Jew For Jesus

The most renowned ‘Jew for Jesus’ was the apostle Paul – the Holy Spirit-inspired author of the majority of the New Testament. In fact, he was converted by Jesus Himself on the road to Damascus. Ironically, his primary ministry was to the Gentiles.

I bring this up because we’re going to look at some of the book of Hebrews – whose author is anonymous. However, some believe it was penned anonymously by Paul to minister to Jewish audiences without causing any rifts between he and the apostle Peter, who, primarily ministered to the Jews. Other biblical scholars have attributed the authorship of Hebrews to associates of Paul, especially Barnabas or Apollo.

Regardless, Hebrews seems to be written to bolster the faith of Jewish converts to Christ, who had got the erroneous notion that Jesus’ return was supposed to be immediate. Well, 60 years had passed since Jesus’ ascension, and doubts had begun to fester.

WHO IS JESUS?

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Heb. 1:1, 2. NKJV

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, having become superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Heb. 1:3, 4. ESV

These opening scriptures tell us a lot: we learn that as soon as Jesus was resurrected, the ‘last days’ of the earth commenced. Also, God now speaks through Christ, who, petitioned His Father so that we could have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be able to receive His words.

God tells us that His Son is an exact imprint of Himself – affirming that whatever comes out of the mouth of Jesus is the word of God. We are reminded again that God made the universe through Christ, who holds it all together.

Finally, at the point of Jesus’ resurrection, He received His crown from God, to rule over the earth as the King of kings and Lord of lords – exalted over all things, including the angels…

WHY HOPE IN JESUS?

For this reason we must pay closer attention to what we heard so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Heb. 2:1 – 3. NASB

The author is appealing to the Jews’ knowledge of the Old Testament, which demonstrated that every time an angel would appear, its pronunciations invariably came to pass. The Jews are also well aware that the angels testified of the coming of the Messiah.

Continuing, the Holy Spirit-inspired author asks his audience to consider the ‘present-day’ proofs for the veracity of Jesus being that Messiah:

It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Heb. 2:3, 4. ESV

So, the salvation promise in the Son, was first testified by God and then His Son. It was also testified by the apostles and was visually confirmed through Christ’s Holy Spirit-empowered miracles and spiritual gifts. The author is essentially saying, ‘What more proof do you need?’

WHAT HAD TO HAPPEN BEFORE JESUS COULD FULFILL HIS PURPOSE?

We have seen that in heaven, Jesus is exalted above the angels. In His carnal nature, He was not, because He had to take mortality upon Himself:

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while [by taking on the limitations of humanity], crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering of death, so that by the grace of God [extended to sinners] He might experience death for [the sins of] everyone. For it is fitting for God [that is, an act worthy of His divine nature] that He, for whose sake are all things, in bringing sons to glory, should make the author and founder of their salvation perfect through suffering [bringing to maturity the human experience necessary for Him to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest].

Both Jesus who sanctifies and those who are sanctified [that is, spiritually transformed, made holy, and set apart for God’s purpose] are all from one Father; for this reason He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. Heb. 2:9 – 11. AMP

Angels do not die. Jesus had to be mortal, so that by His sacrifice He could nail our sins to the cross forever. He also subjected Himself to the ‘human experience,’ so that He can compassionately identify with our weaknesses and suffering, while He serves as our High Priest at the right hand of God.

Furthermore, Jesus calls us ‘brothers and sisters,’ acknowledging our connection to His human side, when we accept Him in full faith as Savior with our spiritual side:

Therefore, since [these His] children share in flesh and blood [the physical nature of mankind], He Himself in a similar manner also shared in the same [physical nature, but without sin], so that through [experiencing] death He might make powerless (ineffective, impotent) him who had the power of death – that is, the devil – and [that He] might free all those who though the [haunting] fear of death were held in slavery throughout their lives. Heb. 2:14, 15. AMP

Jesus conquered death for all who follow Him. We will not feel death’s sting and thus need not fear it. Our transition will be immediate and glorious. Until that time, our High Priest can identify with anything that we are going through in this world, (He Himself being a conqueror of all of them) and does not hesitate to send compassionate help and healing our way, for any situation.

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO FAITH

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me…they shall not enter My rest.” Heb. 3:7 – 9 & 11. NKJV

Let us be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb. 4:11 – 13. NKJV

The author is referring to the behavior of the Jews during their exodus journey out of Egypt, led by Moses. Those that rebelled against Moses (and so had no faith in God’s word), did not get to enter into His rest (heaven). Similarly, all followers of Christ are called to persist in the belief in, and obedience to, the word of God and to hold tight in faith to God’s promises, which are accomplished through Jesus.

WHAT DOES JESUS DO?

…a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. Heb. 7:19 ESV

Meaning that Jesus as a High Priest, far exceeds any priesthood that came before – giving us a direct connection to the Father.

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. Heb. 7:22 ESV

A better covenant in that He brings with Him a guaranteed salvation that is not subject to the perfection demanded by the Mosaic Law. And, He’s always with God, acting on our behalf:

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God though Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Heb. 7:25 NKJV

…at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Heb. 9:26 NASB

And, He’s coming back for you!

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sins, but to save those eagerly waiting for him. Heb. 9:27, 28. ESV

Jesus went into the heavenly Most Holy Place (the throne room of God), for you. He rendered His own blood, from His only and final sacrifice, to perfect you forever. It was the moment that Christ decimated the power of sin for all time.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Your part is to confess, repent, accept Christ as your Savior, and walk His walk to the best of your ability. And when you come up short, Jesus has your back.

And until He comes back, it’s up to us to keep the faith:

…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of God. Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV

Jesus foresaw His joy in connecting with you for all of eternity, and He decided that it was worth paying the price of His crucifixion. Our price, is to endure in faith:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away with various and strange doctrines. Heb. 13:8 NKJV

DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT MAKE THE CASE FOR JESUS OR WHAT?

Goodnight and God bless.

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Keeping Our Focus Heavenward

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Rom. 8:18 – 22. NASB

What Paul is pointing out, is that when Adam and Eve corrupted themselves through sin, God levied the consequential penalty upon the entire earth and its inhabitants – in addition to our progenitors. The perfection of the Garden of Eden is now denied to the human race until the children of God receive their reconciliation and resurrection at the end of time. And the remainder of God’s creations await that moment as well:

And not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  Rm. 8:23 ESV

The children of God already possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (the first fruit of our heavenly transformation), and they are assured of the consummation of that transfiguration. God has given us a hope that does not disappoint. But it does require our faith, which is bolstered by the love of the Spirit of God:

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Rm. 8:24, 25. NKJV

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rm. 8:26, 27. NASB

So, in addition to strengthening our faith, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us through a supernatural prayer language that we do not understand, but Christ does. He takes up those prayers and stands in intercession for us as well. Thus, we are well-equipped to be able to cling to our heavenly focus – to the salvation promise of God:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…Moreover, whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Rm. 8:28 – 30. NKJV

God has always had a plan for your total and absolute redemption. Your part in that redemptive process, is to accept His plan by placing your faith in who Jesus is, what He’s done, and to do your best to walk as He walked. Then, God has got you covered:

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Rm. 8:31 – 35. NKJV

We are justified by God through Christ, who continually takes a stand for us in His Father’s presence. Yes, Jesus will condemn those who rejected Him at the throne of judgment, but that condemnation will not fall on God’s children. We get a free pass to heaven – guaranteed:

…neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rm. 8:38, 39. NKJV

We have a remarkable future ahead of us, which should motivate us to live a wonderful life now. We do that be marinating in the word of God so that we conduct ourselves as the blessed children of Jehovah that we are – living out our heavenly focus…

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Rm. 12:2 NKJV

Goodnight and God bless.

What is the Gospel?

…the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among you also are the called of Jesus Christ… Rm. 1:1 – 6. NKJV

The gospel is the good news of God’s salvation through Christ Jesus, who is the living word of God, and thus, the living gospel. This introduction to the gospel above, declares that the Son of God was descended from King David (on His human side), and that Jesus has fulfilled all of the prophecies that the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to write. This all points to the fact that Jesus is the Messiah.

Furthermore, this scripture states that God resurrected His Son through the Holy Spirit, and in that moment, Christ came into His kingship. Finally, we see that we, like the original apostles, have been granted the grace of God through Christ, in order to be apostolic ourselves – equipped to advance the gospel throughout the world.

How powerful is the gospel?

…it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Rm. 1:16, 17. NKJV

It is our faith in, and obedience to, the gospel, that enables us to take on the righteousness of Christ as our own – opening the doors to our salvation. We are ‘justified’ (made innocent) by having faith in Jesus.

The gospel is God’s will for your future; and He made it available for all to see. Thus, those who reject the salvation message will be without excuse:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. Rm. 1:18, 19. ESV

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Rm. 1:20 NASB

God is saying that He left identifiable and irrefutable aspects of Himself within everything that He has created, in addition to the ‘knowing’ of that truth that He has placed in everyone’s heart, which calls to each of us to seek Him out through His Son.

Unfortunately, most people deny that call, and follow the invitations from the world and the god of it (Satan):

Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God…They were filed with all manners of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.

They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them. Rm. 1:24 – 32. ESV

This is a description of the dark potential that is awaiting everyone who does not embrace the gospel: i.e. addictions to perverse transgressions, as well as worshiping others who practice them.

Yet our loving and merciful God keeps an open invitation for the transgressors to change their hearts and seek His salvation. However, if they persist in rebellion, God steps aside and lets them sow the seeds of their own destruction. He will not violate their free will.

So, this is how it all ends up:

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish on every soul of man who does evil… Rm. 2:5 – 9. NKJV

The latter is not a place where we want to be. This is serious stuff. The gospel message is a life-or-death matter. Again, how important is the gospel and what is its core message? God tells us:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifest apart from the law, although the Law and the prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rm. 3:21 – 26. ESV

That’s the gospel in a crystal-clear nutshell.

The Mosaic Law showed us what perfect behavior would look like. In so doing, it also demonstrated the impossibility of perfectly meeting all of its dictates, due to our weaknesses. Thus, it pointed the way to our need for a righteous Messiah to remove that burden – one who possessed the ability to cleanse us of our sins. It is the cleansing that facilitates unification with God for all who place their faith in the blood of Jesus.

Our behavior is made perfect vicariously, through Christ’s righteousness. We cannot earn our salvation. It’s a gift of God’s grace; and if a gift, there can be no exchange. Salvation is not something we do; it’s what God does. Faith is the vehicle in which we receive the gift of salvation.

Faith is not a doing; it’s a being and a having. It’s not even something that we can produce. Faith is a gift that we receive from Jesus when we accept Him as the living Son of God:

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Heb. 12:1, 2. NKJV

Christ gifts us with faith, in order to nurture our eternal relationship with Him. God uses our acceptance and faith to justify us in His eyes through the ‘propitiate’ (from the Greek hilasterion, which means ‘an atoning victim’) act of His Son on the cross:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Rm. 5:1, 2. NKJV

…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rm. 5:8, 9. NKJV

God is love. He is merciful. Even when we are enemies of God, (enslaved to the ways of the world), He opens His arms through the those of His Son and scoops up everyone who is willing to receive His love.

In His limitless mercy, God sacrificed His Son so that we could be transformed – cleansed of those enslavements, by His grace, to become the children of God who will spend eternity with Him in complete love.

Through God’s clemency and grace, He struck down your Adam-derived death sentence with the free gift of Christ’s salvation; and the suspension of your sentence is eternal.

Jesus died for all of our sins for all time; and those who receive Him obtain the transformation of righteousness, becoming new men and women in Christ:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Rm. 8:1, 2. NASB

What a God! What a Son! See the word ‘now’ in that scripture? It means that God has already freed those who have received Christ from the condemnation of sin.

That is the Gospel! Doesn’t that make you want to go out and tell somebody?

Goodnight and God bless.

Sex Education According to God

If you are a practicing follower of Christ, you’ve surely noticed that God’s ways are quite unpopular with those who’d rather wade in the ways of the world. This is especially evident in the arena of sexual relations.

God’s parameters are crystal clear:

…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gn. 2:24 NKJV

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Heb. 13:4 NASB

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body. 1 Cor. 6:13 ESV

So, what is God saying? Marriage is between a man and a woman; and godly sex is that which only takes place within a marital environment. There is no gray area of confusion. And if we want to walk accordingly in God’s word, we’re going to take a lot of flak from the world:

“And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently preserved and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

God never sows confusion; the choice between right or wrong is always black and white:

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father [but He is not], you would love and recognize Me, for I came from God [out of HIs very presence]…Why do you misunderstand what I am saying? It is because [your spiritual ears are deaf and] you are unable to hear [the truth of] My word. You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He…does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” Jn. 8:42 – 44. AMP

We are either following Christ, and thus His Father, or we are living under the sway of the angel-gone-bad, who oversees this world.

The world hates us because when we do our best to walk in a godly fashion, because it convicts them. So, their tactic is to persecute you, in the hope that you will break down and swim in the muck with them. The Killers recorded a song called When You Were Young, that really exemplifies the world’s message:

‘…the devil’s water it ain’t so sweet, you don’t have to drink right now – but you can dip your feet every once in a little while…’

We are held to be ‘contrary’ in the world’s eyes. Heterosexual relationships? Not good in the world’s eyes. Look at the websites that are dedicated to homosexual hookups; e.g. Manhunt.com or PinkSofa.com.

Fidelity within marriage? Check out AshleyMadison.com, whose motto is ‘Life is short, have an affair;’ or Cupid.com, who advertises ‘Cheaters of the world choose Cupid.com’

Have you heard of the ‘North America Man Boy Love’ (NAMBLA) group that openly promotes pedophilia?

And then there are all the genetic science deniers in the very vociferous alphabet soup groups.

If we truly want to walk as God would have us to, we must love all of these people, and be ready to sit down and share God’s promise through Christ; but we cannot condone their behavior just so that we can ‘go-along-to-get-along’:

We must stand up for God’s word:

“So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust].” Rv. 3:16 AMP

That’s not a Jesus that I want to have to answer to…

So, let’s go back to God’s Sex Education 101:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple or the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God, and you are not  your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s. ! Cor. 6:15 – 20. NKJV

Thus, our body is to be dedicated to sacredly serving God; but if we add immorality to our union with Christ, we desecrate God and Jesus and our holy merger with them.

Paul thought that celibacy was the ultimate answer to victory over sexual immorality, but he realized that the majority of the people could not win that fight; so, he gave us the framework for sexual relations that comply with our Father’s intent:

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body but the wife does.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer, but then come again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Cor. 7:2 – 5. ESV

So wise this God of ours. He knows of the strong pull for sexual union between a man and a woman. (He put it there!) God is saying that the place for that to be expressed is in a monogamous marital relationship. We can also see that we are to give over the control of our flesh to our spouse and vice versa, so that we can achieve a mutually rewarding intimacy. Finally, we can understand that the commission of that union is of such paramount importance, we should not withdraw that right from our spouse as a means of control – or the devil will leverage that ‘withholding’ to try to turn the eyes and heart of our spouse elsewhere.

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so, destroys his own soul. Pr. 6:32 NKJV

And let us not forget that the perpetrator of sexual infidelity is often caught, which many times leads to divorce – the devil’s greatest tool:

A wife is not to depart from her husband. But if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 1 Cor. 7:10, 11. NKJV

“For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong and violence,” say the LORD of hosts. “Therefore keep watch on your spirit, so that you do not deal treacherously [with your wife].” Mal. 2:16 AMP

Divorce should never be an option unless one of the spouses is an unrelenting, unrepentant adulterer, abuser or one who abandons the other.

Sexual union in a marriage, is a gift from God; it’s a good thing. Not to mention that there are other benefits:

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks Godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. Mal. 2:15 NKJV

Well, there’s only one way I know of to make offspring. Receive and cherish your gift, and keep it in the home…

Goodnight and God bless.

Is Your Focus on Jesus?

Why focus on Jesus? It’s because of what He does for you when you do:

…the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, is all speech and knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:4 – 9. NASB

When you accept Christ as your Savior, He fills you with the Holy Spirit, so that you will receive an enriched plethora of revelation with regards to who He is, what He did, and why He came. The Spirit then fills you with the spiritual gifts that you need to walk by faith, and to spread the gospel message, advancing the kingdom of God.

From this oneness that you were called into with the Father and the Son, you are cleansed of sins, so as to be prepared for your date with eternity.

As a child of God, you have all the tools to stand in unison with the body the church of Christ. The last thing in the world that God wants, is for His children to be divided in purpose:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Cor. 1:10 NKJV

The church of Christ was supposed to be as one – required to have Jesus as its focus. Jesus can only be saddened by the advent of a Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Lutheran, Unitarian, or Jehovah Witness church to name a few – churches focused on man’s interpretation of the scripture as well as the interpreter.

The church of Christ has unfortunately been fractionated almost since its inception:

What I mean is that each of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephus,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or where you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Cor. 1:12, 13. ESV

‘Cephus’ was another name for the apostle Peter. Apollos was a highly skilled Christian orator. What the apostle Paul is trying to convey here, is that it is the message of salvation from God through Christ that is paramount, not the messenger.

When you have God in your heart, through Christ Jesus, (not by something man has done or thought), the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and the scriptures will come alive for you:

Where is the wise man (philosopher)? Where is the scribe (scholar)? Where is the debtor (logician, orator) of this age? Has God not exposed the foolishness of this world’s wisdom? 1 Cor. 1:20 AMP

…your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:5. NKJV

…no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Cor. 2:11, 12. ESV

So, it is by embracing our spirit, which is connected to God’s Spirit, that the revelation of His word is given to us. Unbelievers don’t get it, because they deny their spiritual side, and thus they cannot connect to the Spirit of God or to His Son.

We can and should appreciate our pastors, priests, etc., but we always want to have our focus on the Source:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants no he who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth. 1 Cor. 3:5 – 7 ESV

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 3:10, 11. NKJV

So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death of things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. 1 Cor. 3:21 – 23. NASB

I am not a big fan of church denominations, because I feel that they invite division, strife, judgment and one-upmanship. None of these things belong in the house of God. Yet, I do not bring fault upon anyone who chooses that route.

Just as long as you take what you hear and bring it under the scrutiny of the word of God, and most of all, keep Jesus your focus…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Perfect Christian

Is there such a thing? Of course not. That’s why Jesus came:

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father… Gal. 1:3, 4. NKJV

The world doesn’t get that. It wants to crucify you as well, when you come up short. They want to see you fall. One of the ways that they do that, is by trying to dilute your faith:

…there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Gal. 1:7 NASB

In fact, no one, on their own, is perfect in anything. So, we needn’t be perturbed by the opinions of the ignorant, with regards to of our spirituality. We know that we can become a perfect Christian in God’s eyes because of the cloak of righteousness that Jesus provides to all His followers. We also know that on this earth, we are humans who make mistakes. Thank God that we aren’t judged by them (because we are made immune to His wrath through our continued faith in Christ, and our continuing practice of confession and repentance:

…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ… Gal. 2:15 ESV

There isn’t anyone who could live in perfect obedience to all of the Mosaic laws. We slip and fall – repeatedly. So, we do our best to obey those that we can, and humble ourselves before Christ for the ones we can’t:

For through the Law I died to the Law and its demands on me [because salvation is provided through the death and resurrection of Christ], so that I might [from now on] live to God. Gal. 2:19 AMP

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Gal. 2:20, 21. NASB

The apostle Paul speaks of the ‘curse’ of the Mosaic Law – because its function was to bring an awareness of one’s sinful nature. (Gal. 3:10) Yet, in and of itself, the Law offered no solution for overcoming our tendency to indulge our flesh. Instead, it showed us where we were helpless, and our need for divine intervention to achieve the righteousness required for entering the kingdom of God.

That same righteousness is offered to all people, who place their faith in the saving power of the blood of Jesus. Indeed, the ultimate purpose of the Mosaic Law was to point us towards that necessity:

It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made… Gal. 3:19

The seed was Christ – who brought the Mosaic Law to its final evolution. The original law was given so that people would know what constituted ‘transgressions’ against God, and that having such knowledge would place some restraint upon the would-be perpetrator.

The Law itself was not bad. How could it be? It is the word of God. But its relationship to God’s children changed with the advent of Christ:

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer in need of a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized have put on Christ. Gal. 3:24 – 27. ESV

No one can be justified by the impossible task of obeying every letter of the Law. So, as a follower of Christ, we let that insurmountable task ‘die’ in us and accept what Jesus did – how He filled that gap from what we are, to what we can ultimately become: a righteous child of God. We are justified by faith – period. How so?

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Gal. 3:6 NASB

Faith.

There is a spiritual transformation that takes place upon salvation, and it does not require that the recipient perfect their flesh. Can’t be done. It’s like this: we do our best to live by God’s laws, and Christ will free us from the curse of the law when we stumble in it. He stands between God and His child and says, “It’s okay, I’ve paid the price for this one.”

Even during this life, sends us help to minimize those stumbles:

…walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. Gal. 5:16 AMP

…if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal. 5:18 NASB

So, next time someone tries to find fault with you for your imperfections, explain why you’re covered. After all, what a great opening for evangelizing, yes?

Goodnight and God bless.

How Are We To Find Salvation?

Isn’t that our primary spiritual concern? That is, we want to reach a ‘state of heart / spirit’ that guarantees our best life on Earth, as well as opening the gates for our heavenly arrival.

It’s obvious to those of the Christian faith exactly who does the saving:

“…you shall name Him Jesus (The LORD is Salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.” Mt. 1:21 AMP

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Mt. 18:11 NKJV

“I am the Door; anyone who enters through Me will be saved [and will live forever], and will go in and out [freely], and find pasture (spiritual security).” Jn. 10:9 AMP

“This Jesus in the STONE WHICH WAS DESPISED and REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH HE BECAME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no other alternative for salvation].” Acts 4:11 – 13. AMP

…having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rm. 5:9 NKJV

That pretty much puts that question to rest…

So, how do we get saved? The Bible seems to have two ‘camps of thought’ on this matter. The first we shall consider is what the Holy Spirit gave the apostle James (Jesus’ brother), to speak to God’s children:

What is the benefit, my fellow believer, if anyone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient – genuine faith produces good works.] James 2:14 AMP

…faith, if it does not have good works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective]. James 2:17 AMP

James even brings up Abraham as an example to justify his position:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:21, 22. NKJV

It appears that James is teaching that faith alone cannot confer salvation upon the believer.

The apostle Paul seems to teach the opposite:

In fact, he quotes the Old Testament regarding Abraham, to justify his stance:

Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the LORD; and He counted (credited) to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man). Gn. 15:6 AMP

What is salvation? is it not the conferring of Christ’s righteousness upon a child of God – cleansing the recipient of sin with His sacrificial blood? And, according to Paul, this is not something that we can do for ourselves, it is a gift from God:

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that not one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for this salvation]. Eph. 2:8, 9. AMP

Oh, there is something that we must do – it is not a work, but it is rather to make ourselves available to receive our salvation:

‘AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE WHO CALLS UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD [invoking, adoring, and worshiping the Lord Jesus] SHALL BE SAVED (rescued spiritually).’ Acts 2:21 AMP

For Paul, it’s a matter of having faith:

…if you acknowledge and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [recognizing His power, authority, and majesty as God], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Rm. 10:9 AMP

For we maintain that a man is justified apart from the works of the Law. Rm. 3:28 NASB

Well, here we have two mighty men of God, both of whom are Holy-Spirit inspired to write God’s truth. Which one is correct? They both are.

Paul rightly teaches that salvation is a gift of God’s grace – given in exchange for one’s faith in Jesus Christ as being the Son of God, that He died for their sins, and that He was resurrected to the right hand of HIs Father in heaven. Being that salvation is a gift, you cannot earn your way into the kingdom of God – even through good works.

Jesus Himself said the same:

“He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]…” Mk. 16:16 AMP

All we have to do is hold onto that faith:

“…it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:22 AMP

Thus, it’s about having faith and declaring that faith. Looks like Paul was right. But wait, Jesus also said:

“Repent [change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt. 4:17 AMP

To ‘repent’ means to turn away from sin with true remorse, and to make our best effort not to repeat that sin. And we repent in faith, believing that God’s way is the best way.

James rightly states that if we turn from our worldly ways and walk in the love of God, our character will change – which cannot help but change what we do, i.e. our ‘works.’

God gave the same message to King David as well:

LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness… Ps. 15:1, 2. NKJV

Similarly, Jesus said that our works are a product of our godly transformation, and that they become part of our testimony for the glory of God:

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mt. 5:16 NKJV

Our ‘transformational character is born out of our best efforts to be more Christ-like. And we can thank God that He helps us do that very thing, by changing us from the inside-out:

…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ… Phil. 1:6 NKJV

So, we see that James is just as correct in his own way as Paul; because if there is no change in a person’s heart, there will likewise be no change in the way that they conduct themselves. That person then, did not accept Christ in earnest in the first place.

We are saved by faith; and then that faith clears a path before us for taking righteous actions…

Goodnight and God bless.

Are You Bold for Jesus?

After Jesus ascended to His Father, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, whereupon they formed the first church of Jesus Christ with an initial group of 120 people, all of whom received the power of the Holy Spirit at the same time. This empowerment rendered them with the ability to ‘speak in tongues’ – in this instance, to be able to preach the gospel in various languages to travelers from different countries that were in the city.

Some outside observers accused the church members of spewing drunken gibberish. The apostle Peter rebukes them, and then uses this occasion to speak up for Jesus – delivering the very first Christian sermon. He begins by telling the crowd that what they have been witnessing is the Holy Spirit at work in Christ’s followers – the supernatural spreading of the gospel to the multitude. This event constitutes the commencement of the ‘last days’ before the end of time and Christ’s return for the redemption of God’s children.

Then, Peter dresses down the non-believing Jews for their complicity in Christ’s crucifixion. Convicted, the crowd asks him how they can right their wrong. Peter answers with the gospel’s central message:

“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38, 39. NASB

Peter was bold for Jesus; and 3000 people were added to the church that day.

On another day, Peter (along with John) was about to enter the temple when he came upon a crippled man who was begging for alms. The apostle responded:

“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6 NKJV

And he did! Peter was again bold for Jesus. He made himself available for divine use, by having faith in the name of Jesus. And he told telling a gathering crowd that it was God that did the healing through Jesus – glorifying His Son.

Peter again convicts the crowd for their denial of Christ, which led to His death. Yet again, out of his compassion and His boldness for Jesus, he offers them salvation:

“Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance…Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing my come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His Holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:17 & 19 – 21. NKJV

The church number swelled to 5000.

We too must be bold for Jesus, to re-extend God’s invitation – letting everyone, both the unknowing and the rebellious, that salvation is just a confession and repentant prayer away, asking Jesus for salvation…

Peter and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin to explain by whose authority they were preaching and healing. Peter declares that their authority was from Jesus. The Sanhedrin forbade them to preach anymore about Christ. But Peter and John did not let go of their boldness. They replied:

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19, 20. NASB

All of the apostles are now working miracles. Subsequently, the high priest had them arrested. Yet that very night they were freed by and angel, who encouraged them in their boldness in preaching the gospel.

Again, they were hauled in front of the high priest, but they stood firm:

“We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.” Acts 5:29, 30. ESV

“Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:31, 32. NKJV

This time they were scourged, and then let go. How did the apostles feel about that?

So they departed from the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:41, 42. NKJV

Not only were they happy for not backing down from the ‘Great Commission,’ they felt great joy in the opportunity to suffer for Jesus. In fact, it encouraged them in their boldness.

During this time, there was also a disciple from the church, named Stephen who stood boldly for Christ:

…a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit…And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Acts 6:5, 8. NKJV

He was also arrested for expressing his faith in Jesus, and then accused of blasphemy. He threw the charges right back at his accusers:

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” Acts 7:51 – 53. ESV

And just when Stephen was finished, the Holy Spirit provided him with a vision of Jesus standing exalted at the at the right hand of God in heaven. Then he boldly declared that vision to the court.

For that, Stephen was stoned to death, making him the first martyr for Jesus. Yet even with his final breath, he was emulating his Savior – praying to God for the forgiveness of his executioners.

Are you bold for Jesus? You are entrusted with lighting Christ’s lamp, showing people the way out of the darkness. If you convict them of their sin, it is a bold endeavor to free them from it (without judgment). You are saving lives.

First, we convict if warranted. Second, educate with regards to what death without Christ will look like, and then offer the salvation message with love. What they do with it is between them and God. What you are doing is being a good and faithful servant.

We stand bold in our spiritual gifts, drawing upon them to bring home the lost. Jesus also told us that when we open out mouths to testify of Him, the Holy Spirit will fill us with the words that we need to say. Always be prepared to be used by Jesus.

We do that by living out the word of God, by teaching it, and by placing our obedience to it above all that the world would have us do. The world will be a better place, you’ll have more people to love in heaven, and you will live a better life now and for eternity.

Are you bold for Jesus? Can you be? Sure you can…

Goodnight and God bless.

Jesus’ Parting Gifts

During the ‘Last Supper,’ after Judas Iscariot fled into the night, Jesus imparted a treasure trove of revelations to the remaining 11 apostles (and thus, to us). The first such treasure would be His ‘new commandment:’

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jn. 13:34, 35. NKJV

This commandment takes the Mosaic Law of ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ to a new level. Jesus is implying that love must be the primary drive behind all that we think and do, in addition to having an attitude of selflessness and servitude so that we may emulate Him.

Next, Jesus initiates the ritual of ‘communion:’

…He took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Lk. 22:19, 20. NKJV

“Drink from it all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Mt. 16:27, 28. NKJV

When we take ‘communion,’ we are performing a ritual whereby we take something physical (often referred to as a ‘sacrament’) to remind us of the offer of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. We visibly utilize the sacrament to act out Christ’s proclamation in faith, trusting in the power of the grace of the new covenant that replaces / transcends / enhances the Mosaic Law. We are not putting our faith in the physical sacrament itself (that would be a work or man). Rather, it is our faith in the forgiveness of our sins, which Christ has attached to His body and blood sacrament, that we receive. There is nothing else upon which we can rely.

After this, Jesus tells us that He’s building homes for all of us:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am there you may be also.” Jn. 14:2, 3. NKJV

No guesswork. We have a heavenly appointment. Neither is any guessing involved as to how we get there:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jn. 14:6 NKJV

Christ is the only door to the kingdom. There are no gray areas. Jesus then says that being in His presence is the same as being in His Father’s:

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Jn. 14:7 NKJV

Jesus is building the apostle’s faith. Next, He tells them how to return His love:

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Jn. 14:15 NKJV

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to him.” Jn. 14:21 NASB

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Jn. 14:23 NKJV

Jesus has left us physically, (for now), but He always covers those who love Him on all sides. He continues to be with us spiritually – especially through another of His parting gifts – the Holy Spirit:

“…I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells within you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans…” Jn. 14:16 – 18. NKJV

“…He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Jn. 14:26 NKJV

In a nutshell, Jesus said that because He taught them so much, they would not be able to recall it all. However, the Holy Spirit would bring it to light when they needed it. In addition, Jesus was only in a teaching mode for the last 3 years of His earthly incarnation. He didn’t have near the time to tell them all that He wanted to. The Holy Spirit will reveal those things, as well as any ongoing revelations regarding the full nature of Christ.

The peace of Jesus is yet another wonderful parting gift:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jn. 14:27 NKJV

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33 NKJV

Finally, Jesus left us with the gift of knowing who we are in He and His Father:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch that is in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Jn. 15:1, 2. NKJV

Jesus is saying that it’s not enough to know God. We have to live as He would have us live. And like any loving parent, He will, from time to time, dole out a little divine discipline to nudge us to return to His path whenever we stray.

“Abide in Me, and I in you As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15:4, 5. NKJV

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give you.” Jn. 15:16 NKJV

You were chosen by Christ Himself for the kingdom of God and for helping Him to advance that kingdom, by inviting others into the love of God, through the love of His Son.

Having parted with these gifts, Jesus stood and faced His destiny…

Goodnight and God bless.

Are You Ready for the Second Coming of Christ?

Jesus warned us that before He shows up, there would be imposters that would precede Him:

“The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go out or follow them! For as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.” Lk. 17:22 – 24. ESV

The Son of God knows we will long for our Savior’s return, making us vulnerable to the false claims of others who profess to be the Messiah, or, at least pretend to know His whereabouts.

Moreover, Jesus is stressing the fact that His return will be global in its impact. And, it will unfortunately catch many by surprise:

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will also be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Lk. 17:26 – 30. NKJV

We have to be ready for Jesus’ return. Furthermore, we have to impart the urgency of accepting Christ to others, instead of leaving them to blindly steep in their ignorance with regards to their eternal disposition. Why? Because that ignorance will lead to their eternal undoing.

When Jesus returns, the jig is up. You’re forever stuck with the ramifications of your decision. When He comes, He’s only ushering His sheep (the children of God) through the gates of heaven:

“On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.” Lk. 17:31, 32. ESV

You need to be ready when Christ returns, to have both feet in the kingdom. Jesus will accept no straddling, no fence sitters (like Lot’s wife). You are either with Christ, joined to Him for eternal life and love, or, you become one of those who are ‘left behind’ in the great sifting of all the people who have ever lived:

“I tell you, on that night there will be two in bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place: one will be taken and the other  will be left.” Lk. 17:34, 35. NASB

And being ‘left behind’ does not look like a good place to be:

“Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” Lk. 17:37 NASB

Jesus tells us to persist in prayer as we await for that glorious day. He told a parable that drove this point home. In it, Jesus weaves a story about a widow who suffered an injustice at the hands of an adversary. Distraught, she took her plight to an unbelieving and unjust judge, whose initial response was to ignore her pleas. However, she persistently returned to him again and again until he finally ruled in her favor, just to be rid of her. The point is, that her persistence in seeking a just outcome brought her the desired result. Likewise, God (being the ultimate ‘just’ judge), will not let the persistent prayers of His children go unanswered.

Christ also begs this question of us:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Lk. 18:8 NKJV

When Jesus returns, there will be many who have given up their faith and hope. That’s why He urges His followers to hold steadfast to theirs.

Jesus also warns us against believing that our ‘self-righteousness’ will gain us access into the kingdom. That path is doomed to failure. Only the true righteousness conferred upon you by Jesus Christ will open those doors.

He illustrates this with another parable, wherein a Pharisee and a tax collector (considered to be the lowest form of scum in the social strata of that era) went to a temple to pray. The Pharisee boasted about his self-righteousness, declaring that he was so much better than all of the sinners around him. The tax collector, on the other hand, would not even raise his eyes towards heaven. Furthermore, he beat his chest and cried out to God, begging Him to have mercy because of His sins. Jesus concludes the parable:

“I tell you that this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk. 18:14 NKJV

During Jesus’ travels, He was approached by a rich man who told Him that he keeps the Ten Commandments and wants to know what else He must do to have eternal life. Jesus responds:

“If you wish to be perfect [that is, have the spiritual maturity that accompanies godly character with no moral or ethical deficiencies], go and sell what you have and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path that I walk.]” Mt. 19:21 AMP

Jesus is not telling him to make himself a pauper; He’s revealing his disobedience to the first of the Ten Commandments by making riches his god. Sadly, the man could not part from his possessions and went his own way. He left because in spite of his riches, his soul was stricken with poverty.

Wealthy people are not necessarily wicked. They can enter the kingdom of heaven if they don’t idolize their possessions. Wealth is a blessing from God – both for the possessor and for whom the possessor blesses with his or her wealth to forward the kingdom of God.

Lastly, Jesus leaves us with this:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mt. 19:29, 30. NKJV

Jesus is speaking metaphorically. You don’t have to literally leave your house or family to be able to follow Him. You just have to make sure that you don’t make ‘gods’ of them by putting them before Christ. The last sentence in this scripture teaches us that one must serve for the sake of serving and out of a love of God – not for the sake of being rewarded.

Are you ready for the second coming of Christ? You can be. Jesus has just spelled it all out: Don’t follow ‘false shepherds,’ cling to Jesus for you salvation, walk in the word of God to the best of your ability, persist in prayer, nurture your faith and hope, let go of the ways of the world and what it considers righteousness (i.e. self-righteousness), use your abundance for good works and put Jesus first in your life.

If you love Jesus, He has already done the work. Your heavenly gate is wide open…

Goodnight and God bless.