If salvation is the free gift of God through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus, then why is the plan of salvation rejected by so many?
To answer that question, let us look at the stages of salvation. "...Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ..." Romans 3:23 RSV. We see that the first stage of salvation is condemnation. This is the first stumbling block; that we must confront our own short comings. Many people never get past this first step, and just as a woman who finds that she is pregnant wrestles with the knowledge of what is to come, many people choose to abort at this point.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 RSV Confronting our own mortality is the second stage of salvation. At no other time in history has the American man and woman been less accepting of this one fact - We are going to die! There are whole industries centered on the denial of death and the maintenance of our bodies, and although the morning mirror continues to reflect the truth of our mortality, our minds are still closed to that truth as if denial will make it go away.
It is a reflection of our arrogance to believe that we are special and we will not die.
It is in these first two stages that many abort. These two stages are as uncomfortable and painful as pregnancy and labor, but unlike giving birth to a baby, you can change your mind at any point and lose what is to come.
"If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17 RSV This is the birth of the child; the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus.
If we can endure the pain of condemnation and our own mortality, we can give birth to our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
A cold winter's night and the children are finally asleep. Scurrying, their parents uncover the Christmas tree from its hiding place and begin the decorating. When the tree is festooned with lights and glass balls, the gifts are wrapped with colored paper and pretty bows. These are placed under the tree in anticipation of morning delight on the children's faces.
Imagine, if you will, the excitement of the parents as each carefully chosen gift was wrapped and a name attached to each package. Will Billy like the fire truck? I can just see Sally playing house with her new doll.
Before we were created, God created the world. He decorated the sky with the joyous lights of the sun, moon and stars. The oceans were given a sound that would caress away our anxiety, and the land was festooned with greenery beyond compare.
Hidden under creation were wonderful gifts all waiting to be opened and enjoyed. Some gifts were practical - for instance fire and the wheel; some were fanciful - music and paint. But, I am sure that God created each gift greatly anticipating the moment when that designated recipient would opened the package.
Some received many gifts (Leonardo, Einstein and Edison) and they shared their gifts with the rest of the world. Others received only one gift. Some gifts were lost - the ancient battery found in Iraq - so God carefully rewrapped the gift and gave it to another, while others survived from the beginning.
Unfortunately, some gifts are not used as intended, and just as Billy's parents would be horrified to see him throw his new fire truck at his sister in anger, God is, at times, horrified at the way we use some of his gifts.
There are still gifts waiting to be opened. Each one is beautifully wrapped with a future name on the name tag. But, the best gift is what we learn about our Creator every time we unwrap a new Present.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
It is with a heavy heart; I hear that the world believes that Christians worship three gods instead of one God. Let me say emphatically - it is not so.
From the Word - "'You are my witness,' says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." Isaiah 43:10 This is what we believe; God existed before and will exist after without ending and that there is no other God.
So, how does the trinity fit into the One God belief? "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1 RSV So as my word goes out on these pages, but still remains a part of me, so too, God's Word went out from him, yet is still a part of him. So what is the Word?
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" John 1:14 RSV Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. Remember, when Jesus walked the earth, many could not read or write, nor was there mass broadcasts. So, God sent his Word out in the body of a man, and just as my words go forth from my hands to this page for you to read, God's Word went forth from his mouth for all to hear through Jesus.
Though my words have left my fingers and are now a part of this page, they still belong to me. Even our copyright laws recognize this fact. However, if you read my words - taking them into yourself - and believe them, they also become a part of you.
So too, as God's Word (Jesus) went forth into the world The Word was still a part of God. When the people heard and believed, that Word then became a part of them.
"With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: 'You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." Matthew 13:15-16 RSV
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Your people are overcome by their enemies and the enemies' name is FEAR. Fear is the opposite of FAITH, therefore, fear is a sin. Fear mutates through pain, shame, depression and withdrawal from others; followed by anger, hatred and destruction. We have concentrated on the fear instead of our faith, and by doing so, we have participated in the fear and its spread. Please forgive us; restore us to faith in you.
Though we have lost many battles, we can still win the war. This is the Word of Faith. You asked that we pray for our enemies, but how can we pray for those who would harm us and our families? How can we feel any compassion for those who seek our destruction?
If our enemies are filled with hatred and destruction then working back towards the cause, they must have felt anger, withdrawal, depression, shame and pain.
An arrogant man is a fearful man. A confident man is a man of peace.
We are not fighting men, but who is inside of them. So, I pray, Father, for our enemies. I pray against the hatred, destruction, anger, depression, shame, pain, and mostly I pray against the fear. I pray for their righteousness through the plan of salvation laid out by our Lord, Jesus. I pray for their confidence and peace. I pray for their joy.
All mankind was made in your image, a triune being, with a body, soul and spirit. We were born of the earth and destined to return to the earth; a result of the decisions made by Adam and Eve in Eden. But, with the death and resurrection of Jesus, we can choose for ourselves where to spend eternity. For by choosing our salvation through his death and resurrection; we have chosen eternal life in Paradise.
So Father, I pray for our enemies. I pray for their salvation. Deliver them from the clutches of evil, destruction and fear. Return their bodies, souls and spirits to your kingdom. I pray in the name of our redeemer, Jesus. Amen.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 RSV
"Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 13:40-43 RSV