“Consider This”

When You or I finally get to the point in our lives where we come to the crucial crossroads concerning our eternal dwelling places, we make one of three decisions: (a) we actively and foolishly reject Almighty God and His unthinkable offer of the free gift of salvation, (b) we passively and foolishly reject it by making no decision at all or (c) we wisely and wholeheartedly accept it, recognizing our abhorrent sins and run into His arms to receive forgiveness!

The last of those three scenarios is usually spoken of as accepting Jesus into your heart, being made new and being reborn, or giving our lives to Jesus. I want you to take a moment and ponder the wording and the meaning of this: Which is more accurate—do we actually give our lives to the Messiah, or do we give our lives BACK to Him? This is significant.

The Word of God tells us in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” Again, the next chapter says to us that “The Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of Life, and the man became a living creature.” 1 Corinthians reminds us in a question, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” Further, two chapters later it explains “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” Lastly, the Lord Jesus Himself tells us in the Gospel according to John, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…”

My point is an important one. It humbles us and keeps us from thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. How easy it is for us, once we have been saved and have undergone a good bit of sanctification, to forget our former condition. As I hope you can see from the scriptures mentioned earlier that we not only have nothing that didn’t come from Him, but we ARE nothing without Him. Even though it was through the prophet Ezekiel, it was the power of God which did the amazing (Ezekiel 37:1-10):

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.”

I want to share with you that I have always believed in God Almighty first (Jesus second, and the Holy Spirit third since I was young). Yes, they are one in the Trinity. Yes, He is a triune God. Yes, everything proceeds from the Father and He sits on the throne. And our Lord Jesus, while on the earth, always pointed people to the Father. Frankly, to this day, I tend to put God first in my thinking, worship, devotion, prayer time and more. That is not wrong. However, this has what I consider to be a sometimes unfortunate lack of full appreciation—beyond gratitude and biblical knowledge—for the risen Savior. The Word of God paints quite a different picture over and over. In my learned opinion, I believe I have robbed Him (not in tithes and offerings, as the book of Malachi describes) of deserved glory. That is beginning to change as I am purposefully devoting myself to the obedient task of giving Him the preeminence that God, in His Word, wholeheartedly endorses.

The New Testament book of Hebrews talks about the supremacy of God’s Son and reads, “In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Hebrews 5 says, “He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”

Revelation 5 reveals, “And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Jesus), the root of David (Jesus), has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals.’”

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me (Jesus)” is found in Matthew 28:18. We read in John 5:21-22, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son.” Philippians 2:9-11 recognizes and declares His majesty this way, “…God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

This is powerful and found in Colossians 1:15-20, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

The word eminence means “fame or recognized superiority” and “a position of prominence or superiority.” I think most of us would agree this is certainly fitting of Jesus. However, the Bible does not confess Him as eminent; it describes Him as PREEMINENT. This takes it one (and the only) step further. To be preeminent means to surpass all others. Some worldly synonyms include distinction, excellency, first-ratedness, perfection, superbness and supremacy.

JESUS CHRIST IS GOD! Not just a prophet, more than a teacher, a high priest, a worker of miracles, fully God and fully man, and completely sinless. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of all mankind. He is the truth, the way and the life. He alone could and did take all of the virtually infinite sins of all humanity past, present and future, bore the full weight of all of these while hanging voluntarily on a cross by the hands of those whose sins He was paying for, underwent God’s wrath and death for those iniquities, overcame the power of sin and death and satan, and proved it all by rising from the dead in full victory. Recognize Him for who He is, acknowledge and confess your sins before Him, turn from your wicked ways and accept His free gift of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life. Hallelujah!!!

That’s why He is called KING of kings and LORD of lords. And speaking of the angels, “Day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.” Verses 9-10 exclaim, “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Since He is the Life-giver, and we have life and are sustained only by His power and grace, our call to the truth of the matter is not for us to “give our lives to Him,” but for us to give our lives—what we have received—BACK to Him! God bless you.

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The Gospel is Not Plural

I often- actually, virtually always- hear the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s written accounts in the New Testament referred to collectively as “the Gospels,” plural. I have done it myself. We know what we are referring to when we say it, but it is not correct. I mention this not to make a mountain out of a molehill, but to take care not to misspeak or think wrongly of the subject in an age of pluralism and an increase in knowledge in all realms of life—including the importance and eternality of spiritual matters.

Christianity is not simply a belief system, religion or ideology amidst a sea of others in today’s world. It is not a set of competing ideas which many take no heed to, are adversarial towards, consider extreme or fight directly against. It contains, promotes, shares and lives out “the Gospel,” singular. The word Gospel literally means “Good News.” To pluralize the Gospel does one, or both, of two things which are wrong.

First, it lends possible credence to the fallacy and misconception that the men who penned it from personal, individual and unique viewpoints while empowered and inspired by the Holy Spirit somehow foster varying versions of the Gospel. This is certainly incorrect. Second, and worse, it gives the impression that there is more than one truth; more than one News which is Good—and by this, I mean the widely-championed myth that there is more than one Way to heaven. As unbelievers or as ones still seeking, let me tell you this is absolutely not the case no matter how many people may talk about it, write about it, or no matter the celebrity of someone espousing it. Although a lie can somehow get easier to believe the more one hears it, it is still untrue and remains that way.
Further, the Gospel is written of this way: “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (non-Jew). For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live by faith.’“ More evidence of the principle behind the Gospel of Christianity is “mercy is better than judgment” and “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope (sure knowledge) of eternal life.” This is indeed Good News!

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John do not write differing versions of the Gospel. Rather, they corroborate each other’s testimonies as first-hand witnesses focusing on different details. The headers, if you will, of each of these books begin with the words, “The Gospel according to…” It is the same and only Gospel but analogous, personal accounts. In fact, there are FOUR writers. Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:1, Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15, John 8:17, 1 Timothy 5:19, Matthew 18:16 and others that “every matter must be established by two or three witnesses,” “only on the evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be established” and “even in your own law it is written that the testimony of two men is true.” The Lord just recently revealed to me that one of the reasons there are the separate accounts is based on these very scriptures; not two witnesses, not three witnesses (which are enough to prove validity), but here we have more than enough—FOUR! The Good News, its truth, its accuracy, its faithfulness and its wonder have been established.

So, let us not pluralize it by unintentionally associating it with any false method of supposed salvation such as reincarnation (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism), good works (Catholicism, Islam), innate goodness (Humanism, New Age) or belief that there is no need for salvation at all (Atheism, Agnosticism). The GOSPEL—the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST—is most certainly singular and, simultaneously, spectacular! God bless you.