False Faith Versus True Faith

tick-313589_960_720

Many religions teach that if you are going to be saved and go to Heaven, you need to perform good works. However, this is completely wrong. Scripture makes it clear that salvation is by grace through faith and not works,

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” ().

Continue reading False Faith Versus True Faith

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

How the Modern “Gift” of Healing Undervalues the Biblical Gift of Healing – Part 1

Faith Healer

The idea of being healed of bodily affliction is certainly very attractive. The debilitating effects of sickness and disease can truly be difficult and very sad for many. There are many self-styled individuals roaming around today making the claim that they are “faith healers”. For example, I just read of a man who will be touring a number of churches in Melbourne. He comes with the claim of being able to heal people. What are we to make of such claims? It is my conclusion that these self-styled “faith healers” are simply undervaluing the biblical gift of healing. Furthermore, they are guilty of offending the purity and power of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of all their claims to be displaying the power of the Holy Spirit, they are actually performing things that undermine and undervalue the true power of the Holy Spirit. 

THE GIFT OF HEALING
At this point, I think it would be helpful to talk about the meaning and nature of the gift of healing. There are many who go around today claiming to have this gift and they make promises of being able to heal people. Is such a claim valid? In-order to answer that question, it is best to go back to the Scriptures and examine the real deal and then place the modern claims next to it. The Bible contains many examples of miraculous healing. It is seen in practice by some of the Old Testament prophets, by Jesus, and by the apostles. When one examines all the data, it becomes clear that there were certain common characteristics that all of these examples share.

Biblical Healing was Immediate
When healing took place in the examples provided by Scripture, the healing of the individual was immediate (; ; ; ). The individuals did not have to recover or recuperate. The powerful nature of biblical examples of healing was that it was immediate.

Biblical Healing was Exceptional
The second important characteristic of healing as found in Scripture was that it was exceptional. That is to say, you don’t read of the healing of things like back pain, headaches, stress and other like things. No, the examples in Scripture were truly exceptional. You have the dead being raised from the dead, paralytics being healed, withered hands restored, sight to the blind, just to state some examples.

Biblical Healing was Entire
A third characteristic was that biblical healing was entire. That is to say, when biblical healings took place, they actually brought healing in entirety. If sight was granted, the individual could see. If a paralytic was healed he could actually walk. It was not a slight healing it was an entire healing, and this is what made so many people marvel.

Without a doubt, the greatest Biblical demonstration of the ability to heal was none other than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. The healing ministry of Jesus Christ is unparalleled in all of history. The methods He used to heal were not always the same as He employed a variety of approaches. He healed by touch (; ), speech (; ; ), through His garment (; ), by His saliva () and with clay (). One thing becomes clear when you read the gospel accounts – all His miracles were undeniable. This is demonstrated by the acceptance of these miracles, even by His enemies (). Furthermore, many “faith healers” today claim that if people are not being healed it is because they don’t have enough faith. Really, that is a convenient excuse for their lack of “gifting”. When Jesus healed, some of those individuals were not even believers (; ; ). Furthermore, when He raised the dead to life, that individual certainly was unable to employ faith.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HEALING
The miracles performed by the Lord Jesus Christ were truly amazing and reveal so much about who He is. If you were to take time an examine each of the miracles recorded in Scripture, no doubt you would be amazed by what is actually happening. Imagine if you were present when they were performed. I would have loved to see the face of the man born blind when Jesus gave him sight. Or to shake the hand of the man who had a withered hand. Each of these would have had an amazing sense of thrill and excitement when they occurred. As amazing as they were, we need to remember that these acts of healing were actually signs. As signs, they were intended to point to a greater reality. By way of example, in the Gospel according to John there seven selected signs. The signs Jesus performed were not designed to bring attention to the miracle itself; rather they proved that Jesus is the Son of God by confirming His claims to be true. Each sign provides us with an understanding of what Jesus Christ can do spiritually for fallen humanity. Of those seven signs, four of them include healing (). What were there ultimate purpose? In his purpose statement John writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” ().

The Scripture sets the standard for the Divine gift of healing, however the modern counterfeits of today simply undervalue this gift.

In part 2 of this post series, I will consider the significance of the four healing miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ as seen in the Gospel of John.

13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Acts 14:8-10

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking.

Acts 14:19-20

19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

Acts 20:9-12

And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. 10 But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” 11 And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. 12 And they took the youth away alive, and were not a little comforted.

15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.

Matthew 20:34

34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.

52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath.

20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

Matthew 14:36

36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”

Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud

9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

8:1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath.

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

John 5:1-16

5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath.

John 9:1-12

9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

John 11:38-44

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The Life of Faith

The Christian life has been likened to running in a race. The writer to the Hebrews said,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God ()

On Sunday evenings at Hills Bible Church we are going to spend a number of weeks working our way through . In this great chapter, we see example after example of men and women who are heroes of the faith. The have gone before us running that well worn track of faith.

You are welcome to join us at 6:00 PM Sunday evenings or you can download the message from our website. Below is a video introducing our series.

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

What is Repentance?

Wrong Way Imagine the horrifying experience of driving on the wrong side of a busy road, and then to be confronted with a sign, “Wrong Way, Go Back”. The sign is designed to warn you of the potential danger ahead and the necessary action to be done so as to avoid the potential harm. Though such a sign may be startling, it is actually very gracious and helpful. Continue reading What is Repentance?

The Power of the Cross

4062400583_0627093873_b

In the first century, crucifixion was a means used to execute criminals. The four gospel accounts provide record of the events that led up to and the actual occasion of the crucifixion of Christ. Treated and tried as a criminal, Jesus Christ was innocent of the earthly charges made concerning Him.  However, it was necessary that He be crucified. We are told that it was at the cross  where Jesus Christ made the atonement for sin. It is for this reason that the word of the cross for us who believe “is the power of God” (). The cross of Christ provides us with a powerful message. It is a pulpit in which the most amazing message is proclaimed. It was Augustine who said, “The cross was a pulpit in which Christ preached his love to the world”. How was this love preached? In Paul’s letter to the Romans we read concerning Christ,

“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” ().

In these two verses the message of the cross is heard in two declarations:

The Cross Declared Divine Justice
God is righteous and just. Moses said concerning the Lord, “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (). Because this is who God is, everything He does is in accordance with what is right and just. This includes how He treats us. When we compare ourselves against God’s righteous standard it becomes crystal clear that we are sinful (cf. ). This means if God is going to be just, He must punish our sins.

How did the cross declare Divine justice? In God’s great mercy He provided a way in which His wrath would be satisfied. begins by saying what God the Father did concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood“. The word “propitiation” refers to the act of satisfying God’s wrath against sin. God’s wrath is justifiably towards all sinners and as we sin we are storing up more wrath against us (cf. ). How can this wrath ever be taken away? The solution is found in the cross. As stated earlier, in God’s great mercy He provided a way in which His wrath would be satisfied. The act of satisfying His wrath came when He “put forward” His own Son “as a propitiation”.

At the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ took our place by being “put forward” publically. This means, when He was crucified it was not done in secret, but God put His Son on public display at Calvary for all to see. According to , “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God“. At the cross Christ became sin on our behalf. We deserve to be punished; we deserved God’s fury to be unleashed on us. But those who come to God through faith in Christ Jesus had their sins imputed to Christ. He took your punishment, and God treated Him on that cross as if that was you. How amazing and humbling is that truth!

Simply put, when Jesus died on the cross He satisfied the Father’s anger and wrath towards sin. This act of sacrifice involved a cost and that was the very blood of Jesus Christ (cf. ).

The Cross Declared Divine Justification
Christ satisfied the wrath of God at the cross. However, if you are going to have a right standing before God, you must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Paul writes that this gift comes to “the one who has faith in Jesus” (). Faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace, understanding that we deserve to be punished by God for our sin. Therefore, having nothing to offer we trust and adhere to Jesus Christ as Lord, and by faith we place our full confidence and trust in Him. The words from the hymn “My hope is built on nothing less” convey the grand truth in this text,

“My hope is built on nothing less
 than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
 but wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.”

The power of the cross is seen in that God was both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Justice and love met at the cross thus forming the sound of the greatest message to ever be heard. The cross is indeed the pulpit of God’s love – this is the power of the cross.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

25 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. 26 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.

“The Rock, his work is perfect,
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is he.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

25 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.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Romans 2:5

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

26 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.

A Portrait of the Christian Life

992872716_ec92143ef5_o

What does a Christian look like?

When the gospel has taken effect in a person’s life, their life has been transformed. The old has become new () and the dead is now living (; ). For this reason there are clear and obvious changes in the life of believer. In this post I would like to refer to them as a portrait of the Christian Life.

In the opening verses to his letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul praised God for the fact that the Colossian believers were an unmistakable portrait of the Christian life,

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (a).

What does the Christian life look like? going beyond physical appearance and personal accomplishments, Paul makes mention of three essential marks of the genuine believer: faith, love and hope. These three terms are not limited to this passage, in-fact they appear to be an important triad in Paul’s letters (e.g. and ). Interestingly, the word “heard” is a present active verb indicating that Paul is constantly hearing this. That is an amazing report! Let us now consider each of these marks of the Christian life.

Faith
The first mark of the gospel life that Paul celebrates is their “faith in Christ Jesus.” The Colossians did not trust in or rely on their own achievements; instead, the object of all their trust and reliance was “in Christ Jesus.” Genuine saving faith is recognizing that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. “Faith” is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. “Faith” is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.

Without “faith in Christ Jesus” there is no hope of salvation, simply because Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” (). This is what made the Colossians “faith” special – it was genuine saving faith. Paul could thank the Lord because the Colossians had “faith in Christ Jesus.” That certainly was worthy of celebration! That is the first mark of the gospel life.

Love
The second mark of the gospel life is “love…for all the saints.” Anybody who has a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ will love His people. This is not referring to a sentimental or superficial kind of “love.” Instead, this love is deliberate and committed. It is not sourced in ourselves, but like faith, it is given to us by God (). For this reason every believer is commanded to love other believers (). So then, every true believer has the capacity to love the people of God.  The Holy Spirit is the One who produces it within the life of the believer (cf. ) and because God has shown such wonderful love toward us in Christ (cf. ), this then ought to motivate us to love others.

Hope
The third mark of the believer that makes up the portrait of the gospel life is hope. Many today over-emphasize our present life. Such an over-emphasis allows for unbiblical teachings that place all of our attention on the here and now. An example of this could be prosperity theology. But an overemphasis of our present life can also be seen in people’s possessions and what they do with their time. Many are consumed with worldly pleasures. These pleasures may not be sinful in and of themselves, but they become the focus of their life. It is essential that Christians live their life in response to “the hope laid up” for them “in heaven.” This “hope” that the Colossians possessed was not wishful thinking. Instead, it refers to a confident expectation. What were they confidently expecting? According to this verse it is laid up for them in heaven. So then, what is laid up for us in heaven? In addition to experiencing all the majesty and splendour, we will be with the Lord Jesus Christ forever in eternity. But there is something greater, we will not only be with Him, but we shall be like Him (cf. ). The “hope” that marks the believer is a reference to being made like Christ, because He is our hope (cf. 1:27; ). Christlikeness is the greatest reward the believer will ever receive!

The apostle Paul thanked God for the Colossian believers because they were a portrait of the Christian life. Residing in them were the qualities: faith, love and hope. If this is a picture of you, that is worthy of celebration and praise to God.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

Getting the Gospel Right

Gospel copy

Getting the gospel right is critical.  The word “gospel” comes from the Greek word euangelion, which literally means “good news”. It is good news because it contains the message of God’s salvation to sinful man. It contains the declaration of deliverance from sin. If we are going to get the gospel right, it is essential that we understand the necessary components of the gospel message.

A Right Understanding of God

Who is God? God is the creator of the “heavens and the earth” (), He makes everything in the universe work (), and He rules over the entire universe (). The Bible says that there is one God (Is. 44:6). Though there is only one God, He exists in three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (). God is holy in all His perfections () and all humanity owes Him their complete love and obedience.

A Right Understanding of Sin

Sin is any thought or act that does not conform to the Word of God. To sin is to miss the mark of God’s standard and it is the committing of an actual transgression. Every person is a sinner () and every person must be judged and punished by God ().

A Right Understanding of Man

All people are made in the likeness of God (), however this similitude has been marred by sin. All people are sinful () and dead in their trespasses and sins (). For this reason, we are estranged from God (; ) and in need of reconciliation. In our sinful condition we are unable in and of ourselves to earn or obtain salvation. We are in need of a righteousness outside of ourselves ().

A Right Understanding of Christ

Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God (; ). At the Divinely appointed time in history, He was sent into the world “born of woman, born under the law” () so as to save sinners (). Jesus Christ is without sin and was a substitute for sinners ().

A Right Understanding of the Cross

The cross has become a religious symbol for many. Sadly, this is only a symbol and a religious add-on to their lives. We need to know and remember that there is a deep and profound meaning when we think of the cross of Christ. In the first century the cross was the place where painful and gruesome public execution occurred. The horrific event of the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross was not an event that captured the Lord by surprise (Acts 2:23). At the cross the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for sins as a substitute for sinners (1 Pet. 3:18). This is how salvation for sinners was secured.

A Right Understanding of Grace

On what basis does God save sinners? The glorious gift of salvation comes to the sinner by grace (). Grace is the undeserved gift of God’s favour and goodness in providing salvation. Such grace is truly amazing.

A Right Understanding of Repentance

Repentance is something that is ignored or redefined by many when it comes to preaching the gospel. Despite such practices, the Word of God remains clear. Repentance was a part of Christ’s preaching (; ) and the apostolic preaching (). Repentance refers to the God given ability to recognise our sin, to detest it and turn from it as we embrace Christ in faith.

A Right Understanding of Faith

Saving faith does not trust in or rely on one’s own achievements; instead, the object of trust and reliance is the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine saving faith is the recognition that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. Faith is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. Therefore, faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.

A Right Understanding of Works

We cannot be saved by means of our works. In fact, our best works in the sight of God are filthy rags (cf. Is. 64:6). The only works that save a sinner are the works of Jesus Christ. But once an individual embraces the gospel (by faith in Jesus Christ) their life will be followed by works (). These works are the natural outflow of the child of God. In the words of Martin Luther, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 4:18

18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

5:1  Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 8:58

58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 17:30

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The Five Solas

Five_Solas

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (written in Latin) to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This historical event was not the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, but was a means that started discussions and debates about the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church’s indulgences. After a series of events, Luther’s discussion intensified to a declaration of a defence of the gospel.

Continue reading The Five Solas

What the Death of Christ Means for us

it-is-finished-cross-three-nails-Jesus-christian-wallpaper-hd_1366x768

Over the years, the cross has become a religious symbol for many Sadly, this is only a symbol and a religious add-on to their lives. We need to know and remember that there is a a deep and profound meaning when we think of the cross of Christ. In the first century the cross was the place where painful and gruesome public execution occurred. The horrific event of the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross was not an event that captured the Lord by surprise (). It was a part of His plan of redemption. 

Continue reading What the Death of Christ Means for us

23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.