Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Be Determined to Follow Christ

Sunday will be the first Lord's Day of 2023. Have we determined within our hearts to follow Christ in all that we do this year? Have we thought about making any personal and family changes that would be better in our service to Christ? I would encourage each of us to be more determined than ever to devote personal time in the studying of our Bible. Paul told Timothy to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Each child of God has the same responsibility in their service as a Christian. Before we can be an effective example and an effective teacher, we must know the Word of God. We can only be approved of by God when we learn those things in which He has instructed for us to do in our life and then carry them out with the love of our Lord and one another.

We need to be more like the Bereans and search the scriptures daily to make sure that we are in compliance with God's will. When we understand and accept that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God then we will be on our way to carrying out the commandments of God. The basic fundamental principles of Bible authority are recognizing the "need" for authority and having "respect" for authority. We respect the Word of God when we DO what God asks of us. Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Do we recognize the need for authority? Do we respect God's Word? If we do, then we must determine now to follow the commandments of Christ in our lives not only in 2023, but in all the days to follow.


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Sin Separates Us from God

The person who believes in God wants always to enjoy his fellowship, yet the consequences of sin is separation from God. Listen to Isaiah: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The consequences of sin is that it causes us to be separated from God. A person is lost because of his sin. Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Death means separation, so the sinner is separated from God. This is true whether or not you have once become a Christian.

There are some human creeds that tell us that you or I cannot fall from grace once we have become a Christian. This can’t be so because Paul says in Galatians 5:4: “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” The apostle Peter writes: “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21). Paul also states in Romans 11:22: “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” We can learn from these and many other scriptures that even the Christian may be cut off from the fellowship of God by not continuing to live in obedience to Him. Revelation 2:10 says we must be “faithful until death.” The terrible consequences of sin is that it causes God to withdraw himself from His children. God does not desire it, but justice demands it, and God cannot deny Himself. If one does not repent of their sin, and live faithfully, then separation from God will be the consequence of that.

Sin Causes an Eternal Separation from God
Hell is eternal separation. Sin separated a man from God here on this earth, but it will also cause him to be eternally separated in the next life. Can you fathom eternity? I cannot. To be in Hell for even a short time would be bad; to be in hell eternally, forever separated from God, is much worse. But that’s what sin will do. After the death in this life a man in Hades, in the place of torment, begged Abraham to have Lazarus to cool his tongue with some water, for he was in torment in the flames. But it was impossible, for the Bible says: “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:26). To avoid hell, man must take advantage of the death of Christ in obeying the gospel. The Roman brethren did this, and Paul said they were baptized into Jesus’ death (Romans 6:4). As long as one remains in sin, then there is no hope of gaining an eternal home with Jesus in heaven when we take our last breath on this earth. We must live for Jesus daily now, so that we can live with Him eternally. 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Man Has His Values Confused

It is very evident that in our society, man has his values confused. What often seems valuable to many is not really valuable at all. Men put a great price-tag on pleasure, money or prominence. Men value wealth, satisfaction of the physical desires and attention from their peers. If they secure this, they think of themselves as successful. But these pass with time.

It is righteousness that is lasting and truly valuable. The greatest of all man’s needs is to be made righteous. In the absolute, God is righteous. But Christ was sent from God to make men righteous. Paul stated: “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). It is God’s desire to have all men become righteous, but without Christ’s sacrifice, man could never have been righteous. The Bible says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8). The eternal God knows man’s needs and God has supplied the greatest need of all and that is salvation through Jesus Christ.

Man was not born in sin, but men of accountable age do sin. Men do not inherit their sins as they do the color of their hair. Yet, being sinners, man’s greatest need is salvation. Since man cannot save himself, he must have a savior. God in His infinite love and grace has provided man’s salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Why? Because God was not willing that man should perish, but have eternal life. At great expense God fulfilled His promise to send Christ into the world as our savior. Almost two thousand years ago, Christ died on the cross for our sins. Thanks be to God for His love and mercy! 

Our Spiritual Need is Greater Than Our Physical Need
“What is the greatest need that we have?” We may answer that our greatest need is economic stability or political integrity. We may answer that our greatest need is financial security, or better health. And while all of those things are desirable, our greatest need, regardless of the economic or political situation, is salvation from sin, for sin is the greatest enemy of mankind. Sin is the greatest enemy of man because it is the enemy that can destroy a good life here, and cause us to be eternally separated from God. It is a most troublesome thought to think of a ruined life in this world, but it is even worse to think of an eternity in hell. I am glad I serve a God that anticipated the greatest benefit of man, the salvation from sin. Since sin separates one from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), our great need is reconciliation to God, or salvation from sin. Only Jesus can save us.

God has made two dispositions of sin. First, if not forgiven, sin brings death to the sinner. This is justice. The Bible says “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Also, “the wages of sin is death.” Secondly, God can and does forgive sins. Man cannot live above sin, and man cannot save himself, so he is entirely at the mercy of God for forgiveness. Christ died on the cross for our sins, and had he not done this, we would all be doomed to death, for no other person could have died for our sins. But God promised salvation UNCONDITIONALLY, but salvation is conditional. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved....” (Mark 16:16).