Category: The Good News


Photo by Sias van Schalkwyk http://www.rgbstock.com/user/Seepsteen

Photo by Sias van Schalkwyk
http://www.rgbstock.com/user/Seepsteen

Jesus’ Offer of Salvation

John 7:37-39, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, IF ANY MAN THIRST, let him come unto me, and drink. HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME, as the scripture hath said, OUT OF HIS BELLY SHALL FLOW RIVERS OF LIVING WATER. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”

Jesus’ offer of salvation was all about receiving the promise of the Spirit to those who would believe on Him. Salvation was offered as an experience that would satisfy spiritual thirst and flow as living waters out from a believer’s belly. The Spirit would indwell and flow out from a believer’s life.

Together We Drink Into One Spirit

In writing to believers, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; AND HAVE BEEN ALL MADE TO DRINK INTO ONE SPIRIT.”

Two Gifts in One

Essentially two gifts are given when we come to Christ. Our forgiveness (our justification) and the promise of the Spirit. Yet, sadly, just as many believers don’t fully grasp God’s forgiveness and experience little freedom from their guilt, many don’t fully realize and enjoy the power of the Holy Spirit who resides within to enable them to live a godly life, empower them for service and manifest in their lives with gifts, signs and wonders.

Rom 8:9, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Compare this to John 7:37-39 above.

Manifestation of The Spirit

When we first experience something extraordinary like tongues or a word of knowledge, it is not the baptism in the Spirit that we are experiencing, but a manifestation of the Spirit through a gift to someone already baptized in the Spirit. It is simply our first awareness of a supernatural flow or manifestation of the promised Spirit which we already received at salvation.

Receiving The Spirit

No long drawn out prayerful tarrying (waiting) is necessary to receive the Spirit. You will have received Him when you believed on Jesus. Rather, simply ask be filled by Him. To tarry or to wait was simply a command to the first believers who were to receive the promise of the Spirit at the feast of Pentecost, God’s appointed time to first give the Spirit to all who believe (see Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4). In so doing God fulfilled the feast to which Pentecost had pointed throughout the Old Testament.

Also, no turning over a new leaf is required either. Justification is sufficient. Just look at the Corinthians! They were not exactly an example of holiness and yet were experiencing the dynamic of the Spirit moving in and through the Body. That said, ungodliness can hinder, frustrate and quench the Spirit.

Luke 11:13, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

This is what salvation is all about: from a life in the flesh to Life in the Spirit. The context of this passage implores us to simply ask. And, asking is sufficient because faith is all that is required.

The Outpouring Begins

The outpouring of the Spirit on 120 disciples at Pentecost manifested in them praising God in languages unknown to themselves, yet recognizable as the mother tongues of Jews who had come from all over the world to the feast. This manifestation drew 3000 people to pay attention. (Note that according to 1 Cor 15:6 there were at least another 380 believers elsewhere who would receive the Spirit too.)

Peter told the crowd, drawn by this inexplicable event, that what they were witnessing was promised by the prophet Joel concerning the Spirit. Peter said that the outpouring of the promised Spirit was related to Jesus being exalted to God’s right hand (being glorified, see John 7:37-39) and Him having received the promised Holy Spirit to give.

Repentance and Forgiveness

It was the man, Jesus, whom they had rejected and had killed. As a result, they were cut to the heart and were led to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, which, Peter said, would mean that they would receive the Spirit. The Spirit, who was used as the bait for their salvation, was the goal of their salvation.

Salvation By Receiving The Spirit

We have preached salvation from sin and stopped there as though it was the main goal. But, Jesus’ message in John 7:37-39, and elsewhere, and Peter’s message at Pentecost was about the promise. God’s promise was the Spirit. God’s gift was the Spirit. Repentance and even justification, as costly as it was to purchase for us and as meaningful as it will forever be to us, remains the means and not the end. These are the pathway to the promise.

Similarly, when Peter spoke to Cornelius (a gentile) and his household about Jesus and got to saying, “’To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins’ …the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.”

What Are We To Do?

So, what should we who have received the Spirit now do? Having received the Spirit at salvation, a continual life lived from Him is available to us. The fruit of His presence in our lives (Gal 5:22) along with His wisdom, power and gifts for service.

If we lack in love we should ask to be filled with the Spirit, and if we lack in power we should ask to be filled, and if we lack in wisdom we should ask for it, and if we desire a gift we should ask for it too.

Eph 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be (continually) filled with the Spirit”

Gal 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Have Faith in God’s Goodness

A continual revelation of God’s goodness, of His deep desire for relationship with us and His unmerited favor toward us will impart faith to continually ask to be filled.

Gal 3:5, “…he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you … by hearing with faith”.

Rob Morley

Grace and Peace?

In your intention to get on with reading or studying God’s word, have you ever skipped on past those words at the beginning of the epistles (letters) in the Bible that read something like, “Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”?

You will see that from the outset of the letter, no matter how the church was behaving, God said words to that effect. He was saying, “In Me are all the resources that you will need: My wisdom, strength, love, joy,… and I want to remind you that I am at peace with you and I want you to experience that peace.” It’s the Gospel in a Nutshell.

You see, the full weight of God’s anger toward the sin in their lives had been poured out on Jesus, justice had been served, God’s rightful anger satisfied, and through confessing their sin they had been forgiven and restored to God’s love.

God Greets You Every Day with the Gospel

Stop and ponder the next time you are reading these words at the beginning of a letter in the Bible and realize that these are God’s words to you. In fact, when you wake in the morning, know that God is personally saying, “Grace and peace to you!” (“Good morning!”)

Peace and Goodwill to All

God really does have peace and goodwill for all men! And, you, no matter who you are or how you feel, are one of them! Have you turned to Jesus and received forgiveness for your sin? A life of grace and peace awaits you.

Rob Morley

 

Jewish Salvation

Photo: Alex Bruda

Photo: Alex Bruda

Continued Conjecture and Confusion over the Jews

Conjecture over the timing and process of Jewish salvation has brought about much confusion and sadly false teaching in the church. This has happened to the point that, if some of us really knew what Paul was saying, he would probably be considered by them to be “anti-Semitic”.

In chapters 9-11 of his letter to the Romans, Paul addressed certain questions and speculation over the future of the Jewish people and their salvation in the light of what appeared to be a huge disconnect between Jews in general and their Messiah. He addressed questions like, why were Jews not embracing the gospel? And, had God rejected them?

Unfortunately, Paul’s attempts to do this have sadly also been misconstrued by those who wildly speculate over the process of Jewish salvation or who have been taught the theologies of such speculators. Perhaps Peter’s words are true of some of these people too, where he wrote, “Paul … wrote … some things … that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist … as they do the other Scriptures” (2Peter 3:15-16).

Separate Plan for Israel after the Gentiles is False

A twisting of Paul’s writing on this issue of the future of the Jews in God’s plans is the common misinterpretation that AFTER the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” THEN Israel will experience salvation. People read this idea into Romans 11:25-27 when it isn’t there, especially if they have been taught this idea. Yet, a simple reading of the passage will show this to be untrue.

Read it for yourself:-

A PARTIAL HARDENING has come upon Israel, UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And IN THIS WAY all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’; ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’”

Note:

A PARTIAL HARDENING” speaks of the NATURE of Israel.

UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” speaks of the duration of this partial hardening.

“And IN THIS WAY all Israel will be saved speaks of the MANNER of the salvation of “all Israel” and NOT THE TIMING of it.

“as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins” speaks of salvation through the promised deliverer and the promised new covenant, i.e. through the gospel of Jesus and the new covenant.

Nothing here speaks of Gentiles coming in “BEFORE Israel will be saved”.  This idea gets accidently read into the passage by readers who expect the passage to be saying this, when it doesn’t.

Explaining the Passage

At this point in this passage, Paul, whose heart is to “somehow…save SOME of them (fellow Israelites),” is addressing the Gentiles in order to give them a sober and accurate understanding of what is happening to the Jews.

He is saying, something like, “Gentiles …In case you get the wrong idea of what is happening through your own evaluation of what you see, let me explain a mystery. A PARTIAL (not complete) hardening has come upon Israel as a people. And, this will be the case UNTIL the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And, in this way, despite their condition of partial hardening, all Israel will be saved, as it is written, through a Savior who will remove their ungodliness with God’s new covenant!”

Drips and Drabs and Spurts

Essentially, as far as the Jews are concerned, while the Gentiles are coming in, and until the end of that time, they too will be coming in, however, because of a partial hardening, it will be in drips and drabs with occasional spurts.

At the time of Paul’s writing it was more like drips and drabs, while the Gentiles were coming into the kingdom in spurts. This was something that drew attention and caused possible speculation and pride among the Gentiles in the church in Rome, which Paul addressed here.

He addresses any idea that the Jews are LARGELY or COMPLETELY hardened as a people and as a result ABANDONED, by explaining that a PARTIAL hardening has come upon them, hence their lack of receiving of the gospel en masse.

So, just as the fullness of the Gentiles come in with drips and drabs and with occasional spurts, so too, will the fullness of the Jews. And, together they comprise Messiah’s “all Israel,” a Holy Nation and a Kingdom of priests.

A Duty to Tell the Jews about Jesus

Like Paul, we have a gospel to preach to a hard world, including to the Jews who have experienced ONLY a PARTIAL hardening.  And, although, at times, it may appear that the Jews are abandoned by God, this is not the case. They, too, must have their ungodliness banished through the Savior with His new covenant. Quite frankly, reaching Jews with the gospel is not harder than reaching atheists in the West or Japanese in Japan.

The time for Jewish salvation, like for everyone else, is NOW. And, it’s through their Messiah, Jesus, with God’s New Covenant.

Just as a missionary in Japan doesn’t stop sharing the gospel at the rejection of it by countless Japanese, we shouldn’t let the rejection of the gospel by many Jews keep us from sharing it with them.

Rob Morley

Photo by Alex Bruda

Defeated?!!!

Remembering the Victory

Remembering the Victory

The Devil knows that he is defeated and he also knows that he has no authority over a Christian’s life. However, being the deceiver that he is, he wants you to believe that he is still a threat to you and has authority over you.

It’s to the extent that we believe him over God’s word that we are defeated. Sometimes, he or his demons don’t even have to participate in defeating us, because our own thoughts, feelings or bad doctrine are enough to bring us down.

Our ultimate salvation is secure through trusting in Jesus’ work on our behalf at the cross. Yet, clearly, we can still have a hard time here on earth and be made ineffective for God’s kingdom through faulty faith.

Today, I read an article on the value of communion. I believe that, more than anything, it establishes us with the right perspective by reminding us of what has been done on our behalf to make us safe with God. Sharing communion isn’t just a nice idea left for us by Jesus. It is a way of armoring ourselves for battle! Consider these verses the next time you take communion and I believe that they will become more meaningful to you on a daily basis:

…be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Eph. 6:10-18).

When last did you have communion? Perhaps today is a good time!

God bless,

Rob

Your Foundation

PeterWhich Rock is at the Foundation of your Faith?

(Reflections on Matthew 16:13-18)

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat 16:13-18).

For more on this, go to my post A Firm Foundation on our site Restore the Word.

Rob

Getting Help

Mankind in the Eyes of God

The Bible is clear about how we as mankind stand before God. Romans 3:23 says,“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” and Romans 3:11-12 says, “There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God… there is none that does good, no, not one. Because of our sinful nature it is impossible for us to live up to God’s standards and be righteous in and of ourselves.

God’s Gift

Despite our sinful condition, God, in His love, made a way to make us righteous so that we could forever be in His presence. He sent Jesus to take our sin upon Himself, and the penalty for our sin, death. In this way God could satisfy His holy anger toward sin and at the same time He could justify us and declare us righteous. But most of all He could satisfy His love for us.

So, through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, we can be made righteous. And, righteousness is a free gift that is given, once and for all, to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Below are some verses from the Bible that tell us this:

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight …But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation(satisfying God’s anger) by his blood, to be received by faith…For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom. 3:20-28).

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God …” (1Peter 3:18).

 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Empowered to Succeed

At the point that we are made right with God, our nature is also changed and His Spirit comes to live inside of us enabling us to love Jesus and keep His commandments.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Apart from this grace we could never love Him properly nor keep His commandments.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will never fulfill the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, and so you do not do what you want to do. But if you are being led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, rivalry, jealously, outbursts of anger, quarrels, conflicts, factions, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like that. I am telling you now, as I have told you in the past, that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16-25).

God is Approachable

Hebrews 12:1 speaks of “the sin that so easily entangles us”. Essentially, we sin when we fail to walk in the power of the Spirit. Yet, despite sinning, we are forever called the righteousness of God! This, however, doesn’t mean that we are licensed to freely sin. Nor does it mean that sin doesn’t have consequences. What it does mean is that we can forever freely enter God’s presence where we can enjoy His love and friendship and be enabled to satisfy a new inner desire to love God and those around us.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Rob Morley

New Life

Let’s continue to look at just how good the Good News really is!!!

(Go here for The Good News of an Exchanged Life – Part 1)

I was Dead, but am now Alive 

  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Eph 2:4-5).

I have God as my Owner 

  • Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price… (1Cor. 6:19-20).

I have a New Responsibilty 

  • So glorify God in your body (1Cor. 6:20).

I have a New Leader 

  • And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air… (Eph 2:1-2).
  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Eph 2:4-5).

I have a New Path 

  • you once walked, following the course of this world (Eph. 2:2).
  • Jesus said …, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Joh 14:6).

I have a New Function 

  • For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them(Eph 2:10).

I have a New Perspective

  • …and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Eph. 2:6).

I was a Victim, but now I’m a showpiece of God’s Grace 

  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (Joh. 10:10). 
  • … so that in the coming ages he (God) might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).

Rob Morley

Changed Life

How Good is the Good News?

What we grasp of the Good News when we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior is minuscule compared to what the Good News in its fullness really is.

You may have come to Jesus for any of the following:

  • God’s offer of pardon for sin
  • seeking a new life
  • help in a crises
  • a need for His love, etc.

We are all drawn to Jesus Christ and different aspects of the Good News found in Him, but no matter what avenue you came in on, the total package becomes yours!

Let’s look at just how good the Good News really is!!!

Exchange

Good news! I lost my status of sinner and I got Jesus’ status of the righteousness of God.

  • For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).

I am Changed

Good news! I am no longer subject to the control of my sinful nature, but I am a new creation, with a new spirit, a soft heart and the Holy Spirit to govern me.

  • Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezek. 36:26-27).

I am Changing

Good news! I am being changed to be more like Jesus.

  • But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).

Good news! I can participate in the change.

  • And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed (changed) by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12:2).

I will be Completely Changed

Good news! This body of mine will become new and immortal, not subject to aging, sickness and pain.

  • we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:52-53).

Rob Morley

(See Good News – No More a Sinner! for more on the exchange from SINNER to THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD)

Good News – No More a Sinner!

Once a week I have the wonderful opportunity to teach a group of 11-12 year olds about God and the Bible and what Christianity is really about. Recently, I challenged their views on how God sees each of them and I believe God blessed many with a fresh realization of the GOOD NEWS!

Photo: rgbstock

I started the class by asking them why Jesus came. Quickly, and somewhat expectedly, I got the answer, “To die for our sins.” I agreed, but wanted to expand on this truth. The verse that came to my mind was 2 Cor. 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” and I wrote it on the board. I then explained its meaning and, although everyone seemed satisfied, I wanted to see if they really understood what it meant to them individually. So, just as we had agreed upon in previous sessions, I had them again recognize that we have all sinned and still often do sin. And, that in fact, we had all probably fallen into sin a number of times over recent days.

Sinner or Righteous

Then, I wrote two headings on the board, RIGHTEOUS and SINNERS. I asked if Jesus were to return today and separate the RIGHTEOUS from the SINNERS, would they know what group they belong to. It seemed without a blink that each put themselves in the group of SINNERS. Now, I am sure that among them there were some not yet born again and that answer would be true for them. However, the believers among them also classified themselves as SINNERS. It seemed, both groups needed to hear the GOOD NEWS again. The SINNERS for salvation and the RIGHTEOUS (who called themselves SINNERS) for realization of what they had received in Christ.

Good News!

Undoubtedly, the focus that the Christians in the group had was on their behavior rather than on their pardon for sin and new identity in Christ. And, the non-believers probably had a blurred grasp of the GOOD NEWS. Using the above verse I again explained the good news, only in this instance I took the time to show them what the verse really meant to them PERSONALLY. I showed that Jesus who hadn’t sinned actually became SIN, that all of our personal sin and that of the world was put upon Him. And, that He did this, so that we could be called RIGHTEOUS and not SINNERS anymore. That’s GOOD NEWS!!!

Three Men Crucified

Then, to bring it home, I spoke of the three men who had been crucified (Jesus being one of them) and how the whole message of the GOOD NEWS for mankind is seen played out through what happened. In the middle was Jesus, having been charged as a criminal along with the other two criminals. Yet, we know that Jesus hadn’t ever sinned. One of the criminals scoffed at Jesus, not realizing who He was. The other one, realizing who Jesus was, turned to Him and said, “Remember me when YOU come into your kingdom.” We agreed that he had been a bad man, a SINNER, as he even said of himself. And yet, despite this, Jesus said to him, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

Identity Changed

What happened at the cross then was that three died. One, a criminal, a SINNER, and he died a SINNER. In the middle was Jesus who was RIGHTEOUS, but who was made to be SIN and He died as a SINNER. Then on Jesus’ other side was another criminal, also a SINNER, who recognized that through Jesus, God was offering pardon for sin and a new life. Through faith in Jesus he was made RIGHTEOUS.

Will Good People Go To Heaven

The general idea that most of the 11-12 year olds seem to have had is that although we all do wrong, “good people” will go to heaven. This is typical of how many people think. Yet, “good people” are also SINNERS and as such don’t qualify. What everyone does qualify for is God’s wrath. Not wanting to pour this out on us, God instead poured it out on Jesus, so that we could be freed. The response of these two criminals (with Jesus in the middle), in a way, represent everyone.

It seems that entrenched into many church members is the idea that as Christians we are SINNERS, but the message of Christianity is that through believing (realizing and receiving) who Jesus is, and what He did for us, we are made RIGHTEOUS.

Rob Morley

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