The “Bourne Again” Ultimatum

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Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  (John 3:3, NIV 1984).

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6, NIV 1984).

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them:  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:8, 12, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Ultimatum, a final demand or statement of terms that if not met, will end a relationship or otherwise result in some serious consequence.  Unambiguous, not open to more than one interpretation.

Ultimatum – Unless he is born again.  Through me. Must be saved.

Unambiguous – No one can see.  I am the way.  No one can come.  Found in no one else.  No other name.

There can be no relationship with God without coming to Christ (born again).  Otherwise, the consequences are quite serious.  Eternal separation.  Eternal damnation.  There is no other interpretation or conclusion that can be reached.

My Advice – Meet the terms.  Come to Christ and be born again.  There is no other way.

The “Bourne Again” Supremacy

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It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices [the blood of goats and calves], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices [the blood of Christ] than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”  (Hebrews 9:23–26, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The blood of goats and calves, were only temporary coverings of sin that had to be repeated time and time again.  They had no power to permanently remove the sin.  It took a better sacrifice.  It took the supreme (superior to all others) sacrifice.  The blood of God’s only Son. The “once for all” sacrifice “to do away with sin,” not just cover it. It must be offensive to God, for man to assert that there are other paths to salvation apart from His Son.  If there were, His Son’s sacrifice would not be supreme.  In fact, it would not have even been necessary.  But there is only one path.

My Advice – Don’t settle for solution other than the supreme solution — The “Bourne” Again Supremacy.

The Bourne Again Identity

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My Musings – In charades, we make the sign “sounds like.”  I recently noted the following on the internet. “The English language is hard, but can be understood through tough thorough thought though.”  Perhaps its only how we Americans have corrupted it “though?”  Some will say they “know” that this is true, while others will say “no” there is no “colonel” of truth to this claim.   Okay, so maybe we Americans can’t be blamed for that “won.”

Here are a few more similar words, with similar consequences if relied upon without being “identified” with Christ.

Indivisible – Impossible to divide or separate. The word indivisible, as used in the pledge of allegiance, is intended to convey that the United States is rock solid in its unity and cannot be broken apart.  Sadly, there is move divisiveness today than perhaps at any other time since the Civil War.  What makes this particularly troubling is that we all face a common enemy, the coronavirus, yet to a large extent we are divided in how we should respond.  This even happened in the shadow of Israel’s golden age under King Solomon, and the kingdom was divided.

The king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite. When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:  ‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, O Israel! Look after your own house, O David!’”  (1 Kings 12:15–16, NIV 1984).

Invincible – Too powerful to be defeated or overcome.  The United States is the only remaining military superpower. Yet, in all its might, it has been unable to completely vanquish terrorism, and there is no weapon in its vast arsenal that can conquer the stealth of the coronavirus.  Madeline Albright, Secretary of State in the Clinton administration once claimed, “if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.” Did we see far enough to prepare for the danger of the coronavirus?  In the face of this silent killer, such a claim has proven to be mere hubris.  Such trust is ultimately misguided.  We are not first “world” superpower to have such misguided reliance.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.   Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against the house of the wicked, against those who help evildoers. But the Egyptians are men and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, he who helps will stumble, he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.”  (Isaiah 31:1–3, NIV 1984).

Indispensable – So good or important that you could not manage without. A claim similar to Secretary Albright’s was made by President Obama. “When a typhoon hits the Philippines or schoolgirls are kidnapped in Nigeria or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine, it is America that the world looks to for help. So the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century past and it will be true for the century to come.” But we are turning inward (“America first”), during this current health crisis, making ourselves largely “unavailable” to the rest of humanity facing a plague that knows no boundaries. Soon we may not be able to help anyone, as the financial resources of the most prosperous nation on earth, very well may be strained to the point of national bankruptcy.  Pray to God that we do not also become morally bankrupt and lose our national “soul.”  What becomes of the “wealth of nations” that are not rich toward God and others?

The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”  (Luke 12:16–21, NIV 1984).

Invisible – Cannot be seen or readily perceived.  National unity, military invincibility, and indispensable economic resources — largely impotent to a microscopic virus that is invisible to the naked eye.  Such a turn of events is not unprecedented in human history.

This is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:  ‘He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the LORD. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’  That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.”  (2 Kings 19:32–36, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Unity can dissolve.  Power may disintegrate.  Wealth can disappear. Where can we “identify” hope that does not disappoint?  In the “Bourne” Again Identity.

In reply Jesus declare[s], ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’  ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going [it’s invisible]. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’”  (John 3:3–8, NIV 1984).

To Those Not Waiting

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He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  (Hebrews 9:26–28, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Never a popular subject, but in these uncertain days it’s the “elephant in the room.”  The recent events has placed it squarely before us.  We all have that appointment “to die once.”  But one appointment we need not face is the second death.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.   (Revelation 20:11–15, NIV 1984).

Second death, another unpopular subject.  And if we avoid this subject now, it will be unavoidable in the end (“after that to face judgment“).   The old adage, born once – die twice, born twice – die once, is true.

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them.”  (Revelation 20:6, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Are you one of “those who are waiting for Him?”  You are if you’ve been born twice (born again).  If not, what’s waiting for you is the second death.  This need not be.  Check out my “The Born Again Experience” musings to find out how.

From Now On

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For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.  (2 Corinthians 5:14–18, NIV 1984).

My Musings – As a wise former Pastor of mine once commented, whenever you see the word “therefore,” you need to look to see what it is there for.  The old (creation) has gone, the new (creation) has come.  But only if one is “in” Christ Jesus.  So we look to what came before to determine the therefore.  Being “in” Christ is only possible because “one [Christ] died for all.” That we should no longer live for ourselves (“the old has gone“), but for Him who died and was raised (“the new has come“).

My Advice – “The new has come.”  Available for all, but not automatic for all.  One has to be “in” Christ Jesus.  One must be “born again” as a new creation.

Can Such Faith Save?

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What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  (James 2:14–18, NIV 1984).

My Musings – “Can such faith [with no deeds] save him?”  On the surface, this sounds like an outright contradiction of yesterday’s musing – by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.  Is James (the half-brother of Jesus), promoting “a different gospel [faith plus works] — which is really no gospel at all,” that Paul condemns?  Many, through the years, have seen such a contradiction.  This included Martin Luther who said, “James’ Epistle is really an epistle of straw, for it has nothing of the nature of the Gospel about it.”  Or as Paul said, “no gospel at all.

But there is no contradiction.  Paul’s epistle of grace and James’ epistle of “straw” are in fact complementary.

Salvation result of grace – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV 1984).

Salvation results in works – “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV 1984).

In essence, a faith that does not result in works (not a result of works) was very likely not a saving faith (“can such faith save him?“).  Such a person may claim to have faith, but if that faith does not produce works, it is dead (really never was alive). These works are “produced by faith” in Jesus. These labors are not born out of obligation, but are “prompted by love” that we have for our Master, our fellow heirs and the lost. Finally, all of this is inspired by our “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Do not think that your salvation is works based.  Rather think that your works are based on salvation.  Show your faith by what you do.

 

There Is No Different Gospel

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I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”  (Galatians 1:6–8, NIV 1984).

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?”  (Galatians 3:1–3, NIV 1984). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The Gospel of Christ is not something to be trifled with.  It is and always has been by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.  There is no other Gospel.  One cannot add to it (grace plus works) or subtract from it (grace to get, but works to keep).  “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  (Colossians 2:6–7, NIV 1984).

Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord – by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

Continue to live in Him – by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

My Advice“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”  (Colossians 2:8, NIV 1984).  Hollow philosophies, human tradition and the basic principles of this world would all be a different gospel “which is really no gospel at all.”  Which only makes sense.  How could philosophies and traditions conceived by humans based on the principles of a fallen world possibly make us right with a Holy God?  Like most rhetorical questions, the answer is obvious.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”