Posts Tagged ‘John 14:6’

‘We’re Living In The Very Last Days Of The Church Age… This Is The Time For Every Christian To Learn How To Live By Faith’

January 7, 2013

“I’m not going to ask you if you’re a Christian or if you’re saved.  I just want to know one thing: can you explain to me how the Bible says that someone can go to heaven?  What does somebody need to do to go to heaven?  Can you explain that to me?”

If you can’t answer that question, if you can’t answer the question that Jesus asked His disciples in Mark 8:29, “But who do YOU say that I am?”  You need to drop everything you’re worrying about and learn the answers to those two questions.  Because your life depends on it.

This is an excellent presentation by Hal Lindsey of what it means to live by faith.  Please watch:

Here’s Hal Lindsey’s website. I try to watch his program as it appears on TBN every Friday at 5 pm PST.

Here’s the sad reality: a lot of people think they’re “Christians” because they believe garbage that has absolutely nothing to do with what the Bible teaches.  St. Paul wrote:

“But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.  You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” — 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, NLT

There is a “different Jesus”; many different Jesuses, in fact.

Jesus stands completely unique in all of human history.  Because of the profound influence of Western Civilization upon the world, and because our very calender system revolves around the birth of the greatest and most influential person who ever lived, our very history literally revolves around Jesus.  The greatest problem true Christianity faces is not that no one has heard of Jesus; rather, the crisis is that every single religion has tried to hijack Jesus to their religion or worldview.  The Muslims have turned Jesus into a prophet of Islam; Buddhism has turned Jesus into an enlightened one like the Buddha who found true enlightenment but remained in our reality to help others.  Hindus have turned Jesus into an incarnation or avatar of Vishnu.  Secular humanists and liberals have amazingly turned Jesus into a modern-day Marxist who somehow wanted to give Caesar complete totalitarian power over the people via the vehicle of government economic redistributionism.

They’re all wrong.  Jesus said about Himself:

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

It is critical that we come to salvation by our personal decision to trust in Jesus to deliver us from our sins and from the hell we deserve if we are judged according to our own merit.  And that is because Jesus said:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” — Mark 10:45

Give His life?.

And:

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13

But why does Jesus talk about giving up His life as a ransom for many?  Why does He talk about laying down His life for His friends?

Just before Jesus cited what is now the most famous Bible verse in the world, Jesus said:

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” — John 3:14-16

Jesus was teaching what true salvation was.  He compared Himself to the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness and taught that He also had to be lifted up in order for humanity to be saved.  According to the Bible, the Jews during the Exodus turned against God, and God judged them with a plague of deadly serpents.  But God also gave the people the opportunity to be saved:

And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” — Numbers 21:9

Just as the bronze serpent hung on a pole, so Jesus would hang on the cross.  And just as anyone who looked at the bronze serpent would live, so also anyone who looked at Jesus dying on the cross would live.  Jesus taught that when He would be lifted up on the cross, anybody who looked upon Him and trusted that Jesus had sacrificed His life for theirs would be saved from the eternal death of hell.  God is holy.  There is no sin in Him at all.  And all who come to Him must be morally perfect without having ever committed one sin throughout their entire life.  And God gives us the opportunity to either trust in ourselves and our own righteousness for this coming judgment, or to trust in the righteousness of Jesus of Nazareth.  Because Jesus died in our place.  He took the blame for what we did.  And all He requires is for us to make that personal decision to trust in His death in our place and believe that when He rose bodily from the dead, He demonstrated His resurrection power to transform us both now and at the resurrection.  As Christ’s death in our place is activated by faith, God regards us with the righteousness of Jesus.  If we were to stand at the pearly gates, Jesus would appear and say, “This one’s with Me.”  And the gates would open.

That choice and the faith that makes that choice come to life in our hearts is such a simple way.  But there are many who pervert that message for their own agendas.

Now consider the words of John 1:1-3, 14, speaking about Christ:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being…  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-3 makes it abundantantly clear that when Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), He meant that they are one in deity, in sharing the divine nature.  There is a simple poem that goes:

He came to die on a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood.

Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh, was the Creator of the world as described by Genesis 1:1.  All things were created through HIM.  And apart from Him NOTHING was created that has ever come into being.  The Creator of man, who created man in His own image, did so knowing that He would one day assume that image of man so that He could show mankind what the Father was like and redeem humanity through His work as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  And that work was completed on the cross, such that everyone who looks at Him through faith could be saved.  Because, as Jesus said, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever
believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Paul writes in Romans 5:12 that just as sin came into the world by one man (Adam), so also was the free gift of God offered by one Man, the Man Jesus Christ (Romans 5:15).

In that act on the cross, God died for us.  God took on a human nature so He could experience the full life of a man and die the full death of a man, to atone for the sin that every single member of the human race had committed.  He took the blame for us; He died in our place when it should have been we who died for our sins.  The Bible is abundantly clear: we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and not even ONE of us isn’t guilty (Romans 3:10); we have all fallen far short of the glory that God created us for as His image bearers; and we are therefore all guilty of death (Romans 6:23).  How many of you can even say you’ve never violated your own conscience, let alone God’s perfect holiness?  But God gave man an opportunity to live and not die (Romans 5:8) by providing His Son for us to stand in our place if we would let Him.  Just as God gave the Jews in the Exodus a chance to live by providing them with the bronze serpent on the pole for Moses to lift up in the wilderness.  And all you have to do is look upon Jesus, upon the Son of God, and believe that He did that for you.  All you need to do is recognize that you are a sinner, deserving of death, but that God wants you to LIVE by putting your faith not in yourself, but in His beloved Son.  And you will be saved.

You need to meet the Jesus of the Gospels and then meet the apostles He entrusted to carry that Gospel message to the rest of the world.

Salvation through Jesus is so simple that small children can give their little hearts to Jesus; it is so amazingly deep that the most brilliant minds in history – earth-transforming minds such as Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal – have marvelled at the unfathomable mysteries of the Cross of Christ.

But what happens after we’re saved?  How should we live?  How should we act?

J. Vernon McGee said, “Now, you might have a better plan than God, but what you don’t have is your own universe.”  The Cross is God’s way of addressing man in his most dire need in His state of bondage to sin and the spiritual and ultimately physical death that resulted from that sin.  You may not like it; but it IS God’s way and God offers only ONE way to be saved.

Let me ask you a question: if you were God, is this how you would have dealt with a wicked human race that was capable of uniting only to shake its fist at you?  It sure isn’t how I would have come if I were God.  Rather than taking on a lowly human nature and being born as a helpless baby in a stable lying in a food trough for animals, I would have appeared as a giant ready to stomp on all who defied me.  That’s man’s way.  It isn’t God’s.  Which is why I actually thank God I’m NOT God, because I myself need God’s love and mercy far more than I need His power and His wrath.

God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  You need to get that reality through your head every single day if you want to live a Christian life.  You will find that God has a radically different way of dealing with the world than human beings have devised.  Jesus described God’s ways to His disciples:

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.  It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” — Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus told us to love our enemies.  He told us to bless those who curse us.  He told us to do good to those who hate us.  He told us to pray for those who spitefully use us (Matthew 5:43-48).  How can you possibly live like that?  How could anybody?  By one thing and ONLY by one thing: by faith in Jesus Christ, who provided in His life and atoning death the ultimate example of what it means to live by faith.

This episode of Hal Lindsey is a great attempt to explain what living by true biblical Christian faith looks like.  I pray that you will watch it.  And then watch it again.

I also agree with Hal Lindsey that we are truly in the very last days before the Rapture of the Church and the coming Tribulation.  In my own experience, we have reached that point as a toxic culture such that America has crossed its moral Rubicon.  What I saw demonstrated in November, 2012 was that by the time America wakes up, it will be too late.  We are already over $225 trillion in debt as of now and we just decided in our vote for Obama and Democrats that we are determined to do absolutely nothing but recklessly increase that spending (our debt is increasing at nearly $1 trillion every single MONTH now) until we implode in the mother of all great depressions.  A complete global collapse is coming soon – and it will be out of this coming collapse that the Antichrist emerges.

The Bible tells us that greed and sexual immorality and self-gratification and every other sin that the world offers is an illusion.  It will never permanently satisfy – and we are just left wanting more and more until that addiction destroys us.  And given the fact that all of this is going to be taken away – first by economic collapse and later by death and judgment – we should live as if faith and only faith is real.  Christians need to be seeking that faith right now because it is the only thing that is ultimately truly valuable.

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In Easter We Can Know That God Loves Us With His Life

April 4, 2010

What is the message of Easter?  It is that Jesus of Nazareth conquered death.  It is that “He is risen, just as He said” (Matthew 28:6).  And in rising bodily from the grave, it is that Jesus was vindicated in everything He said about Himself.  The One who said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) put to the lie the Pharisee’s mockery that “He saved others, but He can’t save Himself” (Matthew 27:42).  In rising from the dead, Jesus demonstrated that He is indeed “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Over the centuries, Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike have provided many arguments for the existence of God.  But the Bible never makes any such attempt.  God’s existence is as much assumed as is our existence; and to question one’s existence would be as silly as to question one’s own existence.  Thus, the first words of the Bible are, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  We are told, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14:1).  Paul says in Romans:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

And James tells us, “You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that – and shudder” (James 2:19).

There is clearly a great deal more to the Christian faith than merely believing in the existence of God.

On my view, in agreement with St. Paul above, I believe that the existence of God has been made plain.  It is no amazing thing to believe in God; and as Alvin Plantinga has pointed out, such belief is properly basic.

Believing in God is not the “hard part” about being a Christian.  You want to know what is?  Believing that God – the creator of space and time, energy and matter – loves me and cares about meTHAT’S the hard part.

And that’s exactly the part that Easter morning speaks to.

Take a look at Eli Weisel’s Night, written from the vantage point of a Holocaust death camp survivor:

The first night in camp turned Elie’s life completely. It was the first time he learned how people could be so cruel to the others, it was the night that turned his dream to dust, and it was the night he lost the faith in God. From that day on, although many people believed the concentration camp is where the God tests them, judges their characters, and proves that God loved them, Elie doubted the God’s absolute justice. As time went by, Elie became accustomed to all the horrors he had experienced. Unlike the beginning of the book, which he take care the neighbors with all he can do for them, now he cared only the food but no one else. He was numb to the burning body, to the beating and to the hard works. But one day, the last hope was torn away from Elie when he had to witness the hanging of a small boy. “For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes.” (62) A man behind Elie asked, “Where is God? Where is He?….Where is God now?”  A voice inside Elie answered, “Where is He? Here He is-He is hanging here on this gallows…” (62) At this moment, Elie’s world was collapsed, and the God was murdered.

In this account, God hanging on the gallows represents the death of God, in the sense of extinction.  But there is another side to this story.  Because God Himself – in the form of the Son of God who had assumed a human nature so that He could live a perfect human life and die a substitutionary death for the sins of mankind – actually DID hang on a cross.

Our suffering certainly doesn’t prove the death of God when God Himself has entered into our suffering.  Rather, God suffered so that He could ultimately put an end to suffering.

God is not dead.  He did die for us.  But death could not keep Him down.  He rose from the grave.  He conquered death.  And He is now gloriously alive forevermore as the first fruits of resurrection life that one day every believer will experience.

Easter assures us that God did not create planet earth to serve as His fishbowl.  He is not looking dispassionately down at earth.  In the Incarnation of the Son of God, God demonstrated that He not only cared about His creation, but was willing to go to the farthest possible lengths to save His wayward creation and win it back to Himself.

The Incarnation of God is the greatest love story ever told.  The Son of God – God Himself in every way – chose to temporarily set aside key attributes of deity and assume a human nature.  God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) so that one day He could become a man.

And so God came into the world, born of a humble virgin into a carpenter’s family.  Perfect God became a perfect man; Jesus obeyed His Father perfectly, and never sinned even once, so that He could be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Jesus said of His own purpose, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Jesus said, “No one can take my life from me.  I sacrifice it voluntarily.  For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:18, NLT).  And Jesus allowed His life to become a sacrifice in such a terrible, humiliating, painful manner that no decent human being could have been able to even look upon His death, let alone endured it.  He allowed men who were literally filled with demons to unleash their rabid hatred upon Him.  And He demonstrated His compassion, love, and mercy even for those who were torturing Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Before He was crucified, Jesus was flogged in a manner that literally stripped Him to the bone, and ripped out chunks of flesh and muscle.  His body was very likely already dying.  A jagged crown of thorns was shoved onto His head as a form of further mockery.  And then He was forced to carry His own instrument of execution as He stumbled agonizingly along the Via Dolorosa (Latin for “the way of grief”) while jeering crowds mocked Him.

“And they crucified Him” (Mark 15:24).

Death by crucifixion was the most extreme Roman penalty.  Crucifixion is without question the most painful and humiliating form of official death penalty ever devised.  The word “excruciating” was Latin, and means, “out of the cross.”  The victim was displayed naked, and his slow death by suffering available for all to see as a warning to any who would dare to threaten the supremacy of Rome.

Here is a medical account of the suffering inflicted by crucifixion:

Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood.  The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist.  He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood.  Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexibility and movement.  The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed.  The victim is now crucified.  As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain – the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.  As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this wrenching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet.  Again there is the searing agony of the the tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet.

At this point, another phenomenon occurs.  As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain.  With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward.  Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act.  Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled.  Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath.  Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside.  Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.

Jesus’ suffering was not merely physical.  His emotional and spiritual suffering were as unparalleled in human history as was his bodily suffering.  The Son of God had known eternal loving relationship with the Father.  But on the cross, Christ became a sin offering – And in His agony His Father was forced to turn away from Him.  Galatians 3:13 tells us, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Jesus suffered as no human being has ever suffered.  And yet Jesus wasn’t a helpless victim.  We have heard Jesus say prior to His crucifixion that He would sacrifice His life voluntarily (John 10:18).  As the soldiers, priests, and mob came to arrest Him at Gethsemane, Jesus said to His disciples who tried to protect Him, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52).  A legion was 6,000, meaning 72,000 angels would have come to save the Son of God at His bidding.

For the record, ONE angel put one hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrian warriors to death in one night (2 Kings 19:35).

So why on earth would Jesus have allowed Himself to be so horribly tortured and killed when He could have stopped it?

Because of His love for me.  And for you.

We talk about love all the time.  But we can’t even begin to fathom the depths of Christ’s love for us.

The last recorded word from Jesus on the cross was “Tetelestai.”  It is usually translated, “It is finished.”  But there is so much that we can learn from how that word was used in Roman culture at the time of Christ.  “Tetelestai” was used to stamp “paid” upon a receipt, and it was also the stamp put on a criminal’s charges once he had completed his sentence.  Paid in full.

In His substitutionary death, Christ paid the price for our sins.  All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  But Christ paid the price for us in full.

As I said earlier, “the hard part” of Christianity is believing the incredible concept that the Creator of the entire universe actually loves and cares about me.  There’s your real miracle.  It’s believing that no matter what my temporary situation might look like, I’m NOT alone and unloved; rather, I am loved by a God who literally loves Me with His life!  But there is more.  There is more than we could ever imagine.

What is the meaning of Easter?

It is summed up in Philippians 2:5-11:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

And because Christ was raised from the dead to glory, so also will those who love Him.

1 Corinthians 15: 50-57:

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“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.

What is the meaning of Easter?  On Easter morning, after loving humanity with His life, Christ was raised from the dead.  The Resurrection and the Life conquered death once and for all.  And He paid for our sins so that we could share eternal life in heaven with God. That’s good news indeed to anyone who wants to go to heaven rather than hell, but who isn’t as righteous and sinless and perfect as God.

Before He was taken away to be beaten, flogged and crucified, Christ assured His first followers:

“In my Father’s house are many rooms;
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you to be with me
that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).

And Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead is all I need to know to believe that a beautiful room in the very house of the Father awaits me.  What incomprehensible joy awaits those who love Christ!

Christ loved us with His life (past tense); He now loves us with eternal life in Him and with Him.

And so every Easter, Christians from all over the world joyfully greet one another and say, “He is risen!”  “He is risen indeed!”