Posts Tagged With: Divine grace

 
 

Fig Leaf Religion


Once again I had someone argue with me on my Facebook page about salvation after reading my blog “Faith or Works?”  This person believes as does his church that works are required in order to be saved. He cited of course the passage in James chapter 2, which some believe contradicts Paul’s writing in Ephesians chapter 2.

Paul and James do not contradict one another. Paul writes about salvation from God’s perspective and James from a human perspective.

Saving faith in a person should be evident in their lives by the fruit they bear. As Jesus said, by their fruit shall you know them. A genuine believer that is saved by faith should bear good fruit for the kingdom.

It amazes me that there are so many people that cannot and will not receive the free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  They think that there must be something that they have to do to be saved. I guess some of of it is our human nature, but I have witnessed and seen numerous people spending years to argue that works need to be included. They argue that faith in God alone is not enough and that we have to do something more than just believe.

I don’t see how anyone can come up with a works based salvation message. I cannot find that anywhere in the pages of scripture.  It is all God’s work and nothing that we have done. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He send His only begotten Son.  (John 3:16)

We are all declared sinners before God, not one is righteous on their own. “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” Rom 3:10, 11.

God has declared that ALL of mankind has fallen short of His perfect Holiness.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23.

It started in garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and they ate from the forbidden tree. That one act of disobedience caused sin to enter the world and the result was a spiritual separation from God. Adam and Eve who once were in perfect harmony with God found themselves separated and soon after witnessed what their disobedience had brought forth, the first recorded murder when Cain slew Abel.

I can only imagine what Adam and Eve must have felt on that day when they saw the outcome of their sin. The result of sin is death. They did not die physically, but they died spiritually. There was nothing that Adam and Eve could do to atone for their sin. They tried to cover up their disobedience with fig leafs, thinking that God would be ok with that. But it was not ok, God clothed them in animal skins, signifying that blood was required to atone for their sins. The blood of an innocent animal could only cover their sins but not take them away. Later when we come to the time of Moses, God instituted blood sacrifices as part of the law.

Just as Adam and Eve covered themselves in fig leafs, so are many people today have a fig leaf religion. They think that they can appease God on their own merit. They think that by their “good works” God will look at them as righteous before Him. That is a false hope, there is absolutely nothing that any of us can do to please God with our works. God provided one way and one way alone and we must receive that way.

The only way provided is through the precious blood of Christ. The shed blood of Christ on the cross was sufficient and acceptable for the Father. Jesus is our propitiation, the passover lamb. He that knew no sin became sin for us and died for us, so that we may live eternally with Him.

To all those who think and teach that faith in Jesus alone is not enough and that certain works are required to earn salvation are gravely mistaken. The law could not justify anyone and no one was or is able to keep the law perfectly. If any of us were able to keep the law, than Christ died in vain. People that want to live a life of bondage to the law are destined to fail. The law is perfect and breaking one of them means breaking all of God’s law.

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom 3:20.

Paul wrote to the Galatians: “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:22-26.

Yet there are those who insist that works are required, the write books about it, they preach from the pulpit and keep their congregation under legalism and bondage. Christ came to set us free from all of that. We are no longer under the law but under grace. The gospel i.e. the good news is so simple, but people have to make it complicated and the put heavy burden on others. This is not what Christ came for and it is not what God wants.

Jesus came to die on the cross for us. He left His place in Heaven to become one of us and to take our sins upon Him. He didn’t have to do that, but God so loves us that He send His Son Who willingly gave His life. That is something to rejoice in and to be thankful for. But what do so many denominations and churches do? They overlook or don’t understand the true meaning of God’s grace and teach others that the have to live by certain rules and regulation in order to be saved.

They have teachings that are not biblical and not be backed up by the scriptures. They twist and turn verses or built their whole theology around a couple of verses, failing to compare scriptures with scriptures. It is no wonder that non-believers sometimes mock Christianity. There are so many denominations and branches of churches out there, teaching different viewpoints and are convinced that the are the only “true church.” There is a lot of confusion out there among the various denominations.

No wonder that Christians look divided, rather than being of one mind. They follow the teachings of men rather than what the word of God teaches.

The only way someone can be saved in by believing in Jesus by faith. It is not Jesus plus, it is Him alone and only through Him and Hid finished work can we be justified before God. It is not our righteousness that God looks at but His righteousness that was imputed onto every true believer. Thank you God for Your mercy and for Your grace. Thank you Father for giving Your only begotten Son.

Thank you Jesus for setting us free from the bondage of law and that you have broken the wall of separation so that we may come boldly before the throne of God.Thank you for giving us Your perfect peace.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Rom 5:1, 2. 

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Rom 3:21-28.

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Categories: Apologetics, Believe, Bible, Biblical Perspectives, Christianity, Eschatology, Faith, Jesus Christ, John 3:16, Salvation, Spiritual, Truth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

The Grace of God


I believe that many believers have never really fully comprehended what grace truly means for the believer.  We hear the word grace many times, we hear about justice and mercy. Let me first say that mercy and justice are very much different from grace. Justice is something that we all deserve for we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.

Mercy is not receiving what we deserve. We are all guilty before God and because God is a just God, He has to punish the sinners. He cannot compromise His perfect law and justice. If any of us committed  a crime in this world and we had to appear before a judge and the judge would say, “you know what, I feel great today, I let you go.” That judge would not be a just judge. Crimes require a penalty, either with a fine or jail time.

The same thing is true with God our heavenly judge, He cannot just say, “don’t worry I let you off the hook.” A just judge will give a sentence that fit’s the crime committed, but he cannot let the person go free without any kind of  penalty. That is justice according to the laws of the land. The judge hands down the punishment, a fine of $50.000 for the crime committed. The person say’s “I don’t have that kind of money.” The judge decides because the person can’t pay the fine, to impose a jail sentence instead. Just as the officers begins to handcuff the person someone comes in and pays the fine for the convicted criminal. The man is free to go, someone paid his  fine for him. Not only that, when the men goes to his bank, he finds out that there is a deposit on his account for one million dollars.

That is what God did for us,  Jesus paid the penalty for the sinners. He took all the punishment that we deserved upon Him at the cross. He is our propitiation i.e appeasement.  It is by God’s grace that those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are pardoned from their sins. The sinner is justified before God because Jesus paid it all. We were all deserving of the judgment and the punishment is eternal separation from God. But because God in His mercy and Grace gave His only Son so that we may live. Grace is a free gift. We cannot earn it or improve on it.

All believers are declared justified before God and that is just like we never ever sinned. God sees us through the blood of Jesus and He sees His righteousness. It is not by our righteousness or good works, it is the righteousness of Christ that was imputed onto the believers.God has bestowed His grace upon the believer and His grace is sufficient and will never wear out.

Many believers are trying so hard to please God, either by good works or some acts of righteousness. They live a legalistic life with commandments and ordinances and the result is that they have placed themselves into a life of bondage. They live under constant condemnation because they never feel that they are good enough. They are working so hard that they have forgotten the grace of God that they are trying to please God in the flesh which is impossible. No one can please God by the works of the flesh. One of the last words of Jesus on the cross were, Tetelstai or, it is finished.  Relax, Jesus did it all for us. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

I believe that we need to remind ourselves sometimes that it is by God’s grace that we are saved and that there is nothing we can do to change that. He will never leave us nor forsake us. None of us is perfect and if we could be perfect on our own,  Christ died in vain. We all stumble from time to time or mess up, but God’s grace covers it all.

The believer is justified the moment they believe in Jesus, that is unchangeable and irreversible. There is sanctification and that is a life long process. Everyday we are conformed more and more into the image of Christ. As we let go of the things of this world we draw nearer to Christ until the day arrives that we will be glorified with Him.

In the meantime listen to the still small voice and abide in Christ and He will finish our faith. He is the author and finisher of our faith. To me that sounds like that Jesus is writing my book and with every chapter written, I’m one step closer to heaven.

I thank God for His grace and His love and mercy towards me. Without the gift of grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, I would be hopeless and lost. Thank you Lord for revealing Yourself to me when I needed You most. You are the way the truth and the life. Thank you Father for your grace and I pray that many will come to realize that you love them and that they would turn from the world and embrace you and you promise of everlasting life.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”Eph 2:8,9.

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1, 2. 

Categories: Apologetics, Believe, Bible, Biblical Perspectives, Christianity, Eschatology, Faith, Jesus Christ, John 3:16, Salvation, Spiritual, Truth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments
 
 

My Personal Testimony And How Jesus Transformed My Life.


It was May 14th 2006, a Sunday morning that began like many other mornings. I felt hung over and lousy after a week of drinking. This wasn’t the first time for me. I had plenty of those lousy days. Alcohol Had become a big problem in my life, in fact, a huge problem.  Growing up Germany,  alcohol was a part of my lifestyle and the culture.  Many of my friends that I hung out with started drinking from an early age.  Meeting friends, hang out in the Gasthaus/Pub and drink beers, was a daily routine. Getting up for work and meeting my friends afterwards for some beers in the Pub. 

I moved from Germany to San Diego, California at the age of 22. I was pretty tired of Germany, mainly because of the weather. It rained a lot and I loved the sunshine. I had visited California a few times in the late 70’s and thought,  “that’s the place where I want to be”.  I liked the sun, the beaches, the palm trees and the relaxed lifestyle that so many enjoy here in Southern California.  I had good times after I moved to the USA.  I had my own Piano business, played in a Reggae band and just enjoyed the relaxed lifestyle.

Later I worked for Taylor Guitars and after that, landed a great job with a major furniture manufacturer.  Things were going pretty well for me. I got married in 1995 to my wife and we lived in a nice place near the beach. Alcohol has always been part of my life. Drinking some beers after work was the norm. That was my life, meeting my drinking buddies and playing darts or whatever else came about. Once the alcohol took over, the judgment went out the window. I came home very late some days or not at all. I wasn’t thinking about my wife, my work. It was all about me. Seeking my own pleasures was way more important than my marriage and the responsibilities that came with it.  In 2003 things got worse. My drinking increased quite a bit. I moved out of the house and found my own place. I thought of it as my own little paradise, my sanctuary. But things only got worse from there.

I got involved with people who were heavy drinkers and we hung out in various bars around town.  Alcohol influences people and brings out the worse in them. I was never a violent person when drinking,  I was just drinking to have a good time.  Many people believe that drinking is relaxing and brings about a better attitude.  I used to think the same way. Somehow I thought after the 2nd or 3rd pint things looked much better and oh, how much fun I had. I used to call it an attitude adjustment. Have you ever hung around people who had a bit too much to drink and they thought they were cool and funny? They are really not that funny, when you are sober.  Life becomes very miserable when alcohol takes over your life and controls you. Everything starts to revolve around drinking and nothing else matters.  It becomes a snare that entangles people. I always denied having an alcohol problem. Even when people pointed it out to me. I was just in denial as many others, that drink or do drugs. Alcohol and drugs are deceivers. They give pleasure for a short time but then they sting like a viper and take control over peoples lives .

It was in early 2005 that I received the news that my father had died in Germany.  I attended the funeral with my mom and some of my relatives. Hearing the news was terrible. It really hit me hard while I was sitting in the small chapel facing my dad’s coffin. I loved my dad, he was a good man. I always had a good relationship with him. My mom of course was devastated and I stayed for 3 month with her  in Germany.  I started going out and drinking in the local pubs. I think I was just tuning out not wanting to deal with the reality that my dad had passed away. I was drowning my sorrows with alcohol. That was my way of  suppressing things.

Coming back to the States, I continued that trend. Drinking before work, during work and of course after work. The drinking started to take over my life. It affected my work and one day I just walked off the job. I began to drink around the clock, going on binges that would last for at least a week.  After those binges I got really sick for a few days, promising myself never to drink again. That promise would maybe last for a week or two and I was right back doing the same thing. A terrible cycle with the same results, feeling sick.

I remember the morning of May 14th very well. I sat on my patio chair feeling extremely sick from a week of heavy drinking. As I was sitting there all by myself as I began to cry out: “God, please help me. I don’t want to be like this anymore. This is not me.  Please if You are there, help me.” 

From that moment on, my life changed. I was still feeling sick, but something happened to me. Something wonderful. I had totally lost the desire of drinking and I started to seek God. I bought a Bible and read for hours and hours,  taking in every word.  Looking at my first Bible that I bought and seeing all the notes I scribbled and the many verses that I underlined, I find myself wondering, when did I do all that? 

To be honest, I didn’t know much about God before and what the Bible revealed about Him.  I didn’t know anything about repentance, forgiveness, justification and sanctification. I heard about God and of course I heard about Jesus and that He died on the cross, but that’s about it. I never really understood what it really meant, God giving His only begotten Son for me and my sins. I never knew how wonderful God’s Grace is.

Reading God’s word opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on life and I believed. The word of God is so wonderful and healing  and it is the absolute truth. Jesus is the Savior of the world and He became my personal Lord and Savior that day.

Today,  I am so grateful to God. He continues to change my life day by day. I have become a new creation, old things have passed away. I have since reconciled with my wife, left the old things behind and I never looked back. Satan may accuse me everyday before God,  calling me unworthy and a failure. He is right, I am.  But I also know this, I am what I am, but I am not what I used to be.

It is not my righteousness that God looks at, it is the imputed righteousness of Jesus that the Father looks upon. I don’t have any righteousness on my own.  I can never please God on my own. The gospel i.e. the good news is that God did for me what I could not do for myself.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

For me,  it is all about Jesus and what He  accomplished on the cross. The word that became flesh and dwelled among us. Who is this Jesus that transformed my life?  He is God the Son Who became one of us. He came as the suffering servant to shed His blood on the cross for the sin of the world.  Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp beyond recognition. The Roman soldiers plucked His beard out, beating Him repeatedly.  He endured the cross, the shame and the mocking of His own countrymen and the Romans because He loved us.  Jesus came for that very purpose, to die on the cross at the appointed time for sinners like me.

From the beginning of His ministry to the arrival to Jerusalem on a donkey to the death on the cross, was not only prophesied.  Jesus was on a divine timeline determined by the Father long before the foundation of the world. The death of Christ was no accident or just another criminal dying at the hands of the Roman government. Jesus committed no crime, yet He was condemned to death. Jesus despite the shame, willingly laid down His life for you and me.  He gave His life to give eternal life to those who would believe in Him. All you need to do is to ask God for forgiveness and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no sin that you or anyone else has committed that God will and cannot not forgive, no matter what a person may have done. God loves mankind.  All He wants is for us  to return to Him and He will heal us and cleanse us from all sin. Jesus has transformed my life and He is continuing to transform my life. He will do the same for you. All you need to do is ask Him to come into your life.
God is not distant at all. Stop whatever you are doing,  turn around and He is right there with arms wide open.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6, 7

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Mat 7:7, 8

Jesus is Lord, yet He declares His Lordship through the power of humility and grace…

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of those things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself….

“While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on a cross between two thieves. While he was dying his executors gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth – His coat. When he was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

“Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”  Jesus is Lord – Excerpts from “One Solitary Life” (author unknown)

Jesus is the only true and living God. I am thankful that He has saved me. He is the only One that can transform a person’s life. Religions can not transform a person. Certain philosophies cannot transform a person. All religions and philosophies are man centered and futile. Man cannot save himself by empty and vain attempts, trying to reach God on their own merit.  God reached down to mankind through His Son Jesus Christ, Who is mighty to save. Only He can change the heart and only He can transform a person’s life. Thank you Jesus for the truth and Your love that You have shown to me. May others that are currently in a similar situation as I was,  seek You and find You. Maranatha Lord Jesus.


Categories: Apologetics, Believe, Bible, Biblical Perspectives, Christianity, Eschatology, Faith, Jesus Christ, John 3:16, Salvation, Spiritual, Truth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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