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.

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Jesus Pursues Your Salvation

Jesus and His apostles were traveling through Samaria on their way to Galilee. The Bible tells us that Jesus needed to go through Samaria. (Jn. 4:4) Most Jews avoided that region because they were prejudiced against the Samaritans for being a gene pool hodgepodge of Israeli and Assyrian lineage, i.e. not pure Jew, and therefore considered inferior.

So, Jesus had a purpose for being there. They came upon Jacob’s well. Jesus remained there while He sent the apostles to a nearby town to purchase food. Seemingly coincidental, a woman approached the well to draw water. I believe that Jesus’ purpose for going through Samaria was for this very meeting – so that He could reveal something to her that we all need to know.

Jesus asked the woman to draw Him a drink. Initially, she is taken aback because this ‘Jew’ is talking to her, a lowly Samaritan, and she tells Him so. But, there isn’t a prejudicial bone in Jesus. He answers:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Jn. 4:10 NKJV

What is Jesus doing here? He’s pursuing her salvation! She responds by asking Him of the whereabouts of this ‘living water.’ He ignores her question and instead contrasts the water of the well with His living water:

“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.” Jn. 4:13, 14. NKJV

The woman’s curiosity was piqued, and she asked Him for some of His living water. But instead of directly responding to her request, He keeps her off balance by telling her that He knows that she has been married and divorced five times, and that she is presently shacking up with another guy.

Jesus is bringing the depth of her sin to the light for examination, but not with condemnation, so that she could perceive her need for salvation. Then, Jesus leaves the subject of her sin alone.

That’s the way Love operates. Jesus knows everything we’ve ever been up to. Even if our deeds are deleterious to our spiritual health, His love for us never waivers. He faithfully waits by our side, until we choose to return to Him.

Because of Jesus’ revelations about her past, the woman now believes Jesus is a prophet. So, she asks Him what she perceived to be a relevant spiritual question (and undoubtedly wanting to turn the focus of their conversation away from her sin). She tells Jesus that the Samaritans worship God in a temple in Samaria, but the Jews maintain that He can only be worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem. She asks Him which temple was the correct place to worship.

Jesus answers in a way to plunge the woman into deeper contemplation:

“Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming the you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.” Jn. 2:55 NKJV

Jesus is telling her that worshiping God will no longer be limited to designated physical settings. He is also saying that Samaritan worship is a corrupted mixture of Mosaic Law and Assyrian paganism. And, He’s letting her know that He is a Jew and that the Messiah comes from the Jews. He continues:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is a spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” Jn. 4:23, 24. ESV

Jesus is saying that the time for worship is now. In addition, He reveals that God is a Spirit, and therefore occupies all space and time. Thus, He can be worshiped from anywhere at any time. Jesus is also opening her mind to the reality that God is available to all sincere worshipers – regardless of race or ethnicity.

How do we worship in the spirit? Our spirit must first become predominant in our lives when we are born again.

Jesus has worked His wonder. The Samaritan woman’s spiritual eyes begin to open and she expresses her heartfelt desire:

“I know that Messiah is coming, (He who is called Christ – the Anointed); when that One comes, He will tell us everything [we need to know].” Jn. 4:25 AMP

In response, Jesus throws the doors of salvation wide open. Turning to her in His infinite compassion, He says:

“I who speak to you am He.” Jn. 4:26 NKJV

The woman left to go into the town and tell all of the Samaritans that she knew about this ‘Man’ at Jacob’s well – whom she believed to be the Christ…

Jesus will go to any lengths to lead someone to salvation. If you haven’t made the choice for Jesus yet, He is just waiting to swing your doors wide open as well. If you have, help Him with your ministry, swing wide someone else’s…

Goodnight and God bless.

We All Slip Sometimes

There was only one sinless man that ever walked this earth – Jesus Christ:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5:21 NKJV

The rest of us? Well…

Adam and Eve began the practice of slipping (sinning) when they used their free will to indulge in pride, acting out their desire to be like God.

Cain majorly slipped when he killed his brother in a fit of rage that was rooted in envy.

King David and King Solomon surrendered to the lust of the eyes and of the flesh.

The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament (previously a murderer of the church), said this about himself:

…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 1 Tim. 1:15 NKJV

What chance then, do we have?

We only have one, but it’s a mighty BIG one – it is found in the immeasurable grace of God.

God wants you to live your perfect highest and best life, full of peace, love, joy and happiness. But you’re not living that way when you slip. Slipping is when you allow yourself to get lost in your base desires, those that have been proscribed by your Creator. He hates to see that because it does you harm; and what hurts you, hurts Him.

You were created innately good:

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. Gn. 1:31 NKJV

Unfortunately, everyone that was or will be conceived on this planet has been tainted by by the error (sin) of Adam and Eve:

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Rm. 3:23 NKJV

But, it’s the very next two verses that brings hope:

…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…

Rm. 3:24, 25. NKJV

When we accept Christ, we are transformed, our spirits becoming one with Him as we return to the original creative intent of God, being restored to life:

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Jn. 10:10 NKJV

We receive His resurrection power, freed from the death of sin, motivated to take godly action. Our eyes are opened by the faith that Jesus brings to us by the Spirit. Thus filled, we begin the stepwise transformation towards our Savior’s image, which invites God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in our spirits.

We can lean on Christ to strengthen our will to walk in His footsteps and to live for Him. And this process is not one of bondage, but of liberty – to live free as God intended. We get to make the free will choice to live in His love by moving in His will.

That very same love from God is found in His statutes. He did not lay down laws to be dictatorial, but instead set them before us to protect us from the shortcomings of our flesh. Our obedience to them propagates our transformation.

Yes, this walk is one that is opposite of the way the world moves; and that’s a good thing. The world revolves around lies set forth to justify sin, so that the agenda of the adversary may be manifested. Unfortunately, that manifestation will be achieved in most of the world.

That’s why the telling of the salvation message is so imperative. God sends His children to the lost to show them the Christ they have within, Who, is freely available to all. We are emissaries for the love of God, brought forth not only to enrich those consciously receiving that love, but also to decimate the evil in those who feel that they are not.

Yet, even the followers of Jesus are not spared temptation. The devil plays no favorites, but I’m sure he is especially delighted if he can influence believers to indulge in apostasy. Thus, we must be vigilant with regards to our thoughts and actions. We must keep them centered on love, on Jesus.

When we slip, and we all slip sometimes, it is crucial that we get down on our knees before our Father immediately, to confess and repent. We can be motivated to do this by His mercy (found in grace):

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lm. 3:21 – 24. ESV

God wants to forgive you. He knows that you have slipped into your flesh, and that sin is satanically sourced. Therefore, it’s deadly, and if left to its own devices, death-binding.

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. I Jn. 3:8 ESV

That’s not what God wants for you:

“Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die…? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, “says the Lord GOD. “Therefore, turn and live!” Ezek. 18:31, 32. NKV

Life is not always easy. We are points of light, set living in an ocean of darkness. We must stay alert to keep from drowning. But if we start to succumb, God always has His hand outstretched:

‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, i will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Is. 41:10 NKJV

He strengthens us in our faith, in His word and through prayer He bolsters us in our self-discipline to help us regain our toehold on our spiritual path. We respond with gratitude and love, and the acknowledgement of our need for His grace.

God puts His salvation in place (Christ) and you are freed once more…

“I, even I, and He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Is. 43:25 NKJV

For the death that He died, He died to sin one for all… Rm. 6:10 NASB

Goodnight and God bless.