Being A Disciple of Christ

“Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it.””  (Mark 8:34-35)

Christians, today, want and demand an easy religion which demands nothing of them, except to come to church every time the doors are open, tithe, and go home. We live as if Jesus did not call us to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands.  We want a Christian life that does not involve risk or uncomfortableness.  This mentality is contrary to what Jesus called all Christians to do in today’s verse of Scripture.

Jesus tells us that a true believer and follower of His will deny himself of the plans, dreams, and aspirations he has for his own life, in order to live and die for His sake, and the sake of the Gospel.  This is the mark of one who is truly saved.  How dare us believe that we are to be spared from any suffering, or death, when our Lord Jesus was not!  Do we really feel entitled to a Christian life devoid of any suffering, or death, for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of the Gospel?

“If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”  (C.T. Studd)

Are you a disciple of Christ? Then your life is the only thing worth giving to Him, for His sake, and for the sake of the Gospel.

God’s Gift to Us

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—  not from works, so that no one can boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9 HCSB)

 

Here’s what God is telling us in this verse of Scripture:

  1. “For you are saved…” – This means that we are saved from God’s judgement and wrath because of our rebellion against Him.  God created us to glorify Him with our lives by living in immediate, radical, costly obedience to Him, but we have chosen to rebel against Him, bringing upon ourselves God’s wrath (Romans 6:23).
  2. “by grace…” – Grace, in this case, is God’s unmerited favor upon us.  This means that God, despite our rebellion against Him, loved us (His creation) so much, that He chose to sacrifice His One and Only Son, Jesus, as payment for our sin so that our rebellion against Him might be forgiven.  Jesus willingly obeyed God and offered Himself up as a sacrifice to God for our atonement.  God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and raised Him from the dead in order to complete His redemptive work, and give us eternal life, saving us from His wrath (Romans 5:8).
  3. “through faith… – To be saved from God’s wrath, all we have to do is believe with all our hearts in what God has done for us through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and live the rest of or lives confessing it to the world, beginning where we are (John 3:16; Romans 10:10).
  4. “and this not of yourselves;…” – This means that we cannot save ourselves; that there is nothing we can do for God that He would accept as payment for our salvation because we are ruled by our sin nature (Rome 3:23). We are stained by our sin, but Jesus never sinned, therefore, His sacrifice was acceptable to God.
  5. “it is God’s gift…” – A gift is a some one gives without expecting payment for it, otherwise, it is no longer a gift.  God’s plan for our salvation is paid for, in full, by Him, through what Jesus did on the cross for us.  Nothing is required of us, except faith, and faith is not a “work”, just a heartfelt belief.
  6. “not from works…” – What Jesus did for us is completely sufficient for the salvation of our souls.  There is nothing else that needs to be done by God, by Jesus, or by us, contrary to what other religions say.  God said it, that settles it (Titus 3:5-7).
  7. “so that no one can boast.” – Because we are pulled by sin, God knows that we are filled with pride.  Therefore, God took the responsibility of our salvation off of us, and put it squarely on Jesus’ shoulders, so that we could not ever take credit for something that only Jesus could do.

Here’s what Jesus said:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God (John 3:16-18 HCSB).”

“The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son[a] will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him (John 3:36).”

So, knowing what you now know, are you willing to risk God’s wrath upon you, and spending eternity in complete separation from our loving God in eternal torment?  Would you consider putting the full measure of your faith in Christ, today?  If you choose to do so and need help, let me know below, or by private message.

Conquer Evil

“Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” (Romans 12:21 HCSB)

It appears as if evil is out of control in our world today.  We hear and see more and more of it, and it seems as if we and people around the world have succumbed to it, accepting it as if there is nothing that can be done about it.  We seem to have the “if we can’t beat it, we must join it” mentality.

But evil can and must be conquered and defeated in our society and in the world.  God, through the Apostle Paul tells us that in today’s verse of Scripture. Let’s take a closer look at it.

  1. “Do not be conquered by evil” – means that, as Christians, we do not have to be conquered by anything, much less evil.  In Romans 8:35-37, God, through the Apostle Paul, tells us that “we are more than conquerers.”  Therefore, if we do evil, it’s because we allow ourselves to be conquered by evil; we give up the fight against it and join it. There are many so-called Christians who believe that the way to fight evil is by accepting it, in the name of “love”. Accepting evil is in itself evil, and can never be love.  Evil cannot defeat, or conquer itself.  There has to be a greater force that conquers it.
  2. “but conquer evil with good.” – God is telling us that the only way to conquer evil is by doing what is good, even as we face evil.  As Christians, we are “not to repay evil for evil,  or insult for insult (1 Peter 3:9; italics added).”  Here’s what Jesus has to say to us:  But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28; italics added).” Christians, this is the way that Jesus wants to use us to conquer evil in this world; He wants us to take His love and goodness to the entire world, beginning where we are.

The problem is that few are the Christians who are willing to do what is good to conquer evil, because they fear what evil is going to do to them for their efforts.  

But God tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment (2 Timothy 1:7; italics added).” So we, through the power of Christ who lives in us, have the power to overcome and conquer evil and do what is good to all people.

So, what will you choose to do?  How will you make a difference in your community and the rest of the world?  Will it be for good, or for evil?

*** If you are someone who wants to do what is truly good and make a difference in this world, you cannot do it on your own, you need the power of God’s love and goodness living in you.  Think about it.  God is calling you to Himself, right now.  If you are interested in knowing how you can have God’s power in your life, message me. I’d love to help you. ***

Love

“He said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39 HCSB).””

If you are a Christian, please join me in this prayer, and then in obedience to this prayer.

Lord, today I’m going to need your help to love You with all my being, in such a way that I live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to Your Word, and love others the same way I love myself.  You don’t command me to see if people are worth my love, You command me to love others the same way You have loved me, even though I’m totally unworthy of Your love.  Fill me with Your love so that I can share it with all people, all the time.  May it be so, Father.  In Jesus’ name.

Have a glorious day, everyone!

Our Resurrection

 “and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ—whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”  (1 Corinthians 15:14-17 HCSB)

Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we can also be raised from the dead into eternal life, which is our only hope.  Without Jesus’ resurrection, we would have no hope, and our destiny would be an eternity in complete separation from God in a place called hell.  God had mercy on us and provided a way for us to pass from death to life, from eternal torment in hell, to an eternal life of joy and peace in heaven with Him.

All that is required us is faith in the fact that Jesus was punished for our sins so that our sins can be forgiven, and that Jesus rose again from the dead so that we can have eternal life in heaven with Him.  Jesus said,

“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. You know the way to where I am going.” “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where You’re going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:1-6 HCSB).””

The choice is ours. I pray you will make the correct choice.

In Christ’s love,

Phil

Life and Death

“The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36 HCSB)

There are those who read this verse and immediately think that God is cruel, and without love, or compassion for people as He claims to have.  Most people who believe this way do not understand God because they have very little, or no knowledge of God.  What’s most troubling is that there are many who call themselves Christians who have this same mindset and have no idea of the danger they are in.  So, let’s break down and understand this verse.

  1.  “The one who believes in the Son…” – the word “believe”, here, means much more than a simple intellectual conviction that Jesus exists, and that He died on a cross, and rose from the dead.  God, in James 2:19, tells us that even the demons believe in Jesus, and even shudder in fear of Him.  This does not mean that demons are going to heaven.  The belief that this verse speaks of is a complete, unconditional surrender of our lives to the lordship of Christ in such a way that we strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands; not out of obligation, or as a “stay out of hell card”, but because we understand what He has done for us.
  2. “has eternal life,” – eternal life in heaven with Him is our reward for surrendering our lives to Jesus, and submitting ourselves to His Lordship, in such a way that we strive to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands.
  3. “but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life;” – the person who outright refuses to surrender his/her life to the lordship of Christ, and refuses to live in immediate, radical, costly obedience to His commands. this person will not see eternal life in heaven with Jesus.
  4. “instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” – God’s wrath remains on us because we choose to live our lives in rebellion against Him, which is what’s in our nature to do.  We don’t want to surrender our lives to anyone, or anything, unless it satisfies our lusts, and desires for the things of this world – “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17).”

Here is what we need to understand about God, folks.  God does not hate anyone.  On the contrary.  God loves us all enough to give us the choice to surrender to Him and live according to His will and purpose, or to live according to our will and desires.  But, He also loves us enough to warn us of the consequences of not living according to His will and purpose.

God sends no-one to hell.  We send ourselves to hell by the choice we make.  With every choice we make, we also choose the consequences we will suffer.

In Christ’s love,

Phil

Love One Another

“Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11-12 HCSB)

Church, how else is the world going to know Jesus if the world doesn’t see and hear Jesus in us?  Are we ashamed to speak and act like Jesus?  Then why aren’t we doing it?  I know what some of us are saying, right now, “Of course I’m not ashamed of Jesus, how dare you question my love for Him!”  And some of us are even adding an excuse to it, saying, “I just don’t want to offend anyone!”  We seem to have forgotten that Jesus, our Lord and King, has given us a command:

 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35 HCSB).”

How can we, the church, love others outside the church, when we can’t even love one another, in the church?  How can we even call ourselves Christians when we are indifferent to the suffering of our Christians brothers and sisters?  One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen is a church budget.  We spend thousands of dollars caring for buildings and programs, and just a few dollars, in comparison, for the overall care of our own brothers and sisters in need.  Where we, the church, spend the most money is where our hearts are.

I would rather be hated by the world for my love for God and others, than be loved by the world for my indifference.  Jesus loved me and gave Himself for me and others, so I will love Him and give myself for Him and others in return.  I will love Him, and others, even if it costs me my life, because I would rather be loved by God and hated by the world, than to be loved by the world and hated by God.

So, church, how can we love one another as the Lord has commanded us to do?  It’s simple, just find someone in your congregation that is need of love and care, and love and care for them.  Supply their needs without expecting anything in return.

Church, if there is no benevolence fund for your congregation in your budget, isn’t it time to change that?  Isn’t it time to be an example to the world of what it looks like to love one another?  If we want our world to change, change has to begin with us.

Insights from God's Word