Archive for April, 2013

The New Man

In my sermon this week, I spoke on the topic of spiritual rebirth, and pointed out that when we are born again spiritually, we become a new creation. As I studied this past week, the following illustration came to mind.

A short time back, I purchased a tablet computer for my dear wife. She’s not totally into technology, but is learning. Everything has to work about right, or she’s done. Wouldn’t you know the new tablet was defective right out of the box? The company offered to repair the old one, or send me a refurbished one as a replacement. Well, I didn’t want the old one repaired, and I didn’t want a refurbished one. What was needed was a completely new device.

When we come to the teaching in the Bible that says as believers, we are new creations, I really don’t think this means God merely restores us to our original condition, nor are we just updated. It is more like a complete rebuild. In our world of computers, it would be removing everything, including the hard drive, and installing a new operating system, using only the original case.

People are born with a sin nature. Being restored to original condition would mean nothing had changed. Even an update would only give us a newer version of the old man. We are talking about a complete reprogramming, including a new way of processing information, a new way of life, and a new hope for the future.

God says when we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are a new creation: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22).

In summary, becoming a new creation means a transformed life. It is not possible for a genuine follower of Jesus Christ to continue in a life of sin, as if nothing happened.

By the way, we did get a new replacement for the old tablet, and it works just as its maker intended.
In His Love,
Pastor Jerry

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Are You Ready?

Tragedy struck our nation again last week. From the atrocity of the bombing in Boston, to the tragic explosion in Texas, many people have questions; from why do these things happen, to does God care? And some may even be questioning God’s existence.

If anything, the events of the past week remind us of the need to be ready to meet the Lord. Rather than try to fix blame or to ask why, let us be reminded that life is fleeting and that man knows not his time. Instead of asking why the Lord would allow these things, perhaps our first thought should be, “If I was taken suddenly from this life, where would I spend eternity?

In Luke’s gospel, we find some people questioning Jesus about some folks from Galilee who had been killed by the Roman ruler Pilate. Here is the conversation: “Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5).

In other words, he says our concern should not be whether there was some underlying reason for the tragedy, but to consider whether the questioners were ready, should their lives suddenly end.

I believe Jesus’ message is clear. The priority established is not to determine guilt or innocence, but to first make sure of our eternal destination. When death comes, whether through tragedy or natural causes, are we ready to face our Creator at the judgment day? That is the question.

Again, we are reminded, “Now is the day of salvation!, Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” There may be no tomorrow..

Just Thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Saved!

When I began this weekly devotional, I would write it in Word, then paste it into my e-mail client. These days I just compose it in Gmail. In an earlier version, if I left without saving my work, the work would be lost, and I would have to try to remember what I had written and do it over. I constantly worried about whether it was saved. I now have the updated version, and it is continually saving the copy as I’m writing. If leave the program to do something else, when I return it is still there. It is comforting to know my document is saved without any extra effort from me..

I could compare this to our salvation as believers in the Lord Jesus. When we come to Him, confessing our sin, and place our faith in Him, He says “Saved”. When we wander off the path, he says “Saved”. When we return to him, still he says, “Saved.” Nothing further is required of us. In other words, the person who has genuinely taken Jesus Christ as his Savior cannot lose his or her salvation.

I am convinced of this because of what I read in the teaching of the New Testament. Jesus, speaking of those who believe in Him, says this: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

Also, the apostle John, in his first letter, wrote this: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
 
I believe also, that the true Christian will not use this knowledge as a license to sin. Our belief in eternal security allows us to persevere as we run the race, that is, to live the Christian life in every situation, whether it be easy or hard. As the song says, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.”
Saved!
Pastor Jerry
 

Faith Alone

Now and then, I will hear a person say something like this: “I believe in God. I try to be a good person, and live a moral life. I go to church, and I would hope God will let me in.”

I want to say, “You say you believe in God. You try to be a good person, you live a moral life, and you hope it’s enough to get you into heaven? Do you know that this is wasted effort? God says you cannot earn your way to heaven by being good.

Hear his word in Isaiah 64:6… “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts (good works) are like filthy rags.” We cannot claim righteousness by our good works. We are made righteous only by placing our faith in Jesus Christ and his righteousness.

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”: (Romans 3:23); “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”: (Romans 6:23); “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

I feel as if I must shout it out. PLEASE UNDERSTAND! YOU CANNOT BE SAVED BY BEING GOOD, or by joining a church. Not by giving a certain amount of money, not by your abilities, or even by your good looks! God, speaking through the apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, says this: “You are saved by faith not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus’ own words are, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In Acts 4:12, Peter, speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Someone once said, “Do what you like, you will never save yourself.” It is a mystery to me why we have to make it so hard. Jesus Christ died once for all. There is no other way.

In His Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Redefining Sin?

It is hard sometimes to decide on a topic for the newsletter, but with so much of what I would describe as total ignorance of Biblical truth, there is plenty of material. Last week, I received via email a link to an article in the Tuscaloosa Alabama News. In the article, the author interviewed several people as to whether they viewed homosexuality as a sin. One person answered this way: “I think the Bible is pretty clear that traditionally homosexuality has been a sin, but I think there are other things in the Bible that have traditionally been declared a sin that God’s people have determined are no longer sinful.”

 
What I would like to know, is when did “God’s people” acquire the right to overrule God in defining what is sin and what is not? And, what does God think about that?

Let’s look in His book and see how he would answer that question: “The word of the Lord is right and true” (Psalm 33:4), “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31).

Today is April Fool’s Day. The Bible calls those who reject God fools. Intelligent, and presumed wise men, have rejected the word of God as irrelevant to our time. Jeremiah 8:9 says, “The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and  trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?”
 
Jesus died for all our sins. If we confess our sins, he will forgive. Everything the Bible calls sin can be forgiven, except the sin of rejecting his offer of salvation. There are consequences to rejecting the word of God, and they are eternal. Please don’t be so arrogant as to proclaim that we humans can decide what is sin and what is not.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry