We are nothing like God

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6, 35-36, NASB.)

Do you love your enemies?  God does.  He loves His enemies because He is kind.

“For He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Verse 35)

Is all of your behavior good?  God’s is.  He always does good.  Our attempts at doing good, on the other hand, are called “dead works” (Hebrews 6 and 9.)

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14, NASB)

Are you a merciful person?  Are you full of mercy and compassion and forgiveness toward others?  Well, hallelujah!  God is!  He is the only One who is merciful.  That is good news because we really need His mercy!

The first verses listed above, from Luke 6, are part of the famous “Beatitudes,” a.k.a., The Sermon on the Mount.  In that sermon Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, trying to get them to see that they needed Him as their Messiah, their Saviour.  But the fact is that they had already rejected Him and at that point in the story, they were already planning to destroy Him, to do away with Him.  Why?  Because, according to them, He “worked” on the Sabbath Day.

Yes.  How dare Him, right?  He actually walked through a grain field and allowed His disciples to pick wheat and eat it.  In addition, He healed a man who had a withered hand . . .  on the Sabbath day!!!  Shocking, huh?

The Pharisees were like, “You evil unrighteous person!  You picked wheat!  You healed a man!”  . . . uh?  Okay.

It’s ridiculous to us, of course.  But to them, it was audacious and wrong and against the rules!!!

And yet, all of us, at one time or another were just like the Pharisees.  Blind, rule-following, religious, prideful jerks who rejected Jesus and saw no need for His love, His goodness, His mercy.

But . . . I can take a deep breath, take a sigh of relief and rejoice in His mercy to me.

“He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35)

I can be thankful today and every day, no matter what my circumstances are, because He has saved me by faith through grace.

I just want to praise Him today and remember that I am NOTHNG like Him.  Neither are you, if you’re honest, and that is good news!  Because He is God, and we are not.

 

 

How would you explain the gospel?

It was 1992, I was a new college graduate who had moved back home, and I was at some nightclub in South Florida with my sister and her group of guy friends.  One of the guys and I were dancing together when he asked me about my recent conversion to Christianity.

“Cindy tells me you are very passionate about the whole Jesus thing.  Do you actually believe what you are being told at church?”

I was thrilled with his question, because it was the perfect opportunity for me to share the gospel for the very first time.  It seems odd to me now that I could have such a serious conversation while grooving to pop music on a dance floor . . .  but at the time it was perfectly natural.  He listened patiently as I began my explanation with the Garden of Eden.

I kept talking for an entire hour.

I didn’t know how to explain the gospel simply and concisely!  Oh Lord, how embarrassing.  I don’t even remember that young man’s name, but God bless him for hearing me out.

And, if you don’t mind, may I please explain the gospel to you right now in a simple and concise manner???  I promise; I’ll be quick.

The gospel is the good news, or the glad tidings, of Jesus Christ.  It’s good news because He came to solve the problem that plagued humanity.  As I told that anonymous guy on the dance floor:  the problem began in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:15-17, The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Adam and Eve were given one commandment to obey, and they failed.  They ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They chose to reject God. So on that day, He left.  They lost the life of God, the Holy Spirit, which had been breathed within them . . . and they died (Gen 2:7).

You and I are born into this world “spiritually dead.”  We are all born in the image of Adam.  We are empty.  We are blind.  We are lost.  (Haven’t you noticed?)

Romans 5:17-19, For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

Humans are born in the image of Adam, not in the image of God.  Death reigned from Adam to Jesus.  Life reigns from Jesus until eternity, until forever!  😁

God came to earth as the promised Messiah to the Israelites; the prophet that was foretold and expected for thousands of years.  He was born as a baby and was called Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

After living a perfect life according to the Law of Moses, He was put to death; His death paid the penalty that was required for sinners under the Law.  He was then buried in a cave; hundreds of Roman soldiers guarded that cave for the following three days.

But you can’t kill God, so on the third day, He rose again; His body was resurrected from the grave.  Having died for the sins of the world, the world is now forgiven of all of its trespasses against God.  The slate has been wiped clean so that anyone who wants to be saved, can be saved.  You are saved by receiving the resurrected life of Jesus, by inviting His life – which is His very Holy Spirit – to come and live with you for all of eternity.

Romans 5:10, For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

His death, His burial, and most importantly, His resurrection made it possible for humanity to be saved; to be made alive; to receive His resurrected life, His Spirit, that would resurrect US from the dead.

That life that Adam and Eve lost?  It has been restored.

Have you been restored?  Have you been made alive?  Have you believed in the gospel?

Hearing this message with faith, is what allows a person to be saved from eternal death.

Kind of an important message to share. . . . even if you are on a dance floor.

Do Christians need to “fully surrender” to God?

My 16-year-old and I attended a mother/daughter Bible Study this past Sunday in which the overall message presented to the teenage girls was to “dream big” for God.  To dream up grand ideas.  To imagine bold plans.  To further God’s kingdom while solidifying your own faith.

A supporting argument was, “if you are fully surrendered to Him, then He will be able to use you.”

But what does it mean to be fully surrendered to Him?  I’ve been meditating on this question for the past five days.  In order to fully surrender to God, what are the prerequisites and requirements?  What are the markers used to determine the halfway mark, for example, and how will you know when you’ve reached “full” status?  How will you know when completion has been achieved?

My opinion is that you will never know.  The idea is too nebulous to ever be achieved.  Because the fact is:  He is the One who is fully surrendered to you.

Jesus Christ Himself – The Word of God that became flesh and dwelt among us — was fully surrendered to God.  God Himself left His heavenly realm, was born through a virgin, lived a sinless life and eventually paid the ultimate sacrifice:  He died.  What He did on the hill of Calvary by dying for the sins of the world was nothing less than full surrender.  You can’t get any more surrendered than that.

To tell a room full of teenage girls that they must be fully surrendered to God, without specifically defining the exact meaning of that phrase, is, I feel, insulting the work of Jesus on the cross.

But is there any place at all for surrender in a Christian’s life?

Well, yeah, there is.  First, we must surrender to the gospel.  And second, we must surrender to the New Covenant.

Surrendering to the gospel is the primary work that a human must achieve.  Otherwise, you remain in a state of death – spiritual death.  So, first, believe in the gospel, and receive the life of God through faith, by His grace.  That is the main WORK an earthling is required to do.

“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.””  John 6:28-27

Believe in, trust in, rely on, depend on and fully surrender to the fact that Jesus Christ alone provided for the forgiveness of sins, and that He alone can offer to you the Holy Spirit of God which gives life to your mortal soul.  A simple prayer to the Creator is all that is required to accomplish this work.  Say yes to Him; tell Him you want to accept His free gift.

“Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life.”  Jesus’ words in John 6:47.

After you receive the Spirit of life and are born from above – just as the Israelites wandered around for 40 years – you also will inevitably spend a few years of wandering in the wilderness of Churchianity.  But after you realize that your devotion to religion is empty, then you are ready to fully surrender to the New Covenant.  This is not a burden.  Surrendering to the New Covenant is like crossing the Jordan River.  It may take a bit of struggle to make it across, a bit of wrestling.  (The word Israel means, “He who wrestles with God.”)

So wrestle with God!  And then surrender to His grace!

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Surrendering to the New Covenant means that you have come to believe in the complete forgiveness of sins.   It means that you no longer quote 1 John 1:9 to get forgiven.  You have come to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished.”   You realize that the sin issue between you and God actually is finished.

God had to forgive the sins of the world and cast those transgressions as far as the east is from the west, so that He could clear the slate, wipe the table clean and finally have a bunch of humans – forgiven humans – to whom He could make an offer.

The offer is this: “Will you eat from the Tree of Life?”

So, do you see how surrender to the New Covenant allows you to understand the gospel in which you believed?  To really grasp that the two are part of one whole?  Things finally makes sense!  You are no longer trying to put new wine into old wineskins.  You have walked through the door.  You are finally inside the Promised Land of Rest.

Don’t let anyone judge you or condemn you for resting.  Don’t let anyone put a burden on you by saying you must fully surrender your life to God, and by implying that God is waiting for you to shape up, and if you don’t, He will ship you out.  When they essentially say that God is powerless and impotent without your FULL surrender…  just remember that it’s a lie.

Lies keep you in bondage; God wants to lead you into all truth, because the truth sets you free.

“But when He the, Spirit of truth, shall come, He will guide you into all the truth.”  Jesus’ words in John 16:13