Tag Archives: Spiritual Life

Authentic Christianity


Romans 12_2Authentic Christians are people who are transparent on the inside who reflect their inner values on the outside. The kind of individuals who don’t find it necessary to hide who they are, even when it isn’t perfect in the eyes of others. Authentic Christians are secure people who are able to live a natural life expressing an individual identity of reflective spiritual development giving the person confidence to be who they are at any given stage of their journey. People like this are hard to find and have are people who have learned through hard experiences that the transparent life of the soul is more likely to bring the joy and peace of the Kingdom in the process, so they align with their core self and are honest about things happening in their own lives, as well as, issues they have with other people.

Think about it, if you have been in church very long, you know there are people who are evasive, secretive, and others who are downright deceptive about how they live to prevent anyone from knowing their secrets. It is because they are deeply insecure, afraid, and have not learned to trust God in a life of intimate transformation. It takes being broken by life and people to bring a person to the place of transformative grace and allow them to be honest, open and transparent.

Among Christians, there are the ones who are living in denial, i.e., individuals who have issues in their personal lives or their relationships that they never acknowledge and deal with things carefully hidden away, choking away spiritual life, and preventing honest transparency from happening. Unfortunately, from these buried problems, there is often the source material of people who often create division and confusion in relationships in the church or organizations because in a crisis situation the hidden and unresolved personal issues come to the surface.

Because authentic Christians live transparent lives, they tend to be able to trust in God through the problems knowing that he loves them beyond what cannot be grasped in human understanding. As such, the authentic Christian does not have to be deceptive because transparency provides realization that hiding behind fig leaves only derails intimacy with God. So, when you see a Christian who knows how to live a transformed life of intimacy, you will see authenticity and experience honesty in Christian living. Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived up to that kind of relationship with God?

Calling From God that Goes Beyond the Natural Life


Couter Cultural Christianity“11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” (Galatians 2:11:17).

The Call of God and the Authenticity of the Gospel

Politics, nepotism, and social pressure from cultural religious networks of people are nothing new to the religious world. In fact, the context of this scripture suggest that these forces were at work placing pressure upon the early servant of the faith and many times severely hindered the work they were trying to accomplish. Look at the words of Paul as he spoke of his past life and the way he was entrenched in a religious system of belonging, controls, and social pressure creating conformity to the ideas of men, which equaled religious humanism in the 1st century. Unfortunately, those immersed in these cultural representations could not see the problems associated with these socio-cultural entrenchments because of  their ingroup affiliation that validated their life and existence. Thinking upon this morning, I am reminded of how much that churches have become social units,that are heavily influenced by traditions of the world and have moved away from a clear sense of calling from God, and have become social units that propagate cultural Christianity that is indigenous to a culture and not subjected to the scripture or submissive to God.

The Counter cultural Message

The apostle Paul presents a counter cultural message that asserts that its source is God alone. Therefore, the call of God is not a call to serve Him through contact with God and that contact with the nature of God will develop my understanding of the call and the direction it will take. Further, contact with God will assist me in gaining an understanding of what the call of God means for my life and how the call is to be measured out into definable actions. The call of God is an expression of His nature; the service, which results in my life, is best suited to me and is an expression of my nature that God has created in me and works through me. A deviation that occurred from the natural life was stated by the apostle Paul that was initiated by God—“When it pleased God . . . to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him [the message purely and solemnly expressing Him alone] among the Gentiles”

The Call and the Developing Understanding

Two challenges speak very loudly as I read Paul’s statement about the way he received and understood the message. The word revelation is overused, misused, and misunderstood by many Christians to mean some private mystical and private word from God that others have not heard. That was the heretical teaching of 1st century Gnostics, the experience of paranoid schizophrenics, as well as, other cults and mental disorders. Therefore, this application leaves a a unreliable etiology to reliably understand what revelation points toward. It is abundantly clear that the Bible is the only revelation of God that we will ever need and is the full disclosure of the supreme revelation, Jesus Christ. When Paul says that he received his message by revelation, it was not until his eyes were opened by Jesus and he could see past the temple, the Torah, the Targums, the Mishnah, and the Rabbinical writings that were a part of his enculturation. Then, as he met Jesus, his eyes were opened past His acculturation. God took the things that he had been taught in the Old Testament writings and revealed Jesus that he had not seen before because he was blinded by everything that he was absorbed in within his culture believing he was doing right and everything within him that attributed meaning, as he understood it from a human cultural perspective. Then Jesus cleared it up for him in a process of three years. As I read this, I am really aware that the word of God is of no private interpretation and God has a process of revealing His message, but it comes when we become aware of Him and separate ourselves to let His word speak to us that we might understand the revelation of God. A firm conclusion reveals that Jesus is the revelation that made the message clear as Paul’s previous knowledge was clarified by an encounter with Christ, God’s supreme revelation

Separation to Service

Service does not result from belonging to a ingroup, it results from belonging to Jesus and being devoted to Him alone. The message determines the mission and service is the overflow, which pours from a life filled with love and devotion for the Savior who calls us to a radical mission. Service is my gift of obedience in the relationship and reflections my identification with the nature of God that has been revealed to me. Service becomes a natural part of my life when I have separated myself from cultural Christianity to radical Christianity that elevates the Gospel to its proper place of priority in our life and the church. Service occurs when God breaks my will and brings me into the proper relationship with Him in order that I can understand His call, and then serve Him from a pure motivation of absolute love. Service to God is the deliberate love-gift of a nature that has heard the call of God. Service is an expression of my nature, and God’s call is an expression of His nature that invites me to participate in His work. Therefore, when I accept His nature and hear His call with an understanding ear, it is at that moment that the words that God has spoken in His word are revealed clearly.

Your words oh Lord separate me from the normal way of the world to the higher ways of God that result in sacrificial service that does not come from men or through men, but are a result of an encounter with the nature of God on the road of life. Lord, Your Word comes so quietly and so pervasively to convict my heart —Lord protect me, insulate me, and isolate me from the trappings of cultural Christianity and religious conformity that has a death grip on the church. Break the bonds in Jesus name through the power of the gospel.

Expectation Hope and Boldness in the Gospel


Gospel-CenteredLife“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

Today I have the earnest reminder about how hard it is for me to stay on task when my life is encompassed with immeasurable odds that drain my emotional and cognitive resources below a breaking point. It is hard to be at my best and make good decisions about eternal matters when I feel the pressure of the vice tightening every day. A normal reaction is a reaction that usually is not the best response; therefore, my earnest hope and expectation is that is the things that we must go through in life that in all that I do that I will bring glory to God.

Keeping Expectations High

Paul’s aspiration was, “my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed” I am reminded today about how I will feel very much ashamed if I do not yield to Jesus the areas of my life that He requires me to yield to Him. It is as if Paul were saying, “My solitary purpose in life is to be fully committed give the very best for His glory.” Keeping expectations high and arriving at that level of resolute commitment is a matter of exercising the will, not of reasoning my way through a set of facts. Therefore, keeping expectations high requires an absolute and complete surrender of the will to the purpose of Christ. Staying on target means that today that I have to take myself out of the center of the equation and put Christ and His purpose at the center of every decision that I make.

Thinking about my needs and myself too much feeds the fleshly need to I have to be satisfied and happy at every moment and distracts my thoughts away from the primary goal of placing my thoughts, expectation, and hope on Christ in every decision. The danger within self-absorbed distraction is that I can pretend to care for others and neglect my care for Christ by ignoring the central purpose of Christ in the gospel. Keeping expectations high means that the message and purpose of the gospel must be at the center of everything that I do today. The purpose of Christ is to win the lost and disciple the believer for His glory alone.

Keeping expectations high means that grace cannot be selective; it must be available to all and must not simply result in compassion, but a challenge to life change. As I ponder God’s call seriously and what it will cost others —and if I do not obey the call of Jesus, I will lower the expectations of the gospel for myself and the people’s lives that I touch; then, we will not know what obedience to the gospel means.

Keeping expectations, high means that I must shut out every other thought and keep myself before God in the gospel of Christ alone. Therefore, I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.

An Unquenchable Thirst for His Holiness

Paul says, “Whether it means life or death —it makes no difference!” Paul states that he was determined that no obstacle would deter him from doing exactly what God wanted him to complete.

However, something that I gleaned from this passage reveals that before I choose to be obedient to the gospel and follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in my life. This happens when I tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler attempts to gain my attention. He brings me to the place where He asks me to surrender to a radical faith in Jesus Christ that put’s the Gospel first above all else and then I begin to debate with Him. So, God, providentially produces a crisis that puts me in a place where I must decide for or against a life centered in the gospel of Christ.

That moment becomes a greatest crossroads in life and if you have found yourself at a crisis of faith and belief, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably that Christ might be glorified.
Father, in the scope of your sovereign power and with the touch of your grace, breathe Your precious Holy Spirit upon every person who reads these words today.—how I long to be face to face with You today. Forgive my inability to pay attention when I should, awaken me oh Lord to what is possible through the power of the gospel of Christ.

The Driving force of the Christian Life: The Gospel of Christ


The GospelHave you left everything behind for the Gospel?

“One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21).

One of the particular attributes of a gospel-centered Christian is that they give of themselves sacrificially to others and find purpose in surrender by taking up our cross—mission in life by following Jesus.

This scripture is a reply to the statement of Peter by saying that the purpose surrender is “for My sake and the gospel’s” (10:29).

In contrast, surrender was not for the purpose of what the disciples themselves wanted from following Jesus. There is a sound warning to be cautious about surrender motivated by personal gain or prestige. Some people believe sincerely “I’m going to give myself to God because I want to be delivered from sin because I want to be made holy” to draw attention to themselves. The power of the gospel delivers us from sin and makes us holy because we are right with God.

The result of being right with God is a gospel-centered life, but surrender resulting from prideful thinking is certainly not the true nature of Christianity. Our motive for surrender should not be for recognition or personal gain. Unfortunately, people are self-centered that they only go to God only for something that benefits them and not for God Himself. It is like saying, “I want to be the center piece of you grace and power to demonstrate how I am so Christian above others.

I want to enhance myself, my position, and my purpose, However, I do want You to clean me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be on display in Your showcase so I can say, ‘This is what God has done for me.’” Gaining heaven and being delivered from sin and being made useful to God are things that should never even be a consideration in real surrender. Genuine total surrender is a personal preference for Jesus Christ Alone.

Where does the gospel of Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our earthly relationships? Many of us will abandon Him and offer an excuse—“Yes, Lord, I heard you call me, but my family needs me, and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further” (see Luke 9:57–62). Then ” Jesus says, “you ‘cannot be My disciple’” (see Luke 14:26–33).

Indeed real surrender to the gospel will move us far beyond natural surrender to Christ. If we abdicate our human desires, God will surrender Himself to embrace our lives with His Grace. Be cautious of easy believism and stopping anywhere short of total surrender to the gospel of God. Unfortunately, many Christians only a conceptual knowledge of what surrender to the Gospel Means and have never personally experienced transformation through the gospel that brings total surrender.

O Lord, cause my intellect to glow with Your Holy Spirit’s teaching

Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Responsibility


forgiveness and ReconciliationWhat should you do when personal relationships are fractured by behavior that repeatedly  violates trust and causes regret that you have given your heart and confidence to in a meaningful relationship?

One of those situations where people who you care about do you wrong, violate your personal boundaries, and continually act in ways that consume your life emotionally, physically, and financially.

Then, what should be a is a reasonable response from the injured party?  The answers are not always easy to resolve and some people just opt to run away putting as much physical or emotional distance between them and the offender as possible to avoid the consequences.  However sane that may seem at the moment, running away is not always a reasonable response when we have been hurt by others and trust has been compromised.

Quite often the best response is to try to manage relationships instead of running away.  However, when efforts are made to manage others behavior, those efforts to help others can be a slippery slope that can backfire if you do not think through the way you feel and how you will manage you own actions.  One thing to realize is that every time there is a hurt or violation, there are two people involved.  It is like the old saying, “it takes two to Tango”.

Obviously, the act of assessing blame and trying to get others to take responsibility for seemingly unjust or unethical behavior  can turn on the accuser because of the distorted emotions, perception, and self-interest other people may have about events.  In fact, most people always will judge their own actions in the best light. So, for most people, it is easier to blame others or make actions appear to be about someone else instead of accepting responsibility for personal actions or participation in a conflict situation that has produced hurtful actions, negative feelings, and a fractured outcome.

Looking at forgiveness from a purely religious or theological perspective sometimes leaves people with distorted ideas about responsibility for actions. When behavior occurs that violate another person’s rights or actions that defrauds another person willfully of benefit.

Many people think that if you are a Christian and you are wronged that you are obligated to get “holy amnesia”  instantly.  Then, if you are really a spiritual saint that you will act as if nothing ever happened.  Unfortunately, when some people look at the idea of forgiveness through a theological construction, often the emphasis is placed upon unconditional forgiveness without balancing actions with personal accountability for actions that wrong others.

In fact, unconditional forgiveness, ideally, removes responsibility for actions, absolves guilt, removes consequences, and automatically restores relationships. Unfortunately, in the real world of human experience that is seldom the reality in experience.  Something important to think about is that within the the subject of forgiveness an important issue to consider is that human beings are cognitive and emotional beings.  They are humans that are subject to human limitations and they are not impeccable altruistic beings as God.

Sadly, many people who have been deeply hurt by others are further damaged by guilt and manipulation of religious idealists who do not comprehend that there is more to forgiveness than holy amnesia.  In view of humanity,  when it comes to forgiveness many people falsely impose the content f redemption and forgiveness provided through Christ God upon human relationships as if it is normal or expected for people to behave just as God has while living with the limitations of a finite human being.

Unfortunately, for many people feeling the hurt and pain of broken relationships the pain doesn’t get any relief when religious notions are used to guilt and bruise the offended further. Think about this: from a Christian perspective, if the central emphasis of forgiveness is placed upon benefit for the sinner, relief for the offender, instead of responsibility for the effects of behavior that have damaged parties in a relationship, then who pays for the offense in the relationship?

The answer is clear –a  distorted understanding about forgiveness and responsibility re-victimizes the offended by placing the Lion’s share of consequences upon the person wronged. Obviously, forgiveness is distorted when cause and effect are not kept in balance.  There is no doubt that there can be little growth in relationships that is possible without a healthy process that addresses the consequences for the act of offense.

If a simplistic view of forgiveness is used,  there is a need for immediate relief from any sense of guilt from actions.  This view requires vindication, i.e., relief from emotional, social, and, personal responsibility for wrongdoing immediately.  In a theological understanding of God’s provision of redemption, penalty is  removed and sinners escape eternal separation from God, as well as, the benefit of relationship in the present because Jesus bore the sin and consequences.  However, the theological definition is not a very practical way to apply to how forgiveness occurs between people who are the product of a fallen nature and experience systemic relational problems.

Obviously, iIndividuals with a human limitations often lack a God-like ability to negotiate healthy balance between forgiveness and responsibility.  Therefore, when many people think of forgiveness they are equating it with to the doctrine of absolution from Roman Catholic Theology, where the priest mystically removed the penalty for wrong acts. As a result, movement away from a simplistic view of forgiveness by people who live by shoulds and should nots will be enhanced when they realize that forgiveness is both an act of the will and a process toward reconciliation that is not just a  instant “holy amnesia”.

One way to think about this subject is that there remains a fundamental difference between forgiveness and removal of cumulative consequences. In view of that, it is true that Jesus died on the Cross-as a substitution for the sins of those who place faith in Him.  However, does that mean that all of the consequence for every sin and sins are removed at the Cross in every area of life?  Some people believe the answer is yes, but the answer is an emphatic no.

To illustrate this point, the thief on the cross still died for his crimes, while at the same time he was forgiven of his sins. Indeed, there is a principle that needs to be understood about consequences in the human life that remain, even when there is full forgiveness.  Something to consider is that many people see forgiveness as a relief from responsibility for irresponsible behavior. Obviously, escapist thinking under girds many beliefs people have about forgiveness from bad behavior.

One place this is evident is in the majority of prayers prayed by people that focus upon God relieving or delivering them from consequences in life instead of focusing upon personal change in the person.  It seems rational to believe that the focus should be upon God providing ability to bear up under consequences while remaining faithful through circumstances.  Somehow people have come to believe that when they are forgiven of wrongdoing they will no longer have to live under the conditions that bring consequences from choices made or to face responsibility for consequences.

Unfortunately, the fact remains that unethical and unjust behavior influence levels of trust, communication, and relationship dynamics that, in turn, affect everything in life.

There is no doubt that common sense tells us that when something horrendous occurs to a person emotionally, psychologically, or personally devastates life, it will not be relieved with a simple “I’m sorry”. In fact, something is seriously out of balance with thinking about forgiveness that equates words of contrition or acting like something did not happen with relief from consequences and responsibility. Obviously, it is like believing the words, “I am sorry” will remap the cells of brain, change thought patterns, modify behaviors in way that minimizes, erases responsibility and eradicates consequences.

Consider the error of this point of view that is so prevalent among  the religious through an attitude that places greater emphasis upon acceptance of wrongdoers than it does upon the spiritual, social, and eternal consequences of evil acts.  Obviously, all actions have consequences and no matter how much individuals may want to ignore them, pretend they don’t exist, or mystically wish them away, there is always an ongoing impact on life. Consequently, what can be learned from church history is the point of view that minimizes responsibility from wrongdoing is nothing new, it is called, Antinomianism.

This perspective presented a problem recorded in the book of Roman where Paul asked a question directed at responsibility for actions, “What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound”.  Consequently, rational people know that when there are evil acts, there is not a freedom from responsibility, but a challenge to accept responsibility mandating a change in behavior in a responsible manner.

Apparently, some people in that time believed that the more they sinned, the more grace was magnified as a principle of forgiveness and acceptance —more grace is evident and available.  Unfortunately, this is how many people view responsibility for their wrongdoing: the more they are forgiven, the less sensitivity that is felt about the grave nature of injustice to others.  For example, among incarcerated inmates this is particularly evident in the way felons passionately rationalize crimes against others when they find Jesus. The point that is relative is that there is a felt need for relief through redemption and absolution from penalty in forgiveness.

However,  something that is characteristic among anti-social types is a visible absence of remorse, acts of willing restitution, or change of attitude about crimes committed against victims.  Those who are most passionate about forgiveness and who advocate acceptance, restoration, and vindication are those who have the greatest guilt and sin and want relief from consequences.

What needs to be understood is that Jesus died on the Cross for Sin to give a remedy for sins.  Sin is a legal term expressed in John 3:17 as condemned and in Romans 8:1, as condemnation, which has reference to  eternal punishment and separation from God as a legal consequence of sin.  The forgiveness that Jesus offers in His work on the Cross is declared to provide a way to experience a changed life that is a process in contrast to an escape from the consequences of sinful actions.  In the theological concept, forgiveness is about changing behavior and redeeming the consequences through building a life of trust and faith through fidelity. On the other hand, naive acceptance without accountability reinforces the potential for evil to continue thrive and prosper.

One of the problems with beliefs about forgiveness is that it is philosophically bound to utilitarian reasoning about forgiveness grounded  in hedonism. Hedonism is the the pleasure principle, which advocates that the greatest good outcome in life is achieved on the least path of resistance resulting in relief or pleasure.  In other words, the way that brings the greatest pleasure in life is the easiest way. Utilitarian’s advocate the principle of greatest good and is the best outcome for everyone concerned.

However, the question remains unanswered about how is the greatest good or best is determined?  Usually the good is in human terms arrives socially, from group input, or from sociocultural norms and mores’, not from a universal or rational truth.  Unfortunately, Utilitarian forgiveness is not very effective at helping people change behaviors or protecting people from harm, and restoring trust.

In this case, forgiveness magnifies the principle of toleration and means that there is no universal understanding of consequences or for morally wrong behaviors.  Therefore, illegal activities and damaging behaviors deconstructs  normal boundaries for behavioral expectations and normal expectations about responsibility.

Therefore, the impact upon the human experience is that when people become so desensitized to consequences of evil that the effect is no longer felt, the result manifests an inadequate view of forgiveness and responsibility.  Therefore, when people hold a fundamental belief that there is forgiveness for sin and with no consequences, spiritual change or personal growth does not occur in relation to forgiveness.  The opposite occurs: behavior adapts to wrongdoing creating no accountability and the system dynamic turns the abnormal into the normal.  Consequently, forgiveness should demonstrate change in the forgiven not reinforce a potential to act in evil ways without accountability. Consequently, forgiveness should mean that, offenders are changing how they feel and how they believe, so life can move forward in a healthy productive way.

A cultural challenge to forgiveness in the 21st century is within the proliferation of Utilitarian thought.  At its core there is never really any possibility of right or wrong so there can be no offense.  Obviously, this belief is connected to a relativistic view of culture that removes all moral implications of sin or wrongdoing and removes absolutes.  As a result, a conclusion might be made that since nothing is really ever wrong, forgiveness is just a psychological transaction where feelings are purged creating emotional catharsis and acceptance.  However novel that may seem to modern people, this thinking does little for the person who has been violated and who has memories encoded with trauma after an experience creating Post-Traumatic Stress.

Forgiveness is an internal process that sets the forgiving person free from bitterness and internalizing of pain in self-destructive ways. However, contrary to popular thought, forgiveness does not mean the offender is free from the consequences of their actions.  When the news reported that Usama bin Laden was killed, there was a sober reminder that evil actions have consequences that will stalk a person and exact a penalty sooner or later through consequence in life and after death.  Obviously, we live in a time when universal truth has been rejected and been replaced with a view that makes all actions relative to the person. Consequently, the reality of 21st century sophistry is no moral right and wrong, but only what is relative to a person or a group.

Another way to consider responsibility for actions is presented in Psalm 37 that says, ”Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb”.  Indeed, the certainty of the future is that  every person will fall into the hands of a just God, who has reminded us that there are consequence for evil acts and violence.  With that in mind, the message that resounds for victims is that the pain felt through unjust acts in this life is only a token of the eternal reward for injustice from evil acts in this life.  Something to think about is that God will have the last word on every act and consequence of evil behavior.

Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship


Finding your voice in worship. An interesting view about the state of worship in the 21st century.

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Worthily Magnify

1Last week I spent a couple of days attending the National Worship Leader Conference, hosted by Worship Leader Magazine, featuring many well-known speakers and worship leaders. The conference was held about 15 minutes down the road from me, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m glad I went.

I met some new people, heard some thought-provoking teaching, enjoyed some good meals and conversations with worship leader friends, and experienced in-person some of the modern worship trends that are becoming the norm in evangelicalism. It was eye-opening in many ways.

Over the last few days I’ve been processing some of what I saw and heard.

Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote…

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The Cross and New LIfe in Christ


“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say “seeing”? there are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves” (C.S, Lewis).

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Accepting ChristThe season of Easter is a time that many people look forward to for various reasons. It is a time that worshipers look forward to in the Christian church. The emphasis of Easter is upon the resurrection of Christ and meaning contributed. Through hope that is offered in the message—Good news contained within the resurrection. As Christians look back to the time of the Christ, the attention focuses upon what happened on the morning that Christ came victoriously out of the tomb where He had been buried. The empty tomb is a fact of history that provides hope and anticipation of the risen Christ who has power over death who gives hope in the life to come.

However, the resurrection alone is not sufficient to provide what is needed to change a person’s life and provide the agency of change for those who struggle under the power of sin. A symbol that preceded the resurrection that is the integral truth for all of Christendom is the Christ on the cross. In the season of Easter with the reminders of the day that Christ came forth from the grave, what is the significance of the Cross?
For Christians throughout history, the cross is the unifying symbol that unites all who believe in the atonement of Christ for the sins of the world. The symbol of the Christian church is not a burning bush; it is not a table of stone; it is not a seven-branch lamp stand; it is not a halo around a submissive head; it is not a crown of splendid triumph. It is a cross that unifies Christianity and is the symbol that paints the picture of God’s grace made available to man.

The Cross-of Christ is God’s Greatest Display of His Love for Humanity as Well as His Holiness.

All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to the inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to human level and raise ourselves to his, then we cannot see our need for redemption, let alone a need for a vicarious atonement to and a substitute to secure salvation. On the other hand, when we have looked at human existence contrasted against the sinless glory of a holy God and have been so convicted of our Sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely “hell deserving sinners,” Then and only then does the necessity of the Cross appear so obvious.

The Cross is God’s eternal sign to which the sinner can look for salvation and to which the saint can look for confidence and strength.

Max Lucado, in his book, “No Wonder They Call Him The Savior,” writes of God’s dramatic display of love on the cross. Nearing the climax of the story, God, motivated by love and directed by Divinity, surprised everyone. He became a man. In an untouchable mystery, he disguised himself as a carpenter and lived in a dusty Judean village. Determined to prove his love for his creation, he walked incognito through his own world. His callused hands touched wounds and his compassionate tongue touched hearts. He became one of us…

Nevertheless, as beautiful as this act of incarnation was, it was not the zenith. Like a master painter god reserved his masterpiece until the end. All the earlier acts of love had been leading to this one. The angels hushed and the heavens paused to witness the finale. God unveils the canvas and the ultimate act of creative compassion is revealed; God on the cross.

The creator being sacrificed for the creation.

Before Mary’s pregnancy reached full term, the destiny of her baby was determined. The obituary of Isaiah 53 sits perched like a vulture over the crib of the Christ child. Sorrow, grief, and pain all synchronized their watches for the time when their day would come, when they would have their chance to bully, beat, and bruise him.

“Born to die” was an epigram that followed the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day the shadow of the cross stretched long across his path. A lamb led to the slaughter. The tender child would not grow up a doctor…or a lawyer…or a rabbi: He would not marry; he would not carry on the family name; He would not even be there to care for his aging mother.

He would be a Passover lamb slaughtered as a sacrifice for our sin. He would be a baby born to die. Jesus said, “The son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day” (Matt17:22-23).

The apostle Paul stated in 1 Cor. 15; 3, “… Christ died for our sins …”

Jesus died a substitutionary atoning death for each of us. Christ died in my place and yours on the cross. Sin brought about the need for man’s salvation.

In the garden of Eden Adam and eve disobeyed God and plunged man into sin. Man’s rebellion was so very wrong that God felt he deserved to die. Through disobedience, man incurred a debt he could not repay. There was absolutely no way he could work off his debt of sin or free himself from its consequences. The Bible records where Adam and eve sought to hid or cover their sin by making themselves clothing from fig leaves. God would not accept their attempt to pay for their sin. Instead, He killed an animal and gave the skin of the innocent animal to Adam and eve to cover them. In this merciful act, God begins to illustrate the necessity of the death of an innocent substitute on behalf of sinful man. Because of one man’s sin, Adam, the entire human race is condemned and in need of a Savior.

Christ suffered the anguish and agony of the Cross so that we might be saved. God’s son was treated like a criminal, judged by humanity, found guilty, sentenced, and executed. What a horror! Yet, that was the path the Father chose for Christ and he obeyed. Now through his suffering on the cross, god can trade our sin for his righteousness. The cross is a reminder of the suffering of the Savior! : His suffering was finished.

What Does It Take To Satisfy God?

A sleepless night of indignity; false witnesses slandering…beatings…thorns placed on the king of king’s head … a robe and scepter of mock royalty… More scourging … more mocking. By 9 am, his hands and feet were nailed to a rough-cut Cross that was lifted up and dropped with a dull thud into Golgotha’s Brow. From noon to three, darkness fell over the earth. Truly, this was the darkest hours in human history. John, his disciple, was an eyewitness to the crucifixion records the final minutes of this tragic scene:  After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, he said, “it is finished!” And he bowed his head, and gave up his spirit (John 19:28-30). Jesus takes a drink, as if to clear his parched throat so he can declare for all to hear the words, “it is finished”.

What was finished?

These words do not refer only to the completion of his sufferings. However, the completion of the task he was born to do–to save His people from their sins. It is a cry of victory. With the words, “it is finished”, the rough-cut timber of the cross formed a bridge over sin’s troubled waters and spanned hells chasm, uniting earth and heaven. Jesus could now exchange his thorns for a crown, his nakedness for a robe, his disgrace for glory, his wounds for worship.

Christ suffered or died once for sin

Heb. 10:12 & 14 “… but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…” For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. When he had finished, the writer of Hebrews said, he sat down at the right hand of God, signifying that the sacrifice had been accepted and the work of redemption was complete. In a church service, when the choir has sung the special music, it sits down. That signifies they are finished. In like manner, when Jesus had given his life on the cross he “sat down” at the right hand of the father on high, signifying His work of redemption was finished. Moreover, his work not only satisfies the Father, but it satisfies the soul that will trust him as Savior!

That he might bring us to God...

Sin separates us from God but Christ reconciles us to God man has two problems concerning his standing before God. The penalty for his sin and the absence of perfect righteousness. The cross deals with the penalty of sin. Rom. 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The Cross-settles the matter of not having perfect righteousness for human beings.
Rom. 5:1 “ Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Justification means that God declares the believing sinner righteous in Christ on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross. At the moment of salvation, God imputes my sin to Christ and then imputes his righteousness to me. Sheep ranchers tell the claim that when a female sheep gives birth to a lamb that the lamb often dies. Often while a lamb is being born, the mother dies. The ranchers take the orphan lamb to the sheep that lost her lamb during birth, so the orphan can be nursed and feed. But the mother will often smell the orphan lamb and realize it’s not her baby, and she will kick it away and not let it feed. However, the sheep ranchers have discovered that they can take the blood of the stillborn lamb and smear it as a covering over the fleece of the orphan lamb. Then when they bring the lamb to the mother who lost her baby, she will smell the blood, sense that it is her lamb, and allow it to nurse and feed. In the very same way, God who is holy will not look upon our sin. However, when the blood of Jesus Christ covers us and cleanses us, then holy God looks down upon us and does not see our sin. Instead, he sees the blood of Jesus Christ that covers us. Therefore, he accepts us as his own. Therefore, it is the blood of Jesus that covers us, cleanses us, and reconciles us to God.
What must I do to experience this forgiveness and be accepted by God?

Martin Luther, a monk of the 15th century, sought to know God. But the more he knew about God, the more inadequate he felt. He tried fasting, giving himself to prayer, and spending hours in confession. After years of frustration depression, and struggling with the overwhelming sense of guilt and unworthiness, he came to Romans 1:17, “ .. The just shall live by faith.”

How do you experience forgiveness and receive the righteousness of Christ?

Jesus Christ came into the world to live and to die. In His life, his obedience to the law was perfect. In his death, He suffered for our disobedience. On earth, he lived the only life of sinless obedience to the law, which has ever lived. On the Cross he died for our law-breaking, since the penalty for disobedience to the law is death. All that is required of us to be justified, therefore, is to acknowledge our sin and helplessness, to repent of our years of self-assertion and self-righteousness, and put our whole trust and confidence in Jesus Christ to save us. Faith in Jesus Christ, then, is not intellectual conviction only, but personal commitment. It is an act of committal, not just assenting to the fact that Jesus lived and died, but running to him for refuge and calling on him for mercy.

Jesus Christ plus nothing equals salvation. Jesus Christ plus anything equals damnation. After all, if God himself could not get the job done on the cross, what other force in the universe could possibly hope to make a difference? Have you trusted Christ as your Savior, if not will you receive His gift of redemption by faith and place your trust in Him today?

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