The Good News - Home
But we all, with open
face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord. (2 Cor 3:18)
David A. DePra
vs. The Wrath of God
He First Loved Us
Received and Given
Sorrow vs. Worldly Sorrow
and Faith Towards God
Gift of Conviction
Peace of God
Christ of Division
Revealed In Us
Sin of the Human Race
Wages of Sin
Provision of God
God Doesn’t Provide
With Words of Wisdom
Judgment vs. Discernment
Jesus said, "Judge not that you be not judged." (Matt. 7:1) It is never God’s will for us to judge another person. But it is always God’s will for us to discern the Truth – even if it means we see wrong in another person. We need to grasp the difference.
"To judge," in the way God forbids, means that we play God and decide what someone deserves. We are pronouncing a sentence against them. We are assuming that we know their heart. This is prohibited because there is no way for us to know a person’s heart the way God knows it. We have to leave room for God.
To discern, however, is to be able to distinguish right from wrong. It is to be able to know the Truth vs. error. This is essential. Indeed, the more I come to know Jesus Christ, the more discernment is going to be a by-product. Thus, to call evil by it’s name is not wrongly judging. It is discerning. God WANTS us to do so.
Godly discernment – a product of knowing Christ – will always carry the heart of God towards even those in whom I discern evil. I will desire what God desires – that they might be saved and come into the knowledge of the Truth. The goal will always be redemptive.
Chastisement vs. Punishment
For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. (Heb 12:6)
The Father in heaven NEVER punishes his children. But the Lord does chastise us. There is an immense difference.
Punishment – under the normal use of the word – carries suffering as payment for sin. It tends to be personal and vindictive in nature. But that kind of punishment is not necessarily redemptive or restorative. Under these definitions of punishment, it is clear that God never punishes His children. It is not His nature.
God does chastise. The word, "chastise," means, "to train a child." It speaks of God’s intervention into our lives for the purpose of our good and His purpose. God’s intention in chastisement is ALWAYS redemptive. So even though we, like most children, may despise or reject the chastening of the Lord, God’s motive is LOVE.
God scourges every son He RECEIVES. The word could be translated, "positions." God is positioning us in Christ – building a relationship with Christ -- for an eternal inheritance. He knows better than we know and is working out His purpose for us.
Love vs. The Wrath of God
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Rom. 1:18)
The Bible speaks of the wrath of God, but it also reveals that God is love. (I Jn. 4:8) God’s nature is love. But if God IS love, then even His wrath is love. God’s nature of love must be in all of His actions and attitudes towards us, including wrath.
The wrath of God is when God gives people up to what they have chosen in their rebellion. He gives them up TO their choice so that they might, through consequences, eventually see their sin and turn to Him. Because God is love, He will never stop bringing Light and never close the door to Redemption. But if a person continues to love darkness rather than light, God will have to ultimately give them over to exactly what they have chosen: Darkness. And of course, in that darkness, there will be many other consequences. The same light God intends for our redemption, will absolutely judge us if we refuse it.
How is this love? It is love because the intent is redemptive. God never stops being faithful to even those who reject Him. This is His wrath against sin. It is not a temper tantrum, or an angry outburst. It is not vindictive. Rather, it is God remaining true to us, and to His Son, even though we might be rejecting Him and choosing hell.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (I John 4:10)
What is the love of God? – "agape" -- in the original Greek. We might define the agape love of God as follows: The agape love of God is God’s commitment to His highest for the one loved, regardless of personal cost to Himself, or to us.
You will note that the key here is GOD’S HIGHEST. Not human goals. And you will also note that God has already paid the ultimate personal cost – His only begotten Son.
This explains much about how God works. God speaks the TRUTH in love. But He does speak the TRUTH! It is not love to lie to people about their condition before God, or to help them to destroy themselves. Yet today this is exactly what is being passed off as Christian love. Preach the Truth today – and do it in agape love – and you will be considered mean spirited and judgmental. Sure, it IS possible to preach the Truth in that kind of a wrong spirit. But this does not change the Truth itself. You cannot love another if you are not telling them the Truth.
Agape love is a commitment to God’s highest for the individual loved, regardless of cost to them, or to us. It is redemptive and Christ centered. This is how God loves us and how we will love others if we know Him.
Because He First Loved Us
We love him, because he first loved us. (I John 4:19)
Read in the Bible the command to, "love one another." Then try to do it. You cannot. You might want to do it. And you might convince yourself for awhile that you have succeeded. But you cannot. You cannot love with the agape love of God. The best you will muster up is a human love. Indeed, the command to love one another has often been turned into another LAW by Christians – into something we must DO to keep right with God -- the suggestion is, we must love others in order to be loved by God.
No. The only way to love another person with the agape love of God is to first receive God’s love for YOU. Indeed, we cannot even love God Himself until we first experience His love for US. Everything in Christianity works according to this principle: We must FIRST receive from God down to us by His grace – and only then will we have anything to give to others out of what God has given to us. How could we generate the love of God from OUT of ourselves, unless we have first received His love INTO ourselves? If we try to generate a love out of ourselves it may look very religious. But it will be a destructive force that caters to human interests. As a branch, I must abide in the Vine – who IS love – and then He can love other branches through me.
Vertical then Horizontal
A man can possess nothing, except it be given him from heaven. (Jn. 3:27)
This statement by John is a basic principle. Our relationship with God must be FIRST, and it must determine our relationship with everyone else. And the fact is, this is going to happen whether we realize it or not.
This relationship between God and ourselves, and then, between ourselves and others, could be pictured in the following way: The basis for everything is our personal, one-on-one, VERTICAL relationship with God. God gives us all things freely from Himself down to us VERTICALLY. But then, because of this, we are able to have HORIZONTAL relationships with others based upon the impact of our VERTICAL relationship with God.
Of course, this is just a mechanical way of saying that we, as individuals, are to live from out of the Christ who dwells in us – we are to live from out of Him towards others. He is the Vine and the rest of us are branches. How we abide in Him personally will impact our relationship with the other branches. If we have freely received, freely give.
This also gives us direction. We love others because we see God loves us. We forgive others because God has forgiven us. A person has nothing of value except if first be received from God. Only then can we what we give to others be free and real.
Freely Received and Given
Freely you have received, freely give. (Matt. 10:8)
God has given all things freely in Jesus Christ. (Rom. 8:32) Therefore, how could we do otherwise? This is an especially revealing question once we realize that Jesus gave these instructions as He sent His disciples out into ministry for the first time. Has ministry ever operated in this great Truth?
What does it mean to FREELY give? It means to give without strings attached – without any demand for payment. In other words, it means to give solely by grace. But having said that, what does it mean to FREELY receive? It means to receive solely by grace without trying to make payment. The foundation of the gospel is that all things are, "by grace through faith." In short, we must FREELY receive from God because God has FREELY given – but then having freely received from God, we are likewise to freely give to others. Any other basis is error and contrary to the grace of God.
Jesus was talking about ministry. He said that we are to freely give BECAUSE we have freely received – really, we are to give to others from OUT OF what we have freely received from God. It never belonged to us. He is describing FAITHFULNESS.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1)
Either this verse is the Truth or it is a lie. And if it is the Truth, then it is entirely the Truth: There is never any condemnation – never any judgment of God against – those who are in Christ Jesus. But someone might ask: What about when we sin?
Here are the only two options: (1) There is no condemnation EVEN when we sin. Or: (2) There is no condemnation EXCEPT when we sin. Period. But if it is (2) – if we are never condemned EXCEPT when we sin – then when we sin we ARE condemned. But that would put us right back under the law -- our works determine whether we are condemned. This would negate the gospel of grace.
The Truth is: There is no condemnation from God for the saint EVEN when we sin. Get that – in Christ, there is NO condemnation EVEN when we sin. And we all do sin -- if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. But does this mean we are free to continue in sin because grace abounds? No. For if we have repented of sin and come to Christ, Paul tells us why we will not want to continue in sin – we have repented of wanting to sin. We are dead to sin. We will not want to be alive to sin. Of course, we are talking about TRUE repentance -- about what happens when a person is born from above and has Christ in them. These are living Truths of a changed nature.
Conviction vs. Condemnation
(The Spirit of God) will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. (John 16:8)
Conviction from God is never condemnation. Indeed, condemnation is either the absence of conviction, or the refusal of it. Condemnation and conviction BOTH carry a sense of hopelessness within ourselves – there is nothing we can do to help ourselves or to find our way back to God. But conviction will always carry a realization, yes, of our hopelessness because of sin, but also of God’s forgiveness and restoration through Jesus Christ.
Conviction is redemptive LIGHT. It is God showing me the Truth about my sin, indeed, about my true hopeless condition. But all conviction of sin that is from God will be carried in the realization of Christ the Savior. God shows me that I have sinned against Him so that I can repent be delivered. God is a redemptive God. All He does is with that intention.
Conviction will motivate me to run to Christ. Condemnation is the result of hiding from Him. Thus, the difference is not whether I have sinned. The difference is faith. The only escape from condemnation is to respond to conviction by faith.
Godly Sorrow vs. Worldly Sorrow
For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. (2 Cor 7:10)
Godly sorrow is the result of seeing and embracing the Truth about my sin against God. It leads to repentance – which is a change of moral intent towards God. Sure. If I embrace the Truth this will MAKE ME TRUE UNTO GOD. That is repentance.
You will note that TRUE REPENTANCE is, "not be be repented of." In other words, it is never recanted or taken back. It is a one way street and permanent. This is not to say we will never sin again, or commit that same sin again. But it does mean that we will not want to sin. We will want to be free of the sin. Our moral mind and hearts will have changed towards God regarding the sin. We will be seeking Him for true freedom.
Worldly sorrow is not the result of embracing the Truth about my sin, but is instead a rejection of the Truth. Rather than be based in a desire to be free of the sin, it is a based in a desire to be free of the consequences FOR sin. I am not sorry because I have sinned against God. Instead, I am sorry because sin makes me look bad, and hurts my sense of self-esteem.
Anyone can be sorry if they know they are going to pay a penalty for sin. But Godly sorrow is the result of seeing that I have violated the One who paid that price for me. This truly does require a conviction of the Spirit of God.
Repentance and Faith Toward God
…the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. (Heb. 6:1)
Repentance and faith TOWARD GOD are the only kind of repentance and faith that are real. They speak of our relationship with God. All else are religious exercises.
The primary sin of which I must repent is unbelief. All other sins can, in one way or another, be traced back to unbelief. Unbelief is rooted in my right to own myself. Thus, I must repent of that core sin. And if I do repent of unbelief, then I will BELIEVE – the result being that I will LOSE my life into the hands of Jesus. My faith will be IN HIM.
Here we see the ultimate outcome of faith in Christ. I cannot say I trust Christ if I continue to own myself. Real faith will take us to where we lose our lives to Him.
We might say that true repentance results in a RENOUNCING of our old life in Adam; of our sin of self-ownership. We renounce our old life and lose it for Jesus’ sake. We can renounce our old life even if we don’t think we are guilty of many sins. Why? Because we are renouncing the life that contains the nature of all sin.
God’s Gift of Conviction
God’s kindness leads us to repentance. (Rom. 2:4)
Conviction of sin that is embraced leads to repentance. But our repentance is not FOR God – it is for US. We need God and conviction is the way in which God draws us to repentance, and thus, to Himself. It is therefore His gift of mercy to us.
Repentance is the result of us embracing the light God brings. Confession means we say the same thing about our sin as God already says. And we do this because we know that God is faithful to have already forgiven all sin in Christ Jesus.
Conviction of sin may shock us. We might be appalled at the possibilities of sin in our own heart. And not just outward sins – but also inward. The depth of possibility in the human heart for sin is beyond our ability to know it. However, the Redemption of Jesus Christ reaches deeper than the deepest sin – even to the possibilities we don’t know about.
If we are shocked about the possibilities in our own heart, God would say to us, "You are now seeing what I have known all along. You are now seeing what Jesus already died for. I have shown you the Truth about yourself so that you might confess it and move forward in freedom, rather than continue in blindness." That is grace.
God is Light
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (I John 1:5)
God is light. That is so simple, and yet so profound. It is apparently also vital to grasp because despite the many ways THE MESSAGE could be expressed, in this case John the apostle says, "This IS the message: God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."
What does it mean, "God is Light?" Certainly it echoes what Jesus said about Himself: "I Am the Truth." (John 14:6) We are touching here on the very nature and character of God. God is light – He is clear, transparent, honest, and never foggy. There are no gray areas. God is not the author of confusion. God is holy and true and utterly faithful.
Why is THAT the message? Well, we would not get far in the message if God were not Light personified, would we? We could not trust Him.
Because God Himself is Light, it is futile to try to see the Truth, or to discern anything, without knowing God. Discernment without knowing God leads to deception.
Knowing Jesus Christ
That I may know him… (Phil. 3:10)
What does it mean to KNOW Jesus Christ? -- according to the Bible meaning? It means to inwardly realize Him. When Paul said that he travailed until, "Christ be formed in you" (Gal. 4:19), he used a wonderful word, translated FORMED. It means, "to inwardly realize and express." This is a true knowing of Jesus Christ – it is a knowing that comes from experiencing and realizing Him.
This knowledge of Jesus is different than any theological or academic knowledge. You cannot study your way into the true knowledge of Jesus Christ. Neither can you drum it up by some form of meditation. The only way to come into the true knowledge of Jesus is exactly the way Paul said: The Christ who dwells in us must be formed in us. Paul said that the work of the Cross is the means by which we lose ourselves and come to be found in Him; by which He is formed in us – "that I may know Him."
Jesus Christ is both LIFE and LIGHT. Thus, if we lose our lives and find Him as our LIFE, then we are going to know Him – we will see LIGHT. This is simply another way of saying that Christ must be formed in us – we must come to realize Him in an inward, spiritual way.
Grace and Peace
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. (II Peter 1:2)
How do we come to have grace and peace? By controlling our emotions? Only if God hands them to us out of the blue? No. Grace and peace are the result of knowing the Truth about God and His Son Jesus Christ. Think about that. Knowing God produces peace. Doesn’t that tell us a lot about the God we are to know? And doesn’t that tell us that the knowledge of God, as the Bible means it, is an inward realization?
People get nervous when they hear such terms as, "inward realization." They express worries that when you tell them that God must reveal Christ IN US, and that He must be formed IN US, that you mean that God can reveal something that contradicts scripture. Or that you are talking about some form of Gnosticism. No. The Christ God will reveal and form is the same One shown in scripture. But He will be a Living Christ – Living in You. Indeed, the Bible itself states that God wants to reveal CHRIST IN US.
The grace and peace that comes from merely reading the Bible may last for a little while, but it cannot stand when a big crisis comes. Only if our grace and peace is based in an inward knowledge of God will we be able to stand against the big storm.
The Peace of God
Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
What is the difference between the peace of God and the peace of this world? The peace of God is the result of peace WITH God as the basis – but then it is multiplied through a growing knowledge of God Himself. To the degree that we know God, we will have the peace of God.
The peace of the world is the result where there is no conflict. If I have gotten my own way I will have peace. If I have won a battle I will have peace. Or if I run away from a battle I will have peace. The peace of this world has nothing to do with relationship with God. It occurs when circumstances agree with my old nature.
It is entirely possible for a Christian person to have peace – but for it to be the peace of this world. It is a façade. There are Christians who are walking in the light of their own mind, and totally in the flesh. They can have a worldly peace – to the extent that their circumstances are at one with what inwardly binds them. God wants Christ to bind us – and if we are one with Him, and know Him, we will have His peace.
The Christ of Division
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10:34)
Jesus Christ will bring division to every unity that is not based in Himself. He will do this so that by breaking up false unity He can establish true unity.
For two thousand years, professing Christians have tried to create and impose unity. Unity is often imposed by rules supposedly taken out of the Bible. "You must belong to our church or submit to our authority;" "You must believe and do as we believe and do." Well, this CAN create a unity – including a unity around even heresy. Most cults have strong unity – the people all believe and practice the same error. Unity is never a proof of the Truth. It is only a proof of agreement.
The NT teaches us to KEEP the true unity that is in Christ – the implication being that unity isn’t something we create or impose among ourselves – but is already possible in Christ. All that is necessary to keep the unity is for each branch to abide in the Vine as an individual. For if each branch individually abides in the One True Vine then all will be unified IN Christ.
True unity is never the result of the branches abiding in, or submitting to, each other. No. True unity is kept when each believer has in common the same Vine.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:5)
The church has always made the mistake of trying to create and impose Christian unity through laws, rules, and even tactics of fear. There are groups today that warn their members that if they break unity by disagreement, or leave the group, that God will punish them. This kind of thing is NEVER of God.
True Christian unity is never imposed. It is the by-product of EACH member knowing Jesus Christ for themselves. If I am walking in the Truth and you are walking in the Truth, we are unified in the Truth. Likewise, if I have the mind of Christ, and you have the mind of Christ, then we both have HIS mind – and we have unity in Christ.
Contrast this over and against the attempts to create unity in the church through the power of the flesh – especially through some authority system. Believers are told to adopt the mind of the leader. Then this is proclaimed as unity because everyone has the same mind. They do. But this same mind is not the mind of Jesus Christ. Christians are to have ONE MIND – but that ONE MIND is to be the mind of Christ.
Equipping the Saints
Till we all come in the unity of the faith. (Eph. 4:13)
According to Jesus Himself, as recorded in John 14-16, the present work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ to us, in us, and through us. This revelation of the SAME Christ in DIFFERENT individuals will result in the unity of the faith for ALL. Thus, any unity that is imposed by law is not unity in Christ. Rather, it is a unity in that law.
We need to see that unity is a matter of sharing a common LIFE – His life – and thus His mind. It is the result of all knowing the same Jesus. An authority system of law cannot do this – law is NOT life. In fact, it is absolutely contrary to the life of Jesus.
The job of NT ministry is to build up each member in Christ. This alone fosters unity. We might even say that unity can result without unity ever being mentioned. Sure. Why? Because unity isn’t the goal. Christ being formed in each member is the goal. But if that happens, unity will be there. Christianity is Christ in YOU – the individual. Build believers up in Him individually and you are promoting unity.
Any person who makes unity with Christ, or being right with God, dependent upon whether you submit to them, or agree with them, is a false teacher. The responsibility of a faithful steward is to help individuals into a relationship with Jesus Christ for themselves. They are ministers unto THAT end – unity in the faith being the by-product.
Knowing God in Christ is a primary purpose of God – it is a central outcome of the Redemption. In fact, knowing God is presented as an ultimate goal of the New Covenant. God says:
For this is the covenant that I will make…I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people...for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." (Heb. 8:10)
This describes CHRIST IN US. God intends to reveal Christ, not only TO us, but IN US. This is the mystery hidden from generations past, but now revealed to the saints. It is the purpose of God – that the individual believer be joined to the Lord – and as a result come into a realization of Jesus Christ – have Christ formed in them. (Gal. 4:19)
Anyone can read about God and accumulate theological knowledge. But the knowledge of God spoken of in the Bible is an experiential knowledge that is the result of being joined to Him in resurrection union. It is the renewal of our mind according to the knowing of God.
Christ Revealed In Us
But when it pleased God…to reveal his Son in me…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood. (Gal 1:15-16)
Certainly God wants to reveal His son TO US. But there is something beyond that: God wants to reveal His Son IN US. God wants to form Christ IN US – which will result in an inward realization or knowing of Him.
Does that seem strange? Perhaps bizarre? Today Christian people easily accept ridiculous signs and wonders and say they are of God. We easily rejoice in miracles whether they are real or not. People say that the Holy Spirit is moving here and there and doing this or that. But tell them that God wants to reveal His Son in us, and they will think you are talking about some kind of extra-biblical revelation. Or, they will simply yawn and move on. Well, God does want to reveal His Son IN US -- it is all through the Bible as God’s purpose and the primary work of the Holy Spirit. This is not extra-biblical revelation – it IS exactly what the Bible says.
For example, how did the apostle Peter know Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God? Jesus explained: "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (Mat 16:17) Flesh and blood did not reveal Christ to Peter, and Paul said when God revealed Christ in him, that he did not confer with flesh and blood. The fact is, this is the only way to receive the revelation of Jesus Christ – directly from God to us.
Forgiveness vs. Deliverance
Jesus Christ won forgiveness for every one of us by dying as our substitute. But forgiveness merely takes away the penalty for sin. Forgiveness alone does nothing to change the sinner. Can you imagine if God forgave sin by removing the death penalty, but did nothing to address the nature of sin that governs us and is behind our sin? We would have a race of people who were fully forgiven, but who were still in bondage to sin, and at enmity against God. God could never settle for such a state.
We need to understand what Jesus actually did. Jesus Christ did not die so that God could merely lift the death penalty from the Adam race. No. Jesus died so that the Adam race could die IN HIM – resulting in deliverance from the old creation -- and be raised IN HIM a new creation. Thus, the death penalty, rather than be lifted because Christ died, was actually fulfilled by the death of Christ. Jesus paid the price of death and tasted death for everyone of us. We are delivered by Him and through Him.
Thus, Jesus is called, "The Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the world." (John 1:29) In effect, Jesus not only won forgiveness FOR all of our sins by dying as our substitute, but He took away and delivered us from sin itself.
Accountability to God
God has never blamed any of us for being born in Adam with a sin nature. We were not responsible for that. But He does hold us responsible for refusing deliverance from the Adam race through Christ – once we see the Truth.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh." (John 3:6) When a person is born in Adam they are born of the flesh -- and are totally without the life of God. And left to ourselves, all we can ever be IS flesh. Thus, throughout our life, all we can do is develop different versions or manifestations of this same Adam nature, or flesh. Some versions of the flesh are more agreeable than other versions of the flesh. Each of us are greatly impacted by our upbringing, environment, temperament, religion, and of course, our personal choices -- this happens whether we realize it or not. Indeed, those who are born of the flesh can be exposed and damaged by some of the worst abuse imaginable, including relgious and spiritual damage. But regardless of how our flesh looks, and how it behaves, in the end, all we can ever be is flesh or carnal – that which is born of flesh IS flesh.
You cannot fix being born of the flesh with religion. Neither will putting the flesh under any law make it spiritually alive to God. The only solution for the flesh is deliverance through death and resurrection in Christ; to become a new creation. Thus, it does not matter what our version of the flesh happens to be, or the depth of our bondage to any sin – we can turn to Christ by faith. Thus, we did not choose to be born of the flesh, but we are accountable to God for being born anew once we see the Truth.
The Sin of the Human Race
Jesus Christ died for all – for every human being that ever lived. Thus, we are told, "all were dead." (II Cor. 5:14) Likewise, Paul writes, "When we were yet enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." (Rom. 5:10a) Because of the death of Jesus Christ, sin is no longer between any person and God. The slate is clean. There is no sin keeping any human being from God because all sin died in Christ.
This is not yet salvation, for we must believe and come to Christ for LIFE. Yes, the death of Christ reconciled us to God, but we are saved by HIS LIFE -- you have to relinquish your life to Him and be joined to Him – planted into His death. Only then will you also be planted in His resurrection. Only then can you be saved.
Now note: If all sin is taken away by the death of Christ for each human being, as an act of grace completely independent of us, then the responsibility upon us once we hear the Truth is FAITH. Thus, the only sin that can keep us from being saved is UNBELIEF.
The primary sin of the human race is unbelief. Unbelief is the neglect or refusal to turn to Jesus Christ as the solution for all sin. If I fully and finally refuse Christ I have committed a sin that has no forgiveness. Jesus never died for the sin of refusing His death. God cannot forgive the sin of refusing His forgiveness. This is why this sin is the unpardonable sin, and will doom us. Any other outcome would be morally impossible.
The good news is that the sin that cannot be forgiven only remains unforgiven if we continue in it. If we will turn from unbelief to faith we are no longer in unbelief. And if we desire, we can do it anytime. It is never too late to repent and turn to Jesus Christ.
The Wages of Sin
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23)
Note the distinction between WAGES and GIFT. Wages are what you earn. A gift has nothing to do with earning.
There are a number of ways in which the wages of sin is death. Certainly, God is going to judge each of us – if we refuse Christ, who IS the Life, we will receive what we have chosen in our unbelief: Death. But there is another way in which the wages of sin is death: Sin kills. It is the law built into the moral fabric of our makeup – if I sin against God the result will be spiritual death. Why? Not necessarily because God punishes me. No. Rather, because I am rejecting Life Himself. Man is a moral creature who is made FOR God. There is no life outside of God for man. Thus, if we reject God and sin against Him, we will reap death – it is the only thing we CAN reap if we refuse The Life.
The Provision of God
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. (Matt. 6:31-33)
You can reason about this all you want but Jesus is saying that the provision of God for His children is so certain that we can actually afford to set aside all anxious thought. There would be no basis for refusing to take anxious thought otherwise – I mean, if God’s provision were in question we probably should take anxious thought because we could never be sure about His promise.
All through scripture God tells us to trust and rely upon Him for provision – and despite the essential of spiritual provision, there is no question that God includes material provision. Jesus is doing that right here. He is talking about food and clothing – basic human needs.
This leads to a conclusion: If God tells us to trust Him for provision -- then He desires to provide. Sure. God would not tell us to trust him to provide if He didn’t desire to provide. That would be dishonest. Can you imagine if a human being did that?
Yet there is a caveat: But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat 6:33) Provision from God is a by-product of the seeking the kingdom, i.e., Jesus as Lord of my life. The provision of God happens under the Lordship of Jesus. Anything else would undermine His purpose.
Provision in Christ
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
If you read this verse in context you cannot escape the fact that Paul is talking at least inclusively about material provision. But what he says once again points out a basic principle as to how God works. God has wrapped up everything He has for man in His Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, neither material or spiritual provision is a matter of God just handing us THINGS -- apart from any relationship to Christ. Rather, as a general rule, material provision comes along as we lose our lives, and then live from out of Christ as our life; as the source of all spiritual provision.
This is the same principle as when Jesus said, "Seek you first the kingdom and all that you need will be added." (Matt. 6:33) This is not a matter of earning God’s provision by our seeking. Rather, it is a matter of us seeking Christ for Himself, and finding all that we need in Him, including material provision. If Christ IS our life – and we are living from OUT OF HIM by faith – material provision will be in the flow of His life.
When God Doesn’t Provide
And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make you to know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live. (Deut. 8:3)
Despite all of His promises to provide for His sons and daughters, there are going to be seasons wherein God does not provide abundantly – where they may even be lack. But this is not because God is unfaithful. Neither is it necessarily because we are doing anything wrong. It may be because God has to chastise us as those whom He loves – to bring us to where He can freely bless us materially for our spiritual health.
God has wrapped up all things He has for us – material and spiritual – in His Son. Generally, material provision comes along as we live from out of Christ as our life; as the source of all spiritual provision. But who among us has any idea what that really means – at least in the beginning? If God simply provided for our material needs abundantly we would never know anything about spiritual life in Christ. We would not truly rely upon God – and might even come to expect and demand from Him. Thus, God may, "suffer us to hunger," so that we may come to know what it really means to seek first His kingdom and live from out of Christ.
If we can live from Christ and trust God even when His material provision is not flowing – if we can live -- NOT by bread alone, but on the basis of His life – then God can eventually provide for us and it will not undermine His spiritual purpose.
True humility is not the result of putting oneself down, or of denying oneself enjoyment. Rather, true humility is only possible if I see the greatness of Jesus Christ.
Human thinking tells us that we either have high self-esteem or low self-esteem. And much Christian teaching today is geared to affirming high self-esteem in Christian people. Indeed, many are teaching that God wants us to have high self-esteem and that to know God loves us will actually enhance that. No. That is a lie. For both high and low self-esteem are a focus upon SELF. We need to be delivered from self.
The Bible states directly that no person ever hated his own flesh. Our problem is not self-hate. Rather, it is too much self-love. What we call self-hate is really a frustrated self-love. God’s love doesn’t make us love ourselves more. It makes us love HIM.
To know Jesus Christ does not make us feel good about ourselves. But neither does it make us feel bad about ourselves. It delivers us out of needing to feel anything about ourselves at all. We are free to stop fussing over ourselves and to leave ourselves alone to God. But we will never understand any of this unless we begin to see Jesus.
Not With Words of Wisdom
To preach the gospel, not with words of wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (I Cor. 1:17)
Today the market is saturated with an array of supposedly Christian books that are geared to appealing to the sentiments and emotional needs of God’s people. Some of them are written as if they are in first person from God Himself as a love letter. These apparently make people FEEL as if God loves them. But can emotions replace faith?
People cannot come to truly know God loves them through an emotional reaction. Indeed, we cannot believe WITH our emotions, anymore than we ought to believe our emotions always reflect the Truth. No. Rather, in the above verse, Paul is telling us that what satisfies our natural man in a religious way can often be contrary to the Cross of Jesus Christ. Why? Because to satisfy natural man keeps alive that which Jesus said we must LOSE by picking up our Cross. People need to get back to the basic Truth of Jesus Christ crucified. The goal of God is not to make us feel better, or to make us feel bad, about ourselves. Instead, God wants to make us want to be delivered from ourselves. He wants to reveal Himself IN US, and to become our life.
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