Transformation From Sinner To Saint

salvation, sin, transformation No Comments

Paul declares, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).
Transformation!
Transformation is change.  It is a complete, radical, change under the power of God that finds expression in character and conduct.  The change impacts every aspect of a person’s being.  The change is in God’s direction motivated by both faith in Him and love for Him.  The direction of the change is based upon conformity to God’s Word.  The change involves resistance to the forces of the world that would attempt to assimilate us to the sinful aspects of the culture in which we live.
The Change Begins With The Renewal of the Mind.
You and I must change our thinking and bring it into conformity to God’s Word.  The goal is to conform to God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will.  The human mind must come into contact with God’s revealed and inspired Word (Rom. 10:17). Faith in God comes by hearing His Word.  We must begin to see ourselves as God sees us with no masks and no excuses.  Looking into the perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25) will confirm our need for change from a life of sinful conduct to one of righteous conduct.
The Change Continues With A Change of Heart.
Repentance is a change of heart with regard to sin.  We turn away from sin and turn to God (Acts 3:19, 17:30).  Repentance is a universal command of God.  Each person must realize that he/she is lost (eternally doomed to hell) because of sin.  Our sin places our soul in peril.  Each person must realize that salvation is only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).  Every soul in eternal peril must change their hearts by renouncing sin and setting out on a new course as a servant of righteousness (Rom. 6:16-17).
The Change Continues With a Change of Our Spiritual State.
In sin, we are lost.  In Christ, we are saved.  The transition from sinner to saint is not complete until we have confessed Christ and been baptized into Christ (Acts 8:37-39; Gal. 3:26-29).  We must undergo a new birth.  We must be born of water and Spirit in order to become a part of God’s kingdom–the church.  The new birth produces a new creature and a new life (John 3:3-5; Rom. 6:4).  We stop being the servants of sin and we begin being servants of righteousness.
The Change Continues With A Change of Life.
Paul states, “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” (II Cor. 3:18).  The image (eikon) of Christ is summed up in all of the moral excellencies found in the character (impress) of Jesus Christ.  We represent and manifest these qualities by imitation of His example.  We must put on Christ.  We are transformed into His image by following/obeying His Word, imitating His life, and duplicating His work in as much as it is possible for us do so (preaching God’s word, compassion for the lost, the poor, the suffering, etc.).  We must put on the new man which is created in Christ Jesus unto righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24).  Pursue the sacred (Col. 3:1).  Put to death the former lusts of the flesh (Eph. 4:22).  Put on Christ in all His moral excellencies.  The Christian life involves a perfecting of holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1).
Change is Possible.
Change is possible, but it requires a change of thinking, a change of heart, a change of spiritual status, and a change of life.  Are you ready for a change that will bless your life now and secure the promise and hope of eternal life?  This change is possible by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16).

 

 

The Power of a Story

grace, redemption, salvation No Comments

American writers Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker recently conducted an experiment that they called “Significant Objects.”  They bought worthless knickknacks at flea markets or antique stores, contacted a fiction writer to write a story about each object, and then resold the items on Ebay.  For example, an ugly plastic Russian doll, bought at a flea market for $3 was given to writer Doug Dorst.  Dorst wrote a story about a Russian woodcutter named Vralkomir who saved his village from freezing one winter by dancing on a pile of wood until it burst into flames.  The doll with the story sold on Ebay for $193.  In total, Glenn and Walker sold $128.74 worth of useless junk for $3,612.51.  The stories gave the objects a 2,706 percent increase in value (Popologetics, Ted Turnau, p. 11).
The power of a story is reinforced by the hymn, “Tell Me The Old, Old Story.”  This hymn was written by A. Katherine Hankey, of London, in 1866.  It has been translated into many different languages and has been set to different tunes.  Dr. W. Howard Doane (1832-1915) has this to say regarding the music by which it has become popular and the occasion on which he composed it: “In 1867 I was attending the International Convention of the Young Men’s Christian Association, in Montreal.  Among those present was Major-General Russell, then in command of the English force during the Fenian excitement.  He arose in the meeting and recited the words of this song from a sheet of foolscap paper–tears streaming down his bronzed cheeks as he read.  I wrote the music for the song one hot afternoon while on the stage-coach between the Glen Falls House and the Crawford House in the White Mountains.  That evening we sung it in the parlors of the hotel.”

The words to this hymn are:
Tell me the old, old story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, as to a little child,
For I am weak and weary, and helpless and defiled.

Tell me the story slowly, that I may take it in,
That wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin.
Tell me the story often, for I forget so soon;
The early dew of morning has passed away at noon.

Tell me the story softly, with earnest tones and grave;
Remember I’m the sinner whom Jesus came to save.
Tell me the story always, if you would really be,
In any time of trouble, a comforter to me.

Tell me the same old story when you have cause to fear
That this world’s empty glory is costing me too dear.
Yes, and when that world’s glory is dawning on my soul,
Tell me the old, old story: “Christ Jesus makes thee whole.”

Refrain
Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story,
Tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and His love.

The content of this story consists of heavenly things.  It is about Jesus and His glory and Jesus and His love.  It is the story of man’s redemption and salvation through a selfless savior.  The content of this story makes it priceless and brings hope and healing to struggling souls.
The presentation of this story is part of the “telling.”  Present it simply “as to a little child.”  Present it slowly “that I may take it in.”  Present it softly, “with earnest tones and grave.”  Present it often, “for I forget so soon.”  Present it always, “if you would really be, in any time of trouble, a comforter to me.”
The story of man’s redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the greatest story ever told.
There is only one thing left and that is the reception of it and commitment to the savior by loving obedience to His holy will (Mark 16:15-16).

The Ark Is Back!

hope, peace, salvation No Comments

Have you noticed the upsurge in the popularity of Noah’s Ark?  Answers in Genesis hpes to build a full-scale ark in a theme park at Williamstown, KY at a cost of $73 million.  God’s ark of Safety is being built in Frostburg, MD.  It is still under construction.  In December, 2012, Johan Huibers became the first to build a full-sized ark that actually floats–Ark Van Noach in Dordrecht, Netherlands.  A full-size replica of Noah’s ark was built in Ma Wan Island, Hong Kong in 2009.  A two-thirds replica is being built by Paul Smith in Florenceville, New Brunswick.  There is an ark inside the Cornerstone church in San Antonio, TX that is a $5 million, two-story, Disney-style attraction, complete with animatronic animals.  An ark is planned for Yerevan, Armenia that would be built in sight of Mt. Ararat.  It would be the center of a theme park.

Why Is Noah’s Ark So Popular Today?  I would like to give five reasons that express my own thoughts concerning this subject.
First, the ark represents safety in the midst of a great storm.  When it rains for 40 days and 40 nights, you need some place to get out of the storm!  When the storms of life come, where do you go?  Read Psa. 46:1 and 57:1.  Where could you go, but to the Lord?  Our ark of safety today is “in Christ” and “in the church of Christ.”  Only “in Christ” do we have real peace, safety, and salvation.
Second, the ark represents heroic effort.  The story of the ark is the story of the faith of one man, Noah, who was one in a billion!  Yes, the estimated population of the earth in Noah’s day was one billion.  Noah was the only father who saved his family.  Noah’s faith was real (Heb. 11:7).  Noah’s faith was complete.  He did all that God commanded him to do.  He built the ark–a gigantic task for his day.  Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  We need heroes of faith today!
Third, the ark represents God’s faithfulness.  God was faithful to His word of judgment against the wickedness and violence in the earth (Gen. 6:5-7).  God was also faithful to His promise to preserve Noah and his family in the ark (Gen. 6:8).  God was faithful to His word of promise after the flood, i.e. not to destroy the earth by water again.  The rainbow is a sign of this promise.  God’s faithfulness gives us certainty in the midst of uncertainty.
Fourth, the ark represents peace in the midst of turmoil.  The waters of the flood were ferocious and frightening.  But, inside the ark, there was peace.  The waters destroyed the inhabitants of the earth who did not fear God.  But, the same waters lifted the ark to safety (I Pet. 3:20-21).  God’s judgment is real.  The ungodly shall perish.  We can be saved from God’s wrath through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8-9).  We can have peace through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).
Fifth, the ark represents hope.  Hope, that while others perish, we can be saved.  Hope that we can have a new beginning with God and in Christ.  Hope that is anchored to the promises of God.  Hope that all is well with us because we have hid our lives in Christ where all spiritual blessings reside (Col. 3:3; Eph. 1:3).
Why is the ark so popular?  Men and women still need salvation, peace, and hope.  In short, we still need God.  We need a place where we can preserve our souls.  That place is “in Christ.”  (Gal. 3:26-27).

Sin Changes Us

salvation, sin No Comments

Most would like to drop the word sin from their vocabulary.  However, sin is the only intrinsic evil.  The Bible defines it clearly.  “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death” (I John 5:17).  “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).  “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
When we sin, sin changes us.  For this reason, sin is radical.  It brings about significant changes within us, in our relationships with others and, most significant, in our relationship with God.  Consider the following thoughts.
Sin Diminishes Us.  In Gen. 3:8, Adam and Eve hide from God after transgressing His law (Gen. 2:17).  When they sinned, they lost their innocency.  They lost virtue.  They lost purity.  This type of loss is costly to the human mind and heart.  The first couple now experience fear and shame.
Sin Redefines Us.  When we sin, we become a sinner.  Our self-concept is radically altered.  No one can really be proud of sin.  Sin is not to be praised.  While many may boast because of their sin, they do so ignorantly.  In Gen. 4:23-24, Lamech boasted of murdering another human being.  We are disappointed in such a boast.  His humanity is tainted.
Sin Separates Us.  Sin separates us from God.  “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). Sin involves a loss of intimacy with God.  When we sin, we die spiritually.  To be spiritually separated from God defines being lost.  Sin also separates us from one another.  Lies, gossip, envy, jealousy, greed, adultery and many other sins have destroyed untold relationships.  Sin always is destructive to relationships.
Sin Corrupts Us.  It devalues us.  The world before the flood was wicked.  Every imagination of the thoughts of the hearts of men was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5).  The earth was corrupt and filled with violence (Gen. 6:11).  God was grieved.  God changed in His purpose toward man and determined to punish him with destruction.  God could no longer delight in man.
Sin Enslaves Us.  While many practice sin as an expression of freedom, they are deceived.  Sin makes us slaves.  “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).  When we sin, we loose our freedom.  We enter into bondage.
Sin Condemns Us.  When we sin, we fall under the penalty of sin.  Sin changes our spiritual status before God.  We are defined by sin as: wicked or children of the devil (I John 3:10).  Our new identity is not pretty.
Sin changes us, but not for the better.  Because of sin, we need a transformation by the power of God.  Jesus Christ was manifest to take away the works of the devil and restore purity to our soul.  He offers cleansing through the power of His blood.  Salvation is desparately needed by all who sin.  Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  Jesus can change us and our lives will be better than ever!  He offers forgiveness, peace, and hope.

Untouchable

leprosy, salvation No Comments

Jesus was pursuing His earthly ministry in Galilee.  Luke records the miraculous drought of fishes in the first few verses of Luke 5.  Then, he relates an incident in which Jesus heals a leper (Luke 5:12-15).  Leprosy was greatly feared by the Israelites.  There are two reasons for this.  First, leprosy caused severe physical damage.  Second, leprosy resulted in isolation from the community.  The disease stigmatized lepers and made them “untouchables.”
The Disease.
There are basically two types of leprosy, i.e. lepromatous and tuberculoid.  Of the two, lepromatous leprosy was the most severe.  Both types start with discoloration of a patch of skin. This patch may be white or pink.  It is most likely to appear on the brow, nose, ear, cheek or chin.  In the lepromatous type of leprosy, the patch may spreak widely in all directions.  Portions of the eyebrows may disappear.  Spongy, tumor like swellings grow on the face and body.  In advanced stages, the growths multily and nearly cover the face.  The disease becomes systemic andinvolves the internal organs as well as the skin.  Marked deformity of hands and feet occur when the tissues between the bones deteriorate and disappear.  Oftne the senory nerve endings no longer respond to heat or injury and the unwary patient may be suject to further destruction of his limbs before he realizes his danger.  Leprosy is a long-lasting disease.  In untreated cases, the person may be sick from ten to twenty years.  Death occurs from the disease itself or from an intercurrent invasion of the weakened body by tuberculosis or someother disease.  What a wonderful feeling it must have been to be pronounced “clean” of this dreaded disease (see Baker Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, II, 138-139).
The Leper.
Jesus creates interest and sparks curiosity wherever He goes.  When the leper sees Jesus, he fell on his face and said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”  The leper manifests several admirable qualities.  First, he was humble.  He does not demand anything of Jesus, but rather he requests Jesus’ help.  He knows it is up to Jesus to decide whether or not to bestow the blessings he seeks.  The leper is willing, if Jesus so decides, to remain in his living death.  Second, he is full of faith.  His knowledge of Jesus’ power was the basis of his faith in Jesus.  He is willing to put his life into Jesus’ hands.  This is the nature of trust.  Third, he is hopeful.  The leper sees Jesus as his hope for a complete cure.  His leprosy was advanced.  He had suffered for many years.  Jesus’ appearance in his city gives him hope.
The Miracle.
Jesus put forth His hand and touched him and said, “I will: be thou clean.”  Jesus exercised His divine perogative regarding a temporal blessing.  He executes His divine power to perform the miracle.  The divine will and the power of His divine words come together to create the miracle.  The miracle was instantaneous and complete.  Imagine the moment.  Before, this man was suffering from a horribly debilitating disease.  After, he was cleansed, healed and whole.  Before, he was hideous to behold.  After, he was beautiful.  Jesus’ power never fails!  Jesus told this man not to tell anyone about the miracle.  Why?  Jesus wanted him to go to the priest at Jerusalem and have the priest declare him clean as the Law of Moses required.  The religious leaders among the Jews would learn of this miracle at that time and they would have to realize that Jesus was a great miracle worker.  Jesus wanted this man to testify before these religious leaders so that they would know who He is and what works He had accomplished.
Temporal Blessings Vs. Spiritual Blessings.
If you could receive a miracle and be healed of some dreaded disease, or you could be forgiven of your sins and become a child of God, which would you choose?  As great as a physical blessing might be, the spiritual is greater!  Jesus touches this man on purpose.  He touches the untouchable.  Jesus can touch your life in an even more significant way.  He can save you from your past sins and transform your life.  He can give you spiritual and eternal life.  Because of sin in our lives, we might consider ourselves to be “untouchable,” “unlovable,” or “unworthy.”  Yet, the Lord Jesus Christ has compassion for us and in His love desires to save us.  Jesus wills to give us this blessing. We must be willing to receive it.

The Greatest Debt

salvation No Comments

     Yahoo News, March 25, 2011, reported that an Ohio man received a $16.4 million dollar cable bill.  Daniel DeVirgilio of the Dayton, Ohio area attempted to make a payment on his cable bill to Time Warner, but was rejected because the company calculated his past due amount at more than $16 million dollars.  His bill usually runs about $80.00 per month.  DeVirgilio stated, “Had I known this, I would have bought Showtime.” (news.yahoo.com).
     The king of all billing mishaps happened to Jon Seale, a Texas man, who received notice that he owed a 17-figure sum that totaled almost 2,000 times the national debt.  The total amount was:  23 quadrillion, 148 trillion, 855 billion, 308 million, 184 thousand, and 500 dollars!  Another billing mishap happened to Josh Muszynski, a New Hampshire man, who was charged 23 quadrillion dollars after buying a pack of cigarettes at a gas station.  It seems to me that that would be a surefire way of getting people to stop smoking.
     Even though both of these debts are enormous, they pale in comparison to the greatest debt.  The greatest debt we will ever owe is the debt we incur when we sin against God.  This is a debt that we can never repay.  It is a debt that would cause our eternal ruin.  If our soul is the most precious thing that we possess, then losing our soul would be the greatest loss we could ever sustain.
     God’s Word declares, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:  by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Pet. 2:24).  Remarkably, Jesus paid the debt for us!  This thought is captured in the American Folk Hymn:  He Paid A Debt.

He paid a debt He did not owe.
I owed a debt I could not pay.
I needed someone to wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand new song
Amazing Grace.
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

     Peter emphasizes three important things.  First,  Jesus provided the sacrifice for our sins and so made forgiveness possible.  Second, He suffered in our place.  We deserved the punishment that He suffered for us.  Third, He died that we might live.  He gives new life spiritually and the promise of eternal life in the world to come.
The greatest debt that any individual will ever know has been paid by the Lord Jesus Christ.  We must obey the truth in order to secure the salvation offered through Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:22-23).

One-Of-A-Kind

christianity, Church of Christ, salvation No Comments

     Would you pay 1.7 million dollars for a penny?  Well, you might if it was rare enough.  What if it was the only penny of its kind known to be in existence?  In September, 2010, Bob R. Simpson (founder of XTO Energy, based in Fort Worth, Texas leader in producing natural gas) purchased a 1943-D Lincoln cent mistakenly struck in bronze for 1.7 million dollars–a record.  It is graded: PCGS Secure Plus, MS-64 brown.  The purchase enabled Simpson to complete the 1943 set he had begun to assemble six years ago.  He now owns the only 1943 PDS set in bronze known to be in existence.  These coins are known as off-metal coins because they are made from bronze-planchets instead of copper. (Coin World, Jan. 3, 2011, p. 20).
     It is certainly no surprise to learn that these coins have been faked by many people throughout the years.  A fraudulent coin, however, is worthless. 
     A one-of-a-kind find such as this certainly affected the price or value of the coin.  It is special, unique and worth more because of it.  Consider the following Scriptural thoughts:  “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:3-6).  Paul gives us a collection of one-of-a-kind entities.  The one body is the church of Christ.  In Eph. 1:22-23, Paul uses the words “body” and “church” interchangeably.  In Matthew 13, Jesus relates two parables that emphasize the value of the kingdom of God.  The first is the Parable of the Hid Treasure.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matt. 13:44).  The second is the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price.  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46).  The value of the kingdom  of God (the church of Christ) is so great that it is worth sacrificing all to obtain it. 
     There is one Spirit.  This is a reference to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the godhead.  His value is self-evident.  His worth to mankind is priceless.
     There is one hope.  This hope is everlasting life.  Everlasting life comes through Jesus Christ (John 3:16; I John 5:11-12).  “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”  Eternal life is the gift of God.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
    There is one Lord.  Paul is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is our savior and redeemer.  He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).  He is the only way to the Father!  His value is unspeakable (II Cor. 9:15).  He is a gift from God.
     There is one faith.  The one faith is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul speaks of the objective faith which is the Word of God.  How valuable is the truth?  Priceless.  “Buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23).
     There is one baptism.  The baptism of which Paul speaks is the “new birth” (John 3:3-5).  “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  The force of the word “except” is “if and only if.”  Baptism into Christ for remission of sins is essential to salvation (Gal. 3:26-27, Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 2:38).  Baptism results in sonship and salvation–priceless!
     There is one God.  This is the absolute, supreme Being. 
     Any one of these seven entities would exceed the value of the entire world.  All of them together constitute an inestimable spiritual treasure which is freely accessed by men through love for God and faith in God.  Yet, many rob themselves by rejecting these treasures.
     Fakes of any of these spiritual entities prove worthless.  A fake God is a false god and pure vanity.  A pseudo religious book will not take anyone to heaven.  There are many “lords” and “saviors” claimed by men but only one that is genuine as affirmed by Paul.  Many deny that there is only one church.  All but the true church are fakes to be discarded as worthless. 
     There is one God who has revealed His truth that salvation is only through His Son-Jesus Christ.  Faith in His name and baptism into His name will bring salvation and hope of eternal life.

« Previous Entries