The Good News

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


Having Nothing, yet Having Everything – Part 2

Having Everything

Go here for part 1.

Despite revivals and the like, the church, without the Spirit and the word, has a propensity to fall away from the simplicity of faith in Jesus. Whether through mixing things like cultural values or tradition with God’s word or simply through bad interpretation, we have inadvertently complicated what should be easy to attain. Whatever our reasons, extras like special places, buildings, special days, titles, clothing, status, gender roles and in cases even issues of preeminent race have been added back at different times. Despite the presumable good intentions, these add-ons serve only to weaken faith, because Jesus alone is the source of our faith and the accompanied life of faith.

Many churches, whether new or traditional, have these unnecessary and distracting add-ons. It seems inevitable that man will concoct something extra to try and make the unseen faith in Christ more tangible. He wants to support his faith with things, but unfortunately he may be substituting his faith with them. Now, some stuff may be harmless, but when it is “forced” onto people, alarm bells should ring in your head. Even courses, programs and meetings can be unnecessary.

Some have gravitated to equating the shadows of the Old Testament with the New Covenant in Christ. The earthly Jerusalem is revered, garments are worn, horns are blown, certain jargon is used, particular days are esteemed, and special feasts are kept. These have an appearance of being helpful and give the participants both a sense and an appearance of maturity. Yet, all the while they’re nothing more than shadows keeping them from Jesus. They are diversions from the source, and keep one in a state of infancy.

Although generally neutral in and of themselves, it’s the meaning and the weight that we so easily attach to them that causes problems. The necessity of any add-on is determined by asking whether it will really help you in your walk with God. Ask yourself if it is Biblically founded. Often, they simply create a religious atmosphere giving you the illusion of a richer relationship with Him. For example, walking into a church building can give one a sense of awe and reverence that is Biblically unfounded. Now, I don’t advocate getting rid of buildings, but rather correcting our view of them. They are no more or less religious than a school building. So, while in some cases things should be removed if they have no real usefulness, in others the status that they carry needs to be reconsidered.

Now, I certainly don’t wish to destabilize the faith of those who practice with any add-ons. Rather, each person should determine for themselves what is irrelevant and what is useful to their faith. However, I would like to warn that we avoid imposing things on others while being watchful that they aren’t imposed on us. Also, if you feel someone is trapped by add-ons, pray, and should the Lord wish to use you, teach them correctly and wean them from non-Biblical thinking that is robbing them from maturing in Christ.

While giving room for a wide range of expression, let’s avoid the pitfalls of add-ons. Let’s do all that we can to make it clear that God Himself has been made completely accessible through the blood of Jesus, and that by God’s Spirit, Jesus alone wishes to be our source of light and life.

Rob Morley



Having Nothing, yet Having Everything – Part 1

Having Nothing, yet Having Everything

People like things of substance, because substance validates things for us. A bunch of flowers that a man gives to a woman may mean more in a moment than him saying, “I love you.” The flowers themselves are not the man’s love, yet they confirm his love. A hug or a kiss is a quantifiable experience of substance too. A smile that’s shared is simply putting thoughts into substance for those around to receive. Even the atmosphere of a place, whether romantic, solemn, creepy, jolly or quiet is an experience based on substance. Having said that, usually the more concrete a substance is the more real it may seem to us.

With this in mind, consider religion with its array of different things of substance from the paraphernalia of robes, head pieces, beads, to buildings, traditions, titles, creeds, books, etc. all there to help those involved get the full experience. Off-hand, the more religious substance you see around someone the more religious they appear to be. Also, the more we personally interact with these substances, the more religious we may feel. However, it’s because of this inclination to validate or complete our experiences with things of substance that we can easily get duped. You see, besides God’s word, true Christianity needs no outward stuff. In fact, often the less religious substance (tangible things) you see around a Christian, the more real or mature their faith may be.

In the Bible, the book of Hebrews is an appeal to Jewish people who recognized Jesus as their Messiah, but had become uncertain of their new found faith. You see, before Christ came, Judaism was accompanied by a lot of concrete substance. They had the Law, the Ark of the Covenant, the Sacrificial Rituals, Holy Days, the Holy Land, the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Temple, and a history filled with evidence of God’s hand in their lives. In contrast to this, these Jewish followers of Christ had by comparison little in the way of concrete substance surrounding them. Having been ousted by their own people for their faith in Jesus, they had become a mottled group of people, meeting in homes. Not only had their brief history been filled with a lot of difficulty, their faith was accompanied by fewer things outward and tangible which possibly added to any uncertainty they may have felt at the time.

In the book, the author appeals to them by contrasting what Judaism had been to them with what their new faith in Christ now was. He reminds them that what they had, having been spiritually brought into the New Jerusalem, was better. Here is an example of what he said, “For you have not come to something that can be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, to gloom, to a trumpet’s blast, or to a voice that made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. For they could not endure the command that was given: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.’ Indeed, the sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’ Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to tens of thousands of angels joyfully gathered together, to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to a judge who is the God of all, to the spirits of righteous people who have been made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…” (Heb 12:18-24).

The author also wrote, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Other translations use “assurance” in place of “substance.” Either way, we see that faith, although intangible, is nevertheless substance, the assurance that we need. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who believe and yet have not seen.”

The Bible tells us how this faith comes about when it says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17). This faith, “substance” or “assurance” is found through hearing God’s word, which teaches that Jesus is our Savior from sin and its consequence, death. This is validated by the substance of both the Old and New Testaments, Jesus’ miracles, His words, death, resurrection and the lives that have been transformed.

All we may really have at times is the unseen substance of faith, yet it’s a faith based on a lot. Appearing to have nothing, we have everything!

Go here for part 2

Rob Morley


Making Decisions – Presumption, Fatalism or Faith

Fatalism, Presumption or Faith

I was recently asked whether a decision that I had made, not to allow something to take place for the safety of a child, was me being fatalistic or not. Now, whether or not I had been fatalistic is not my reason for this post. Rather, I would like to share from my musings, as this has had me thinking quite a bit. For one, what if my decision had been the opposite? In other words, what if instead, I had allowed the event to take place? I might then have been questioned on whether or not I was acting out of presumption that the child would be safe. Both fatalism and presumption are two Godless ways that we easily entertain in our lives.

Fatalism is often fear driven, while presumption is based on false or unsound assurance. While fatalism acts apart from faith, presumption often masks itself as faith in action. For example, a villager might never venture outside of his hut for fear of a lion. Now, unless he knew of a lion outside, we would say that he is being fatalistic. On the other hand, someone may nonchalantly or even prayerfully venture up to a lion thinking that he is safe, and be attacked. That would be presumption! It is because neither are based on God’s word that they are flawed and bound to fail. While these illustrations are obvious, we should realize that our every day choices are so easily based on us being fatalistic or acting in presumption. As a result, fatalism can keep me from doing what I should be doing, while presumption can even have me doing “good” things, but not what God had in mind.

So, how do you know if you are acting on presumption or being fatalistic? And, what is the antidote to these? Well, being level headed is the obvious and correct answer, but who can safely be level headed all of the time? Obviously, none of us! That is one reason why God’s Word instructs us not to lean on our own understanding, but rather to acknowledge God in all of our ways. The other more important reason is that we were meant for a life that honors God, demonstrated by our dependence on Him. Acknowledging God in all our ways is a life of faith. Simply put, this is being in God’s presence, listening to Him in all the details of life and, in His Spirit, acting on His leading.

God’s Word says, “…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” and also “Faith comes from hearing… the word of God”. So, without God speaking to us, we cannot know what to believe and do, and any action without God’s word is presumption. Presumption and fatalism (which is just one form of presumption) is based on wrong belief or unbelief. Let’s instead enjoy God’s presence and allow ourselves to be moved by His Word and His Spirit! As it is written, “Let us confidently draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need” Heb. 14:16.