While We Were!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV)

Who is the “us” Paul references? In this letter to the church at Rome, Paul is speaking to the Jewish converts, now called Christians, followers of Christ–reminding them of God’s love for us--who are followers of Christ. While we–before we became Christians and lived any way we wanted to live–He died for us–that’s God’s love for us.

Most of us can quote John 3:16, but I often wonder if we really know what it means. I have learned from experience that being able to quote a scripture doesn’t mean a person comprehends the magnitude of the words they quote.

“For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son that whoever believed in Hm would not perish, but have everlasting life.”

There is a distinct difference between what John tells us and what Paul says. John tells us that “whoever” (I am a whoever) believed Jesus is the Son of God would not perish but live for all eternity. The whoever applies to anybody and everybody who chooses to believe. Paul says, to those who have already believed and proclaim to be Christians–“remember, we were also sinners at one time,” and His love saved us–and His love continues to save others.

Now, there is so much debate about the term sinner that for simplicity’s sake, I’ll explain it this way. A sinner deliberately chooses to live in opposition to God’s Word. Since I am not a sinner (though I was and His grace saved me), and do not deliberately do things in opposition to God’s Word, I will not say, “I am a sinner.” I am not perfect and when I inadvertently mess up, I am quick to repent and seek His forgiveness. I know many won’t agree with me and that’s okay. When we get to heaven, we can seek clarity from the One who said it. We need to understand the “tenses” of the verbs–the distinction between “present and past” tenses–am (still doing), were (no longer)!

The important thing to take from this passage of scripture is for us to remember, we once were sinners, living in opposition to God’s Word, until we received understanding and chose to live according to God’s Word. And while we were living in sin, He loved us so much that He chose to die for us so we might have access to heaven. Now that we know, we cannot condemn those who are “yet in their sin” but pray for them, teach them and bring them into the Light of God’s love.

That’s why we’re saved–to bring others into the marvelous light of Jesus Christ and His love. Remember, while we were doing our own thing, He still loved us and now we must demonstrate that love towards so they too, can walk in the light as we are in the light.

Are You The One?

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1: 1-3 NIV).

Are you the one who is blessed?

Are you out-of-step with the wicked (not going along with everything the wicked–those who never knew God– do)?

Are you standing on the other side of the street (figuratively speaking)–away from the sinners (those who once knew God, but turned away)?

Are you sitting far away from those who mock (not joining in) those who believe God?

Are you taking pleasure in God’s commandment of loving, unconditionally?

Are you reading and meditating on the Word throughout the day?

If you are doing all these things–then The Word says–you shall be like a tree planted by streams of water–always being watered by the Word–establishing deep, strong roots (foundation for living God’s way) and you will have good success at whatever you do (everything you do, prospers).

Are you the one?

When we do what God tells us to do we can expect to receive what He says we will get. When we don’t–there is still an expectation–though not a pleasant one–we will receive the consequence of our actions.

God help us to be the one who lives according to Your Word so we may blessed with all spiritual and natural blessings in all we do. Remind us on a daily basis to share the love You have poured into our hearts and convince others to seek You for themselves by our conduct and in being a living testimony of Your goodness. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen!

 

Saved (excerpt 2)

Sinner vs Wicked

“The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).  Some people have used this scripture to support their belief that God does not hear the prayer of the sinner (not the wicked).  If this were true, then no sinner could be saved.  We know that God indeed hears the prayers of sinners (who are seeking repentance) because if he didn’t, where would we be?

The sinner is one who knows the way and chooses to take short cuts along the way; sometimes getting lost, but finding their way back. The wicked have never come into the knowledge of who Jesus is or what He has done for us and will persecute those who do believe.  The wicked are those who do not have a conscience and could care less about how their actions affect anything or anyone else. The wicked are totally self-serving and narcissisticThe only thing that matters to them is them. The wicked are found in high places and in low places.  They are found in church and outside the church.  The wicked see themselves as a god and acknowledges no other authority than themselves. (Psalm 36:1) These are the truly wicked.

Sinners have to know the will of God in order to subvert it. The wicked do not know the will of God, nor do they care to know it.  They are a law unto themselves.  Indeed the Lord is far from the wicked because He has never been acknowledged by them and as such, has no obligation or relationship to honor with them.  The difference then is the sinner can be saved while the wicked has no hope. We have to remember that the Word of God tells us that He has created the wicked to fulfill His purposes.  Once we know the difference between a sinner and the wicked, we must determine who we are and what it is we want or where we want to spend eternity.  It is now time to make a commitment to be in a position to receive God’s best.

This excerpt is from, Saved, But Not Yet Delivered! available on amazon.com

 

 

Saved, But Not Yet Delivered! (excerpt)

What happens to people who succumb to the influence of the evil one after belief and confession?  This common occurrence is known as backsliding.  For the most part, we acknowledge backsliding as a common occurrence, but backsliding should not be promoted as a way of life.  The backslider is one who after having confessed Christ, repeatedly submits to the influence of past temptations.  They become backsliders because they have yet to submit their desires to God and become delivered from their ungodly ways.

Picture this:  Children on a giant slide love to climb up the slide and usually keep sliding backwards; making getting to the top difficult, if not impossible for some.  God states, in Jeremiah 3:14, that He is married to the backslider.  Since God established the institution of marriage, surely He can determine how he feels about the backslider and the consequences.  There are indeed consequences to being a backslider.  The backslider who comes to himself and repents of his sins  retains his position with God just as a couple reconciles their relationship when problems arise.

The fate of the backslider who never repents falls into the hands of an angry God.  The bible tells us that this person can expect an even greater terror than the one who never confessed any knowledge of Christ.  On the other hand, we are told in I John 1:9, 10  “that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If God forgives us, should we care about the forgiveness of others? Who is it that we should be concerned about as it pertains to our status with God?   It is without a doubt, the most fruitless exercise in the world to try to please people.  Therefore, our only concern should be in pleasing God. According to God’s Word, we, who choose to care about what God thinks, are wise because He is the only one from whom we are seeking acceptance.

Unfortunately, many people attempt to seek acceptance from entities—church folks and institutions—who could care less about a person as an individual.  Although there are some churches and other individuals who genuinely care about people, they are too few in number to make a real difference.  Consider the following:

A young lady, who did not begin her life’s journey with any understanding of the Word or God’s way of doing things, falls short of the mark, in a number of ways.  However, once she has been shown the light and comes to a place in her life where she has now established a right relationship with God, should she not be accepted into the fold as though she has never sinned? [This example uses a young lady because females are often scrutinized more often and judged more harshly for their past sins than males.]

If we truly believe the Word, then we have to acknowledge the fact that once God forgives us, He tosses our sins into the sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:18, 19).  Since our sins are cast into the sea, who has a right to go fishing for them, in an attempt to bring them to the surface? We must forever be on guard against the wiles of the enemy.  We cannot allow him or his minions to superimpose their views into our lives.  Therefore, whenever anyone attempts to bring our past to the surface, we must remind them—tactfully, if possible—that our past shortcomings have been confessed and forgiven.  They do not have a right to fish in God’s sea.

 

This is an excerpt from:  Saved, But Not Yet Delivered! available on amazon.com