Michael’s Monday Meditations

MICHAEL’S MONDAY MEDITATIONS, 9/7/2015

TRIALS

The events of this week regarding Kimberly Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who is currently in federal prison for refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples, has weighed heavily on my mind. There are practically as many opinions about this matter as there are people, including in the Christian community. Regardless where you stand on the issue, know this. Jesus promised us (John 16:33) “…in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus brother and disciple James writes in James 1:2-3, ” Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Further he states in the same chapter, verse 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Perhaps none in the faith, short of Jesus Himself, understood trials and tribulations and perseverance better than the apostle Paul. He states in Romans 3:5, ” Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” In Romans 12:11-12 he says, ” Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” In his letter to Timothy, he tells of his having persevered, ” In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

I could go on and on with verse after verse, where Jesus and the apostles and disciples all warn of trials and temptations and that we can be overcomers through Jesus, who has overcome the world.

Christian friend, are you experiencing trials in your life today? They don’t have to be on the order of what Kimberly Davis is facing, but they might be. Who are you trusting to be an overcomer? Yourself? Your friends? Your family members? Your doctor? Your knowledge and education? Perhaps your position or your wealth? Know that while these are wonderful assets to have, they will not get you through life’s most demanding trials and tribulations. Only Jesus Christ can do that. Pray, read God’s Word, and place your trust in Him. Without Jesus we can do nothing.

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What is a Christian? part 6

What is a Christian? part 6

The Christian not only believes that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, he also believes that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh for the purpose of saving unworthy hell deserving sinners. The very heart of the Bible is found in the words, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). Jesus Christ himself explained his coming when he said, “The son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The angels of God explained the purpose for his entrance into this world when they said, “Thou shall call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins. Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which, shall be to all the people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Matthew 1:21 and Luke 2:10, 11). The Christian believes that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of sinners. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life;no man cometh unto the father but by me.” The Bible declares, “He that believeth on him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already; because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (John 14:6; 3:18; 3:36; Acts 4:12). The Christian believes that for Jesus Christ to save sinners he became their substitute. He believes that Jesus Christ took the place of sinners before the law of God and obeyed for sinners the law that they were unable to obey. In part, the atoning work of Christ consists in fulfilling the exacting requirements of God’s law which Adam and then we as his descendants failed to obey. Jesus Christ said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). Romans 5:19 declares that “by the obedience of one (Jesus Christ) many shall be made righteous.” Philippians 2:8 declares that Jesus Christ became obedient unto death even the death of the cross. Hebrews 5:8, 9 tells us that Jesus Christ was perfect in obedience to the Father. Romans 10:4 asserts that “Christ is the end (fulfillment) or goal of the law of righteousness to everyone who believes.” The Christian then believes that Jesus Christ became man that he might perfectly keep in the stead of sinners the law of God. Jesus said, “I do always those things which please my Father” (John 8:29).

The Christian also believes that Christ made atonement for the law that sinners had broken. The Bible asserts that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;” that “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “He (Christ) who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness in him.” “He (Christ) redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us” (I Corinthians 15:3; Isaiah 53:5, 6; II Corinthians 5:19, 21; I Peter 2:24; 3:18; Romans 3:24-26; 5:6-11; Ephesians 1:6, 7; Galatians 3:13).

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, all are transgressors of God’s law, and according to eternal justice all deserve to die, all deserve God’s wrath and curse “for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things that are written in the law” (Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:9, 19; James 2:10). But Jesus Christ came and in the stead of his people he satisfied every charge that the law of God had against them. He paid their penalty by his death upon the cross and fully satisfied every claim that divine justice might have against his people.

One Christian has said:

When one day we shall come before the throne of judgment— and we shall come before the throne of judgment, make no mistake about that—the law may point a finger at us. ‘Have you sinned?’, it will ask. To which we must reply that we have sinned, daily, constantly, in all our actions and words and even our thoughts. Then the law may reply, ‘What have you to say for yourself?’ Blessed are we if then we may say, ‘I have sinned, I have broken all thy demands, and I cannot pay the terrible debt that I owe. My Savior, however, Jesus Christ, saw my lost condition and took pity upon me. In love He came and paid the debt of my sin. I cannot atone for my sin; I cannot pay the debt. But Jesus Christ has paid the debt; He has shed His blood for me.’ Then the law will answer, ‘I have nothing to say against those for whom Christ has died. He has fully satisfied all my claims.’ Oh blessed condition, if on that last day we may be found in Christ! Then it matters not how great is the guilt of our sin. Make it mountain high, yet Jesus Christ has atoned for all. If men reject this, yet God will not, for Christ has paid our debt. Blessed work of satisfaction! Satisfaction: it is precisely that which Christ has done. Upon the basis of His work God’s law will say, ‘I am satisfied. I have no claims against those for whom He died.’ If Jesus has thus removed the grounds for our condemnation, God may freely and honestly pardon and receive us to Himself. He no longer holds our sins against us, and even more than that He looks upon us as righteous. He tells us that we may stand in a right relationship with Him.

God accounts us as righteous, it is well to note, not because of any righteousness of our own, nor for anything at all within us or done by us. He accounts us as righteous for the sake of Christ alone. He lays unto our account all that Christ did for us. Just as the terrible guilt of our sin has been imputed to (that is reckoned or laid to the account of) Jesus Christ, so God’s perfect righteousness (His obedience and work of satisfaction on the cross) is imputed to the sinner. And upon the basis of this imputed righteousness, God tells the sinner that he is right with Him.

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What is a Christian? part 5

What is a Christian? part 5

Many passages of the Bible affirm the humanity of Jesus Christ. Romans 5:15 declares that “the free gift is not like the transgression for if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” I Timothy 2:5 affirms that “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I Corinthians 15:21 asserts that “since death came by man, by man came also the resurrection for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be alive.” In John 8:40 Jesus Christ said, “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth.” Because of the abundant Scriptural evidence which speaks of the humanity of Jesus Christ, the Christian believes that Jesus Christ is truly a man—like all other men with one glorious exception. The Bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But Jesus Christ knew no sin. Hebrews 4:15 asserts that “he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” In John 14:30 Jesus said, “the prince of this world (Satan) cometh, and hath nothing in me.” I Peter 2:22 reads “Who (Jesus Christ) did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” I John 3:5 asserts that “in him is no sin.” II Corinthians 5:21 declares that “he knew no sin.” Jesus Christ perfectly, continuously, absolutely fulfilled the will of the Father. He never had to go to bed feeling guilty. He never had to go to bed wishing that he hadn’t said something that he had said, or wishing that he had not thought something that he had thought, or wishing that he had not felt something that he had felt, or wishing that he had not done something that he had done. He lived a perfectly sinless life. In this respect he was different from all other human beings. Other Scripture passages which teach the perfect humanity of Jesus Christ are: John 8:29; 17:1-4; Luke 1:35; Matthew 3:17; 27:4; 23:41; Luke 1:35; Mark l:24; I Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:26; 9:14.

However, the Bible not only teaches that Jesus Christ was a perfect man, it also teaches that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh. Jesus Christ was more than a great man. He was very God of very God. He was not merely a great human teacher who came to show men the way to God. He was God who came to reveal God to man. The Bible speaking of Jesus as the Word of God, the perfect revealer of the Father says “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). The Bible teaches that the eternal son of God left heaven and took on human nature, being conceived of the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus himself said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9b). Frequently in the Bible Jesus Christ is called God. In Hebrews 1:8 God the Father speaks to Jesus Christ and says, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Romans 9:5 tells us that “concerning the flesh Christ came of the fathers who is over all, God blessed forever.” John 20:28 tells us that Thomas fell at the feet of Jesus Christ and said, “My Lord and my God.” I John 3:16 asserts “that hereby perceive we the love of God, because he (Jesus Christ) laid down his life for us.” Titus 2:13 speaks of the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” I John 5:20 reads, “We are in him that is true, even in his son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”

The Bible also indicates that Jesus Christ is God by applying to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, Old Testament passages which refer to Jehovah. In Isaiah 40:3 the Bible says that “the way of Jehovah is to be prepared.” John the Baptist quotes this verse of Scripture in the New Testament in reference to Jesus Christ. Isaiah 6:1, 4 tells us that Isaiah saw Jehovah. In John 12:41 we are told that the one that he saw was Jesus Christ. In Joel 2:32 we read “that whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 quotes this verse in reference to Jesus Christ.

These two facts, namely that the Bible calls Jesus Christ God and that Old Testament passages referring to God are applied to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, give abundant proof that Jesus Christ is God. Add to these facts, the Biblical facts that Jesus Christ possesses the attributes of God, that Jesus Christ performs the works of God, that his name is associated with God the Father in an equalitarian way, that there are Biblical statements which clearly teach that he is God, that he claims to be able to do things that only God can do, and the certainty of his God head is irrefutably established (Matthew 10:32, 37; 18:20; 28:19, 20; Mark 2:5-12; Luke 4:16-21; 24:27, 44; John 1:1, 3, 29; 2:25; 3:13, 36; 5:17, 46; 6:35; 8:12, 56-58; 10:27-30; 11:25, 26; 14:9-11; 21:17; Acts 10:43 ; II Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 1:3; Philippians 2:5, 6; Colossians 1:14, 16, 17; 2:9; I Timothy 3:14-16; Hebrews 1:3, 10; 4:12, 13; Revelation 1:8; Isaiah 9:6).

A Christian is therefore a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God and man mysteriously, indivisible and yet distinctly joined in one person. He believes that Jesus Christ has a divine nature and that He also has a human nature. This is a mystery to the Christian but since it is clearly taught in the Bible, the Christian believes it and thus the Christian humbly bows to the teaching of the Word of God. He believes what he cannot perfectly understand. He cannot nor does he try to eradicate or erase the Biblical truth that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man. He accepts both of these facts, submitting to the clear evidence of the Word of God.

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MIchael’s Monday Meditations

MICHAEL’S MONDAY MEDITATIONS

SIN — A FALLING SHORT

Friends, I believe we have been placed on this earth to glorify God, our Creator. And whenever we fail to do this, we sin. Some may think of sin as deliberate, open rebellion against God, for instance, purposefully thumbing your nose at any of the Ten Commandments. And yes, sometimes, sin is just that. But more often than not, it is sins of omission, when we fail to seek the will of God first in our lives rather than how in any given moment we can bring glory to His name.

Consider Jesus. Jesus lived his entire life without sin, always seeking how He may please the Father and to do His will. Jesus did this in each and every moment of His life, and included the Father in each and every decision He ever made, from the time when His role was to learn and teach as a child or when He went to Calvary’s cross to yield up His life. Jesus, in all He ever said or did, never fell short of the glory of God.

Oh how each of us need to tap into this awareness about ourselves today. Oh, we live in such a world of distraction, so many events, life goals, objects to distract us. I surely believe even Jesus would have had a difficult time navigating through life today — and He is God! There is so much we must say “no!” to if we are to walk spiritually and in relationship with Him. Conversely, there is much we must say “yes!” to as well, sensitive to the promptings of Holy Spirit as we negotiate our way through this life.

Lord Jesus, I pray you would help me to cast aside the things of this world, and to correctly identify what is of this world vs. what you would have us embrace, and seek you FIRST in each and every moment I live. I pray my brothers and sisters in Christ would also ask this same thing in prayer. Jesus, help us to live as you did in our daily walk and to fully understand your words as stated in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me,” and in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Let this scripture fully envelop and saturate our minds so that we may act on your leading in our lives, Jesus. Lord, i ask you forgive my sin and my myopic vision and replace it with your love and beauty and with your will being done here on earth as it is in heaven. You are in the process of equipping each one of us who seeks this so that we might carry out your mission here on earth of making disciples and bringing the lost into your kingdom. May I, may we, have the proper focus on the things that matter (eternal implications) and may we spend much less time and energy on the things of this world that don’t really matter (worldly, temporal things). Thank you Jesus for hearing our prayer and you know the desires of our hearts.

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What is a Christian? part 4

What is a Christian? part 4

Sometime or other, between the cradle and the grave, all who would be saved must be made alive. The words which good old Berridge had engraven on his tombstone are faithful and true: ‘Reader! Art thou born again? Remember! No salvation without a new birth.’

The Christian then is a person who has been radically changed by the supernatural power of God. This wonderful work of God is usually carried on in connection with the preaching of the Bible. I Peter 1:23, 25 reads, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you.” James 1:18 declares, “Of his own will begat he (God) us with the word of truth.” Ephesians 1: 13 reads, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Romans 10:17 testifies, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” I Corinthians 1:21 says, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” As the word of God is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit wings those words like arrows into the hearts of sinners. The word breaks through the high walls of sin and creates new life at the center of the sinner’s personality. He then begins to think differently. He begins to think God’s thoughts after Him. He feels differently. His likes and dislikes change so that he loves the things of God. His will works differently. He decides to break with sin, believe on the Lord, and follow Jesus Christ. He now begins to pattern his life according to the truth of God instead of according to his own opinions or the opinions of other men. All of this is the result, not of man’s own efforts, but of the supernatural power of God, who is at work in that person’s life.

Secondly the Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God. He realizes that he is a sinner by practice. He realizes that he has broken the laws of God and thus deserves to be condemned by God. The Christian reads of the prodigal son who wandered away from his father and wasted his substance in riotous living and he says, “I am that prodigal son who wandered away from my heavenly Father and wasted all that God has given me in riotous living.” He reads of the prodigal coming to himself and recognizing how he has grieved his father and says, “I am that prodigal who has come to the realization of how I have sinned against my heavenly Father and grieved him.” He reads of the prodigal coming to the father and saying, “I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight and am no more worthy to be called thy son,” and says, “I need to confess my sins to my heavenly Father.” He reads the declaration of John “that whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4) and he says, “I have sinned because I have transgressed the law of God. I have broken God’s commandments. I am a sinner by practice.”

But the Christian is a person who is not only aware that he is a sinner by practice; he also is becoming increasingly aware that he is a sinner by nature. He recognizes that the nature with which he was born is a nature that is in rebellion against God and which if unrestrained is capable of the worst of sins. He reads of Paul saying in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of death?” and he says, “I know what Paul is talking about, “for when I would do good evil is present with me. I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind” (Romans 7:21-23).

A Christian is a person who comes to God as David in Psalm 51 and says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” He is concerned not only about sinful actions but sinful attitudes. He is concerned not only about sinful deeds but sinful thoughts. He believes that Jeremiah was describing his heart when Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The Christian accepts God’s statements about the depths, the potential, and the dessert of his sins. The Christian doesn’t know fully the depth of his guilt but he knows and senses that God would be perfectly just in condemning him to hell. Thus he comes to God not to bargain or barter but to plead as the publican in Luke 18:13, “God be merciful to me the sinner.” The Christian doesn’t know fully the depth of his corruption, but he is aware that his “old nature” (the nature with which he was born) is incurably wicked and capable of great wickedness. He is aware that his carnal mind was enmity against God and could not be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7, 8). He is aware of his need for a new heart, for a new nature. He is in full agreement with Jesus Christ who said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). The Christian then is a person who recognizes that “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.” He revels and rejoices in the fact that salvation is all of grace. He has no confidence in the flesh to save or to keep himself saved. He is cast completely on the Lord and upon His mercy. (Other verses which teach that we are sinners by practice and nature are: Romans 3:9-19; 3:23; 8:7, 8; Psalm l0:4; 53:l-3; 58:3; 143:2; II Chronicles 6:36; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Genesis 6:5; Proverbs 22:15; Jeremiah 13:23; Mark 7:21-23; John 3: 19; 8:44, 34; Ephesians 2:2, 3; II Timothy 3:4; I John 1:10.)

Thirdly, the Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh and the only Savior and substitute of sinners. In Matthew 21:10 when Jesus came riding into the City of Jerusalem on the day that we celebrate as Palm Sunday, the whole city was stirred and began to ask the question, “Who is this?” This is a tremendously important question because there has never been another person who has affected the history of the world or the individual lives of people as has the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible unmistakably tells us who Jesus Christ is. Any person who is uncertain about the identity of Jesus Christ is uncertain either because he has never studied the Bible or because he is not willing to accept what the Bible has to say about this person Jesus Christ.

Watch for part 5 soon!

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Michael’s Monday Meditations

MICHAEL’S MONDAY MEDITATIONS, MON., 8/24/2015

There was a time when communications lines, beginning with the telegraph, morphing into telephone, criss-crossed our nation in all directions. If you’re my age and older, anywhere you traveled in your car, these telegraph and telephone lines seemed to accompany every railroad track and every highway and bi-way. Crossarms filled with colorful insulators and laden with iron wire accompanied us on every journey, stretching for miles and miles, as far as the eye could see.

Today, those telegraph and telephone lines are mostly gone, except for electrical power distribution, as our communications have mostly gone wireless. Not many people today have a land-line connection as the cell phone has become the new way to communicate and young and old alike have embraced this new technology.

The other day, my wife shared a humorous story with me. She told me she has gotten into the habit of praying to our Lord Jesus each morning on her way to work. Most days, she is going to work when I’m completing my night shift and heading home and we make it a point to talk with each other as we travel in opposite directions. We both have the “bluetooth” feature in our cars which enable us to talk while we’re driving without holding on to a cell phone. When completing a call, Sandra uses the display feature on the screen on the console to hang up the phone. Well, the other day, she told me she had been praying, completed her time with The Lord, then pressed the display on the screen to hang up! We both had a good laugh over that, as we’re both a bit goofy at times.

Why do I share this story with you? While most times we conclude our conversations with friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers around us, there is one communication line that we, as believers, need to keep open at all times. And it’s wireless! That line is our communication with our Father in heaven. God desires us to be in relationship with Him each and every moment of each and every day as we live out our lives. He implores us to, as 1 Peter 5:7 states, “cast all your worries and cares on Him because He cares for you.” James 5:16 says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” And God has promised all believers, in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me.” There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of verses of scripture that allude to this desire on God’s part to have relationship with mankind; not just any relationship, but one of intimacy. In fact the entire Bible, besides being about Jesus, is the story about how God pursues man in this great desire.

As a Jesus follower, I implore you, invite Jesus into every aspect of your life. Leave nothing untouched by Him. It is incredible what God will do and how much more full your life is if you keep that communication channel open with Jesus. And when communications are open, we are much less apt to be headstrong and fall short of God’s glory in sin, as we walk in trust and obedience to Him. It’s when we purposefully hang up the phone on God that we get into trouble. So Christian, once you establish this private line, keep the line open, and talk to God, and, dare I say it, listen as well? In fact, maybe listening more than speaking pleases God more than anything!

If you are not a Christian, won’t you make that “phone call” to our Lord and ask Him to save you? There’s no long-distance charge; in fact, you don’t have to even insert a dime or quarter into the God’s phone as God has the most incredible wireless system that’s been utilized for thousands of years. He loves you, friend, and He desires to come in and dine with you and you with Him. Won’t you make that call, the most important call you could ever make during your lifetime, today?

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Michael Swanson

What is a Christian? part 3

If you missed any of the past posts, please go back and check each one out.

Let’s go ahead and pick up where we left off.

What is a Christian? part 3

First of all the Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God. Many different Bible phrases enunciate this truth about a Christian. Some verses assert that a Christian is a person who has been created anew in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:9, 10; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 6:15). Other Bible verses aver that a Christian is a person who has become a partaker of the Divine nature (II Peter 1:2-4). This means that when a person becomes a Christian he receives a new nature from God. It Is divine In two senses. It is created and put within us by God (James 1:17); it is divine in that it is a holy nature even as God’s nature is holy (I John 2:29; 3:7; I Peter 1:15, 16). Still other Bible verses testify that a Christian is a person who has been begotten or born of God (James 1:18; I John 5:1; John 1:12, 13). Then too, the Bible states that a Christian is a person who has been regenerated or made to live again (Titus 3: 5) In addition to this, the Scriptures affirm that a Christian is a person who has passed from death unto life and been quickened from the dead (John 5:24, 25; Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13; Luke 15:24, 32).

These various Biblical phrases describing a Christian abundantly testify to the fact that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God. Becoming a Christian is a supernatural operation of God upon the spirit of man. Becoming a Christian is not merely a matter of outward reformation; it is not merely a matter of turning over a new leaf and endeavoring to live a new life; it is not merely a matter of education or of religion. Nature may be educated to the highest standard attainable but it cannot be developed into something of a totally different order. There is no process by which a man may be developed out of a horse nor a beast out of a bird. Likewise, there is no process by which a spiritual man can be developed out of a sinful man by education. I may gather some weeds out of a field and transplant them into my garden; I may fertilize and irrigate them, but no amount of attention will transform them into rose bushes. Education and religion cannot change man’s sinful nature. They can only refine it.

Becoming a Christian is the implanting of an entirely new nature within man. It is being born again, being born from above, being made a new creation, being remade and reoriented at the center of being. J. C. Ryle described the change that takes place when a person becomes a Christian like this:

Once he could see no beauty or excellence in the Lord Jesus Christ, he could not understand some minister speaking so much about Him. Now he would tell you that Christ is the pearl of great price, the chiefest among ten thousand, his Redeemer, his Advocate, his Priest, his King, his Physician, his Shepherd, his Friend, his All.

Once he found no pleasure in the means of grace. The Bible was neglected. His prayers, if he had any, were a mere form. Sunday was a tiresome day. Sermons were a weariness, and often sent him to sleep. Now all this is altered. These things are the food, the comfort, the delight of his soul.

Once he disliked earnest-minded Christians. He shunned them as melancholy, low-spirited, weak people, now they are the excellent of the earth, of whom he cannot see too much. He is never so happy as he is in their company. He feels that if all men and women were saints, it would be heaven upon earth.

Once he cared only for this world, its pleasures, its business its occupations, Its rewards. Now he looks upon it as an empty, unsatisfying place, an inn, a lodging, a training school for the life to come. His treasure is in heaven. His home is beyond the grave.

See what an amazing gulf there is between the man who is a Christian in name and form; and the one who is a Christian in deed and truth. It Is not the difference of one being a little better, and the other a little worse than his neighbor; it is the difference between a state of life and a state of death. The meanest blade of grass that growest upon a highland mountain is a more noble object than the fairest waxed flower that was ever formed, for it has that which no science of man can impart—it has life. The most splendid marble statue In Greece or Italy is nothing by the side of a poor, sickly child that crawls over the cottage floor, for with all its beauty, it Is dead. And the weakest member of the family of Christ Is far higher and more precious in God’s eyes than the most gifted man of the world. The one lives unto God, and shall live forever; the other, with all his intellect, is still dead in sins.

I do not hold that all must have exactly the same experience. I allow most fully that the change is different, in degree, extent, and Intensity, in different persons. Grace may be weak, and yet true; life may be feeble, and yet real. But I do confidently affirm we must all go through something of this kind, if ever we are to be saved. Till this sort of change has taken place, there is no life in us at all. We may be living church men, but we are not Christians.

Watch for our next post which will be a video and then keep your eyes out for part 4 of “What is a Christian?”.

Find answers and truth throughout our site here at The Stand Project.

Till the next time,

John Rudich