Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Gospel, Good News for the Whole World

Because Jesus took sin into Himself on the cross so God could pour out His wrath for sin:
God is not putting sins into anyone's account.
God is not counting anyone's sins.
God is not charging anyone with sin.
God is not crediting anyone with sin.

God doing this makes relationship with Himself 100% freely available to all who choose to trust Jesus.

Jesus took everyone's sins into His account. They were counted, charged, and credited against Him. The Son of God paid all of the judgment & punishment required for all sins on the cross. When Jesus said "It is finished" that was a term that also meant "paid in full." Because of Jesus God no longer looks at anyone with regard to sin. God does not relate to anyone based on sin!

Sin is not being charged to the world. The sins of the world are taken away. After Jesus rose to life we now live in a pure relational reality with no spiritual barriers standing between us and God. The words believe and faith both mean trust. Choosing to trust the person of Jesus is the only requirement of salvation.

I can either choose to trust a person to engage in a relationship with that person or I can choose not to trust that person and thus have no relationship with them. Salvation is a pure relational reality that is offered with no spiritual barriers. No barriers of sin, work, deed, or law ever exist for anyone because of the cross! Trust Jesus and live loved!

"God the Father was in Christ on the cross making relationship with Himself available to the world by no longer counting people's sins against them. God has given us this message of relationship to tell others. We beg you on behalf of Christ to come to God." (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Perceptions Do Not Change God's Realities (Galatians)

Sin is defined by the law. Sin means "to miss the mark." Jesus took away that target, the law, by His death on the cross. "Jesus canceled our debt to the law that that stood against us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14). Romans 4:15 says, "Where there is no law there is no sin." Galatians 3:25 tells us that we who trust Christ are not under the law. The law condemns (2 Corinthians 3:9). It judges us as guilty. God removed us from under the law and put us under His grace (Romans 6:14). In Christ we are no longer found guilty of sin, condemned because of sin, or even charged with sin (Romans 5:13). We are not sinners. This is one reason why 1 John 3:9 says, "Every child of God cannot commit sin and is not able to sin." With this in mind let us look at Galatians 2 and what it means for the Christian to "find himself to be a sinner."

The Law Views Every Man as a Sinner Even If God Does Not
Galatians 2 talks about how Peter, who lives by trust in Christ, compelled the Gentiles to live like the Jews by putting themselves under the law. Galatians 2:14 tells us that Paul said to Peter, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" Paul goes on to say, "We know that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through trust in Christ Jesus. We have trusted in Christ Jesus so that we may be justified by trust in Christ and not by the works of the Law since no one will be justified by the works of the law." He then says "If, while seeking to be justified in Christ (as Peter does), we ourselves have also been found sinners (by putting ourselves under the law), is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! If I rebuild what I have once destroyed (the law), I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God" (Galatians 2:16-19).

When we put ourselves under the law we rebuild what was once destroyed, the target of the law. Today we can set up our own target which is usually made up of old covenant laws, new testament commands, extracted principles, traditions, & personal obligations & expectations. Colossians 2:23 tells us that "These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, self-denial, and severe bodily discipline but they provide no help in conquering a person's evil desires."

When we put up a target (put ourselves under law) we "find ourselves to be sinners" (Galatians 2:17) and "prove ourselves to be transgressors." Peter was in a sense making sinners out of Gentile saints by requiring them to keep the law. They became sinners in their own eyes. This is talking about our perception and how our life will be lived out but not God's perception. What this scripture tells us is that if we judge ourselves by the law we will always find ourselves to be guilty because as James 2:10 says, "The person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws."

Remember God does not judge us by the law but by our trust in Jesus. That is the point of what Paul is saying here. Paul was not charging Peter with sin. Galatians 2:17 was not saying, "Just because Peter, who seeks to be justified by trust in Christ, sinned doesn't mean Christ is a servant of sin." The story Paul told could be exchanged for any example of a Christian sinning if that was his point. Paul was addressing the fact that if the law charges you with sin because you put yourself under it that does not mean God is charging you with sin. Being under the law does mean you will live like a transgressor (sinner) because you cannot keep the law and not keeping the law will cause you to feel condemned. This is how our lives play out under the law but it is not our spiritual reality in Christ. In Christ we are not condemned and we are not found to be sinners. If you put yourself under the law Christ will not ignore His own blood and put you under the law too. That cannot happen!

If we who trust in Jesus don't rebuild the law we prove ourselves not to be transgressors (sinners) because we are under grace & not under the law (Romans 6:14). If we count ourselves as sinners by putting ourselves under the law that does not mean that "Christ is a server of sin" (Galatians 2:17). Sin does not come out from Christ and we are in Him! Our perception does not change God's reality. Our perception can make our lives miserable but it does not change the truth of the cross! We do not become unborn. The new creation of our spirit is still sinless.

Nullifying Grace
"I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by trusting in the trustworthiness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God (by putting myself under the law), for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:19-21).

To "nullify the grace of God" means to not live by it. Grace becomes null, nothing, in your life if you put yourself under the law. It doesn't change the fact that God has grace (favor) for you. Putting yourself under the law doesn't remove the true power of the cross to save and make you righteous before God but it does empty it of its power in your day to day life.

People throw around the term "cheap grace" referring to a message that doesn't talk about the "need for repentance" by which they mean turning from sin. How do I turn from something Christ already took away? All salvation requires is that I trust Christ and receive His forgiveness & grace which He bought for me at the cross. The true "cheap grace" is that which says, "What Jesus paid was too cheap. I have to add to it." We are the pearl of great price because Jesus gave all He had, His life, to get us. That is a parable of His love not of our obligation. If I'm still indebted then Jesus didn't pay it all. Paul was pointing out that trying to be justified by the law for salvation or for daily living ignores the grace of God and the cross of Christ. This is why he says in Galatians 3:3 "Are you so foolish to think that having begun by the Spirit that you are now being perfected by the flesh?"

Paul continues in Galatians 3 and tells us why the law was given and how it is no longer of use to those who are children of God. Paul points out that the Galatians are sons born of the Spirit of God (Galatians 4:6) but they have turned back to the law and the weak and worthless things which bring them into bondage (Galatians 4:9). Galatians 5:18 tells us that a man cannot be led by the Spirit if he is under the law. This is because by default they follow the law rather than the Spirit. They, as Romans 7:6 speaks of, live by the old way of the letter (external rules) and not the new way of the Spirit (internal relationship with God).

"Stand firm in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Every man who receives circumcision is a debtor to do the whole law. You are alienated from Christ, you who desire to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. Christ will profit you nothing" (Galatians 5:1-4).

The person who gets circumcised desiring to be justified by the law views himself as a debtor to God. God does not want to relate to us as debtors who try to pay him back. God wants us to live free by recognizing He paid the whole debt. Notice this is about how we live our lives not our spiritual reality in Christ. Galatians 5:6 says, "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision amounts to anything, nor uncircumcision, but trust working through love." Paul's point is that physically receiving circumcision isn't the issue (Timothy was circumcised in Acts 16:3). The condition of your physical body doesn't matter to God. Only trust working through love matters to Him and that comes by the Spirit and not by the law because the law is not based on trust (Galatians 3:12). If you put yourself under the law you walk by the flesh and not by trust in Jesus. This is why Paul says, "If we live by the Spirit (are reborn), let us also walk by the Spirit (put our minds on and trust in Jesus)."

Again this is about how we live our lives not our spiritual reality in Christ. Galatians 6:15-16 says, "In Christ Jesus neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. As many as walk by this rule (that only new creation counts), peace and mercy be on them." Christ doesn't care about your flesh. Jesus said in John 6:63, "The flesh counts for nothing." What matters is if your spirit is a new creation. When you understand that then peace and mercy will be upon you. You will experience peace and have mercy when you "no longer regard anyone (including yourself) according to the flesh" (2 Corinthians 5:16). Trust Jesus using the spirit of your new creation. This is the only kind of trust because your spirit can relationally communicate with Jesus as it is seated with Him beyond what we can see.

The spirit of the Christian is sinless (1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:18, Romans 7:17). Putting yourself under the law makes you count yourself as a sinner. If you think you are a sinner you will act like a sinner. You will feel guilt, shame, and condemnation. You will be burdened with obligations and feel inadequate. You will think you owe God and if you don't pay He won't like you or relate to you. Your new creation, your new man, is designed by God to let Jesus live through it as you trust Him. The Good News is Jesus has already hit the bull’s eye for us! We are Christ’s and God is forever pleased with us.

Jesus Did Not Come To Call The Righteous to Repentance?

The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at Jesus's disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32)

The only definition of repentance in the New Testament is "a change of mind." I could change my mind about eating shrimp or I could change my mind about walking to the park. Both are a change of mind but they concern different things. Jesus was speaking of the specific change of mind that leads to someone trusting Jesus. We Christians have already made this change of mind.

Another translation for "saved" is "cured" or "made well." If you are "saved" you are no longer sick because Jesus "makes you well" thus you have no need to repent, that is to change your mind to trust Jesus to be saved, cured, or made well. You've already done it. I don't think Jesus was saying "I never call the righteous to change their mind about anything."

Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Luke 5:31-32). When Jesus was saying this everyone was sick because He had not yet gone to the cross to cure people of sin with His blood. Jesus "ate and drank with the tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 5:30) because those who know they need a physician will accept treatment.

Those who are too proud to believe that they are sick or those who think they can cure themselves (in this case with their own good works) will reject the physician. Jesus didn't want to waste time with those who would reject Him. Jesus preferred to go to the spiritual hospitals of the humble rather than the houses of the self-righteous who refused treatment because they denied their sinful condition.

If you take repentance to mean "change of mind" which it does:
  • Righteous people don't need to change their mind from unbelief to trust in Jesus to be saved because they have already trusted in Christ and are already saved.
  • Righteous people don't need to change their mind as a whole because they have the mind of Christ. Who would want to get rid of that?
  • Righteous people do need to change their mind when they discover something they believe to be false.
  • Righteous people do need to change their mind about performing unloving actions. A change of mindset is much more effective and longer lasting than a mere change of action or behavior.
  • Righteous people do need to change their mind as God leads them to. He may lead you to change your mind about your perspectives, courses of action, manners of approach, about almost anything. Allow God to renew your mind by being open to Him and honest with Him. He may challenge you to change your mind about something you've always held to be true or something that is dear to you.
If you take repentance to mean "turn from sin" which it doesn't:
  • Righteous people don't need to turn from sin because as Acts 3:26 tells us "God raised up Jesus and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your sinful ways."
  • Righteous people don't need to turn from sin because Christ took away sin. What is there to turn away from if it is gone?
  • Righteous people don't need to turn from sin but scripture tells us to "put to death the deeds of the flesh" (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5). That doesn't mean turn away from sin but to claim the victory that our righteousness through the blood of Christ has already won over it. Recognize His grace and by it you will reject godless ways and worldly desires (Titus 2:12).
Repentance is not primarily about sin. Repentance is an openness to God's leading and teaching with the trust in Him to follow His leading and agree with His teaching. Repentance is not trying to do better or feeling really bad about something you've done. Repentance is a change of mind for the better not the mind dwelling on the worse.

When you make repentance (changing your mind) into something you force yourself to think or do you aren't allowing Christ to renew your mind. You may unknowingly be trying to change yourself for the worse! Repentance is most often something natural and unspoken. It is like a child wanting a cookie who is then offered a piece of pie. The child forgets all about the cookie. Repentance is not a work we do to gain or regain God's approval. Repentance is agreeing and cooperating with God's revealed love.

Related Posts:
Forgiven and Loving - Looks at the totality of our forgiveness, what it means to "confess sins," and includes another look at the meaning of repent.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Trusting God for Works of Love

You are made right with God (justified, rendered righteous) by trusting Jesus.
Know that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the trust of Jesus Christ. We have trusted in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the trust of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified (Galatians 2:16).

You give evidence (are justified) to others that you trust Jesus by what you do.
Trust without works is dead. Now someone may argue, “Some people have trust; others have works.” But I say, “How can you show me your trust if you don’t have works? I will show you my trust by my works.” By works a man is justified, and not by trust only" (James 2:17-18,24).

We show others that we are right with God by what we do, not by trust alone. Other people can't see our internal trust and relationship with Jesus but they can see us expressing our trust through love (Galatians 5:6).

Trust Without Works is Dead?
The context of James 2 speaks of showing others our trust by our works (v18). Invisible trust is as good as dead in the eyes of others. "Works" are acts of love. Loving acts let us show others that we trust Jesus. Jesus said in John 13:35, "By your love for one another all people will know that you are My disciples."

We are saved by trusting Jesus so we don't have to prove anything to God or earn anything from Him by works. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that "Long ago God prepared good works for us to do." Our ongoing trust results in us doing the good works God prepared for us to do.

Without love we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2). "Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:7). Our trust expresses itself through love (Galatians 5:6) and loving acts are the natural result of walking with our loving Father by trust. Thus "trust without works is dead." Dead means it is a false trust, you are only pretending to trust Jesus, you don't know Him. "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:18). James and John were talking about the same thing. Works are acts of love done by God through you as you trust Him.

Please note that "trust" is the best translation of "faith" and "believe." See here and here for more.
See the two different meanings of justified.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Discipline of the Lord, Our Loving Father Helping Us Grow

"My son, do not lightly regard the discipline of the Lord, nor be irritated or grieved when refuted by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves like a father disciplines a son he is pleased with.” (Proverbs 3:11-12/Hebrews 12:5-6)

Refute (sometimes translated as rebuke) here means to correct, to lead you out of false beliefs. It hurts our ego to be corrected or to find out that we are wrong but God wants us to live in the truth. Discipline here means "the whole training and education of a child." The loving Father raises us as His own beloved children. He nurtures us. He helps us grow.

It is for discipline (God spurring you to growth) that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline (help grow, teach, train, nurture)? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline does not seem to be joyful but sorrowful or irritating, but afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:7-11).

We are already holy because of our birth in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:17). Jesus Himself is our holiness (1 Corinthians 1:30). To "share His holiness" means to share in the experience of His holiness. To reap the benefit of good, pure living as God intends. God may be very harsh with us at times to help us grow but it is never out of anger. God swore to never be angry with us again because of the blood of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 54:9). He disciplines us for our good. He has our best interests in mind.

We are already righteous (Romans 3:22). We are a good tree (Matthew 7:18). God wants righteous and peaceful fruit (love) to come out of us. God walks along side of us in love showing us affection, helping us grow, teaching us, & training us. Him doing this results in us trusting Him more and securely resting in Him (abiding). When we abide in Him we yield much fruit (John 15:5). That fruit is love (Galatians 5:22-23). Our abiding is the result of Him showing His loving kindness (grace) towards us and proving Himself to be trustworthy. His training results in our trusting which He uses to produce our loving. He loves us and His love (raising us as His child) causes us to love.

Jesus said in Revelation 3:19, "I refute and discipline those I love therefore be earnest and change your mind."
Here refute still means to correct, to lead you out of false beliefs. Discipline is a slightly different word that means "to teach and cause to learn." So Jesus was saying, "I lead those I love out of false beliefs and cause them to learn the truth. Let my love motivate you to eager sincerity to change your mind." In other words, Knowing that Jesus' love causes us to learn the beneficial truth. There is no reason for us not to be eager to allow Him to renew our mind.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Trust and Love, Everything We Need

"This is God's command: to trust in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us" (1 John 3:23). "In the name of his Son" means in the genuine reality of who Jesus is. Trust Jesus Himself and His loving character. "As he commanded" us is "To love one another as He has loved us" (John 13:34).

God's command (singular) is to trust Jesus and to love others as He has loved us. Galatians 5:6 says, "The ONLY thing that counts is trust being expressed through love." The only thing that counts is trust in Jesus being expressed through loving actions by God in you. This is the natural product of trusting Jesus thus "His commands are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). Our trust in Him naturally expresses love because He is the vine, He produces the love and love comes out of us as we trust Him.

Those residing in the vine bear much fruit (John 15:5). What is God's fruit? Love! The fruit of God's Spirit is love (singular). The rest of the list tells you what love consists of "joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustworthiness, gentleness, & self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). The Hebrew word for the Spirit of God is Ruach which means exhaling. He is forever breathing out in His self-giving love for us. God is love so the fruit of God's Spirit is Jesus! He gives Himself away as a never ending breeze! While God only breathed into Adam once to make Him alive, Jesus never stops breathing His life into us!

In John 6:28-29 some people asked Jesus, "What do we do to perform God's works?" Jesus told them, "This is the ONLY work God wants from you: Trust in the one he has sent." This is deeply true. Trust is the only thing you have to do, everything else is done by God through you because you trust Him! Why do we trust Him? Because He loves us! How much does God love us? The Father loves us just as much as He loves Jesus! Jesus loves us just as much as the Father loves Him! (see John 17:20-23 & 15:9)

Immense in mercy & with an incredible love, God embraced us. Because of his great love for us He took our sin-dead lives & made us alive in Christ. He saved us, cured us of sin, & made us whole by His favor. He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven with Jesus. Throughout eternity God plans to show us the incomparable riches of his favor, graciousness, & love by expressing His kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-7).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shouting to Rest!

Romans 8:15 says, "You did not receive the spirit of bondage leading to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"

What are most Christians afraid of?
That God is not pleased with them. That they will lose favor with God. That they have offended God. That God will break fellowship with them. That God is cursing them because of something they've done. That sin separates them from God. That God won't protect them. That God won't provide for them. That they aren't doing enough, aren't praying enough, aren't witnessing enough, aren't reading the bible enough. That God doesn't love them very much if at all.

Every one of those fears is a lie. Jesus didn't commit the ultimate act of love for you to sit and wonder, "How can God really love me after all I've done and keep on doing?" He loves you more than you'll ever know because "his love surpasses all knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19).

Cry out, "Abba! Father! Jesus! .. Deliver me from believing these lies that make me think 'yeah, you'd die for me but you wouldn't live for me.' Jesus I never again want to feel like your death wasn't good enough so I have to add to it. I don't ever again want to think that your love for me is conditional or that your pleasure in me comes only from my performance. God I want to recognize your love for me every moment I possibly can. May I always know that the gospel is the good news of your graciousness not the bad news of all I have to struggle to give back. I'm tired of trying to earn what I already have and reaching for what is not mine. I want to live in what you give, who you gave. I want your promises to reshape my perceptions. Jesus after you finished offering yourself as the sacrifice for sins you sat down at the right hand of the Father. My life is now hidden with Jesus in you Father because you raised me up with Jesus and sat me with Him. The work is done, it is finished, paid in full! I want to rest with you. You said 'come to me and I will give you rest.' Here I am Lord. Here I am Father. Here I am friend."

How do you rest with someone? You trust them, you feel secure with them, and you relax!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Sinless Saints, The Selfless Savior, & The Self-Righteous

Christians are Not Charged with Sin by God
2 Corinthians 5:19 says, God is no longer counting people's sins against them." Romans 10:4 tells us, "Jesus Christ is the end of the law to everyone who trusts Him." Romans 4:15 says, "Where there is no law there is no sin." Romans 5:13 says, "Sin is not charged when there is no law."

God frees us from the power of sin and does not charge us with sin so that nothing can ever come between us and God. God does not however change the relational realities of how our actions affect others. God has made peace with us and reconciled us to Himself through the blood of Jesus. He has not however reconciled us with each other. He gives us the freedom to choose brotherly love but He does not force it upon us. This is why Jesus' concern in His prayer to the Father in John 17 was that "we may be one as He and the Father are one." He prayed it three times.

If you do something unloving God is going to ask you to reconcile with the person you've harmed but He isn't going to "write you up," "mark it it on your record," or count it against you. The rules don't apply to you (Romans 3:19, 1 Timothy 1:9). God is about love and relationships not laws and rules. In Jesus Christ God leads us by His Spirit not by laws (Romans 7:6). He walks along side us as a friend and says, "Hey you hurt that person. I want you to apologize to them." God does not say, "I said in the bible that it is bad to do that. You need to apologize to me because I am offended."

The Selflessness of God
God is love and God is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5). He cares about others. Just because sin is taken away does not mean God stops being love. Because Christ condemned sin in His body God no longer has to be displeased with sin. Sin is taken care of, He no longer counts it against anyone. God is not personally offended He only cares about those who are being harmed. His love is selfless. God does not take into account wrongs done against Him (1 Corinthians 13:5). He seeks to heal the broken not to crush the wicked, sin has already been crushed because Jesus was crushed. You need no more proof than the way Jesus lived on earth that God seeks to heal the broken & not to crush the wicked.

Why Jesus Attacked Self-Righteousness
Yes Jesus confronted the self-righteous (the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, teachers of the law) but was it simply because God doesn't like self-righteousness? No, He confronted them because, as Jesus said in Matthew 23, they lay oppressive burdens on others, they make themselves look good & welcome honorary titles which makes others feel inferior to them, they kept people from the kingdom of heaven by making human traditions and human religious rules more important than God’s words, they were blind guides who turned people into what Jesus called "sons of hell," they killed and continued to kill the messengers of God including Christ Himself.

Jesus said in Mark 7:13 that self-righteousness and the traditions of men stop, nullify, cancel, make void, invalidate, destroy, make of no effect, reject, and set aside the word of God, scripture, the cross of Jesus, & Jesus Himself. They don't just invalidate the scriptures but they set aside Jesus, the Word of God, thus removing Him from focus.

Self-righteousness is the most destructive mindset there is. Self-righteousness is a lie. Perhaps the worst lie of all time because it affects the Christian and the non-Christian and because it says, "I don't need God." It unknowingly says "I don't want God." It says, "What Jesus did for me is not enough I have to add to it." It says, "God will not love me until I try to please Him." Another word for self-righteous can be religious. Self-righteousness makes God's love seem conditional. It shames those who feel inadequate and puffs up those who feel adequate.

The self-righteous aren't just the prideful. Yes they are those who perhaps knowingly say "I can" but they are also those who unknowingly believe "Jesus didn't so I must." Both rely on themselves rather than Christ. Sadly neither understand the truly good news of the gospel. When the second type of self-righteous person hears the Father say "I love you" they still feel inside, "No you don't because I'm not good enough." They think "I'm not good enough because I'm not doing all I need to do." They ultimately, without realizing it, believe just like the prideful self-righteous person that "God is not good enough to make me righteous but I am" and "Jesus is not good enough to make me good. Only what I can do can make me good."

Self-righteousness again says, "Jesus and what He has done is not valid." It prevents Him from working because you are trying to work for Him. In practicality it rejects Jesus, His grace, & His help. It says, "Stand aside Jesus I've got this." Yet it pleads, "Love me Lord because I don't think that you do." Self-righteousness tries to earn what has already been given. It tries to achieve what has already been achieved by Jesus. Jesus confronted self-righteousness because it not only says and does all these things but it also makes others who see it feel like they need to earn God's approval also.

Self-righteousness destroys sinners and saints like nothing else can. It is a lie. A lie that ultimately says, "Christ died for nothing." The prideful self-righteous shame the lowly and the lowly self-righteous shame themselves. Self-righteousness is a lie that breeds shame and invalidates the center figure of history Jesus Christ.

Jesus went after the self-righteous because they did and would destroy countless lives physically and especially spiritually. Other things are like a rock that stubs the toe, easily taken care of and little to get upset about. Self-righteousness is the lie that causes people to not trust Jesus. Without trust, faith, there is nothing because without trust love is ignored, considered non-existent, or considered limited. God is love. May we trust His Son and be thankful for His gifts.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Good News of Relationship

Jesus said in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, to intimately know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." Eternal life isn't merely heaven or immortality. Eternal life is relationship with God.

Wrath is not the focal point of the gospel, relationship is. God poured out His wrath for sin in the body of His Son Jesus to defeat sin, free His people from sin, and to remove the need for Him to count sin against people. By doing this He made relationship with Himself fully available to those who choose to trust Him. Wrath was the means God used to condemn sin itself thus making relationship with God available.

The cross wasn't to save us from the anger of the holy Father. It was the anger of the holy Father and the holy Son against sin because it harms and destroys the objects of His affection, mankind. Jesus came to "Save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) not to save His people from Himself.

"God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. In the body of Jesus God condemned sin in the flesh declaring an end to sin's control over us. He did this so that the righteous requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us" (Romans 8:3-4).

"God the Father was in Christ on the cross making relationship with Himself available to the world by no longer counting people's sins against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19).

"Jesus took God's wrath for sin on our behalf so now, through trust, we are made right with God by the blood of Jesus and cured of sin. We are made whole by His life" (Romans 5:9-10).

If there were no heaven, if there were no hell God is still worth knowing. He is so loving that love itself is defined by who He is. "We have come to know, rely on, and have put our trust in the love God has for us. God is love" (1 John 4:16).

A Wonderfully Loving Promise Fulfilled in the New Covenant

"I, the Lord, have sworn that I will never be angry with you and I will never rebuke you. For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My loving kindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken," says the Lord who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:9-10)

Here are two scriptures that confirm that this is indeed a new covenant promise. They show us that God's "covenant of peace" mentioned in Isaiah 54 is the new covenant of the blood of Christ's cross which makes peace between us and God.

"This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28).

"Christ made peace with us through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:20).

The meaning of angry in Isiah 54:9
God will never be angry with you also means:  He will not be displeased with you. He will not be offended with you. He will not be upset with you. He will not be exasperated with you. He will not have wrath for you. He will not resent you.

The meaning of rebuke in Isiah 54:9

God will never rebuke you means:  He will not repel you from Himself. He will not beat you back. He will not shame, reject, disgrace, blame, disapprove of or condemn you. He will not reject you as worthless. He will prove you to be worthy. He will not break you. He will not mark you as immoral. He will not ruin you. He will not see you as unclean.
It does not have the same meaning as the word rebuke in Proverbs 3:11-12 or in Hebrews 12:5, "Do not lose heart when the Lord rebukes you." There it means "to correct, to lead you out of false beliefs."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christians Do Not Have to Keep the Law of Moses

Some of the sect of the Pharisees who had trusted stood up, saying, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” The apostles and older men met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them:
“Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and trust. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by trust. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We trust it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15:5-7)

Here in the narrative of Acts Peter clearly says that Gentile Christians are not required to keep the law of Moses. Peter points out that neither the Apostles nor any Jew in history was able to bear the yoke of the law. Peter also said that it is testing God to require people to keep the law.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Judgment In Light of Sins Taken Away

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. (Revelation 20:11-13)

First note that Christians are not the dead, they are alive in Christ spiritually and physically, so they are not the ones being judged here. We see in verse 6 that all Christians are resurrected a clear thousand years before this white throne judgement. "Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years" (Revelation 20:6).

Jesus takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). God has removed the sins of His people as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Those who reject Christ don't have their sins taken away in this infinite fashion. God makes relationship with Himself available by not counting sins against anyone (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus takes away the sins of the world in this life in order to offer salvation freely without sin being in the way of anyone trusting Him.

Hebrews 9:26 says, Jesus came in the flesh to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. When someone trusts Christ their sin is put away forever. It is eradicated without even a possible future resurgence (see 1 John 3:9). If someone dies without trusting Christ their sin is taken back out and they are judged by their deeds.

In the next life God says, "Ok you didn't want My Son's sacrifice for your sins so now I am returning your sins to you and judging you by your deeds." God no longer remembers the sins of His people (Hebrews 8:12,10:17). Those who reject Him are not His people. To be just to those who reject His gift of salvation God judges them according to their deeds. It doesn't say He judges them according to the old covenant law. His judgement goes beyond the law so proper justice is given. "For the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts" (1 Chronicles 28:9).

For more about what happens on judgment day see:  
Eternal Torment, Annihilation, Ultimate Reconciliation? How about a little of each?
Second Chances & Why God Killed

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Righteous Identity in Christ

These aren't promises of me to God but promises of God to me. He has made me completely righteous in Jesus Christ so now everything He has said about the righteous I am also. These aren't things I strive to be but my true identity that flows out of my genuine self, a righteous child of God.

Christ died once for me & all of my sins, He brought me to God, He put my flesh to death, He made me alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:18
I will hold to God's way, I have clean hands and will grow stronger and stronger.
Job 17:9
I see and am glad Job 22:19
God does not withdraw His eyes from me. He has seated me with kings on the throne forever, and we are exalted. Job 36:7-8
The LORD loves me; I will behold His face.
Psalm 11:7
God is with me. Psalm 14:5
God encompasses me with strength and makes my way blameless Psalm 18:32
The eyes of the LORD are toward me and His ears are open to my cry. Psalm 34:15
I cry, and the LORD hears and delivers me out of all my troubles. Psalm 34:17
The LORD sustains me. Psalm 34:17
I am gracious and I give.
Psalm 37:21
I am not forsaken nor does my family beg for food. Psalm 37:25
I utter wisdom, and speak justice. My steps do not slip. Psalm 37:30-31
My salvation is from the LORD; He is my strength in time of trouble.
He helps me and delivers me; He saves me, because I trust in Him.
Psalm 37:39 
Psalm 37:39
I trust in the loving kindness of God forever and ever. Psalm 52:8
When I cast my burden upon the LORD He sustains me and will not allow me to be shaken. Psalm 55:22
I am glad in the LORD and will trust in Him; I shine Psalm 64:10
I am blessed. Psalm 112:2
Light arises in the darkness for me; The LORD is gracious and compassionate towards me. Psalm 112:4
I am gracious and compassionate and right with God. Psalm 112:4
I will not put forth my hands to do wrong. Psalm 125:3
I give thanks to God's name and dwell in His presence Psalm 140:13
The LORD loves me. Psalm 146:8
The LORD is intimate with me.
Proverbs 3:32
The LORD blesses my house. Proverbs 3:33
My mouth is a fountain of life. Proverbs 10:11
I have an everlasting foundation Proverbs 10:25
My hope is gladness Proverbs 10:28
I will never be shaken. My mouth flows with wisdom, My lips bring forth goodwill Proverbs 10:30
I am delivered from trouble. Through knowledge I will be delivered. Proverbs 11:8
My descendants will be delivered. Proverbs 11:21
My desire is only good. Proverbs 11:23
My thoughts are just Proverbs 12:5
I am a guide to my neighbor Proverbs 12:26
I will be given good things. Proverbs 13:21
I have enough to satisfy my appetite. Proverbs 13:25
My prayer is God's delight. Proverbs 15:8
My heart ponders how to answer Proverbs 15:28
The LORD hears my prayers. Proverbs 15:29
I will inherit good. Proverbs 28:10
I live by trust. Habakkuk 2:4
God is my strong fortress and He sets my in His Way (Jesus). 2 Samuel 22:33
I have eternal life. Matthew 25:46
I am not called to repentance. Luke 5:32
The Law is not for me. 1Timothy 1:9
My prayer accomplishes much. James 5:16
I will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of my Father.
Matthew 13:43