What a sad state of affairs. The condition of everything is bondage and corruption. Could we not understand that the fall from the garden changed all. The future redemption will again be for all. Therefore, all groans. For us who belong to Christ we have our earnest expectation of His return and the new heave and new earth that will not be afflicted nor in need of groaning but rather praise to the glory of the Son.
From bondage to liberty. Herein lies the true concept of freedom. We often consider our freedom as an ability to do. But the Scriptural freedom is liberty, the deliverance from the oppression and bondage of corruption. The world system is a system held in corruption and it can and does entrap those who would hear the call her sirens. But the promise kept, the prayer answered, is that Christ in us is greater than the world and greater still than our fallen desires. This is not intestinal fortitude, nor anything else that can be conjured up from the flesh or the latent power of the soul. Rather it is the true and eternal God flowing like a river of living water through the valley of dry bones that moment by moment brings us back to life.
We must be mindful of the literal genesis of our current estate. When our parents fell from their paradisiacal estate, the whole creation became subject to the fall as well. We see in the Scriptural account a host of first words, "thorns, thistles, sweat, ect., that are indicative of the pain cause by sin and the judgment justly delivered. But we have hope that this will not remain forever but for a season. So let us be busy making sure that none should perish. Let us be swift of foot delivering the words of life by our words, by our actions and by the witness of our whole life. Lives that have been delivered from the marketplace of sin into the glorious resurrection light. Let us be the purveyors of this hope to a lost and dying world.
What is the gospel? I don't think most people know.
Some people may think most Americans have heard the gospel, but I beg to
differ. I don’t think they have. I have heard a lot of preachers talk about the
gospel and not give the gospel. We have to be very careful that we give an
accurate presentation. Otherwise, it could have a disastrous effect. We don’t
want to edit God’s Word. We don’t need to try to make it more appealing by
taking things out of it. Nor do we need to make it more complex by adding
things to it. We just need to declare it for what it is and let God do His
As much as possible, we should seek to build a
bridge and be tactful. Then, having established that, we need to share the
truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. The Bible warns of a
different gospel that people can believe. The apostle Paul wrote to the
Galatians, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you
in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). Let’s make sure
we give out the true gospel.
Here is the problem: People are not going to fully
appreciate the good news until they first know the bad news. The bad news is
that we have all have sinned against God and have fallen short of His
standards. And if we don't turn from that sin, the Bible says that we will
spend eternity separated from God in hell.
Someone once asked C. H. Spurgeon to sum up the
Christian faith in a few words. C. H. Spurgeon did it in four: "Jesus died
for me." If you know that much, then you are ready to share the gospel.
I suppose it is a bit like the architect wanting to see the long awaited completion of an intricate project. But here it is the creation (project) itself that longs to see its destiny. We are that project that waits in hope for the day when we will see with our own eyes what the Lord of Glory has prepared for us because of His wondrous Grace. The very thought makes my heart flutter. So far above our current post paradisiacal estate where impurity, infirmity, and deformity rule the day and the headlines define the spot where even the saints have fallen into the ditch and sullied themselves by bathing in the filthy water of a lost and fallen world. All the while the creation itself groans to be delivered from the agony. Yet we in this modern age have little concept as to the great sufferings made manifest in ancient times where our forefathers in the faith were despised, rejected, counted as outcasts, and even slain (The People's New Testament (1891) by B. W. Johnson, paraphrase mine). What then is the point to ponder? Is your heart all a flutter in earnest expectation? If not, confess your fallen estate (each day) and find your earnest expectation of glory awaiting you in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior and friend.
To reckon or consider (logízomai) is the result of considered deliberation. When put in the balance scales what we suffer in this life is not worthy to be compared with the future glory to be revealed. Though the trials of life may seem all encompassing, they are temporary and do not last forever. However, the future glory is eternal.
But if…(ei de) the two little words that make a huge difference. No one in their right mind would actively seek suffering. There is a diagnosis within the annals of medical science that describes those who are led by biological malfunction to follow such a path. However, those who would journey along the "highway of holiness" (who is Christ) will concurrently travel also the "via de la Rosa." Should it be that we would walk along any other way? Should we endeavor to cling to the comforts of this cosmos (satanic system)? But notice that it is suffering with Christ is that of which I speak NOT the sufferings of sin.
If someone thrust a "meet" thermometer into our soul would they find us at the proper operating temperature or would they discover that the ice age had begun? Do our neighbors see us as the light of Christ's love or a bunch of uppity religious prigs who ate alum-soaked prunes? We are quick to want the power of Christ's resurrection but slow to want the fellowship of His sufferings as though Christian character were something to be swallowed in a pharmaceutical capsule rather than annealed after first passing through the refiners fire. Would not the armor be pierced by the fiery darts if it were half-baked? The thermometer can be found in the First Epistle of John, IF we say that we have not sinned THEN we have called almighty God a liar AND His Word (Christ) has no place in our hearts BUT if we confess our sins we are cleansed and become a beacon of His Light, a reflection of His Glory to a lost an dying world sharing fully the joy of the saints.
It is a providential act of Grace that allows such testimony to our hearts. Were it not so we would be in the same situation as those who remain under the law. C. S. Lewis hits the nail on the head with his comparison of gravity with human nature. The fact that we do good proves nothing. The fact that we do evil proves everything! Left to ourselves we remain helpless. As children of God we are blessed. Our blessedness is totally undeserved yet complete in everyway. Our witness is God Himself testifying in the most personal way. Without His testimony we would not be able to comprehend our adoption let alone the length, breadth, and depth of His loved conveyed—the ever expanding universe of Grace living within our hearts.
It is easy to understand how we have come to the place where the church universal markets a false salvation and with it a false sense of assurance. We don't want folks to feel left out of the greatest gift ever given. With our western mentality we try to placate fears and misgivings with truth from the Word (which is a good thing). However, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is assurance. It is not for us to try to make folks feel better but rather to point out to them why it is the feel poorly. If we doubt our salvation, there is good reason for us to do so! It may be a true absence of saving faith, besetting sin or an enemy attack that would bring a soul to have such doubts. These questions may only be answered by the "Earnest" who lives within. We ought to remember then that Grace is dependent upon nothing or no one!
"I was told by those I depended on and thought could have informed me right that if I only said, 'Lord, have mercy on me' when I came to die, it would be enough to save me, but O how wretchedly I find myself mistaken to my eternal sorrow. Alas! I called for mercy on my deathbed but found it was too late. This cursed devil here that told me just before that I was safe enough then told me it was too late, and hell must be my portion and I find it is."
"He who intends to go to heaven when he dies must walk in the ways of holiness while he lives."
(Visions of Heaven and Hell, John Bunyan)
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" (Hebrews 12:14 KJV)
"Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14 NASB)
"Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14 NLT)
"Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14 NET)
"Yes, mark it well that Christ is 'received' as Lord. Oh, how far, far below the New Testament standard is this modern way of begging sinners to receive Christ as their own personal 'Savior.' If the reader will consult his concordance, he will find that in every passage where the two titles are found together it is always 'Lord and Savior,' and never vice versa."
"And Mary said, 'My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior, because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.'" (Luke 1:46-47 NLT)
"For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you." (2 Peter 1:11 NLT)
"For if after they have escaped the filthy things of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they again get entangled in them and succumb to them, their last state has become worse for them than their first." (2 Peter 2:20 NLT)
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on that eternal day." (2 Peter 3:18 NLT)
"But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith that we preach), because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. For the scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.'" (Romans 10:8-11 NLT)
It is the heart that God quickens (makes alive) to see the love that stooped at Calvary (Grace). A love that transforms the heart and makes it brand new. Who are we that turn away from each opportunity brought from heavens gate to partake of such indescribable love when there are those who said no but once, and now burn in unquenchable fire?