Time Is Running Out

Time is running out for each of us to choose Jesus. The book of John highlights this, using two stories many of us are familiar with that help to illustrate this truth.

In the beginning of chapter nine of John’s Gospel, Jesus sees a blind man:

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world .”

Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:1-7)

Time is running out to choose Jesus

Jesus was giving everyone a warning, a warning that still holds true today. “As long as it is day” might also be expressed, “ as long as you have days,” meaning that the salvation of the Lord is intended for the living and while we are alive we must chose Christ or reject Him.

While man still has days, believers must attempt to share the Gospel so that some may be saved. Time is running out and when the end comes it will be too late. There is a sense of urgency in that statement, as for all people at all times, now is the time to turn to God.

Jewish leaders rejected Jesus and His message

The Pharisees, despite witnessing the miracles that Jesus performed, believed Him to be blasphemous, claiming to be God. Everything Jesus did pointed to His true identity, but there were then and are today, those who will not believe.

Over and over Jesus and others were witnesses to His deity. But the Pharisees, who claimed to be righteously and following the law, proved over and over that they not only did not follow the law, but made a mockery of it.

Throwing the first stone

Many people know the story of the woman caught in adultery. The incident gave Jesus an opportunity to proclaim His true identity. But the Pharisees weren’t buying it.

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.

They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”

Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”

“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come. (John 8:1-20)

Time is running out for all of us

Notice how Jesus bent down to talk to her. He stooped. Jesus made Himself lower. He calmly thwarted the challenge brought by the Pharisees.

Jesus was with us to testify about His Father. He did nothing and said nothing unless it was directly from God the Father. He gently showed the Pharisees who He was, but they didn’t see it.

We all have only our time on earth to turn to Jesus, time is running out for all of us!

Is Hell Real?

Is Hell Real?: The thought of a place where a person goes for an eternity of suffering and torment is beyond comprehension. But the Bible says there is such a place and therefore, it is something to be dealt with. Come to think of it, the Bible mentions Hell more times than it mentions heaven. That makes the topic even more serious.

The subject can’t be dealt with within a few hundred words in this blog post, but we can go over some basic facts. The great Christian author C.S. Lewis once penned this about Hell:

There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.”

I feel the same way. Hell is unthinkable for me, but I do believe God, so therefore Hell is a part of my belief structure.

God created everything

God created all things, which means all places. And, if He includes it in His Word, it must be important. For starters, God is holy, perfect and magnificent beyond description.

No one has ever been face-to-face with God and lived to tell about it. Even Moses talked to God through a burning bush, something he could understand and relate to. He heard God’s voice, that’s all.

Because of God’s absolute perfection, sin cannot be in His presence. Even the smallest of sins, a little white lie or a tiny fib, would mean immediate annihilation.

The topic of Hell is not popular, even among Bible believers, but it’s there for a reason. Theology gets “reformed” by Biblical scholars, who sometimes dismiss the seriousness of passages that deal with the destruction of man and an eternal lake of fire. Think of the contrast, our sins and God’s holiness and perfection.

Is Hell real?

Hell is a part of God’s justice. He established the Ten Commandments so that people could live in right relationship with Him. But the commandments are impossible to follow and only one sin breaks the relationship.

Perfection does not exist side-by-side with imperfection. Therefore God sent His own Son into the world to follow those commandments and live a perfect and sinless life. Knowing that man could not look Him(God) in the eye, He made His son human, so that we may get closer and understand the extent of His love for us.

To do away with Hell would mean doing away with Jesus and His mission. It would mean that God’s word would be compromised and put into question everything the Bible states. God cannot tolerate evil, so His plan of salvation for man includes the unthinkable as well as the gloriously unimaginable.

Jesus warns us about Hell

Jesus warned of Hell:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.

They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:41-42)

Still, we want to think of Jesus as being meek and mild. We can easily gloss over His overturning of the tables at the temple, or His heated verbal confrontations with the Pharisees.

Eliminating Hell eliminates the necessity for the crucifixion of Christ, and certainly His resurrection. It shreds all Biblical truth. Jesus rose from the dead so we have a path to avoid Hell. If there is no Hell, then Jesus did not have to suffer and die.

Believing in Jesus allows us to avoid Hell

By believing in Jesus, man can avoid this dreadful punishment. God saves us from that ghastly fate. Jesus took the ugliness of our sins, and suffered the punishment for us.

For all of eternity He had been with His Father, but on the cross God the Father turned His back on His son and Jesus cried out:

Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

He slowly suffocated to death, taking the brunt of our sins. The beauty and glory of God is that He desires to reach out to us and pull us from the flames of Hell. That’s quite a contrast. The suffering of Christ and the amazing love of God.

We were created to live forever. The great Christian C. S. Lewis explains it this way:

Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live forever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only 70 years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live forever.

Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse—so gradually that the increase in 70 years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute Hell in a million years: in fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is the precisely correct technical term for what it would be.”

We send ourselves to Hell

Another point for consideration is that God does not send people to Hell. They send themselves. Rather than accepting God’s provision, they chose to live by their own rules. God not only takes us out of Hell, He takes Hell out of us, by cleansing us from all unrighteousness and molding us to the image of His son.

The opposite of light is dark. There is the light of God, and then there is the darkness of separation from God. We make the choice to come into the light or to reject it. Man’s sinful nature likes to hide in the shadows, but he is never out of God’s sight. Rejecting God just doesn’t make sense.

Hell is a real place and a necessary element. The opposite of Hell is the glory of God.

Pick Your Poison

Pick Your Poison: Throughout the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) we read of Israel’s on-again-off-again relationship with God. When they leaned toward God things went along well, but when they turned away, the situation became dire.

The Syrians, the Babylonians and others conquered their land. Even when there was no foreign adversary, the children of King David wanted his throne. Century after Century, the give and take took place.

Pick Your Poison: How did Rome come to rule Israel?

So how did Rome come to be the conquering occupier of Israel? It began with the Greeks. Israel was conquered by Alexander the Great in 329BC. At the time, the Kingdom of Judah, was the only remaining Hebrew-ruled kingdom, as the other 11 tribes broke away. When Alexander died in 323 BC, the Greek empire was divided among his four most prominent generals.

There were two generals, Seleucid and Ptolemy, who would rule Israel, one after the other, back and forth. Both allowed the Jews to continue their religious practices, but the emphasis was on Greek culture, which caused problems with the religious leaders.

The Seleucids invaded Israel beginning in 201 BC and their rule was established by 198 BC, under the leadership of Antiochus III. That rule would not last long. He encouraged the Jewish people to rebuild their temple.

Maccabees Capture Jerusalem

However, money was an issue and Antiochus owed the Romans a great sum of money. Long after the death of the two generals, the groups competed for control over the region. In 164 BC, the Maccabees captured Jerusalem.

You can read an account of this struggle in the Books of First and Second Maccabees in the Roman Catholic Bible. It was a significant victory, as the capture and cleansing of the temple is the basis for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, a holiday Jesus would have celebrated.

Rome took over Israel by 68 BC

By 68 BC, the Romans entered into and took over Israel. It did not get better for the Jewish people. While they allowed the Jewish culture to continue, they were harsh overseers.

The Romans were worse than their predecessors. A hundred years later, in 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the temple. The huge stones were toppled. The gold that adorned the walls was melted down and taken.

The gold seeped into the cracks between the stones, so the temple was literally dismantled to get to it. What was left over was the Western wall and to add insult to injury, when the Muslims moved in six centuries later, they built a mosque on top of the temple mount.

Jews looking for a Messiah to rescue them

The Jews had a history of being conquered, they were looking for the Messiah, the one who would come and liberate they from captivity. But, unlike Moses, who went before Pharaoh to proclaim God’s demand to “Let my people go,” Jesus was not that kind of a leader. Nor was he a military man, who would lead an army against the Romans.

But that was what the Jews wanted and expected. Herod the Great ordered the slaying of male children four and under, just because he was told of the birth of a new king. He had to eliminate any challengers, even though Jesus wanted no part of Herod’s throne or the Roman authority. Jesus explained that to the Jews. Jesus came to save, not to judge. But he continued:

“You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world . I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24)

Jews killed Jesus partially because He didn’t deliver them from Rome

So what occupier did the people want? The Jewish people were scattered around the world and it wasn’t until 1948 that a Jewish state was recreated. The land of milk and honey that God had given over to them was now a brokered arrangement and not a popular one at that. We are still seeing the affects, with Hamas attacking Israel.

The Jews wanted to kill Jesus, because they thought He was a heretic. They talked the Romans into helping. Pilate just wanted to keep the peace, so he allowed the crucifixion to take place. It was all a part of God’s plan. Nothing happened by accident, back then or now.

The Bible Shows What and Why

The Bible Shows What and Why: There’s a lot of information in the Bible, stories about people, places and events. This amazing story unfolds throughout 66 books, written by 40 some authors over a 1400 year period.

Somehow, amazingly, it all holds together. There’s a lot to take in. There’s some history, a little science, and great deal of wisdom. Information is useful, but it isn’t everything. The Bible tells us what happened.

However, it’s not like reading a textbook. Textbooks are written to disseminate information on which you will be tested. The Bible is a living document, as relevant today as it was when it was written. It’s about life.

Jesus rose from the dead!

While I appreciate all of the stories, that’s not the reason why I am a follower of Jesus. I am a believer because Jesus rose from the dead. All of what happened is meaningless without what happened on the third day.

There are lots of ways to look at what you are reading in the Bible. There is, of course, the literal meaning of the words, but there’s more to consider. There’s the intent of the author to illustrate an important point, so you ask yourself “what does this mean?” Then there’s the allegory, the story behind the story, where we get the full meaning of the passage.

The Bible Shows What and Why

The Bible is a living document. It speaks to our immediate and individual needs. It searches our inner being and roots out what is false. The author of Hebrews talks of a double-edged sword.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

The Bible gives us HOPE!

The double-edged sword cuts and penetrates easier than a single-edge sword. Nothing can be hidden from God. He sees us. He speaks to us through His word. Our troubles of today were known to God long before He put the earth on its axis.

The sword of God exposes our actions, judges our thoughts and feelings, and activates our conscience. At the same time, the Word of God is soothing and encouraging. It gives is hope.

Moreover, the Bible is alive because Christ is alive. He has always been there and always will be there.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-5)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Through God all things are made

Through Him all things were made and, of course, that includes scripture. It was meant to be active and impact. It’s power resonates from the risen Messiah.

Jesus promises us eternal life. His word is also eternal. That is why the Bible is so powerful. What other book as been copied so often? What other book sells the most copies year after year? Nothing comes close.

When you pick up the Bible and begin to read, first take a moment to clear your head and ask God to show you what He has in mind for you. You’ll be surprised what happens if you stay with it.

What does God look like?

What does God look like?: Many people refuse to believe in anything that they can’t see, hear, or touch, so trying to describe what God looks like is, even for the ardent believer, impossible. No one has ever seen God.

First and foremost, God is spirit. The Bible reveals His nature and character. Having said that, God did send His son Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, to go earth in human form. So to look upon Jesus would have been to look into the face of God.

Few who have ever lived have seen God and lived to tell about it. Even Moses, who knelt before the burning bush, did not see God’s face, only the burning bush. God said to Moses:

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3-14)

We are created in God’s image

The Bible tells us that we are created in God’s image. That suggests that God has human form, but it isn’t that simple. There is one God, in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, gives us a little understanding. He was made human and walked with us, experiencing the human condition, every emotion, the common cold, and every temptation.

Impossible to fully describe God

To describe God in human terms is like trying to measure the universe using a ruler. There are glimpses of His appearance in the Bible. For starters, He is described in many ways. They describe Him as holy and beautiful.

The Bible tells of people who describe God’s appearance as a brilliant light and a consuming fire. His throne is likewise a brilliant light. There is no darkness, only purity and light. The fire describes God’s burning passion. His fiery desire for justice. God’s throne is mentioned, with a rainbow over it, a symbol of his mercy and grace.

We cannot comprehend Him

Perhaps it is just as well we don’t get to see God’s face. The magnificence of God is beyond human comprehension. It is only when we are invited to to His kingdom at the end of time that we will be able to look upon Him. Because, by then, all sin and all evil will have been removed.

As for seeing and then believing, it goes against the main point of the relationship—faith. I have belief in God, through faith. I don’t pretend to know much beyond that fact.

Faith is what need

Had God decided to show Himself in a way that humans could comprehend, where would faith come in? They looked upon Jesus, God with us, but sill did not believe Him. You see the problem.

Lies Don’t Become Truth

Jesus is God
Jesus is God

Lies Don’t Become Truth: My friend Deb discovered a hand-written note from her mother. It was nestled in a stack of old papers, left unread for years. She picked it up, read it, and decided to share it with our Bible study group.

It dovetailed nicely into an ongoing discussion we have had about the first chapter of the Gospel of John.

A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it is accepted by a majority.

What is truth?

A lie doesn’t become truth, but what is truth? Maybe what is true for you isn’t true for me. If I tell a lie, and believe the lie, does it become truth?

Besides, who’s to say what is true and what is not? A modern day example of this is the 2020 presidential election. Did the Democrats steal the election? The GOP lost 61 of 61 court cases contesting the election process, but the “Stop the Steal” continued regardless.

What is true? That depends on two things for the average guy on the street. One– do I want it to be true? And two—is it possible to be true. As for evidence, who cares?

Was Jesus who He said He was or was He lying?

That was the major issue starring Jesus in the face during His ministry. Was He who He said He was? For some, no amount of evidence could sway them. For others, the truth came crashing through the walls of lies and deceit.

The Apostle John began his Gospel with the truth of Jesus and continued that narrative throughout. In His epistle, he points to he witness of the truth.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth . John testifies concerning him.

He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:14-18)

Today truth is seen as relative

In today’s world, truth is relative. We all get to define what truth is according to our own, individual biases, regardless of any evidence to support the claim.

The 2020 presidential election was “rigged” according to many Republicans. They lost every court case contesting the results. Fox News even lost an $800 million lawsuit because they perpetuated a lie, even though they knew the truth.

Three lawyers plead guilty to lying about it in the Georgia election case. Still the “big lie” persists and is truth for those who will not accept the reality of the situation.

The integrity of our institutions are being undermined, and people look for information and truth. They do not trust the government. In the time of Jesus, people not only did not trust the Romans

If the majority of people believe something, doesn’t that make it true? Is there no objective standard for determining truth?

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6-7). This statement is an example of absolute truth, which is, simply defined, that which is true in all times in all places. It does not change.

The Torah and the Bible

The Torah and the Bible: The easiest way to understand the difference between the Torah and the Bible is to make one simple distinction. The Torah is the first five books of the bible, written by Moses. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

These scrolls served as the entirety of the Holy Scripture, but then came the writings and the prophets of the Hebrew bible, which Christians call the Old Testament.

God creates the universe

In Genesis, Moses wrote an account of how the universe was created and how man came to be. It is the beginning account of man’s relationship to God. Exodus chronicles the miracles of how God freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

The Ten Commandments are delivered, but man disobeys God and wandered the wilderness for an additional 40 years as a result. While in the dessert, Moses penned the next three books, detailing what would be come Judaism.

Torah lays foundation for redemption

Interestingly, the Torah clearly outlines the importance of man having faith in God, not in himself. It lays the foundation of how man would later be redeemed. Without mentioning Jesus, it presents the Gospel of Jesus’ birth and resurrection.

For example, in Exodus, Moses forms a snake out of bronze and places it on a long pole. All the people had to do was look at the snake and then would be healed. Some didn’t believe and died of their snake bites.

Others did believe and lived. All people need do for eternal life is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The snake story was foreshadowing of Jesus on the cross.

Abraham called to sacrifice his son

Earlier, in Genesis, Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his son Issac. He is obedient, but just as he was ready to plunge the knife into his son’s body. God provided a sacrifice in the form of a ram caught in a thicket to replace Issac’s death. God would not save His own Son from dying on the cross, but would resurrect Him three days later.

Prophets explain who Jesus is

In the writings and prophets, there is a reliable history of events, but more importantly, an explanation of how the Messiah would come. The prophets not only describe the coining of the Messiah, but also tell of the end of times.

For example, the book of Daniel ties in directly with the accounts written by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation, with astonishingly accurate detail.

Torah and the Bible

From the Torah to Revelation, the Bible is one contiguous story. Every major event in the ministry of Jesus took place on a location referenced from the Hebrew Bible. It was the canvas for the life of Christ. But much of what we all really need to know and embrace, is in the Torah, those first five books are the basis for everything.

Be Careful What You Ask For

Be careful what you ask for: A young man approached Jesus and asked Him a question people have been asking ever since–”What must I do to get eternal life?”

We have accounts of that conversation in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The young man used the term “eternal life,” which means entry into the Kingdom of God, or heaven. It’s a common question, but the answer can be challenging. The question also shows where the young man’s heart was.

“What must I do…” Under the law, that is a very legitimate question and clearly Jesus gave a simple, direct answer. He pointed to the Ten Commandments and told him not to murder, steal, give false testimony and to honor his parents.

It was an honest answer, but not one the young man could fully understand. The young man told Jesus he had done so all his life. Jesus knew that none of us are capable of keeping the Ten Commandments.

The Pharisees (Jewish Priests) were always talking about keeping the law and paraded around like they were the righteous standard of the people. They couldn’t keep the commandments either. But they wanted the people to follow the law to the letter so they could punish them when they didn’t.

Be careful what you ask for: A disappointing answer

Jesus gave him a disappointing answer. Jesus answered,

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19: 21)

Young man not inclined to believe Jesus

The young man was disappointed because he was not inclined to believe the message that Jesus offered. He could not believe, or he would not believe. Rather than acting on faith, he just wanted to know what to do.

There was no belief. Rather than believe, people will often just want to know what to do. Give money? Act like they believe? Man has always wanted to know what he must do to be acceptable to God. God has always maintained that man is acceptable to God because of what God did through Jesus. There is a huge distinction there.

You must never sin to enter heaven without faith in Jesus. That’s why you should be careful what you ask for.

Jesus has compassion for us

Jesus replied with compassion.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

The young man’s decision to rely on his own wealth rather than believe in Jesus showed that he was not wise. He was disappointed. Had he followed Jesus, or even just accepted the message of salvation, he would have received what he was asking for.

Interestingly, even though he told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments, he still felt he was lacking. Rather than recognizing that he was a helpless sinner in need of a savior… Faith in Jesus, he was looking for a way to get more perfect. God does not approve of this kind of arrogance.

Then Jesus helped His disciples to understand

Jesus then turned to his disciples, who were wondering what had just happened:

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 21:25-30)

God’s plan has not changed over the years. Man is saved by the grace of God, through faith. No amount of wealth or social prominence is going to change that. Be careful what you ask for, entry to heaven is based on what you believe not what you do.

Man is helpless without God

Man is helpless without God: Many people love to go to auctions. There are so many kinds, from art to animals. They go and make their bids on items, not knowing if they have bid too high or too low. They don’t know if someone with deeper pockets will out bid them and take that prize painting home.

You can argue that people with unlimited cash can win the day, but that’s a small number. When a person does good works to earn favor with God, it is like that auction, only the sale will never be made because no amount of money will secure the transaction.

Man is helpless without God

God’s plan from the very beginning was to have man come to the understanding that, apart from God, man is helpless. If it were otherwise, then man would be in control of his own destiny, owing nothing to the one who created him.

All too many people believe they are the center of things, with no room for God in their lives. But God has always given man signposts, indicators of right and wrong, intended not for discipline or punishment, but for a compassionate desire that man have a good life.

Ten Commandments a guide for us

God gave the law to Moses. The Ten Commandments were written to guide man into a right relationship with God. They are the basis of all western law and to this day serve as a guide for justice.

But, if you read each one and carefully examine the truth of it, you will discover that you’ve probably broken every one of them by thought, word or deed. They are impossible to follow.

You can’t buy your way to heaven, nor can you work your way to heaven, because God has already done all of the work, and He doesn’t need your money nor your works. He imparts righteousness by faith.

How much faith? Well, just to simple confession that we are sinners and we recognize Jesus as Lord and savior is an act of faith God can work with. We are helpless to save ourselves. It is only the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that ensures our salvation. Believe in these things not your own way.

For it , not your own way. is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Salvation is not subjectiveYou either believe in Jesus or you don’t!

This is a definitive statement made by the Apostle Paul. Salvation is not subjective. Do you believe Christ died on the cross to pay for your sins, and that He was resurrected on the third day? Yes or no.

Salvation by grace is the major dividing point between Christianity and all other faiths. Religion is man’s attempt to make himself acceptable to God.

Salvation by God’s grace is what God did to make us acceptable. All we need do is ask for grace from God through Jesus and He gives us grace.

It’s free. We can’t buy it or work for it. It can’t be earned. No amount of good deeds will be sufficient.

Belief in Jesus, man is helpless without God

Jesus taught this to his disciples and followers. He was specific about the important points.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)

So, how does God, the Holy and perfect creator, view our works in comparison to His own? Ours do not stand up. There is no substitute or comparison to heavenly perfection.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, (Isaiah 64:6)

Faith has always been the key factor

The Apostle Paul drew the comparison between the Old and New Testament understanding s of salvation. But understand that faith has always been the key factor.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will. But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:5-12)

Always about faith

God’s plan of salvation by faith did not change over the centuries. Long before He sent His Son, salvation or justification by faith was always in force. It was never about what we did. It was always, is and shall always be about what He does.

Would Jesus be accepted today?

Would Jesus be accepted today?: We are all on the shoulders of a homeless man. We look up to power in America, wealth and celebrity. Sports stars are like gods. Movie stars are envied. Rock stars sell out stadiums, with ticket prices so high only the rich may attend.

It’s an upside-down world. That which really matters, matters not. If Jesus came to us today for the first time, He would be ignored, reviled and dismissed like last week’s trash. A poor, homeless man would hardly be given a moment’s notice.

We want everything

I want to be rich, I want to be famous, I want it all. The focus on self is ever-growing in our culture. Don’t tell me what I can and cannot do. Everything is permissible if it is what I want. Even that which is against my best interest is permissible because I say so.

People want to be the center of their universe. Think of a “fresh out of college” person striving to get ahead in the corporate world. Perhaps they claim credit for for another person’s work, or walk all over coworkers just to get noticed.

Jesus had a different approach

Jesus had the opposite approach. He had no professional ambitions. Jesus came to do His Father’s will, and so became a servant. He had no money, no home, no job, but he changed the world. He was loving and kind. Ask yourself, would Jesus be accepted today?

Jesus explained this twice in the Gospels, first in Matthew and then again in Mark. There are, of course, references to servant-hood elsewhere in the Bible.

Jesus called them together and said:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many .” (Matthew 20:25-28)

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many .” (Mark 10:45)

Would Jesus be accepted today?

Would a kind, giving person be accepted in the corporate world today, or in politics? Those kind of people, in the eyes of those who are jockeying for position, are weak and lack leadership skills.

But what is leadership? Is it lording over people and giving orders. Or is it nurturing, encouraging and loving others?

Jesus taught 12 men how to share the good news. He then gave His life on the cross to pay the sin debt for every person past, present and future. Jesus allowed them to beat Him, drag Him through the streets of Jerusalem and nail Him on tree. Hardly the image of a corporate CEO.

Understanding our meek shepherd

Even the evangelical church sometimes fails to see the value of a meek shepherd. The Gospel gets corrupted by those who substitute the Word of God for political ideology. They spout party line rhetoric and if you are not of their political group, you can’t be Christian. They serve themselves.

Pride is the root of all sin. The love of things other than God lead to creating a chasm between man and God. It is pride that drives the need to succeed. Pride needs to be paid. It needs to be recognized for accomplishments. Pride does not serve.

Would we value Jesus if He came today?

Would Jesus stand out today. Even with social media, world-wide instantaneous communication and 24-hour news. The idea that a homeless, unemployed itinerant would probably be swept away by the ambition of the world.

We would ask: Why should we listen to him? Man’s heart is hard. Even when Jesus performed miracles, they still didn’t believe. Even if those miracles were on television and the internet, there would always be those who, because of pride, reject the message. Why listen to a homeless man?