WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT JUSTIFICATION – ARE YOU JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE?

February 27, 2012

   “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 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. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”


Romans 5:16-18 KJV

Justification, in the Biblical sense, means being declared “Right” in God‘s sight. When I am justified before God it is just as if I’d never sinned.  Justification is the process of being made just.  Someone who is justified has been made Just.  Someone who is just is without blame.  A comprehensive study of scripture relating to justification reveals what it is and how mankind is justified in the sight of God. All the doctrines of the Bible are important, but none is more vital to the peace and rest of the child of God than the Bible truth of Justification. The believer does not ascend to the peak of Christian joy until he appreciates and appropriates this aspect of the grace of God. Forgiveness is wonderful; pardon is wonderful; cleansing is wonderful; but Justification is more wonderful. In Paul’s day, and later in the days of the Protestant Reformation, and in our own day, it would be difficult to find a truth more cardinal to our historic Christian faith than the doctrine of Justification. The question of man’s justification before God was raised early in man’s history. In the Book of Job we read, “I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God? How then can man be justified with God?” Job 9:2, 25:4 KJV  In the New Testament the Apostle Paul, developed it more fully. He said, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:38-39 KJV  Paul says that forgiveness and justification are made possible through Jesus Christ, but he makes it clear that the two are not identical. If a criminal is found guilty and convicted of crime, he may be forgiven by the offended party and even pardoned by the governor, but he remains guilty of his offense. His guilt was established and the court records carry it as such. He has been forgiven but not justified. The Apostle is saying that God does two things for the guilty but believing sinner that no man can possibly do for another; that is, He both forgives and justifies. Justification is more than forgiveness. We can forgive another for his wrong, but never can we justify him. Forgiveness assumes guilt; therefore, the guilty one cannot be justified. On the other hand, if we justify a man, then he needs no forgiveness, because justification assumes no guilt. But since all men are both guilty and condemned sinners before God, all need both forgiveness and justification before entering the Kingdom of God. Justification can be defined as that act of God whereby He declares absolutely righteous any and all who take shelter in the blood of Christ as their only hope for salvation. Justification is a legal term which changes the believing sinner’s standing before God, declaring him acquitted and accepted by God, with the guilt and penalty of his sins put away forever. Justification is the sentence of the Judge in favor of the condemned man, clearing him of all blame and freeing him of every charge. Justification does not make the sinner righteous, but when God sees him “in Christ,” He declares that he is righteous, thereby pronouncing the verdict of “not guilty.” In modern jurisprudence a sentence in any court must be in keeping with the facts presented. A judge has no right to condemn the innocent or to clear the guilty. Only God can clear the guilty. We must keep in mind the fact that there is a close connection between the act of justifying and the imputed righteousness of the one who has been justified. A just person is one who has been declared righteous by God. God is the Author of Justification. The Bible says, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Romans 8:33 KJV  What is the function of justification?  First, we know that sinners are justified by God. God Himself is the Justifier. Only God can justify a man; no man can justify another man. The source of justification must be in the one holy and righteous God. The Bible states, “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.” Deuteronomy 25:1 KJV  If a man is not guilty of a charge made against him, he should be justified. All men are sinners, and since all sin is against God, He only must be satisfied. The Bible says, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:26 KJV  Second, we are justified by grace. The Bible says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Romans 3:24 KJV  Look carefully at the text and notice that word “freely.” The Greek word (dorean) translated “freely” means “without a cause. There was no cause in the words and works of Jesus for which men should hate Him, yet He was hated “freely,” “without a cause.” Just as there was no cause that men should hate our Lord, so there was no cause that God should justify man; but He justifies him “freely,” without a cause. Jesus came with a heart full of love for mankind, but they hated Him. You cannot buy it with money, for it is “freely by His grace.”  Third, we are justified by blood. The provision for righteousness is solely through the blood of Christ. The Bible says, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:9 KJV  These next verses are of tremendous importance because they show the only ground of justification. It says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26 KJV  God can make bad men good only through the death of His Son, for we are justified by His Blood. Fourth, we are justified by faith. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”   The Bible says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 3:28, 4:5 KJV  This is the God-ward aspect of justification, but like all the blessings of salvation, the sinner cannot receive it until he accepts it, and this he does when he acknowledges his guilt and puts personal faith in what God has done for him in Christ. Fifth, we are justified  by the spirit. The Bible says, “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.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 KJV  The believing sinner’s righteousness is the plan of God the Father, the provision of God the Son, and by the power of God the Holy Spirit. When a man says he has been justified by God, his fellowmen have a right to expect him to prove his faith by his good works. The Bible says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James 2:24 KJV  God’s standard of holiness is man’s that things which are approved of men may be counted as evil in the sight of God. Let us make certain that by faith we are justified before God. Self-effort, religious ritual, or agonizing prayer cannot take away sin. But when we trust in Christ for salvation, we are justified, declared righteous by God. Then, as we lose our burden of guilt and experience total justification, we will have real peace. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve. Mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. We deserve to go to hell, but by His mercy we shall never go there. We do not deserve to go to heaven, but by grace we’ll spend eternity there. Grace justifies. Mercy pardons. Grace admits us to heaven. Mercy saves us from hell. The death of Christ was enough to pardon us in mercy, but it took the resurrection to effect our justification. So don’t wait any longer to put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ. May we all be justified in the blood of the lamb of God. Open up your heart and let Jesus in, for He is the One that died on the cross, shed His blood and paid the penalty for your sins, so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger



THE CHRISTMAS STORY – A MESSY PLAN ABOUT THE MAN WHO MISSED CHRISTMAS

December 20, 2011

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, Micah 5:2 KJV

The Christmas Story about the man who missed Christmas starts here in the Bible. It doesn’t tell us the name of this man, but we can read his story in the Gospel According to Luke 2:7.  That verse tells us enough, and more than enough, about the innkeeper, the man who missed Christmas: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 KJV   Why was there no room for Mary and Joseph and their expected Baby, except in a stable? Bethlehem was a small town, and in those days most small towns perhaps had only one inn. The inn in Bethlehem was already filled. No other accommodation was available. He was too busy to notice a woman about to give birth to a Baby, to a Child who would grow up to become the most famous Man in all of history, and more than a Man, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.

While they were there it was time for the baby to be born, she gave birth to the first-born, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn. God had this messy plan, a plan to save the world, and to do that He was going to send His Son. Where does the God of the universe send His Son? Where does the king of kings and the Lord of lords come? To a barn, a stable, a manger. Of all places, certainly not a place fit for a King. Then again this was no ordinary King. When I say it was messy, I mean messy! It was a barn, a stable, so you got animals, animal stuff, manure, mud, a pitiful place for people. Much less a place for the King of Kings to be born. Why would God do that? Isaiah explains that here, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 53:6, 55:8 KJV   You see, Jesus came to this messy Place, a barn, a manger, it’s just a mess! So why did he come into this messy world? The Shepard was coming to take care of his sheep to prepare away for them to go home. That’s what a Shepard does. The Bible says, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11 KJV  He lives where the sheep are, He sleeps where they sleep, He eats where they eat. That got Jesus in trouble. Why did Jesus eat with sinners? Because that is what the Shepard does. And then an Angel appeared to the shepherds in the field and said, this will be a sign to you. You will find a babe wrapped in clothes laying in a manger. The Bible says, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 KJV  Do you ever wonder why this was a sign? Being a servant is messy. Jesus set this incredible example for us. He got down on His knees and washed feet. God of the universe, deserved the best of everything, got down on His knees, He laid in a feeding trough. Why of all such places? Why such a messy place? He was following a messy plan. He came to this world not as royalty, but as a baby born in a stable full of muck and animals, to humble Himself to become one of us. Paul says it best here, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8 KJV  

Christmas represents a hope, a unique joy, felt only at Christmastime, because Christ the Savior is born. Are you lost today? What better time for you to be found than at this Christmas season? Don’t be like the man who missed Christmas. Do you have room for Jesus Christ? Or are you so busy and so occupied with the trimmings of Christmas that you miss its triumph, as the innkeeper did long ago? Have you crowded Jesus out so that there is no room for Him in the inn of your heart? Let the Christ of Christmas come in to your heart today.

That first Christmas was dirty, grimy, filthy, but thank God it was because without it,  what a mess we would be in!

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger

 


This Thanksgiving, We as Christians Should Focus on the Reasons Why We Celebrate the Truth about Being Thankful

November 18, 2011

“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

Colossians 1:3,12,14 KJV

The Thanksgiving Holiday:

Christians look forward to the time of the year when we celebrate this important holiday, Thanksgiving. This holiday has its beginnings and roots in Christian celebrations. The word holiday actually means “holy day”; hence this event should be remembered and celebrated in a holy way. We have strayed from that purpose over the years as we have embraced many unholy practices and worldly customs and added them to our “holy days.” Thanksgiving is one of our main national holidays here in the U.S.A. A good question to ask is “Are we as Christians celebrating it the way the Lord would have us celebrate, or have we compromised with the world?” Have we lost the emphasis on thanksgiving and prayer and shifted it to a gluttonous feast of food, drink and games like those in the world have done? God wants us to enjoy family, friends and feasting, but leaving God out of the day breaks His heart. More and more the media is referring to this holiday as “turkey day” instead of Thanksgiving Day. They also eliminate the object of who we are to offer our thanks. We are just to be “thankful” we are told. Who should our thanks be directed to? The object of our thanks for our many blessings, should be directed to the Lord God. It should not just be a general “thanks.”

The Origin of Thanksgiving Day:

The original thanksgiving celebration was held by the Pilgrim settlers in Massachusetts during their second winter in America in December, 1621. The first winter had killed 44 of the original 102 colonists. At one point their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn apiece, but then an unexpected trading vessel arrived, swapping them beaver pelts for corn, providing for their severe need. The next summer’s crop brought hope, and Governor William Bradford decreed that December 13, 1621, be set aside as a day of feasting and prayer to show the gratitude of the colonists that they were still alive. These Pilgrims, seeking religious freedom and opportunity in America, gave thanks to God for His provision for them in helping them find 20 acres of cleared land, for the fact that there were no hostile Indians in that area, for their newfound religious freedom, and for God’s provision of an interpreter to the Indians in Squanto. Along with the feasting and games involving the colonists and more than 80 friendly Indians (who added to the feast by bringing wild turkeys and venison), prayers, sermons, and songs of praise were important in the celebration. Three days were spent in feasting and prayer. From that time forward, Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a day to give thanks to God for His gracious and sufficient provision. President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November, in 1863, “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” In 1941, Congress ruled that after 1941, the fourth Thursday of November be observed as Thanksgiving Day and be a legal holiday.

What Does The Bible Say:

President George Washington made the following proclamation in 1789:

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection, aid, and favors …

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day

of November next, to be devoted by the people of the United States to the

service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of

all the good that was, and is, or that will be; and that we may all then

unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind

care and protection of the people of this country, and for all the great and

various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.”

This country has forgotten God. It is virtually illegal in this country to mention God unless one is using His name as a curse word. Yet the founding fathers of this nation recognized that it was because of God’s mercy and blessings that they existed. It is because of God’s great love for men today hat they have such abundance of clothes, shelter, and food. The Bible says, “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:” Psalms 50:14 KJV  All men and women need to be thankful this week for the families they have and for the privilege of living in a free country. People need to learn how to thank God even during times of hardships. Some turn to drugs – legal and illegal. Some commit suicide. Others gripe and complain and make everyone around them as miserable as they are. Yet people need to learn joy and thankfulness in spite of circumstances. If men could focus on the Lord and forget about themselves, they could learn to be joyful, not because of circumstances, but in spite of circumstances. The Bible says, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11 KJV  Paul was in prison when he wrote this. He had learned to be content under any circumstance. He kept his attention focused on serving God first and others second and he placed himself third. By doing this, he was content. The Bible also says, “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.” Leviticus 22:29 KJV  Here the OT scriptures speak of a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” which Israel would offer long ago. The Lord wanted this to be offered from a person’s “own free will.” He did not want anyone coerced or forced to do this. When a person is forced to say “thank-you,” then he might as well have said nothing. An expression of thanksgiving is accepted only when it is truly meant and not forced.

Reasons to Make Thanksgiving Thankful:

First, God has qualified us. Paul wrote, “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12). The word qualified means “to make meet” or “to make able.” The idea is that God has enabled us to have something. Put simply, God has given us the privilege of a relationship with Him by forgiving us of our sins and providing a means to turn from the darkness and toward the light. Think about that. Through no merit of our own, God presented us with the gift of life eternal with Him. The center of the Gospel is the cross of Christ. We simply come to the cross as humble sinners, in repentance and humility, and He accepts us. Through His blood He washes away our sins. As the hymnist reminds us, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” Christ has made us fit to be partakers. He has qualified us. Second, God has delivered us. Paul said, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13). Third, God has conveyed us. Paul stated, “He … conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13). Every person must make a choice sometime in his or her life to leave the kingdom of darkness and walk into the Kingdom of light through the ticket that has been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. When we do that, we can be thankful that God will take us from hate, fear and oppression and bring us into a relationship of trust, love and hope. Fourth, God has redeemed us. Paul wrote: “In whom we have redemption through His blood” (Colossians 1:14).Redemption means “to release a slave by paying a price, or to buy back.” It was a term borrowed from the ancient slave markets where someone could come in and pay a price for a slave. Once he’d paid the price, he could set the slave free. Fifth, God has forgiven us. Paul stated, “Through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). The word forgiveness means “to send away.” God took your sins and shipped them off.These three short verses in Colossians show us how thankful we should be for our salvation. We can be thankful that God has qualified us, delivered us, conveyed us, redeemed us and forgiven us. And because we are thankful to God for so great a salvation, we can pour out our lives in service to God and become a conduit of His goodness to a desperately hungry world.

Being Thankful:

Let everyone, this Thanksgiving Day, be thankful for the wonderful blessings he enjoys. Let everyone freely, without coercion, give thanks to the God who holds each one’s breath in His hand and freely gives all things to enjoy. The Bible says, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” 1 Timothy 6:17 KJV  We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting. May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material. God is good, and every good gift comes from Him. It says in the Bible, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17 KJV  For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good. May He find us to be His grateful children. Before you and your family enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, or begin watching a parade or football game, be sure to take time to truly thank God in prayer and thought for the national wealth, power and prestige He has given this nation. While there is still time, make certain that you and your family are not partaking in the nationwide, unthankful attitude. Be sure to give thanks to God in the same heartfelt, sincere manner that the pilgrims did on the first Thanksgiving in North America! The best kind of thanks giving is thanks living! – showing our thanks to God by the way we live. To grow rich in God’s sight, we say our thanks and we show our thanks. Not just in words of appreciation, but deeds. To properly thank God for His gifts we must use them according to His will – 365 days a year!

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger


WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT HOW MANY WAYS ARE THERE TO GET INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

September 30, 2011

“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

Luke 13:23-24, Matthew:7:14 KJV

The Idea:

The idea  that there are many ways to get to Heaven is partly based on the assumption that there are various ways to gain its entrance. Some of the more common ways being baptism, good deeds, honest living, giving to charity, church attendance, and, if nothing else, by making a sincere effort. To most, the way to Heaven is broad, with many paths leading there. However, one has to wonder: if Heaven is so relatively accessible, then why did Jesus Christ die on the cross?  Why did the only begotten Son of God come to earth, take on flesh, and allow Himself to get spat upon, punched, mocked, kicked, humiliated, whipped, and then literally nailed to a cross in the hot Judean sun to die a bloody death The Apostle Paul states it best when he says, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Galatians 2:2 KJV  You see, Jesus died for a very important reason.   He claimed, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 KJV   His sacrificial death provides the only way to Heaven. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9 KJV  That means Heaven!Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” John 10:1 KJV  Further more, when His disciples asked, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:” Luke 13:24-25 KJV  Now, obviously, many of you reading all this will still find it hard to believe that there could only be ONE WAY to get to Heaven.

Beginning with the Fall of Man:

Man was created in God’s image for the express purpose of follow shipping with his Creator.   But man rebelled; not willing to accept his subordinate role in the relationship. His rebellion plunged mankind into sin The Bible teaches that, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Romans 5:12  KJV  When man fell, his immediate reaction to his new-found sin nature was to “coverup” his sin before God. The Bible says, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:7 KJV  God, however, seeing their unsatisfactory efforts showed them what would actually be required to “cover up sin”. It says in the Bible, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 KJV  God was setting a precedence.   These “COATS OF SKINS” came off the backs of living animals. Removing them cost those animals their lives and in killing them, God established this fact, “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23 KJV   Death and shed blood is the only “coverage” for sin that God will approve; it’s the only payment He will accept. The Bible clearly teaches that, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20 KJV  Perhaps you’ve wondered why there has to be death in the world. Don’t blame God. Death was not part of His original plan. Death came as a result of man’s rebellious sin. It says in the Bible that, “and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. The sting of death is sin;” Romans 5:12, James 1:15, 1 Corinthians 15:56 KJV  God’s holiness DEMANDS payment for sin. However, God not desiring the absolute death of mankind is willing to accept a substitute on his behalf. That’s why He told His chosen people, the Jews, that He was willing to accept, “And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.” Leviticus 5:6 KJV  So throughout Jewish history, the Jews sacrificed lambs and bullocks as instructed by God.  He wanted to continuously remind them, as a people, that,“and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:22 KJV   However, these sacrifices could only “roll back” sin, postponing God’s wrath and eternal judgment.  Mankind needed a permanent solution, one that would forever reconcile him back to his Creator. And one day HE ARRIVED! When John the Baptist saw Christ approaching him, he said something that should have made something click within the mind of every Jew present that day.   John announced, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 KJV  Jesus is God’s sacrificial lamb, the permanent solution to man’s sin problem. The Bible says of Christ, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” Hebrews 10:12 KJV  And also it says , “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:8-9 KJV

How many Ways Into The Kingdom of Heaven:

IT’S SIMPLE!   The only payment for sin that God will accept is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. However, what most people are trusting in to pay for their sin and get them to Heaven DOES NOT INVOLVE DEATH! For example, during baptism no one dies.During confirmation or communion no one dies. During any good deed you and I perform NO ONE DIES; NO BLOOD IS EVER SHED! Do you see now why Christ is the only way to Heaven? It says it here in the Bible , “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Romans 6:23, Revelation 1:5-6 KJV  If we fully place our TRUST IN HIS DEATH, AND SHED BLOOD, our sins will be payed for and we’ll be allowed in Heaven. The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV  So we need to see first that, if we are ever to enter the kingdom either in its present or future manifestation, then we must change.  We must be converted.  There must be a transformation. Have you been converted?  Has God changed you?

You Must Become a Child of God Before You Enter the Kingdom:

“At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew !8:1-4 KJV  Unless you change from what you are into what this child is, you cannot even enter, so how can you claim to be the greatest?” Pride is a great stumbling block. Proud people cannot enter the Kingdom of God. They cannot give up their own preeminence for His. Jesus did not have to call a child over to make His point. He could have just said, “Humble yourself as a child.” But He did not. So there is a significance to calling the child over and having him stand in the midst of them. Only after this was done did Jesus say, “Become like this child, or you cannot enter the Kingdom.” So what is the significance? Jesus called the child, and the child responded to Jesus. There is no questioning from the child, such as, “What do You want?” or “Who are you?” Jesus had him stand in the midst of them, and again, the child complies. We do not hear him say, “Why?” or “What are you going to do now?” or “I don’t have time to stand here, I want to go play.” The greatest people in the Kingdom are the ones who do what I tell them to do, nothing doubting. It is only when we get older that we begin to question everything. To enter this Kingdom we must know there is only room for one Head, for one Preeminence, for one King, for one Lord. We are disciples, not masters. We may struggle and question His dealings with us, but if we progress in the Way then one day we will learn the best course is to bow our heads and say, “Yes, Lord.” We are waiting for Jesus to give us grand instructions and commandments: “Go around the world and proclaim the Gospel full-time” or “Rise up and fulfill the ministry of an apostle” or “I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” But if we cannot hear and obey in the small things, how can we expect Him to lead us into greater things? IT’S SIMPLE!   The only payment for sin that God will accept is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. However, what most people are trusting in to pay for their sin and get them to Heaven DOES NOT INVOLVE DEATH!   For example, during baptism no one dies. During confirmation or communion no one dies. During any good deed you and I perform NO ONE DIES; NO BLOOD IS EVER SHED! Do you see now why Christ is the only way to Heaven? It says in the Bible, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus Christ,  washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Romans 6:23, Revelation 1:5 KJV  If we fully place our TRUST IN HIS DEATH, AND SHED BLOOD, our sins will be payed for and we’ll be allowed in Heaven.   The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9 KJV  FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you from going to Heaven are your sins, because, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God,” Isaiah 59:2 KJV In fact, in God’s eyes YOU ARE A SINNER, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23 KJV  SECONDLY, you must realize that there is NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn Heaven, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV  Baptism, good deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are all examples of good works that cannot save you, because, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us,” Titus 3:5 KJV  THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through Jesus Christ.  He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 14:6, Romans 5:8 KJV  THEREFORE: You must REPENT, change your mind,  admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner and can’t save yourself.   And call upon Christ, and Him alone, to save you. It says it here in the Bible, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10 KJV   The Scriptures tell us that the Lord Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” With Truth comes Grace, and we will now conclude with how God accomplishes this impossible work by Grace. The Lord is waiting for us to know and to confess, “I cannot”. For He can do what we cannot do; and He will do what we will not do! And once we allow Him, He brings us to where He wants us to be in a most remarkable manner.  The Bible says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,  and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, (Path)”  John 10:9,14:5-6 KJV  Lord Jesus Christ, I thank You that You are my Way, my Truth, and my Life! I praise You that I cannot save myself. You are my Narrow Gate, and You are my Narrow Path. As I am decreased, You are increased, and my life is exchanged for Your Life. I thank you, Lord, that through You we may enter the Kingdom. Amen.

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger


LABOR DAY – WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ? – KEEPING THE SABBATH

September 1, 2011

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” 

John 6:27, Exodus 20:10-11 KJV

Labor Day:

How do you define Labor Day?  For many, it marks the official end of summer.  Most children are back in school, each day show signs of getting shorter with earlier sunsets, and depending on your location, there might be cooler temperature in the air.  Yes, summer months are finally coming to a close and football fans are excited to cheer on their favorite team as the fall sports season begins. Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It forms a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. So, Labor Day is a holiday about work and recognition for the hard work people have put forth to strengthen our economy and our country as a whole. As men who want to be an example we need to remember some things about our work. The Bible says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 KJV  Also we must Be grateful. It says it here in the Bible, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Timothy 5:8 KJV  Most of all we need to remember that God values us not for what we do or how much we earn but for who we are… His beloved children redeemed through the sacrifice of his son Jesus. We should be dedicating ourselves to the Lord through our work. He is our real boss. So work hard as unto the Lord and know that his approval will guarantee success. We should also remember that it is by His labor on the cross that His rest is possible. So, the honor all goes to Him.

What Does The Bible say About Labor:

“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11  KJV  I think Labor Day is a strange holiday. While we call it “Labor Day,” we try to do as little labor as possible and most working people have the day off. It’s a bad weekend for the Church…because everyone wants to do other things this weekend. Labor Day is different things to different people. To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off. But, for policemen, nurses and doctors, it’s just another work day. To farmers, it’s just another day to feed the livestock… and work in the field. Our passages today in 1 and 2 Thessalonians…encourage us to work rather than sit around on welfare. Many people think work is an undesirable thing…and they do as little as possible for the greatest return. This leads to the idea of someone else doing the work for you — an employee. In America, “labor” and “management” are adversaries. Labor wants the most money for the least work. Management wants the most work for the least money. The American way is based on this adversarial relationship. Our American work system is not necessarily Christian. The Bible says, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” Ephesians 6:5-9 KJV  This passage is about masters and slaves. However, it can easily be applied to management and employees. God cares about how we conduct business! He cares about how we treat others. We will all face judgment, both management and employees. The Christian cannot separate his business and his spiritual life. He has no right to “out-heathen” the heathen. The Christian does not live for self alone. The Bible says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” Romans 12:10 KJV  An employee should be paid what he deserves. The Bible says, ” At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” Deuteronomy 24:15, Leviticus 19:13 KJV  These Old Testament passages applied to times…when a worker got paid every day.

The Importance of the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is more than a day of physical and mental relaxation. It is even more than the day on which we worship. The Sabbath has a definite redemptive significance—a distinct connection with the everlasting gospel. The New Testament often uses the word rest to describe the good news of salvation realized in the holy history of Jesus Christ. Ever since the Fall, this promised saving rest in Christ has been linked with the Sabbath. That is why the major feast days in the Old Testament were designated as Sabbath days of rest—they pointed ahead to the Messiah and His redemptive activity. The word sabbath means “rest,” and the first we discover about it in the Old Testament is that the Sabbath day belongs to God. He calls it “my holy day” here in the Bible, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:” Isaiah 59:13 KJV  You can also recognize the importance of the Sabbath on Labor Day weekend. It says it here in the Bible, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Genesis 2:2 KJV  It talks about how God ended his work and rested on the seventh day. If we want our work to be truly blessed by God, we should rest on the 7th day.  Our society today has trained us to believe that working happens from 9 to 5 every day, and then we have the rest of the day off!   Labor Day weekend is a great time to remind the people that work happens six days a week and not 40 hours a week, and you should still take time off on Sundays.  Labor Day is a great time to discuss the importance of observing the Sabbath in our lives.

Jesus’ Barbecue:

Jesus is inviting all of us over for a Labor Day soul food barbecue. The problem is that we take such poor care of our souls that we don’t even hear his invitation. There are hardly any of us here that go more than a day without eating. In fact, most of us eat every few hours. We live in a culture where our bodies are well-fed. In fact, our bodies are often overfed. And yet, in the midst of our culture’s all-you-can-eat buffet for the body, our souls are starving to death. We take great care to feed our temporary bodies, but our souls, which are eternal, are often lucky to get table scraps. How long has it been since you did something to nourish your soul? When was the last time you fasted, depriving your body of food so you could devote your spirit to prayer? When was the last time you read a book that stretched your thinking on some issue of theology? How long has it been since you worshipped God outside of our Church? When was the last time that you sat down as a family to read and discuss the Word of God? In a culture of unbelievable abundance and surplus, our souls are withering away from malnourishment. The problem is that a starving soul is harder to notice than a starving body. When you’re hungry, it’s easy to recognize. You feel it. It’s unmistakable. A hungry soul is less noticeable at first. The effects of a hungry soul are seen, such as, in a life lived with no peace. If all this talk about peace and rest is just ringing hollow with you, it could be because you’ve been starving your soul. The peace and rest Jesus offers is for our souls. It’s a peace that will outlast our lives and will outlast this world. The length of our lives is microscopic in comparison to eternity, and yet our lives in this world often dominate our time, attention, and energy. The Bible reminds us all that, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3 KJV  This is a call for us to have an eternal perspective in this temporary world. The challenge is to raise our sights above the physical and focus on the spiritual. If you have made a commitment to Jesus, you’re real life isn’t even here anymore. You’re real life is temporarily hidden with Jesus in heaven. So that is where our sights need to be. It’s a call to constantly guard against allowing ourselves to get bogged down with our temporary problems and struggles here. A time is coming when we will experience our real life in the presence of God. When that time comes, our struggles and hurts and pains will be a distant memory. And when we understand this, it gives us a peace in our lives that really does “transcend human understanding.”

Summary:

Tomorrow, a lot of us will take a short respite from work or school. I hope you enjoy the day. But much more than that, I hope we’ll all pursue a higher form of Labor Day. I pray that we’ll make every day a Labor Day God’s Way. The rest and peace that Jesus offers us is a life-changing, life-giving experience. He offers us peace to get us through heartaches and struggles. He offers us the peace of knowing that, no matter what hurt we experience, there is a hope that is sure. God is faithful to his promises, and if you have committed your life and your eternity to Jesus Christ, He will take you home to live with him forever. Those who come to God encounter no “Keep Out” signs. Through prayer, God the Father allows us immediate and unlimited access to Him because His Son Jesus Christ has opened the way to all who receive Him. The Bible says, “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Ephesians 2:18 KJV  The parts of our lives that we have tried and failed to repair can be restored by the hand of God. Through faith in Christ, we can be made whole. It says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Matthew 11:28, John 6:37.7:37 KJV  Once you come to Christ for salvation, you can enjoy unrestricted fellowship. The door is always open.

By: Jeff Ellinger


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “TAKE UP THE CROSS AND FOLLOW ME” – HE MUST INCREASE, I MUST DECREASE

August 24, 2011

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

Matthew 19:21 KJV

Denying Self:

This means not allowing ourselves to be constraint by natural limitations. Every one of us is surrounded by natural limitations. Right now we are now in the worst recession in history.  Looks like things are really getting bad. How are we going to survive this crisis, let alone trying to live within our means? These are facts. We should not deny their existence. However, Jesus wants us to deny ourselves. This means, we should not allow ourselves to be limited by the situation. We have God on our side. He is more powerful than the worst economic crisis. As long as we choose to deny ourselves in not allowing the natural circumstances to have the final say in our lives, we can overcome them. Yes, we can live within our means even in the worst recession. He who is in us is greater than he who is in this world. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 KJV

Take up His Cross Daily and Follow Me:

Taking up the cross daily does not mean we must get crucified every day. Even Jesus got crucified only once. It means we should live everyday with the constant awareness on what Jesus had done at the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus died to pay for all our sins: past, present and future. The moment we believe in him, we are righteous by faith. We can go to God at any time we want and behave as though we have never committed a single sin in our lives. Why? As far as God is concern, all the penalties of our sins had been paid. We are always holy because of what Jesus has done at the Cross. Peter was the most vocal of the disciples and because he hadn’t yet grasped the power of the cross he openly rebuked Jesus for preaching what he labeled as wrong doctrine. The Bible says, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22 KJV   Peter, like many christians, did not understand that sometimes our walk with God will include struggles, rejection, and for some believers, death. He was yet to comprehend that the path that leads to the fulness of life in Christ Jesus must include “the cross” which represents the emptying of self and the crucifying of the flesh. The Bible says, “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:23 KJV  Anything that prevents you from obeying God’s plan for your life is a hindrance and a snare to your spiritual growth. “Get thee behind me, satan!” Jesus was saying that I will not be talked out of the cross. The cross is the will of God for my life. And I must obey. The cross is necessary. You can’t have salvation without the cross. You can’t have freedom from sin without the cross. Paul wrote inColossians“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20 KJV and he also wrote it here, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:14 KJV  The cross is at the center of everything that God has provided for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have heard many christians say things like, “Well, the suffering in my life is just my cross to bear.” Or, “I’ve just got to carry this cross on my shoulders no matter how difficult it is.” But what are they really saying? To many christians, sickness and disease, a bad marriage, a bad temper or poverty is the cross that Jesus has required them to carry. But is this a correct interpretation of scripture? Does God require us to be poor to serve Him? Does God require us to learn how to put up with chronic sickness and crippling disease as a means to the emptying of self? Remember, the purpose of the cross is to bring you to the resurrection; not to leave you suffering in agony and shame. Jesus is not continually hanging on the cross. Jesus does not need to be crucified all over again and again and again. He took up His cross once. That was enough to purchase our eternal salvation and deliverance. The purpose of the cross is to remove something ungodly out of your life and to bring you into the resurrection life. God isn’t asking you to merely deny the desires and the longings of your flesh and have nothing to gain in return. No! The purpose of taking up your cross is to bring you to a place of living an overcoming and victorious life in Christ Jesus and to partake of the resurrected life with all of it’s power and all of it’s privileges. The Bible says,“As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” Isaiah 52:14 KJV  This adds fresh light to the accepted meaning of Matthew 16:24. The cross is not intended to be borne forever; rather, it is taken up whenever the plan of God requires it of us. The “taking up of your cross” is the means whereby God procures our deliverance from earthly, fleshly things possessing our hearts and minds, and severs their stronghold over us. It liberates us from the controlling appetites and the unnecessary weights of our ungodly flesh and our soulish life, and frees us to completely follow God. Peter wrote, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 KJV  Jesus took up the cross so that we could now live a righteous and fruitful life; a life that is free from sin and free from the guilt and shame that sins brings. Jesus bore stripes on His body to purchase our healing so we could now live free from sickness and disease. To say that bearing a chronic sickness in your life is your cross to bear is to deny the power of Christ’s sacrifice and to deny the scriptures that teach, “…by whose stripes you were healed.”. To say that poverty, anger or strife is your cross to bear is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit’s operation in your life. Also if your heart is focused on earthly things, you will have difficulty following the leadings and the promptings of the Spirit. For the Bible says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19 KJV  You can’t serve the flesh and serve the Spirit at the same time. You can’t follow the appetites of your flesh and at the same time be obedient to the desires of the spirit. If you desire to follow God and to be a true disciple of the Lord you must learn to crucify the flesh with its unholy appetites and take up your cross by dying to the selfish desires of your flesh. The Bible says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-21,24 KJV  You’ve got to let go of “self” and learn to put God’s Word first in your life if you want to be a committed disciple of the Lord.

He Must Increase:

He must increase, He must become greater, He must grow greater and greater.  HIS INCREASE IS ASSURED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:7 KJV  “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27 KJV  “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalms 119:89 KJV  “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 KJV  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 KJV “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Colossians 1:18-19 KJV  “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22 KJV

I Must Decrease:

OUR DECREASE IS REQUIRED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 KJV  “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 KJV  “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29-20 KJV  

Conclusion:

It is interesting that one of the meanings that the dictionary gives to the word “cross” is a trial, a burden, an affliction or a frustration. This is religions view of the cross. But I believe that Jesus would give us an entirely different perspective of the cross. From God’s point of view, the cross was the means whereby Jesus purchased our salvation and our deliverance. The cross is therefore a blessing to be experienced and not a burden for us to bear. And the phrase “take up your cross” should be viewed as a means to our deliverance and not as a frustrating or a defeated experience. Everyday brings with it new challenges and new blessings. And when we learn to “take up our cross daily”  we will be delivered from the annoying frustrations of life and we will be able to take hold of the blessings that the Lord is daily bringing into our lives. As followers of Christ, are we lifting Him up instead of seeking honor for ourselves? Rather than being disappointed when our contribution is unnoticed, we should be glad because our highest privilege is to magnify the Lord. He’s the hero! Honoring Him is the mark of greatness. Our goal must be the same as that of John the Baptist, who said when he met Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

By: Jeff Ellinger


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT “TAKE UP THE CROSS AND FOLLOW ME” – HE MUST INCREASE, I MUST DECREASE

August 24, 2011

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

Matthew 19:21 KJV

Denying Self:

This means not allowing ourselves to be constraint by natural limitations. Every one of us is surrounded by natural limitations. Right now we are now in the worst recession in history.  Looks like things are really getting bad. How are we going to survive this crisis, let alone trying to live within our means? These are facts. We should not deny their existence. However, Jesus wants us to deny ourselves. This means, we should not allow ourselves to be limited by the situation. We have God on our side. He is more powerful than the worst economic crisis. As long as we choose to deny ourselves in not allowing the natural circumstances to have the final say in our lives, we can overcome them. Yes, we can live within our means even in the worst recession. He who is in us is greater than he who is in this world. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 KJV

Take up His Cross Daily and Follow Me:

Taking up the cross daily does not mean we must get crucified every day. Even Jesus got crucified only once. It means we should live everyday with the constant awareness on what Jesus had done at the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus died to pay for all our sins: past, present and future. The moment we believe in him, we are righteous by faith. We can go to God at any time we want and behave as though we have never committed a single sin in our lives. Why? As far as God is concern, all the penalties of our sins had been paid. We are always holy because of what Jesus has done at the Cross. Peter was the most vocal of the disciples and because he hadn’t yet grasped the power of the cross he openly rebuked Jesus for preaching what he labeled as wrong doctrine. The Bible says, “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22 KJV   Peter, like many christians, did not understand that sometimes our walk with God will include struggles, rejection, and for some believers, death. He was yet to comprehend that the path that leads to the fulness of life in Christ Jesus must include “the cross” which represents the emptying of self and the crucifying of the flesh. The Bible says, “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Matthew 16:23 KJV  Anything that prevents you from obeying God’s plan for your life is a hindrance and a snare to your spiritual growth. “Get thee behind me, satan!” Jesus was saying that I will not be talked out of the cross. The cross is the will of God for my life. And I must obey. The cross is necessary. You can’t have salvation without the cross. You can’t have freedom from sin without the cross. Paul wrote in Colossians, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:20 KJV  and he also wrote it here, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:14 KJV  The cross is at the center of everything that God has provided for us through the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have heard many christians say things like, “Well, the suffering in my life is just my cross to bear.” Or, “I’ve just got to carry this cross on my shoulders no matter how difficult it is.” But what are they really saying? To many christians, sickness and disease, a bad marriage, a bad temper or poverty is the cross that Jesus has required them to carry. But is this a correct interpretation of scripture? Does God require us to be poor to serve Him? Does God require us to learn how to put up with chronic sickness and crippling disease as a means to the emptying of self? Remember, the purpose of the cross is to bring you to the resurrection; not to leave you suffering in agony and shame. Jesus is not continually hanging on the cross. Jesus does not need to be crucified all over again and again and again. He took up His cross once. That was enough to purchase our eternal salvation and deliverance. The purpose of the cross is to remove something ungodly out of your life and to bring you into the resurrection life. God isn’t asking you to merely deny the desires and the longings of your flesh and have nothing to gain in return. No! The purpose of taking up your cross is to bring you to a place of living an overcoming and victorious life in Christ Jesus and to partake of the resurrected life with all of it’s power and all of it’s privileges. The Bible says, “As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” Isaiah 52:14 KJV  This adds fresh light to the accepted meaning of Matthew 16:24. The cross is not intended to be borne forever; rather, it is taken up whenever the plan of God requires it of us. The “taking up of your cross” is the means whereby God procures our deliverance from earthly, fleshly things possessing our hearts and minds, and severs their stronghold over us. It liberates us from the controlling appetites and the unnecessary weights of our ungodly flesh and our soulish life, and frees us to completely follow God. Peter wrote, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 KJV  Jesus took up the cross so that we could now live a righteous and fruitful life; a life that is free from sin and free from the guilt and shame that sins brings. Jesus bore stripes on His body to purchase our healing so we could now live free from sickness and disease. To say that bearing a chronic sickness in your life is your cross to bear is to deny the power of Christ’s sacrifice and to deny the scriptures that teach, “…by whose stripes you were healed.”. To say that poverty, anger or strife is your cross to bear is to deny the power of the Holy Spirit’s operation in your life. Also if your heart is focused on earthly things, you will have difficulty following the leadings and the promptings of the Spirit. For the Bible says, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Philippians 3:18-19 KJV  You can’t serve the flesh and serve the Spirit at the same time. You can’t follow the appetites of your flesh and at the same time be obedient to the desires of the spirit. If you desire to follow God and to be a true disciple of the Lord you must learn to crucify the flesh with its unholy appetites and take up your cross by dying to the selfish desires of your flesh. The Bible says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:19-21,24 KJV  You’ve got to let go of “self” and learn to put God’s Word first in your life if you want to be a committed disciple of the Lord.

He Must Increase:

He must increase, He must become greater, He must grow greater and greater.  HIS INCREASE IS ASSURED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:7 KJV  “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Daniel 7:27 KJV  “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” Psalms 119:89 KJV  “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11 KJV  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 KJV “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” Colossians 1:18-19 KJV  “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,” Ephesians 1:22 KJV

I Must Decrease:

OUR DECREASE IS REQUIRED BY THE WORD OF GOD. The Bible says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 KJV  “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3 KJV  “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:29-20 KJV  

Conclusion:

It is interesting that one of the meanings that the dictionary gives to the word “cross” is a trial, a burden, an affliction or a frustration. This is religions view of the cross. But I believe that Jesus would give us an entirely different perspective of the cross. From God’s point of view, the cross was the means whereby Jesus purchased our salvation and our deliverance. The cross is therefore a blessing to be experienced and not a burden for us to bear. And the phrase “take up your cross” should be viewed as a means to our deliverance and not as a frustrating or a defeated experience. Everyday brings with it new challenges and new blessings. And when we learn to “take up our cross daily”  we will be delivered from the annoying frustrations of life and we will be able to take hold of the blessings that the Lord is daily bringing into our lives. As followers of Christ, are we lifting Him up instead of seeking honor for ourselves? Rather than being disappointed when our contribution is unnoticed, we should be glad because our highest privilege is to magnify the Lord. He’s the hero! Honoring Him is the mark of greatness. Our goal must be the same as that of John the Baptist, who said when he met Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

By: Jeff Ellinger


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