Jesus Paid It All-Parts 1-5 Summarized

Over the last few weeks, I have rerun a series of posts entitled “Jesus Paid It All.” It has been designed to illustrate the total and complete sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to atone for our sins.

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Since the posts have been somewhat spaced apart and the entire message in them is extremely important, I have decided to do a final summary of all of them in one post.  Links to each of the articles are included, and I hope and pray readers, particularly unsaved readers, will take the time to read all of them in their entirety. More importantly, I hope and pray readers will take the time to read the Scriptures contained in them. Because what I have to say about the matter simply does not matter; what God has to say about it matters greatly and eternally.

We are all sinners by birth and by nature. Our sins have separated us from God and put a gulf between us that simply cannot be bridged by us. God has clearly stated what sin is, that we are all guilty of it, and what the penalty for it is. The prescribed penalty for sin is death in the form of eternal separation from God in a place called Hell. We can pay our own penalty if we so choose, but we do not want to and we do not have to.

Jesus paid it all. That is a very simple statement, with very profound implications.  Today begins a multi part series on Jesus’ payment. A good starting point is for us to discuss exactly what Jesus paid for. We will end with a discussion of why we really don’t want to make that payment ourselves.

What did Jesus pay for? Well he paid the necessary payment for our sins, of course. That seems fairly simple, yet the vast majority of the world fails to truly understand exactly what that means. The non believing world, as well as a large part of the “Christian” world totally fails to really understand what the Bible teaches about this issue.  Of course the non believing world simply dismisses the issue completely; and within the “Christian” world there are so many perversions and misunderstandings about this issue that they simply cannot be counted. Read Jesus Paid it All Part 1-You Really DON’T Want to Pay Your Own Way.

We know a penalty is due for our sin. The problem is, we desperately want to find some way to atone for our own sin. This is simply not possible. The Bible has clearly stated what payment is due; nonetheless, we have tried since the beginning of time to work our way to Heaven. The Bible teaches the total impossibility of this effort.

Aside from the obvious non religions like atheism, humanism and so forth, there are only two actual “religions” in the world.

The first is the religion of good works. Believers in this religion believe that there is something, somehow, that they can do to ensure their own entry in to Heaven. There are subsets of this religion: some believe sacraments and rituals, if done properly, ensure entrance into heaven. Some believe in the scale of justice theory of salvation, believing that if their good outweighs their bad they can ensure their entry into Heaven. Some believe that if they just do not do anything “really bad” they can ensure their entry into heaven. Adherents of this religion call themselves many different things: New Agers, spiritual, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, and even Evangelical Christians. Some may call themselves Methodists, Baptists, or any other name one can call to mind. Read Jesus Paid It All Part 2-Your Payment’s No Good Here.

Jesus’ payment for the sin of humanity was sufficient for, and available to, all humanity. Jesus did not just die for a group of people He decided to save in eternity past. The only reason people end up spending eternity in Hell is because they reject Jesus, not because He rejects them.

When Jesus paid it all, He paid it for all of us. Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to cover the sin of every human past, present and future.  Before readers get alarmed, please understand I am not saying that everyone from the past was saved, nor am I saying that all will be saved now or in the future.  In fact, the majority of people from the past, people now and those who live in the future will not be saved and enter Heaven. The sad truth is the majority of humankind will spend eternity separated from God in a place of torment called Hell.  So, please do not misunderstand; I am not espousing some form of Universalism, where everybody ends up in Heaven. Read Jesus Paid It All Part 3-The Payment Was Enough for Everyone.

Jesus is the only way. The Blood of Jesus is the only payment accepted by God the Father for the sins of humanity. Many religions teach many paths to Heaven, but they are all false paths.

Here is John 14:6.  Those were the words of Jesus Himself and sum up His thoughts about how a person comes to a relationship with God.  It seems like a fairly straight forward statement, really. Jesus did not say He was one of the ways, or one truth  or that there was any life other than Him.  He stated unequivocally that the only access to God the Father was through Him, God the Son.  Nonetheless, we live in a time where truth is considered relative, any belief is okay as long as it is sincere; to say there is only one way is considered hateful and exclusionary. Read Jesus Paid It All Part 4- The Blood Is The Only Payment Accepted Here.

If you have accepted Jesus’ payment and atoning death for your sins, repented of them and accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, you are eternally secure in that salvation. Just like you could never earn it in the first place, you do not have to spend the rest of your life trying to keep it.

The question is often asked: Can a person, once saved, ever lose their salvation? The short answer is: NO. The Bible clearly and unequivocally teaches that a person who was truly saved and converted can is eternally secure in that salvation and will never lose it. This is referred to as the Eternal Security of the Believer, Perseverance of the Saints or “Once saved always saved.”

We are going to discuss a lot of material here, so this will be a longish post. We will look at the key passages that support this doctrine; we will look at how Security of the Believer flows naturally from other things we know about Salvation; we will look at at some arguments made against the doctrine and finally we will look at why proper understanding of our security in Jesus Christ matters so much. Read Jesus Paid It All Part 5- The Payment Was Permanent.

Are you lost? Are you a non believer? The above posts contain the essentials of what God has revealed to us in His Word to change that.

Have you been in church all of your life? Are you confused or uncertain about the eternal state of your soul? The above posts contain the  essentials of what God has revealed to us in His Word to change that.

Are you religious? Are you believing in something other than Jesus to save your soul? The above posts contain the essentials of what God has revealed to us in His Word to change that.

Jesus Paid it All and the Payment Was Permanent

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The question is often asked: Can a person, once saved, ever lose their salvation? The short answer is: NO. The Bible clearly and unequivocally teaches that a person who was truly saved and converted can is eternally secure in that salvation and will never lose it. This is referred to as the Eternal Security of the Believer, Perseverance of the Saints or “Once saved always saved.”

We are going to discuss a lot of material here, so this will be a longish post. We will look at the key passages that support this doctrine; we will look at how Security of the Believer flows naturally from other things we know about Salvation; we will look at at some arguments made against the doctrine and finally we will look at why proper understanding of our security in Jesus Christ matters so much.

First, let’s look at some Scriptures which teach us about the Eternal Security of the Believer.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Simply tossing around Bible verses does not necessarily prove anything; out of the proper context, any verse can be used for most any proof. We always have to make sure we quote verses in the full context in which they appear. That would include the context of their chapter as well as the overall story of the Bible. They must be placed in the proper linguistic, historical and cultural context to be fully understood. Simply placing the above verses in the context of things we learn elsewhere in the Bible, it is clear that they teach that one’s salvation can never be lost.

If we look at the security of the believer in terms of why we needed to be saved in the first place, it simply makes no sense to propose we could lose our salvation once it is ours. Remember, we do not need to just be saved from our big sins, or our really heinous sins; we need salvation for all of them big or small. God is perfect and Holy, we are imperfect and sinful. Because God is perfect, any imperfection separates us from Him. We owe a penalty for our sin, big or small, which we can only pay by our death. Read the post on that subject here.  If we could lose our salvation for some sin, then the question immediately comes up: for exactly WHAT sin or sins could we lose it? The obvious answer is easy to come up with. Any sin separated us from God in the first place. If we could lose our salvation for some sin, then likewise any sin would take it from us.

Remember Romans 6:23? “The wages of sin is death .” That statement is not graded on a curve. It is all inclusive for all sin. The payment is due from each of us. And it’s not paid on the installment plan. This penalty is either paid, or it’s not. If one has not accepted Jesus’ payment for it, then it is not paid. However, of one has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, then it is paid.

We also understand that our salvation is by Grace and not by works. We know that we do not make even the smallest contribution to the obtaining of our salvation. We discussed that quite fully in this post.

If our salvation is 100 percent obtained by grace, then it is also 100 percent maintained by grace. If no works of any sort help us attain salvation, then conversely and obviously, “bad” works, lack of works or substandard works could not possibly cost us that salvation, right? If we don’t work to get it, then why would we have to work to keep it? There are substantial numbers of people who would agree that initially, salvation is by grace but that we must then maintain it by our works.

If Salvation did have to be maintained by works, then the immediate question is:  Exactly WHAT are the works requirements that must be met  in order to keep it? It is the same problem as determining exactly what sin could cost us our salvation. There is simply no list of rules given anywhere is Scripture. Actually, there is a list and it is quite simple. Any sin separates us from God, and no works restore us. Anything else is just what we, humans, have added. We are going to dive into that topic later in this post.

The Apostle Paul addressed that very mindset in Galatians 3:3 “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”  Paul informed us in that verse, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that it is simply foolishness to think that we were saved by Grace but needed to maintain it by works.

Perhaps the biggest argument against the Doctrine of Eternal Security is that it somehow becomes “a license to sin.” In other words, one can become saved and then go out in the world and do whatever one chooses with no consequence. After all, one’s sins past, present and future are all forgiven.  Technically, that is a true statement. Technically a truly saved person, no matter how far they might backslide, is still forgiven and heaven bound.

Sadly and to the discredit of churches today, we do much to foster this skepticism about the Doctrine of Eternal Security. We have pews full of people who only darken the doors of a church for an hour on Sunday morning, then barrel back to the outside world and conduct themselves just like, or worse than, the rest of the world.  This same group of people justifies their behavior by resting on some claim that they are saved, so..”I’m all good, I’m saved and heaven bound. Jesus has forgiven me so it’s cool.” This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.  Salvation is not about getting a ticket to heaven punched. God truly, deeply loves us and offers us the gift of salvation, but salvation is not about us! That’s Joel Osteen talk for sure. Read my post on just who worship is for and why we are saved here.

A quick summary is in order here. God was not sitting around in Heaven lonely one day and decided to create humanity to alleviate His loneliness. God is self existent and self sufficient and has no need for us whatsoever. God does not save us so that He can fill some empty void in His existence. We were only created for His honor and glory in the first place. In fact, the entire plan of redemption formed before the beginning of time was simply to declare God’s glory to the universe.

The point of this is God does not save us “for” us. He saves us for a purpose and a reason, and the reason is not us.  The most notable Bible passage on salvation based on grace not works is of course Ephesians 2:8,9. Where people go wrong, however, is they stop there.  Because right after God makes it clear through the Apostle Paul that works don’t save us, He goes on to tell they whys of our salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

That’s just a start. There are numerous passages that teach us the a true saving faith will produce fruit(works). These are merely a few.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22.23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1 John 3:6-9 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

The Apostle Paul answered the question about Eternal Security being a permit to sin very directly in Romans 6:15-23. This question is far from a new one.

Romans 6:15-23 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Clearly, salvation is not a permit to sin at will. God said that in His Word. Also, clearly, God has expectations of us once we are saved.

Not only does The Bible teach that grace and security are not a permit to sin, but Christians should keep in mind that we all face a judgment one day.  Understand clearly that a truly saved person will never face judgment for their sins; the issue of Heaven and Hell is decided only in this life. Believers will, however, be judged at some point in time for how they lived their lives for Jesus Christ while they were alive. The ultimate goal of every believer at the Judgment should be to hear the same words the  good steward heard in the Parable of the Talents which Jesus told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Let’s take a look at this judgement believers face. We learn in Romans 14:10-12 as Paul wrote to the Roman believers, that we will all stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and account for how we lived our lives for him. Since we aren’t going to be judged for our sins what then is the purpose of this judgment? The judgment believers face is to determine our rewards we will receive for the things we have done for Jesus while living. One of the best descriptions of what will happen can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

What we receive are crowns for various services we have rendered on behalf of Jesus Christ during our lives. Descriptions of these can be found in several places in Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10.

Not only do saved believers face a judgment later for their works, but we also need to understand that we do not necessarily escaped unscathed in this life for the things we do wrong. We escape the eternal punishment for our sins due to our salvation, but not the earthly consequences for them. The things we do on this Earth affect our lives on this Earth.

God Himself may discipline us. Notice the difference between punishment and discipline. We are free from the eternal punishment for our sins: past, present and future. Like a good parent, however, God will chastise and discipline us in order to bring us back in line with His desire for our lives.

Hebrews 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.   If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

God disciplines us as His children; if fact, if He does not discipline us then we are not actually His!

Sin has earthly consequences which are not necessarily handed out by God, but just the natural outflow of our actions. King David is one of the finest examples of actions and consequences we can find anywhere in the Bible. Only a very few people would even try to make a case for David being unsaved; there is almost universal agreement that as we speak, David is in Heaven with The Lord. Yet, we all also know the truly terrible sins David committed at one point in his life. We all know the story of his adultery with Bathsheeba and his murder of her husband Uriah. David certainly was forgiven by God for those sins, but if one reads the full story of his Kingdom it is easy to see that the consequences of what David did set the stage for many things.

  • The rape of his daughter Tamar by her half brother Amnon and Amnons subsequent murder by Absalom. 2 Samuel 13
  • Absalom’s banishment from the house of David and partial restoration. 2 Samuel 14
  • Absalom’s later rebellion against David. 2 Samuel 15-19

Just a casual reading of this story and it is easy to draw the conclusion that David’s failure as both a father and husband led ultimately to some very serious consequences. One might even say that his other son Solomon behaved in some of the ways he did due to the example set by his father David.

To sum up the above, eternal security in our salvation is not a license to run out and sin all we want to. I heard a preacher say once, “Since I got saved I sin all I want to;” the audience grew silent and he then stated, “but I don’t want to.” Let’s recap quickly.

  • True saving faith and salvation will produce works, or fruit
  • We will all be judged for the quality of our works.
  • God will discipline and chastise us for our actions
  • We still face earthly consequences for the things we do

The whole idea that the Doctrine of Eternal Security is no more than a license to sin in probably the single biggest argument that is used to counter the doctrine. As we can see, the argument is simply not a valid one. Other than that, there are numerous Scripture verses used as “proof texts” to support the idea that we can lose our salvation. Several years ago, a family member had an interesting conversation with a person who believed one could lose their salvation. When challenged by the family member for some proof, the person in question quoted Job 1:21, saying “The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away!”  That may be the single most absurd argument for being able to lose salvation that has ever been spoken. Not all of these arguments are that absurd, however; some seem to make sense on the surface. Let’s look at a few. It will only be a few, as there are many.

Some scriptures that speak of earthly chastening are used to teach believers can lose their salvation.

1 Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

Romans 13:2  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 

The word damnation in those verses is not referring to “anathema”, or death in Hell, but “krima”, referring to earthly judgment

There are those passages that refer to a believer being called home by God because of committing the sin unto death. This, in context, refers to physical and not spiritual death.  1 John 5:16 and 1 Corinthians 3:17 both refer to this.  The fornicator in 1 Corinthians 5 was in danger of committing it and the believers in Corinth participating in the Lord’s Supper unworthily and Annanais and Sapphira all committed it. Nothing in context suggest these were unsaved people, but people being called home by physical death so as not to ruin their testimonies.

Some verses dealing with evidence or proof of salvation are used to illustrate a person losing their salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Colossians 1:22,23 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

James, in particular, is used to support this idea. But in the context of the overall concept of salvation not being by works, it is made clear that the above verses are referring only to the evidence of salvation.

Some verses used to show the possible loss of salvation simply refer to someone who never had it in the first place.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Some say that not those who say “Lord, Lord” enter heaven but only those who “doeth the will of my Father” enter heaven. In other words, works are needed to stay saved. Just note, however, what Jesus said. He said, “I never knew you.” To understand the full context of the above passage, it is necessary to read the entire passage in question. Read Matthew 7:15-23.  The overall context in the passage is referring to false prophets and teachers who ran around claiming to belong to Jesus, but in fact never had.

The above passages are but a few that seem, on the surface, to support the idea that a person can lose their salvation. Like all of our Bible interpretation efforts, we have to perform this one correctly. Context, language, history and culture all have to be considered when assuming a position or interpretati0n.  All of these things taken together, along with Scriptures supporting Eternal Security, clearly show that the Doctrine of Eternal Security of the Believer is, in fact, completely Biblical. Now, the only question remains is: Why is it so important?

The Doctrine of conditional salvation, or that one can lose their salvation, is a product of Satan himself. I am not saying that those who believe it are of Satan; I am saying the thought is from him. Why would I say such a thing? Allow me to briefly explain. First, let’s take a look at the following passage:

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

In that passage, Paul was speaking to saved believers. What he was passing along from God was that we are to put on our helmet, and that helmet is the helmet of Salvation. He simply meant that Satan desperately wants us to be in a constant state of doubting our salvation. Paul was teaching us not to be distracted by those doubts, but to live secure in the assurance of our status as reconciled children of God.

Why does Satan care? The basic reason is that if we rest assured that our salvation is secure, then we can move along to the work God really wants us to do.  If we spend our entire lives in a mad scramble to stay saved, then that is all we can do. I hate to sound repetitive, but it’s not about us! It is about our works done to honor and glorify God and not our efforts either to get saved or to stay saved.

As with works based salvation, works maintained salvation becomes about men rather than God. God has laid out the conditions that must be met for salvation: repentance toward God and faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Any other rules are not God’s rules, they are man’s rules. Who makes any such list of rules and conditions necessary to maintain salvation? Some person, of course. When we follow rules set by man, we begin to abandon God’s guidelines as revealed in His Word. When we do that, we begin to follow men rather than God; worse, we begin to follow ourselves. And that is what got us into trouble in the first place way back in Genesis Chapter 3

Are you saved? If you are, rest assured that your salvation is secure for all eternity. Quit worrying about what you have to do to keep it, and get busy doing the works God has actually called you to do.

Are you lost? Understand that this security can belong to you as well. Admit you are a sinner. Agree with God that He is right and you are wrong. Turn from your sin. Believe that Jesus paid your due penalty on the cross, and accept Him as your Savior and Lord today. Then, pick up your cross and follow Him.

Jesus Paid It All and The Blood Is the Only Payment Accepted Here

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John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Those were the words of Jesus Himself and sum up His thoughts about how a person comes to a relationship with God.  It seems like a fairly straight forward statement, really. Jesus did not say He was one of the ways, or one truth  or that there was any life other than Him.  He stated unequivocally that the only access to God the Father was through Him, God the Son.  Nonetheless, we live in a time where truth is considered relative, any belief is okay as long as it is sincere; to say there is only one way is considered hateful and exclusionary.

Most people with any spiritual inclination whatsoever would tend to put some credence to words spoken by Jesus. Of course, an non believer would not, but this article is not really for them. This is really to address those who hold the idea that many paths lead to God. We can’t really say that Jesus was just a good man, good teacher and one of many ways to Heaven. If He was outright lying in that Scripture and knew He was not the only way to God, then we should never follow a man such as that. If He genuinely believed what He said, but was just monumentally wrong, then we should never follow a man such as that. In either of those two cases, Jesus was certainly not a good man, or good teacher or any path to Heaven whatsoever. The only real alternatives are to totally disbelieve or completely believe the words He said in that verse. That is simply C.S Lewis’ famous Liar, Lunatic or Lord argument and it remains a valid one.

We hopefully agree at this point that payment is due. See this article for discussion on that subject:

Jesus Paid it All- Part 1- Your Really DON’T Want To Pay Your Own Way

I hope we also agree that we have no ability to do anything whatsoever to pay the price for our sin, other than the Biblically prescribed one of death. A review of that subject can be found here:

Jesus Paid it All – Part 2 – Your Payment’s No Good Here

Belief in God, sincerely held, is also not enough. After all, James taught us that even the demons believe. (James 2:19). Not only do they believe, but they tremble in fear! Sincerity does not accomplish a thing. Jesus said in our verse above, that He is the Truth.  Sincerely held belief in an untruth does not make it true, no matter how sincere the belief.  Some examples follow.  One can sincerely disbelieve in the Law of Gravity, but if that person steps off a building, he or she will soon discover they were wrong.  The laws of physics trump sincerely held belief. One can sincerely believe auto theft is okay, but a Judge will quickly show that person the error of their ways. The laws of the land trump sincerely held belief.  We could follow examples until the end of time.  The bottom line is, law trumps sincerely help belief every time.

God is the Supreme lawgiver. His law is just and perfect. We fail to meet His standard, making us law breakers. The penalty for transgressions of God’s law is death. Death is both physical and spiritual. Spiritual death is separation from God eternally in a place of torment called Hell.

The reason Jesus is the only way to God is because only Jesus could pay the needed price. He was able to pay it because He was fully human. Humans broke the law and a human had to pay. He was able to pay it because He was sinless and perfect; Jesus never transgressed The Law. Only because He had nto penalty of His own to pay could He pay mine. He was able to pay it because He is God. Only God could pay the infinite penalty required on behalf of every person who had lived, was living in His day, is living now and will live into the future.

Just a quick counter to those who claim that Christianity’s statement that Jesus is the only way is exclusionary follows next. Jesus payment on the Cross for sin is not exclusionary; it is available to anybody. No one is denied access to it. Read the following for an explanation:

Jesus Paid It All – Part 3 – The Payment Was Enough For Everyone

The payment Jesus made for us is not exclusionary, but it is extremely exclusive. Matthew 7:13,14 teaches us that the path to destruction is wide but the path to salvation is narrow. No one is excluded, but many will decline the offer.

How does one accept? Understand how you have failed before a Holy God. Agree with Him that your sin is wrong and and offense to Him and deserving of punishment. Believe that Jesus paid the price you could never pay and accept Him as your Savior and Lord.  Repentance toward God and belief in Jesus Christ, it’s that simple.

Jesus Paid It All-And the Payment Was Enough For Everyone

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When Jesus paid it all, He paid it for all of us. Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to cover the sin of every human past, present and future.  Before readers get alarmed, please understand I am not saying that everyone from the past was saved, nor am I saying that all will be saved now or in the future.  In fact, the majority of people from the past, people now and those who live in the future will not be saved and enter Heaven. The sad truth is the majority of humankind will spend eternity separated from God in a place of torment called Hell.  So, please do not misunderstand; I am not espousing some form of Universalism, where everybody ends up in Heaven.

What am I saying then? I am simply saying that the quality of Jesus’ sacrifice and payment on the Cross  was enough for all humanity to escape the penalty of their sins. Jesus’ payment was not just for an elect group of people whom God the Father has preselected in eternity past to be eternally with Him in Heaven. Not everyone will agree with that statement, of course, but this is what the Bible teaches.

God’s gift of salvation through the death of His Son Jesus Christ is available to all, but not all will accept it.  Even though it is a free gift, there are terms under which we must accept. What are the terms? Repentance toward God for our sin and belief in His Son Jesus Christ. We must agree with God that our sin is wrong; we have to understand what we deserved as punishment for those sins. That covers repentance toward God. Then we must believe that God, in the form of the man Jesus Christ, came to Earth to pay on our behalf. Not only that He died, but He rose after three days dead thereby conquering sin and death. If we do that and call on the name of the Lord, we will be saved as we clearly learn in Romans 10:13.

How can we know that this salvation is available to all, and that our failure to have it is not because God denied it to us but because we refused it?

To understand this, we have to start at the very beginning. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve, we are all sinners by nature and choice. It is never a question of if we sin, but only a question of when. The Calvinists have it right on this point, really; we are so totally depraved that we are not even capable on our own of wanting to be saved from our sin. The sinful state we are born into is made clear in Romans 5:12 and 5:13, which teach us that sin and death entered into the world by one man, Adam.

We do not want to be saved, as we love our sin more. Left to our own devices, we would never seek God. Romans 3:10 and 13 tell us that not only is no one righteous, but none of us seek God. Romans 8:7 is yet more dire, teaching us that not only are we the enemies of God, but we are not even capable of accepting the things of God. In John 6:44, Jesus taught that no one would come to Him unless the Father drew them.

So even though we are not desiring or capable of seeking God, God has made provisions for us in order that we may overcome our inability.  In Matthew Chapter 19 after the rich young ruler left disappointed, Jesus pointed out to His disciples how difficult it was for a man to be saved.  When asked who could be saved, Jesus replied that with men it is not possible, but with “God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25,26) So, we see that we would only respond to God if He draws us. The good news is that we hear Jesus say  in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” God also draws all men unto Himself through the light of Jesus Christ; John 1:9 teaches us this light lights all men.

Atonement is not limited. It is available to all men. Scholars get around this clear teaching of Scripture by spinning what the Bible says when it says “all.” Of course any word can have more than one meaning including that one. But nothing in the context of any of the verses below suggest that “all” is limited in any way.

Hebrews 2:9, Jesus did “taste death for every man”
Hebrews 10:10 teaches Jesus body was offered “for all.”
John 12:47, Jesus came to save the World
Romans 5:8, Jesus died for sinners
Romans 5:18, Jesus free gift is offered to “all men”
Romans 8:32, Jesus was delivered up for “us all”
Isaiah 53:6, he bore the iniquities of “all”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Jesus died for “all”
2 Peter 2:1, Jesus even died for false teachers and liars doomed for Hell.

So, there you have it. It’s available to everyone. No one is denied it. Repentance toward God and belief in The Lord Jesus Christ and it’s yours.

Jesus Paid It All and Your Payment’s No Good Here

This is the second installment in this re run of the Jesus Paid It All series

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Aside from the obvious non religions like atheism, humanism and so forth, there are only two actual “religions” in the world.

The first is the religion of good works. Believers in this religion believe that there is something, somehow, that they can do to ensure their own entry in to Heaven. There are subsets of this religion: some believe sacraments and rituals, if done properly, ensure entrance into heaven. Some believe in the scale of justice theory of salvation, believing that if their good outweighs their bad they can ensure their entry into Heaven. Some believe that if they just do not do anything “really bad” they can ensure their entry into heaven. Adherents of this religion call themselves many different things: New Agers, spiritual, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, and even Evangelical Christians. Some may call themselves Methodists, Baptists, or any other name one can call to mind.

On the other hand, there is the true “religion”. This is simply the Faith that teaches that absolutely nothing any human can do is sufficient to pay for the sin we have all committed. Our payment is no good here. In the first article in this series, Jesus Paid it All, we discussed the fact that we can each certainly pay our own way for our own sin. That article can be Read Here:

Jesus Paid It All and you Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way

But, as that article shows, the only way we can pay for our own sin is by death, both physical and spiritual. Eternally we pay our debt by being forever separated from God in a place of torment called Hell. That is the ONLY way we can pay for our own sin.

In other words, we can pay our own debt, but we can never redeem ourselves from the penalty of what we have done.

Ephesians 2:8,9 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast

That verse is really fairly self explanatory and says and means exactly what it says. It seems to say it with little ambiguity or room for alternate interpretations. Nonetheless, let’s expand a little on what it is really saying.

We are saved by God’s Grace, through our faith(and even that is given to us by God.) Grace is a free gift of God, not earned by us. No work we might ever do contributes one iota toward our eternal Salvation. We WANT our salvation to be by our works because we really, really like ourselves.

Grace plus nothing equals our Salvation. Jesus Paid it All. He doesn’t need our help to finish the project, His Grace is sufficient. Period and end of the story.

We can’t do enough good to cover our own sin.

We can’t avoid enough bad to cover our own sin.

We cannot do anything in our unsaved state to appear favorable in the sight of a Holy and perfect God.

Our Rituals, Sacraments and Ordinances, while not wrong by any means can never save us.

No sacrifice of any sort can ever save us.

What, then saves us? It starts with Grace. God’s gift of His son who COULD pay for our sin, and did. We simply have to accept the gift by Repentance toward God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus Paid It All and You Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way

Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to re run a series I wrote a while ago. It is one of the first things I ever wrote, and remains one of my favorites.

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Jesus paid it all. That is a very simple statement, with very profound implications.  Today begins a multi part series on Jesus’ payment. A good starting point is for us to discuss exactly what Jesus paid for. We will end with a discussion of why we really don’t want to make that payment ourselves.

What did Jesus pay for? Well he paid the necessary payment for our sins, of course. That seems fairly simple, yet the vast majority of the world fails to truly understand exactly what that means. The non believing world, as well as a large part of the “Christian” world totally fails to really understand what the Bible teaches about this issue.  Of course the non believing world simply dismisses the issue completely; and within the “Christian” world there are so many perversions and misunderstandings about this issue that they simply cannot be counted.

This series will be a close examination of some of the truths contained in the simple statement, “Jesus paid it all.”  In this first part, we will simply discuss the nature of both our sin debt and the payment Jesus made on our behalf for that debt.

Let’s talk about sin.  In its simplest meaning, sin is the breaking of God’s law. By God’s Law, we aren’t talking about the Old Testament Law, such as dietary laws and so forth. We are talking about the moral codes of behavior which God has laid out for us to adhere to. God’s law comes out of the aspects of the nature of God. For example, God considers a lie to be a transgression of His law, because God himself cannot lie. God’s Law reflects His character and His Holiness. To not love others transgresses God’s Law, because God is love. God’s Law is not just some arbitrary list of rules, but a reflection of His character, holiness and perfection.

Do we sin? Well of course we do! The Bible teaches that clearly. Romans 3:23 is the most famous scripture verse on this issue, stating that 

Romans 3:23 All have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God

Not only do we all sin, but we were all born into this world as sinners. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all mankind has inherited a sin nature. Romans 5:12 teaches us that,

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

But let’s get more specific. It’s easy to toss out the general idea about how we are all sinners by nature and by choice. But we should actually discuss some particulars of our sin. Most people would agree that the Ten Commandments are a major source of a great number of the specifics of God’s Law. We should give ourselves a test. By the way I fail this test miserably!

Have you ever told a lie? Any lie, small or large. Any lie, whether a little white lie or a big black one? What is a person who tells lies called? A liar of course

Have you ever stolen anything? Big or little. Have you stolen a pencil at work? Run copies on the company printer? Have you cut in line? Then you stole that person’s spot. What do you call someone who steals? A thief of course.

Have you ever used God’s name in vain? This doesn’t even have to be the most obvious one where we actually use His name as a curse word. Have you called Him “the Big Guy?” Any use of the Holy name of God in a flip way is considered blasphemy by God.

Ever looked at a member of the opposite sex with lust? Of course we all have, unless we like the same sex. Jesus taught that to look at a woman with lust is to commit adultery of the heart.

We really have not gotten through all of the Ten Commandments, which are His moral law, and we have established that for the most part we are all lying, stealing, blaspheming adulterers at heart! (Thanks to Ray Comfort for that little test by the way)

So, the only question that remains is: Someday when you stand before God will you be found innocent or guilty? Based on our test, the answer obviously seems guilty is the only possible answer. To really get this, we have to understand and try to look at the issue from God’s perspective. We might look at some of those things and just not consider them to be a big deal; however, God disagrees. The real issue is this: Do we get to rate ourselves, so to speak, against our own human thoughts about right and wrong, or are we subject to the evaluation of a Perfect and Holy God?

Let’s start with something basic. God hates sin. That is an uncomfortable truth, but a truth nonetheless. Why does God hate sin? There are many reasons, and we will cover a few of them. First and foremost, God hates sin because He is Holy and sin is unholy. Sin, simply put, is outside the character of God and it offends Him. Like we said before, the Bible teaches that God cannot lie and that God is love. It flows from His character naturally then, that He would hate liars and those who do not love. God hates our sin because it separates us from Him. Before they rebelled and ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden daily with God, as we learn in  Genesis 3:8. After The Fall, they were physically expelled from the Garden of Eden and the presence of God. The Prophet Isaiah was inspired to write the following:

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Our sin separates us from God, yet He created us to commune with and worship Him; therefore He hates anything which separates us from Him.

God hates sin because we will love our sin more than we love Him. God is love, loves us and wants our love. He hates anything which diminishes that love. James covered this in his epistle:

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

God hates sin because sin is a sign of our rebellion toward Him.  In the Garden of Eden, God only made one rule for Adam and Eve, and that was that they not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve succumbed to the temptations presented to her by Satan, and she and Adam ate the fruit anyway. God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to live forever in harmony, in communion and in worship of Him. They chose, however, the things that appealed to them rather than the things that mattered to God. That is what our sin represents to God today. When we sin, we are simply saying to God that we think our way is better than His way.

So, God is the Creator of the Universe and the supreme law giver. He is entitled, by virtue of that position, to make the guidelines by which we live; falling short or refusing to comply with those guidelines offends God’s character and He hates it. Obviously, it seems, any violation of His law makes us guilty of being law breakers. Nonetheless, many come up with various defenses of their actions in attempts to say they really are not guilty. We are going to look at some of those defenses; and we are going to compare what God might think with what any judge in any courtroom in the world would say if these defenses were presented to him or her. That seems fair; we would understand a human judge responding in accordance with the law. It seems we would expect no less of the Supreme Judge of the Universe! For this scenario, just envision being before a human judge, say for the crime of armed robbery and that the penalty for that is imprisonment. This is the law, no exceptions.

Judge, it wasn’t really a big robbery. I didn’t even use a gun! And I only got a little bit of money anyway.” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge. God likewise does not care about the size of our sin. God is perfect and Holy, remember? A small sin makes us just as guilty as a big on in they eyes of a perfect God. James 2:10 teaches us that a man can keep the whole law and yet offends in one point is still guilty of violation the entire law.

Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but I never killed anybody!” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge. God is not going to look at all the things we could have done, but did not do. Once again, a violation of the law is a violation of the law.

Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but did you know I have been working down at the food kitchen helping the homeless for years? What about all the money I gave to charity?” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge.  No matter how many good things we may do, they do not make up for our violation of God’s law. We cannot cover our penaly due by doing anything good.

Judge, look what THAT guy has done!” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge.  God is not comparing us to each other to decide our innocence of guilt. He only compares us the the standard of His perfection and Holiness. It only matters what we have done, not what anyone else has done.

Judge, I’m really, really sorry for committing the armed robbery.” The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. Off to jail says the judge.  The idea that we could tell a judge we are sorry and expect to be released is really absurd. The law says what the penalty is, and the penalty must be paid. Why would God be any different?

Let’s get serious for a few moments now. Based on the standard of the law, we are all guilty of breaking it. I am; you are, every single one of us is. Someday we will all stand before God and the only possible verdict is a resounding GUILTY! This however, is not armed robbery, and the penalty is not simply imprisonment. What, then is the penalty? God’s Word tells us the answer to that question:

Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death………

That’s right, the penalty prescribed in God’s Law for violation of that law is the death penalty. The penalty is not penance, or purgatory, or a monetary fine or any sort of good works to make up for what we have done. The penalty for our sin is death. What does this mean? Well, after the first sin, it meant physical death. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in their physical forms, in harmony with God. Their sin brought into the world all the sickness and death as we know it today. Death also means spiritual death.  Even though we all eventually die physically, we are are all eternal in our spirits. Our spirit, or soul will exist for all eternity.  So, again, what is it to spiritually die? Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a place of torment we call Hell. It’s really that simple. When God says the wages of sin is death, that is the death of which He speaks.

The penalty is due; we all owe it, for we have all sinned and transgressed God’s law.  And each and everyone of us can pay that penalty ourselves if we want to. We each owe it, and we can each pay it. I could have payed for my own sin; you can pay for yours if you wish. But that’s the point of this article. We don’t really want to pay our own way; we don’t want to suffer eternal death in a place called Hell.

Although we can certainly pay our own way, we do not have to. The title of this article is Jesus Paid it All, and He did. The Good News of the Gospel is that even though a penalty is was due and payable, it has already been paid! We need to go back to Romans 6:23 and look at the rest of that verse, as we only showed part of it earlier:   

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God has given us a gift. Even though we owed the penalty of death for our sin, He have us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way for that debt to be satisfied. God became flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ and became incarnate on this Earth for that very reason. Jesus Christ was fully human, so He could pay the price humans owed for their sin; He was also fully God, so He could pay the infinite price of the sin of all humanity past, present and future. Despite how He hates sin, God loves us deeply and completely.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is a gift, we do not pay a thing for it; Jesus paid it all. We do not deserve it and we do not earn it.  All we have to do is accept it. How do we do this? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about this:

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

It’s simple really. We have to confess Him. Basically we have to agree with Him that our sin is wrong and understand we should have paid for it. We agree with God that our sin is wrong and turn away from it. We call that repentance. We also need to believe that Jesus paid the price we should have paid ourselves, and to trust Him as our Savior and Lord.  And finally, we do have to call on Him. Romans 10:13 teaches that. The gift is available, and it is free; however God will not force it on anybody. He does require that we call on Him and ask for that gift.

Jesus paid it all. Four words full of meaning.  We all have a choice. We can pay our own way or we can accept that Jesus has already paid our way, if only we repent toward God and believe in Jesus Christ.

Worship is…. Secret Santa Worship Day

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What is Worship?

Worship. It’s that thing we do on Sunday morning, from 11:00 until as close to noon as the preacher can possibly make it right? Maybe it’s even from 10:00 until noon if we go to Sunday School. No, wait…worship isn’t that! It’s the couple of songs we sing after the announcements and before the sermon; it’s the part of Sunday we call “Praise and worship.” Yeah, that’s it!

No..no..not really

Well, what is it then?

Worship, in my humble estimation, is who were are, why we exist, and why we were created in the first place. Worship is NOT an event, or a happening; it is not something that has a start or a finish, or that only occurs for a set time each week in our busy lives. Worship IS our lives, and it defines who we are…or who we are not. That’s a lot of territory, isn’t it? Perhaps we can break it down some and it will make sense! Let’s define it quickly:

Worship-noun- the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity

Worship-verb-Show reverence and adoration for a deity

Hmm..worship then, is both something we feel, and something we show.

As we take this brief journey, we will look at some areas: Why do we worship God? What’s worship mean for us? How might we make our lives and act of worship? We may find more, but those are a great start!

It’s fairly easy to lay out from God’s word just why we worship Him. He has told us  fairly clearly in His Word.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

God made us, and He made all of this. Not only is that pretty amazing, but it gives Him some rather large prerogatives. A question I have seen asked all over the Blogosphere lately is: Why? God wasn’t lonely; God needs nothing, as He lacks nothing. God is self existent. So…why us? He explains that fairly well also:

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Isaiah 43:21.22 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

So, we can see God created us, and He also created us primarily for His honor, glory, and pleasure. That seems rather a hard pill to swallow doesn’t it? From our human sensibilities, a God who created us for no more reason than His own glorification and pleasure seems…not appealing to our sensibilities. Perhaps because we actually really like our own glorification and pleasure? But, that is another post entirely I suppose!

I do want to take a look at the word “pleasure.” I heard this described by a non believer in these terms, “Oh, so God created us for entertainment?”. Well, no. Pleasure and entertainment are not synonyms. What might God’s pleasure mean?

God is Love, and God desires relationship.

Note the word “desires.” God  needs nothing, as God is self existent. If God desires a thing, it is not because He needs it to complete Himself, but because it brings Him pleasure. Let’s not get too deep theologically here, this thought is complex beyond measure, but yet so simple a child can get it. Because the idea that a self existent being might desire something seems to imply a lack of some sort. Let us remember that God has many attributes. God is self existent; God is love. How can those co exist? Well, I don’t know that, and neither do you. We know, however because He reveals these things to us through His Word. We don’t and can’t understand, because understanding a completely “omni” God is beyond the reach of any finite, “not omni” being.

So, we may not get this, but it is so. God loves, and God desires relationship. That is inherent in the concept and very definition of love.

Do we see this in the narrative of God’s Word? The Bible is packed literally from beginning to end with illustrations of how God loves us and wants us to be joy filled. We can see this from the Book of Genesis when God walked in the Garden of Eden every day with Adam and Eve to the Book of Revelation where God restores everything in the New Heaven and Earth and we dwell in His presence forever. The Book of Psalms is full of King David rejoicing and being happy in the Lord. How much did God love us? John 3:16 teaches us God loved the World so much He gave His only Son to us, so that if we believe, we can have everlasting life. 1 John 4 and 5 contain the famous words “God is Love.” Those chapters go on to give perhaps the greatest description of the relationship between God’s love for us, our love for others and the keeping of His commandments in all of the Bible.

God loves us. He loves us in the here and now, and wants a relationship with us every day. He also desires a relationship with us for all eternity. Both of these explain why God sacrificed His only Son, literally Himself, on the Cross of Calvary for the sole purpose of restoring the relationship we had fractured through our sin.

It is the building of this relationship in our lives every day, with our Lord Jesus Christ which is the cornerstone of worship as a way of life.

Here, our noun and our verb roll up together and put on feet and march into action. We feel reverence and adoration for our God because He showed that to us, 1 John 4:19 teaches us that We love him, because he first loved us. How then, do we show our love and adoration? We aren’t taking some trip into legalism here, but God clearly teaches us that we are to live certain ways which take our feelings for Him and put them into action. We worship by transferring our feelings into a lifestyle. Let’s look at some Biblical thoughts on this matter:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Not only is relationship with God our proper worship, but relationship with each other is. After all, loving each other is second only in importance to loving God Himself.

Matthew 22:27-30 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

So, what is worship to me?

Well, it’s not just Sunday morning; it’s not just my church building, and it’s not even just being with the body of believers I love so dearly. Of course, worship as an corporate event is certainly valid, and quite Biblical. Worship, however, does not cease when I leave that happening, and it starts long before I arrive there. In fact, worship never stops and never ends. Worship should be who I am; it should be the very thing which defines me.

It begins with my understanding that my God is worthy of my worship, love, and adoration. It is honed by my following His desire that I have a relationship with Him. Finally, it is fine tuned by my daily focus on Him, and what His desires for my life and my lifestyle are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Never Fails-Part Three

Today will be our last installment of this  previously published series on 1 Corinthians 13


1 Corinthians 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.1 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


Love Is Not Rude or Selfish

Love doesn’t behave itself unseemly. Love is not rude. Love is not ill mannered. That seems fairly simple, right? Why would rudeness or being ill mannered exhibit a lack of love? If we conduct ourselves in a rude manner, we are simply saying in effect, “I don’t even care enough about you to consider how my actions might affect you.”

Love seeketh not her own. Love is not selfish. Biblical love should be seeking the best for others, and that sometimes is not going to be what is best for us.

These two could be summed up by simply stating that true Biblical love gives up what we would consider “personal rights.”

Jesus surrendered ALL of His personal rights for us, therefore setting the example for us in this matter? What exactly did He give up? What did He do?

Philippians 2:5-8  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

How’s that for an example?

Love Is Not Angry

Love is not easily provoked; love doesn’t get angry. Many at this point may be saying, “What about righteous anger?” Okay, true, but how many of us are really out there tipping over the tables of the money changers in the Temple?

Most of our anger is NOT righteous anger. Most of it is simply because we are not getting things our way. Trust me, I know this very, very well! When we are angry because we don’t get our way, we are saying simply that we do not love the other person. Why? Because at that point we are saying our needs are more important than their needs. Part of true Biblical love is putting the needs of others first. If we are angry because of solely what has been done to us, we are in violation of Paul’s teaching here.

Again, Jesus set the example here. Of course, The Bible teaches cases of Jesus being angry. He was angry at the money changers, sin and the false teachers of the time. But did you ever notice that not once did Jesus ever get angry at someone for what they were doing to Him? He didn’t even get angry at those who placed Him on that cross.

Love Is Not Keeping Count

Love thinketh no evil.  That statement needs some explanation, really. It’s not that we don’t think evil thoughts. This has to do with keeping track. This means we aren’t keeping an accounting, or a ledger of the wrongs another person has done to us.

The previous devotion showed us how we are not to react in anger at the moment a wrong is done to us; this one is about how we likewise should not hold a grudge over wrongs done to us. In other words, forgive and forget. Of course, we can’t always literally forget wrongs, so what does this mean in reality? As with all things love, this one is a factor of our actions and not necessarily our minds. We may remember wrongs, but we need to not let them change the way we behave towards another.

The word used for the accounting in this passage is the same word for accounting used to refer to God’s forgiveness. He does not keep an accounting of our sins once they are forgiven. Do we look at the transgressions of others the way God looks at ours?

Love Does Not Rejoice In Sin

Love doesn’t take joy, or rejoice, in iniquity; That is, unrighteousness or sin. How does this happen? Well, there are probably a couple of ways this happens.

One is rejoicing in our own sin. Yes, that is correct; even believing Christians sometimes rejoice in our own sins. How? Well, perhaps by continuing to purposely sin because we know we are forgiven. We may claim we are just rejoicing in Christian freedom, but we are actually rejoicing in our sin.

The other, and very common way we rejoice is to rejoice in the sins and iniquities of other people. The list of  how we do this could be long, so we will talk about a couple.

We gossip. We TALK about the sins of others. Sometimes we even gossip through our prayers! If we aren’t talking to that person about their sin, then we don’t need to be talking about their sin. Just in case you think I’m talking about you, that statement was VERY convicting to me personally.

Why would we rejoice in another person’s sin? Well, it is probably not because we are happy for their fun! We are probably doing it because it makes us feel that we are somewhat, if not vastly, better than they are. I can only speak for myself, however. What about you?

Love Does Rejoice In Truth

There are so many possible lessons here it would take pages to cover them, so we will just sum up a few.

Love is honest, especially with other people. We should deal with people in all of our dealings honestly. Tell the truth; don’t lie; don’t flatter to get your way.

Love shares the truth of the Gospel. If we don’t share with our fellow humans salvation through Jesus Christ, we are basically not being truthful with them about their eternity.

Love shares the truth of scripture. We have to teach what the Bible teaches in love but also with truth. We do not show love to anybody by watering down the truths the Bible teaches.

All Things

Paul begins wrapping up the description of love given to him by the Holy Spirit here. All things…repeated four times in this verse. Really, we can just see here how Paul is more or less saying that love is all things. Does that sound familiar? Remember all the law and prophets hanging on love?

Love bears all things. Not that love just puts up with things and gets shoved around. Love bears all the transgressions of others OUT of love.

Love believes all things. Love is not gullible. Love looks for the best in people. Of course we are all sinners, but we don’t need to be looking for the sin. Trust and believe people.

Love hopes all things. As long as the tie that binds us to Jesus Christ is present, and it always is once there…then there is hope for every person. Jesus never gives up on us and we do not need to give up on our brothers and sisters.

Love endures all things. Even when all of the above have disappointed us, we keep on keeping on. Why do we do that? Because in the end, love never fails. Why does it not? God is love; God never fails.

Love Never Fails-Part Two

As I said in part one of this particular series, it started life as a Daily Devotion on Truth in Palmyra, and was later combined and published as you see here. Enjoy!

Love Never Fails Part 1

Read all of 1 Corinthians 13 here

Putting Verbs In Your Sentences

What we have there is simply the greatest description of love ever written. It is as full and complete a description of love, and what it is, as can be found anywhere. Actually, since it is God’s description, I think we need to say it IS the best description.

Dr. Phil, of the daytime talk show, does a rather neat thing in his show quite often. As they run off to a commercial for the last break, he says something like this: “When we come back, I am going to put verbs in my sentences and tell you what I think and what I think you need to to.” All he is really saying is that it is time to move from talking and feeling to doing.

In the above passage, Paul has put verbs in his sentences. I am as far from a Greek scholar as East is from the West, so look this up for yourself; what we have here is not a lot of adjectives describing love. What we see in that passage is nothing but verbs describing what love does.

Does this all sound familiar? Biblical love is NOT primarily a feeling; Biblical love is primarily a set of actions. We have to put legs on our love and let it walk around, or it is meaningless. In upcoming Devotions, we are going to dig into some of the ways Paul has taught us that our love can actually be expressed.

Love is Patient

Now we begin a study of what Paul taught us are some things we can do to put our love in action.

Love is patient; Charity suffereth long. This is not a description of how Christians should be patient or long suffering in regards to their lives and the challenges they face; this is referring to our patience with people. Specifically, this refers to our ability to not get angry with people, no matter the provocation. It could have been written, “love doesn’t get angry.”

This is purely a Christian trait, especially in the context of the Greek culture of the time. In Greek culture, this kind of love would not have been considered a virtue, but rather a weakness.  Here is how Aristotle described the greatest virtue: “Refusal to tolerate any insult, any injury and readiness to strike back at any hurt.”

Aren’t we glad God has set the example of this for us? If God Himself had not shown us this great virtue where would we be? We sometimes react in anger because, “Well, they deserve it!” What if God had just given us what we deserve? We all know the answer to that question, don’t we?

Despite our sin, God revealed the following to us in His Word:

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

That should make us all very happy, and it should make us want to deal with other people in the same way God has dealt with us.

Love Is Kind

Love is kind. It is useful to take that statement and start from the base of the previous one. Despite all the wrongs we may have been subjected to, our love should still be kind. We should look at it that way; it is part of the same sentence in fact. The two thoughts are physically linked!

Kindness, like Biblical love, is not just some fuzzy feeling we have towards another; it is more than just being nice, although that is certainly important. The implication of this word, “kind” is usefulness to another, or deeds of kindness. This is in spite of what they may have given to us.

Aren’t we glad God has been kind to us? Again, aren’t we glad God didn’t react in a way that we deserved? Despite our actions, He has displayed the ultimate in kindness to us, in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.

Love Is Not Jealous

As we have covered earlier, Paul wrote to the Corinthians to address some very serious problems in that church. As we covered, the church at Corinth was blessed with an exceeding blessing of spiritual gifts. One of the problems was that their gifts had turned from blessing which should have unified them to cursings  which were dividing them!

Why was this occurring? Simply put, jealousy. Instead of rejoicing in the gifts of others, they were becoming upset that they didn’t have the same gifts. Not having a particular gift was taking away their ability to be the center of things.

If we are honest, we have all been guilty of this offense. I certainly have. I love to sing, but on my best day I am quite average. On the other hand, others have voices like angels and people are just so inspired by hearing them. I have to admit looking upon that and wishing it was me so that those folks would be telling ME those good things. That hurts to say, but it is true.

I am hardly alone, though, am I? We have all done something like that at some point. When we do that, who has the gift come to be about? That’s right: when we do that we make our gifts, or the gifts of others about us rather than God.

Love, however, is not jealous. Our focus should always be how an activity edifies and builds up God and our church, not about how it builds US up.

Love Is Not Arrogant

This is the final devotion in Verse 4 of our text. Love does not brag, boast of it’s accomplishments; love is not an arrogant blowhard.

The church at Corinth was full of this as well. Those with the more popular gifts were using these gifts to lord it over other believers in some misguided air of superiority.

How do we not become this way? The same way we do not become jealous. We just remember who and for what we are given particular abilities. They are not for our own aggrandizement and selfish ambition, they are for the honor and glory of God and the building up of His body of believers.

Stay tuned for Part 3!

Love Never Fails-Part One

This next little series is previously published material from Truth In Palmyra. It was published as a recap of Daily Devotions on this Chapter.

1 Corinthians 13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


Love vs Charity

1 Corinthians 13:1

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

1 John 4:7

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

I am going to stir up a spot of trouble right away today. I am a King James Bible guy. After you all throw things at me, please hear me out. I also like lots of other translations and find them useful. I have numerous translations as well as numerous Study Bibles by different Bible teachers. It’s all good. I, however, do all of my reading from the King James Bible and that is what I use in this Blog. The main reason I do that is simple: those King James translators knew how to use some English! King James English is often difficult, but it is also often very accurately descriptive as well. We have a great case of that descriptiveness in the verses above.

1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 are the two biggest descriptions of love found in the Bible and a verse from each is included in this article.  See anything that arouses your interest? Of course you do! In  1 John the translators consistently used the word “love” to describe love; it is used some 27 times. In 1 Corinthians, they translators used the word “charity” to describe love; there is is used 9 times.  What we have to understand is that the original word in all cases is some form of “agape

Sometimes when we read 1 Corinthians 13, we tend to dismiss the word use by simply saying, “Oh, that just means love there.” Is it possible that there is more meaning there? Let’s look at that quickly. The King James translators were not stupid, they surely knew they could have just used our word “love” in each case; they didn’t just become confused. Additionally, language translation is sometimes both art and science and word for word translations do not always work. Translators sometimes have to look at the original intent of meaning they see in the original language and put the  same meaning in the new language.

Let’s look briefly at the English language usage of the words, “Love” and “Charity.” I think in most of our minds a difference would come to mind immediately; it does in mine. The use of the word “Charity” seems to imply an action; it seems to apply that something is happening versus something simply being felt. Does that sound familiar?

Without Love Even Great Gifts are Useless

We often talk about 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 as, “The Love Chapter.” We treat it as some disembodied dissertation of brotherly love; when we do that we are somewhat misapplying it, to tell the truth. Paul had a point, other than just talking about brotherly love. Paul was addressing some very real problems in the Corinthian church, with very real ramifications.

In an earlier devotional we covered how Jesus said that all of God’s commandments hang on love: love for God and love for our fellow man. In other words, if we love correctly, we will do the other things as a natural outflow of that love; conversely if we do not love we cannot really do those other things.

Paul was addressing a group of people who were actually doing things; the church at Corinth was wonderfully blessed with an overflow of spiritual gifts. They had them all and they had them in abundance. So, this chapter has to be taken in it’s context to really reap the full meaning.

What was the problem in the Corinthian church? It wasn’t their doctrine; Paul hardly even talked to them about doctrine. It wasn’t gifts; they were overflowing with spiritual gifts. So, the church was full of good doctrine and full of gifts of The Spirit; the problem was that they were empty of love. They were thinking and doing, but not loving.

The point is, nothing we might do is worth anything without the right motivation. The wrong motivation is to be doing great things under the power of our flesh. The right motivation is to be doing things under the power of the Holy Spirit, as the fruits of the Spirit.  One, of the fruits of the Spirit, perhaps the biggest one, is love.

Love is # 1

We already discussed the very major issue in the church at Corinth. This church was fairly straight doctrinally and full to overflowing with spiritual gifts, but seriously lacking in love. All that they were doing, they were doing for the wrong motivations.

Paul uses the first few verses in 1 Corinthians 13 to clearly establish where love ranks in the hierarchy of spiritual gifts. And without a doubt, he placed it clearly in the number one position as the most important thing.

It’s interesting how Paul did this. He takes some of his words to extremes to illustrate how useless any amount of gifts is without love. What we see here is Paul using hyperbole to illustrate his point. He exaggerates the potential level of gifts to show just how useless those gifts are if not done in love.

We aren’t going to have some theological discussion  about tongues here; if you allow that Paul was using exaggeration to make his point, it seems that Paul is simply referring to someone who could speak numerous languages with skill and eloquence. This would be skill and eloquence far above the greatest of orators.

What Paul is saying here is that no matter how high the level of verbal skill a person has, if this skill is not used with love, it might as well somebody beating a gong or clanging cymbals for all the good it does.

Additionally, some of the pagan rituals going on at the time, many right in the city of Corinth, involved ecstatic  rituals that used speaking in tongues, smashing gongs, cymbals and trumpets. The believers would have gotten this point as well: If you can say the most wonderful and important words on the planet, but do not say them with love, then it is no better than some pagan ritual.

All mysteries and all knowledge. That is a lot of information to be in possession of. Let’ take a look at that briefly. We are continuing in with the idea that Paul was using some exaggeration to make his point here.

By mysteries, Paul may very well be referring to all the divine mysteries revealed and unrevealed. We all know there are things God has not shared with us in His Word. We all know there are things that, even though they are in His Word, are still mysteries. Paul is saying that even if he had complete knowledge and understanding of all of them, without love they would be nothing.

By knowledge, we are going to approach it from the standpoint of factual human knowledge. Paul is saying that even if he understood to the smallest detail all the facts of creation, and knew every knowable fact, he would still be nothing.

If Paul is saying that even with all that immense understanding and knowledge and no love we are nothing, then how much closer to nothing are we with our very limited understanding and knowledge if not fueled by love?

This is the final discussion of the position of love as the primary spiritual gift. Paul closes this section with some more very graphic references to the importance of love.

Paul is just continuing on using what I believe to be some exaggeration to make his point.  Apparently his reference to bestowing all of his goods to the poor is more than simply giving some  stuff away. I’m no Greek scholar, but the consensus seems to be that that sentence is not just describing a person writing his monthly check to the feed the kids charity. It is a person systematically, piece by piece, giving away his fortune until he has nothing left. That is some serious giving there.

As far as giving oneself away to be burned? It could mean several things, one of which would be literally giving oneself as a martyr. Continuing in the thought of Paul’s writing here, that makes sense.

So, we could give away all of our assets, bit by bit until we are broke, then throw ourselves on a fire to be martyred and if done for the wrong motivation it would still be useless. The Corinthians were guilty of using their wonderful spiritual gifts for their own selfish motives; that rendered them useless because they were not done out of love.

If such major sacrifices such as Paul described are useless without love as the motivation, how useless are the fairly small and insignificant ones we make without it?

Next: Putting verbs in our sentences.