Tag Archives: repentance

Lost! (part 1)

Being lost!

lostI don’t know about you but I really enjoyed the enigmatic TV series lost. I’m not sure I understood it – it lost me at times! However, it was a good title, as ‘lost’ accurately describes the precarious situation the survivors of the air-crash find themselves in, trapped on a strange island.

Of course, in these days of Satellite-Navigation systems and Google Maps, its actually allot harder to get lost. If you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation all you have to do is resort to asking for help from a passer by: “please can you help me. I’m lost”.

Losing something or someone

Rather than being lost though, it’s losing something important: say a wallet or phone; that is more of our modern day experience. Maybe though, in these days of computers, it could be accidentally deleting an important file or the hard-disk crashing losing all your work. You just pray that you backed up the file so that it can be recovered later! 

All these kind of losses pail into insignificance though when compared to the personal loss of losing a loved one!

Bible definition

Indeed, the Gospels covers all these range of human experiences of ‘lostness’: We have the loss and recovery of sheep, coins, eyesight, health and even the restored to life!

What the Bible means by this word though covers a broader scope than this: the greek word translated lost in the New Testament: apollymi (G622), means not only lost but destroyed, spoiled, perished, ruined or simply broken.

The human condition – lost

In fact, the Bible describes our fallen sinful human condition as being lost. Indeed, there are only two camps: you are either lost or you are saved!

1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that (lost) perish G622 foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

The good news is: that Jesus came to save the lost! He came to rescue persons that are perishing and broken. 

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should G622 not perish, G622 but have everlasting life.

Moreover, God absolutely no desire to see any one of us perish or be lost but come to come to repentance or a change of mind.

Perishing repentance

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

This last verse is interesting as the parable that Jesus tells us in Luke 15 is remarkably about those two concepts. That’s the topic of my next post though!

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Further reading:

Part 2 A lost sheep

A purpose focused church

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A driving analogy

A driving analogy.

drivingIt’s tough passing a driving test these days. Get one major or serious fault and that’s it – your out. You failed. God’s standard – God’s law – is even harder though, and no one has ever been able to keep or attain this perfect standard without fault – except Jesus Christ. All have sinned and have come short of the glory (standard) of God.

Its a gift!

Imagine though, if you could pass the driving test as a gift – wouldn’t that be awesome! In fact, that is exactly what God has done for us spiritually through the free gift of righteousness obtained for us by Jesus Christ at the cross.

Romans 5:17 “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

Consequently, this righteousness is imputed to us by faith (we just receive it). Romans 4:22. Therefore by faith, we are qualified and licensed to live righteously. We are justified in God’s eyes – although maybe not in the sight of men!

No condemnation

As Romans 8:1 says: “There is now therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. In other words, there is no ‘driving test’ or future judgement now or ever for those who receive the gift.

Can I drive?

If we obtained a driving license like this – it’s never going to happen in the UK thankfully – imagine the chaos, as technically and legally, it would mean that you could get in a car and drive without having any lessons. Would this be a wise or safe decision on the part of the government? No of course not. God however, is prepared to take the risk, but as we shall see later on, He doesn’t leave us on our own  – we are given our own personal coach.

The analogy also differs slightly in one important regard: In my illustration you are given a license but no ability to drive! Through new birth, the believer is not only legally righteous (you have a license to live righteously), you actually have been changed at the spirit-level. In other words, you are given the supernatural ability and desire to live righteously because Christ is in you. Formally you instinct was sin, now your instinct is righteousness. Therefore, you can drive to some degree without lessons!

We still need driving lessons?

However, even though now we have some ‘natural’ ability or shall we say spiritual ability, we still need to learn how to ‘work out’  this salvation and that is why God gives us our very own instructor or coach who comes to live with and in us. He is called the Helper or Holy Spirit and his title is apt. He is there to help and encourage.

This means though, that He is not going to do it all for you. I’m afraid you are  going to have to drive this car. You are in the driving seat. You have got to steer and use the various controls. Initially, He will tell you exactly what to do and how to do it, but as you grow in faith and ability He will back off, only intervening when necessary. Most of the time he will prompt you verbally:“have you seen that child about to cross the road ahead?”  Occasionally, He may intervene with the dual controls or grab the steering – if your getting into real danger – but his goal is to get you to do it!

The good news is: He’s there every step of the way and He will never leave you.

What happens when you make mistakes?

sorryDo you make mistakes when you learn to drive? Of course you do. In fact you learn by making them. This is the same in the christian life. Yes you are born again but even though you are declared righteous that doesn’t mean everything you do and say is going to be righteous – as you will soon find out from your wife, husband or children! It follows then, that when you are born again you still sin. The difference is how you deal with mistakes and the sin.

Again, this is where the role of the Holy Spirit is crucial. As an instructor, part of my role is to help the pupil identify and correct faults. I don’t point out every  fault though as that would be discouraging! In fact, I try to spend more time encouraging and affirming the pupil – as no one enjoys correction!

Indeed, the first step in changing incorrect or bad behaviour or performance, is to firstly help the pupil identify and recognise it. What I don’t want from the pupil is an apology. I am not offended by their mistake. I expect it. What I need them to do is actually admit or confess the fault – preferably verbally. At this point I know they are conscious of it and they are on the first step.

Similarly in the spiritual life this is important, because before we got saved half the things we used to do and say we didn’t even realise were sin! Now we are saved we begin to realise that many things we were comfortable with are wrong in the eyes of God because we have a new nature.

Does God break fellowship when we sin?

Wouldn’t it be crazy though, if after every driving fault I stopped the car and refused to drive until the pupil said sorry? So, when we sin God doesn’t break fellowship with us. Sin does not separate us from him. In fact it never did, that’s a theological myth. No, sin and condemnation make us separate ourselves from God (Adam hiding in the garden). For the believer, the scriptures are clear: nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the relationship can’t be strained at times. If for example as a pupil I refused to listen to the instructors advice then he or she may take the keys off me! However, this an extreme case and most of the time all the coach is looking for is a willingness to learn. After all, the Holy Spirit is the most patient person you are likely to meet. As Graham Cooke says, if you fail the test your just take it again!

Therefore, when we have sinned that’s when we need God the most. That’s when we need to run towards him not away from him. Yes, He may speak strongly to us and correct us (if it’s a particularly serious or dangerous thing we have done) but He will never shut us out! He will never, stop the car, take the keys, slam the door and leave us immobile by the side of the road.

Is God angry when you sin?

hellGod is not angry therefore when you sin. No, the Holy Spirit is patient and is not quite as sensitive as some make out. He can handle you!  After all, when God saved you, did He know what he was getting into, what you were like? God is not angry with you because he has no false illusions about you. Do you think God is surprised that you messed up – again!

I mean, is the driving instructor really that shocked when a pupil stalls the car? No, He has seen every pupil do it! It’s when you realise that God is not shocked at your sin and that rather than wallowing in condemnation and self-pity, you can turn to your coach and ask for help to be delivered from it.

Does God correct our faults?

Graciousness on the part of the instructor though doesn’t mean overlooking everything and pretending you drive perfectly. Grace isn’t ignoring faults and sin. No, a good instructor points out faults in a kind way, the aim being to help the pupil drive better. Unfortunately of course, there are driving instructors who are impatient and treat their pupils like a sergeant major rather than a coach – berating and shouting in anger at the least little fault. You can imagine how well these pupils learn!

Indeed, If that’s how you view the Holy Spirit may I suggest that its not the Holy Spirit talking to you! What I know of the Holy Spirit is that He is not like this. He is never angry or frustrated with you. Yes you can make him sad when you ignore him and refuse to listen but if you work with him, He is an amazing kind, patient, encouraging and loving coach.

The role of an instructor then, is not to convict the pupil of their faults. I am not there to make you feel guilty for exceeding the speed limit again – but I am going to prompt you with a question. I might say the following: did you realise that your breaking the speed limit? Why should we keep to speed limit? If you refuse to slow down of course I will intervene. The only person however that is going to convict you – is the traffic police!

What happens if you crash?

Do believers mess it up really bad though – ‘say crash the car into a tree as it were? Say if they were driving too fast as in the previous example. Yes of course. Maybe we have all heard stories of ministers falling into sexual sin,  leaving the church in disgrace and so on. In these sad situations it’s right that sin is not tolerated because it’s dangerous and destructive. However, where sin abounds grace even more abounds so God’s  heart is always to redeem the individual – there is always a way back.

Would God rather you avoided your foolish choices? Yes. Does he protect you from all of them? No. I mean if you crashed your car into a tree there would be some serious consequences to pay – a ruined car and maybe whiplash or a fatality. Sin may get you to heaven quicker than you planned! However, when we crash and burn, the door to the father is always open, we haven’t lost our salvation and if we approach the throne of grace there is always grace and mercy for our time of need. God can work all things for good for those that love God and are called according to purpose.

Read More:

www.firstclassdrivertraining.biz

Stop saying sorry!

The driving test and the law

Teaching driving and life in the spirit.

The shadow of the law

Jesus and the mosaic law

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Becoming sanctified (Part 2 messing with holiness)

sanctifiedIn the last article (Messing with Holiness part 1) we discussed what holiness is and what it means to be sanctified. One important conclusion we came to was that being holy doesn’t mean being sinless.

Very soon though,  you will come across those who tell you that you are now in the process of becoming sanctified. Some will even tell you that the Holy Spirit has been given you to keep the moral law or Ten Commandments.

Firstly though, let’s establish what the Bible says about your sanctification, sainthood and holiness.

How are we made holy?

How are you made holy? You are made holy by the work of the cross when you believe. 

Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

This faith in Jesus is what sets you apart to God and makes you a saint. You are cleaned up and sanctified ( past tense).

1 Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

It is not what you do that makes you holy it is simple faith in the work of the cross: it is the body and blood of Jesus that makes us holy not your body or blood.

Hebrews 10:10 “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Hebrews 13:12 “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

Consequently, its not what you do that makes you holy – it’s what you believe; who you believe in!

Jesus achieved holiness for us

This means that the cross of Jesus has achieved holiness for us. It’s not something we achieve by our efforts. Jesus himself is our holiness!

1 Corinthians 1:30 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”

Is this holiness temporary until the next time we mess up? No we have been perfected for ever! Yes you heard it – for ever!

Hebrews 10:14 “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

Being a saint or holy one therefore, does not await your death and a decision from the Pope. Sainthood is yours now!

Even the Corthinthian believers, who were certainly not sinless in their behaviour, are called holy and saints, further underscoring  that sainthood is NOT based on performance.

1 Corinthians 1:2 “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”

I mean, they were hardly glowing candidates for sainthood – with scandal rivalling the Roman Catholic church today! Yet, Paul indeed calls them saints: God’s chosen ones.

Is sanctification a process?

Doesn’t the above scripture though (1 Corinthians 1:2), indicate that sanctification is a process? In other words we are called to be saints, in other words we sort of are but are not quite! A better translation however – as in the ASV –  is:  “saints by calling”.  So this verse is not in fact saying we are becoming holy!

Let me ask you a question. From all the scriptures quoted so far, if you believe in Jesus, are you holy? If you answer: “well I’m trying to be or I hope”,  so then please read them again!

What about this scripture though you might ask?

1 Peter 1:15 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;”

I like what Graham Cooke says about this one: “we read it as a command but actually it’s a benediction”. In other words, the one who called you is different and special so you be different and special also.

The fact is, you are as holy as you will ever be: An oak tree sapling is as much an oak tree as an oak tree 100 years old. The difference between them is maturity and fruit. The difference between a believer who has known the Lord 5 minutes and 5 years is fruitfulness and maturity.

Holy matrimony

I mean, wouldn’t it be ridiculous to tell a married couple that they need to be more married! Marriage by its very nature is holy – a couple are set apart ‘wholly’ for one another. That doesn’t mean they have a perfect marriage but hopefully they will learn to grow together and love one another. In fact, love and holiness are very close relations!

Ephesians 1:4 “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”

Furthermore, Paul uses this picture of holy matrimony  to illustrates the relationship of Jesus to his precious bride the church.

Ephesians 5:6 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word”

Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

As we can see from the above scriptures, the church is in the process of being cleansed and prepared for her wedding day. She’s at the spa having a leg wax and massage. It similar to the process Esther went through in order to be a Queen:

Esther 2:12 “Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)”

Does this mean then, because Esther went through all these beauty treatments, that she wasn’t beautiful? Of course not, but she ended up not just beautiful but stunning – fit for a king.

Unfortunately, this is not how many  holiness preachers see the church or individuals, with their constant calls to repentance and holiness. It’s as if they think that the church is Cinderella and needs constant abuse? Maybe that’s because they are the ugly sisters! Seriously though, what they are in effect saying is:  “church you look disgusting,  get cleaned up!”

Grace preachers on the other hand,  see the church as beautiful and holy already but maybe in need of a little leg wax and a special hairdo! Holiness and beauty then are also close relations!

Psalm 29:2 “The beauty of holiness! Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”

Do we have any part to play?

Now, just in case you tempted to think that I am saying that we have no part to play and it doesn’t matter how we respond  –  nothing could be further from the truth!

Titus 2:11 “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”

Grace therefore teaches us to deny ungodliness and resist evil. God can’t do that for us. In other words, we don’t have to live like the rest of the common unsaved folk around us because we are already special different and royalty! We get to choose! We get to act!

Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself  a peculiar people,  zealous of good works. 

James says:

James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

1 Thess 5:22  “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

Peter encourages us because we are different (strangers and pilgrims) we should abstain from fleshly lusts ( probably sexual in nature)

1 Peter 2:11 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”

Paul also tells us to live sexually pure:

“For this  is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:” 

1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

1 Thess 4:4 “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;”

Consequently, as believers when we learn to obey God, walking in the spirt and believing his word, then godliness and holiness are produced in our lives as a fruit.

Romans 6:19 “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Romans 12:1  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

In addition, as I have explained in another article, the work of the Holy Spirt in our lives will mean we will want to separate ourselves from situations that contaminate and defile us. If I’m wearing an expensive suit I won’t be going rock climbing!  If I was a freemason before getting saved,  then I should break free from that ungodly partnership – it is not appropriate.

2 Corinthians 7:1 “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

In conclusion therefore, our sanctification and holiness are a ‘done deal’ but how we live is important.  As Peter says we once lived one way but now we have a holy calling and we no longer find it necessary to float down stream – we are swimming against the tide!

1 Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

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Further reading:

Messing with holiness part 1

Raising the bar on holiness

Gardening and holiness

What is holiness?

True holiness

2 Corinthians 7:1

The dangers of the holiness movement

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2 Corinthians 7 verse 1 – holiness?

2 Corinthians 7 verse 1:saint

” Therefore, having these promises beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

What does this verse mean? How do we perfect holiness? How do we cleanse ourselves?

Cleansing OF all filthiness

Andrew Wommack enlightens us, his excellent article on this verse ,  making the distinction that this verse is not talking about cleansing ourselves OF all filthiness but cleansing FROM all filthiness.

In other words, firstly as believers we are already made holy and cleansed of all unrighteousness by faith in Jesus.

Acts 15:9 “And put no difference between us and them, purifying (cleansing) their hearts by faith. “

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

1 John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Cleansing FROM all filthiness

This verse though (2 Cor 7:1), calls us to cleanse ourselves FROM all filthiness and this is a different concept. It is something we do. God can’t do it for us! If we read the preceding verses we find that the context is ungodly relationships and partnerships.

For example, if you are a member of the freemasons then you are in an unholy and ungodly partnership and you need to leave fast!

Likewise, if you are in adulterous affair – leave now!

Having promises – the motivation

Consequently, the motivation for holiness is not to attain something but is as a consequence of the holy calling we HAVE. Notice, how the call to holiness in this verse is preceded by the phrase: “having these promises beloved”.

So, what are these promises? The word ‘therefore’, gives the clue; it’s the preceding verses which are speaking about the acceptance of the Father, being the people of God and the temple of God. As God’s church we are God’s holy and special people or saints.

Sin in the church

In the previous Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul writes about serious public sin in the church that believers are committing and the church is ignoring. He tells them as a church to deal with it!

1 Corinthians 5:11 “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”

It is important to see however, that  he is not saying that as believers we are to withdraw from the world like monks but  we are to judge and deal with sin in the church else the leaven will leaven the whole lump! (verse 6)

1 Cor 5:10 “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.”

Apostasy in the church

Again, Paul describes this principle of holiness or separation, in a different fashion but using the same word cleanse translated purge, in 2 Timothy 2:19:

“If a man therefore purge (cleanse) himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

Is Paul advising Timothy to withdraw from all relationships with unbelievers? Certainly not. No, in context he is addressing a situation where serious apostasy has entered the church:  Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection of the dead had already taken place. Therefore, persons teaching heresy, even if they call themselves christians, must be avoided and separated from because they are like a cancer in the body of christ.

More related articles:

True holiness

What is holiness?

What do you do when you sin?

What is the kingdom of God?

Repentance is not what you think

Awake to righteousness

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Do not steal

the lawYou read the law – do not steal. Is this law good? Absolutely. The law do not steal is necessary in society to restrain evil. Stealing will never be ok with God. Often people try and justify stealing: for example, they might justify stealing from their workplace because according to them, the employer owes it them and it’s not hurting anyone else.

The point is though, as a believer is this law going to help you stop stealing? Well, if you are a thief, say a kleptomaniac, the fear of the penalty of the law: “do not steal” may restrain you for a while, but it will not change your desire or compulsion to steal.  The law has no power in itself to help you become holy. Not even 0.00001%. It is very good however at identifying your failure but only the Gospel and the grace of God has the power to transform you.

So, does this mean that a born again thief might revert back to stealing? Yes of course, he might struggle with the sin and fall to temptation but if he is truly born again, along with the desire to steal because of the flesh (body and soul),  will be the new desire not steal because his spirit man is like Jesus. Therefore, when you are truly born again a miracle takes place : you have a change of nature.

Does it matter if I sin?

Therefore, as believers does it doesn’t matter if we continue to steal –  say download a couple of pirate videos or music tracks, because we are under grace not law?  I believe it matters tremendously, because when we continue to sin we are enslaved to that sin. We are not free. Of course, where sin abounds grace even more abounds but sin always harms others and ourselves. It continues to be deadly and dangerous!

Don’t give the devil an opportunity

For example, if as believer I go out and steal a car I probably will end up in jail just like the unbeliever. I mean, how is it loving your neighbour to steal his car? Do I lose my salvation or relationship with God because I stole a car? No, because I’m under grace but you are giving the devil a big opportunity to mess up your life and the lives of others!

Ephesians 5: 27 “and do not give the devil an opportunity. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Get a job!

This is not Paul preaching law and laying down a load of rules. He’s not some pentecostal holiness preacher thundering from the pulpit at all the miserable sinners at Ephesus! No, he is  like a father entreating his children from a grace perspective: from an identity perspective – this is who you are, therefore live like it! Put off the old man and put on the new  (Ephesians 5:22).

In the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul establishes all this positive truth about our standing as believers in christ  that our identity is a son seated with Christ in the heavenly places. In  chapter 4 he changes tack to apply this truth to our lives practically.

Ephesians 4:1  “I therefore the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”.

So, Paul says to the former thief: get a job, earn an honest living and give to the needy! That’s what a christian or one who is christ like looks like! That is loving your neighbour as yourself. Love is the fulfillment of the law. I mean, you may never steal a penny from anyone but still be like scrooge never giving a penny to anyone!

A short man repents

I love the story in Luke 19 of Zac the vertically challenged tax-gatherer because it illustrates the truth that the kindness of God not the law of God leads men to repentance. Zac was a thief. He defrauded people (v8). He was not popular – not surprising! Why did he want to see Jesus? Was it curiosity? Maybe he had heard stories from another tax-gatherer turned disciple – Matthew. Who knows. The fact is, he was pretty determined to see Jesus because  I’m sure climbing sycamore trees was not something he did every day! Little did he know, that Jesus was looking for him! Indeed, he probably didn’t even realise that he was lost as Jesus describes.

What If Jesus had dragged Zac out of the tree and accused him of stealing? The crowd probably would have applauded and executed any punishment that Jesus decided. Did he deserve that? Probably. Instead though, Jesus picks out Zac, the most hated man in town and invites himself to dinner! He gives him a blessing! What does this do to the heart of a man who probably has a complex about his size and is hated by everyone? It melts his hard heart.

What is Jesus doing? He is teaching him to give freely rather than steal starting with a free meal for Jesus and his disciples! This is how grace works and notice the speed it works! Even before Jesus has cleared his preaching notes away, Zac is repenting at a level many christians never practice and at a level far in excess of what the law required. Did Zac say a special prayer or stick up his hand to get saved ( nothing wrong with that by the way!) No, he responds to Jesus invitation and repentance is the fruit. Zac  is declared by Jesus to be son of Abraham. In other words he’s saved!

The thief on the cross

Let’s finish at the end of the Gospel. On the cross Jesus again encounters two criminals ( Matthew’s tells us that they were thieves.) Both have completely different reactions. One, insults Jesus; the other publicly confesses his guilt. Now, this repentant thief has no opportunity to change his ways or right any wrongs but Jesus tells him that he’s going to make it heaven – what amazing grace!  So, Jesus lays down his life and arrives in paradise with his first fruit – a thief saved by grace!

Further articles:

The woman with the flux of blood

Jesus and the mosaic law

The end of the law (part 1)

Living by law or grace – prophecy

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Repentance

repentance

Repentance is not so much what you turn from it’s who you turn to: The Thessalonians turned to God from idols.

1 Thess 1:19  “How ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;”

 

The prodigal son of Luke 15 walked from the pig stye towards the Father’s house, meeting the Father only half a mile up the road!  Therefore, repentance is not the prodigal’s prepared speech. No, its about his decision and the few steps he makes to return. In the Father’s house there are no husks to eat only fatted calves! Turn over a couple of pages in Luke’s Gospel and a vertically challenged and corrupt tax gatherer is so captured by grace, that suddenly his ill gotten gains are easy to return with interest to his victims.  Grace has taught him to deny ungodly living – that is repentance – a change of mind a different and liberating way of thinking.

 Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”

Further reading:

Repentance is the key to real change

Repentance is not what you think

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Can you miss the grace of God?

archerIs it possible to miss the grace of God? Sadly, I believe you can. Certainly there was one man in the Bible who did: Esau the brother of Jacob – he missed the grace of God by a mile and the bitter conflict between the descendants of Jacob (Israel) and the descendants of Esau (the Arab nations), is a consequence of that failure that lasts even today.

Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it (the blessing) carefully with tears.”

Of course, we all come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but we don’t all have to come short of the grace of God because grace and truth has come to everyone on the planet through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)

Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men”

In fact, the good news or Gospel is, that where sin abounds grace even more abounds  (Romans 5:20) –  so it’s not sin that’s going to cause you to miss the grace of God. It doesn’t matter therefore whether you are the worst or best of sinners –  there is plenty of grace available for you at all times.

The obvious question though is: so how is it possible to come short of the grace of God?

 Neglect, undervaluing, drifting away

The writer to the Hebrews says this: 3:1 “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

Esau neglected his birthright, he treated it with contempt and didn’t value the blessing. His tears were not a change of heart and mind ( true repentance).  No, they were crocodile tears, tears of regret. It wasn’t repentance he sought but the blessing he had forfeited through his stupidity.

Likewise, if we ignore the Gospel and put off making a decision, saying to ourselves: “I’ll think about it tomorrow”, tomorrow could be too late!

Hebrews 2:1 “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it”  

If we deliberately ignore or reject the truth, then there is only fearful expectation of judgement because there is only one way to heaven and one saviour: Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:26 “For if we go on sinning willfully  after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins”  … “How much more severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified and has insulted the Spirit of Grace.”

So, is this verse saying that if you commit a sin on purpose after being saved that there is no more forgiveness?  Is it one strike and you are out? No, that would mean there is only enough grace for one sin only, which contradicts Romans 5:20!  In addition, sin by its very nature is an act of the will – if you don’t believe me watch a toddler!

No, when read in context of the authors argument, he is talking about the “sin of wilfulness”, the sin against the Holy Spirit: a wilful resistance against the overture of grace by the Holy Spirit. In other words,  knowing the truth but choosing not to believe (unbelief)!

Therefore, if you purposefully reject the only way of salvation through the Gospel, then there is no sacrifice or repentance left – you are without hope. You have hardened your heart and refused the only possible way of salvation,  burning your bridges and spitting in God’s face!

 You must come to God by faith alone

How do we receive this grace then? We receive it by faith or by simply believing.

Ephesians 2:8 “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God”

All we have to do is understand and respond by faith. For example, if I receive a million pounds through the post but never bank that cheque, I fell short of becoming a millionaire.

Hebrews 4:1 “Therefore let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have good news preached to us, just as they also, but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” For we have believed enter that rest.”

Therefore, you may hear the Gospel, recite the creeds, get baptised or even attend church but if you never respond to the Gospel by faith, you are not born again. You are not saved. Of course there is nothing wrong with good deeds and church going but that will not earn you favour with God. To enter God’s rest you have to stop working and simply receive by faith.

Hebrews 4:10 “For the one who has entered his rest has himself also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

Religion therefore, will always get you to work harder and harder to earn salvation. God though, says stop working and rest in the finished work of Jesus at the cross.

Religious effort and performance

Hebrews calls this works approach or mentality to salvation EVIL. Yes evil!

Hebrews 3:12 “Take care brethren, lest there should be in any one of you and evil (gr works filled) unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God”   .

Therefore, as soon as you introduce your our own self-efforts, law-keeping or self-righteousness to earn salvation, you have fallen away from the living God. In fact, God calls your self-righteousness filthy menstrual rags! You are making the grace of God of no-effect in your life.

“I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through law, then Christ died needlessly”.

The self-righteous man sees no need to repent or change his mind because after all he is right! In fact, he doesn’t really need God at all. God might as well be dead!

In Luke 18:11 Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee prays to himself listing all the tithing and fasting he’s doing – as if God should be impressed! The Publican on the other hand doesn’t even raise his eyes to heaven but says: “God be merciful to me a sinner”. He goes back home forgiven and justified.

 No fruit – Hebrews 6:4

Indeed even today,  there are many sincere and religious people in churches who are not born again and produce no fruit to God. They hear bible preaching every week, maybe even receive prayer and healing but still they are not saved because they are relying on their own self-righteousness.

Likewise, the writer to Hebrews is addressing religious people not pagans. These are those who have attended synagogue, know the scriptures, maybe even seen the miracles of Jesus and Paul in action and yet won’t embrace the Gospel, holding on to their traditions, the law of Moses and temple worship.

Hebrews 6:4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the son of God and put him to open shame.

Therefore, this verse is not talking about believers losing their salvation forever because of sin in their lives. No, it’s speaking about those who have heard the message of grace and even experienced its benefits but have hardened their heart to make a deliberate choice not believe! Therefore, its impossible to renovate them to a change of mind because they have already made up their minds!

Hebrews 6:6 “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”

In other words, these persons have heard, understood and even maybe experienced the truth Gospel but there is no fruit unto salvation because they have rejected the Gospel.

Hebrews 6:9 “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you and things that accompany salvation” .

In conclusion therefore, let us not be like Esau who missed the grace of God but let us take to heart the seriousness of the message of grace and respond by faith.

Hebrews 12:25 “See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away ( retreat) from him who warns from heaven”

Repentance – its not what you think

Can a believer lose their salvation?

Sinning wilfully

Escape to Reality on Hebrews 10:26

 

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