Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sin Defeated Three Ways

Justification, Sanctification, Glorification:

These are three words that are said frequently in church that I feel don’t get explained nearly well enough or often enough. I don’t think I truly understood what these words mean or their relationship with each other until I read “all of grace” by my hero Charles Spurgeon. That is the base for everything I say here today.

Our Lord Jesus came to take away sin in three ways; He came to remove the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin.

First is Justification, the removal of the penalty of sin. We all have sinned, and we all deserve to go to Hell for our sins. But when we turn from our sins and accept Jesus into our hearts as LORD and savior, the guilt of our sins is washed away by the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross. The moment we are born again we are completely 100% justified. You are exactly as justified one millisecond after giving your life to Christ as you will be after being in Heaven for 10,000 years. If you are saved, you and I are just as justified as Paul, Peter, Moses, Spurgeon or any other person in history. There is nothing we can do to become more justified because it is 100% the gift and work of God which we can only receive by grace through faith.

Next is sanctification, the removal of the power of sin. Human nature is to be selfish, evil, and an enemy of God. Romans 3:10-12 “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." We are naturally slaves to sin. Sanctification is the process in which we are freed from our sins. This is a constant battle with our flesh that will last as long as we are alive on earth. The goal is to be pure and holy and Christlike in all the parts of our life. This is not something we can do on our own because it is not in our nature. We must rely on God in order to be transformed and sanctified. Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh.” Sin binds us and takes away our joy and purpose in life. It is only through sanctification and breaking away from the yoke of sin that we are free to live for Christ. Jesus said in John 10:10 “The devil comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly.”

Last is glorification, the removal of the presence of sin. This is what will happen when the devil is permanently destroyed and we are all taken up into heaven. I don’t think anybody knows exactly how this will happen, but the Bible tells us it will so I don’t worry about it!

This is the Christian life:
  1. We were lost and deserving to go to Hell.
  2. We turn from our sins, give our lives to Christ and are instantly justified.
  3. The rest of our time on earth is spent in a battle with our flesh called sanctification
  4. Sin is permanently destroyed and we are in a state of glorification for eternity.

The Bible is abundantly clear that salvation doesn’t come by works or by any level of sanctification. But it is also clear that if there is no evidence of transformation, then justification probably has never happened and that person is probably not saved.

Thanks everyone for reading (-: hope everyone has a blessed week!

In Christ,
Steve Stockwell

P.S. Today through Sunday is the comal county fair. I’m looking for people who are willing to go witnessing with me there. It seems to be much more effective in small groups than when someone goes alone. I already have a few people going with me on Friday, but I’d love more and I’m looking for people who will go on Thursday and/or Saturday. Please let me know if you are interested.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biblical meaning of "hope"

Before I start the note for this week, I want to make something completely clear. I do not consider myself a great theologian, a biblical scholar, or even a particularly important person. I am just a kid who loves Jesus and wants to tell as many people as possible everything I know about having a relationship with Him. This is basically a personal journal of things I am learning and struggling with in my life. It is incredibly humbling that so many people who I respect and could learn a lot from want to hear what I have to say. My number one goal in this is to share whatever God has laid on my heart for the week. My prayer is that if something has helped me with my walk with God, maybe it can help someone else also. That is why I’m committing to write this every week. As my friend I was with in Tanzania would say, I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody…

Today, I want to talk about hope. Until recently, I’ve always struggled with the word hope and how it is used in the Bible. There are many passages that speak about “putting our hope of salvation in Jesus” or something very similar. See 1 Peter 1:13, Titus 1:2, 2:13, or 1 Timothy 4:10 if you want specific examples. My problem was this; salvation for eternity is the most important thing conceivable and I desire certainty about it. In common English usage, hope is an incredibly weak word. When someone says, “I hope this works,” how often does it work? “I hope you change your mind,” “I hope our team wins,” etc... the word hope normally implies a lack of confidence and an almost foolhardy blind faith that wants something to happen despite the odds against it. I don’t know about everyone else, but the English word hope doesn’t seem to fit the confidence and assurance that I have in God that He will do everything promised to us in the Bible. I was reading a commentary on Romans 5 when everything I thought about hope was changed.

The Greek words we translate as “hope” are the noun elpis, and the verb elpizo. Unlike the English word “hope,” these words contain absolutely NO uncertainty. The meaning of these words is something that 100% undoubtedly will happen, but simply hasn’t occurred yet. The way the Greeks would use these words might go like this; “I elpizo that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow,” or “I have elpis that this rock will eventually come back down to earth after I throw it.” Biblical hope has no doubts or uncertainties. We should have comfort and peace in knowing that every promise God gives us in the Bible is true.

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Revelation 3:20 Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.” Joshua 1:5 “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 6:18-19 “God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”

We are still forced to use the word “hope” because there is no better word in the English language. However, learning that the biblical meaning of “hope” is solid, unshakeable, and inevitable has given me a new level of peace in my relationship with Christ.

I elpizo that this note has been an encouragement and I pray that you have a blessed week (-:

In Christ,
Steven Stockwell

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fruit of a Life Walking by the Spirit

While I was in Africa this summer, God connected a few passages of scripture that my mind has never connected previously which are obviously tied together.  I want to share it with you. The first scripture is Matthew 7:15-20

 15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

I often ask myself, “What does my life look like to others?” “What fruit does my life produce?” “What should the fruit of my life look like?” And “How can my life bear good fruit?” Luke 18:19 says, “No one is good except God alone.” And Psalm 53:3 says, “They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” The Bible clearly tells us that we aren’t capable of doing good within our own flesh. So I believe the correct answer is found in Galatians 5:16-25

“16Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit”

Jesus says in Matthew 7 that in the same way you can recognize an apple tree by the fruit it produces, everybody should be able to recognize that you are a follower of Jesus by the fruits of your life. We should not be conformed to this world. We should be so filled with the Spirit that the fruit of the Spirit spill out onto others constantly. We should be so full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that anyone who looks at our life can’t help but to notice that there is something different about us. Jesus says in Matthew 5:16 "You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Is this what our lives look like? Because Jesus said in Matthew 7:19 ”Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And James 2:26 says, “Faith without deeds is dead.” We know from many places in the Bible that we aren’t saved by any good deeds we can do, but that good deeds are the fruit of our salvation. So how are we saved? Let’s look at the next passage, Matthew 7:21-27

 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

Verse 21 states its not what you SAY, its actually DOING the will of the Father. And in verse 23 Jesus says, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” This shows that salvation requires repentance. Jesus says in Luke 13:3 “Unless you repent, you will all perish.” We must turn from our sin, give up our selfish desires, we must die to our flesh, and we must trust and follow Jesus. He also says in verse 23, “ I never knew you.” This shows that we must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20 ”I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” This is the entire message of salvation from the Bible: we’ve all sinned, we all deserve to go to Hell, but Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and the only way to get to heaven is to turn from our sins and to trust and follow Jesus.

I was saved (born again, decided to follow Jesus) when I was 11 years old. That was when my life was changed and when Jesus came into my heart. I prayed something similar to this:

“Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I know that I deserve to go to Hell. But you love me so much that you were willing to take my place. You died for me on the cross to wash away my sins. And on the third day, you rose again to conquer death. I accept your gift of salvation. I could never earn it on my own. Jesus, come into my heart. I turn from my sins and I will follow you for the rest of my life. Amen!”

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord (master, in control of your life) and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

This is my challenge for everyone this week (Including myself). If you are saved, show it by being so full of the Spirit that everyone around you can’t help but to see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control exuding from you. BE HAPPY!!! (-: Thanks, hope to speak to everyone each Wednesday.

In Christ,
Steve Stockwell