The one and only true God is Spirit. He is eternal. He is without beginning or end. He is the source of all that exists in the universe, including its natural laws. He is the source of eternal life. Beside Him there is none else. Isaiah 45:22
God is one God in three distinct persons. He is Father. He is also Son and He is the Holy Spirit. All three persons are eternal and equal in power and glory. In fact God the Son is the Creator we learn in John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1 and Revelation 1
True religion is all about man knowing his Creator, being properly related to Him and glorifying Him. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3
Only as we know God, can we properly understand His creation, including ourselves. Only as we know God, and only as we have the truth of God can we properly worship and glorify Him. and have a proper perspective and philosophy of life. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
OUR INCOMPREHENSIBLE GOD
However, God is incomprehensible. No matter how much or how long we scrutinize Him by reading and meditating on His Word, the Bible, or by reading the works of theologians; we can never fully understand Him and His ways. The Apostle Paul, after dealing with deep truths of God that Bible scholars have wrestled with and differed over for centuries; concludes with a doxology of worship in Romans 11:33-36 that basically resigns us to the fact that the full knowledge of God is beyond man’s ability to grasp.
Isaiah wrote this same truth in Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
At the same time, Isaiah pleads with us in verse 6-7 to seek the Lord while He may be found and call on Him while He is near. and forsake our unrighteous thoughts and ways for He will have mercy on us and abundantly pardon.
It is the challenge and deepest desire and privilege of every true Christian to pursue the knowledge of God throughout his life as Paul did, Philippians 3:8-15.
THE ONLY SOURCE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
Though we can learn much about God through observation of His creation; the full and final authority for our knowledge of God is found only in knowing Jesus through His Word, the Bible. Our limited and faulty understanding of science, must be evaluated and judged by the Bible. We must never attempt to judge God’s Word by our minds; nor should we attempt to test Him with our so-called scientific methods. We end up in error and confusion when we test our knowledge of God by our limited and faulty observations of science or base our knowledge of God on the pronouncements of scientists, theologians, preachers, popes or church councils, who are all but mere fallible men.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD A MORAL ISSUE
Since God is a moral being, the knowledge of God is a moral issue more than an intellectual issue. No matter how intellectual one is, he cannot know God unless he first submits himself to God as His moral judge. Read Paul’s sermon to the Athenians on this topic in Acts 17:22-34
The bad news is that all humanity has fallen short of God’s perfect moral standards, including you and me. Matthew 5:48, Romans 3:10,23
Because of our sins, we stand condemned under the wrath of God and must suffer eternal death in hell. Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23 Revelation 20:11-15
Paul in Romans 1:16-32 traces the course of one’s life who rejects his knowledge of God. See also Proverbs 13:15 for the result of rejecting God.
THE MOST AMAZING FACT IN HUMAN HISTORY
The most amazing fact in human history is that God in His love for sinful man, came down to this earth as a man, The Lord Jesus, to make Himself known to man. Those who saw Jesus saw God in human flesh. Then God in human flesh willingly went to the cross to endure the wrath of God that we deserved.
The Good News of the Gospel is that God poured out His wrath that we deserved for our sins, on His only begotten, sinless Son, Jesus. He did this by allowing evil men to crucify Him. Then God showed that He was satisfied with His Son’s sacrifice for our sins by raising Him from the dead three days later. Isaiah 53:5-6, Acts 2, Romans 4:25, II Corinthians 5:21
Only when we approach God as our moral judge, recognizing ourselves condemned by our transgression of His moral Laws, are we ready to receive His salvation. Only as we receive Jesus as the propitiation for our sins, is His wrath towards us appeased and we are brought into a loving, intimate relationship with Him. Romans 3:23-28 I John 2:1-2. I John 4:10
Though God is Spirit and not flesh, God the Son, in order to fully identify with us and die for our sins, humbly left Heaven and took on human flesh, by being conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary and being born as a human baby who was fully human and yet never ceased to be fully God. Philippians 2:5-11 describes this incredible journey from Heaven to earth and back to Heaven again.
Do you have a personal relationship with God? Do you know peace with God? Read Romans 5 to learn of the wonderful life that awaits those who put their trust in Christ. The only way that we sinners can have that relationship is to admit we are sinners and trust in Christ who shed His blood for our sins and rose again for our justification.
A Harris poll conducted in 2003 indicates that only 1% of Americans believe it is likely that they will go to hell. No doubt one reason for this low percentage is that a great many people have imbibed the teaching that God’s “passing grade” in only 50% (that is, ones good works outweigh one’s sins).
However, we know that the Bible teaches that God’s passing grade is 100%- which no one can reach (James 2:10 Romans 3:23). Bad teaching concerning a work’s salvation is so deeply ingrained in the heart of man that evangelicals must take every opportunity to challenge and dislodge such thinking.
As a preacher, we pray that you will faithfully proclaim the Gospel of Christ. In addition we want to encourage every believer in Christ to “do the work of an evangelist” II Timothy 4:6.
Making sound Gospel tracts available in your church is one good way to fulfill this Commission.
Recently I received a packet of Gospel tracts with the above note from the senders. As I examined the tracts, I was impressed to see how true to the Bible they were. Unlike some tracts, there was no confusion concerning the Gospel message. I recommend them. Visit this organization by going to http://www.mwtb.org
At the age of ten I moved from Toronto Canada to a small town in South Carolina. There I remember boarding a bus one day. As a kid I immediately ran to the very back seat of the bus to enjoy my ride. No sooner did I sit down when the bus driver sternly announced to me, “This bus is not moving until you move forward!” I had no idea why I had to do that, but I obediently followed his order. Later I learned about the race situation and how blacks sat toward the back and whites toward the front, something I could not understand. By the way, racial prejudice was not only in the South. I have seen it in all parts of America.
Echoes of Eden
During my high school years in Los Angeles our church young people often drove to Watts to a large black church on Sunday nights after our evening service to enjoy the music of their wonderful choir. The program, Echoes of Eden, was broadcast throughout the area. I was entranced by the beautiful music. I could have listened to it by the hours. Their distinctive harmony and rhythm is unmatched by white people. I’ll never forget how they sang their theme song, “I’m So Glad Jesus Lifted Me.”
Hatred or preference?
Because of our somewhat segregated society I have never had much chance to get close to black people, but I have never felt that they are inferior to white people. Through my years as a pastor I have pastored mostly in rural areas where there were not many blacks; however, whenever I have met blacks I have invited them to our church where they were well received. I think for the most part, blacks prefer to worship in their own churches with it’s distinctive music and style of preaching and whites prefer their churches. With godly blacks and whites, it not a matter of racial hatred; but purely preference. Personally, I would be pleased for our congregation to reflect the racial mix of the community. One thing is for sure, in Heaven the racial mix will be a beautiful, holy bouquet of all the races and nationalities of the world rejoicing with music and praise beyond our comprehension.
Our daughter just adored little black babies. On some occasions she did baby-sitting for a black couple and she loved it. When she was a teenager I remember preaching a sermon on the race issue. In that sermon I said that I would far rather have my daughter marry a godly black man than an ungodly white man. I don’t have a problem with the intermarriage of blacks and whites. Marriage has its problems of adjusting to one another. Some of these problems may be intensified in an interracial marriage, but if a couple loves one another and if they will work through potential problems during their courtship, they can have a good marriage. I’m not promoting or opposing interracial marriages. I’m just saying such a marriage can work if it is built on Christ.
I wish some blacks were not so hung up on being known as African-Americans. Most American blacks have never even been to Africa. Why not just be known as an American? I was born in Peru, the son of an American father and a Canadian mother. I do not think of myself as a Peruvian-American. or a Peruvian-Canadian-American. How silly that would be. None of us like to see anyone get preferential treatment in school or in the business world because of their race or nationality. Minorities make it more difficult to be accepted when they push for special treatment. When my boys were teens and looking for work I believe there were times when they were rejected for jobs because of racial quotas and they were not the right color. That did not seem fair. Equality is right. Preferential treatment because of race or color is wrong.
It is my observation that throughout America wherever I have lived I have seen most blacks and whites accept one another cordially in their neighborhoods. If a person is clean and friendly, I have no problem with him as a neighbor, regardless of his color. If he is dirty and noisy and disrespectful, I want to be as far away as possible from him, regardless of his color. The point I make is that his color is irrelevant.
Civil Rights Movement
I am not one for marching in the streets for any cause, but I think the Civil Rights Movement was badly overdue in America. I’m glad for brave blacks and whites who fought the battle for equality fifty years ago.
None of us whites are slave holders and none of the blacks in America are or were slaves. Why don’t we all just put the race issue to rest once and for all and start living as proud Americans.
One in Christ
The Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28 shows the difference that Christ makes in our lives when we are truly born again. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Revelation 5:9 the Apostle John describes the great throng of redeemed saints in Heaven “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people group and nation.” No truly born again Christian, black, white, Asian, Spanish, or Native American has any business being a segregationist. If he is, he is a shame to the cause of Christ.
Whenever the Bible speaks of resurrection, it always refers to bodily resurrection. Our spirits are eternal. They do not die and need no resurrection; though our bodies do. Our spirits can exist independently of our bodies, and the spirits of those who have died do live today in Heaven or in Hell without their bodies.
However, our spirits are not complete without our bodies and those who have gone on to Heaven long to be clothed with their bodies. We Christians who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, rejoice in the redemption of our souls, but we groan in these bodies so contaminated and cursed by sin. We struggle with the downward pull of temptation to sin. We long for the redemption and glorification of our bodies. Rom. 8:22-23
Listen to the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-23, who as every genuine Christian, struggles with the downward pull of his fleshly nature. Listen to his desire in II Corinthians 5:1-8, reflecting the desire of every true Christian, to die and go to Heaven. Note in this passage that his desire is not just to be a disembodied spirit in Heaven, but his full desire is to be clothed with his glorified body which will take place later at the return of Christ.
Many have been resuscitated over the years, but only one body has ever been resurrected from the dead in a glorified state and that is Jesus. Jesus raised Lazarus and others from the dead, but they were raised back into their natural bodies to die again later.
Jesus died a violent death on the cross. His blood was poured out as a sacrifice for our sins, just as lambs were slaughtered as sacrifices for sin throughout the Old Testament. Read Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53 and Hebrews 9:22, and Hebrews 10 to see the connection between the slaughtered lambs and the slaughtered Christ.
But unlike the lambs that had to be slaughtered continually for the people’s repeated offenses; Jesus was crucified as the perfect final sacrifice for sin, as Hebrews 9 and 10 declare. He died; not for His own sins, for He was the sinless, spotless Son of God. He died to pay the death penalty for every sinner.
No sinner need ever go to hell. The only reason sinners go to hell is because in their pride and self-righteousness they stubbornly refuse to admit they are sinners who have offended a holy God and they reject Jesus, the only One who can save them. As one man, Adam, sinned and led the entire human race into sin to face the penalty of death; so one man, Jesus, the perfect Son of God in human flesh, took our penalty of death and saves all who receive His atonement by faith alone, giving us eternal life. That’s the message of the Gospel.
I Corinthians 15 is the great Resurrection Chapter of the Bible. It shows the absolute necessity of the bodily resurrection of Christ and assures us that His bodily resurrection guarantees that God is satisfied with Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and it guarantees the bodily resurrection of every human being one day.
The order of the Resurrection is given in I Corinthians 15:22-23 and in Revelation 20.
Note, that Christ is the first person to rise from the dead. I Corinthians 15:20-23 identifies Jesus as the first-fruits, the guarantee that the rest will follow.
The next group of people to rise from the dead will be Christians who will rise in glorified bodies to meet Jesus when He returns. Read more about that in John 14:1-3, Romans 8:11, I Corinthians 15:51-58, I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Hebrews 9:28, Titus 2:11-14, I John 3:1-3, Revelation 22:20. All Christians are going to share in the First Resurrection, as is explained in Revelation 20:6.
The final group of people to rise from the dead will be all those who rejected Christ during their lifetime. Revelation 20:11-15 describes that terrifying final judgment that faces every Christ-rejecter when they will stand in their resurrected, unglorified bodies before Christ’s Great White Throne to be sentenced to the eternal Lake of Fire.
Death before a firing squad, by the electric chair, by the gas chamber, by hanging or death by lethal injection, or even by beheading, will be as nothing – a few minutes, then it is over- compared to eternal death in the Lake of Fire that awaits every Christ-rejecting sinner.
Dear Reader, Paul announced to the Athenians in Acts 17:31 “God has appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man, whom He has ordained, whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead.” “God has appointed a day!” That means, the day is set on God’s calendar.
You need not face that judgment. Trust Christ who died to pay for your sins. Receive Him now by faith. He will save you, deliver you from condemnation and impute to you His perfect righteousness. Receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour right now. Simply invite Him into your life. Thank Him for dying for you. Read and rejoice in the truths of John 1:12, 3:14-18, 5:24, Romans 5:1-9, 10:1-13, II Corinthians 5:21,
If you have put your trust in Christ, you will be amazed how all these Scriptures open up to you and come alive. Christ’s Holy Spirit has come to live in you and given you assurance of eternal life. He has become your Teacher and Interpreter of Scripture.. Rejoice and share this good news with others. Dig into this Hidden Treasures web site with your Bible and explore the wonders of being a Christian. Ask God to lead you to a Church where you can grow in the knowledge of God and ask Him to protect you from false teaching that would lead you away from God and from His Word.
Now, let’s continue with our study of the importance of Christ’s resurrection. Let me give you six reasons for rejoicing in His resurrection.
I. Jesus’ Resurrection proves His deity.
In fact, Jesus states in Matthew 12:38-40 that His bodily resurrection after three days and three nights in the tomb, is the one great proof of His Deity. If Jesus rose on Sunday, which He did; in order to fulfill this specific prophecy, and be in the grave three days and three nights, Jesus had to die on Wednesday and not Friday. For further information on this event, go back to an earlier study in this RESURRECTON link to Jesus, Our Passover Lamb. Paul also in Romans 1:1-4 confirms the importance of Christ’s resurrection as the proof that He is the Son of God.
II. Jesus’ Resurrection also assures the salvation of all who trust in Him.
That is taught in I Peter 1:3 and in I Peter 3:18-22. The passage in chapter 3, though difficult, basically teaches us that Jesus died and rose again from the dead to save us from our sins and its penalty.
Some would use this passage to attempt to prove baptismal regeneration; that is, that people are saved by being baptized. The Bible, on the other hand, clearly teaches that salvation is by the grace of God and through faith in Christ alone. This is taught in Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5-7, in the Book of Romans, as well as many Scriptures throughout the New Testament. In fact, Paul takes pains to show us in I Corinthians 1:11-17 that baptism is NOT part of the Gospel message. Rather, it is an act of obedience AFTER salvation. See Acts 8:26-39 and Acts 16:16-34 for examples of this truth.
I Corinthians 12:13 teaches that all believers in Christ are baptized or united by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. This spiritual baptism has nothing to do with water. So if I Peter 3:18-22 is not about water baptism, what is it teaching us?
Note I Peter 3:21 begins with the words, “In the light figure”, It could be translated “corresponding”. As Noah and his family were delivered from the waters of the flood by entering into the ark; so salvation is being baptized into Christ, our Ark of safety. That is a spiritual baptism, taught in I Corinthians 12:13, whereby the Holy Spirit baptizes us, or unites us into Christ’s Body by God’s grace and through faith in Christ.
On the other hand, we are instructed in Scripture to be baptized in water as a testimony to the fact that we have been saved. That’s taught in the Great Commission in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Throughout Acts, we see examples of believers who were baptized in water as a testimony to their faith in Christ. However, Paul makes a clear distinction between the Gospel and water baptism in I Corinthians 1:14-17.
Now let’s take a careful look at I Peter 3:18-22. As we examine this passage we can draw the following truths. The flood waters of Noah’s day did not speak of salvation, but of judgment.
The ark represented salvation. Those in the ark were saved from the judgment of the flood. Because Noah and his wife and three sons and their wives (a total of eight people) believed God’s warning and built the ark according to God’s specifications and then entered the ark, they alone were saved from the flood that covered the earth and destroyed every human being, animal and bird, except for that which was safely in the ark.
II Peter 2:5 describes Noah as a preacher of righteousness. For one hundred years crowds of people flocked to watch “Crazy Noah” build his ark to save those who would enter the ark from a coming world wide flood. For one hundred years he warned them of the coming judgment of God upon the world. They mocked him, laughing about the flood. What was a flood? They had never seen one. According to Genesis 2:5-6 it had never rained prior to the flood. Instead a mist watered the earth.
We determine the hundred years in which Noah preached by comparing Genesis 5:32 which shows Noah was 500 years old when his three sons were born. with Genesis 7:11 that shows Noah was 600 years old when the Flood covered the earth. Within those 100 years he and his three sons built the ark.
Finally the ark was completed and God called Noah and his family to enter the ark along with the animals that would be spared to replenish the earth after the flood.
Now read again I Peter 3:18-22. Could this refer to Jesus’ Spirit preaching to the people of Noah’s day, while His body lay in the tomb for three days and three nights? We’ll look at that in a moment. One thing we know for sure. There is no opportunity for salvation after death. Hebrews 9:27 states, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.”
Rather, I Peter 3:18-22 could be in reference to Christ’s ministry through Noah. The Spirit of God through Noah, preached to the prisoners of sin in his day, just as He preaches to the prisoners of sin in our own day through the witness and preaching of Christians. Their sin was their disobedience to and rejection of God’s call to enter the ark.
It is the same sin of rebellion in people today who reject the call of God through the witness of Christians. This rebellion to the Gospel resulted in the drowning of the people in Noah’s day and their souls being imprisoned in hell.
But we must also note in this I Peter 3 text that while Jesus’ body was in the tomb those three days and nights, His Spirit was preaching to those in prison. Ephesians 4:8-9 refers to this. To whom did Jesus go when He preached to spirits in prison? Lord willing, we will attempt to answer these and other questions concerning this I Peter 3 passage and we will continue with other assurances based on the resurrection of Christ in future articles.
In the last article we left you with the question of where Jesus spirit went as His body lay in the tomb for three days and three nights. Ephesians 4:8-9 tells us that when Jesus was buried, His Spirit went into the lower parts of the earth. I Peter 3:19 tells us that He preached to the spirits in prison.
Who were they and what did He preach? For a hint, note the words “Even as” in Jude 7 Those words connect the sin of verse 6 with the sin of verse 7. It connects the angels that sinned with women in the years before the Flood with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both were perverted sexual sins which were an abomination in the sight of God.
THE SONS OF GOD
Jude 6-7 speaks of the spirits in prison. This could refer to the angels who kept not their first estate as God’s holy angels, but followed Satan in his rebellion against God. These demons appeared as men who. according to Genesis 6:1-4. had sexual relations with the women of earth and produced an evil race of monstrous sinners. These angels, created by God, are referred to as the “Sons of God” there in Genesis 6, as well as in Job 38:4-7 and in Job 1:6.
In II Peter 2:4 we learn that these fallen angels are confined to a pit called Tartaros. In Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:11-19 we have the story of the fall of Lucifer (Satan) from Heaven. Read also an account of his fall in Revelation12:1-9. There we read that when Satan fell, he took a third of the stars of Heaven with him. No doubt, these stars of Heaven are a description of the angels who followed him in rebellion against God.
Where did Jesus’ spirit go while His body lay in the tomb for three days and three nights? He went to preach to those fallen angels. What did Jesus Spirit preach to those angels? It is my understanding that Jesus proclaimed victory over Satan and his hosts. Genesis 3:15 records that God declared war on Satan and his hosts back in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve’s fall. With Christ’s death and resurrection He confirmed to Satan and his evil hosts that they are defeated and it’s only a matter of time before they will be cast into Hell Fire for eternity, never again to contaminate man or the world with sin.
Revelation 12:12 tells us that Satan is furious because he knows his time is short. As we near the end of the age, we are seeing Satan’s wrath and opposition to God and to God’s people intensify. Even now there is an ongoing warfare in the unseen world between God and the evil powers of Satan and his demons as described in Ephesians 6:10-19. We as Christians are drawn into this battle by virtue of our relationship with Christ.
III. CHRIST’S BODILY RESURRECTION ALSO ASSURES US OF OUR OWN BODILY RESURRECTION.
Job, who no doubt lived in the time of the Patriarchs, is the first to speak by inspiration of God of the resurrection. In the midst of his intense sufferings, God enabled him to look forward to his resurrection day. He gives an amazing detailed description of his resurrected body in Job 19:23-27. Read the passage and rejoice with Job. The details are amazing and thrilling!
Romans 8:11 teaches us that the same Holy Spirit who resurrected Jesus’ body from the dead is also going to one day raise up our bodies from the dead. In other words, Jesus’ bodily resurrection guarantees our bodily resurrection. Philippians 3:20-21 informs us that our bodies are going to be just like Jesus’ glorified body.
To learn more about our resurrection bodies, go to the last chapters of each of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and there you will learn amazing details about Jesus’ glorified body and ours one day, that should fascinate any science/fiction enthusiast. Just for starters, imagine being able to move at the speed of thought.
Only Christians will have these glorified bodies. The unsaved will also be resurrected to live in Hell Fire eternally in bodies that experience torment but are never annihilated. The horror is almost too much to even mention. The good news is you do not have to go to hell.
Trust Christ who bore your hell on the cross. He will save you instantly and eternally by His grace. You can’t do anything to earn it or deserve it. You must receive God’s gift of salvation as a totally free gift. Paul declares the heart of the Gospel in Romans 10:9-10 by showing us exactly what we must believe; not just in our minds, but in our hearts. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Without heart faith in the death, burial and bodily resurrection of Jesus, we have no salvation. Will you receive Him by faith this moment?
IV. CHRIST’S BODILY RESURRECTION GIVES CHRIST THE RIGHT AND THE AUTHORITY TO BE OUR LORD.
In Philippians 2:5-11 we see that Jesus, who is God in human flesh, humbled Himself and became a man and willingly went to the cross and died for our sins; then rose again and returned to Heaven to be our rightful Lord. When we trust Him as our Saviour, we give up our rights to Him as our Lord. We seek to live only for His glory and for the good of others. Take time to read that passage and try to grasp the immensity of what Jesus went through for you. How can any Christian continue on with life refusing to surrender to Him as Lord?
In Romans 14 we learn the impact this new relationship with Christ has in our relationship with people around us. We no longer live for self, but for others. We no longer lord it over others, but we seek to live an unselfish life and example for others.
V. HIS RESURRECTION LIFE ENABLES US TO LIVE VICTORIOUSLY OVER SIN.
No, we don’t live it perfectly and won’t live it perfectly until we are glorified and in Heaven, but as Christians we long to live pure, sinless lives. We hate sin as we see it in ourselves and we confess it and He forgives and cleanses us from sin. I John 1 gives us clear instruction on how to deal with sin as a Christian.
But the question that haunts every Christian is, “How can I live victoriously over sin?”The how to of sanctification, or becoming saintly, is explained in three steps found in Romans 6.
1. KNOW these facts concerning your identification with Christ in Romans 6:1-10 You were crucified in the person of Christ. You were buried in the person of Christ. You arose from the dead in the person of Christ.
2. RECKON these facts to be true. Romans 6:11-12 That is, count these facts to be true, especially in moments of temptation.
3. YIELD to Christ. Romans 6:13-16 Yield to Christ’s Lordship in every decision of life and every time you are tempted to sin. When you yield to Him, His Holy Spirit, who lives in your heart, takes over in your life and you begin to live the life you could never life by your own effort. Christ lives in you! That’s the wonderful secret
THE TWIN TRUTHS OF JUSTIFICATION AND SANCTIFICATION MUST NEVER BE SEPARATED
In Justification you are judicially declared righteous. Through faith in Christ’s shed blood for your sins, God counts you as righteous as His own dear Son, the Lord Jesus.
But the purpose of salvation is not to simply give you a free ticket to Heaven, but to bring you into a life of victory over sin through your identification with Christ as a believer. These two truths, though separate truths, must be accepted together if we are to grow to spiritual maturity. I encourage you to read through the following passages and see how both truths always go together. Romans 8:1, Ephesians 1:4, and 12, 2:8-10, 4:11-13, 5:5-6, 5:25-27 Philippians 1:6, 3:10-15
VI. FINALLY, HIS RESURRECTION GIVES US POWER TO SERVE HIM.
When Jesus returned to Heaven, He left behind His Holy Spirit to dwell in each Christian. Ephesians 4:8-16 teaches us that He has gifted each of us to serve Him. In Acts 1:1-9 we learn that His Holy Spirit gives us power to serve Him by serving others. We best serve Him by showing Christ to others through our lives and sharing the Gospel with them.
THANK GOD FOR THE CERTAINTY OF JESUS’ BODILY RESURRECTION!
Can you see the hopelessness and folly of calling ourselves Christians if Jesus never actually rose from the dead? We are hopeless, deluded fools if Jesus never rose from the dead.
But we are certain Jesus did rise from the dead and because of that we who are Christians will rise in the First Resurrection. Revelation 20:5-6 and the unsaved will rise in the Second Resurrection. Revelation 20:11-15
In which resurrection will you rise? If you choose to reject Him, do you really want to face what is described in Revelation 20:11-15? That will be the indescribable horror of all those who reject Christ as Saviour.
Too many Christians today are more absorbed in traveling first class through this world, seeking the best this world has to offer; than traveling God’s First Class, seeking all He has to offer us through Christ. – Truth God impressed on me as I was meditating on Hebrews 11:36-40
In Luke 17:1-2 Jesus declares that “offenses will come,” but then adds, “but woe be to the one who cause offenses”. In Matthew 18:1-10 we learn that Jesus particularly warns Christians of the dire consequences that will befall those who offend little children or young Christians. In Acts 24:16 Paul testified that as a Christian, his desire was to live in such a way that he kept his conscience pure, void of offense towards God and towards men.
Don’t offend Uncle Sam!
For one thing, it’s not wise to offend the government by refusing to pay our taxes. Jesus taught Peter a lesson about that in Matthew 17:24-27. Someone had come to Peter and asked if Jesus paid His taxes. Peter affirmed that He did. Shortly after this exchange, Peter came to where Jesus was staying that day. Before Peter could bring up the subject to Jesus about his conversation concerning taxes, Jesus introduced the subject with a question directed to Peter. “Do kings collect taxes from their own children, or do they collect from strangers?” Jesus was referring to the fact that this is our Father’s world. We are children of the King. Peter correctly replied, “They collect them of strangers.” Jesus continued, “Then the children are free from paying taxes, are they not? Notwithstanding, lest we offend and upset those government officials, and get ourselves into needless trouble, we pay our taxes.”
Then before Peter could ask Jesus where they were going to get the money to pay taxes, Jesus showed His humor about such weighty matters as paying taxes. He directed Peter, the Master Fisherman, to go throw a hook and line into the sea and catch a fish. When Peter unhooked the fish, he found in the fish’s mouth enough money to cover both his own taxes and the taxes Jesus owed.
Note, in this true story that though this earth belongs to Jesus who will one day rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and as such, He and His family owe no one any tax; yet, in order to avoid offense, He teaches Peter and us to just pay our taxes and be done with it. Don’t argue about it and raise a big fuss over something so trivial.
The Bible is clear in Romans 13:1-8 about the obligation of Christian’s to submit themselves to governmental authority and pay our taxes. But I like Jesus’ attitude about this weighty matter. Taxes? No big deal! Just pay them. God will provide the money to do what you ought to do. I like His humor about the whole matter. Go fish for it.
Let’s get back to our text in Luke 17:1-2. From this text learn the following lessons.
1. WE ALL OFFEND
In James 3:1-10 we learn that we all offend others by the careless things we say and sometimes by the way we say them. Most of us don’t mean to offend. It just happens as we speak without thinking. Sometimes we are careless, thoughtless, insensitive, calloused, self-righteous and even rude. Sometimes in our pride we boast that “we don’t pull any punches, but tell it like it is!” That’s fine. There is nothing wrong or unloving in speaking the truth in love and humility. But those who like to boast about it often develop a calloused attitude about offending others.
We offend by our selfishness and lack of consideration of others. Some of us lack empathy, the ability to put ourselves in another’s shoes, and so offend others.
We offend God and we sin when we speak and act in the flesh, not understanding the truth of God’s Word. Peter had that problem more than once, as you can see in Matthew 16:21-23 and also in the 17th chapter when he was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
2. MOST OF US ARE OFFENDED AT TIMES
This is especially true if we are self-centered and concerned more about our own feelings than the feelings of others and for the glory of God. Some people are touchy and must always be handled with kid gloves lest we offend them. The more we grow in Christ, the less we will be offended by others, If we are growing in the Lord, when offended by others by their rude words and surly attitudes, we will feel more sorry for them than for ourselves. In a mature Christian, offenses run off like water off a duck’s back.
3. THE CONSEQUENCES OF OFFENDING OTHERS
In Luke 17:1-2 and Matthew 18:6-7 Christ pronounces woes on those who would dare to offend others; especially children and immature young Christians. Such are living dangerously. God takes this matter of offending others very seriously!
4. HOW CAN WE AVOID OFFENDING AND BEING OFFENDED?
Going back to Jesus’ warning about offending children in Matthew 18:1-10, Jesus instructs us to cut off our hand or pluck out our eye before we allow these members of our body to offend others. Of course, Jesus is using hyperbole to make His point. Sin does not come from the hands or the eyes; but from the heart. At the same time He is showing the seriousness of offending others.
So, how can we avoid offending others without mutilating our bodies? Certainly we need to read God’s Word and pray daily prayers such as, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 and “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there by any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24.
We can consider our spiritually weaker brothers and sisters who are sometimes offended by the freedom that we demonstrate in Christ. Weak, untaught Christian do not know or understand that liberty. They are so caught up in their efforts to obey rules. By considering their feelings, we can forgo exercising our liberty in some areas when in their presence to avoid needlessly offending them.
I Corinthians 10:24-33 gives an example of eating meat offered to idols. We know that an idol is nothing but a lifeless, worthless object of wood, stone, metal or plastic. Heathen offered their meat to idols. Of course, the idols did not eat it, so later they sold that meat in the market. Some weak Christians, coming out of that life of heathenism, refused to eat such meat lest they suffer guilty consciences. Mature Christians, realizing that there was no problem with the meat, just bought it, ate it and thanked God for it. However, the weaker Christian felt that it was sinful to eat it. Therefore Paul admonishes us as stronger Christians to refrain from exercising our freedom in such matters in the presence of weaker Christians, than to needlessly offend them.
Another way in which we can avoid being offensive to others is to consider carefully how we speak to others. Consider what we say and consider the tone of voice in which we speak. Is it harsh and rude?
Ask you spouse or your children or the person to whom you speak. They’ll probably tell you the truth. If they tell you that you sounded harsh or rude, humble yourself before God and confess your rudeness to that person. Thank them for being honest with you and ask God to help you learn to be more empathetic, that is, learn to put yourself in another’s shoes. You will have taken a big step in your Christian walk when you put the feelings of others before your own feelings.
Ask God, as Paul in Acts 24:16, to give you a holy desire to make an effort to always to keep a blameless conscience before God and before others.
Study to understand the truth of being crucified with Christ as taught in Romans 6:1-7, Colossians 3:1-3 and Galatians 2:20. If we have died and risen with Christ, we are dead to the offenses of others.
5. FINALLY, LEARN TO GLORY IN THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS
Paul taught in Galatians 5:11 that the offense of the cross is something that we as Christians must not avoid. If you have determined to be known as a friend of Christ, you will find that the enemies of Christ keep you at arm’s length and you will share in Christ’s offense. In I Corinthians 1:23-31 he refers to the Gospel as foolishness in the eyes of the world. In Romans 9:33 Paul refers to Christ as a stumbling block and a rock of offense to the world. In I Peter 2:6-8 Peter refers to Christ as a rock of offense to the world, but He is precious to us as Christians.
The highest level of spiritual maturity on this earth is achieved when Christ and His cross is our only glory. Paul writes about it in Galatians 6:14. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” That is, the world’s values and accolades are vain and meaningless to us and Christ is everything to us.
Earlier we showed how easily we offend others and are offended by others. In this article we are going to discuss two areas when dealing with offenses: rebuking and forgiving. Seldom a day goes by that we do not unintentionally or purposely offend one another. It happens in the home, at work and at church. It could happen anytime we are around people.
In our study of Luke 17:3-4, consider first the warning. “Take heed to yourselves.” That is, concentrate on your own weakness instead of focusing on the weakness of others. Jesus in Matthew 7:1-5 warns us of the danger and sin of judging and condemning others.
You are, no doubt, aware of the fact that forgiveness is a major theme of the Lord’s Prayer. It should be a major theme of our every day living. If you have problems forgiving others, I urge you to go to my GEMS category and read the life-changing article on HATRED and its physical consequences, written by a medical doctor.
Take time to read the wonderful story of the life of Joseph found in Genesis 37-50. In chapter 45 we read the very moving story of how he forgave his brothers who had been so cruel to him.
Another wonderful story of forgiveness is found in the life of David and his relationships with King Saul and also with low life such as Shimei. Read that story in II Samuel 16:5-13.
Thank God that He is forgiving. That truth is evident all through the Bible. Note, for example, Psalm 130. Remember Jesus’ prayer of forgiveness as He hung on the cross? “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
One who has a problem with forgiving other has no business attempting to rebuke others.
Paul teaches in Galatians 5:14-15 that the purpose of rebuking is not to bite and devour another, as a small dog yaps and snaps at people. Rather, even in our rebuking of others, we are to edify and encourage one another. Be cautious of the mindset that God has called you to a ministry of rebuking others. These are people who give themselves to fault-finding. Imagine the depressing life of living your life focused on the faults of others! The Bible has much to say about such people. II Thessalonians 3:6-12. I Timothy 5:9-15, I Peter 4:14-15, Proverbs 20:3 and 26:17.
The Bible warns us to not waste our time and energy on rebuking scorners. Proverbs 13:1, 9:7-8. and 15:12. Read my article on FOOLS for more on this.
HOW TO REBUKE OTHERS
We are to confront lovingly and directly those who have offended us. It is not our calling to “chew them out” or “gang up on them” with others nor “try to straighten them out.”
We are warned in I Timothy 5:1 to rebuke not an Elder or a Pastor, but rather we are to intreat them as we would our father and we are to deal with the faults of younger men as brothers.
Older women are to be treated as mothers and younger women as sisters. In other words, deal with them tenderly and kindly.
Paul speaks of an occasion he rebuked a fellow Apostle and friend, Peter. Read about it in article #10 of FREEDOM. The reason Paul rebuked Peter publicly is because he had publicly compromised a Scriptural principle in order to try to be accepted. It was a shameful step on the part of Peter, but because Paul handled it firmly, but graciously, Peter accepted the rebuke and became a close friend of Paul’s, as revealed in II Peter 3:15.
Ephesians 4:15, 29-32 teaches us how to confront others, speaking the truth in love.
In Matthew 18:18-20 Jesus teaches a principle for dealing with interpersonal problems. Follow these steps and it works every time without causing hard feelings and enmity.
1. Confront the one who has offended you personally, privately, directly and lovingly.
You may solve the problem on that level and that will be the end of it.
2. If that does not work, bring one or two witnesses and try to settle the problem.
3. If that does not work, bring the problem to the attention of the church leaders and let the church take the appropriate action.
AFTER I’VE CONFRONTED AN ERRING, OFFENDING BROTHER, WHAT NEXT?
Watch for evidence of repentance. Matthew 3:8 If he repents, be quick to forgive him. If he fails again, perhaps repeatedly; keep on forgiving him, as Jesus taught in Mathew 18:21-22. To forgive seventy times seven is just another way of telling us to forgive repeatedly without keeping score.
What if he doesn’t repent? Then you have no one to forgive. You simply keep on praying for him and leave him in God’s hands; but you must not become bitter. Leave the vengeance to God. Romans 12:17-21. He can take care of vengeance much better than you or I. The wait may be a long time, as James 1:2-4 intimates. In the meantime, you may face tribulation. That’s OK. Romans 5:3-4 tells us that tribulation helps us learn patience. In the meantime, it is our responsibility to bear the infirmities of the weak, according to Romans 15:1-7.
Are you willing and anxious to forgive those who have offended you? Love does not keep accounts and records of offenses, as we learn in I Corinthians 13. Love forgives.
Forgiveness is a matter of the will and not our feelings, Colossians 3:13 teaches.
When we are aware of our own weaknesses, it is much easier to be thoughtful and patient and forgiving of those who fail and offend us. May I challenge you to memorize Galatians 6:1-3. I assure you that you will have occasion to use it almost every day of your life. Let us be quick to recognize our own sins and faults and confess them to God. and let us be patient with one another’s weaknesses.