Tag Archives: Jesus

Spurgeon on Mixture

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We sing, and sing rightly too –

My soul, no more attempt to draw Thy life and comfort from the law,” 

for from the law death cometh and not life, misery and not comfort.

“to convince and to condemn is all the law can do.”

O, when will all professors, and especially all professed ministers of Christ, learn the difference between the law and the gospel? Most of them make a mingle-mangle, and serve out deadly potions to the people, often containing but one ounce of gospel to a pound of law, whereas, but even a grain of law is enough to spoil the whole thing.

-Sermon No. 531, “The Warrant of Faith,” Sept. 20, 1863

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Practice Does Not Make Perfect

quote-Vince-Lombardi-practice-does-not-make-perfect-only-perfect-41781Practice makes perfect? No, perfect practice makes perfect. The longer one practices something the wrong way, the harder it is to correct. This is what I believe happened with the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter two…

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

The Problem

The Ephesians had abandoned the love they had at first, their first love. They had works, toil, patient endurance, couldn’t bear evildoers, tested and exposed false teachers and were bearing up for Christ’s name sake and hadn’t grown weary. But without love, this was all meaningless. John, who wrote the book of Revelation, also wrote 1 John where he says, “We love because He first loved us.” When a church has abandoned the love they had at first, they have actually forgotten God’s love for them. The root is probably more along the lines of them being so focused on doing good works, that they failed to pass the actual gospel of God’s amazing love and grace on to the next generation. Notice, the messages to the churches of Revelation are not addressed to individuals, but to whole congregations. (ie. “you have some there who…” Rev. 2:14) Much like today’s church, the previous generations haven’t passed the gospel down. I grew up thinking that my salvation depended on my efforts. “Jesus died for my sins, but now its up to me to stay saved. – Faith without works you know…

The Solution

Remember from where they had fallen, repent, and do the works they did at first.
The first step is to remember. Do you remember when you first believed? Do you remember the hope and the love you had, that overflowed from you like a gushing fresh spring when you first believed on Christ? What changed? We took our focus off of Jesus and put them on ourselves and our works. So remember, and repent which simply means, change your mind/thinking.

Next, do the works you did at first. Wait a second, do the works…? So many times, I’ve heard the “return to your first love” messages but the end hook was always, remember to love more, do more works, but with love. They are always passionate, but lack any lasting power, because they reset the cycle; Feel bad, apologize, receive “new” forgiveness, try harder and remember to love this time. But in the end, the focus remains the same, you.

“Do the works you did at first.”
What works did you do at first? Obviously we are saved by grace through faith, not of works, so what gives? Well, John the author, also wrote the Gospel of John. Imagine that. In John chapter 6, he records, “Then [a crowd] said to [Jesus], “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.

Jesus defined believing in Him as a work, and not just “a” work, but “the” work of God. Believing in Jesus is literally “the” work we did at first. Jesus’ message hasn’t changed, “Repent and believe the good news!” The key to returning to your first love, is to stop trusting in your own works and to throw yourself fully into the loving arms of Jesus, period.

The One Who Conquers

To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life…” Funny thing, all the messages to the seven churches contain this phrase, “To the one who conquers…” The word for conquer each time is the same as the word used in 1 John 5 for the word “overcomes.”

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God… For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

So the one who overcomes/conquers is the one who believes in Jesus. If you study the messages to all seven churches in Revelation you will see one consistent theme; “Believe in Jesus! Believe in Jesus! Believe in Jesus!”

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So if we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us, let’s abide in His love and let it overflow through us to others. Because after all, its love that fulfills the law.

 

 


Confession, A License to Sin?

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Is Grace a license to sin? Ask most church people and they would say (based on my experience) that preaching “too much” grace gives people a license to sin. They say, “If we tell Christians they are totally forgiven of all sins, past, present, and future, then what will keep them from sinning?” This is based on a wrong mindset which thinks that we are still the same old sinners with the same old nature, thus freedom = sin. These same people, however, use 1 John 1:9 as the “Christian bar of soap.” They say, our past sins are forgiven, but now we have to confess each new sin in order to be forgiven or stay forgiven.” Some how, this is supposed to keep people in line.

But do you see what we’ve done (and I’ve done this in the past too)? We’ve taken the Blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin, and cheapened it. By the way, how is having to confess your sins to be forgiven not also a “license to sin?” All we have done is add to the equation of Jesus + nothing to make it Jesus + us. Rather, we have subtracted from Jesus’ work and Blood and replaced it with our confession (which in the greek, homologeó, means to say the same thing, agree, or admit). But can’t people still abuse this and sin as much as they want and just confess it away? I know, for me, confessing sin never deterred me from sinning. But knowing I am totally forgiven sure has ended sin’s power over me.

“We have taken the Blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin, and cheapened it.”

By using the same reasoning behind the “Grace is a license to sin” accusation, confession would also be a license to sin. Of course, grace is NOT a license to sin. People who think so haven’t taken into account that we are new creations with new natures. Plus, we have the Holy Spirit, Who would never lead us to sin.

Let’s take a quick look at the 1 John 1:9 sandwich, verses 8, 9 & 10.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us. 
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”

These verses are NOT saying, “if we say we do not sin…” Both 8 & 10 are sin deniers who say “we have no sin, and we have not sinned.” They are saying they have never sinned. This isn’t talking about Christians who say their sins have been washed away. It’s the unbeliever who says there is no such thing as sin, therefore, they’ve never sinned.

And 1 John1:9 does NOT say “if we ask forgiveness and say we are sorry.” It simply says “If we (homologeó, say the same thing, agree, confess, admit) our sins…”

Verse 9 also does NOT say we confess our sins to be forgiven, it says if we confess, He is faithful and just…

Why is He faithful? Because of the Blood of Jesus mentioned in verse 7,

and the Blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Maybe you agree with me and maybe you don’t about our need to confess our sins as Christians, but don’t take my word for it, let’s see what the Apostle John says we should do when we sin. The very next verse, 1 John 2:1, says:

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins…”

Notice how the author of 1 John doesn’t say, “if you sin, confess it to be forgiven.”

He says, if anyone does sin, ITS ALL ABOUT JESUS, our Defense Attorney, our Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous! It’s already taken care of, He is the propitiation for our sins! TRUST IN JESUS! Trust in Him!

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So let’s stop taking away from the finished work of Christ and the power of the Blood. Let’s stop making it about us. It really is ALL ABOUT JESUS! Let’s stop profaning the Blood of the Covenant and insulting the Spirit of Grace. We are totally forgiven and cleansed because of Jesus! We trust in Him, not ourselves, not our faith but His faithfulness.

Be blessed and be transformed by the renewing of your mind in the Living Word!


Deny Yourself

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Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Many people who mean well will use this verse out of context as a means to control and bully people(it would seem) and put them back under some type of law(trying to earn God’s favor). They inadvertently take the focus off of Christ and His finished work, and put it on self and self efforts.

However, context shines light into this error.

Jesus foretells of His death, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” – Luke 9:22

Then after, 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it…”

26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

In the context of this passage, “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me,” means to be prepared to be rejected and killed for the message of Christ, the Gospel.

“Deny himself” is not talking (in context) about denying “a sinful self,” but denying your own will to live as Christ did in the garden of Gethsemane. By the way, our sinful self is dead with Christ, and we have a new self that is sinless. Anyways, Jesus’ will was to live, nevertheless, He submitted and said “Not My will, but Your will be done.”

So a simply explanation of this passage is, “Be willing lay down your life to die and be rejected every day for the Gospel, if it comes to that, and follow Jesus’ example of laying His life down on the cross.”

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“Not my will, but Your will be done.”

Again, it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus. We only love because He first loved us.

God has made us new creations in Christ, the old has passed, behold the new has come. And if you have Christ Jesus you are righteousness, sanctified, and redeemed according to 1 Corinthians 1:30. And just to hammer the point that we are completely new, we have what Ephesians calls, a new self, created like God, truly righteous and holy.

Be blessed, and be transformed by the renewing of your mind in the Living Word!


A Mixed Message? Are We Okay, or Not?

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We hear that we’re okay and that we’re not okay. We hear that we are sinners and that we are saints? We hear that we have a new heart and Christ dwells there but also that our heart is desperately wicked? We’re told we are forgiven but also that we’re not totally forgiven. We are righteous but we’re not “practically” righteous. We’ve heard that the devil is the accuser of the brethren and at the same time however, the Holy Spirit is the one convicting me of sins. We hear we’re not under the law but we still have to keep the law… well, just the moral law… uhm, just 90% of the moral law. We’re saved by grace through faith not of works… until after we’re saved, then it’s up to us? So did the gospel got worse once we believed?

We’ve heard we have eternal and everlasting life, that is unless we mess it up then it’s not eternal or everlasting. Or that Jesus lives in us and the Holy Spirit will never leave us or forsake us, but we can still be out of fellowship with Him? We hear Jesus became a curse to redeem us from the curse, then we hear you’re cursed if you don’t give. We hear grace is unearned favor, then hear if you don’t “fill in the blank” God won’t bless you. We talk about being new creations in Christ, but still think of ourselves as old creations trying to be better versions of our old selves. We sing about the power of Christ’s Blood and the cross, then talk and act as though It changed nothing. “What can wash away my sins, NOTHING but the Blood of Jesus.” …oh, and confessing them each and every time or it doesn’t count.

What does 1 John 2:1 say to do if we sin again?

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

What are we supposed to do if we sin? Oh, right. Keep trusting in Jesus Christ, our advocate, our righteousness, the propitiation for our sins, the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world(not that just temporarily covers).

The problem is this: We haven’t rightly divided the Word of Truth.
We are putting new wine in an old wineskin and wondering why it’s bursting. We’ve tried to balance Law and Grace, mixing cold and hot become LUKEWARM! Its time to pick ONE and stop being double-minded oh faithless generation of ours! Either follow Christ or the Law, but they DO NOT MIX!

Brothers, if we continue to talk out of both sides of our mouths, and wonder why churches are dying and people are falling away in droves then we are as blind as the pharisees of Jesus’ time. We search the scriptures for in them we think we have life, totally missing that they are all about Jesus. To rightly divide the Word of truth is to view it in light of the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I know grace is scary. It gives people a freedom to fail. (And how are they doing without that freedom?)  But what I’ve seen is that the freedom to fail actually frees us to succeed.

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The gospel is not just for unbelievers, its for believers in EVERY STAGE OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH! The moment you’ve out grown the gospel of God’s grace, you’ve out grown Christ.