Heaven

HEAVEN                                                                                 1

“ However do not rejoice that the spirit’s submit to you but rejoice that your names are written in heaven”.

Our Lord had sent His disciples out on a preaching tour. He gave them power over demons and to heal the sick. They returned rejoicing and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name. Jesus replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).

Christians should think about heaven far more than they do. Col. 3:1-4 tells us: “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things, for you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears then you also will appear with him in glory”.

In the original Greek it has the thought of an ongoing process. “Keep on setting your mind of things above, so that you can anticipate and look forward to and prepare for them. It is an intense and fervent seeking of the things above. We are to diligently pursue an understanding of heaven. Our thoughts should lovingly and longingly dwell on Jesus.

We should rejoice because our names are written there as citizens of that heavenly realm. This short struggling life is incidental compared with eternity. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (II Cor. 4:17-18).

This world is not the home of the children of God. We are only sojourners here, temporary dwellers in a land not ours. “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (Col. 1:13).

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Eph. 2:19).

Heaven is our real home and our treasures should be there as well. Our thoughts should dwell on that sweet home of God, the holy angels and the departed saints: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12: 22-24).

It is tragic that so many of God’s people live in fear of death. How this dishonors our heavenly Father. It is His will that we face death with assurance and confidence.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psa. 116:15). If we know Him who conquered death, there need be no fear or dread, for death will only hasten us on to glory. The prophet Hosea recorded God’s promise: “I will redeem them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death” (Hosea 13:14).

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

The resurrection of Christ transformed forever the nature of death for those who place their faith in Him. At last we will be with the One we were created for in the place we were created to be. We were not meant for this present world, we were meant for heaven. God has put within mankind the sense that this life is not all there is. The Bible gives the reason for this, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

The reason there is this inner conviction that death is not the end and that heaven exists is because God put this conviction in our hearts when He created us in His image.

One of the reasons there are so many Christians who do not reach others for Christ is because they do not feel secure themselves. If a person is unsure of their own footing they are in poor condition to rescue others who are drowning. They must first be sure of their own footing.

Paul said, “I know whom I have believed and, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day” (II Tim. 1:12). He had assurance.   “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Many Christians cannot understand why they are so lacking in spiritual power. It is because they have their treasures down here. It is not necessary for a person to have many possessions to have their treasure down here. It is not what a person has, but what his heart is set upon.

“It is to our great loss that we fail to live under the influence of eternal things. So many of us are digging in the dirt for worthless things of this world when the crown of gold is above our heads. We are earth-bound. Our minds are set on things below and not on the glorious and enduring treasures above; living as though we are going to be here forever. We seem to forget that our days are numbered and will vanish like a vapor, and that our eternal home lies beyond. We do not rejoice in the old hymn, “Our heart is in heaven, our home is not here”.

A clearer vision of heaven will expose the emptiness of the things of this world, and set our hearts on the heavenly and eternal things above. We will function better here if our hearts are there. We will have a truer perspective and greater sense of values. We will not mistake the artificial treasures that perish for the priceless treasures that will endure forever. Our Lord taught us to “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:20).

We are not reaching the world for Christ because believers themselves have been conformed to the world and have become worldly minded. We must be constantly exhorted to live for heaven because so much of our treasures are down here.

Where is your treasure? In Heb. 11:13-14 we are told that the saints of old saw these promises of a heavenly country “from a distance”. It reads: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised: they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own”.

The saints of old refused to settle down in this world, but lived with the heavenly country always in view.

“In Heb. 11:10, speaking of Abraham it says: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God”.

From the moment that Abraham, by faith, saw that city, he declared himself a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth. As Abraham journeyed to the Land of Canaan, he knew that it was not the ultimate goal. And when he arrived there he still continued to live in tents, because he knew that the real goal was that heavenly land of promise.

The rich, fertile plains of Sodom had no temptation for him. He declared that he saw another country. He had turned his heart from the fleeting world and all its temptations. He has something better. He had his eyes fixed upon a city that would endure when the things of this world were swept away. He set his heart upon that city and laid his treasures there. How poor a man is, no matter how much he has laid up in this world, if he has no treasures in heaven.

Many of God’s people make the mistake of looking for their rewards down here and become discouraged when there are none. A missionary who had buried his wife and two children in Africa, greatly discouraged was returning home to America with broken health to recover. On the same ship was then president Teddy Roosevelt returning from a hunting trip.

Hundreds were waiting to welcome him home. As the missionary looked upon that scene he whispered, “Lord, I have sacrificed everything and no one is here to welcome me, while this man returns from a mere hunting trip and hundreds are here to welcome him home. When he stepped off the boat he heard the gentle voice of God say, “Ah, but son you are not home yet, you are not home yet”. Let us remember that the reward lies beyond. It is enough to know that we are serving the One who gave His all for us. We are to serve here and the rewards come after.

To Christians who are suffering with great pains and loses in this world, Jesus says, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. Your day is coming when He will transform your suffering into glory. Press on a little longer, doing what you can for His cause, while anticipating being with Him when glory will burst through the dark clouds in a glorious day that will never end.

Our heavenly Father has assured us that, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psa. 116:15). And that the believer can say “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” and that to “Depart, and be with Christ . . .is far better” (Phil. 1:21, 23). He tells us that “All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come” (I Cor. 3:21). Here we are told, that among other things, death belongs to His saints. It is our servant, conquered by Christ. Death is the terrible enemy of the unbeliever for it ushers him into the realm of eternal woe. But the believer is ushered into the presence of Jesus Christ.

Safe in Christ the believer can cry out: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”(I Cor.15: 55). The assurance to the believer is that “To be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). Heaven is the Father’s house. It is the glorious place toward which the dying saint lifts his eyes with joy. The Lord Himself is with the believer in the hour of death in a special way. He said: “I am with you always” (Matt. 28: 20). And “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb.13: 5). Although we know that He is with us always, there is a special sense in which the Lord is very close to the believer when he or she faces death. It is not really death at all, it is life.

As john Newton lay dying someone said to him, “Well, you are still in the land of the living”. “No”, he said, “I am in the land of the dying yet, but I will soon be in the land of the living”. This is the land of sin and death and tears, but there they never die. It is perpetual life. It is never ending joy.

The English scientist Sir Michael Faraday, the discoverer of electro-magnetism, was asked on his death bed, “What speculations do you have on life after death?” He replied, “Speculations? I have no speculations, I am resting on certainties”.

Mary Slessor, the missionary, on her death bed said, “do not talk of the cold hand of death, it is the hand of Christ”.

The missionary, Joseph Neesima’s last words were, “Peace . . . Joy . . . Heaven”.

When Adoniram Judson, the great missionary to Burma, came to his dying hour, he said, “I fell like a schoolboy bounding for home”.

When death was imminent for Richard Baxter, someone asked him how he felt, he whispered “I am almost well”.

When Thomas Fuller came to his last moments he said to his nephew, James Cuthbert, “Good night James . . . but it will soon be morning”.

Catherine Booth’s last words were, “the waters are rising, but I am rising higher”.

Samuel Rutherford said, “Oh, how sweet and glorious our case will be when that fairest among the sons of men will lay His fair hand to our sinful eyes and wipe away all tears. O time, run swiftly, and hasten that day”.

As his life ebbed away, the great evangelist D. L. Moody said, “If this is death, it is sweet, it is beautiful. This is my coronation day, earth recedes, heaven opens, God is calling and I must go”.

As a man and his son went over a long, narrow bridge over a broad river in the dark, the boy cried out “Daddy, I am afraid. His father took him in his arms. The boy fell asleep, to wake up the next morning in his own bed. That is what death is like for the believer. He falls asleep and wakes up at home.

We do not need to know any more about heaven than that God is waiting there to welcome us. It is His express desire that we share heaven with Him. The Lord Jesus said, “That where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

The Scriptures give us added information about heaven. First of all, Heaven is a real literal place prepared by God. Concerning Abraham, we read: “For he was looking forward to the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).

“Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city” (Heb.11: 16). Who can conceive of a city built by God? It is beyond all human comprehension! Nor can we grasp the concept of a continuing city. Every- thing on earth decays and fades away.

I Pet, 1:4 refers to Heaven as “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept in heaven for you. In the Scriptures earth is described as a place that is unstable and fleeting, Heaven is a place that is stable and eternal, “Here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).

Heaven is spoken of as the believer’s home, “At home with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). “In My Father’s house are many rooms”(John 14:2). Here the Lord does not tell us that we will each have a mansion in Heaven. No, what He says is far better than that.

There is only one mansion—the Father’s house. Believers will have rooms in the Father’s house. As His children our permanent dwelling place will be in our heavenly Father’s house! Home is the dearest place on earth to the human heart, a place of acceptance, love and security.

Multiply all the best things of home to the last degree and you will have a faint idea of what it will be like when we are forever “at home with the Lord”. “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psa. 23:6). At last we will be dwelling with God—a communion that will never be interrupted for all eternity! In the Book of Revelation, describing heaven, John says: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).

There will be no need for a temple to have access to God, for we will be forever in the direct presence of God. In Romans 8:18 we read: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us”. All the suffering of a lifetime cannot be compared to one minute in heaven. On the other hand it can also be said that a lifetime filled with happiness cannot be compared to one minute in hell. No truer statement was ever made than “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last”.

There will be the absence of all bad things and the possession of everything good. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be there God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev.21: 3-4).

There will be no taint of sin there. No death, no growing old and infirm. All these things will be banished forever.

It is a place of peace and beauty, of joy and glory. We will be free from any hindrances to perfectly love Him in return. We will then honor Him and worship Him without any flaws; no hindrances from the old, fallen Adamic nature.

We shall serve Him. Heaven will not be a place of “plenty of time but nothing to do”. There will be much activity in Heaven. “His servants will serve Him” (Rev. 22: 3). Many get a false idea of lying around on clouds. It is true that “They will rest from their labor” (Rev. 22: 13).

But the word for “labor” here means “a painful strain” something that is never experienced in heaven where eternal, untiring youth and strength will be ours in carrying out service for God. We will enjoy our work. We will accomplish more in one hour than we did in our lifetime here. Weariness and boredom will never be experienced.

The sum of heavens glory is to be with Jesus. “So we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thess. 4:17). Jesus and heaven are bound up together. To love Him and serve Him here is the beginning of heaven in the soul; to see Him face to face will be heaven complete and everlasting.

What a day that will be when we gather in the Father’s house and the holy angels sit spellbound as we give our testimonies of the love and grace of God.

It is no wonder that God has not revealed more about the glories and joys of heaven. It would spoil us for this world and we would not want to stay here another moment. Even with what we do know of this place, we sometimes grow homesick for heaven, but we have a purpose to fulfill here on earth.

The Christian view of death is totally different from the conception of those who do not know Him who is “The Resurrection and the life”. They speak of “the great beyond”, “the unknown”, “the unexplored land”, “a leap in the dark”. A Bob Ingersol, the noted atheist, stood at the grave of his brother and said: “Life is narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing”. He was simply expressing the hopelessness of his unbelieving heart. But our hope is in Christ.

For the believer death is no tragedy but a glorious homecoming. It is not the sad end, but the glorious beginning. It is but the passing out of one life into a higher and better one, an exodus from this wilderness of sin and pain and sorrow, into a land of beauty, fellowship, joy and peace. Death is the swift passage into the life with Christ forevermore. It is the passageway into the Holy City, a quick journey home, at home with God.

Believers are to look up and fix their gazes heavenward. Christ has conquered death for us, and has made it the corridor of life and immortality. Fear not what lies beyond the grave in the mystery of eternity, Christ is there! In the 23rd psalm, that well-known passage of Scripture, David, speaking for the believer refers to walking through the “valley of the shadow of death”. Shadows cannot harm us. Death has lost its reality and terror, it is a mere shadow, it has lost its sting.

“Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15: 55-57).

One day a little boy came running to his mother screaming that a bee was after him. She covered him with her apron, until finally she said, “You can come out now”. He peeked out from her apron, “You see, the bee has stung mommy and has lost its stinger in mommy’s arm and cannot hurt you now”. He watched as the bee crawled harmlessly down her arm.

This is what Jesus has done for us. He has removed the sting of death by taking the stinger in His own heart and made it harmless for us. We can rest content in the words of our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17:24: “Father, I want those you have given Me to be where I am”. That prayer will be answered.

Those who belong to Christ have the assurance that when that day comes for them they will be more than ready to enter the Father’s house.

The assurance of heaven should make us better servants down here. It should free us from the pursuit of earthly pleasure and comforts. Christians are soldiers on the battlefield in a foreign land. Soldiers do not build mansions on the battlefield. They do not sit under palm trees fanning themselves. They are to fight battles. Their weapons are to be prepared and ready. Our battle is “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

We will have peace there. Here we are to work. We are exhorted “Let us not become weary in doing good, for AT THE PROPER TIME we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

Heaven is ours, but there is work to be done and rewards to be won if we “do not become weary in doing good”. We must use whatever time and opportunities we have while we still can. Our Lord said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). Some of us are farther along into the night of this life than others. We must use what time we have left to serve Him.

Heaven is the place of celebrating victories won, here is where we must win those victories. There we wear the crown, here is where we wield the sword. We are not to be as ease here. Lets us be faithful in testifying for our Lord and in separating from the worldly lusts that bog us down, and identifying ourselves with Him who is rejected by the world. May we realize that our lives are hid with Christ in God, and be found living out our days here below with an upward gaze.

To the unsaved: When the eternal God created Adam and Eve, He wove into their nature the hope of immortality which the succeeding centuries of sin and darkness were not able to erase completely from mankind’s inner being. God has put into man’s heart not only the consciousness of his limitations, but desires that take him far beyond his limitations. To perpetuate one’s name on earth is like writing in the sand by the seashore; to be lasting it must be written on eternal monuments.

If there is something in your heart that longs for something greater than this world offers, it was put there by God; it is a longing for Him. The only thing that stands between you and God is a Savior who was provided for us by God. The Lord Jesus Christ bore your sins on the cross. He paid the wages of sin for you. He rose from the dead and carries out the benefits of His death in behalf of those who trust Him. Whatever your preconceived ideas of God may be, He loves you and does not want you to perish. No matter how bad your past is He still loves you and wants to save you if you will turn from your sins and turn to Him.

You may say no to Him and die in your sins, but only because you choose to, and in the realm of darkness, the tender words of Jesus will forever haunt you: “You would not come to me that you might have life” (John 5:40).

No matter how miserable a person’s existence, they seldom want to die. Death carries with it a certain dread. From the day that the first couple laid their second born child in the grave, men have dreaded death. This mysterious enemy makes all quake with fear. It is no idle saying that “death makes cowards of us all”. But this fear has been removed for the children of God. The question of job: “If a man die, shall he live again”. Was answered by the empty tomb of Jesus who said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19).

Death has been the great leveler of all men. Your worldly greatness and wealth mean nothing. Death has conquered all; all but One. Death was powerless against Him. He allowed death to claim Him for three short days for our sins. Death could not hold the Lord of Life, and neither can it hold those who belong to Him.

Jesus is the only way to heaven, and anyone who tries to come any other way will be bitterly disappointed. Here is eternal life for the asking. Eternal life is not some thing, but some One: “For he that hath the Son hath life, but he that does not have the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

 

 

 

Doctrine of GOD

The knowledge of God is the most important thing about us. Not our doctrinal statements merely, but a practical understanding of the most important Person in of all. Mankind’s greatest problem is his problem with God. What is He like and how can we expect Him to act toward us? In fact, because we are God’s creation, this is our only problem. For if our relationship to God is wrong then ultimately nothing can be truly right. But if our relationship to Him is right then all else must ultimately turn out right. This is the deciding factor concerning our happiness and wellbeing.

Since God is too great to be comprehended by man’s finite understanding, any understanding that we do have must be revealed to us by God Himself or they could never be known. This revelation of God is found in the Bible. Without this revelation mankind is left to its own imagination concerning God.

Furthermore, any understanding of God brought about by man’s understanding must be in the image of man: as the Lord rebuked the wicked man in Psalm 50:21: “You thought that I was altogether like you”. This is the basis of all pagan religions, whether from the darkest unknown regions of the world to the modern humanist learning institutions that has set up human reasoning above the Word of God—that God is like man and flawed man at that.

God has revealed Himself and He holds us accountable for how we receive that revelation. All idolatry begins in the mind, as we are told in Romans 1:21-22: “ . . Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools”.

Then followed the worship of idols made after the likeness of men and animals: “And exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:23).

This is seen in the worship of pagan God’s of the backward societies or in the so-called more scientific and sophisticated worship of man in the religion of humanism. It is all the product of man’s darkened, fallen mind.

Since God is infinite he must possess attributes about which we can know nothing in our present state, which will be revealed more and more throughout eternity, as His redeemed creation marvels at the unfolding of His glorious Being. God has been pleased to reveal His attributes that affect us now.

God’s self-existence. God had no beginning. Our minds struggle with this because we are creatures of time and we cannot escape the concept of origin. Everything we know had a beginning and we cannot help but extend this concept toward God. The concept of origin can only apply to created things and separates God from all else.

There is no past or future with God, for He is independent of time. Everything is in the present for Him. Space, time and matter are creations of God and cannot affect Him. God’s self-existence is stated in exodus 3:14 in His words to Moses: “I am who I am”. God alone owes His existence to no one. Man is a sinner because he refused to acknowledge his dependence upon God and violated the relationship that existed between him and God. Instead of exalting God as the center of his universe, mankind took that position to himself and made everything revolve around himself.

In this man followed the downward path of Lucifer, who, filled with his own selfhood, said in his proud heart: “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly’ on the utmost height of the sacred mountain, I will ascend above the top of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High”. This is sin in its undiluted essence, yet because man is born a sinner, he is unaware that he is one. He thinks that making himself center stage in his life is normal and natural. He declares that the source of his selfhood lies in himself as he ascends the throne of his own life and declares, “I am God”.

God is eternal. “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). He is eternal but He is not old. Age has to do with time not eternity. Jesus Christ stepped out of eternity into time in order to redeem our fallen race. This is the message of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross: “ . . . Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (II Timothy 1:10). There are only two options open to us: Eternal happiness with Christ, or eternal tragedy without Christ. For those outside of Christ time is a ravaging monster, but for the children of God time is the hand that brings them into the presence of God.

God is infinite and omnipresent. These are closely related. Infinite means that God is not limited by time or space. Omnipresent means that God is present in all His fullness eveywhere in time and space. The teaching of Scripture is that God created all things by the Logos, the Word, who is identified as the second Person of the trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was present in the creation before He became incarnate in human nature. He made all things and remained in His creation to sustain it. But more than that He was the moral light that enables every man to know Good from evil (John 1:1-10). The universe is not sustained by a set of impersonal laws but by the infinite and universal presence of the Logos, the Word of God.

All created things are limited, only God is infinite. Mankind is limited and his sin is limited. The amazing and glorious message of the gospel is that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). This means that man’s limited sin was overwhelmed by God’s unlimited grace through Jesus Christ. His love and grace are measureless. His love for us went to the farthest extreme of giving His own Son to die for our sins.

The fact of God’s omnipresence personalizes man’s place in the universe, and gives meaning and value to his life, all his thoughts and actions. And even more than this: God dwells in every believer in Christ. He can dwell in each believer and hear all their prayers and give His full undivided attention to each one.

God is Omnipotent—Almighty. God has unlimited power. There is no power anywhere that is not His. Since He has all power, no one else can possess power that He did not give to them. The power He gives to others, He still possesses. It all flows out from Him and returns to Him. While He has delegated power to His creatures, He has not relinquished it. He gives but does not give away. What He gives still remains His. Since His power is unlimited He can do anything as easily as anything else. All He does is without effort.

In Isaiah 40:28-31 God Himself declares: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men shall stumble and fall; But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.

Here we are told that the Lord will impart strength to His weary and worn out children who will wait upon Him. When we feel that we cannot go on, we can go to Him and be renewed. And when we are old we can still go on when the youths all around us fail for lack of strength, if we will but wait upon Him for strength. In the meantime we can look forward to the day that we will receive new bodies that will be infused with eternal power, that will be sinless and never grow weary, be sick, grow old or die.

God is omniscient—All-knowing. He has always known everything. He knows everything that will happen or can happen. Psalm 147:5 declares: “His understanding has no limit”. His understanding is perfect. Since He is the source of all things He has perfect understanding of all things.

His creation can only know what He has given them to know. Only He is wise in Himself. Because God is all-knowing, He sees everything perfectly, The end from the beginning. He sees every detail in relation to all other details, and is able to bring about His predestined goals. He never has to guess, is never surprised or caught off guard, never makes a mistake.

God is holy. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:3). We can have no real concept of God’s holiness. It is truly unique. It is incomprehensible and unapproachable. When the best of men are approached by God in the Scriptures, they melt within themselves in His presence. They are filled with a non-rational fear of the created in the presence of the uncreated.

Holy is not merely how God acts but what He is. To be holy He does not conform to a standard, He is the standard. Because God is holy, holiness is the necessary moral condition for the well-being of the universe. Whatever is holy is healthy, whatever is evil is diseased. Sin is a disease that can only end in death.

God’s first concern for His fallen, sinful creation is its moral well-being. He shares His holiness with fallen men through imputation and impartation through the Lord Jesus Christ. The first step in His redemption of the human race was to provide righteousness and holiness through Christ. He first must deal with the CAUSE of sin, then He will deal with the CONSEQUENCES of sin. Both of these are remedied in Christ. Today God’s people can rejoice in the fact that they have been saved from sins penalty, while they look forward to the time when God will remove all the effects of sin.

 

Testimony by Allen Linn

At age 17, Allen Linn planned to rob a church with 3 other gang members. The church was having an evangelistic service on Sunday night. They played poker in a room next to the sanctuary. After the offering was collected it was locked in a room off the sanctuary.

As the sermon was ending and the altar call was soon to be given the 3 other members went out the back door and went around to the room where the offering was kept, while Allen went into the sanctuary and sat in the back row. The plan was for the others to go and break into the offering room, Allen would sit with the congregation, and when the altar call was given he would get up and go forward with the others who were accepting the altar call, but would turn and leave to meet the others and take the money and be gone before the service ended.

But something unexpected happened. Allen only remembers hearing the words of the Pastor: “Christ died for you sins”. Though he had heard these words before, this time it was like the voice of God. He could hear God say to him, “If you do not receive My Son, you will forever be saying to Him that you don’t care that He suffered and died for you”.

While totally confused by what was happening, he knew that he could not do that. He went forward and gave his life to Christ. Then remembering the other guys he quickly went there and found them stuffing money in their pockets.

It was all he could do to get those angry guys to stop. After that when he met with any of his gang it was to tell them how Christ died for their sins.

The Bible is GOD’s Revelation

The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. In the Bible God has revealed to mankind what could not be known apart from Divine revelation. . In I Corinthians 1:21, we are told “The world through its wisdom did not know Him” (NIV). In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 we read: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit”. Thus we could know nothing about God other than what He has been pleased to reveal to us.

While there were human writers it is inaccurate to refer to them as authors of the Scriptures because the true Author is God Himself, they were the penmen. We are told in II Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. The Scriptures themselves were breathed out by the Holy Spirit. They are the result of the creative breath of God.

In Scripture the breath of God refers to His Almighty creative power. Psalm 33:6 for example says: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth”. God’s breath is the creative outflow of His power. The penmen were like the musical instrument but God breathed into the instrument to   make the music.

God created mankind from the dust of the ground and breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living being. God’s breath is life-giving. As God breathed life into the first man He has breathed out life-giving power into His word. This is why we are told in Hebrews 4:12: “For the Word of God is LIVING and ACTIVE. Luther said “The Word of God has feet, it runs after me; The Word of God has hands, it lays hold of me”.

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:21). Like the sails of a boat they were carried along by the breath or wind of God. The writers were completely under divine control, and while their intelligence, vocabulary, writing style, etc., were involved, they were entirely controlled by the Holy Spirit. They were like the pen in God’s hand, so that the result was absolute perfection in all that was written. When writing something other than Scripture, the writers were as fallible as any other men.

Jesus and the apostles settled all disputes by appealing to Scripture with the words “It is written”. Jesus public ministry began with His being tempted by Satan and His victory over him with the words “It is written” (Matthew 4:4). John the Baptist’s ministry is legitimatized by the words “It is written” (Mark 1:2). The resurrected Jesus enlightened the disciples with these words: “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.

Then He opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24: 44-47).

The Apostles proved that Jesus was the Messiah by appealing to Scripture: “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Corinthians 15”3-4). Paul’s hearers were commended for testing Paul’s preaching by the Scriptures. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17: 11).

In every area of life the Scriptures were the sole, and final authority that could not be challenged. God prepared the human writers from before birth. Examples of this are seen in Jeremiah the prophet: “The word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘before I formed thee in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). And the apostle Paul: “ . . .God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles . . .” (Gal. 1:15-16).

The greatest proof that the Scriptures are the word of God is that the Lord Jesus Himself believed and taught the Divine authority of Scripture. He repeatedly said such things as “Have you never read?” and “It is written”, and “Search the Scriptures”.

He repeatedly alludes to the writings of Moses and the Prophets concerning events that take in the whole range Scriptural revelation. He rebukes His countrymen for their ignorance of the Scriptures and for making the Word of God void through their traditions. He said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”(John 5: 46-47).

The Scriptures were always on His mind. Throughout His last days leading to the cross, the words “The Scriptures must be fulfilled” are repeated over and over. After the last supper when He and His disciples went out to the Mount of Olives, He warned them, “You will all fall away, for it is written. Then He quotes Zechariah 13:7: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (Mark 14:27).

Jesus said that He could avoid the cross by calling upon twelve legions of angels. But He could not do so because “How then would the scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way” (Matt. 26:54).

After He rose from the dead He met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were dejected because of His crucifixion, He rebukes their lack of faith by saying: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-26).

 

 

 

 

 

SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST

This is the post excerpt.

SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST

Mankind was created by God and is accountable to Him. God created men and women for fellowship and blessing. They were His highest creation. He created a perfect earth on which they were to rule and serve Him. There was no pain, sickness, or death and a perfect environment. But mankind rebelled against his Creator and fell from his high position and became a sinner and alienated Himself from his God and pain, sickness and death came into the world.

This is why Scripture says “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). And

“For there is no difference: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3: 22-23).

The problem is not only the outward sins that we commit, but the inward source of these sins: mankind’s heart is sinful and by nature are alienated from God.

God is holy and righteous and cannot excuse sin. Mankind takes a light view of sin and refers to it as mere human weakness, but God declares that it is an abomination. We excuse our sins but God condemns them to an eternal hell. All the sorrow, tragedy, heartache and shame of human history are summed up in that one little word—- “SIN!”.

Some tell us that God is too good to judge sinners, but the truth is God is too good NOT to judge sin. It is His very goodness that condemns mankind. While God loves us He cannot deny His own holiness.

There was a judge during the civil war whose son was brought before him for treason. The judge came down from the bench and hugged and kissed his son, he wept and told him he loved him, and then returned to his judges bench and sentenced him to death.

A judge who allows criminals to go free is not a good man. His actions would not be commendable but an outrage. It is not corrupt judges that criminals fear but honest judges. It is justice that they fear, getting what they deserve and all mankind are declared criminals by a holy and just God.

While God’s holiness demands judgment for sin, His love longs for the sinner to return to Him, and without this judgment cannot be averted.

Like that judge during the civil war, God says He loves us, and then goes back to the judges bench and pronounces judgment upon all mankind. He has no choice as a Holy God but to condemn sin.

But unlike that civil war judge, after passing sentence God stepped down from His Judges Bench and He Himself took this punishment upon Himself in the sinner’s place. He did this in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.

In order to do this God had to take upon Himself humanity. This is the message of the Gospel. In John 1:1-3 we read:

“In the beginning was the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made”.

The “Word” here refers to Jesus Christ. Here the veil is pulled back to show His true identity. Then in John 1:14 we are told how He took upon Himself humanity in order to represent mankind:

“The Word was made flesh and lived for a while among us”.

Then Hebrews 2:14-17 goes on to tell us:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who were all their lives held in slavery by their fear of death.

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people”.

I Peter 2:24 tells how He made atonement for sin: “He Himself bore our sins in His body”.

Romans 4:25 says: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”.

Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.

I John 3:16: “This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His own life for us”.

And I John 4:9-10: “this is how god showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”.

And Jesus last words from the cross were: “It is finished” (John 19:30). His mission to redeem mankind was finished. The price for mankind’s sin was paid in full, and now God could receive sinners freely and give them eternal life through Jesus Christ.

 

Salvation can never be earned but is simply accepted freely by the sinner who turns from His sins and trusts in Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. The way to heaven is through Christ alone: He said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

We receive Christ through faith by trusting Him for salvation.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph.2:8-9).

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus did everything for us and all we have to do is receive Him. Salvation is a free gift and is ours for the taking by simply trusting in Jesus. It is now up to you. Jesus said: “You refuse come to Me to have life” (John 5:40).

Do you feel your need for Christ but are not sure how to receive Him? WANTING to receive Him is the main thing. Receiving Him is turning from you sins and simply choosing Him. How can you know that He will receive you? Because He says so:

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away”.

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