Monday, February 21, 2011
The gospel is simply this- That just as one man, Adam, brought sin into the world, also one man, Jesus Christ, saved the world from sin and opened the door for all people to be reconciled to God- the father of man- through his death and resurrection. God loved the world and people so much that he sacrificed the life of his only Son for us. He did this so that we could be saved from a life separated from him for forever. Because we are born into sin, we are deserving of death. For the penalty of sin is death. As our creator and the Lord of all things, God would be justified in allowing us to die for our sins that we commit throughout our lifetime and leave us separated from him for eternity. Yet because of his strong, deep love for us, he doesn't want us to suffer that fate and pay that penalty. Thus, he decided to put his Son in our place. He sent his Son- who was made in his image- to the earth to live the perfect, sinless life that we cannot. By Christ's life and death, our sins are atoned for. On the cross, Christ bore all of our sins- the ones we've committed and every one we will commit- of all people who accept him and believe in him. He paid the penalty for our every sin, which is death, so that we are rescued and pardoned from having to pay it ourselves. God looked on his son, who was innocent and blameless, and accepted his death- his sacrifice of life in our place- so that his judgement on evil and wrongdoing might be justified, yet we might also be reconciled to him for forever. Now, for those who believe that God did this and accept Jesus Christ as their savior, there is no more condemnation for their sin and they are saved from an eternity without a relationship with God- which is hell. Now, when God looks at us, he sees the righteousness of Christ because it was he who took our place and now we are a new creation.
When we confess that we are a sinner and that Jesus is our savior, God sends his Spirit- the Holy Spirit- to live inside us. Now we can have a relationship with him that includes the ability to converse with him (through prayer) and feel his presence and experience his blessings (undeserved gifts). As a new creation, we don't have to feel guilt anymore for our sin or fear of death. Because we're still living in the flesh, we will sin. But if we confess our sins to God then he forgives us and will help us stop. For he wants us to become more like Christ- a better person who doesn't do wrong. And we will start to desire this, for the Spirit living in us will convict us when we sin and are doing something that displeases God. He will give us the desire and ability to overcome the temptation to sin. Once God has started this good work in you, he will carry it on until it's complete. We don't have to try to follow the law (God's terms of how you should live) in order to be saved (this would be legalism). Because we can't follow it and achieve his standard despite our best efforts and good intentions. We all fall short of his standard of how we should live. Not one person is perfect. Only Jesus was.
The law is there (given from God through Moses for all to know in his Word- the Bible) to make us aware of our sin and how much we need Christ. We can't do anything to earn our salvation from God. Only through faith in Christ can we be saved. And it is by grace, for we don't deserve the sacrifice that God made. It is a gift that we have a choice to receive or not. We can't be saved because of anything good we have done, nor can we lose our salvation because of anything bad we have done. God wants us all- every person from every tribe, nation and background- to know him and receive this gift. It's not limited to anyone for we are all equal in his sight. He loves everyone- believers and unbelievers- because we are all his creation. There's nothing so wrong we could've done that will change or decrease his love for us. Even in our past, in sin, in turning away from him, He still always loves us and wants to know us. He wants to have a relationship with you and be part of your daily life- every aspect of it. He has compassion for you and wants to bring you comfort, joy, and peace. For he knows everything about you. Everything that you've done and that's been done to you. He knew you before you were born and he knows you better than you know yourself for he created you. He loves you more than sometimes you even love yourself. He has watched you and loved you even when you didn't know him. Your sadness causes him sadness, like a child hurting hurts the parent. He knows that all of our sins hurt each other and He wants to heal us from that hurt and restore those wounds. He wants to free us from the bondage that sins imprisons us in. For he has good plans for you- he wants to give you hope and a good future. He doesn't want you to live in misery, fear, loneliness or hopelessness.
He alone knows what you need and what is best for you. He can fill the emptiness in your heart that's been there since you were born. We try our whole life to fill this emptiness with other things or love from other people, when it's there because he created it and only he can fill it. He can calm you in times of trouble, give you guidance when you're lost and confused, satisfy your deepest and strongest desire which is to be loved unconditionally and unfailingly. And he's already proved his love for you through the sacrifice of his Son. He has bought you at a price- a high price. Not because of anything you did- good or bad- but because of his loving kindness and mercy, for his glory. His glory is to be made known among all people. Therefore, we must turn away from every sin and wrong thing. We should live a life that's worthy of this love and forgiveness. Through his Spirit, he'll show you what is right and wrong and help you do differently. He'll transform how you think and feel and act to be more in accordance with his will for you. When you fail- as we all continue to do- don't be overcome by grief and guilt. For there's now no condemnation for those who believe in Christ. Once you've been saved, you can't be unsaved. These thoughts are lies from the enemy. He doesn't want you to know God or surrender your life to him. He wants you to keep doing wrong and certainly not share with others the knowledge of and love of God. He loves evil and is the father of lies. Guilt and doubt are his weapons against believers. For he wants everyone to choose to deny God and not receive his gracious gift of salvation.
The enemy knows that he can't steal your salvation from you, so he'll try to keep you from acting on it and living the life God wants you to have- that Christ died for you to have. He'll rob you of joy and peace and satisfaction. He'll deceive you with lies, trying to keep you trapped in the habit of sin by telling you that they will bring you happiness. Yet sin offers only temporary happiness, but ultimately it results in lasting destruction. Then he'll make you feel guilty and miserable for this sin that he led you to commit. He'll tell you that you're not good enough for God or worthy of his love and that you'll never change. But God knows the truth, which can be found in his word, and the truth will set you free from the weight of this sin and the enemy's attacks. Instead of running or hiding from God in your sin, run to him and confess what you've done, admitting it's wrong, and thank him for the forgiveness then turn from that sin. Then you can keep going in the joy and peace that God's grace brings you.
Conviction of your sin by the Spirit should simply lead you to God, drawing closer to him and reminding you of your need for Christ. On the other hand, guilt from the enemy that continues to stay with you and keep you from God leads you further from him and down a path of destruction, deeper into misery. Don't accept the lie that God wants you to deny yourself and stop doing wrong because he wants you to be bored or unhappy in this life. He only asks us to do things because he loves us and knows what's best for us, like a parent. He knows that ultimately your obedience to him will result in your happiness. And he won't ask you to do anything that you can't do, through his strength and grace. He can see the bigger picture that we can't. He is omnicient- knowing everything there is to know. His ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. He has all-surpassing knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, we have no reason not to trust him with our very life and in everything that we do, even thought we don't understand his ways or understand him completely. We never will nor should we try to, for the creator should know more than it's creation and have authority over it. His authority over us is a good thing for he is Lord- Lord and King over our lives and all the earth and all the universe. He knows what is best and surrendering to his authority brings us safety, joy, and peace. We are fortunate that he even created us and wants to be in relationship with his creation.
Once you know of this wonderful information- this good news that is the gospel- you want to and must share it with others. For everyone is hurting in this fallen world where there is tragedy and death as the result of sin. But you know of the love that can make their life better; That gives them a reason for living and pushing on despite the bad circumstances they're in and the trouble they've been through. So many people are lost, hurt and alone. The love of Christ can change their life and make it better, as it has yours and mine. For it is constant. It can never be taken away from us no matter what else is lost. In this life, nothing is lasting. Things are always changing. Death, pain and trouble are a guarantee. People can't be trusted or always relied upon, even the ones we love most. But God, who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, will never change. He existed before the world did and always will exist. He loved us before we were born and always will. He will never fail or abandon us because he is God- he is perfect, unlike humans, he is without sin or the ability to do wrong. He is love.
He sees the evil in this world and it makes him weep. But he knows that he can turn any evil thing, any bad situation, into good. He can take what the enemy does and means for harm and turn it into a positive result, for he is powerful and in control of all things. He doesn't cause bad things to happen to anyone, but he can allow them to happen so that eventually something good is accomplished and he is victorious over evil. For this brings him glory (allows the opportunity for other people to know him). We, as his children, will one day get to take part in this victory over sin and death. For God has already won the ultimate battle against evil through the death and resurrection of Christ. For Jesus is with him now in Heaven and through him many people will come to know God and confess that he is Lord. When we are joined with him in heaven one day there will be no sin, no pain, no death, no disease or tears. God can use the pain that we go through on earth though to bring others to him. For we all can relate to each other in feeling pain at one point or another in our life- whether that's because of something we did and are experiencing the consequences of or because of something that someone else did that's affecting us. If we let him heal us from it, allowing him to be our strength and hope, and show mercy to one another by forgiving each other of sins, then he will be glorified. In the midst of our struggle, people will see his presence and spirit at work in our lives. This advances his kingdom which results in his glory and victory. And we will get to take part in it, triumphing over sin. So it is through our sufferings on earth that we are able to share in Christ's suffering on the cross and reveal him to others that see how we live. This is what we are all here for. Our purpose and source of joy in life is to know God, believe in Him, share him with others, and glorify Him, then be joined with him for eternity in Heaven.
See these truths in his Word:
John chapter 3: verses 3-21, 1:1-5, 1:9-14, 5:24, 6:35-40, 8:34-36, 10:7-18, 12:44-50, 13:12-17, 14:1-7, 14:15-21, 16:33
Romans 3:10-31, 5-6, 8, 12
Ephesians 1:3-14, 2:1-10, 4:1-6, 5:1-20
2 Corinthians 1:3-7, 4:16- 5:10, 5:16-21, 7:1
Galatians 2:15-21, 3:23- 29, 5:1, 5:13-25
Philippians 3:7-14, 4:4-9, 4:12-13
Colossians 1:15-23, 2:9-15, 3:1-17
2 Thessalonians 1:5-12
Hebrews 1:10-12, 2:10-18, 4:12-16, 8:12, 9:15, 9:27-28, 11:1-3, 12:4-11
James 1:2-4, 1:12-18, 2:14-17, 4:1-10
1 Peter 1:3-9, 2:1-3, 4:1-6, 4:12-19
1 John 1:5-10, 2:15-17, 3:1-10, 3:16, 4:13-21, 5:1-12