Yes, God Hates Some Things!

god-hatesThe impression of God in this new age is that His only character is love. He loves everyone, accepts everything and has made a home in Heaven for all of us. We’re led to believe that if we are a real Christian then we, too, will love everyone and accept everyone as equally loved by God; after all, God is our Heavenly Father and we are all His creation. We’re told that the real “god” doesn’t’ hate Continue reading

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Truth or Comfort Zone

my wayMuch of “Christianity” today has digressed from a commitment to follow Christ to an “everything goes” attitude that gives false spiritual security. It’s a “new age religion” that says we can do our own thing and know that God loves and accepts each one of us just as we are now.  It’s no wonder that this deception is growing so rapidly! Continue reading

There Are No Shortcuts to the Cross

ShortcutOur world is quickly racing toward convenience and short cuts in almost every facet of life. The things that used to require time and effort can now be accomplished online in seconds—things such as banking, paying bills, shopping, ordering a meal and even securing lucrative employment. These conveniences require little effort and almost no thought as we take for granted what technology has given us—short cuts! We just click a button and we have instant success. However, when we’re looking for salvation, there are no shortcuts to the cross.

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Abusing God’s Love for Personal Gain

1466068_537012743056691_2031786269_nNothing excites the heart more than love. Nothing quiets a restless spirit more than love. And nothing gives us the confidence to endure trials and temptations more than love. Life is all about love and, in fact, the entire theme of the Bible is love – God’s love for us. Yet, many people miss God because they only hear that God loves them and wants to bless them abundantly here on earth. It’s wrong to abuse the love of God and His salvation so it can turned into a venue for personal gain.

We need to tell people about the love of God because it’s the very foundation on which our salvation stands. However, some doctrines turn the gospel into a message of love and prosperity, and teach that once we’re saved we will live in the abundance of prosperity, good health, constant blessings and superiority. The focus turns from Christ to us and onto this life as being the end-all, beat-all. This, however, is far from the truth.

The truth is that God’s love for us is the only thing that we live for and it’s the reason why we are able to praise Him and worship Him. The Bible says that He loves us so much that He gave His life for us. And He didn’t do this so we could live a few years of the good life here on earth; He did it so we could be with Him in eternity forever.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” … John 3:16

God’s love for us is more than most people can comprehend. There’s not one person on earth who could ever have done what Jesus did for us. He left His throne on high to become a man, live a transient life with no possessions, and then was nailed to a cross for the sins that WE committed against God. And all so He could remove the sins and save the people who He loves.

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’” … Matthew 8:20

A modern gospel encourages the people to reach out and grab hold of all the blessings that will come to them because God loves them so much and wants them to have their inheritance now. But the error is that many of these people think they are Christians, yet they only focus on lusts and desires and things they can get from God. They never really grasp what the cross is all about and never seek to know Him beyond what they can get from Him.

What are Christians?  They are people who have repented of their sins and who now follow Christ. They are people who  have 8472731872_67f246af9c_maccepted the salvation that Jesus provided on the cross and who willfully obey Him, serve Him and love Him for who He is. They are people who want to spread the truth about Jesus so others can get saved and whose heart is to serve Christ and not the desires of the flesh.

Being a Christian means believing the real gospel of Jesus. It’s confessing that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins; it’s believing that He died on the cross and took upon Himself all of our sins and then bore the punishment of hell for those sins; it’s believing that God raised Him from the dead and that Jesus is alive in Heaven and is waiting to come again to get  us so we can be with Him forever more. This is the real gospel!

Being a Christian means that we are free of sin and “saved” from the judgment that God will enforce on the people of this earth who follow after its sinful ways and who don’t accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It means being covered by the righteous blood of Jesus and that our name is written in the Book of Life so we can be with Him forever.

“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” … Revelation 20:15

It was never God’s intention that a single person should ever go to hell. However, once sin entered man, He gave them a choice to keep the sin or repent from it. When they choose to not accept His salvation, or when they choose to follow a false gospel, it’s a choice that they will live to regret throughout eternity. But it’s not God’s will for them.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” … 2 Peter 3:9

4668123355_e8fe03b41b_mGod’s love saved us from the judgment to come and made us part of His family so we can have an eternal home with Him. We have a wonderful future with Jesus where we will live, love and laugh forever.  This hope and the presence of His Spirit in us now keeps us alive and gives us the strength to endure life until we will go to be with Him.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3

God’s love for us makes us eternally grateful and we praise Him for it, but He didn’t do it just so we could satisfy the lusts of the flesh and live healthy and wealthy on this earth without any tribulation. That is not what the gospel of Jesus is about. In fact, Jesus never said that life would be easy if we follow Him. He said that we WILL have tribulation but that we would overcome it through Him.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” … John 16:33

We live in a corrupt world and we are surrounded in sin and ungodliness. We will face most of the same issues that any other person living on this earth will face. We’ll get sick, have lack of finances, suffer tragedies and experience conflicts just like anyone else. The difference is that we have Jesus to help us through them and to protect us during them when we trust Him. We have the Bible to give us wisdom on how to handle the issues of life, and we have His Spirit in us who will guide us and give us peace and confidence when we need it.

When we’re ill we can believe God for healing because He told us in Isaiah 53:5 that “by His stripes we are healed.” He bore the stripes already and if we will believe it then we can receive the healing that He’s already provided for us.

God will bless our finances and give us all the things that we need549554_723795780979158_650624426_n when we ask for them and trust Him to give them to us. He doesn’t want us to live in poverty; He wants us to have everything we need in life so that we can be good witnesses to others and enjoy life. We do have the promise that He will take care of those needs because He’s a faithful and loving father; however, He doesn’t want the possessions to be what we live for or to be the only reason we come to Him.

God even wants to bless us with things that we don’t need but that will make us happy. He enjoys giving gifts to us just as any earthly father enjoys giving gifts to his children. But these are blessings that come because our love for Him is the greatest desire we have and because we are so grateful to Him for redeeming us back to God through the cross. He knows our heart and He knows that we seek Him because we love Him and not because we feel we have the right to material possessions.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” … Psalm 37:4

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, [not according to greed or lust] He hears us.” … 1 John 5:14

The key is to ask according to His will and not according to what we want. When we become Christians we serve Jesus; He does not serve us. When our mentality is set to get all we can from God now that we’re saved, we are missing God totally and need to go back to the cross and try again. When we accept that He is our Heavenly Father who loves us, then our love, respect and reverence is to Him alone, and we appreciate the sacrifice He gave on that cross. We may still have desires and wants and we will all come to Him and ask if He would bless us with one thing or another. Sometimes we get what we ask for and sometimes we don’t, but regardless, our love for Him continues to grow because it’s not founded on our own greed and lusts; it’s founded on the love that He has for us.

“We love Him, because He first loved us.” … 1 John 4:19

Our inheritance is eternity with Jesus and it’s not possessions or statusJesus is waiting for you in this earth. This world is waiting to be judged by God, and there is nothing here that we will take with us when we go to be with Him forever. Our inheritance is the reward we are given by Him and that is to be in Heaven with Jesus forever.

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” … Colossians 3:24

Any doctrine that preaches only the love of God and how great life will be on earth because of everything He will give us is a false doctrine! The gospel of Jesus preaches salvation, repentance and remission of sins, how He died on the cross and was buried and then raised from the dead. It preaches that He will return soon to take those who love Him to Heaven.

“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” … Titus 2:13

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His love for us is our reason for living, and that’s why we want to share it with others, but they will only know His love when they can hear the real gospel message about salvation through Christ Jesus. So let’s tell everyone we know that Jesus loves them, but let’s not leave it there so they foolishly chase after things instead of truth. Let’s pray with them and encourage them to study their Bible and know the truth about the love of God because His love for us is far greater than any worldly possession!

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends.” … John 15:13

What a friend we have in Jesus

* If this message has blessed you, please subscribe to my blog so you can get all future posts directly into your personal email. And please feel free to share this message with others. Let’s keep on sharing the love of God to everyone around us!

Christians Are Not Perfect: We are Forgiven!

3147461049_35b009962d_mAs we travel forward in our Christian walk we realize that not everyone along the way is in the same place as we are in our personal relationship with God. Some will be brand new Christians and others will have a mature walk with God. Some were once back-sliders, but are now back on the path, while still others need to be prompted to get back on. There are those who are abundant in love and radiate in peace while others are still focused more on the law than on His grace. Some will have a shallow understanding of the scriptures while others have a deep understanding of them. We have all come from assorted backgrounds and been brought through different circumstances, and we all have our own mountains to climb, but the one thing we have in common is that we are forgiven!

We have all sinned, regardless of what we’ve done, and be it  big or little there is no difference to God. Sin is sin and it will separate us from God. That’s why He gave His own Son to be a sacrifice for us. He wanted to take the sin from us and bear the punishment of it for us so that we could get rid of the sin and stand holy before Him. But we’re not holy on our own merits. We are only holy because the blood of Jesus covers us and has taken away that sin. And when we accept His sacrifice and turn away from the worldly sins, we are forgiven and we become children of God.

We are forgiven! We have been redeemed back to God and every sin we committed before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior was forgiven. The record has been washed clean and God doesn’t see it anymore. We now live under grace. We are no longer under the law and sin can no longer hurt us.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” … Galatians 4:4-5

Without God’s forgiveness we have sin in us, and when we commit one sin, 310702990_21eca830bb_mone felony or offence – a single transgression against the law – then we commit sin against God. He gave us the law through Moses and it’s known as The Ten Commandments as set out in Exodus 20:3-17. If it were possible for any person to live one hundred percent according to this law and never once waiver even in the slightest bit throughout their entire life, then they would not have sin in them and they would not need a Savior. But The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that “we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” so we know that it is impossible to live without sinning. This means that every person has sinned and therefore, deserves to suffer the punishment for their sins.

But God loves us with a love so great that few people can really comprehend it. It grieved God terribly to have been separated from Adam and Eve because of sin. It was His plan then to take that sin away from them and from every person ever born because He knew the punishment of sin. He made the world; He made the law and it stands.

“For the wages of sin is death.” … Romans 6:23

The “death” spoken of here doesn’t refer to the death of our earthly bodies when we leave this earth. It’s speaking of the second death that will come to those people on Judgment Day who are found with sin in them, and the punishment will be a complete separation from God forever.

“Then the king [Jesus] said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” … Matthew 22:13

Jesus is the only person ever to have lived a totally sinless life. He was born of a woman, but His father was God and God is Holy, so Jesus was Holy. He was not born of a man and did not inherit the sin of Adam as the rest of the human race did.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” … Hebrews 4:15

5578273602_79073a7036_mJesus died on the cross and took upon Himself all of our sins so that everyone who accepts it will be forgiven and will live under the grace of God. This means that if during our Christian lives we do something that we know is wrong, we can come to God immediately and ask Him to forgive us and He will not only forgive us, but He’ll erase it from our record.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” … John 3:16

We are forgiven! We live under the grace of God and as we grow and pray and study the Bible and worship the Lord, we become more and more like Him through the Holy Spirit in us. But every Christian won’t be like us. We shouldn’t judge them or put them down, but instead we need to show the love and grace of God toward them. We need to pray for them and teach them at their level so they can see God from where they are.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” … Colossians 3:16

The Christian life is wonderful when we see others through the eyes of Jesus and not through our own ideals. There are many people around us who aren’t Christians, but who watch us and who deep inside want to know God. We need to treat all people with love and compassion, using only scripture as a benchmark and God’s love and grace toward them so they can see Him. But we also need to tell them about His judgment for those who still live in sin so they’ll know why they need to repent.

The only difference between Christians and people of the world is that we are forgiven and His Spirit now lives in us. And for this we are eternally grateful! Thank you, Jesus!

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” … Psalm 32:1

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Out of Sight But Not Out of Mind

 
8434502461_07aca4d033_nSo many of us are living in defeat because we have issues from years gone by that we have never dealt with as they are just too painful to think about. Some of us know about them, have forgiven the ones who hurt us and have chosen to ignore them and pretend they never happened. Others of us don’t even realize that the hurts are there because they’re buried so deep into the cobwebs of our mind. They are hidden from all recollection, and yet every day we live the nightmare of their effects without even knowing it.

So, how do we know that we have unresolved issues that need to be taken care of? Often, we don’t know about them until we begin to analyze some of the things we do. We all have our opinions and attitudes toward various issues, but when one of those issues strikes a key with us and we become defensive or aggressive or sad, we have to wonder why we react that way when it doesn’t bother anyone else.

As we grow in the Lord our thoughts, attitudes and actions should be like those of Jesus, but if they’re not then we need to find out why. The best way to get to the bottom of every single issue in life is to take the matter to God in prayer. Psychologists and psychiatrists are all waiting to hear from us because trauma today is a growing business and we will make their day. But as Christians, the Bible says that the only person we should talk to is Jesus.

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  … 1 Peter 5:7

When we can identify our reactions by comparing them to those of the Lord, then we’re on our way to discovering the problem. But if the problem is buried deep, it’s not going to be a simple answer because it’s not a problem that we are able to easily detect.

Sometimes we need to fast and pray and wait on God for Him to give us the answer, and He WILL give us the answer. But when we get it we may also realize that we’ve opened that door to fear and pain that we had subconsciously locked, and the issue may come at us just as it did years ago when the real issue came at us. The difference between then and now, though, is that Jesus is going to fight it for us; we are no longer alone.

The issue is now in the hands of Jesus and so we need to thank Him for taking it, for defeating it, and for setting us free of it. We need to look at it as something very material that we visually hand to Him and then we need to accept that it’s gone.

But it doesn’t stop there because we 1236142_10152173139714056_874476393_nneed to replace that void with something good or else we’ll find another issue to fill it and bother us. We need to ask God to fill that void with His Spirit. He has set us free from the clutches of the devil and we are no longer under the curse that the world is under and His Spirit is inside us to keep it out.

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” … Galatians 3:13

When we’re hurting from these kinds of things, it’s almost impossible for us to even realize that we have an issue, let alone know how to solve it. In some cases, our reactions are disciplinary issues that come when we haven’t committed that particular thing to the Lord yet. But when we are committed to the Lord and we see that our feelings or reactions are wrong, the only way we are going to understand fully why is to talk to Jesus about it.

He will bring it to light and we’ll remember it all including all the fears and hurts, but He doesn’t do this to hurt us; He does this so we can understand why we’ve reacted the way we have and He does this to get rid of it and to give us closure on it. And when Jesus takes it away, IT IS GONE for good! The devil can no longer play on it because it’s no longer buried inside us and he can’t cause us any more pain.

1382842_529674627123836_2075953538_nThe Holy Spirit lives inside us and He gives us strength and He reminds us that we belong to God – and there is no one greater or mightier or more defensive of His children than our Heavenly Father. So we don’t need to be afraid anymore because we know that God loves us and cares for us, and nothing else in this whole world is more meaningful than the love of God.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” … John 8:36

Foregiveness Begins at Home

970226_692775127414557_351315248_nWe all know that the first step to becoming a Christian is to ask God for forgiveness; to accept Jesus as our Lord and to repent of our old lifestyle as we seek after His. And we know that the next step is to forgive other people and to be free of the anger, hostility and  resentment that we’ve carried toward them. Yet, there is another part to this healing that many of us overlook and this is that the petition for forgiveness begins at home.

Many of us don’t realize that we have to forgive ourselves for things that we’ve done or not done and that have become tormenting burdens we carry in the back of our heart; things that we can’t change and that we truly regret; things that we think about often with pain and remorse; things that keep us captive in the shadows of the enemy and that prevent us from receiving the fullness of God.

Some of us aren’t even aware of these burdens until someone points them out to us. Then once we realize that we have not forgiven ourselves for something that’s affecting our life, our eyes are opened and our heart cries out to God. We are able to come to Him in prayer and “cast all of our burdens” onto Him and truly get the release from this weight that we’ve been carrying.

“…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” … 1 Peter 5:7

Some of us are aware of the burden, but we struggle with it because every day we see the results of what we did or didn’t do to someone and we can’t forgive ourselves for causing this injustice to them. We can’t be free when we know that they suffer because of what we did even though whatever it was may have been years ago and long before we knew Jesus. Or even though it may be something that we didn’t even know we did at the time and the weight of the guilt weighs heavy.

The Apostle Paul knows what it is to have done terrible things because he had many innocent Christians killed in his mislead quest to serve God. He thought he was doing what God wanted him to do, but when he was saved and repented, he was sickened by what he had done. He pled for God’s forgiveness and so the Lord forgave him and filled Paul with His Spirit, and Paul was able to forgive himself because he knew that if he had been serving Christ at that time that he would never have hurt anyone. And we have to think the same way.

Each one of us will stand before God to account for the things that we have done while we were here on earth. The good things that we have done to His glory will be noted, but the bad things that we have done – and that are all under the blood – will not be recognized because they are forgiven. The thing we did that we harbour the guilt for has been forgiven by God, too. We are the only one who won’t let it go.

This guilt – or unforgiveness – will keep our heart polluted with a burden that will continue red guyto give the devil glory for something that he got us to do. God forgave us for it, but we won’t forgive ourselves so the effects of this sin will stay with us and will rule over us – and keep us from God.  The devil smirks on because he still has a piece of us.

We need to give this burden to God. It may take many times of coming to Him and pouring it all out because the wounds are deep within us, but if we diligently cry out to Jesus and ask for His help, He will help us.  When King David struggled with guilt, he cried out to God until he got this release.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.” … Psalm 51:14

553951_673061322719271_2063579971_nFaith is our lifeline to God, so if we have faith to accept Jesus as our Saviour, faith to believe that we are forgiven, and faith to know that God has a purpose for us, then we have to act on that faith. If we believe that Christ has forgiven us then we (being filled with His Spirit) must forgive ourselves and get rid of the guilt that Satan has put on us. We need to put our faith to work and break all ties with the devil.

“…..faith without works is dead”. … James 2:20

Some may argue, “It’s not that easy. I’ve physically hurt a person who can never be healed and I feel sick about it”, or “I was a bad parent and now my child is messed up and doesn’t know God”, or “My parent died angry at me for things I’d done”.

988541_692519570773446_596167744_nWe can’t turn back time. We can’t change what we’ve done, but God forgave us for all of our sins when we came to the cross and repented. Now we need to come to God and ask Him to help us get past them so we can forgive ourselves. We need to pray and believe that He will help us.

Each person is responsible for their own salvation, and that includes the person we’ve hurt. They must come to God and seek forgiveness, as well, and ask for His direction and blessing on their lives. We cannot carry this burden for them. This is something they have to do on their own, and if they choose to not forgive us for what we’ve done to them, then that is their choice.

“….choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….”… Joshuah 24:15

God does not leave anyone out in the cold. That’s why we’re here, filled with His Spirit and working on His behalf to reach out and show God’s love to people who have suffered physically, mentally, emotionally and every other way. Even the people who were hurt by something we did will have opportunities to come to God and seek forgiveness and healing for their own lives.

This doesn’t mean that we become non-caring or complacent toward someone we’ve hurt in the past; it doesn’t mean that we brush it off as “oh well, they’ll get over it”. It means that we no longer carry the guilt for our actions because we know that Jesus has forgiven us.

In some cases this person or their family might be hateful toward us, but instead of holding onto the guilt emotion, we can lift them up in prayer every day and pray for their salvation, and ask that the Lord bless their lives and fill them with His Spirit. We can turn our guilty feelings into a positive action and give God the glory for our healing – and for their healing.

We cannot change what we did in the past, but we can live a Godly life today and be a positive influence for what happens in the future.  We might never be able to tell this person that we’re sorry, or maybe we’ve apologized a hundred times, but they won’t accept it. This then becomes an issue between them and God because WE have done all that we can do.

When we forgive ourselves then we can more easily feel the love of Jesus and we can know that our body is the temple of His Spirit. We’ll know we have the victory when we can turn the guilt that we’ve carried into a mission of faith to lift this person up to Heaven and win their soul for Christ.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” … John 14:27

Michael English sings a beautiful song called Please Forgive Me. It will bring you to the foot of the cross when you close your eyes and put yourself into the words of this song. God is faithful and He’ll heal you and restore you and bless you.

514733156_180f14cb1e_m Michael English sings from his heart, Please Forgive Me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” … Psalm 106:1

 

 

 

 

 

What is Included in God’s Grace?

3147461049_35b009962d_mGrace and love work together since it was God’s love for us that sent Jesus to the cross so that we could attain grace and be forgiven for our sins and reunited with God. It is this grace that gives us freedom from the curse, but it is our commitment to God because of this grace that makes us Christians.

I recently read an article on grace written by David Ravenhill, a pastor and author with a vision for God’s people called, Would You Recognize the Deception of Hyper-Grace?”. I was so encouraged with how clearly he explained grace that I realized I could not get his message across nearly as well, so I have copied it in its entirety for you to read. Please read his message and be blessed, and visit David Ravenhill for more inspirational messages.

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Would You Recognize the Deception of Hyper-Grace? by David Ravenhill

Someone wisely stated, “The church has suffered more from her exponents than from her opponents.” This is certainly the case today, as we are seeing an onslaught of dangerous teaching sweeping through the body of Christ like never before. We have the graphic and prophetic picture of the serpent in Revelation pouring water like a river out of his mouth in order to sweep away the woman (Rev. 12:15-16). This, to me, speaks of the false river the enemy is attempting to use to deceive the church in these last days. Thank God that He has promised, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him” (Is. 59:19, NKJV).5578273602_79073a7036_m

One of the enemy’s wiles is to take something that is inherently good and seek to make it appear better. The hyper-grace message is a prime example of this. What is more amazing than grace? Nothing sets Christianity apart more than the message of grace. None of us would ever know our magnificent Savior and Lord without His redeeming, reconciling grace. There is no sect, cult or religion that has any doctrine comparable to it. Grace is found in Christ alone!

Little wonder, then, that the enemy has sought to improve on this glorious message by appearing to make it even more glorious, while at the same time lacing it with his deadly poison of deception and distortion.

Consider how you would respond to a message exhorting you to guard your mind, stay sober, be obedient, don’t be conformed to your former lusts, be holy, conduct yourself in fear, obey the Word and put aside all malice, guile and hypocrisy? What if the message went on to tell you to love and read God’s Word, grow up, tell others about God’s goodness, avoid fleshly lusts, do good deeds, do right, don’t speak about evil, be zealous for what is good and sanctify Christ as Lord?

Many within the body of Christ today would cry out against such a message, claiming it to be nothing more than a religious spirit or legalism or even fleshly works. Grace, we are told, frees you from all these works and liberates you so that you are no longer under any obligation of any kind. Grace, they say, is the gift that comes to us with no strings attached. But is that really the message of grace? Has the enemy blinded our eyes through super-sizing the true message of grace—and thereby distorting it?

It may surprise you to know that all the exhortations I’ve listed above were taken directly from Peter’s first epistle. Now, here is a most amazing truth: Peter tells us in the closing verses of his epistle, “I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” (1 Pet. 5:12, NASB, emphasis added).

Here we have one of the most complete and comprehensive revelations on true grace to be found in the New Testament. Yes, grace is totally and irrevocably free, and it provides us with God’s power to change us. That was its original intent. Paul, in his letter to Titus, explains it this way: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12, emphasis added).

Peter and Paul saw the Lord, who is the only true embodiment of grace and truth. If anyone had a correct revelation and understanding of grace, these two men certainly did.

Paul, you recall, had to correct the Romans on their tendency to abuse grace by continuing in sin. This abuse of grace has now raised its head again and is being taught in ever-widening circles within the church. Those proponents of the hyper-grace message will tell you that since your sins past, present and future have all been forgiven, there is no longer any need of repentance for the believer. Repentance, they claim, is the acknowledgment of a sin that has already been forgiven. Why put back in the ledger what has already been erased? So the reasoning goes.

But is this really sound biblical doctrine? Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, scolded them for not dealing with the blatant sin of a brother who was sexually involved with his father’s wife. The Corinthians took to heart what Paul wrote. Then in his second letter, he commended them for their godly sorrow that brought them to a place of repentance (2 Cor. 7:9-10). He mentions repentance twice within two verses. If we did follow this erroneous concept of grace, then why was this sexual pervert disciplined in the first place, if his sin was already forgiven? Why punish him for something that is already under the blood? Jesus obviously didn’t consider this to be the case when He admonished five out of the seven churches in Revelation to repent.

2643148122_ae6721809e_mFinally, as I have said many times, if we say that repentance is no longer necessary because all sin has already been forgiven, then why do we need to repent the first time in order to be saved? There is the belief by some that since all sin has been atoned for, all are saved but just don’t know it. This is the old but still very much alive false doctrine of universalism or ultimate reconciliation.

Jude was greatly disturbed by these errors in his day and tells us, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Why? Because there were those within the church who were distorting the grace of God and turning it into licentiousness. This, I believe, was also the subtle teaching of Jezebel in the church of Thyatira. I don’t personally believe she was openly teaching that it was OK to engage in sexual immorality, but rather that the fruit of her distorted message led to this type of activity.

This is also my great fear regarding the hyper-grace message. While I sincerely believe that many advocates of the hyper-grace message firmly believe they are proclaiming a fresh revelation of grace, I truly believe the fruit of their teaching will instead bring disgrace to the very God of grace they seek to magnify.

I can only plead with those who are caught up in this false teaching to re-examine their beliefs in the light of God’s Word rather than get carried along by the latest trend being taught by a few popular and flamboyant pied pipers. If the fruit of this teaching does not produce a longing after God and a desire to be like Him, then we should avoid it like the plague. Grace enables us to live and walk in victory over sin, the flesh and the devil. Anything less is not the true grace of God.

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untitledDavid and Nancy Ravenhill have a rich history in ministry. David worked with David Wilkerson’s first Teen Challenge Center in New York City, Youth With a Mission, and pastored one of the largest churches in New Zealand. He is now a full-time itinerant minister and author of five books, including Blood Bought.

 

Can We Earn God’s Forgiveness?

6145488503_a72223f8d7_mMany religions will have us believe that we can “earn” God’s forgiveness through works – give financial aid, support those who come to us for help, and pray for those in need. And these good deeds for this purpose should stay with that religion because it is NOT a prerequisite from the Lord for forgiveness, and nowhere in the Bible will you ever read that you have to earn His forgiveness or that it’s even possible to try.

We cannot “earn” forgiveness from God because He is Holy and perfect and there is no one equal to Him. We are filled with sin from conception and were separated from God because of that sin. If we could earn forgiveness then that would make us par with God without a clean heart, and Christ’s mission to the cross would be for nothing.

Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.8125649464_d312d25326_m

What does that mean? It means that no matter how much He loves us, we will NEVER be holy enough on our own merits to come into His presence. Why? Because we are filled with sin – a sin that was inherited to us by our earthy parents that started with Adam and Eve. God will not allow sin to come into his presence and that’s why He had to evict Adam and Eve from the Garden when they sinned.

The only way to receive God’s forgiveness – aka God’s grace, God’s inheritance, God’s blessings – is through repentance. We must come to God with a heart that cries out for Him; with a heart that wants to be like His; with a heart that wants to be able to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30).

We need to have a humble heart that repents for the sin that’s in us. But it’s not our fault we have sin, so why do we need to repent of it? Because with a humble heart comes the ability to know that we have to get the sin off of us in order to come into God’s presence. We realize that this inherited sin will keep us away from God and will eventually send us right to hell – where all sin has to go in the end.

5708023188_571740d2e4_mWe must come to the cross and accept the sacrifice that Jesus gave when He was crucified on that cross. Jesus was perfect and without sin because His father was God, not man. He went to the cross and died even though there was no sin in Him, and even though there was no legal reason for Him to be crucified. So why did He die on the cross then? So that He could take on ALL of OUR SIN, and with that sin He was sent down into the pits of hell where all sin goes. But, Jesus didn’t stay there. He dropped that sin there and once He was free of it He rose again, Holy and pure because He was once again filled with God’s spirit. And we were freed of that inherited sin.

When we accept this sacrifice that He made for us, then we will be able to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. We can ask Him to wash us and cleanse us and make us whole as our hearts desire to be with Him, and in doing this God will look at each of us and forgive us or pardon us. And we will no longer belong to the world that is yet to be judged. We will belong to Him.

When Jesus rose He went to Heaven to be with God our Father. He is our example, our leader, and if we accept what He did for2245700673_f8643977ee_m us, we too will rise to be with God our Father when we leave this world. But while we’re here, we are free of the inherited sin and Jesus gives us HIS spirit so that we can talk to God, praise God, worship God, walk with God and become His faithful child.

We have done nothing to earn His forgiveness and we can never ever do anything to even think that we could come close to earning it. The salvation that Jesus gave us is the ONLY way to get God’s forgiveness. Jesus says in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” That pasture is Heaven and Jesus is the ONLY way to get there.

We are not perfect and we are not better than anyone else. We are forgiven through God’s grace – and that grace is His Son, Jesus. And we must never think that there is any other way to get God’s forgiveness except through the cross.

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”… John 3:16

Praise the Lord that through Him and the sacrifice He gave on the cross, we are forgiven. 

What is love?

The Bible is all about love and it tells us that God is the epitome of love.  John 3:16 says that He gave His own Son as a sacrifice for us, and although this shows what the essence of love is, it gets lost in the modern world. Even in the Christian realm love has been confused with emotions and social liberation, and too many people have lost the true meaning of the word and really wonder, what is love?

Love is the motivation within us that causes us to act and react the way we do. It’s the virtue that allows us to love others. It’s the commitment to God, the reverence and respect for Him, the appreciation for the life He has given us, and the reason for our devotion to Him. It is the most important virtue that we have and without it we are nothing but shells that exist through the natural creation of humanity.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 tells us the importance of love:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself (does not boast), is not puffed up,

5 Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;

6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abides faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Why is love the greatest virtue? Why is it more important than faith in God?

We can learn about God; we can accept everything we read about God; and we can understand all that He is. We can even believe that He is God and that His Word is life and that it is power. This is the knowledge that is the foundation for love and the basis for our faith in Him. But we must activate our faith to show our love because without love our actions are carnal.

James 2:20 says, “Faith without works is dead.”

Love is the feeling in our heart, the commitment, the devotion, the allegiance and constancy, the trustworthiness and the dependence that we have towards God. We can know it all but there’s only one way to get it in our heart, and that is through the Holy Spirit. He is love, God’s love in us.

When His Holy Spirit is in us, the love of God resides in us and we inherit His loving personality. We have the same heartfelt commitment and purpose as God and our reason for doing what we do is because we want to share the truth of God with others. It’s not just an emotion or an obligation as a Christian; it’s God’s love living and loving through us.

And when His love is in us we are able to love others in spite of their faults, and we are able to forgive those who hurt us and offend us, and we are able to do all that we do with a pure heart because we don’t treat others badly or the way some of them may treat us. We treat them the way that Jesus treats us – with love.

 “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.” … 1 John 4:7

Love Sinners?

As Christians we often believe that we should love each other, help and support each other, tolerate each other’s differences and spend all our time with only Christians. We become a clique unto ourselves – aka denominations – and have no tolerance for anyone outside of our own circle of friends. We forget where we came from and we forget to love the sinners.

There’s a balance that we need to find in order to truly walk in love with God and towards all people. And we can find this balance in the Bible through the acts of someone who walked the walk and who gave His life for sinners – and that is our own Saviour, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 says that God loved the world so much that He gave His life for us so that we could be saved. Were we righteous people deserving of this salvation? No, we were sinners deserving of death. The sin that was in us separated us from God and would take us to hell, but Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to go to the cross for us and take OUR sins upon Himself so that we could spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

What makes this so very precious is God’s forgiving grace. He saw the sin and the corruption in us, and Isaiah 64:6 says that our own righteousness is like filthy rags before Him. He saw the god of this world alive in us and He knew of the horrible things that we’d done in our allegiance to this god, but He saw beyond that sin. He saw the souls of His children. He saw US!

The shed blood has become our redeeming grace and through it we are saved! Romans 5:9,10 says that we are saved from the wrath that He will pour upon those who refuse to turn from their sin. We have been brought back to our Heavenly Father because He loves us and we are now part of His family and one with Him.

God hates the sin but He loves the sinner! That’s what makes His dying in our place so very special. He loves us in spite of our sin. There have been hundreds and thousands of horrific acts of sin committed against people since the fall of Adam and Eve, and yet Christ took even their sin upon Himself at the cross. He hates all sin but He loves all people – enough to die for them.

So as Christians, we need to take our cue from the Lord and reach out to people outside of our little circle of Christian friends. That doesn’t mean that we return to the bars and the dark lifestyle that kept us in bondage because to return to that could be wrong for our own sakes. But we need to pour our concerns onto those outside of our own cliques.

We need to be friendly to all manners of people and we need to be willing to help those in need whenever we can. We can’t have a heart that helps only Christians and that ignores the needs of the sinners because we’re following Jesus and we are to be like Him. He said in Mark 2:17 that He came to call sinners into repentance and so we must also work with sinners so that they can be saved.

Jesus preached throughout Judea and He told the people about Heaven and about the love that God had for them. Thousands of people turned from their sinful ways and followed Him. Matthew 14:14-20 talks about the multitude that followed Jesus and how He had compassion on them and fed them when they were hungry. He didn’t feed only His followers; He fed all of them.

Jesus healed the sick and He cast out demons – and many of those people were possessed with the devil and didn’t have the ability to become saved, but Jesus saw their heart and He cast the demons out of them. He hated the sin but He loved the sinner.

And that’s what we must do. We must hate the sin but love the sinner. James 5:20 says that “he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”

Love covers a multitude of sins, and when we have compassion on those who don’t know God we open the venue of grace upon them so they can get a glimpse of God through us. And when they can see the goodness of the Lord alive in us, their hearts are drawn to Him through the Holy Spirit and they have the opportunity to become saved.

So our life here on earth is to share and grow with our Christian brethren, but our mission is to spread the gospel to the unsaved so that we can bring as many people to Christ as we can. We need to hate the sin but LOVE the sinner, just as Christ did.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”  … Matthew 25:41-46

 

Faith and Forgiveness

Faith and forgiveness are two fruits of the Spirit that enable us to seek God and receive His blessings.

We need to forgive those who have offended us no matter what they’ve done. The Bible tells us to forgive each other, to lift up each other and to exalt each other. But when someone has done something to us and brought us much pain we tend to not forgive them because we are offended and they haven’t done anything to right the wrong they did.

When Peter asked Jesus how many times we should forgive others, He answered, “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). What does that mean?  We forgive 490 times and then we’re done? No. The Biblical meaning of the number seven is “fullness, completion, and perfection”. And so what Jesus is saying is that we continue to forgive until we don’t need to forgive any more.

Why is forgiveness so important?

Why do we have to forgive someone over and over when they continue to do the things that offend us? They don’t care that they’re being offensive towards us. Some people do things ignorantly to bother us and others do them deliberately to offend us. Why do we have to forgive them when we know they’re just going to do it again and again? They don’t mean sorry when they say it so why should we bother forgiving them? And what does this have to do with us standing in faith when it’s them being offensive to us?

Our thinking is wrong when we analyze the reason for forgiving someone before we choose to forgive them. We need to be careful that we’re not judging them and deciding whether or not they’re deserving of being forgiven.  And sadly, many of us do that.

God is still on the thrown. He is the ONLY Lord and Judge over us. He never asked us to judge anyone, just to forgive them. It’s not for their sake that we forgive others, but for our sake.

Unforgiveness separates us from God.

Forgiving allows us to release that bad feeling and get rid of the negative issues that we have about someone.  Forgiving is a cleansing process for our own hearts so God can forgive us and we can be pure before Him.  And then He will bless us because we’re coming to Him with a clean heart.

Forgiving someone means coming to God and asking Him to wash our hearts of unforgiveness, to cleanse us from this sin and to fill us with His Spirit so that we can be made whole. It means not thinking or talking negative about the person who had offended us, and it means not bringing it up to them and making an issue of it. We have cast it aside and it’s gone. It means acting towards that person as if there never was an offence. It means removing the blemish from our own hearts so that now we are pure and filled with His righteousness.

And NOW we can take that stand of faith and know that God is with us!

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in Heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” Matt.11:25

Michael English sings a beautiful song called, Please Forgive Me. Listen to it and be blessed.