Are We Healed By His Wounds?

 Bible Study

Are We Healed By His Wounds

October 16, 2021

“By His wounds you are healed!”  1 Peter 2:24

Partial quotes and quoting out of context are popular among Christians who wish something to be true. In this case, I am talking about a verse found in Isaiah 53:5 and 1 Peter 2:24. In the King James Version it reads, “…and with His stripes we are healed.” This verse is misquoted to imply that the horrible beating and subsequent death of Christ has brought physical healing to all believers. I’ve heard it used in prayers for sick and lame people many, many times. There is, however, a problem with using that verse to call upon God for healing. It does not mean that the death of our Lord guarantees healing. Why would it? Take a few minutes to read the surrounding verses in both cases. 

Jesus’ death on the cross gave Him the absolute right to become a sacrifice for our sins, not bring healing to our bodies. His death, burial and resurrection brings eternal healing and total future absence of tears, pain, sorrow and suffering. Future! Eternal!

Revelation 21:4 says, regarding our eternal destination to the City of God, the New Jerusalem; “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” No more pain. On this side of Glory, we will have pain and crying.

Then there’s another problem with using this verse as assurance of God’s desire to physically heal all who call upon the name of Christ…it doesn’t always bring the desired result! How many times have you prayed for healing, using this verse, and nothing happened? How many times have you been in meetings where many were prayed over using this verse and nothing happened?

God can and does heal people but not because of Christ’s wounds. If He chooses to heal someone, it is His choice and will, not because someone misused a verse in the Bible. 

A very well-known example of not being healed is Joni Eareckson-Tada (Tada is an evangelical Christian, author, radio host, quadriplegic, and founder of Joni and Friends). When she was 19 (and a Christian) she broke her neck while diving from a raft. There have been thousands of prayers sent up to God imploring Him to touch and heal Joni. All to no avail. But what about the idea that the “stripes of Jesus brings healing?” Perhaps that is not what the verse from Isaiah 53 and repeated in 1 Peter 2 means.

Here is what Joni said after imploring God to restore her body: “I learned that the core of Christ’s plan is to rescue us from sin. Our physical aches and pains and broken relationships aren’t his ultimate focus—he cares deeply about these things, but they’re symptoms of the chief problem in this fallen world. God’s goal is not to make us comfortable. He wants to teach us to hate our transgressions as he grows our love for Him.”

Jesus suffered and died for the forgiveness of the sins of the world, not for physical healing. Look at the lives of His apostles. They were scorned, mocked, beaten, tortured, jailed and killed! Surely they could have called upon the stripes of Jesus  to heal them. While He was alive, our Lord healed hundreds, perhaps thousands of people and raised some from the dead. Not by His future stripes but by the will of God.

Go back to 1 Peter 2:20-25 and see what he is saying about suffering for Christ. Human life is temporary. Pain and suffering are not uncommon expectations for Christians in many parts of the world. Surely we must see that God did not send His only Son to be tortured and painfully killed by crucifixion so we could claim his suffering and pain will guarantee physical healing to everyone living today. Perhaps “By His stripes we are healed” is referring to forgiveness of sin, the gift of new life. Eternal life is where we will have perfect pain-free bodies.

Blessings & Trials

Blessings and Trials 

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings”  Romans 5:3 

How often have you heard it or thought it? It goes something like this, “Friends, God wants to bless you today. He wants you to have that promotion, to get that new house and car. God does not hold back on giving the ones He loves the desires of their hearts.” And then what follows are a few examples that send shivers up our spines as we begin to visualize those “blessings” pouring down from the hand of God. Sort of like a divine vending machine, just waiting for us to break the code and ask for stuff so we can be happy little Christians, surrounded by material blessings Jesus died for us to receive. 

Maybe that last part was a little harsh, eh? Kind of make you wince a little, perhaps arch an eyebrow or raise the anger level just a tad? I speak from experience, my friends. I have pleaded with God for things. I’ve lined up all my behavior, prayer time, sacrificial giving (more than ten percent) and helping at church. And yet…! 

And then it occurred to me that I was asking God to bless my desires, to bring forth the items as requested. “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24-25 

Confronting my sinfulness, the Holy Spirit methodically revealed Scriptures which explained just how our Heavenly Father wants us to live. He wants us to know what we should expect, as followers of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Romans 8:17-18  “And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet, what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” 

2 Cor 4:17-18  “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 

These Scriptures, as so many others, snap us to reality. The reality of actually living the Gospel, not just talking about it. Jesus set the example by his beating, torture and death. How can we possibly skip past the shocking sacrifice He made for us so we can rationalize our materialistic desires? If you want blessings, and that’s just fine, here are examples: 

John 20:29  Jesus said to him, “(Words in Red)  Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

1 Peter 1:8-9  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 

Acts 20:35  In everything I have shown you that, by working hard, we must help the weak. In this way we remember the Lord Jesus’ words: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” 

James 1:12  God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 

And the most famous and least taught today is found in Matthew 5:3-9  “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 4 God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. 6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. 7 God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. 9 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. 

To our Lord and Savior, blessings and sufferings are intertwined as the strands of a rope. Because, unlike us, His view is eternal. He sees through this temporary life, into the everlasting one. He was able to look through the suffering of the cross to what lay beyond. 

1 Peter 4:12-14   Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. 

If we intend on living our lives for Christ, as lights in a dark world, we must shift our focus from this materialistic, self-indulging world to the life of temporary trials and sufferings that refine and strengthen us. Trials that replace sinful appetites with Godly desires. Our aim should be to “count it all joy” when we’re beset with trials just as athletes in training are willing to undergo hours of pain and self-denial for the crown that awaits. But their crown is temporary while ours is eternal. 

Romans 8

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom. 8:31 

The Bible is filled with life-altering instructions, stories, and the recorded words of Jesus. The Bible is matchless; God’s words, given through 40 authors over a period of 1500 years. And yet, incredible as it may seem, from beginning to end is a flawless thread of God’s perfect plan to redeem all people, to save our souls and restore us to perfection with Him in eternal glory.

How do we know this to be true? He gave us the answer in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Reading the Bible is like listening to heavenly Books on Tape. God Himself is communicating with us as only the Creator of the universe can do. Take heart as you remember that God proved His love for us by sending His only Son Jesus to wash away our sins with His very own blood. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

Romans 8:28-39 

28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. 

 31 “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 

 35 “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 

 38 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Engrave these words of God on your heart and mind. Call upon them during times of fear, depression, anxiety, frustration, doubt and failure. God’s words never fail or lose their power.  

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.  

Psalms 12:6 And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace. . .purified seven times.  

Peace and Calm

Peace and Calm 

September 4, 2021

“With His love, He will calm all your fears”  Zephaniah 3:17 

Given a choice, most of us want a calm and peaceful life. As believers, we think that Jesus died not only to save our souls, but to grant us asylum from the world and its frantic, challenging existence. A sort of pre-heaven perfection. 

For sailors who use sails rather than engines, a calm and peaceful sea is the worst possible condition. The craft cannot navigate, cannot move, cannot be directed to their goal. A boat on a glassy sea is a boat adrift. God has no intention for us to be adrift in this world. He has placed us in the powerful seas of life and has promised to be our rudder. 

The calm and peace that God does promise is from the inside, from the Holy Spirit. His calm is the perfect calm because it exists in spite of the tumult of the world. In the midst of the “perfect storm” God promises an eternal peace. 

Philippians 4:6-7   “Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.” (J.B. Phillips )

1 Peter 1:2  “Dear friends, God the Father chose you long ago and knew you would become His children. And the Holy Spirit has been at work in your hearts, cleansing them with the blood of Jesus Christ and making you anxious to please Him. May God bless you richly and grant you increasing freedom from all anxiety and fear.”  (TLB )

John 14:27  “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (NLT)

God’s peace is tied to our faith, it comes from within. As we walk in faith, believing that God never leaves us alone, our sense of peace is strengthened and built up. The peace of God is a gift, just as Jesus promised. We didn’t earn it and it cannot be taken away…unless we refuse to accept it! There are times when the peace of God is stillness. 

Psalm 46:10  “Be still and know that I am God!” (NIV)

God’s peace always inhabits our praise. Praising God will generate a sense of peace and wellness as nothing else can. 

The man prayed and prayed, asking God for peace. Finally he heard the Lord say, “I’ve already given you my peace, now you must get up and do something to experience it.” 

Rom. 8:6  “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (NIV)                 

Gal. 5:22-23 “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (NIV)

Isa. 26:3-4  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock. “ (NLT)

Phil. 4:11-13 “For I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (NLT)

George was transferred to the job of his dreams after years of hard work and constant prayer. It seemed as though God had granted him his desire. A huge raise in pay, better benefits, pension, and a percentage of profits. He was happy and content. He beamed. Until that fateful company meeting where he was told, by the assistant vice president (the president and vice president had skipped town) the company was bankrupt! They were insolvent. Mismanagement and fraud had destroyed a great company and thrown George, along with hundreds of other employees, into the unemployment lines.  

As a believer, George has an opportunity to walk in God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding. He can realize, as the apostle Paul did, that contentment is not based on money or position or anything in the world.  

Psalm 4:8  “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” 

Smart Guy!

August 27, 2021

“I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom” ~1 Corinthians 2:1

He began life as Saul of Tarsus. He was a standout theologian who became a member of the elite Pharisees. His fervor for studies and obedience to God’s laws brought him acclaim and stature. When those heretical followers of Christ got his notice, his fervor turned him into a zealot who decided it was his job to extinguish them and their false doctrine.

Paul’s own words,  as spoken to King Agrippa: “As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel zealously worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, Your Majesty, they accuse me for having this hope! Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?

“I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.

“One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’

“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.

“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’

“And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.” Acts 26:4-23 (NLT)

In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul reminds them of his determination to speak only as guided by the Holy Spirit even though he was well known for his intellectual gifts: “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness…timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NLT)

In spite of all his education and accomplishments, Paul trusted the Holy Spirit to give him utterance which could change lives eternally. We have that same opportunity if we, like Paul, will trust in the Holy Spirit to speak through us.

Sanctification!

Let us prove our reverence for God by consecrating ourselves to Him completely. 2 Cor. 7:1 

“Are you sanctified?” bellowed the animated preacher, pointing and sweeping his right hand in a grand gesture to the church. “Are you sure? Are you holy? If you have any doubts you better come down to the altar and pray your way through! God is not happy with any fence sitters tonight. He means business and you better mean business too. You got to be sanctified to make God happy and get a golden key to your heavenly mansion.” 

Terrified and confused people flocked to the altar, crying and begging God for the elusive sanctification, fearing they might miss the golden key awaiting those who have achieved sanctification, as the sweat-drenched pastor walked to and fro among them, satisfied with the response to his fear-packed message. Contrary to his threats and confusing statements, God was not happy with him or his misguided sermon. Believers do not receive sanctification as a result of fear or condemnation. 

This dramatic pastor should rather have claimed, “Your faith has made you whole and you are all sanctified (made holy) by the Holy Spirit!”  

Let’s see what the Bible has to say about our sanctification/holiness.

Romans 6:19  “I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”

1 Cor. I:30-31  “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”  

1 Cor. 1:2  “I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”

1 Cor. 6:11  “Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

1 Thess. 5:23  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Along with the unimaginable grace and mercy of God’s provision for our sanctification, He also expects us to do our part by walking in faith in day to day circumstances. He has already done the impossible and has assigned us the possible; such as making choices and slipping on His armor. We’re at war! 

 2 Cor. 7:1  “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” 

2 Thess. 2:13  “As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth.”   

Sanctification is not something we can beg God for at a church altar. Sanctification is a gift from God as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ. Although a gift, God requires our involvement to make choices for purity and holiness. Even so, the Holy Spirit enables us to follow through on our Christ-like decisions. 

Read Galatians 5:16-18

Servant Leader

“Speak, your servant is listening” 1 Samuel 3:10

As men we grow and change, learning the traditional rules taught in our society; rules of manly behavior. We must learn to be strong. Learn to face our fears. Learn to strive for success and learn to reject signs of weakness. Those signs manifest themselves in showing our emotions, seeming weak, failing to grab hold of what is ours and wrestling it away from any other contenders. Men are supposed to be formidable foes!

But as Christian men, we must re-learn our manly roles and follow the true manly example, Jesus Christ, who broke the mold of manliness by becoming a servant-leader when He said, “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~Matthew 20:26-28

Another rugged example of a man was the apostle Paul who described himself in Romans 1:1 as, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus”.

Later, in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 Paul describes a situation common to all of us, he is asking God to take away a nagging problem that frustrates him greatly. God’s answer is surprising: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God’s answer and Pauls subsequent explanation are total opposites of how we all handle our problems and expect God to rescue us. Often, we secretly expect our Heavenly Father to quickly and lovingly step in and demolish our problems, dust us off and smooth out the road ahead. After all, He is the God who wants to bless us and make life easier. Or so we may think. 

The apostle Peter joins Paul in clarifying our position in Christ in 1 Peter 5:5-7: “In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: “Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve Me must follow Me, because My servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves Me.” John 12:25-26

Trusting God to guide our lives, save our souls and reserve a place with Him in eternity requires faith and obedience. It also requires that we give up our areas of strength so He can work through our weakness as described by Paul in 1 Corinthians: “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling.”  1 Corinthians 2:1-3

It is difficult for us to intentionally walk in weakness, trusting God to give the strength we need. We’ve spent many years attempting to work out whatever problems come our way. But God wants us to give that up and trust in Him because His power works best through our weakness.

Eternal Salvation

HOPE. ASSURANCE. ETERNAL SALVATION.

There was much debate regarding whether or not Christians could sin to the extent of losing their salvation. To those new to their faith, it became quite discouraging to think that now they’d tasted the love and mercy of their Savior, Jesus Christ, they could be in peril of slipping away into the abyss of hell or at least, lose some jewels in their eternal crown.

Finally, one of the elders said, “Before we come to blows on this important issue, let’s look at God’s Word and see what we can determine as the ultimate truth. After all, I think I can safely say not one person here wants to lose their salvation. So let’s see what the Bible says about our eternal destination.”

John 11:25-26  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 10:10-11 “I came that [you] may have life, and have it abundantly. 11″I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

1 Peter 1:3-5  “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.”

“Do you see any hint of losing your precious salvation in these verses? 1 Peter says “it is by His great mercy that we’ve been born again,” not our works or behavior.”

John 10:27-30  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”

John 6:35, 39-40  Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. . . 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

Do these verses seem doubtful or uncertain to you? No! Jesus is the Bread of Life and those who come to Him will never be hungry again; will never be thirsty again. Never! To put an exclamation point on it, Jesus says it is the will of God that He should not lose even one of those who believe (who the Father has given Him). God created us and knows our weaknesses. Our eternal destination is established by God, not our fragile will power.

Romans 8:38  “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”

Matthew 11:28-30  “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

The Struggle

The Struggle 

July 24, 2021

“I decide one way, but then I act another” Romans 7:15 

The clever college professor got the attention of his class when he declared, “Whatever you do, do not think of a pink elephant”, knowing that it was now the one image dancing around in their minds. Our thoughts are powerful and sometimes controlling. Jesus addressed our thought life when he said, “everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Thoughts are the stimulus of the pornography industry. Our fantasy lives are much stronger than our actual lives. 

The daily struggle we have as followers of Jesus is with our thoughts, as Paul explains in the Book of Romans: “I decide one way but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.” (Romans 7:15-16) 

Even though a law or command may seem to work on the outside, it’s the inner battle of our mind that acts as a rudder, controlling thoughts and, if not stopped, actions. Thus our constant struggle. Who will rescue us from this dilemma? Jesus is our rescuer and the blood of Jesus has taken every sin, every evil and despicable thought and washed them with His blood. We are forgiven and cleansed daily. Each day is a new day, a day of forgiveness and hope. God has provided the answer. 

Romans 7:17-25  “I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 

21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.  24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?  25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”

How often do we describe our struggles with terms such as, “I can’t seem to quit”–”I’ve tried to stop”–”I just don’t have the strength”–”That’s what I have a problem believing!” Of course we cannot change ourselves. God, through Jesus, has forgiven our sins forever and then, because He knows we will always need reassurance, implanted His Holy Spirit deep within us. We are never alone and never expected to change ourselves. If we could make ourselves better then Jesus’ death would be a sham. 

Romans 8:1-2  “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

  The rugged father took his young son out on their weekly camping trip but this trip would be different. This would be the time for his son to show what he had learned over the past few years. After hiking several miles into the forest, they set up camp, ate and climbed into sleeping bags to fall asleep under the stars. 

In the morning the son awoke alone. Beside him, leaning against his backpack was a note. It read, “Son. I’ve taught you everything you should need to know about hiking, camping and finding your way home. I’ve gone on ahead and will see you there later. I know you can make it. At least I hope you can. After all, you are nine years old! Love, Dad.” 

Far-fetched story isn’t it? A loving father would never leave his young child completely alone to face all the uncertainties of the forest. In a similar way, our Heavenly Father would never leave us alone to face a sin-riddled world. 

John 14:16-18  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 

On my own, many things are impossible. With God nothing is impossible. 

Baptism

Baptism

July 17, 2021

“Many men and women were baptized”  Acts 8:12

Have you been baptized since you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you experienced the public profession of your faith by following the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus through baptism? The Bible clearly instructs us to take this step, to show all who may be watching that we are symbolically washed clean; are buried (in the water) and raised again, coming up out of that watery grave, arms raised to heaven with a smile from ear to ear.

And yet, there are those who have taken this simple act of obedience and turned it into “Jesus plus”. Jesus plus is any act or belief that says His death on the cross was the first step of forgiveness and eternal salvation. In the case of baptism, some have decided that if you are not baptized following your confession of faith, you are not actually saved. They have taken Peter’s words above to be inclusive, meaning “Repent and be baptized” are the requirements to be saved. Repentance is not enough. In essence, the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on the cross did not grant us full forgiveness. According to this belief, His resurrection from the dead still did not fully save us from death and grant us eternal life with Him. We must be baptized! Jesus plus.

“Twice baptism seems to be linked with forgiveness of sins. On the day of Pentecost Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (2:38). And later Ananias said to Saul, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord…” (22:16). In both cases the instructions were given to Jews; no Gentile was ever told to be baptized for the remission of sins. In believer’s baptism a Jew publicly repudiated his connection with the nation that rejected and crucified its Messiah. The basis of his forgiveness was faith in the Lord Jesus. The purchase price of his forgiveness was the precious blood of the Lord. The way in which his forgiveness was administered was through water baptism, because his baptism publicly removed him from Jewish ground and put him on Christian ground.” ~William MacDonald’s Bible Commentary

Our salvation is based on our faith in what Jesus did for us, not on something we did. Jesus did not appear to His disciples after His resurrection and tell them something like, “Yes, it’s true, I suffered that incredible pain and suffering and then God raised me from the dead for your eternal life. But now you have to do one more thing. If you aren’t baptized, you won’t be saved!”

    Ephesians 2:8-9  You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of.

    Acts 15:11 “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

    When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, He said, “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 the living water.” ~John 4:10. Notice that the Lord did not mention baptism. Jesus Himself never baptized anyone!

    John 14:6  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

    Romans 10:9-10  “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Notice that Paul does not add, ‘and is baptized.’”

    Acts 16:30-31  “…He said, ‘Sirs what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”

    Nothing we do can add to our salvation. It is complete in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He gave Himself to forgive our sins and grant us the beauty and majesty of eternal life with Him. If you’ve not been baptized, you should. It is a wonderful experience, a joyous celebration, and an important step in proclaiming our salvation to the world. However, our sins are washed away by the blood of Jesus, not the water of baptism!