Do you have as much passion for Jesus as you do for football?

Written by Jon Zenor

Have you ever seen a person who is fanatical about football? They sit in the bleachers in a blizzard with nothing covering them but pants and paint.  What is it that makes a person go to such lengths to show support for their team?

It’s passion, or in this case extreme passion.  But you don’t have to have an extreme passion for something to make it number one in your life.  Most football fans don’t go to those extremes, but they do spend as much time as they can involved in the sport.

A football fan spends hours a week watching football, even throwing parties to get others together to watch the game.  You talk about it all day at work, spend time looking up news on how well various teams did that week and on trades or injuries.  You wear jerseys that show support of your team, even if they lose all the time.  You even create your own fantasy teams.

Your life, as a football fan, is consumed by football.  There is not anything wrong with being a fanatical fan at all, I just have one question for you.

How does your passion for Jesus — your Lord and Savior, your creator, the one who died to have a relationship with you — compare to your passion for football?  It may not even be football for you, it could be video games, baseball, programming, martial arts, planes, motorcycles, or any number of things that consume your every thought.

Jesus must come first!

Matthew 13:44 says “the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

As Christians Jesus must come first in our life.  Not because it will please God, but because God deserves it, it is the least we can do, and the Bible says we must do it.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:62

It is even written in the Ten Commandments when God says to Moses “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)  Leonard Ravenhill reminds us that “Anything you love more than Jesus Christ is an idol, I don’t care what it is!”

If you think that is harsh look at what Jesus himself said.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26

Jesus is saying that your love for Him MUST be first in your life, and nothing goes above that, not your own life, and not even family.  And if you think this is selfishness on God’s part, just remember that He is God almighty, the creator, the one who holds all of existence in his hand, you are just a created thing, a sinful man who rejects God every chance you get.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here.  I am not saying all entertainment is bad and you should do nothing but read the Bible and sing praise songs.  What I am getting at is that when we become a Christian, a Christ-follower, we are saying we are putting God first in our life, above everything, including entertainment.  Where you spend your money and how you spend your time show what is first in your heart, Jesus or something else?

Imagine the impact YOU could have

Imagine what the impact would be like in the lives of those around you if you treated Jesus with as much time and energy you spend on football.  You would go to work talking about what God has done in your life, sharing the gospel, talking about God and what is going on in the church.  You would let the world know that Christians are not just hypocrites that live like the rest of the world but they are actually out there doing things!

You would remind them that when disasters happen and the government has its hands tied to help, like FEMA did when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it was our churches that were out there giving food and aid to the people.  In fact, instead of going to football games you would go on a missions trip to somewhere that needs the help and help others.

Instead of looking up news for football stats you could look up what news there is on martyrs around the world and pray for them.  Every week I get an email from Voice of the Martyrs with information on those being put in prison, who are losing their homes, who are being outcast from their families and beaten because they are the ones on the front lines putting Jesus first in their life.

You would attend church no matter what the weather was like outside, or how much air conditioning worked or how comfortable the chairs at your church were.  Your focus would be more on fellowship and worship than on comfort.

We don’t even need everyone to do this, just you.  If just you would start putting Jesus first in your life, and having a passion for Jesus, then you alone could change a huge part of the world, everyone you interact with.  Those that look up to you would catch that fire and it would spread.

Del Tackett of Focus on the Family, teacher of The Truth Project, said if just a few of you would really believe what the Bible says is true, you would change this world for Christ.

Being a Christian is not a game or a hobby. It is not something we do just once a week.  Being a Christian is a life long commitment that changes your daily life, putting God first in everything you do.

When you don’t have the passion

If you find that you do not have the passion for Christ that you should there is hope for you.  The first and most important thing is to test your salvation, make sure you are saved.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” – 2 Corinthians 13:5

Study the Word of God, what does it mean to be a Christian?  This is an important enough topic to spend the time studying for yourself.  When I went through this last year it took me a couple of months of searching scripture, comparing what I was reading to my life, and most importantly praying, a lot.  Being saved is not based on works, but if you are saved, if you do have Christ living in you, then you cannot help but manifest the fruit of God living in your life.

A major thing that will get in the way of a Christian’s passion for Jesus is sin.  If you are living in sin then you will not be passionate for God, you can’t be.  You will avoid the Word of God, and the things of God.  Search your life for any unrepentant sin and repent of it, turn every area of your life towards God.

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. – 1 John 3:4-6

Jesus wants all of us, not just our leftovers

And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:38

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Jesus wants, and deserves every part of you to follow Him.  He knows that we are most satisfied personally when we are bringing glory to Him, it is what we were created for.  Don’t waste another day putting garbage in the place of God in your life.

The link between wealth and salvation

Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:8-10

Both this passage and Luke 18:18-27 mention a link between wealth, what you do with that wealth, and your salvation. What is this link, and what does it tell us about our salvation?

Two noticeable events take place in this passage. The first is Zaccheus declaring that he is giving away over half his money, and the other is that Jesus announces that he is saved. At first glance appears like a cause and effect, the cause being that Zaccheus gives away his wealth, and the effect is that Jesus declares that he is saved.

This idea also looks to be backed up by the passage in Luke 18 where a rich man asks Jesus how he can have salvation and Jesus replies saying to give away all of his wealth. The rich man then walks away sad and Jesus says to his disciples that it is impossible for the rich to get into heaven.

There is something you have to remember about reading the Bible though. You cannot take certain passages in the Bible and base doctrines on those passages, you have to take the Bible as a whole. A lot of times concepts are explained and then later on they are refined or more detail is given.

So then how do we reconcile this with verses such as Ephesians 2:8-9?

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

The passage in James 2 ties these two concepts together perfectly and clears any cloud of confusion that some may have. James says “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? … Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14,17)

A person is not saved by any work they do, no matter what it is, because our sin is so great to God that no amount of our “good works” could make up for it. It is only through our faith in Jesus Christ that we can have salvation, and by nothing else. But when you have faith, you will have good works as a response to your faith. It is not something you have to make yourself do, it is out of an act of love.

I love my wife, and because I love her I do things for her, help her out around the house when she isn’t feeling well, or buy her her favorite chocolate as a surprise when I am at the store.  These acts do not make her love, the acts do not make her my wife, they are just acts of kindness that I do in response to my love for her.  Faith in Christ works the same way.

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. – James 2:21-26

Abraham was not saved because of his actions. Abraham took action because of his faith, they work hand in hand. If Abraham did not have faith, then he would not have acted.

Zaccheus was saved that day, but not because he gave away his wealth, but because he had faith in Christ. Once Zaccheus had faith his wealth was meaningless to him because he had Jesus. Zaccheus acted out of response to his faith in Christ. Jesus then announced that he was saved because Zaccheus had faith, and he also had evidence of faith in his works.

The rich ruler in Luke 18 wanted Jesus, but he wanted his riches more. He did not have faith or he would not have cared about his riches.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. – Matthew 13:44

When you are saved through your faith in Christ you have a heart for God, and a heart for others. At that point the things of this world should seem meaningless as you pursue Christ and the kingdom.

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27

If you have wealth, how are you using that for the kingdom of God? Are you just spoiling yourself? Are you staying “unspotted from the world”? As a professing follower of Christ you should be pursuing the things God wants you to pursue, and if you are not then why not? Do you put Christ before your family even? (Luke 14:26)

Are you really putting Christ first in your life?

If Jesus confronted you today, would he say “today salvation has come to this house” or would he say “how hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God”?

The choice is yours.

Avoiding a Lukewarm Life part 1 – Sacrificing it all

Laodicea, a city in Asia which is known for having a lukewarm church because of a letter written to them in Revelation 3.  I wonder if America will go down in history known for being the modern day luekwarm church?

Revelation 3:15-16 says “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

God wants you to be hot, to be on fire for him, if not you are so distasteful to him that he wants to vomit you out of his mouth!  Why would God have such a severe reaction lukewarmness?  Because God is so holy, and so worthy of every bit of worship and praise we can give him, and when we take our eyes off of Jesus just to focus on the things of the world, it is disgusting to God.

Jesus, a treasure worth sacrificing for

Jesus told a parable of a man who found a treasure in a field, and was so excited to get the treasure that he went and sold everything he had so he could buy the field and get the treasure.  (Matthew 13:44)  This, Jesus says, is how we need to seek the kingdom of God.  We need to seek Him so fervantly that we are willing to sacrifice anything to get Him because we know He is worth it.

Imagine you being this person, following a map that is promised to lead to riches.  You get to a clearing in the trees and you see an obscure X on the ground. So you dig, and you find a stock pile of bars of gold worth billions of dollars.  And then you burry the bars of gold, and you go off to live your life. You could buy that plot of land and take ownership over the treasure, but to do that you would have to sell your car, your tv, or even your house.

If any one of us saw a person give up this treasure we would try to knock some common sense into them, say “come on, that treasure is worth so much more than all of your measly possessions combined!”  But this is us!  We are satisfied with knowing Jesus exists and maybe even going to look at the treasure every Sunday, but we refuse to take any action that could give us possesion of this treasure.

A rich man once came go Jesus and asked “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and Jesus responded “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Luke 18:18-23) What did the guy do? “But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.”  This guy let his earthly possessions stop him from having eternal life, from having a relationship with Jesus.  And this is disgusting to God! 

But we do the same thing…

Your head fights that idea instantly by saying “but I’m not rich, I live pay check to pay check and sometimes can’t pay my utility bill.”  Don’t be blind to what you do have.  Most of the world lives off of $2 per day.  Your brain is smart and fires back “but the cost of living is so much more here, it is impossible to live off of $2 per day.”  Well yes, it is true that two dollars will get you more in other countries than in the U. S. but think about this.  If you have a roof over your head, a form of transportation (even a public bus), and food on your table every day, you are richer than 80% of the world.  If you make just $50,000 a year you are in the top 99% of the richest people in the world.  We have so many posessions we cannot even name them all, and we think we are poor?  It was after this that Jesus said it is impossible for a rich man to get into heaven.  Billions of people live in slums and have to live off a diet of rice to survive and we consider ourselves “poor” because we can’t afford to go out for a steak dinner this weekend.

Are your riches getting in the way of you coming to God?  Would you be willing to sell everything you have to follow Jesus?  Instantly your mind races for a reason to hold on to what you have.  You think “God has not asked me to give away my posessions” or “God wants me to enjoy this life and has given me my money to enjoy, not to live in poverty so I can give it all away.”  My question to you is, have you ever asked Him what He wants from you?

But that is legalistic!

The common defense for the church in America when they are told to do something hard.  Throw down the Legalism card as a “get out of conviction free” card.  But is what I am saying  legalistic, or is it Biblical?  Reading the passages above it seems pretty clear that we are to sell everything we have and give to the poor, to get rid of everything that could be standing in the way of you being on fire for God.

There are many places in the Bible where Jesus gives very hard commands that show us that being a Christian involves more than going to church, singing a few songs and hanging around Christians when you play games or spend time on the computer.  “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:27

In Luke 14 Jesus commands people to consider the cost to following Him before you begin, becasue it is costly.  Does not a builder consider if he can afford to build a tower before he starts? Does a king not consider if he is able to defeat an army before he goes to war?  “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)

As Christians we are the salt of the earth, but if we are lukewarm then we lose our flavor and Jesus says that salt that has lost its flavor is not even fit to be thrown in the manuer pile. (Luke 14:34)

Revelation 3:17 God says “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” Wretched, miserable, are these words you want God to use when describing you?

Do you get it yet?

Do you understand?  God does not want people sitting around being holy couch potatoes.  God wants people that are so devoted to serving him they are willing to sacrifice everything, money, power, family, even their own life.  These are the people God wants to follow Him!

Notice who had joy and who did not in Jesus’ parables.  The man that sacrificed everything to buy the field with the treasure “in his joy went and sold all he had” while the rich man “became very sorrowful.”  Who has more joy, the one holding on to the things of earth or the one reaching for the treasure?

So I must give away everything?

I’m not saying you have to give away everything, but why not?  What is keeping you from doing it?  Is it because it is an idol?  I know my money has been an idol to me many, many times and I still struggle with this, but I know in the end it is worth whatever sacrifice I give, and more.

What I am trying to say, is that you need to seek God, but not in a casual way, in a way where you are willing to sacrifice everything for Him!  I guarantee the instant you enter into eternity you will wish you had sacrificed more!

So what makes God so great to deserve this kind of all-in sacrifice?  I will answer that in part 2.

Leave a comment below telling us how God has asked you to sacrifice to serve Him!

Jesus does not need you, you need Him

Jesus does not need you, you need Him

I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone say to me “I would follow God if he would just show up in my room with blinding light telling me to follow him,” or if God would just miraculously give me a million dollars in my bank account or save me from this situation or do any number of extraordinary things.  God is capable of doing this, of course, so why doesn’t he?

The answer is simple, God does not need to beg you to come to him, he gives you all of the evidence you need, it is up to you to decide to follow him.

God never begs anybody to follow Him

Have you ever noticed in the Bible how Jesus never, ever, begged people to follow him?  Never once did Jesus say “please follow me, pretty please?”  Then why do so many people think God caters to us to try and entice us to come to him?

The purpose of parables

After Jesus told the parable of the sower (Matthew 13) the disciples asked him why Jesus told parables (Matthew 13:10). Jesus’ answer was probably a little shocking to the disciples, I know it is shocking to me.  Jesus answered and said

Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘ Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ (Matthew 13:11-15)

Is the Bible telling us that Jesus did not want them to understand?  Yes, that is exactly what this is saying.  But why? Because the people would not respond correctly. “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)  Jesus had just said in Matthew 13 that people will be judged based on how much knowledge they are given, so Jesus speaks in parables out of compassion, not giving too much information to those who will not respond properly but giving enough to peak the curiosity of those that really want to know God.  Jesus only wants those to come to him who will respond properly.

Jesus wants everyone to be saved, right?

Yes, God wants everyone to be saved (2 Timothy 2:3-4) “God our Savior,  who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wants everyone to come to him in the same way I want my son to follow God and never stray, never get hurt. But I know that my son will stray despite what I want for him, just like God knows not everyone will come to him despite God wanting everyone to come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Jesus knocks on the door for all of us, he does not beat down the door or force his way in. Those that answer the door Jesus dwells with, those who tell Jesus to go away, get a silent door.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23)

Those who seek

God wants you to seek him, not be lazy and wait for everything to come to you.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6)

Jesus is a treasure worth sacrificing everything

Today it is so easy to get caught up in what the society thinks. We think God is nothing more than something else we add to our life, an hour or two a week and try to avoid sin and then we are good, we have our ticket stamped ready to go to heaven.  But that is not what God wants. God is more valuable than that! God is not a trinket we wear around our neck along with everything else in our life. He is our life.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Jesus, treasured above everyone

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

What? We are to hate everyone in our life? Jesus has to be number one in your life; your love for him must be so much more than any other relationship that everyone else is put to the side for Jesus, you do not put Jesus to the side to serve your family!

No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Do you get it yet? Jesus is not someone who begs you to follow him.  Jesus is so awesome, so wonderful, you need to come seek Him.  Jesus already paid the ultimate price to free you from your bondage in sin, and he created you (John 1:3), what else do you need?

References

Why did Jesus speak in parables?

Christians: Regarding Homosexuals…

Over the past few days I have heard a few different stories showing the outspokenness of Christians against the practice of homosexuality, and I wanted to help clear a few things up before we go about accusing people of being a homosexual.

Before we begin, I will say that I am not in any way condoning homosexuality, it is a sin, like any other, and especially being a sexual sin (which the Bible states is even worse to commit 1 Corinthians 6:15-20) it is a sin against your body, which is the temple of God, it needs to be avoided at all costs. If you are practicing any sin, homosexuality, adultery, or other, you need to repent and give your life over to Jesus fully so you may serve Him instead of yourself.

With the recent news of Ted Haggard shocking America, and other similar stories from other churches, many churches decide to take up the arms against this outrageous sin and downright bash anybody who even appears to be a homosexual. With signs saying things such as “God hates gays” and other similar messages, what message are we sending to the world about God?

Being a Christian means that we are Christ-like, or at least trying to be. So where in the Bible did we see Jesus giving any such message? Only to the hypocrites, calling them a brood of vipers (Matthew 12:34 and Matthew 23:33) and sons of satan (John 8:44).

So then, what does Jesus say about homosexuals?

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Yeah, did you hear that homosexuals, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God (AKA going to hell)!!

Oh uhm, wait a second…

I think there are a few more words in that verse…

In the same list we see “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners”

So before you start saying these things about any one group of people, analyze your own life, are you fornicating? Do you currently place anything above God in your life (idolatry)? Do you lust after other people (adulterer)? Have you ever taken anything or coveted anything? I think almost everyone in our nation has fallen into that one lately (I know I have).

Another verse:

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

Ever told a lie?

Before you go jumping on the band wagon to attack a single group of people for their sin you need to look at your life.

Now, am I saying that we should just let someone living in sin be? (be it homosexuality, pornography, coveting, lying, slander, etc) Absolutely not! We all need Christ in our life and we all need to repent. No amount of work on our own part will remove the sin from our life. Only Jesus can do that.

So, what would you say to someone who is involved in sin? Why not just go through the 10 commandments? Ask if the person has lied, stolen anything, taken God’s name in vain, or committed adultery.

People who are homosexuals have been so attacked by Christians that they need to hear the full truth. They have sinned against God even if they were never a homosexual! That is just one more of the many sins that the person has committed against God, and needs to be treated in the same way. If someone comes up to you and confesses that they have been falling into pornography would you isolate yourself from them, make fun of them and make a public spectacle out of it? Or would you pray with the person and try to help them on their path to repentance?

Now, to any of you who are sinning, you know you have done it, your conscience confirms that what you have done is wrong and against God. If you were in court and you are found to be guilty, next comes the sentencing, where you have to pay for your crime.

Every person will have to face the judge when we die, and you will be found guilty of breaking God’s laws. ” For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) and “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

But Jesus came to pay the penalty for your sin since you couldn’t pay it. Out of His love for you He paid the price, and all you have to do is repent of your sin and confess Jesus and you will be saved. “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Here is some more scripture for you:

if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:5)

He who covers his sins will not prosper,
But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins. (Isaiah 43:25)

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:30-31)

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Now let’s stop acting like the rest of the world, trying to hide our sin and act better than we are, and let’s repent of our sins and help the lost do the same, the way Jesus did.

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Too much confidence in a relationship that once was…

If you look at the U.S. today, there is a huge “Christian” population. Churches are full of people, so they must be full of Christians… right?

I have some shocking news for everybody… Going to church does NOT make you a Christian. Many people are confident that they are Christians because they used to be a real follower of Christ, or because they once said a prayer. Well, what is a Christian? A Christian is someone who “Follows Christ” which has little to do with going to church or just saying a single prayer. It is the act of abiding in Christ.

John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

John 15:6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

And we can’t overlook this great verse:

1 John 2:6 “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

To be a follower of Christ means you must abide in Christ. What does the word abide mean? “to remain stable or fixed in a state; to conform to; acquiesce (to accept, comply, or submit tacitly)”. It means to conform to Jesus and live your life devoted to Him and making His ways yours. You must! And He was saying to them all, ” If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must “deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) This isn’t just a one time decision. You may have been a strong Christian in the past, but what about today? Are you abiding in Christ DAILY, denying yourself and your desires and trying to conform yourself to Christ, who we call our Master?

To many people are comfortable being “Sunday Christians”; well what part of your daily life reflects Christ?

It may or may not be possible for one to lose their salvation, the Bible hints at it but there is no solid evidence. What the Bible DOES say is that if you don’t bear fruit then you will be thrown into the fire and the only way to bear fruit is to abide in Christ (John 15:6). If you are not following Christ today but you did at one time, you may be trying to take comfort in the fact that you used to be saved and on fire for God, but why risk it? If you do follow and abide in Christ in your daily life then you are guaranteed to be fine, if not then you may have lost it all.

If you love Jesus, then what are you doing for Him? Do you even care what you are doing for the Kingdom of God? Or are you just concerned with the kingdom of “me”? Does your love for your Messiah convict you into trying to have a closer relationship with Him and do things for Him? Or do you only care about yourself? And if that’s the case, then are you sure you still have any type of relationship with Him at all?

If you don’t have a relationship with Christ then you have nothing.

The Danger of Compromise

Mark 9:43-50

v.43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-
v.44where “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

-In verse 44, Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 66:24, speaking of the judgment of hell.

v.45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-
v.46 “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’
v.47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire-

v.48 where “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

-In three rounds of hyperbole, Jesus issues a bold challenge to personal, practical holiness. It was a common form of Jewish moral teaching to use hyperbole, or exaggerate speech to make a point.

-Jesus obviously did not call for literal amputation of a hand, foot, or eye, because we don’t sin with just one of each. The problem isn’t our hands, eyes or feet; it’s our hearts and what they long for.

-Jesus’ point is obvious by the use of this hyperbole - TAKE DRASTIC ACTION TO ENSURE THAT YOU DO NOT FALL INTO SIN!

-Who cares if others consider you a religious zealot! If you do what you do because you want to walk in purity before your God, who gives a darn what anyone else says???

-You see, Jesus marks the inevitable progression that comes if we allow compromise. If we tolerate a little sin, like a weed, it can grow to take over the whole field of our hearts, and then, we stand in danger of being lost.

-Jesus is stating clearly here that if we are not radical in our pursuit of holiness, then YES - hell awaits!

-Christian - Don’t dabble with sin.
– Don’t live a compromised life.
– Don’t leave some little indiscretion unrepented of.
– Don’t adopt a lazy and causal attitude toward immorality.
– Draw the line well back from sin, not along the edge of danger.

v.49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.

-A day of judgment is coming - even for Christians. No, we will not be punished for our sins, but we WILL be judged for our rewards. Paul explains this well in

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

-We may be able to fool the people around us, but the Lord will not be fooled. He sees and knows where we are compromised in our lives.

v. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

– “Have salt in yourself’ means, “Don’t make moral compromises.”

-This is the great danger and condition of the Church in America today. Because we do not face persecution and we live in the midst of such incredible prosperity and opportunity, it is easy to adopt worldly values and priorities that conflict with the values and priorities of the Kingdom. And the whole time we can look to our brothers and sisters in Christ as though we’re doing fine.

-As we’re flipping around the stations on the TV, something comes on the screen that the Spirit tells us to turn off. But the flesh says, “Hey  –  hold on, don’t be such a prude! What’s the problem with just looking. You’re not hurting anyone. And it’s not like this is going to lead to something worse.” And besides, as a Christian, you ought to be informed as to this kind of stuff. Yeah, that’s it; this is research to help you be a better witness.”

-The result of that kind of slight compromise is the dulling of your spiritual edge, and the greasing of the skids of your moral sense so that it will be easier next time to make the same or an even more dangerous choice.

-My pastor calls this “decisional inertia.” The more choices you make to compromise, the easier compromise becomes.

-Conversely, the more you choose righteousness, the easier it becomes to continue in that course.

-Be a “salty” Christian - one with some spiritual backbone and strength.

-Don’t be a “powder-Christian” - one who’s so mired in compromise that when a spiritual challenge comes, you have nothing to offer.

Adapted from a study by Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

Is War Wrong According to the Bible?

I. IntroductionII. The Power of the Sword

Romans 13:1-7 “1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise
from the same. 4For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

-As Christians, whose citizenship in the Kingdom of God takes precedence over our citizenship as Americans, our views ought to be based, not on political loyalties, but on the unchanging truths of God’s Word. We should base what we believe on God and what He has said because Truth does not change, whereas cultural and political views and movements do.

-The aim of this article is to see what the Bible says about the right use of force and when, if ever, war is justified.

-Generally Christians fall into 2 camps when it comes to the subject of war
1)Those who support the idea of a just war because they read in the Old Testament of God’s command to Israel to make war, specifically the command to make a conquest of the land of Canaan.
2)Those who oppose war based on the 6th Commandment not to murder, and on Jesus’ teaching and modeling of non-violence in the New Testament.

-The governing authority at the time this verse was written was Rome.

-Paul recognized the God-ordained role of civil government and called on Christians to honor and submit to it. (verse 1)

-Paul is saying that civil government is ordained by God. God appoints the office of rulers over others because there is a need for it. That need exists because of the advent of sin during the Fall.

-Without an authority structure in place, the sinfulness of man, manifested in his
selfishness, will result in constant conflict.

-Paul equates a refusal to submit to the authority of civil rulers as nothing less than opposition to God Himself. (verse 2) Why? Because God ordained the civil rulers to maintain order. It is part of His Will for us on earth to answer to these governmental authorities.

-It is the duty of the ruled to be subject to the God-ordained authority of civil rulers.

-God ordains civil government to support what is morally good while suppressing evil. (v. 3)
-Authority is empty if it is not backed up by force.
-The sword is the “compelling power” to authority.

-Authority refers to the legal right. Force speaks of the ability to do so. For example, a policeman has a badge showing he has the legal right to enforce the law, and he has a gun which serves as the means by which he enforces it. His gun makes the authority of the badge effective.

-God ordains civil government both authority and the power to back up that authority.

-We must recognize and honor the expressions of God’s authority, and that is what civil rulers are.

-Since submission to civil rulers is seen as a submission to God according to the Bible, then a defiance of civil rulers is likewise a defiance toward God.

-What about those civil rulers who hate God and place terrible demands on people?

It is interesting to look back at the persecution of early Christians and notice that those who were being persecuted did not defy the authority and become full out protestors; the early Christians instead displayed a quiet, gentle humility toward the executioners who were abusing them. Although the Christians disobeyed the law by refusing to worship and call Caesar god, they were obeying the spirit behind the laws given…a spirit of humility and submission to the laws of God. As a result of their quiet, yet strong spirits, many of their executioners became Christians also because they saw how good and upright the Christians were and how they humbly submitted to the sentence given them by the government as opposed to non-Christian law breakers.

-Christians not only owe a debt of submission and respect to civil rulers, they owe them support. This support is shown through the paying of taxes.

-Taxes are us affirming the God ordained role of government and showing our recognition of God’s authority through government.

-What about governments who misuse taxes? Should we stop paying taxes because we do not agree with what the government is doing with them? No, we should continue to pay our taxes regardless of what the government does with the money because God is the ultimate judge and these civil authorities will ultimately be judged and held accountable for their actions when we all will stand before His throne.

-Our duty as Christians right now is to obey the laws of God given through civil government.

The Use of Force

-Paul sees the proper or just use of the “sword” as being the restraint and punishment of evil.

-Because we live in a fallen world, force is necessary to restrain those who are doing evil, and when they perpetrate evil, to punish them.

-God will spiritually judge individuals for the evil they do by eternal means.
But He also judges evil in the here and now through human agents.

-Justice and Love are not mutually exclusive. True justice always comes to bring out the most perfect virtue: love. True justice seeks to restrain evil so that love and peace can prevail.

-God is NOT opposed to the use of force if it is used to a just end. In fact, Jesus will judge with a “rod of iron” in the Millenium where justice will be perfect and swift (no lawyers, no juries, no long drawn out trials…Jesus will use force swiftly to bring about peace and justice).

The Doctrine of “Just War”

The “Just War” must…

1) Have just cause (ie. restraining evil or punishing evil doers; or preventing imminent evil harm from occurring).

2) Be declared by a proper authority (not just anyone can declare war).

3) Possess right intention (ie. to redress an injury or prevent one from occurring).

4) Have a reasonable chance of success (there must be a good enough reason to risk the lives of troops)

5) Have as its ultimate goal the establishment of peace in a region.

6) Be waged with means proportional to the end.

7) Use weapons and methods which discriminate between combatants and non-combatants.

-What about what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount? Matthew 5:39 Or what about Luke 6:35, Exodus 20:13, Psalm 34:14, and Matthew 5:9?

-In Romans 13, Paul is identifying the God-ordained role of civil government and the way believers relate to it. The previous verses, on the other hand, deal with interpersonal relationships, not the role of the civil government….it’s apples and oranges.

-The 6th commandment prohibits MURDER, not killing. Murder is the premeditated, purposeful taking of a life (or lives) without the legal justification or authority to do so.

-Civil rulers have a God-ordained task with the delegated power to back it up–the protection of those they serve by leading them. Police are delegated to do this on a local level, and civil government is authorized to do this on a national and global level.

-A strong and capable military acts as a restraint to evil.

III. ConclusionSometimes War is Necessary!

War that’s waged to protect a nation’s citizens from imminent harm is the proper function of civil government.

Our Calling

No matter how good the world may be doing, it is ever the role of the church to stand as a prophetic voice, separate from the world and separate from the government, calling the world to an even greater degree of righteousness.

-Churches should NOT buddy up with any political view or movement. Our duty as Christians is to stand to the side calling others to the cause of the Kingdom of Christ. We are not Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or Green Peace in God’s eyes; we are Christians and should act likewise.