they persecuted Jesus for performing miraculous healing on the Sabbath.

Jesus performed those deeds because, as He said, His Father is working … and He is working. The work of mending this broken world is always happening. All things are held together by God. Each sunrise, each breath of every person on this planet is ordained and maintained by God. Even the wicked mass murderer is alive at the will of God and will ultimately serve His purpose and will glorify Him (either in judgment in Hell or in repentance and new life).

So, what does the Sabbath really mean? What is the true Sabbath?

The Sabbath always pointed to God’s completed work. First in Creation, second in the New Creation, Salvation.

When Jesus took on Sin outside the camp of the world, bore the full wrath of God and died, was buried, he performed the full “week” of work required for the New Creation to which all humanity is called. With His resurrection, He has declared the New Creation, the New Man, very good. With the ascension, He has brought us, physical humans, back into direct fellowship with God, in Heaven.

The state of Creation before the Fall has been restored in Christ. The work of God is complete.

But there is still work that goes on all the time. The work of sanctification, bringing us along the path of taking off the works of death that are no longer compatible with our new natures, continues 24/7. In other words, the work of Jesus healing us is not stopped by the Sabbath.

Our “works” for acceptance with God must stop! That’s the point of the Sabbath, to remind us that we cannot work for our salvation. We need to accept Jesus’ completed work and enter the rest that no additional work is needed to secure us with God.

Then we need to let Jesus continue to work His healing every day.

Probing the Sinner’s Heart

Photo by Jacob Walti
Photo by Jacob Walti

For me there’s nothing more frightening than oral surgery. consequently, I cringed more during a torture scene in The Running Man than I probably would during some slasher movie (though I don’t watch them). Why? Because the Nazi doctor begins drilling out Dustin Hoffman’s teeth to get at the secret of “is it safe?”

Creepy.

But there might be something even more terrifying than oral surgery–or whatever strikes the most fear in your heart.

Imagine the classic blackmail scenario. Someone whose career is on the rise and is respected in the community suddenly receives a package with photos he or she would rather be kept secret.

We have a term for such secrets: Skeletons in the closet. And we all have them.

God has a term for this, too: Sin.

That’s not a very PC word these days, or any days–unless we’re talking about someone else, like a death row inmate or some convicted child molester or a corporate fat cat who bankrupted millions of investors. In our own lives, however, we have reasons for what we’ve done against God’s law. If you knew why you’d understand. Anyone else would do the same thing under the circumstances.

Anyone except Jesus.

And there’s the rub, as they say. We are not the measure of one another’s goodness. Jesus is the standard. Before His earthly life, the Law was the standard (which Jesus met completely).

We, unfortunately, do not meet God’s standard and can never do so this side of Heaven. Many will try. In fact, many believe that when they accept Jesus as Savior (more on that in a minute) God gives them the power to meet all the demands of the Law, perfectly.

The answer to that is both yes and no.

I’ll explain.

Yes! The process of the New Birth, or Salvation by Jesus is this: We must confess our sin and repent. By faith, we trust that our sinfulness was then placed on Jesus on the cross where He took the full wrath of God that we deserved, dying in our place. Every believer died on that cross with Christ. Every believer then rose from the grave three days later, with new, perfect life in God’s Spirit. Every believer ascended to Heaven with Jesus and is in the very Presence of God, pleasing to God on account of Jesus completed work. We believers have entered the Sabbath Rest of Heaven. The work is done.

No! While our position in Christ through our repentance, death burial, resurrection and ascension is complete and pleasing to God, satisfying the requirements of the Law (we died for our sin’s in Christ, which satisfied the death penalty), we are not done living in this sinful world, and we are tied to a dead body of sinfulness that drags us down. This body of death, as the Apostle called it, is our self-life which is at war with the new life within us. As long as we’re tied to the self-life, we will continue to break the requirements of the Law and require daily cleansing by Jesus our Lord and brother (as He washed the feet of His disciples). This keeps us from boasting that we can earn our salvation in any way, shape or form.

What happens throughout our Christian growth is that Jesus will continue to probe the depths of our sinful heart, the old self-life that is rotting and tied in our earthly nature in order to help us put these things to death.

But we can never expect to be free from that body of death without true Salvation, without actually being reborn.

I love how our tender Lord addressed the woman at the well. He didn’t say, “believe in me and all your sins are just swept under the rug and you get to pretend it never happened.”

That’s what we like to do. Let’s just forget that ever happened!

No, Jesus told her about her life of immorality. He told her how many men she’d slept with. And he offered her a chance at spiritual satisfaction that didn’t require her to go outside herself to get it!

Picture this, humanity going to the well to get satisfied, always looking outside of ourselves for refreshment and fulfillment. Then, God in flesh tells us, “Drink from my water (spirit) and you will never thirst again!”

No longer would we need to turn to the wells that dot the world, hauling pitchers and letting them down, wondering if we’ll get clean or filthy water. Jesus’ Holy Spirit will be a fountain of fresh water welling up inside, satisfying us in our loneliness, feeding us with bread that no one knows about in our hunger, and assuring us that we belong when we’re cast outside the camp of the world’s society.

But first, in order to receive this water, Jesus had to awake the woman’s memories of her sinfulness. He had to un-sod the grave of the woman’s past. He had to lay bare her life’s secret. Why?

The wound of our soul needs to be cleansed to the very bottom in order for us to be fully healed by the Great Physician.

There must be true confession before there can be full forgiveness.

We must put all of our rebellious sinfulness on the cross with Christ, all of it must be consumed, none of it kept back in order for Salvation’s atonement to be complete.

Have you let Jesus probe the depth of all your sinfulness? Or have you put only the most obvious things on the alter and kept back some of the portions for yourself like Ananias and Sapphira who attempted to lie to the Holy Spirit (recorded in the book of Acts)?

If you haven’t confessed all and repented, and you’re still breathing right now, you have time to do it. If you’d like to talk to someone about this, you’re welcome to Crystal Lake Baptist and we’d love to buy you coffee and talk this through.