Tag Archives: Christ

The atonement


Passage:  Luke 23:26-49

Key verses:  Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Entire courses are taught at universities just to try and explain Jesus’ work on the cross.  The atonement is not easy to understand, but it is simple.  God came down to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, and then died as the one true spotless sacrifice that could take away our sins.  Without this one truth, all the rest falls apart.

Jesus took on our sins.  Read that again.  Jesus, the perfect Son of God, took on our sins upon Himself.  He took our punishment, bought our redemption.  That is the only reason you and I will ever see heaven.  It’s not because of how many good deeds we did or how nice we are.  It’s because we were bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.  Let that sink in.  Weep over the fact that it was necessary.

My sins nailed Him to that cross.  Your sins drove those spikes in.  Our rejection of God killed Him.  And He chose to be there.  As the one, true, all-powerful God, He could have ended this any way He wanted.  But He chose the cross.  He chose suffering in our place.  Because He loved us.  Even before we existed.  That’s the truth of the cross.

The King on trial

Passage:  John 18:33-40

Key verse:  John 18:37  Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

After He had been betrayed by one of His closest friends, Jesus was sent to trial before the leaders of both the empire and the kingdom.  Tossed back and forth between Herod and Pilate, Jesus remained quiet and did not defend Himself, though at any moment He could have burst out of His chains and ascended into heaven or done some other sort of miraculous act.  He acted in complete humility, though He was a king.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords stood on trial before earthly leaders as corrupt as they come, as though they had any real right to judge Him.  As though they had any authority over Him.  In an instant, Jesus could have put them in their place, but He remained quiet.  Then, when He chose to speak, He revealed His purpose.

Jesus came to bear witness to the truth.  He came to reveal God to man.  He was and is the true image-bearer of God.  He is the image of the invisible God, come to earth as a lowly man.  He gave up His rights to a kingdom on earth to fulfill His real purpose.  A purpose that involves a heavenly kingdom, far beyond anything Herod or Pilate could ever imagine.

Can you even comprehend?

Ephesians 3:17-18 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

What gives us the ability to really connect with God in a deep way? No matter how hard we try to build a tower up to heaven or how many good deeds we try to accomplish, we’ll never get close to Him on our own. It’s only through the work of Christ that we get reconciliation and relationship.

But you know that; don’t you?  You know that only through faith in Jesus Christ can you have fellowship with God. You know that your own good works don’t get you any position with the Father, but only through the completed work of the Son do you have any standing.

You know that, but do you really understand just how broad, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is for you? Can you even begin to comprehend just how vast that love is? The only way we can even begin to understand is to have Christ dwelling in us. That’s the key to unlock spiritual understanding. But to imagine how far the Father’s love stretches…that will take until we’re with Him, beyond this life, to even grasp it.

Head over all things

Ephesians 1:22-23 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Who’s your king? Is it some person on this earth who is in authority over others? Is it a President or a CEO?  While these people may have power and may lord it over you, there is One who is truly over all things and He doesn’t exist to oppress you. He loves you.

Jesus Christ was placed in specific authority over the Church, even though He rules over all. The Church, that’s all of us who believe, serves as the body of Christ, living out His mission on this earth. His authority over us is not to control us or to hurt us, but to empower us and strengthen us. We’re better with Him in authority than we’d be without Him.

What about you personally? Is Christ head over you? Have you placed yourself under His authority? Are you living for Him or for your own agenda? It is a far better thing to submit to the King of Kings than to chase after our own desires and live as our own gods.

Romans: Sharing with Christ

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

We, the adopted children of God, are now officially sons and daughters of the King of Kings.  And what does this mean beyond the fact that we are forgiven of our sins and brought into fellowship with God as part of His family?  It means we get everything.

Everything?  Yes, if we are children of God then we are heirs, just as Jesus Christ is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).  What’s His is ours.  That’s…the glory and the suffering.

We’re called to more than just living a good life here and now on this earth when we enter into God’s family.  We are given incredible gifts from the Father, but there is more to this life than what we receive.  We have the privilege now of sharing with Christ in His sufferings.

Because we’re children of God, those who aren’t may take offense to our disposition and seek to harm us, whether physically or just emotionally and spiritually.  We may not always be happy all the time because in this world there is evil and injustice that will not be eradicated until Christ returns.  Oh, but when He does, we get to share in His glory.  When that time comes, everything in this life will have been worth it.

Romans: Christ in you is life

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 There is a stark difference between those who have Christ living in them and those who do not.  There is only life in those who are in the Spirit.  While it may seem that people are alive because they’re walking around and doing things people do, inside those who don’t have Christ are dead.  They’re the walking dead.

Something spectacular happens when you surrender your life over to Jesus Christ.  God takes what was once dead and makes it alive (Ephesians 2:5). If you are His, He’s brought you to life because now it’s no longer you who live, but Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).  Your body is just a vessel to hold the Spirit that lives in you and through you (2 Corinthians 4:7).  It’s not your power or mine that do great things; it’s the power of God working.

You see, we can’t live holy and sinless lives that would enable us to have such power.  That’s why it’s evident that it’s the righteousness of Christ that makes it possible.  It’s Him that lived a perfect life, and He is the one who purchased our ransom.  He is able to do far more than we could ever even think or begin to imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and He does it through us, the living.

The cross

John 19:16-18  16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them

Oh the cross.  The symbol we uphold as a wonderful sign of God’s love for us was viewed as a symbol of torture for the people of Jesus’ day.  What we wear around our necks as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice was used by the Romans as a reminder of who was in control.  Or so they thought they were in control.

The beauty of the cross is that it was not forced upon Jesus.  He knew full well when He stepped out of eternity into time and space that He would face the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, the denial of Peter, the abandonment by the rest of the twelve, the scourge of the whip, and the torture of the cross.  He knew it, and He chose to come anyway.  His love for mankind compelled Him to do so.  God’s plan of redemption from the beginning was completed in Jesus’ act of willingness to go to the cross.

He endured every moment of pain for you and for me, that we might be reconciled to God.  There’s no greater gift ever given in all the world that God becoming a man to die for our sins.  We so often look to Jesus for what He can do for us – and not what He DID for us.  We look to Him for what He can give us – and not what He GAVE us.  He gave us himself, and there is nothing that compares.

We don’t need treasures.  Jesus is our treasure. We don’t need pleasures.  We can delight in Christ.  We don’t need respect and position, the humble, suffering servant bought and paid for our standing with God.  He is our gift.  If we accept the offer.

Warning Concerning Antichrists

The First Letter of John

1 John 2: 18-27 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.t21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.25 And this is the promise that he made to ust—eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

 It will never be my intention to scare you, but there are certain warnings in God’s Word that need to be looked at.  John thought it was important enough to point out the existence of antichrists that he spent a good portion of his first letter warning about them.

There are those who oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ and seek to lead His followers astray.  Though we’d like them to be easily identifiable through something like their black cowboy hat, it isn’t that simple.  Though we’d like to be able to tell who they are based on the fact that they’re “out there” saying hateful things about Jesus, it’s not true.  They are among us, posing as our brothers and sisters.  They say things much like what we say.  They call themselves Christians but their intentions are not to follow Christ.  Their intentions are rather to keep others from following Him.

So how can we spot someone who is an antichrist if they look just like a Christian in some cases?  There is one test given by John to his readers.  They deny that Jesus is the Christ.  The simple fact is that they are called antichrists because they are against Christ.  If someone is opposed to believing that Jesus is the Son of God, sent into the world to redeem God’s people, then he is an antichrist.  Don’t get this mixed up with The Antichrist who will come as the embodiment of all that is evil.  These are individuals who reject the gospel yet try to look like they belong with Christians as they work to  destroy.  It was true in John’s time and it’s true in ours.  Be prepared for lies by knowing what the Truth is.

The Soul of Faith

Ultimately, for as much control as we may give God in our lives, for as much as we may say that He leads us, in free will, we are defined not by faith but by the worth we place on it in the love that we have. For though it is our faith that ultimately saves us, it is love that “covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Over the ages, considerable time has been spent debating how one truly becomes the most effective disciple of Christ, the way that one can most successfully use their faith. After all, it is James who reminds us that our faith, if it is without works, is dead. It holds not the power to save us because it has grown as stagnant, as hard and as hollow as our hearts. Our works, they represent the spirit and the soul of our faith. (James 4:14-26)

Let us consider that for a moment. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.” You see, the soul and the body represent a special relationship with each other. Though one may be able to exist without the other, the body is ultimately created as a vessel for the soul, yet it is not the body that defines the soul, but rather the soul that gives its value to everything the body does, and is. Faith can exist without works, yet those works, much like the soul to the body, give faith its inherent value, its intrinsic worth in the most basic and fundamental of ways.

For faith then to hold substance it must be the vessel of our works, not only bearing its fruits but containing them, carrying them, and offering them as the means by which we edify, strengthen and uplift others. Faith, to hold significance, must be expressed by a life given in love to others. Without it, we can speak with tongues, we can seek to understand, to fathom the mysteries that surround a great and mighty God, and eloquence can drip from our mouths in defense of faith, yet it is the shell of what it must be because it gains nothing and offers less. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

How then do we love? How then do we serve as the effective disciple? This itself is easily answered by our blessed Savior Himself, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.… whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:31-46) It is to look at the world, to see the need around you with clear eyes, and, as Christ Jesus Himself had done, answer the call in patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control.

Though the ultimate act of love was the sacrifice of that Lamb of God who took away the sins of world, that was one example of Christ’s love amongst so many as great as it was. His ministry, His life would be eventually defined by that singular act of love in service to us, and yet it was a road paved by every act of healing, each act of giving, and the meaning that was behind it. It was a path that was laid down by His rejection of evil, hatred, slander and bitterness as we are taught the new commandment: to love one another as Christ Himself loved us. (John 13:34-35)

In the end, nothing can save us short of the faith that we have. Yet it is the character and the nature of our faith that it is the God who judges the heart who holds a power over us. Consider rightly the Lord’s admonition to the prophet, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Are we, as the disciples of a living God to define our own faith, and thereby seek to build our own vessels for it, ones that seek to hold faith but are cracked and broken, with the dwindling waters it holds stagnate? Or are we to pour forth living waters with fresh springs of the Lord that quench the longing thirst of the spirit and the soul?

Let your faith be a vessel for love and the works thereof. See the world as it is, a place in desperate need of healing and hope, and let the soul of your faith shine as the means of love for others. In this way we can be the effective disciple, the effective believer God and Christ intend for us to be through the power and the strength of the Spirit working through us.

Solus Christus

I Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Many and varied are the ways that man tries to get closer to God.  New religions spring up all the time, each seeking to find the right way to become whole.  Hundreds of self-help books are shelved at each book store, none quite adequately fulfilling our quest.  None quite bringing us into that place where we stand in right relationship with our Creator.

It’s sad that we spend so much time searching when the answer our souls seek has already been given.  We don’t attain enlightenment by searching within ourselves.  We don’t achieve entrance into heaven through doing enough good deeds.  There is one way to God and He is Christ Jesus.  He is our Savior, our King, our friend. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36) and not one thing was created that was not created by Him (John 1:3). He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and only He qualifies to mediate between God and man (John 14:6).We can try to fix ourselves, try to gain knowledge, or try to work our way to righteousness, but in the end it’s all in vain.  Only Christ can save us.  Only He can set us free (John 8:32).