Month: November 2012

“Three Basic Provisions of Justification” by C. Poblete

Christians are justified before God, in Christ. In Romans 5, we find three basic provisions of this justification.

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

That word atonement is the same word translated reconciled. You can say the reconciliation as some modern translations give it.

What he is saying is there are things that we have that have been accomplished because we have been declared righteous in Christ. And these form the foundational meaning of justification. If somebody asks you, “What does it mean for you that you have been justified before God?”

You can respond with three truths:

PEACE WITH GOD

This is a very important issue because we were enemies, alienated. Paul wrote about this both in Colossians (cf. Col 1:21) and Ephesians (cf. Eph 4:18). We were alienated from God. We don’t have the life of God. We’re enemies of God. Our sins have separated between us and our God that He will not hear (cf.Isaiah 59:1-2).

To say that we have peace with God is a major statement of justification. In other words, whatever was wrong between us and God has been solved and resolved by Jesus Christ. It’s all over. The war is won. We now have victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is a precious fact! We have peace with God! As some of you know, this doesn’t necessarily imply that we have the peace of God ruling and reigning in our hearts. Positionally peace has been made. Like two warring nations in a war, they sit down and sign a peace agreement. Now it may or may not be real peace, of course, but that’s what it’s talking about when it says peace with God.

Go over to Philippians chapter 4. In addition to the issue of peace with God which is a matter of our position in Christ. Being declared righteous gives us that. There’s the matter of the peace of God. A peace that God puts into the heart of the believer based on something he does, Philippians 4:6-7.

6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7
 And the peace of God, [Now, you already have peace with God. but the peace of God…] which passeth all understanding, [Sometimes you won’t be able to understand why you’re so much at peace when everything is falling apart around you.] the peace of God that passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds… [It’s in the area of our hearts and minds that we’re most greatly troubled.] It will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Now when he says, “be careful for nothing” or “be anxious about nothing” or “don’t worry about anything.” The particular Greek word translated ‘be careful’ is a word meaning ‘to divide.’ And it comes to mean ‘to be distracted,” the word, merismos. You remember in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, that we “don’t need to worry about what we should put on or what we should eat? We’re to look at the birds and the flowers. And don’t worry about tomorrow cause sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (cf. Matthew 6:25-31). He uses the exact same word. Don’t worry about anything! Literally it means don’t be distracted. Don’t get your mind off the Lord who has promised to meet all your needs and get it onto your circumstances because they often will trouble you to the point that you don’t know up from down.

So, the whole point of how God will bring His peace in to you is by not being distracted or divided in your thoughts away from the Lord and the fact that He is in charge. Everything is going to turn out. Don’t be troubled. Don’t be anxious. It’s all going to work out.

Now in 1 Peter 5:7 it says, “Casting all your care upon Him [many of you know that] for He careth for you.” There are two different words for care in that verse. When he says, “casting all your care,” it’s the same word here in Philippians 4:6. The chorus says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” It is keeping your eyes on the Lord.

There are a lot of guys who read one Psalm and one Proverb each day, that I have challenged to do so around the country and we’re on our fifth and final month in the Book of Psalms and today was Psalm 121 and also Proverbs 1. But in Psalm 121:1-2 it said this morning, I thought it was so beautiful, “I lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” In other words, the point of it is not the hills aren’t going to help you. The hills are a reminder that God made them. And God’s in charge and if He created the universe He can handle your deal. So your problem is no biggie on His list at all. “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

ACCESS TO GRACE

Another provision that we have is access into this grace in which we stand. Notice he uses the word, ‘we have.’ Romans 5:1, “We have peace with God.” Romans 5:2, “We have this access into the grace in which we stand.” This “standing” emphasizes our position. You arein grace, surrounded by grace, the recipient of grace. You worship the God of all grace. But it’s something different to avail yourself of it. As I just quoted from Hebrews 4:16, we’re come to the throne of what? Grace. We have access unto the throne room of God because we have been declared righteous. Otherwise you couldn’t come. There’s no way that you could come to a holy God with all your sin were it not for the justification of our Lord. He declared you righteous. Now, you can come as Hebrews says “with boldness.”

A new and living way He has consecrated through the veil of His flesh and He says, “Let us draw near. “If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us” (James 4:8). What does that mean? He’s already here. It’s got to mean what Brother Lawrence said in the Middle Ages when he wrote a beautiful book, Practicing the Presence of Christ. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. In other words, the presence of the Lord, His wonderful peace, His grace that gives us much more than we deserve, becomes a reality in you now because you are practicing your position in Christ.

Is everybody following? It’s kind of a thin line isn’t it, as to which one we’re talking about? Sometimes you can get so much in the area of practice that you forget your position in Christ and you start doubting your relationship with God. So understand your position. Nothing’s going to change it. “Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:39). But understand that this does not mean that you’re enjoying or practicing the righteousness that you have in Christ.

SALVATION FROM WRATH

Now another thing we have, and we thank God for it, is salvation from wrath, according to Romans 5:9:

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Jesus said, “Where the worm dies not, the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44) and “where there’s weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42). It’s a place of torment where people will be tormented forever and ever from the presence of the Lamb. The awfulness of it! And then to read about how wonderful justification is, let me tell you something: the position that you have in Christ is the guarantee that you will not be in hell. Thank God it’s not related to our performance, because our performance proves that we belong there. So praise the Lord!

And on the positive side, not only are we saved from wrath, but our place in heaven is assured. Why? Because we’ve been justified, even as chapter 19 of Revelation hits us in the wonderful Second Coming of Christ, it speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb and it says that the fine linen clothed in white is the righteousness of the saints (cf. Revelation 19:3).

The Old Testament taught that the Messiah would come and clothe us in garments of righteousness, garments of joy, not of mourning; garments of praise, not of defeat (cf.Isaiah 61:10). And in Christ, you have been clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will never be any more righteous twenty years from now, than the day you come to Christ. Amen?

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Daily Devotions: November 30th, 2012

“And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The LORD is able to give thee much more than this.” — 2 Chronicles 25:9

A very important question this seemed to be to the king of Judah, and possibly it is of even more weight with the tried and tempted O Christian. To lose money is at no times pleasant, and when principle involves it, the flesh is not always ready to make the sacrifice. “Why lose that which may be so usefully employed? May not the truth itself be bought too dear? What shall we do without it? Remember the children, and our small income!” All these things and a thousand more would tempt the Christian to put forth his hand to unrighteous gain, or stay himself from carrying out his conscientious convictions, when they involve serious loss. All men cannot view these matters in the light of faith; and even with the followers of Jesus, the doctrine of “we must live” has quite sufficient weight.

The Lord is able to give thee much more than this is a very satisfactory answer to the anxious question. Our Father holds the purse‐strings, and what we lose for His sake He can repay a thousand‐fold. It is ours to obey His will, and we may rest assured that He will provide for us. The Lord will be no man’s debtor at the last. Saints know that a grain of heart’s‐ease is of more value than a ton of gold. He who wraps a threadbare coat about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more desirable than any he has lost. God’s smile and a dungeon are enough for a true heart; His frown and a palace would be hell to a gracious spirit. Let the worst come to the worst, let all the talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Meanwhile, even now, the Lord maketh the meek to inherit the earth, and no good thing doth He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

“Milk, Meat, and the Malnurished Church” by Steven Furtick

One of the greatest critiques of the American Church today is it’s malnourished.

Some would even say it’s our most pressing problem.

When most people voice this complaint, the focus is on the worship experience. 

From people who leave these churches, you hear, “I wasn’t getting fed.”  Or, “I just want some deeper teaching.”  From people outside these churches you hear, “Too much milk, not enough meat.”  In some cases, I’m sure this is true. But I really don’t think that’s the real problem.

Yes, American Christians are malnourished. But I don’t believe it has anything to do with milk or meat.

Most American Christians aren’t malnourished because of what they’re getting fed on Sunday. They’re malnourished because they don’t feed themselves Monday through Saturday.  So you had filet mignon on Sunday and learned about the mystical union of Christ and the church as it relates to the rapture and the design of the tabernacle in relation to Levitical dietary laws as understood by the Council of Trent.  Good for you.  Have fun starving yourself the rest of the week and letting your pastor read the Bible so you don’t have to.  So you had some milk on Sunday and learned 37 ways to ________. Have fun having 37 new ways to not obey God during the coming week.

The crisis facing the church today isn’t what people are getting fed on Sundays.

It’s what they’re not feeding themselves the rest of the days.  Who really cares whether you consume meat or milk on Sunday if it’s the only meal you have all week?  I’m not saying this to get pastors and churches off the hook.  It is the shepherd’s job to feed the sheep (John 21). And feed them well based on their needs and faith development  But it’s also the sheep’s job to eat:

“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb. 5:13-14).

Here’s the point. Churches: We have a responsibility.

We should serve up the Word, hot and fresh every single Sunday. As church leaders, it is our job to create and sustain processes and systems that responsibly enable people to grow in their faith after receiving Christ. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing our philosophy and approach of how we do that at Elevation.

People in our churches: You also have a responsibility.

If you refuse to study the Word, apply it, pray some during the week, join a small group and dig deeper with others, there’s not much we can do to help you. Your malnourishment won’t be cured by anything we give you on Sunday.

So are you an infant and need milk?  Drink it for now, but the only way you’re getting more mature and will be ready for meat is by training yourself.  Constantly.  Do you want meat? From these verses, it seems like meat is doing the milk. On your own.  Constantly.  Not getting it served to you once a week.

Daily Devotions: November 29th, 2012

“Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people…thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” —Leviticus 19:1617

Tale‐bearing emits a threefold poison; for it injures the teller, the hearer, and the person concerning whom the tale is told. Whether the report be true or false, we are by this precept of God’s Word forbidden to spread it. The reputations of the Lord’s people should be very precious in our sight, and we should count it shame to help the devil to dishonour the Church and the name of the Lord. Some tongues need a bridle rather than a spur. Many glory in pulling down their brethren, as if thereby they raised themselves. Noah’s wise sons cast a mantle over their father, and he who exposed him earned a fearful curse. We may ourselves one of these dark days need forbearance and silence from our brethren, let us render it cheerfully to those who require it now. Be this our family rule, and our personal bond—SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN.

The Holy Spirit, however, permits us to censure sin, and prescribes the way in which we are to do it. It must be done by rebuking our brother to his face, not by railing behind his back. This course is manly, brotherly, Christlike, and under God’s blessing will be useful. Does the flesh shrink from it? Then we must lay the greater stress upon our conscience, and keep ourselves to the work, lest by suffering sin upon our friend we become ourselves partakers of it. Hundreds have been saved from gross sins by the timely, wise, affectionate warnings of faithful ministers and brethren. Our Lord Jesus has set us a gracious example of how to deal with erring friends in His warning given to Peter, the prayer with which He preceded it, and the gentle way in which He bore with Peter’s boastful denial that he needed such a caution.

Emphatic Negations in Hebrews 6 (Part 8) by Chris Poblete

In this last section of Hebrews 6, we see the certainty of God’s promises to His children. The author of Hebrews uses Abraham and Melchizedek as examples. We will first of look at Abraham, and as we do, you will see that it is indeed the grace of God, form beginning to end, that keeps those who are His children, versus us, by our own supposed strength and goodness, keeping ourselves:

13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you.” 15 And thus, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.
(Hebrews 6:13-18)

The “two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie” mentioned in verse 18 are His oath and His promise. Both of these God will unequivocally do and keep.

Take note of what this passage says of Adam. If all that we had about Abraham was what he find here in Hebrews, you might think that he was an incredibly stalwart man who unflinchingly followed the Lord in a totally uncompromising manner. However, that is not the case! Rather, we find Abraham to be a man who was just like us – fearful, doubting, compromising, and narcissistic. But we also see a man who, after his born again commitment to the Lord, began a spiritual journey in which through all of his failures as a born again believer in the Lord, God never gave up on him but rather continued to work in and through him to bring him to a place of deep brokenness and repentance. In this state of repentance, Abraham grew spiritually to the point of fully trusting in the Lord and obeying Him in faith, regardless of his circumstances, but this took years of God’s disciplining work in Abraham’s life. But in all of it, even in his serious failures of faith and trust and serious, moral compromise, God was at work guiding, protecting, and breaking him in order to bring him to the point where he would become the man of faith and obedience God intended for him to be from the moment of God’s calling Abraham.

When Abraham and his family were initially called by the Lord, they were living in what was called ancient Sumer, which was a fully pagan society, and they themselves took part in the worship of these “other gods”:

2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. . . . 14 Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
(Joshua 24:214-15)

At the time Noah got off of the Ark, God gave him and his sons the first of what might be called ‘societal laws’ and guidelines:

3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 “And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man. 7 “And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”
(Genesis 9:3-7)

In verse 6, we read, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” The phrase, “by man his blood shall be shed,” literally reads, “by the man his blood shall be shed.” In Hebrew, the words “by man” is written, בָּֽאָדָם(bā’ādām), and the Hebrew letter בָּֽ (bā) is to be translated “by the,” which is implying some form of jurisprudence that God was establishing for capital punishment, which was and is a cornerstone for societal order in the face of murderers of all types. That is, there was a man assigned as the executioner for those guilty of capital murder, and what we see is that God began to give to Noah the foundational principles for an orderly society, and this may very well indeed be in stark contrast to the type of society that came to exist before the flood where evil prevailed, and very likely that included the lack of societal order and justice (Genesis 6:5).

At any rate, God was giving Noah these foundational principles for an orderly society, but within several years after Noah and his sons had planted a vineyard, harvested the grapes, and made wine, from which Noah got drunk, Noah was apparently sexually assaulted by Ham, and perhaps even Canaan, Ham’s son (Genesis 9:20-27), and Noah cursed Canaan, which had to affect Ham as well. The Hamitic line was the line that primarily settled and developed Mesopotamia, in which ancient Sumer was located in the southeast corner where modern day Kuwait is located.

There is no indication that Ham in any way ever repented for what he did to his father (Genesis 9:24), and thus, as a result of his sin and the apparent hardness of heart that ensued in him, as well as his prodigy toward God, the people groups that emerged from him began to establish their own form of worship—self-deification (this is seen repeatedly in the writings of ancient Sumer). However, what we see in Genesis 11 is the end result of the Hamitic line’s self-deification. They built a tower—a tower “whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). What this “tower” was intended to be was a monument to their own deification, which is seen in the phrase, “let us make for ourselves a name,” and this is clearly implying “a name” over against and above the ‘name of the Lord’. Thus, God destroyed the tower, and the people were scattered, developing various languages and dialects, along with very perverted forms of worship, as is seen in the following quote from ancient Sumerian texts:

The Sumerian gods, as illustrated graphically by the Sumerian myths, were entirely anthropomorphic; even the most powerful and most knowing among them were conceived as human in form, thought, and deed. Like man, they plan, act, eat and drink, marry and raise families, support large households, and are addicted to human passions and weaknesses. (Samuel Noah Kramer, The Sumerians: Their History, Culture And Character
[Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1963], 117)

However, there was an admixture of the lines of Noah’s sons’ prodigy, and some of the line of Shem ended up settling in Mesopotamia, which ultimately included Terah’s ancestors, and Terah was the father of Abraham (Genesis 11:10-26). As a result of the study of the ancient Sumerian and Akkadian texts, we know that a migration began to take place some time around 2000 BC of people groups from Mesopotamia and its surrounding areas into “the land of Canaan,” which is what the Bible also records with regard to Terah and his family:

27 Now these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran became the father of Lot. 28 And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29 And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 And Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. 32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.
(Genesis 11:27-32)

The following quote, therefore, accords with the biblical evidence of this migration into Canaan:

But though we cannot date the patriarchs with any precision, and though future discoveries may force a redrawing of the picture presented here, evidence presently available suggests that the patriarchal traditions for the most part fit best in the context of the early centuries of the second millennium (Middle Bronze II [ e.g., 2000 – 2550 B.C. – my note). Not only does the nomenclature of the stories, as we have said, have close parallels in the texts of that period; a date for the patriarchal migrations in the centuries after ca. 2000 B.C. accords splendidly with archaeological and other extra-Biblical evidence.
(John Bright, A History of Israel, 4th ed. [Louisville: John Knox Press, 2000], 85)

The reference to “Ur of the Chaldeans” in Genesis 11:18, therefore, is referring to that area that was in ancient Sumer, which is today modern Kuwait. The reason for going into this background is to demonstrate to you that God’s purposes and plans are in no way deterred by the self- deification and utter paganism of man against Him, but rather, God sovereignly uses man’s rebellion to accomplish His ends, and we see that here with Abraham, as God was calling out to Abraham, not Abraham calling out to God:

1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. 6 And Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. 7And the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. 8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev.
(Genesis 12:1-9)

It is at this juncture that we see Abraham engage in a serious compromise with regard to Sarai as he migrates to Egypt due to a famine in Canaan:

10 Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 And it came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; 12 and it will come about when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 “Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may live on account of you.” 14 And it came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 And Pharaoh’s officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 Therefore he treated Abram well for her sake; and gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. 17 But the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 “Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go.” 20And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.
(Genesis 12:10-20)

Now, indeed, Sarai was Abraham’s half sister (Genesis 20:12), but she was still his wife, first and foremost. Thus, it may very well have been that Abraham’s compromise, which was a practice in the ancient Hurrian society of Haran where Abraham lived for a period of time (i.e., in the Hurrian upper class, a wife could be adopted by her husband as his sister), was a manifestation of his embracing a cultural practice of his day in order to deliver himself, but it wasn’t at all something God ordained, directed, let alone blessed and sanctioned. However, even in the face of Abraham’s sinful, cultural compromise, God was there to deliver him from himself. He was about 75 at this time, and then after being back in Canaan and no child is born to him, he once again resorts in his thinking to the cultural practices of his day, and this one had to do with who would be his heir since he had not as yet had a son:

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” 2 And Abram said, “O Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “Since Thou hast given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
(Genesis 15:1-6)

Genesis 15:6 is of primary importance because it categorically states the means of our salvation – faith in God ALONE – and as a result of Abraham’s faith in the Lord, the Lord “reckoned it to him as righteousness.” So, at this point, we may say that Abraham was born again and truly became a child of God, and Paul says as much in the following passage:

6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. 10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree “—14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
(Galatians 3:6-14)

Daily Devotions: November 28th, 2012

“For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” — 3 John 1:3

The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If the first had not been the case, the second could never have occurred; and if the second could not be said of him the first would have been a mere pretence. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If it be in us,we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth. Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the centre of the lantern through the glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colours the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity—the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in the man’s conversation. Be it ours today, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by Thy divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men.

“Sacrifice of Christ” by Chris Poblete

Here are 6 statements pertaining to the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins.

This was a…

…Necessary Sacrifice.

 ”For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and [as a sacrifice] for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.”
(Romans 8:3 KJV)

Offered Sacrifice.

 ”He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily…since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”
(Heb. vii. 27).

Removing Sacrifice.

“But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
(Hebrews 9:26)

Perfect Sacrifice.

“But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God”
(Hebrews 10:12).

Accepted Sacrifice.

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
(Ephesians 5:2)

Substitutionary Sacrifice.

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
(1 Corinthians 5:7)

Daily Devotions: November 27th, 2012

“Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD.” —Zechariah 3:1

In Joshua the high priest we see a picture of each and every child of God, who has been made nigh by the blood of Christ, and has been taught to minister in holy things, and enter into that which is within the veil. Jesus has made us priests and kings unto God, and even here upon earth we exercise the priesthood of consecrated living and hallowed service. But this high priest is said to be “standing before the angel of the Lord,” that is, standing to minister. This should be the perpetual position of every true believer. Every place is now God’s temple, and His people can as truly serve Him in their daily employments as in His house. They are to be always “ministering,” offering the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, and presenting themselves a “living sacrifice.” But notice where it is that Joshua stands to minister, it is before the angel of Jehovah. It is only through a mediator that we poor defiled ones can ever become priests unto God. I present what I have before the messenger, the angel of the covenant, the Lord Jesus; and through Him my prayers find acceptance wrapped up in His prayers; my praises become sweet as they are bound up with bundles of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia from Christ’s own garden. If I can bring Him nothing but my tears, He will put them with His own tears in His own bottle for He once wept; if I can bring Him nothing but my groans and sighs, He will accept these as an acceptable sacrifice, for He once was broken in heart, and sighed heavily in spirit. I myself, standing in Him, am accepted in the Beloved; and all my polluted works, though in themselves only objects of divine abhorrence, are so received, that God smelleth a sweet savour. He is content and I am blessed. See, then, the position of the Christian—“a priest—standing—before the angel of the Lord.”

Daily Devotions: November 26th, 2012

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” — Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” refers to works that are possible.There are many things which our heart findeth to do which we never shall do. It is well it is in our heart; but if we would be eminently useful, we must not be content with forming schemes in our heart, and talking of them; we must practically carry out “whatsoever our hand findeth to do.” One good deed is more worth than a thousand brilliant theories. Let us not wait for large opportunities, or for a different kind of work, but do just the things we “find to do” day by day. We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future has not arrived; we never shall have any time but time present. Then do not wait until your experience has ripened into maturity before you attempt to serve God. Endeavour now to bring forth fruit. Serve God now, but be careful as to the way in which you perform what you find to do—“do it with thy might.” Do it promptly; do not fritter away your life in thinking of what you intend to do tomorrow as if that could recompense for the idleness of today. No man ever served God by doing things tomorrow. If we honour Christ and are blessed, it is by the things which we do today. Whatever you do for Christ throw your whole soul into it. Do not give Christ a little slurred labour, done as a matter of course now and then; but when you do serve Him, do it with heart, and soul, and strength.

But where is the might of a Christian? It is not in himself, for he is perfect weakness. His might lieth in the Lord of Hosts. Then let us seek His help; let us proceed with prayer and faith, and when we have done what our “hand findeth to do,” let us wait upon the Lord for His blessing. What we do thus will be well done, and will not fail in its effect.

Daily Devotions: November 25th, 2012

“To preach deliverance to the captives.” — Luke 4:18

None but Jesus can give deliverance to captives. Real liberty cometh from Him only. It is a liberty righteously bestowed; for the Son, who is Heir of all things, has a right to make men free. The saints honour the justice of God, which now secures their salvation. It is a liberty which has beendearly purchased. Christ speaks it by His power, but He bought it by His blood. He makes thee free, but it is by His own bonds. Thou goest clear, because He bare thy burden for thee: thou art set at liberty, because He has suffered in thy stead. But, though dearly purchased, He freely gives it.Jesus asks nothing of us as a preparation for this liberty. He finds us sitting in sackcloth and ashes, and bids us put on the beautiful array of freedom; He saves us just as we are, and all without our help or merit. When Jesus sets free, the liberty is perpetually entailed; no chains can bind again. Let the Master say to me, “Captive, I have delivered thee,” and it is done for ever. Satan may plot to enslave us, but if the Lord be on our side, whom shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to ensnare us, but mightier is He who is for us than all they who be against us. The machinations of our own deceitful hearts may harass and annoy us, but He who hath begun the good work in us will carry it on and perfect it to the end. The foes of God and the enemies of man may gather their hosts together, and come with concentrated fury against us, but if God acquitteth, who is he that condemneth? Not more free is the eagle which mounts to his rocky eyrie, and afterwards outsoars the clouds, than the soul which Christ hath delivered. If we are no more under the law, but free from its curse, let our liberty be practically exhibited in our serving God with gratitude and delight. “I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.” “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”