Tag Archives: salvation

Returning The Slave (Reflection for 9/22)

“If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account”

-Philemon 1:18

ROTD: Christ has redeemed us to return us

Why?

 First of all, I apologize for the short break. Life caught up with me this weekend.

 The book of Philemon is such an interesting story. One chapter, it tells of how Paul came across the slave of Philemon, Onesimus. He discipled him and then returned him to his master, asking (firmly, in love) that he receive him not in anger as a slave, but as a brother.
I do not wish to stretch beyond reason here, but in this little story I see a picture of Christ. At the end of the day, we all belong to God. He made us. We are his-and even more so, when we are in Christ we are His. Paul calls himself a “Slave to righteousness” as he goes about the work of God. But-even as we walk with God, and under His authority, we fall. We try to run, we backslide, we look for escape, we lose our way. We become an Onesimus, unfortunately, because we are still human. Imperfect. Now, this is not to excuse sinful behavior, but simply to recognize that these things do happen.

Praise be to God that we have Christ. What He did for us is what Paul asks of Philemon-that any charge God might have against us, be put to His account. He took on all of our debt, all of the charges God could bring against us, and paid for them with His own perfect blood. We also know that He intercedes on our behalf to the Father, asking Him to look on us not as the sinners that we are, but as saints, covered in His own blood. And God listens.

Oh, it’s good to be reminded of the simple truths. This is at the core of our belief, and yet so often we lose sight of who we are, and who He is. We are sinful, creatures trying to surrender ourselves to Christ, to let Him disciple us, walk along with us, and at the end of the age present us before the Father to hear Him say “Well done, my good and faithful servant”

Prayer:

Lord, we come before you grateful for all you have done for us. We know that we mess up, run away, and try and hide from your authority and grace. We thank you that you sent Jesus Christ to take on our debt, so that we may be able to continue to strive forward and have a relationship with you. You are merciful, and just, and righteous, and you can deal with us in any way you please-and yet, you chose to deal with us in mercy and grace. Let us not take that for granted, and let us ALWAYS remember what it is that you’ve done for us.
In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Who Steps In? (Devo, February 14)

 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
-John 15:13

     I’d like to apologize for my brief hiatus. This past week I was equal parts busy and distracted-it was a long week. But I back, dear readers, and I shall stay this time.

On this odd day on which we celebrate love, it seems only appropriate to look at a man who showed the ultimate love. Scripture says that there is no greater love than for one to lay down his life for his friends. There are two things on this earth that I can think of that speak to this kind of relationship, and they both point back to Christ: the military, and marriage.

I will start with the latter. We have clearly all heard the oft-quoted line from Ephesians for wives to submit to their husbands, but what about the rest of it? It says

 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). 

Do you know what that means? Christ loved the church unto the point of death-He gave Himself up for the church. Husbands are supposed to have that same mentality-meaning that there isn’t anything (within being a good, Christian man) that a man should not be willing to do for his wife, even to the point of dying for her. In marriage, the sacrifice that a husband makes for his wife-leaving his father and mother to become the head of the household, to provide and to give a good life…that requires much from him. Even more so, Christ gave His all for His bride. He made sure that she would have every opportunity to be presented white and clean, blameless, even if it meant giving up His own life so that she could have hers. We are that bride, and I know that I am personally so thankful to have a groom as faithful as Jesus is. I couldn’t do any of this on my own.

Now to the former. In the military, you are brothers. You are closer than family. The guys in your platoon, in your squad, your group…you all depend on one another for your very survival. And there is nothing you won’t do for them, and they for you. It’s one of the only institutions in the world I can think of where people willingly die for each other, and even for those back home they don’t even know.Your life, while valued, is expendable if it means others will survive. It’s the attitude built up in the military and I see Christ completely in it.Christ is more than just a brother in arms. He is the commander that leads His troops, that would-and did-jump in front of us to take the bullet, the one to jump on the grenade, the one to die so that we don’t have to.  His life, while clearly valuable, means so much more in His death than it ever could have in life. Because of His willingness to die for us, we have the opportunity to continue to live full, abundant lives. Christ is the ultimate soldier.

So i ask you. When things fall down around you, who steps in? Friends? Family? Sure, at times. But when your life feels like it’s crumbling, remember: There is One who is constantly stepping in for you, a man who already has faced death and despair so that in your darkest moments, you don’t have to. He took our punishment-cling hard to His salvation.

http://bible.com/1/jhn.15.13.kjv

Predestination Is True, But Who?

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”

It is a point of contention in the church-and in nonbelievers alike-that God has possibly already predestined-chosen before hand-the people who will be “saved” and go to heaven. There are denominations built around this fact, and countless souls lost at the belief that it’s not really their decision anyway.
Now, I am no theologian. All I am is a young man who seeks the face of the Lord. But I believe God has given me a revelation about this.

First of all, let’s consider the nature of God Himself. If God is an all-loving God, as we like to claim Him to be (not saying He isn’t, just going by the definition that most people would prefer to believe) then why would He choose to send people to hell? By logical standards it doesn’t make sense. In Scriptures, it directly points to the fact that that God wishes all would come to repentance and know Him. For example:

“11 As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior,4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

“8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)

Our God is such a loving God that He gave us free will to make our own choices. But it’s this same love that yearns for every heart to know Him. Just as a father wishes to be loved by all his children, but knows it may not happen; so our Father wants us all to love Him, but knows that what He desires is our true, freewill love towards Him. The hard part is reconciling that just because God KNOWS what’s going to happen, doesn’t mean He ordained it to be. Our world is not as God wants it to be. Someday, it will be. However, with our free will, God knows that some will be saved and some not. He presents opportunities, chances to hear the Gospel,life changing events. And He is there when other people make bad decisions, to give people hope and life renewed through Christ.We choose our paths. Overall, it is His desire that we all have life.

So. Our God is a God who wants us all to be with Him. Who, then, is He talking about in these verses? Who are those that are chosen by God to be “holy and faultless”, whom he “chose in advance”?

My answer is this: The church. And not any specific denomination, not any religious order, but the Church of our living God-the body of Christ. It says that in the latter days, the real body of Christ-the bride of Christ-will rise up and begin to separate herself from the churches of this world. Looking at this passage, a line of thought hit me.
The words used here-we, us, our-they all denote a grouping of sorts. These words (biblically and otherwise) always refer to groupings of people. In the New Testament, more specifically, those who believe. In all of the Epistles, these are letters written to Churches. Paul uses “we” and “us” to refer to those who believe in the risen Lord.
A.k.a., the church.
Verse 23 of this same chapter says that “the church is His body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with Himself”. We (those who know Christ) are a part of that body-that  church. The church is referred to as a single entity in the Bible, and as the bride of Christ. We, as believers, are a part of that body. Christ gives an illustration that, just as the head and the arm and the finger and the belly button are all needed and are a part of the human body, so all believers are a part of Christ’s body. (Romans 12:3-5, 1 Cor. 12: 12-26). Therefore a use of “we” in reference to the body of Christ refers to all who are a part of the true church of Christ. Now, some might use this to say that those who believe were chosen-but again, that goes against the very nature of God.

I believe that God has predestined the church to this unity and glory, which lines up scripturally with the general principles of Christianity-those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and are saved will be with Him. Those same people are inherently then a part of the body of Christ, the church. What I do NOT believe is that individual people are to be saved. God would never do something to contradict Himself. He has called the church to be His bride (Rev. 19:7-9, Eph. 5: 25-27) and has set her apart. Now, God knows what people are going to become a part of His body, but He did not call specific people to join Him. The call to come to Jesus has been placed in all of our lives. We have the choice to ignore it or not. So when God is referring to those predestined for salvation, it is those who are a part of His church, His body-because anyone belonging to Christ is saved. There is no limit placed on this; there is no specific number or list of names. It’s simply those who are a part of Christ’s bride who will be with Him.

If anyone has any additional thoughts, please let me know. These were just my musings, as inspired by the living Word of God. God bless!