Just Come

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My Musings – The first thing that catches my attention is the word “come.”  Jesus has completed His work.  He came to earth and suffered an excruciating death on the cross.  The old saying “I’ll meet you half way” holds no comparison to the lengths that Christ went to on our behalf.  It is now up to us.  We must come to Him.  Just as we are.  While we are still sinners.  What more could we possibly expect from Him that He has not already done.

The second thing that catches my eye is the word “all.”  We all have sinned.  We all have fallen short.  Nevertheless, we all may come.  Again, just as we are, while we are still sinners.  No fine print.  No “some exclusions may apply.”  “Ya’ll come.”

Third is “weary and burdened.”  Burdened by the load of sin we bear.  Weary of trying to earn our salvation on our own.  Both troubled and afraid by the realization that we cannot.

Fourth, “I will give you rest,” and “you will find rest for your souls.”  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:26-27, NIV 1984).  Peace that surpasses all understanding.

Fifth is the word “learn.”  Once we come to Him there is so much to learn from Him.  He wants to transform us, and to renew our minds now that He has renewed our hearts and we have been made right with Him.

Sixth, “for I am gentle and humble of heart.” What a contrast to the way of the world!  What a contrast to our old self.  “Gentle,” having or showing a mild, kind, or tender temperament or character.  “Humble,” not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.  After all, think of what we were and where we were headed before the “touch of the Master’s hand.”  “Of heart,”one’s innermost character, feelings, or inclinations.  Changed forever by Christ’s redeeming grace.

Finally, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Jesus bore our sins for us.  That load has been lifted from us.  Forever.  Final.  No forfeiture.  All we need to is “come.”  What could be easier.  This is the only real exception to “if it sounds to good to be true, it isn’t.”  Because, “God never made a promise that was too good to be true.” – Dwight L. Moody.

My Advice – Just come.  It’s that easy.  He carried the cross on His back for you.  He did the heavy lifting.

 

 

Mission Accomplished!

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My Musings – Been thinking a lot about the aging process here lately.  In my adult Sunday School class yesterday, we talked about the various age groups in the Body and how they relate to each other, noting that older does not always equate with more mature in the faith.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we matured as fast (at least it seems fast now that I am in my mid-sixties) as we aged?  I confessed to the class to being older (it was quite obvious, of course), but not old (some denial going on?).  I also told them I aspired to being the oldest in our Church, but was willing to be patient about it.

Back to aging, versus maturing.  In the above text, as John speaks of three ages of men (children, young men and fathers) he could just as well be speaking about the three stages of salvation and Christian maturity (justification, sanctification, glorification).

Dear Children (Justification) – A judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled – Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.  This is a past event that is accomplished through the work of the Son.

Young Men (Sanctification) – In Christian theology, a distinction is made between justification and sanctification where justification refers to having saving faith and sanctification refers to the process of gradual purification from sin and progressive spiritual growth that should mark the life of the believer – The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.  This is an on-going process that is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Fathers  (Glorification) – In the Scripture the idea of glorification deals with the ultimate perfection of believers.  It is ours by inheritance – Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.  This is our future destination through the work of the Father.

Interestingly, while these three aspects of salvation occur in the past (“have been justified through faith“), present (“are being transformed into His likeness“) and future (“we shall be like Him“), John speaks of them all as having already taken place (“have been forgiven“, “have overcome“, “have known Him“).  How each of us progress is different, and all of us experience our ups and downs, but that first act of faith guarantees the ultimate perfection of them all.  It kind of looks like this:

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My Advice –  Do not be discouraged.  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NIV 1978).”  It’s a done deal.  So, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily [those ups and downs] entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1978).”  And one day “we shall see Him as He is.”  What a glorious thought!

Freely Given, Spiritually Discerned

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My Musings – We should not be surprised that the world in general finds Christianity foolish.  What seems so obvious to followers of Christ is often lost on those who do not.  The understanding that Christians have is not due to a superior (or as some might claim inferior) intellect.  It is discernment enabled by the Spirit of God that dwells within.  We must remember that we were in the same situation as the unsaved at one time.  Unable to comprehend what God freely offered.  And we never would have understood, much less accepted it if He had not pursued us.  People are not badgered, argued or driven into the Kingdom by us. We can only communicate (plant, water and cultivate) the Truth to the lost as best we can.   Then we must let the Holy Spirit do His special work of convicting and convincing (harvesting).

My Advice – Show compassion with a passion.   After all the “Passion of the Christ” was for everyone who believes and receives.

I AM – Was, Is and To Come

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My Musings – The first few words of Genesis say the “In the beginning God…”  If I might interject, “in the beginning God was already there to createthe heavens and the earth.”  The unmoved mover, the uncreated transcendent being  – the Alpha.  In the first few verses of Revelation God goes on to state that He is also the Omega.  When these heavens and earth come to an end and are made new He is still there.  He had no beginning and will have no end.  “Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come.”  In other words “I AM.

In Exodus, Moses asked who he should say sent him, and God told Him to say “I AM.”  When Jesus came the first time and was put on trial before Pilate, He was asked if He was a King.  Jesus replied, “I AM.”  Finally, in the closing verses of Revelation, Jesus states “I AM coming soon.” He promised He would.

My Advice – Is He coming for you (to take you home with Him) or is He coming to you (to send you away from Him)?  Right now, to can make that decision for yourself.  When He comes (no man knows when) it will be too late.  You may never have the opportunity again.

Not All That Glitters

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My Musings – Wow!  Talk about being intolerant, insensitive, and lacking political correctness.  Paul goes on to say, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?” (Galatians 3:1-5).  In other words, it is grace alone through faith in Christ alone.  Any variation from this is a perversion of the Gospel.  It is, in fact, no gospel at all.  This message was not an invention of Paul.  Jesus Himself said that He was the only way.  Other “gospels” and religions may seem attractive, “shiny” and have a form of Godliness, but in the end lead to eternal death.  “Not all that glitters is gold.”

But why would Paul, or any other Christian be so harsh.  Notice that Paul is not expressing these sentiments to people who hear and reject the Gospel of Christ.  For them he has pity and sorrow.   But to those who try to lead others astray, he has no such feelings.  It is one thing to be responsible for our own poor choices and decisions that affect only our soul, it is quite another to lead other souls astray.  Paul allows no quarter for them.

My Advice – I know this post will not be popular with a great many.  They might even make the same claims against Christianity.  But if Paul was right, if Jesus was right, the stakes are high.  If they were wrong, there are no stakes at all.  Those are the only two possibilities – they were either right or they were wrong.  You owe it to yourself to investigate the claims for yourself and make your own judgment.  In the end, the decision is yours.  But let it be an informed decision.

 

And The Verdict Is?

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My Musings – Testimony is a solemn declaration by a witness, a firsthand authentication of a fact.  It is not information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated.  That would be hearsay, which in a court of law, would be disallowed.  John spent three years being taught (discipled) by Jesus.  He was with Jesus 24/7 for those three years, which certainly put him in a position to see if Jesus’ talk was Jesus’ walk.  He was at the foot of the cross when Jesus died and was able to see the Roman soldiers certify that He was in fact dead.  On more than one occasion he saw and spoke to Jesus after His resurrection from the dead.  In every respect, this is firsthand authentication of the facts.  His testimony was corroborated by other witnesses.  He was imprisoned because of his adherence to his testimony.  Other witnesses were executed.  John likely lived out his days under the same threat of death.  None of these recanted.

In light of all this, John testimony proclaiming that  “he who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life,” is more than credible.  It removes any reasonable doubt.

My Advice – Testimony demands a verdict.  Deliberate carefully.  It is an eternal life and death matter.

Not Because, But Because

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My Musings – Lest we think that being more righteous than most, or that our “righteous” acts will outweigh the rest, and will be sufficient to gain us entry to Heaven, this verse assures us that these will not save us. It is not because of our righteousness, it is in spite of our unrighteousness.  If not for God’s mercy, there would be no salvation for anyone.  Furthermore, mercy is not an obligation (as if we earned it), it is wholly unmerited, and undeserving.

My Advice – Seek His mercy, because you cannot achieve salvation any other way.