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THE EMPTY HOUSE

MATT.12:38-45

white and brown painted house
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Approximately one-third of Our Lord’s teaching, as recorded by the Gospels, was in the form of parables, and the reason is seen in His response to His disciples: “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them”. <Matt.13:10-11 (NIV)>

In this reply we see that our Lord intended to reveal truth to some of His audience, while at the same time, hiding this truth from others. He wanted to instruct the Jews by the truth concerning Himself without adding responsibility of that truth to the Gentiles. John the Baptist appeared on the scene to introduce the Messiah, calling on the people to repent and prepare themselves for Messiah’s coming. Christ then publicly “offered Himself” as the Messiah <Matt.4:17>, and authenticated His offer by the miracles that He performed, recorded in Matt.8-11, during which time He told only a few parables. A notable change in our Lord’s ministry begins in Matthew 12, where, because of His miraculous healing of the man with the “shrivelled hand”, and the healing of the demon-possessed man, introducing the phase in His ministry where the people were ready to accept Christ as the Messiah; “All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” <Matt.12:23 (NIV)>.

The religious leaders, however, had no intention of accepting Christ as Messiah, the Pharisees “plotted how they might kill Jesus” <Matt.12:14 (NIV)>. Further to this they accused Christ of being Beelzebub (Satan) when He healed the demon-possessed, blind and mute man, leading to the request for a sign of authenticity, for which Christ ignored their request. His purpose was to show that a spiritual relationship of faith was needed, and not a physical or “blood” relationship <Matt.12:49-50>, and all this led to a change in His teaching, with more emphasis on parables, and to the ultimate rejection of Christ resulting in His death upon the cross.

The Parable of the “Empty House” is recorded in Matthew 12: 38 – 45 where “some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” <Matt.12:38 (NIV)> “SIGN”: the word is most frequently used in the Scriptures to denote a token of coming events or a miracle to confirm faith. It is often an object or event that reveals God’s purpose; such as the rainbow <Gen.9>. God requested that His people perform certain practices as “signs” of their covenant with Him; such as circumcision <Gen.17>; the keeping of the Sabbath <Ex.31>; blood on the door posts <Ex.12>.

God asked of Moses: “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” <Num.14:11 (NIV)>. Even though king Ahaz of Judah was told to “ask the Lord for a sign” that God would deliver His people from their fierce enemy, Ahaz refused to ask but God gave the sign, which Ahaz did not live to see; <see Isa.7:14 (NIV)>.

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” <Heb.1:1-2 (NIV)>. Our Lord Jesus performed numerous signs that revealed His identity as the Messiah, but most of the people refused to recognize Him as the Messiah. On one occasion He had to comment: “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders……you will never believe.” <Jn.4:48 (NIV)>. Signs were a familiar way of God confirming the authenticity of a message or messenger to Israel <Deut.18:14-22>, and began at the very outset of their history. God sent Moses to deliver them from their Egyptian slavery and confirmed this by signs <Ex.4:1 – 9:30>. God changed his Rod into a snake and then back to a staff. God made his hand leprous, and made it whole again. God turned the water of the river Nile into blood as Moses poured it upon the ground. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers– the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob– has appeared to you, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed.” <Ex.4:5, 30-31 (NIV)>

Now, approaching the time when God is about to “put the nation aside” because of their unbelief, they still ask for signs and still doubt God’s message and messenger. So here we see our Lord says that no further sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Christ had proved His authority over nature; His authority over sickness and disease; His authority over Satan by casting out demons; His authority over death; and His authority to forgive sins. Therefore, no other evidence was necessary.

THE PARABLE <Matt.12:38-45>

Our Lord speaks of a demon-possessed man from whom the evil spirit that possessed him had departed. While possessed of the demon, the man is considered unclean and unfit to live in the community, and when the demon decides to leave the man he can then return to the community and enjoy fellowship with family and friends. The demon suspecting that the man may have already been possessed by other demons, must now find another place of abode, but is unable to find such, or any other company to live with. Upon returning to his old house, the demon finds it cleaned, put in order, and unoccupied; and then goes and finds seven other demons “more wicked than itself”, and returns to take up residence; and the man’s condition is now worse than at first. Our Lord implies that such was the condition of that generation of the Jewish nation.

THE APPLICATION (THEN)

John the Baptist had called the nation to repentance, and confessing their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River <Mark 1:4-5>. This profession of cleansing was represented by the departure of the demon in the parable, but their profession of cleansing however, was only temporary since they came under the influence of the unbelief of their leaders. Because the nation did not turn in faith to Christ as Messiah, their profession of cleansing was not “made permanent” so the people were not delivered from their uncleanness (a profession of the mind and not the heart). Now the condition of the nation that had desired to experience cleansing was in a worse state than before their profession of cleansing, for they were now permanently separated from God.

 THE APPLICATION (TODAY)

Do not seek or expect any other sign but that of Christ Himself: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” <Heb.1:1-2 (NIV)>. The preaching of the gospel calls sinners to repentance; and by believing in Christ and confession of sins, believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (spiritual baptism); <see Eph.1:13 (NIV)>. God delivers the sinner from Satan – the spiritual enemy – the “possessing demon”, and every effort must now be made to combine belief with a daily exercise of faith, <Heb.4:2> so as to enter and enjoy the “rest of God” <Heb.4:2, 11>. Combining belief with faith is accomplished by a continual “cleansing of the house” through the Word of God <Heb.4:12-13> since unbelief never goes undetected by God and nothing is hidden from the eyes and knowledge of God.

What is the condition of your house? Is it swept clean and empty? Or do you allow Christ to occupy it day by day by joyfully doing the will of our Lord? <John 14:23-24>. In the same way as the contents of a house is added to, and the many maintenance jobs are performed; there is the need to “add to our faith” <2 Pet.1:5-9>.

CONCLUSION

What is your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ?

  • Have you repented of your sins and sought the forgiveness of God?
  • Is Jesus Christ Lord of your life?
  • Is Jesus Christ living in your house?
  • Or is your house just clean and empty?

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.   But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” <Heb.3:12-13 (NIV)>

Unbelief is being indisposed to believe; being skeptical. This is the attitude of doubting God and His word. We have thoughts such as: can God really do so? Is God really all that the Bible says that He is? Do I really have to be obedient to His commands? Being fully aware of what the Bible teaches, we completely ignore the teaching and do as we please. God is willing to give us all the direction we need, even signs if He wishes, if only we are obedient to His commands. Do not be like Ahaz! He was more interested in doing things his way rather than seeking to obey God’s commands.

When we ask for a sign, we pre-determine what our action will be – if the sign is what we expect there is no intention to act accordingly. By not believing that the sign is from God, leads to unbelief, or doubting; and a heart of “unbelief” can result in a “falling away” from the living God, and this is a constant menace! The unbelieving heart can cause us to use the words that Job quoted: “Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?” <Job 21:14-15 (NIV)>

In Heb. 6: 4-6 two words are used to illustrate what it is to “fall away” from our belief in God: “Enlighten”– to have an intellectual understanding; a characteristic of belief in the power of reasoning; being able to reason intellectually and spiritually: and, “Taste”– to test the flavour; to eat or drink a small amount; to perceive or experience only to a slight degree. (from Webster’s Dictionary). We should be like Jeremiah the prophet in his appreciation of God’s Word: “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” <Jer.15:16 (NIV)>

Our Lord concludes the parable by the words recorded in Matt. 12: 46-50, and considering what they imply: are you “standing outside” wanting to speak and relate to Him? Are you true and sincere “mothers sisters and brothers” seeking to do His will? Our “houses” should be characterized by, praise and adoration for our Lord and Saviour, by a sincere attitude to do His will! A willful “turning away” from God is the final state from which it is “impossible to be brought back to repentance”.

This is the warning of the parable! And the message to us today!

COLOSSIANS 2-1 [3/22/20]

THE SUBMISSION TO CHRIST IN THE CHURCH <3:1 – 4:18>

  1. THE POSITION OF THE BELIEVER <3:1-4>

The position (standing or status) of the believer in Christ is a result of God’s grace, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, God has now accepted us in Christ as His children and has blessed us in the heavenly realms, and Paul expresses this in his statement “you have been raised with Christ” <3:1; cf Eph.1:3>. In His letter to the Ephesian Church he states; “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” <Eph.2:6 (NIV)>. So, as he has already stated that we have “died with Christ” <2:20>, he now continues to say that “we have been raised with Christ” <3:1>; and although this is not yet the reality, for we are still confined to this earth, God sees us in the heavenly realms with Christ. This thought should be humbling to us as we consider our position in Christ, and cause us to recognize Christ’s Headship <2:10> and to live a life well pleasing to Him <cf 2:12; 3:3; Gal.2:20; Rom.6:4-6>.

With this in mind Paul encourages us to, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” <3:2 (NIV)>, we should now give ourselves to Godly things and not be too concerned with earthly things, for as far as this worldly system is concerned we are already dead, but our true life is hidden in Christ. This should be our earnest aim for “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” <3:4 (NIV); cf Rev.22:7>, and we do look forward in anticipation to this event.

 

COLOSSIANS 1-3 (c,d,e) [3/18/20]

(c).  Freedom from the Judgment of Men  <2:11-17>

Paul continues to describe our freedom; not only because of what Christ is, but also that He gives us freedom from condemnation of self-righteous individuals. Here he addresses the subject of circumcision which was a contention between Judaizers (Jews who were converts and formed the early Church in Jerusalem) who taught that Gentiles could not become Christians unless they first became a Jew which included circumcision; and Paul emphatically opposed this teaching in his ministry.

The direction for circumcision was originally given to Abraham when God said “I am God Almighty…..I will confirm my covenant between me and you…” <Gen.17:1-2 (NIV)>; God continued to indicate that this covenant was to include all of Abraham’s descendants <Gen.17:10>. Circumcision signified that the infant was being accepted into the covenant community, and that an uncircumcised person was considered to be heathen and would be “cut-off” from the covenant community by divine judgment <Gen. 17:1-14>; and this practice has been faithfully observed by the Jewish community to the present day. God further expressed through Moses the real meaning of circumcision; “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways” <Deut.10:12 (NIV)> observing all His Laws and Decrees, and clarifying what circumcision really implied: “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.” <Deut 10:16 (NIV)>. The physical act of circumcision was to be followed by the spiritual act of observing God’s divine Laws, and the physical act was annulled by Christ’ death and resurrection, as far as our salvation is concerned.

“In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ” <2:11 (NIV)>. Paul teaches here that the Christian believer has been circumcised in Christ through our salvation “having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” <2:12 (NIV)>; making our need of physical circumcision for our salvation null and void. Our salvation and subsequent confession of Christ in our baptism is the evidence that our hearts have been circumcised as we seek to follow Christ and be obedient to His commands. “You, who were spiritually dead because of your sins and your uncircumcision (i.e. the fact that you were outside the Law), God has now made to share in the very life of Christ” <2:13 (J.B. Phillips New Testament in Modern English)>; we who were condemned by the Law because we were not circumcised <cf Gen.17:14> have been fully pardoned from that Law by Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross. He forgave all our sins by cancelling the written Law which condemned us by “nailing it to the cross”; “Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross” <2:14 (J.B. Phillips New Testament in Modern English)>

Paul now concludes this section stating what Christ has done for us; that as a result of His death Satan and his demons were “disarmed” and do not have the power to force believers to follow false teaching about Christ, but we should be cautious and trust the Holy Spirit to help us <2:14-15; see Eph.6:12>. Paul further states, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” <2:16 (NIV)>, indicating our total freedom from the judgment of those who would cause confusion and concern to our faith in Christ: reminding us that “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” <2:17 (NIV); cf Heb.8:5; 10:1>.

(d).  Freedom from Improper Worship      <2:18-19>

Therefore, we should not allow anyone that delights in false humility and the worship of angels to exclude us from our fellowship with Christ by denying the reality of our salvation. Such teachers are inflated by worldly imagination and are approaching issues that they do not, or cannot understand, since through their worldly minds they are not honouring “The Head”, who is Christ. The whole body, or Church, is supported and held together and grows as God causes it to grow.

The apparent error in the Colossian Church was a faulty understanding of Christ in that He was less than Deity <cf 2:9; 1:19>, and Paul has to correct them by showing that Christ is God, and that they should not allow false teachers to influence them. True worship can only be centred on the fact that Christ is God <cf Jn.1:1; 4:23-24; 14:6-10; 8:14-16>.

(e).  Freedom from the Doctrine of Men     <2:20-23>

It is clear that false teachers were underlining the observance of holy days, the worship of angels and demanding self-denial <see 2:16, 18, 21>; so Paul has to show that they are erroneous, ineffective, and inappropriate, as a means for our salvation by questioning their reasoning; “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules” <2:20 (NIV); Gal.2:20; Rom.6:4-6; cf Gal.4:8-10>. He states that these are all destined to perish <2:21> because they are all based on human reasoning and directions; “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” <2:23 (NIV)>. Such are the teachings of these people which will always be useless since they are based on human efforts. They will fail, for it is a fact that with such there is no restraining physical indulgences.

So then Paul emphasizes that we should not be enslaved by doctrines taught by false teachers, we should check and compare all doctrine with what the scriptures teach.

 

COLOSSIANS 1-3 (a) [3/5/20]

  1. THE FREEDOM IN CHRIST <2:4-23>

(a).  Freedom from Enticing Words    <2:4-7>

Paul’s emphasis on teaching the pre-eminence of Christ is specific, in that they may understand that in Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and that they may mature in this knowledge of Christ, “so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” <2:4 (NIV)>. Throughout the history of the Church many false teachers have emerged and Paul warns the Church in his day, as well as the Church in the present age, of these false teachings; encouraging believers to live by what the Scriptures teach and to disregard the false teaching that arise. We learn what the Scriptures teach by our individual study of the Word of God as we compare Scripture with Scripture and not what some teach by their “fine-sounding arguments”. Paul desires in all believers that they have a firm faith in Christ which can only be realized through constant and intense study of Scripture <2:5b>.

Additionally, he instructs us, “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” <2:6-7 (NIV)>. Since we have received Christ as Lord of our life we must continue live by His rule, we are deep-rooted in Him and should mature in Him, so that our faith will become stronger and stronger, in accordance with what we are taught through Scripture. In so doing we will be “overflowing with thankfulness” to Christ.

(b).  Freedom from Vain Philosophy   <2:8-10>

“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.” <2:8 (NIV); cf Gal.1:6-7; 3:2-5>. Paul further teaches that we should be very careful of those that teach meaningless and misleading beliefs based upon tradition and worldly opinions rather than what is taught by Scripture; this is very evident in the present day as God is removed from all teaching and thoughts of the society in which we live, and unfortunately several such beliefs being embraced by the Church. Some of this has resulted in captivity to false teaching brought about by fired up teachers seeking their own individual interests and welfare rather than the glory of Christ in His Church <cf Mk.7:6-12>.

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” <2:9-10 (NIV)>. Christ is our absolute Saviour because of what He is; He is God – Deity! <cf Isa.7:14; 9:6; Matt.1:23; Jn.17:5; 20:28; Col.1:19>. The very essence of deity was totally present in His human body, a fact that is rejected by false teaching especially those who profess to have a deeper understanding or wisdom (Gnosticism) which is based on human reasoning, prevalent in Paul’s day and in our current age. Every believer in Christ participates in this “fullness in Christ” as we recognize His Headship, Power and Authority.

 

COLOSSIANS 1-2 [2/27/20]

2.   THE PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST <1:15—2:3>

(a).  Christ Is Preeminent in Creation      <1:15-18>

In this section we observe three important facts: Christ’s relationship to God The Father; to the creation; and to the Church.

  1. “He is the image of the invisible God” <1:15 (NIV)> “he represents to mankind the perfections of God, as an image, figure, or drawing does to the object which it is made to resemble. The meaning here is, that the being and perfections of God are accurately and fully represented by Christ. “(from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997-2014 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.) Our Lord Jesus Christ is an exact representation of God, and in Him the unseen God is revealed, the unknown God is identified <cf Jn.14:8-11>.
  2. Christ is “the firstborn over all creation.” <1:15 (NIV)> “Among all the creatures of God, or over all his creation, occupying the rank and pro-eminence of the first-born. The first-born, or the oldest son, among the Hebrews as elsewhere, had special privileges” (from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997-2014 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.) He has the priority, pre-eminence and sovereignty over all creation. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” <1:16-17 (NIV)> Not only is He the firstborn, He is also the creator of all things, for scripture declares that “The Word” or Christ was with God in the beginning of creation, and furthermore “The Word   was God” and through Him all things were made <see Jn. 1:1-3>.
  3. “And he is the head of the body, the church” <1:18 (NIV)> “What the apostle has said in the two preceding verses refers to the divine nature of Jesus Christ; he now proceeds to speak of his human nature, and to show how highly that is exalted beyond all created things, and how, in that, he is head of the church-the author and dispenser of light, life, and salvation, to the Christian world; or, in other words, that from him, as the man in whom the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwelt, all the mercy and salvation of the Gospel system is to be received.” (from Adam Clarke’s Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright© 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.) <cf Eph.1:22-23; 5:23>.

“so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” <1:18 (NIV)>. Paul’s teaching here emphasizes that in all things Christ is absolute, and that all believers, Colossians and current, must acknowledge this fact.

(b).  Christ Is Preeminent in Redemption    <1:19-23>

Here in this section Paul explains the pre-eminence of Christ in the salvation of sinners from sin and eternal separation from God, and speaks first to the qualification of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” <1:19 (NIV)> In Christ resided all God’s comprehensiveness, and Paul in his expression “fullness” means that in Christ resided the totality of God with all His powers and attributes <see NIV Notes; cf 2:9>.

“and through him to reconcile to himself all things” <1:20 (NIV)>; “through him” meaning through Christ, all people are reunited with God. This, however, does not teach that all people are saved from sin by the death of Christ, for sin entered God’s creation because of Adam’s sin <see Rom.5:12, 18; 8:19-22> and all mankind is under the curse of sin <see Rom.3:23; 6:23>. Christ’s death restored “in principle” the peace between God and mankind, but such peace is only enjoyed by those who have believed in Christ for salvation; and will be enjoyed by all creation only at the second return of Christ to establish His kingdom <Rom.8:21>.

Having shown that Christ was fully qualified to be our Redeemer, Paul now continues to show the process and results of our redemption: “by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” <1:20 (NIV)>; the peace that believers enjoy was made possible by Christ’s blood shed on the cross. Just as in the O.T. era, the blood of the animal sacrifice was poured out on the altar, so Christ’s blood was poured out on the cross <cf Heb.9:12-14, 22>, and the scriptures go on to teach that we have peace with God through our faith in Christ <cf Rom.5:1, 9-11>.

As unrepentant sinners we were alienated from God because of our evil behaviour <1:21; cf Eph.2:11-14>. “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—” <1:22 (NIV); cf Rom.8:1; Eph.1:4>.

Paul now concludes that “This is the gospel” <1:23b>, and the condition of our continued peace with God depends on whether we continue in our faith or not, “if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” <1:23 (NIV)>; for those that depart from their faith no longer enjoy complete peace with God <cf Heb.9:4-6>. Here again Paul is not teaching that our salvation can be lost, for Scripture teaches that God’s sheep (followers), although they stray can never be lost forever <cf Jn.10:27-30>, but they will suffer turmoil until they return to Him in repentance <see Jn.6:66; 2 Cor.6:1; Gal.4:9; 6:1; 1 Tim.1:18-20; Heb.2:1; 3:12-14; 10:39; Rev.2:4-5>.

(c).  Christ Is Preeminent in the Church    <1:24 – 2:3>

“But part of my work is to suffer for you; and I am glad, for I am helping to finish up the remainder of Christ’s sufferings for his body, the Church.” <1:24 (TLB)> Paul rejoices in the fact that “it gives me a chance to complete in my own sufferings something of the untold pains which Christ suffers on behalf of His body, The church.” (J.B. Phillips New Testament in modern English), as Christ suffered in the reconciliation between God and mankind brought about by His death for sin; so Paul experienced many adversities in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, but Paul’s suffering did not atone for mankind’s sin.

“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness” <1:25 (NIV)> Paul considers himself a servant to the Church, having been commissioned by Christ to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; fully declaring God’s Word, which as a sacred mystery was kept hidden in previous ages and generations, but now has been made clear to all who trust in Christ for their salvation: “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” <1:27 (NIV); cf Eph.3:2-12>. He declares Christ, reprimanding and teaching in good judgment, “so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” <1:28 <NIV)>.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” <1:29 (NIV)>, to this end he is constantly working with all the strength given to him by Christ <cf Matt.28:20>. Paul confesses that he is unrelenting for them and for the Church in Laodicea, that they may be encouraged in the relationship of Christian love, “in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ” <2:2 (NIV)> so that their spiritual experience may be enriched as God’s great secret is revealed more and more to them “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” <2:3 (NIV)>. To this end is the pre-eminence of Christ in His Church.

 

COLOSSIANS 1-1 (2/14/20)

Part 1: THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST IN THE CHURCH <1:1 – 2:23>

  1. INTRODUCTION <1:1-14>

(a). Paul’s Greeting to the Colossians         <1:1-2>

“To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ” <1:2 NIV> the word brothers used here is inclusive of all believers, male and female.

  • “holy”: not because of what we are, for we are all unworthy sinners in God’s sight; but because of who we are; we are “children of God” <Jn.1:12-13>, born into His family of believers because of our faith in Christ, and God sees us as holy in Christ <Eph.1:4>. This thought of our being holy should be humbling to us when we consider that we still sin because of our human nature, but we should be conscious of the fact that we are called to be holy <see 1 Pet.1:14-16>, and this should be the characteristic of our life <see Psa.15:1-4>, it is the true measure of our spirituality <see Rom.14:17-18>, and should be the attitude of our minds and our life-style <see Phil.4:8-9>.
  • “faithful”: all servants of Christ must exhibit the characteristic of faithfulness. This is evident in an undivided heart, one that serves God only <see Psa.86:11>, and should be our primary duty <see 1 Cor. 4:1-2>. Our faithfulness should be unmovable <see Josh.24:14-15; Isa.7:9b>.
  • Our holiness and faithfulness is the result of Christ’s substitutionary death, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

(b). Paul’s Thanksgiving for the Colossians           <1:3-8>

“We” (Paul and Timothy) constantly give thanks to God in prayer for the Colossian believers; “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth” <1:4-5 (NIV)>. He expresses thanks for their faith, love and hope; and it should be understood that God is the source of these three virtues. Paul describes this as he gives gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ:  “..our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” <Rom.5:1-2 (NIV)>; and we are encouraged to demonstrate these virtues in our lives as we follow and serve our Lord Jesus < cf 1 Cor.13:13; Gal.5:5-6; 1 Thess.1:3; 5:8; Heb.10:22-24>. The hope that we have is not blind or wishful thinking but a firm assurance given to us by God through His Word <see Titus 1:2>.

Paul speaks to the universality of the Gospel as it had spread to every part of the Roman Empire since Pentecost <cf 1:23; Rom.1:8; 10:17-18>, and the fact that the Church in Colosse began through the preaching of Epaphras: “this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras…who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” <1:6-8 (NIV)>.

(c).  Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians          <1:9-14>

Because of the report regarding the Church at Colosse that Paul heard from Epaphras, he prays for the Church “asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” <1:9 (NIV); cf Psa.32:8-9; Prov.16:9>. Paul’s requests six things in his prayer:

  1. “that you may live a life worthy of the Lord” <1:10 (NIV)> A believer in Christ should never forget that he/she is a child of God, and our lifestyle should reflect the fact that God is our heavenly father, and as such our conduct must display this relationship so as to be pleasing to God in every way.
  2. “bearing fruit in every good work” <1:10 (NIV)> Every aspect of our service to God must display the fruits of The Spirit <see Gal.5:16-18, 22-23>
  3. “growing in the knowledge of God” <1:10 (NIV)> Just as in humanity, a person grows and matures into adulthood, the child of God must also display growth and maturity. Our spiritual maturity results from feeding on the Word of God; the necessity for every Christian. Otherwise there could be a “falling away” as we are warned of in the Scriptures <see Heb.5:1 – 6:1>
  4. “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might” <1:11 (NIV)> Here again we observe that as physical growth improves our physical strength, in similarity, spiritual growth results in spiritual strength. Paul referred to this growth previously <1:6> and we should understand that such strength is derived from a firm knowledge of the Scriptures <cf Phil.4:13; Jn.15:5>.
  5. “so that you may have great endurance and patience” <1:11 (NIV)> To live the Christian life to the fullest requires endurance and patience; so often we forget to include God in our daily living and forget to rely on the help of The Holy Spirit <cf Eph.4:2>. The knowledge of God that Paul refers to produces this endurance and patience as we are faced with opposition from within the Church and outside the Church.
  6. “giving thanks to the Father” <1:12 (NIV)> We do so “joyfully” as we consider what we were and what we have become <cf Eph.2:11-13>, and that we now inherit all things in Christ as God’s children <cf Eph.1:3, 13-14>.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” <1:13-14 (NIV)>

To what extent are these blessings experienced by you? <cf Acts 26:18; Eph.1:7>. Have you, like the Colossians, experienced this freedom in Christ?

SLAVE OR FREE? (1/20)

Slave; a slave is considered as a property of another as the one controlling them purchases them or owns them [Source: Google search]. Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is “free” if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state…it is associated with having free will and being without undue or unjust constraints, or enslavement, and is an idea closely related to the concept of liberty. [Source: Wikipedia.org]

The populace today strives, or claims freedom from many things including speech and actions, and there is a constant struggle for freedom. The question is “What is freedom”? Is there such a thing as real freedom? The difficulty that arises from this debate is that freedom for one party brings about slavery for the other.

Slave3
Source: Google Search

Conversely, we are all slaves to something or someone. We are slaves to what we do on a regular basis, some of this may be good, but the majority of people become slaves to things that are harmful – physically and spiritually; slaves to our professions allowing no time for family and even more tragic is the slavery to substance abuse, gambling and sex.

The Scriptures teach us that all slavery is related to the sin that each individual inherited when born into this world; that sin controls us and causes us to do all that is contrary to what God expects of us; therefore, there must be some way out of our predicament.

THE PRODIGAL SON <Lk.15:11-24>

 “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.” <Lk.15:11-13 (NIV)>

He went off to a foreign land and squandered his money in the wildest extravagance. He was attracted to a life where there are no standards; the easy life; freedom from rules. A terrible famine arose…. he began to be desperate; he went to work for one of the citizens of that country; an occupation that was totally uncharacteristic to his nature. He got to the point of having to eat of the pigs’ food, no one cared or gave him anything; he became a slave to his circumstances.

“The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.” <Prov.5:22-23 (NIV)>

You may say “I am not wicked; I have lived a good life; I am not a slave to anyone or anything”; but here is Jesus’ response: “They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” <Jn.8:33-34 (NIV)> We are a slave by choice to our sinfulness and all that it brings upon us, but as we are taught in the Scriptures, we can make a change – slave or free <see Deut.30:15-16>. “Don’t you realize that you can choose your own master? You can choose sin…. or else obedience……The one to whom you offer yourself, he will take you and be your master and you will be his slave.” <Rom.6:16 (L.L.); 2 Pet.2:19b>.

Then the Prodigal came to his senses, he got up and returned to his father: “I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.” <Lk.15:18-20 (NIV)> This is the

Slave1
Source: Google Search

choice that each individual person needs to make; we need to turn to God in repentance and seek His forgiveness and pardon from our sins and our sinful ways; and God’s response will be similar to the response of the father in the parable.

The father’s response: “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” <Lk.15:24 (NIV)>. The same response is applicable to any, and all who turn to God and confess their sins, God makes us His child. “You my brother, are not a servant/slave any longer; you are a son. And if you are a son, then you are certainly an heir of God through Christ” <Gal.4:7 (J.B.P.); cf Jn.1:12-13>Slave2

DARKNESS COVERS THE LAND (1/20)

darkness
Google download

DARKNESS, (even a picture cannot depict what this is like) the absence of light such as existed before the light of creation <Gen 1:2>, is associated with the chaos that existed before the creation; also came to be associated with evil, bad luck, or affliction, and death <Job 17:12; Job 21:17>. In the land of the dead, there is only darkness <Job 10:21-22; Job 38:17>; symbolizes man’s ignorance of God’s will and is associated with sin <Job 24:13-17>.

As the prophet Isaiah began his ministry he is given a mental picture by God concerning the northern kingdom of Israel: “…Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” <Isa.1:3-4 (NIV)>. The country had turned against God by worshiping idols in direct disobedience to God’s command <see Deut.8:11; Deut.12:1-5; Deut.13:4>; consequently God’s judgment is about to fall on them because of their sinful ways. Isaiah chapter 5 is a long poem telling the story of Israel’s rebellion; God had summoned the Assyrian’s to invade and conquer the kingdom of Israel, take them away as captives, and destroy Samaria their capitol city. There was nothing that the citizens could do to escape this judgment.

“And if one looks at the land, he will see darkness and distress; even the light will be darkened by the clouds.” <Isa.5:30 (NIV)>; “Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.” <Isa.8:22 (NIV)>

Those who have not yet seen the light concerning The Lord Jesus Christ, and those who deliberately turn away from the light are considered as being in darkness <see John 1:4-5; John 12:35; Eph 5:14; John 3:19-20>; and those that detest being in the light of Christ will be in condemnation <Col 1:13; 2 Peter 2:17>.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” <Jn.3:19-20 (NIV)>

Those that continue to live in extreme darkness describe those who at the end of time have not repented; “The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.” <Rev.16:10-11 (NIV); 18:23>

There is no doubt that the times in which we are now living is described by the condition of the kingdom of Israel in Isaiah’s time. Mankind is in complete rebellion against God and refuses to listen to the truths of Scripture; all the lies of Satan will be explored rather than truths that Christ taught us to live by. The New Testament describes some of these rebellious activities <see Rom.3:10-18; Acts 19:9; 17:30; 2 Pet.2:10-12; 3:3-4>; and mankind will continue in rebellion and darkness until God’s judgment falls upon all who have rejected Him.

Where will you stand – in the Darkness, or in the Light of Christ? <Jn.3:21>

THE BIRTH OF A KING

As we enter another Christmas season let us contemplate what Christmas is all about; let us reflect on the fact that it speaks to us of God’s great gift to mankind. We were without hope <Eph.2:12> and unable to help ourselves because we were enemies of God. God saw that we were powerless in our attempt to escape the bondage of sin and did for us what we were unable to do; He gave His Son to free mankind from the slavery of sin <Rom.5:6-8>.

THE PROPHESY HIS BIRTH

Scroll“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” <Isa.9:6-7 (NIV)>

To us a Child of hope is born, To us a Son is given;

Him shall the tribes of earth obey, Him all the hosts of heaven.

 

His name shall be the Prince of Peace, For evermore adored,

The Wonderful, the Counsellor, The great and mighty Lord.

 

His power increasing still shall spread, His reign no end shall know;

Justice shall guard His throne above, And peace abound below.

                         [John Morison (1750-1798)]

THE PROCLAMATION OF HIS BIRTH

Birth of Jesus [Source-Google search]

 

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” <Lk.2:10-12 (NIV)>

 

THE INTENT OF HIS BIRTH

Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” <Phil.2:5-8 (NIV)>

Cross [Source-Google search]

Christ came into this world for the express purpose of offering Himself “the eternal” sacrifice for sins; and through His death on the cross we can be saved from the penalty of sin that we have inherited.

 

HIS ETERNAL REIGN

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns……The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever…. KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” <Rev.19:6; 11:15; 19:16 (NIV)>

Hallelujah; the intent of His birth has been achieved and salvation from sin has been accomplished, on a future day God will hand over the rule of government to His Son our Lord Jesus Christ; all the nations shall be brought under His righteous rule and He will reign for ever and evermore <Isa.9:7>. Then the redeemed ones, those that have accepted God’s gift, will stand around His Throne in glory and sing His praise forever.

“The strife is o’er the battle done,

The victory of life is won;

The song of triumph has begun – Hallelujah!

God's Throne [Source-Google search]

 

The powers of death have done their worst,

But Christ their legions hath dispersed;

Let shouts of holy joy outburst – Hallelujah!

 

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,

From death’s dread sting Thy servants free,

That we may live, and sing to Thee – Hallelujah!

                 [Francis Pott; from the Presbyterian Book of Praise]

And He shall reign forever and ever, King of kings! and Lord of lords: And He shall reign forever and ever, King of kings! and Lord of lords! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”  [from Handel’s Messiah]

Contemplate the joy it will be to join all the redeemed ones around God’s Throne.

 

[Source for all images – Google search]

 

COURAGE AND CONVICTIONS [Dec. 01]

“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.” <Dan.1:3-7 (NIV)>

Excellent young men were required to fill the positions being offered; as it is today, many career opportunities require a specific level of expertise and excellence. Showing aptitude for every kind of learning: if a worker wishes to advance in his/her career there must be continual learning and adaptation to function at the required level of competence; he/she must also be well informed in related information to their profession. As is always the situation, one must be quick to understand when and how to act in accordance to change; and above all individuals must be qualified to serve. Such were the requirements given by king Nebuchadnezzar to Ashpenaz his chief court official; the chosen individuals were to be trained for three years before entering the king’s service.

All young people today who are entering college or university for training in higher education for their chosen profession are faced with similar challenges, and sometimes have to make difficult decisions when faced with ideologies that conflict with what they have been taught by their parents. This is even more difficult for those that have come from a Christian family, for most ideologies that they will face are not based on Christian or Biblical foundations, and will be in great conflict to their beliefs. This was the situation for the four Israelites that were chosen to serve the king.

These four men originated from the royal family and the respectability of the kingdom of Judah, accustomed to the Jewish way of life, and were carried off in captivity and exile to Babylon. The Babylonians worshiped at least seven different gods, believed numerous myths, had multitudes of shrines, epic tales, and proverbs. Some forms of their worship closely resembled the Jewish customs but did not have the same meaning, and all were in conflict with Jewish teaching; and for these Jewish young men who were now exposed to the Babylonian way of life, customs and beliefs; major decisions had to be made.

The first difficulty facing them was the food that was served to them: “The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table.” <Dan.1:5 (NIV)> Here we see how the Devil works to test our faith in the One God of the universe, he begins by getting us to fall into his trap using the simple and necessary things in life, in this situation it is the food that was needed to survive. The kings food was first offered to the gods of Babylon; their meat was “ceremonially unclean” to the Jews because it most certainly came from animals that the Jews were ordered, by the Law of God, not to consume; or were slaughtered contrary to the regulations of God’s Law <cf Deut.14:3-21; Lev.11:47; 17:7; 12>; and there was very little that Daniel and his friends could do to identify whether or not this food was ceremonially clean. So, we see Daniel making a decision that demonstrated the courage of his convictions: “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine” <Dan.1:8 (NIV)>. Such a decision could have been interpreted as a rebellion against the king, but Daniel gave Ashpenaz an alternative: “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food” <Dan.1 :12-13 (NIV)>; and at the end of the ten days they were found to be healthier and better nourished than the others that ate of the king’s food. There was nothing that would indicate that their diet was any healthier than the other men, but we can conclude that God had honoured Daniel’s courage and faithfulness. Further help given by God materialized in their knowledge and understanding of all the Babylonian literature and culture <Dan.1:17>, so complete in their knowledge that the king “found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah” <Dan.1:9 (NIV)>, they were ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom <Dan.1:20>.

This one incident set the course for Daniel and his three friends for the rest of their exile and lives. The Devil did not succeed in tempting them here, nor did he succeed later on when Daniel was called upon to fall down in worship the king rather than his God – The God of Heaven. The Devil will continue with this approach, always attempting to make us substitute our worship of God with something that resembles or imitates what our true worship of God should be, so we must be on our guard and test each suggestion by what is written in God’s Word <cf 1 Jn.4:1-3; 2 Jn.7-11>.

“Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” So the administrators and the satraps went as a group to the king and …. all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den….Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” <Dan.6:5-10 (NIV)>

Here again we see Daniel’s courage and convictions coming to the forefront, he did what he knew was expected of him in his worship habits, he worshiped and prayed to his God – the God of Heaven. What would your beliefs cause you to do in such a situation?

It would appear that in today’s social order there are very few firm convictions; everyone just “goes with the flow”; and unfortunately, this attitude seems to trickle into the Church. Programs are adjusted so as to “attract” outsiders; we do not want to offend them by what is written in God’s Word so our doctrine and preaching is diluted with what is appealing to them. In an attempt to appeal to the intellect, we limit or disallow the Holy Spirit to do His work in the lives of unbelievers <cf Jn.16:7-11>.

IN CONCLUSION, the lesson to be learned here is that we should never let our convictions and beliefs in God be affected, controlled, or changed by ideologies that are foreign to what we are taught in scripture; we must stand by our beliefs at all times and cost.

In all professional life today, workplaces, universities, schools, politics and anywhere else that one can think of, ideologies and beliefs are acceptable and practiced, unless such beliefs are biblical based. Christians – true followers of Christ – are not allowed to live by their beliefs, and the Devil ensures this as he suppresses the senses of unbelievers to the gospel message and society silences the messengers. Is this real freedom of choice, as opposed to the freedom that is allowed for all other ideologies?

How should we as followers of Christ respond to this so-called freedom of choice and expression? Our voices of disapproval may never be heard, but we must be like Daniel and resolve that we will never be defiled by ungodly ideologies. This will no doubt be very difficult but we must be resolved to live by the principles of scripture, our beliefs and convictions; even when we may be silenced by those that block their ears to the warnings of the scriptures.

If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” < Isa.7:9b; cf Ex.14:13; 1 Cor.16:13; 2 Thess.2:15>. 

 

SALVATION [Nov.12]

Salvation is one of the “themes” of the Scriptures, and is expressed in some form in the many accounts and narratives recorded. In the Old Testament, the word salvation sometimes refers to deliverance from danger <Jer.15:20>, from an oppressor <Psa.35:9‑10>. It can also refer to national deliverance from military threat <Ex.14:13>, or release from captivity <Psa.14:7>. Man’s universal need for salvation is one of the clearest teachings of the Bible. Salvation can be described as: “the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss etc:” “the state of being saved or protected……” “a source, cause or means of being saved or protected…” “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption…” (Webster’s Dictionary) these definitions are observed throughout the Scriptures, and there are other facts about salvation contained in the Scriptures as well.

REQUIREMENT: man’s need for salvation originated in his expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and since then life for mankind has been marked by strife and difficulty; increasingly, corruption and violence has dominated our world. God used the nation of Israel to illustrate the subject of salvation, and the central experience of Old Testament salvation is the Exodus from Egypt. The nation of Israel, although delivered from bondage, consistently disobeyed God’s commands and ended up in captivity once again. God promised a “new and better” Exodus <Jer.31:31‑34>, and Israel’s return from captivity failed to fulfill all these hopes. So, a new understanding arose: the full realization of God’s purpose of salvation would involve the coming of a completely new age <Isa.65:17‑25>; and this doctrine of salvation reached its fulfilment in the death of Christ on our behalf. Jesus’ mission was to save the world from sin and the wrath of God <Matt.1:21; John 12:47; Rom.5:9>. The salvation that comes through Christ may be described in three tenses: past, present and future.

IT WAS PROMISED: at the fall of mankind when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command the promise was made: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” <Gen.3:15 (NIV)>; and again, repeated to Abraham many years later <see Gen.12:2-3 (NIV) >

THE SOURCE/MEANS: (“a source, cause or means of being saved or protected”): the method was ordained by God in the birth, death and resurrection of His Son: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” <Matt.1:21 (NIV); see Jn.3:14, 16-17; Heb.2:14-15 >.

IT IS FOR ALL PEOPLE: although the promise was made to the Jewish nation it encompasses all people: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” <Rom.1:16 (NIV)>

IT WAS ACCOMPLISHED BY SHED BLOOD: (“the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk or loss”), the blood shed on the cross by our saviour The Lord Jesus Christ: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” <Rom.5:8-9 (NIV)>

THE WAY: all sinners must come to God in the same manner: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” <Rom.10:9 (NIV)>; “[God]… made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions‑‑ it is by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith‑‑ and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” <Eph.2:5, 8 (NIV); see also 1 Thess.5:9; 2 Thess.2:13; Jn.3:3, 5>.

IT IS THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS: anyone that was put to death on a cross symbolized being under a curse, and Christ was made a curse as our substitute: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” <1 Cor.1:18 (NIV); see also Deut.21:23; Gal.3:13>

IT IS NOT TO BE DELAYED/DISMISSED: for some the message may only be heard once; “For he says…….I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” <2 Cor.6:2 (NIV); Eph.1:13>.

THE SOURCE: Jesus Christ is the ONLY source of salvation: “and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” <Heb.5:9 (NIV) >

THE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Christ’s sacrifice was “once and for all” and there will be no other way to be saved from sin’s penalty and God’s wrath: “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.” <Heb.9:28 (NIV); 1 Pet.1:5 >.

THE BIBLICAL TRUTH: Salvation is the work of God by which man is saved from the eternal doom of sin. In salvation, God gives to man the riches of his grace, meaning, eternal life both now and forever. Salvation, therefore, is the work of God and NOT a work of man for God. Salvation is the “new birth” which Jesus described to Nicodemus <John 3:3‑7>: it is a spiritual birth, and the only way to become a Christian is to be “born again” through the work of The Holy Spirit. The Hebrew and Greek meaning of salvation implies the ideas of deliverance, safety, and preservation; and until a person is “born again”, that person is lost and has no assurance of deliverance, safety or preservation. Good works will never bring salvation, and being a “good person” is not salvation, for the Bible declares that we are not saved by good works <Eph.2:8‑10>.

SALVATION ‑‑ THE PURPOSE OF GOD: It was conceived in the mind of God before the world was formed; “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” <Eph.1:4 (NIV)>. Salvation is the result of God’s foreknowledge ‑ not an afterthought; <1 Pet.1:20; Titus 1:2>. Salvation is the result of the Grace of God, not of anything we can or might do. Grace means “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”<2 Tim.1:9; Titus 2:11>. Salvation is offered because of God’s love to mankind <Rom.5:8; cf 1 John 4:9>

SALVATION BEFORE THE CROSS: God dealt with sin before the cross by atonement, meaning that sin was “covered” by the Levitical offerings <see Lev.16>, until, and in anticipation of the cross, but did not “take away” those sins <Heb.9:15>. “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished”<Rom.3:25 (NIV)>; note that in this verse the writer states that sins committed before the cross were unpunished, because the Levitical offering was in anticipation of the supreme Sacrifice of Christ. God had promised a Lamb <Gen.3:15; 22:8> and had forgiven sin on the basis of His promise. Paul in his address to the Athenians on Mars Hill indicated that God had overlooked the times of “ignorance” to God’s word, but the new command for all people everywhere is to repent <Acts.17:30>.

SALVATION AFTER THE CROSS: God’s method of dealing with sin since Christ died is based upon ONE OFFERING ‑ which is the offering of Christ upon the cross: “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” <Heb.10:12, 14 (NIV)>; and in His death Christ did not “cover sin” but took away or cleansed sin: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” <Jn.1:29 (NIV); Col.2:14>.

THE PRICE OF SALVATION: God’s Son, Jesus Christ, had to die in order to provide salvation, and by His death, burial and resurrection He provided a way of salvation for all humanity: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” <Rom.8:11 (NIV)>. Jesus suffered for the sins of the world, “that He might bring us to God”: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” <1 Pet.3:18 (NIV)>. In His suffering His blood was shed for the remission or forgiveness of sin; <Matt.26:28 (NIV)>

SALVATION – THE THREE PHASES:

[1] PAST: Christ saves from the guilt and penalty of past sins, because Christ became sin for all who will believe: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” <2 Cor.5:21 (NIV); Rom.8:3: Gal.3:13; 1 Jn.3:5 (NIV)>. Christ will save all who come to Him seeking His forgiveness, for He has declared that He is not willing that any should perish. The final decision, however, is left up to the individual; God never forces anyone to accept Him even though it is not His will that any should perish <2 Pet.3:9 (NIV)>. [2] PRESENT: once the past has been forgiven, God now delivers the believer from the Power of sin on a day‑to‑day basis, because Christ “ever lives” to make intercession for us. Even though we may be saved we are still prone to sin: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” <Rom.6:4 (NIV); Heb.7:25; 1 Jn.2:1>. The Christian can thus live a victorious life over sin, even though the two natures within us are constantly at war striving to control us. The apostle Paul speaks about this conflict in his own life and he tells us that he was victorious, and so can we. The Holy Spirit settles the strife in the believer’s life. <see Rom.7:17‑8:3>. [3] FUTURE: One day the Lord Jesus will take all His redeemed ones from the “presence” of sin, this is His promise to all those who have accepted His salvation. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” <Jn.14:2-3 (NIV); Heb.9:28; 1 Pet.1:4-5>.  Although Christians are not yet perfect, God sees us as such: we are sons of God NOW, we do not have to wait until some future time. On that day when Christ returns for us, He will make the distinction, and only those who are “sons” will go to be with Him <1 Jn.3:1-2 (NIV)>

SALVATION ‑‑ THE FREE GIFT OF GOD: Salvation is God’s free gift to mankind and is available to ALL who will believe: “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.” <Eph.2:8-9 (NIV)> Since salvation is a free gift it must be accepted by the sinner who must first admit and confess that he/she is a sinner and is worthy of the penalty for sin which is spiritual death or eternal separation from God <Rom.3:23 (NIV); Rom.6:23>. All mankind is faced with the great decision: accept the “wages” or the “gift”; it is an individual decision and the choice is left to every person born into this world. “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live ……..For the LORD is your life” <Deut.30:15, 19-20 (NIV)>

The power to live the Christian life is given to all who believe, even though we are all prone to sinning <Jn.1:12 (NIV); 1 Jn.1:9>. The Lord is willing to forgive; but this is not a licence for believers to willfully sin. When we do sin, as we most definitely will, Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father, and we must seek God’s pardon by confessing our sin to Him and request His forgiveness.

CONCLUSION: “Salvation comes from God”: rest and confidence are the experience of the child of God <see Psa.62:1-2>. Satan’s job is to capitalize on the fragile condition of saints and sinners. He never gives up and his assault is continuous: he knows that we have no strength of our own to withstand his attacks: we are like the “leaning wall” or “tottering fence”; this was David’s experience because of his enemies and this is also our experience as a result of Satan’s attacks upon us. <see Psa.62:3-4> We are encouraged to “trust” in God at all times and in all situations because our “salvation depends on God”, we are exhorted to “pour out” our hearts to Him. <Psa. 62:5-8> Our social standing means nothing to God, because we can never “measure up” to His standards, “if weighed on a balance they are nothing”; neither riches or wealth can buy us entrance into His kingdom <Psa.62:9-10>. God has spoken and David has heard two things: “You O God are strong…You O Lord are loving” <Psa.62:11-12>.  As we consider God’s salvation these two things should also be evident to us.

SALVATION: Was very costly to God <Gen.22:2,8,13; Psa.22:1‑18; Heb.2:10,14‑17>: is the LORD (JEHOVAH) <Ex.15:2>: is a free gift of a Holy God to a sinful world <John 3:16>: is obtained only by believing on the Son of God and receiving Him as saviour <Acts 16:31,34>: is an act of faith <Eph.2:8>: requires a personal decision <John 1:12>: cannot be attained by Church membership or by anyone acting on our behalf <Acts 4:12>: cannot be inherited or purchased <Isa.55:1>: changes the heart, mind and every part of a person: we become a “new creation” <2 Cor.5:17>: is revealed by the Scriptures <2 Tim.3:15>: is everlasting <Isa.45:17; Heb.5:9>: was not understood by the prophets (or angels) <1 Pet.1:10‑12>: is a promise of God <Psa.34:18; Acts 2:21; 13:26; Rom.10:9; 10:13>. We never become good enough to be saved because we can never attain a degree of excellence good enough for God. Once we trust Christ to be our saviour, however, God sees us as being perfect in Christ <Eph.2:1‑6>, and we can be confident “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” <Phil.1:6>.

Is the word “salvation” relevant in today’s society? Yes, it is! Is the word “salvation” offensive to people today? Yes, it is! Should the word be changed or modernized? No, it should not! It was used by our Lord in His day, and it still carries the same meaning today: it is a word that all can comprehend. Salvation is so simple that all can understand it, but unfortunately there are those today who seek to make it complicated. There are those who say that the normal person cannot understand what God’s word means and they either reject it or give their own interpretation and rules. Some people look for salvation in things and people, rather than looking to God; while others live in fear of what the future without God holds for them. There are people who refuse to accept what God’s word says in regard to sin and its consequences and enter into unnecessary dialogues, debates and arguments as to why the Bible should be rejected.

We are saved by the grace of God, and His divine grace will not last indefinitely for He has set a day in which it will come to an end, therefore:

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

<Heb.4:7b; cf Psa.95:7b-11>.