Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus is Lord

The Supremacy of Jesus Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

  • Ephesians 1:3-14

This wonderful passage of Scripture has often been used to teach individual, unconditional election.  Calvinists often turn to this text and to others such as John 6 or Romans 9 to try to teach that God elects His elect based on His own sovereignty and He hardens the non-elect to damnation in hell for His glory.  Romans 9:22 speaks of God choosing to show His wrath and make His power known through objects of His wrath that He prepared for destruction.  John Calvin clearly saw double predestination in this verse and interpreted it that way.  R.C. Sproul Sr. likewise sees Romans 9:22 as affirming double predestination though he seeks to avoid this.  Others such as John MacArthur see Romans 9:22 as graceful toward the reprobate as the text says that God has great patience toward the non-elect.  My question would be why?  Why does God have patience toward the reprobate?  If God prepared for their destruction and misery in hell, why does He have patience with them?  What is God being patient for?  It cannot be for their salvation since God does not offer them salvation.

Ephesians 1:3-14 is another abused text.  Rather than focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Calvinist theologian turns to man. I argue that Calvinism, in this text, is man-centered as it looks to mankind as the focus of the text rather than on Jesus Christ whom I see as the focus of Ephesians 1:3-14.  The text is very much focused on Jesus with Jesus dominating the text.  Jesus is the elected one.  He is the chosen one of Israel.  Jesus is the elect one.  Even in Ephesians 1:4 we see that God has chosen us in Christ Jesus.  Jesus is the ark of our salvation.  Just as Noah escaped the wrath of God in the flood in Genesis 6:13-14; 7:1-10, so the child of God escapes the wrath of God in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 3:18-22).  Jesus has bore the wrath of God for those in Him (Romans 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).  The Father is just to punish sin and He must punish all sin but if we trust in Christ alone through faith, we are justified in Him (Romans 3:24-26).

Too often the object of election is the person.  The Calvinist will argue that God in His sovereignty chose people from among the lump of sinful humanity (Romans 9:21) to save by His grace.  God did this before time began.  The Calvinist argues that only this view of election protects the sovereignty of God from the abuse that Arminians bring.  However, in reality the Calvinist doesn’t begin with a Christocentric view of election (as Arminius does) but rather they begin with the sovereignty of God and to a lesser point, the glory of God.

The Arminian begins with the Lord Jesus Christ.  The love of God is manifested in the Son.  Jesus is the exact representation of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:15).  Jesus is the representation of God because He is God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14).  Jesus fully revealed God (Colossians 2:9).  What we don’t see when we study Jesus in the Gospels is unconditional election.  Instead we see Jesus calling all sinners to Himself to repent and have life (Matthew 11:28-30).  We read that God has sent His Son to die for the sins of the world (John 1:29; 3:16).  We read that Jesus is the Savior of the world (John 4:42).  We read that Jesus will lay down His life for the sheep (John 10:15) and we read that He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  We read Jesus telling His disciples to love their enemies to be like God (Matthew 5:44-48) yet are we to believe that God, if the Calvinist view is true, really loves His enemies?  We read of Jesus telling the rich young man how to obtain eternal life (Mark 10:17-19) and Mark even says that Jesus loved him (Mark 10:21) which could not be true if Romans 9:22 teaches that the reprobate are damned by God.

From the start of the Gospels to the end of Revelation, we read of our God calling out to sinners to repent and believe the gospel (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; Revelation 22:17).  Even Calvinists acknowledge this.  Calvinist evangelists plead with sinners to repent just as Arminians do.  Yet I argue that they are not consistent with their theology.  They labor under the view that God alone knows who the elect are and thus we must preach the gospel to all men and call all to salvation though God will save only those whom He has chosen.  Yet if God will save the elect, He will save the elect.  What has that to do with us?  I know the standard answer is that preaching is the means to salvation but I argue that the reason preaching is the means is that God truly desires all to be saved and to come to the Lord Jesus for eternal life (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Jesus died for all men but only those who appropriate His saving work are saved (1 Timothy 4:10).  The gospel must go out because the gospel is the means to salvation (Romans 1:16-17; 10:14-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Ephesians 1:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

Let us now return to Ephesians 1:3-14.  The key to this text is Jesus.  We should not be looking for predestination in this text.  That is not the focus.  The focus is Jesus.  If you begin your hermeneutic as Jesus and not your ism, you’ll not fail (Hebrews 12:2).  While I confess that we bring our presuppositions to the text, we should strive to filter our presuppositions through Jesus.  Does our view focus on the Jesus who is revealed in Scripture?  Is our view a view of Jesus who shed His blood for all?  Is our view a view of Jesus that truly desires to save sinners?  Is our view focused on exalting Jesus Christ?  If our view is doing nothing but furthering our pet doctrines but not exalting Jesus, we should rethink our position.

I urge you to re-read Ephesians 1:3-14 with an eye on Jesus.  Notice how much the text lifts Him up.  Notice how much Jesus is exalted in the text.  The center of attention here is not the sovereignty of God in unconditional election but the focus is on Jesus.  Mankind is not the focus.  Arminianism or Calvinism is not the focus.  The focus is on Jesus.  Just as all of Scripture testifies to this fact (Luke 24:27, 44-49).  John 20:31 is clear that these are written (the Gospel of John here but all of Scripture as well according to 2 Timothy 3:15-17) that we might believe in Jesus and have life.

Friend, the focus of Scripture is Jesus.  Jesus is supreme.  Jesus alone is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).  Jesus is the exalted one (Philippians 2:5-11).  Jesus is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Jesus is the cornerstone of the Church (1 Peter 2:7).  Jesus is the apostle and high priest of our faith (Hebrews 3:1).  Jesus is the one who is worthy of worship and praise (Revelation 5:13).  The heart of the Bible and of Christianity is Jesus.  It is not a prophet or a building or a place or a ritual or a church group.  The heart of Christianity is the Lord Jesus Christ who died and is risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 17).

May Jesus be preached, worship, adored, and proclaimed among the saints of God!  Praise be to His glorious grace!

Looking For Ourselves or Christ in Scripture?

We live in a narcissistic age when everything is aimed at us.  Commercials are aimed at us.  Even religion is aimed at us.  The seeker movement and the new “vision casting” movement (along with the now dying emergent movement) is all aimed at us.  The church exist for us.  The church exist to please us.  The church is here to help us.  Even God Himself is being cast now as the One who exists to help us.  God wants our lives to be happy, joyful, fun, full of money and stuff.  We are told that if God had a refrigerator, we would be on it with our selfies.  God created the world for us.  God sent His Son for us.  God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives (or so we are told).

In the midst of this are preachers who preach to this age.  Like those in 2 Timothy 4:3, these teachers teach what this generation wants to hear: that we are special and unique and all.  The seeker churches now cater not just to the lost (unchurched – sorry about that) but now to the selfies folks as well.  The music is aimed to please.  The sermon will not be theological at all and will be so relevant because it is aimed at you.  The prayers will be short and sweet and to the point with their good friend God listening in.  You won’t hear words such as repentance, forsaking sin, holiness, intercession, seeking God, treasuring Christ, the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  You’ll just hear cool, hip preachers who tell story after story about what they do, what they are like, their stories, their humor.  After all, the preacher (while trying to be real to the folks) must also bear the burden of being part of the selfie generation.  So roll out the Nintendo’s and roll out the movie screens and get ready to watch the vision-casting leader promote themselves while trying to connect to the selfies in the crowd.

But what if Scripture is not about us?  What is Scripture is about Jesus instead?  Me just writing those words probably sends chills through the selfies.  The thought that Jesus should be the focus of God or the Bible is something we simply don’t want to hear.  We want to believe that the promises of God are for us.  We want to believe that the Bible is “God’s love letter to us.”  We want to believe that the Bible is written for us and about us.  So no wonder we have preachers preaching from 1 Samuel 17 and finding parallels between David’s fight with Goliath and our own fights with giants (depression, a move, a marriage, etc.).  We have preachers preaching that the resurrection of Jesus was not just about Jesus rising from the dead but our own resurrections as well such as the death of a dream, the death of relationship, or the death of our businesses.  God wants to raise them too just as He did Jesus!

What if all that is wrong?  What is the story of David and Goliath is about, well David?  What if the resurrection of Jesus is not about us per se but about Jesus rising from the dead to the glory of the Father?

Jesus makes a statement in John 5:39-40 that we don’t want to read but need to.  The text says:

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Notice that Jesus says the Scriptures reveal Him!  One can read the Bible (just as the Pharisees did whom Jesus was address in this text) and miss Jesus!  In this generation, selfie preachers focus on themselves with clever stories about themselves yet they (and their hearers) miss Jesus.  In reality, most seeker preachers these days are not even preaching the Bible anymore but instead are preaching their journey stories.  They are not even trying to pretend to be preaching the gospel.  Gone are the days of the 1990’s when seeker preachers at least mentioned Jesus and perhaps tried to teach a text of Scripture.  Now it just stories about the preacher and props to help the hearers connect with the story.

Yet Jesus said that Scripture is about Himself and not us.

In Luke 24:27 Jesus taught His disciples that Scripture was about Himself.  In Luke 24:44 Jesus even says words that the selfies would not want to hear: that the Scriptures are written about Himself.  John writes that when we read the Scriptures, they are written so that we might believe in Jesus (John 20:31).

So what about the promises?  2 Corinthians 1:20 says that they are about Jesus.  The focus of the Bible is on Jesus.  The focus of the Bible is not on us.

How should this effect our Bible reading?  It should make us focus on Christ and His glory.  When we read the Old Testament: look for Christ.  When we read the New Testament: look for Christ.  Christ is the glorious One.  Christ is the exalted One (Philippians 2:5-11).  Christ is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Christ is the One who speaks to the Father in our defense (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).  Christ is our everything!  In Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

So many go to the Bible looking for themselves or even a theology.  I use to read the Bible looking for Arminianism or even passages against Calvinism.  Now I just want to know Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  I don’t want to see this system or that.  I want to know Christ.  I want to love Him more and be closer to Him (Luke 14:25-35).  I want to be like Christ but I know this only comes through knowing Christ.  I do see myself as I draw closer to Christ and I see what selfies would not want to hear: that I am a sinner in need of this Savior (Romans 7:7).  The more I read and study of Jesus the more I see that He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and I am the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) so I know He came to save a wretch like me.  Oh I see myself as I read but it is not good (Romans 3:23).  Thankfully God is good and I see His goodness in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15; 2:9-10).  That God loves this flea is amazing to me!  The lower I see myself going, the higher I see the glory of Christ Jesus!

This has amazing results.  Prayer is no longer about me.  Worship is no longer about me.  Evangelism is no longer about me or even the people I witness to.  Church is no longer about me.  Creation itself is no longer about me.  The Bible is not about me!  Everything is focused on One: the Lord Jesus Christ.  All of creation, everything in creation is focused on Christ and His glory!  I want to preach Christ (2 Corinthians 4:5).  I want others to join in and worship the only One who is worthy to be worshiped!  Christ is the highest philosophy.  Christ the greatest study of science.  Christ is the One who is adored in true art.  Christ is the greatest example of a Man.  Christ is God.  Christ is worthy to be praised and adored and worshiped.  I want to know Christ more.  Not me.

Christ’s Resurrection As Our Foundation

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith.
– 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 (HCSB)

The cornerstone of my faith in God is Christ Jesus.  You take Christ out of my faith, I have no faith.  I believe all that is written about Him in the Bible from the promise given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 to the fulfillment of the ages when Christ shall reign victoriously forever in Revelation 22.  I hear the rebuke of Jesus (Luke 24::25-26) and I respond in faith that He is who He says that He was, the very Son of God who came to take away our sins (John 1:29).  I believe the testimony of the Apostles, that Jesus is alive forever more (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)!  I stand with Paul the Apostle and declare that He will see all His enemies under His feet including death (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

My faith isn’t based on reason alone.  My faith isn’t based on the teachings of Jesus alone.  My faith is reasonable (Acts 26:25).  I do believe that the words of Jesus are faithfully recorded in the Bible for me to study and live (John 8:31-32).  Yet my faith is in a historical person, in what He accomplished.  I believe with Isaiah the Prophet that Jesus went to the cross for my sins (Isaiah 53:4-6) and this pleased the Lord (Isaiah 53:10).  I believe that Jesus alone now turns away the holy wrath of God against my sins (Romans 5:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).  I believe that I now have no condemnation before God the Father because of the work of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1) and I am declared righteous before a holy God through faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26 HCSB).  Jesus now sits by the right hand of God signifying His position of authority (Matthew 28:18) and power (Psalm 110:1).  Jesus now prays for the saints of God (Hebrews 7:25) till the kingdom of God is fully come (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28).

Jesus I now proclaim!  He is my message (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  Jesus is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16-17).  What Jesus did is what I preach!  My focus, my worship, my thoughts, my affections, my desire are all aimed at one person, the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 14:25-35).  I want to see Him glorified in everything I say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17).  I now have access into the holy presence of a holy God through the holy Son of God (Hebrews 4:14-16).  Jesus is my high priest by whom I pray and worship God (Hebrews 9:14).  Through Jesus, the Lord has removed the blinders so that I now see Him exalted and glorified (2 Corinthians 3:12-18).  He is my everything (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)!

I know that when I die, I will not leave a large mark on human history.  I will not go down in the history books for my great accomplishments or acts of valor.  I will not go down in history as a great poet, a great writer, or a leader.  Yet that is okay with me.  I know Jesus and that makes all the difference in the world to me (2 Timothy 1:12).  In eternity, Jesus will be all that matters (John 3:18).  No one else will matter.  Nothing else will matter.  Only what is done for Christ will last forever (1 Corinthians 3:11).  This is why Jesus must be our foundation.  He must be the one that we build our lives upon or we fail (Matthew 7:24-27).  Jesus must be the one that we preach or we fail (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).  Jesus alone is the only one who can save us from the wrath of God (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:4-5).

As I celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, I pray that others will repent and see that Jesus alone is the only way to God (John 14:6).  The answer for us fallen humans is not religion.  The answer is not a church group or the moral teachings of great people.  The answer is Jesus alone!  Our foundation must be built on Jesus alone or we fail.  The hope for the nations is the Lord Jesus Christ.  May His kingdom come (Matthew 6:10)!

I say with Paul here in 1 Corinthians 15:14, that if Jesus is not risen from the dead, our faith is without a foundation and is pointless.  Yet if Jesus is alive (and He is!) then this makes all the difference in the world for the disciple of Christ (1 Peter 3:18).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/04/2015 at 10:46 PM

The Chief of Sinners

I listen to a sports podcast in which they end it with their dopes of the week.  I always want to say, “I am the biggest dope that I know.”  I know some will not share my views here and will respond that we should only see ourselves in a positive light in view of the cross and what Christ has done in saving us.  I understand where they are coming from.  They want me to make only “positive confessions” about myself.

Yet I do see myself as the biggest dope.  It had nothing to do with comparing myself to you.  It has to do with me comparing myself to Jesus Christ.  The Bible is clear that Jesus was (and remains forevermore) absolutely perfect.  Jesus never sinned.  Jesus never erred in His judgments.  Jesus never committed adultery in His heart. Jesus never struggled with pride.  Jesus was tempted in all points as we are but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).  Jesus was perfect in word, thought, and deed always and He never failed to obey the Father perfectly from beginning to end.  Jesus said in John 6:38 that He came to do the will of the Father and not His own will.  This is why the Lord Jesus was given the name that is above every name, for His perfect obedience to the Father (Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 5:8-9).

Not so with me.  I have erred in my judgments.  I have committed adultery in my heart.  I have lied.  I have been greedy.  I have been full of pride.  I have wasted my time.  I have not always obeyed the Father nor can I say that I always do God’s will.  Jesus said in John 8:29 that He always does that which pleases the Father.  That is not me.  I am not even close.

So I am the biggest dope I know.  Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15 that Jesus came into the world to save sinners and he was chief (NKJV).  That is me.  I feel that way.  Not because I am comparing myself to you but because I compare myself to Jesus.  He is perfect.  I am not.

This makes the doctrine of salvation so precious to me.  Who am I that Jesus would die for me?  Who am I that He should love me?  Why does He tolerate me so?  If it were up to me, I would cast me away but He doesn’t.  He keeps convicting me and calling me walk after Him (John 16:8).  I don’t deserve this life (John 10:10) but His grace and mercy blow me away.

I know I am the chief of sinners.  I know I am the biggest dope there is.   This is not false humility here.  I see myself in light of the cross.  I know my wicked heart.  That makes the work of Jesus so precious to me.  That He took my sins (2 Corinthians 5:21).  That He prays for me before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).  That this salvation is not based on me but upon Him (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  That He came to take away my sins (Galatians 1:4).  That He is my salvation completely (1 Corinthians 1:30) so that I cannot boast (1 Corinthians 1:31).

Oh what grace Jesus has shown this sinner!  Oh what goodness Jesus has given unto me!  How can I not praise Him?  How can I not rejoice in the saving work of the Lord Jesus?  Oh how great is His love (1 John 3:1-3) and how great is His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10)!

Jesus came to save sinners and I am the dopiest of them all.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/15/2014 at 4:59 PM

Short Thoughts on Pastor Worship

One of the reasons that Calvinism has become popular in our day probably has a lot to do with pastor worship above Bible study.  I am convinced that many of the “new” Calvinists (the so-called “young, restless, and Reformed”) are convinced of Calvinism not because they actually read Calvin or Arminius and not because they actually took the time to seriously consider Arminianism but because of pastor worship.  Calvinism has a bunch of “cool” pastors and this has caught the eye of the young.

The names of the pastors that Calvinists worship can be long.  John MacArthur.  John Piper.  RC Sproul.  James White.  Matt Chandler.  Mark Driscoll.  Tim Keller.  CJ Mahaney.  Joshua Harris.  Sam Storms.  Wayne Grudem.  Many of these men are godly men indeed and I am not attacking them.  I am attacking the worship of these men.  I often get asked to name top Arminian preachers and top Arminian theologians and we have had our John Wesley’s, our EM Bound’s, our Leonard Ravenhill’s, our Francis Asbury’s.  We have had our pastors that we elevated and we Arminians have been guilty of lifting up men as well.  Yet modern Arminianism doesn’t have the superstars that Calvinism currently has.  Perhaps that will change but for now, I am grateful that we don’t have superstar pastors.

Scripture does teach us to acknowledge godly men (see 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:7). Biblical leaders are to be servants (Matthew 20:26-27; 1 Peter 5:1-4).  Biblical leaders are not to be superstars.

In Acts 3 Peter the Apostle could have focused the attention on himself after the Lord used him to do a great healing.  Yet Peter cries out in Acts 3:12-16:

12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

The focus was clearly to be on the Lord Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul the Apostle wrote:

5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

Who is Apollos?  Who is Paul?  In our day, they would be superstars.  Yet Paul clearly wants the focus to be on God alone.  After all, it is God alone who saves!

I could name many godly men who have spoken into my life.  Some of them are godly Calvinists.  Some of them are godly Arminians.  Yet in the end my focus must be on the Lord.  Flesh will let you down (Jeremiah 17:5).  The closer I have got over the years to other godly men the more I realize that we all need Christ.  Not one of us have arrived.  We all still struggle to be like Christ.  Some of us are further up the road than others and we should rejoice in that but our focus must be on Christ.  Christ must be our gospel.  Pastors and church leaders will never save one soul.  All of them are just like us: sinners redeemed by grace.

If Arminianism does see a future growth, I pray that it will be because we proclaim Christ.  In fact, I don’t even want to make Arminians.  I want to make disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19).  Arminius needed Jesus just as Calvin did.  Our faith is in Jesus and not in the doctrines of Arminius.  It is saving faith in Jesus that saves (Romans 5:1) and not faith in Arminius.

For my Calvinist friends, I pray that same for you.  I pray that your faith is not in Calvin or Spurgeon or MacArthur but in Jesus alone.  Jesus saves sinners and not Calvinists or Arminians (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:15).  Jesus redeems those who call upon His name (Romans 10:13) and not merely those who use the term Calvinist.

Our faith must not be in men for they will fail.  Our faith must be in Christ alone.  He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  Christ alone is the one who is praying for me before the Father (Hebrews 7:25) and not Arminius.  When I die, it will not be the names of great church leaders who will rescue me from the wrath to come but the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  It is the name of Jesus that alone saves (Acts 4:12).

Let us all pray, both Arminians and Calvinists, for the name of Jesus and His gospel to be proclaimed.  Let us declare that Jesus alone and not Arminius or Calvin or Wesley or Augustine is our Savior.  In the end, every knee will bow to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Psalm 110:1; Philippians 2:5-11).  I will bow my knee now.

Be Holy

I want to add that this post is for me but I wanted to share it with any readers who also long to be holy.

The Bible says for us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Holiness is not merely a state that we are in by virtue of the work of Christ (Hebrews 10:10) but it also is an ongoing battle that the Spirit of God helps us with (Galatians 5:16-17; Hebrews 10:14).  We are called to holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and we are called to forsake our sins (1 Corinthians 15:34).  We are called to count as dead our flesh (Romans 6:11) and to present our members unto the Lord (Romans 6:12-14).  We are called to put on the new self created in righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24).  We are called to follow the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:21-24) and to be righteous (1 John 3:10).

So be holy.  Be holy in what you say (Ephesians 4:29; James 3:10).  Be holy in what you think about (Psalm 19:14; 104:34; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8).  Be holy in what you do with your body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).  Be holy in all your conduct (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Be holy as God is holy.

Don’t make poor excuses for your sinning.  Repent of your sins (Acts 3:19).  Don’t ignore your sins.  Don’t ignore your areas of weakness.  Repent of them and look to Christ alone to save you from your sins (1 John 1:7).  Flee sinning!  Flee the second glance at sin.  When tempted by sin, run to your Savior who alone can save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21)!  We cannot fight this battle with temptation alone.  We must depend on the Lord Jesus to save us (1 Corinthians 10:13).  He is more than able (Hebrews 7:25)!

Oh wretched man, look to Christ alone!  Focus not on your temptations, your flesh, your past failures.  Look to the victory that Jesus has already secured for His disciples (John 19:30).  Jesus is our victory.  Jesus is our crown.  Jesus is our life (Colossians 3:1-4).  Jesus is the only one who can deliver us from this sinfulness (Romans 7:25).  May we look to Him alone to save us!

The Resurrection Is The Key

Islam claims that the faithful Muslim is to not only study the Quran and the Hadith’s but they are to seek to copy the example of their prophet, Mohammed.  The difficulty, of course, is that Mohammed lived in the 7th century.  Yet faithful Muslims claim that we are still to copy his example and seek to be just like him in all that we do.

In Buddhism, the teachings of the Buddha are studied and the believer seeks to apply them to their lives.  Again, the example of the Buddha is to serve as an example and he is the truly enlightened one that we are seeking to be like.

In Hinduism, the vast amount of gods means that we are to be devoted to our god.  We are to fulfill our duty to our god.  It is our work that we must do.

A pattern exists when you study world religions and cults and that is works for salvation (if they believe in some sort of salvation) or we must copy the examples of the religious teachers.  We are to copy the examples of these prophets, teachers, leaders, apostles, etc.

This is not so with Christianity.  No doubt the Lord Jesus left us an example that we should follow (1 Peter 2:21-24) but His example is one that we realize we can never obtain in that Jesus was absolutely perfect and sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Even the Quran states that Jesus (though in Islam, He is just a prophet) was sinless.  But the more I study Jesus and His life, I realize that I can never obtain His perfection.  I am imperfect.  I am sinful by nature.  Jesus, on the other hand, left us a perfect example and one that we can seek to copy (1 John 2:6).

But the key to Christianity is not the teachings of Jesus.  It is not the example of Jesus.  It is the resurrection of Jesus that is the key.  Paul the Apostle makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 15.  The key to our saving faith is in the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 10:9-10).  It was the resurrection that caused the Apostles of Christ to go forth with His gospel (Matthew 28:16-20).  It is the resurrection of Christ that transforms the sinner into a saint of God (1 Peter 1:18-21).

While I agree with C.S. Lewis that grace is a fundamental difference between world religions and Christianity, grace is based on the resurrection.  Without the resurrection of Christ, there could be no grace (Romans 4:24-25).  Grace flows to us because Jesus is alive and because He sits at God’s right hand (Hebrews 7:25).

My prayer is that the Church would go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) preaching the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.  To this day, faithful Muslims visit the tomb of Mohammad in the city of Medina.  Christians have no tomb of Christ to visit where His body lays.  We have an empty tomb because Jesus is risen from the dead.  He reigns now forevermore (Psalm 110:1).  Jesus empowers us now by His resurrection power to go forth and make disciples.  This is what will change our world.  This precious gospel, that Jesus shed His blood for our sins (Galatians 1:4), is what we will change our world (2 Corinthians 5:17).  I rejoice that Jesus is risen and I will see Him face to face (1 John 3:1-3).

It is only by His grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).  May we settle that issue now and realize that nothing I can do can earn God’s salvation nor His favor.  My works are tainted by sin (Isaiah 64:6).  Yet Christ bore my sins on the cross and His blood washes away all my sins so that I now have peace with God through His finished work on the cross (Romans 5:1).  I am a child of God not by my works but because of His grace toward me in His holy Son (Titus 3:5-7).

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