The full title of this post should be: ”A Conversation With Anton and Testimonial To The True Power of Jesus Christ”
What follows are answers to a post by “Anton”. I have copied his post and edited the post to appear as a conversation between Anton and me. Note that the content of Anton’s post were not altered by my editing, at least not intentionally.
You can see Anton’s original post here: http://mylordisjesus.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/atheism-science-higgs-boson-and-the-godhead/#comment-1017
Anton: Sorry for my delay, and as I told Ged, this is unfortunately how it goes for me.
John: That’s quite all right Anton, we all have lives, and I can quite understand how delays, even long ones, can develop.
Anton: I have a couple of questions for you. What kind of church did you grow up in?
John: I grew up in a Methodist Church. In fact, my Father, a carpenter who helped to build the church building, and my Mother, were founding members.
I attended that church from as early as I can remember, probably about 4, until I made it quite clear to my parents that I wanted nothing more to do with the church, at the age of 12 or 13. The problem was, they weren’t telling me anything I wanted to hear, it was all just a bunch of meaningless ritual. I thought it was worthless at the time, and my opinion of the ritual hasn’t changed, it is still worthless as far as I am concerned.
Anton: How was it different from your faith now?
John: The only things I knew then were the stories of the Bible, the rituals that I mentioned already, and the preaching of the Pastor, telling me how I needed tobe a better person and such. There was never any mention of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, no mention that Jesus is a living person that I could have a relationship with, and no mention that I was a sinner in need of salvation, all things that I consider to be of primary importance today.
Anton: How were you confronted with “the living Lord Jesus”?
John: In high school and in my years of “higher education” I learned to think analytically and pursued a well-paying and highly technical career path. Even in my early years I considered myself successful. I was able to provide myself with pretty much anything I wanted, and in my youth that ended up being partying, which meant alcohol and drug consumption, and relationships with women. I was involved in that lifestyle for over 10 years. I wasn’t hurting anyone, and I felt justified in what I was doing. After all, I was doing just as I pleased.
The only problem was, I was not happy. My solution was, of course, to immerse myself more and more in my chosen lifestyle. But that was no good either. You see, I was beginning to become convicted of my actions. I knew, from my early training, that adultery and fornication were sins. I knew that lying was a sin, and if you’ve ever been involved in drug use, you are probably familiar with how easily one lies when it suits him or her. I also was in heavy rebellion against my parents, and I knew that my behavior was not at all honoring to them.
I did not know it then, but it was Jesus who was convicting me, and I was not able to escape His conviction. I was on a downward spiral, and when I reached the bottom, Jesus was there. I was at a point in my life where I did not want to live it any longer. I was not suicidal, but I desperately wanted to change my behavior, and was trapped!
And it was then that Jesus showed me the way out. Jesus showed me that He died for my sins, those that were in the past, and those yet in the future. He showed me that all I needed to do was to admit my need for a Savior, and to trust in the sacrifice He had made on my behalf , His death on the cross, He died for me, taking the punishment I deserved.
Anton: How was this relationship missing in those early years?
John: In my earlier encounter with church, I knew only a religion, a dead religion that had no ability to give life. What I learned much later had nothing to do with religion, or even with church, but with a relationship with Jesus. Note that this relationship only began after He revealed Himself to me.
Anton: What do you mean Jesus confronted you with “His Life”?
John: See above
Anton: What do you mean by “heart knowledge”?
John: As I am sure you are aware, the reality of Jesus’ existence is not something that can be proven objectively. One either believes that He lives, or he does not. I, through the interactions I have had with Him am thoroughly convinced that He lives, even though I have not seen Him. I have “heard” His voice many times in prayer and He has communicated with me in many ways. How can it be that I would believe He is real without any evidence? One might well ask me another question: “How can you be sure this Anton fellow exists, without any real evidence?”. And my answer would be the same, “Perhaps you have not proof that Anton exists, but I know in my heart that he is real.”.
So, you see? Many things in our lives we know by faith, from the mundane to the supernatural. Think about it some time, and you might surprise yourself how much faith you have that various things are true.
Anton: Sorry, but I have intention on beginning to seek Jesus no more than I intend to seek Heracles or Thor. I already sought Him, didn’t find him, and realized that was because, like Heracles and Thor, there is no Him.
John: I understand your position entirely, and I will not ask that you seek Him. Always keep in mind though, I never sought Him either. The fact of the matter is, Jesus was the furthest thing from my mind, but He sought me, and found me.
Perhaps one day He will seek you out as well. My prayer is that if that day comes that your heart will be open to His prompting.
My best wishes,
If I were to ask any born again Christian if they believe that Jesus died for all of their sins, I know that nearly all of them would answer with an unequivocal “Yes!”. And that is great, because Jesus truly did die for all of our sins. And, if that were all there was to it, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.
Unfortunately, probably a majority of those who answered “yes” to the first question would, if asked, “What do you make of verses like John 1:9 then?”, would answer with something to the effect of we need to keep short accounts with God, otherwise we will be out of fellowship with Him. It is that issue that I would like to address in this post.
If Jesus truly died for all of our sins, and I believe there is ample evidence to conclude this decisively, then there are no sins left for God to hold against us, correct? If God is still holding my sins against me, then it must not really be forgiven. If it is not forgiven, how can it be dealt with? It seems to me that if any of my sins are yet unforgiven that Jesus would have to die once again to make payment for it. And we know the Bible is clear, that is not going to happen. The Bible says that Christ died for sins once!
Another explanation I have heard is that today, we get our sins forgiven by confessing them to God and then repenting of them. Really? If sins can be forgiven by confession and repentance, then why did Christ have to die? If we believe that sins can be forgiven so easily today, then we are doing two things, first, we are drastically under estimating the seriousness of sin, and second, we are drastically under valuing the preciousness of Christ’s blood. We are saying that our (works) confession and repentance are of equal value to Christ’s blood. I would call that pretty close to blasphemy, wouldn’t you?
No, the title of this piece says it all. When we sin, there is nothing that we can do but fall on our face in worship and thanksgiving that our God has already forgiven our sin when Jesus spilled His precious blood on our behalf and accept His free gift of Love for His children.
The person who lives a life of confession and repentance lives in constant fear that he might have missed a sin, or that maybe his confession or repentance is not sincere enough.
The person who lives a life knowing that His sins are already forgiven lives in continual thanksgiving, worship, and praise of His Lord for the gracious gift He has provided.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
At once, this verse is both a commentary on the desperation of Man’s condition before God and a prophesy about the sacrifice that was to be made by the Messiah in becoming the propitiation for our sins.
During worship and prayer this morning during church I was meditating on the love that the Lord has for His children. I don’t know about you, but I have wandered away from the Lord several times in my life. Whether by alcohol and drugs, of by engaging in immoral sexual practices, or by putting other things first in my life which are, if we are being honest, forms of idolatry, I have strayed far from the Lord’s chosen path for me on a number of occasions. On any of those occasions the Lord would have been more than justified to just throw up His hands and say, “Fine! If you like being apart from Me so well the just GO! I am finished with you!”
But He never did, and He never would. But today in particular, I was feeling enveloped by a love so strong that even my worst sin would never even dent His steadfast love for me.
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. – Luke 15:4-7
Today, I saw this parable in a different light. I believe that it not only refers to the person who strays in a bit way by falling into drug use or infidelity to one’s spouse or anything that may draw us away from our Savior’s love and guidance for months or even years. It also refers to the one, I believe, who falls into temptation and sin even for an hour, even for a minute. At the moment when we realize that we are engaging in sin, and that we are breaking our Savior’s heart, when we turn again to follow Him who bought us with His own blood, there is rejoicing in heaven that a wayward son or daughter, a wandering sheep, has turned away from the darkness of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and has chosen rather to gaze into the eternally loving face of their Savior.
Lord, reveal Your steadfast love that I may choose the world less and less, and You more and more. Amen!
After re-reading one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 37, I decided to look a little deeper at the meaning of the word “fret”, and was quite surprised by what I found. This word appears three times in the first eight verses of the psalm:
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
“Fret” comes from the Hebrew word “Charah” which is translated “kindled” 44 time, “wroth” 13 times, “hot” 10 times, “angry” 9 times, “displease” 4 times, and “fret” 4 times (from Blue Letter Bible Lexicon). I notice that fret is a less used translation, and that all the translations are highly charged words.
We could easily translate verse 1 as Be not wroth, be not angry, or even, be not kindled against evil doers. But what does that mean, “be not kindled”?
For a clue, I looked up the word fret in Webster’s and found not just the common definition of “worry” but a lot more. In addition to worry, fret also means to “eat or gnaw into”, also, corrode, fray, rub, or chafe.
So now we begin to see, fret or worry is not just something that we do, but when we do it, it does something back to us. As a result of worry, our being is eaten or gnawed, or corroded away.
God tells us not to worry about evil doers, not only because we can’t do anything about them anyway, we will not prevent others from their evil ways, but more importantly, as we allow ourselves to be caught up in worry, we are doing actual damage to ourselves.
As we trust in The Lord and lean on Him, His promise is that we will dwell in the land, we will be fed, He will give us the desires of our heart, and many more promises throughout the psalm. If you are not familiar with Psalm 37, I urge you to read it through. It is a truly beautiful psalm.
11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. – Acts 19:11-20 (ESV)
What first impressed me was how Paul, led by the Holy Spirit was able to do “extraordinary miracles” to the point where handkerchiefs that he had merely touched could be taken to a sick or possessed person and that person would be healed
Next were the seven Jewish exorcists who tried to use the name of Jesus without knowing Him personally, and had no success at all. In fact, their experience ended in near disaster!
But notice the contrast!
First there is Paul, a believer in Jesus Christ, fully submitted to the will of the Holy Spirit. Paul was not motivated by pride, but by his eagerness to please his Lord, through obedience. As a result, he is blessed by God beyond measure!
Then consider the seven sons of Sceva. Now, Sceva was a Jewish High Priest, so the sons were almost certainly experts in the Law of Moses themselves, or at the very least, very well versed in the Law. These young men fancied themselves exorcists and, seeing Paul’s great success, saw an opportunity to be more successful themselves by invoking the name that seemed to make Paul successful. But unlike Paul, these men were selfishly motivated
Paul could contribute his success to the grace of God. The seven exorcists could contribute their “success” to works.
I think it is worth asking ourselves, are we fully submitted to the Lord Jesus, as Paul was? Or are we living our lives under our own power, and in our own strength?
Have we been saved by the grace of God? Or are we relying on our works to prove to God that we are deserving of His salvation?
Lord Jesus, I humbly thank you for providing for my salvation by your death, burial and resurrection. I am saved, not because I am worthy, but because You are. You are my Savior, and my Lord and Master. Therefore I bow before You and submit my life to You. Amen.
Have you ever broken any of the Ten Commandments? Come on now, be honest. Have you ever lied? Have you ever seen something that belonged to another and wanted it for your own? Have you ever stolen anything? Even a small thing? Have you ever committed adultery? Remember, Jesus said that if you have ever looked on a woman to lust after her, that you have committed adultery with her in your heart. How about murder? Jesus said that if you are angry with your brother that you are subject to the judgment.
So, the average person, in God’s eyes is a Lying, covetous, thieving, adulterer who may very well be a murderer as well. If you or I were to stand before God with a record like that, what do you think the outcome would be?
If God is just, and He is, the only possible verdict that He could reach is the verdict of guilty, with the punishment being death, permanent spiritual separation from God. In fact, that is the judgment that each of us has in our future. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
The wages of sin is death, and we are all guilty of it. We are all guilty because we all have sinned. That’s pretty bad news for all of us, devastating! But it doesn’t have to be.
You see, I left off the second half of Romans 6:23. Here is the whole verse:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23
From the first verse that talks about sin and death, we might get the impression that God hates us. But really, just the opposite is true. The reason we are sinners is our own personal choice. We sinned, and death, or separation from God is the natural consequence of sin. Just as gravity is a law of the physical universe, the law of sin and death is a law of the spiritual realm. If we step off a cliff, we fall. If we sin, we die.
If God did not care about His creation, He could have left things that way. We made a choice, and it is only right that we should pay the price.
But God loves us!
He was not willing to leave us in our condition of spiritual death, so, He offered His Son, Jesus, The Christ, to die in our place and pay the full price for every sin we ever committed and for every sin that we ever will commit. Jesus, truly God in human flesh, and truly human as well. He was tempted in every way, even as we are, and yet, without sin. (see Hebrews 4:15) Having lived a sinless life, He was in a position to take on the punishment of others, of you and me.
When Jesus died on the cross, it was not a tragic accident, it was the fulfillment of why He came to earth in the first place.
And, to everyone who will acknowledge that they are a sinner and in need of God’s mercy, and will trust in The Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, God extends the gift of new and eternal life. The Bible says it this way:
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; – Romans 10:9
God loves each of us enough that He was willing to take our just punishment so that we might live with Him forever. And if you accept His Son, Jesus, as your own Savior, that is just what will happen. The Bible says:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2
Won’t you accept God’s gift of eternal life now? It is as simple as admitting to God that you are a sinner and need the salvation that He has provided in His Son. Do it now, ask God to forgive your sin and you will receive His gift of eternal life.
If you have accepted God’s gift of life, I hope that you will take a few minutes and leave a comment here and tell others what you have done. Or, if that makes you feel uncomfortable, you are always welcome to send me an email.
God bless you!
Have you ever wondered, if Jesus walked the earth today, what would He see when He looked at various people? Let’s say He was with you at work tomorrow morning. He would know if each of your co-workers was saved or not. Of those who are not saved, He would know in each person what seed has already been planted and whether it was about to germinate or whether it was nearly grown and ready for harvest. He would know exactly, to the second, how much time that person had left on earth and the urgency of sharing the gospel message that he or she might find salvation.
We, unfortunately, do not have all of those advantages. We know that, according to Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) we are to make disciples of all nations. We know that when we meet a non-believer and share the gospel that we may be planting a seed, or watering a struggling seedling, or preparing a mature plant for, and maybe even participating in its harvest. But we also know that it is appointed to man once to die, and after that, the judgment. But we have no idea whether the person next to us will live to a hundred, or whether they will, God forbid, die in a traffic accident on te way home from work.
The truth of the matter is, if we really believe what the Bible teaches, we must treat our sharing of the gospel with some urgency, because we just don’t know how many chances we or others may have to share.
That’s an awesome responsibility, isn’t it? But let us not be crushed by it. In Isaiah 55:10-11 God says that His word will accomplish what He intends. If we are unable to deliver a particular message on one occasion, someone else will. What we can know with confidence is that God’s will not be thwarted when it comes to a lost sheep being returned to His fold.
The fact is, God does not need us. If it were His plan, God could return ever last lost person to His fold without human participation at all. But God has purposed that we should take part in His harvest. We are not helping God, but He is granting a wonderful opportunity to take part in the most incredible miracle ever, the reuniting of God’s Spirit with dead and separated souls.
Yes, Jesus made sharing the gospel a responsibility, but is also an incredible privilege which we ought no waste.
I read an excellent blog post today by a good friend named Debra Aiken. I don’t know if you’ve read Debra’s blog before but Debra is really on fire for the Lord. I have been blessed so many times reading her posts knowing that I am hearing a message the Spirit had planned just for me.The post I read today is a call to action for all Christians, and is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Minister Aiken starts her post like this:
2 Chronicles 7:14 – If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Oh, what a promise that God sends not only to America, but to the world on this morning! Healing is available to the world again, on today! God is offering us another opportunity to repent, turn from our wicked ways and seek Him on this day that the Lord has made.
As I read the comments to a few of my past blog posts, but most especially this one, I am reminded that many of us still believe that God has appointed us judges over the world and that our job is to point out the sins of others, whether they are born again believers or not.
Perhaps this belief that we are to point out the sins of others stems from the mistaken belief that God is still holding their sins against them. But that, happily, is not the case at all!
The Bible teaches that Jesus died on the cross for sins, in fact, He died for the sins of the world. (Please see 1 John 2:2) When Jesus said, “It is finished”, that is exactly what He meant. All sins, yours, mine, and those of the murderer on death row, all of them have been paid for by the Blood of Jesus, and forgiven by God. Quite simply, they don’t exist any more.
Since Jesus’ death on the cross, God has not been dealing with man on the basis of his sin and need to have it covered by a sacrifice. Jesus was the last, and perfect sacrifice, making further sacrifice unnecessary, because the sin problem was dealt with once, for all.
God’s dealing with man is now on the basis of faith in His Son and the restoration of His Holy Spirit, who now dwells in the hearts of all believers. (Please see Romans 8:1-2)
Therefore, it makes no sense to stand in judgment over others, telling them that God holds their sins against them. He doesn’t! That ended 2000 years ago on the cross. And that’s not what Jesus told us to do anyway. Jesus said:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
The apostle Paul had a little something to say about the importance of love as well:
1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I have not love, I am nothing!
So, whether we are out and about in the world living our lives, or interacting with others on Twitter or another online community, let us remember what the Lord commanded us, and love those we interact with. Rather than looking for their sin and (falsely) telling them that God holds their sins against them, let us rather look for that soul that God cared enough about to die for, and always remember that God wishes nothing more than for that lost soul to find its way to faith in Jesus Christ who loves them.
In other words Christian, BE Love To Your Neighbor!