Friday, March 26, 2010
I believe in the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Most believers know and agree that Jesus died in our place as a sinner so that we would not have to suffer the judgment and sentence for the personal sin we committed while following our fleshly desires as a fallen creature. That work in simple terms was the greatest act of love ever performed.
In doing so, Jesus fulfilled all that was ever going to be required by God's Holy justice concerning the death penalty that required the shedding of blood for the removal of sin from the record of mankind. The sin issue confronting man has been dealt with once and for all. There will be no other sacrifice required. The requirement of God's judgment of sin and the sentence of death has been satisfied for all of eternity by what Jesus accomplished on the cross. All of God's wrath was poured out upon Jesus when He was nailed to the tree by the very men He was dying for.
But I also believe there was much more accomplished by Jesus through His work on the cross than just salvation. "Just salvation?" That doesn't sound right. It's not just salvation, it's a great salvation … there is nothing of greater worth or value than the blood of Jesus that bought salvation for us.
But there were other very important meaningful things going on that fateful night and next morning before Jesus was nailed to the cross. The Roman army wasn't known for compassion but rather brutality, and they were good at it. Jesus was just another Jew to them; so starting to make sport of Him, they spit in His face, struck Him with their fists and even ripped out part of His beard, which most Jewish men grew.
We dare not forget the scourging that He received at the hand of Pilate; the beating itself brought Jesus almost to the point of death as Pilate made an effort to try and satisfy the Jews lust for blood. And blood is what they got. The Roman scourgings were ordinarily very severe, and not limited to the forty stripes the Jews usually gave.
In fact, some scholars are of the opinion that Pilate himself scourged Jesus with his own hands, because John wrote … "Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him."
The punishment of scourging was horrible; the victim in this case, Jesus, would have been bound with chains to a low pillar, stripped naked and beaten with a flagellum, a whip with leather thongs tipped with lead balls and sharp spikes called … scorpions … appropriately named because of their painful sting. The severity of the damage inflicted upon Jesus is evident from His inability to bear the weight of the cross after this beating. Added to that, the loss of sleep during the previous 24 hours didn't help.
Jesus would have been a bloody mess after having His back torn open from the metal ripping and tearing His flesh. This was just the beginning of the shedding of His blood, the pouring out of His life for your total restoration; again may I say it was much more than … just salvation.
They mocked Him as the King of the Jews by placing a crown on His head that was made of sharp thorns one to two inches long. Placing it on His head isn't the correct word … it was forcibly jammed into His scalp; sliding, scraping along the skull under the skin, most likely penetrating down the forehead to His eyebrows.
In minutes His head started swelling from the bleeding under the skin, darkening the already bloody facial tissue making Him unrecognizable even to His mother and Mary Magdalene, both of whom stayed by the cross to be as close to Him as they were allowed. All of His disciples, except for John had forsaken Him and fled out of fear. Even God the Father turned His back on Jesus.
I cannot even begin to imagine what Mary, as a mother watching all the events as they unfolded through the night, how she must have felt, and now the cross; the pain in her soul, the anguish, the gnawing agony and emotional torture on her whole being … she didn't sign up for this. Yes, she followed God's will and gave birth to the Son of God … but this?
At any point during the events of the night and even after He had been nailed to the cross, Jesus could have ended all He was subjected to with just a word from His lips … but He didn't. How was Jesus able to endure all the pain, suffering, torture and separation from God for us? Love … it's just that simple. That's His nature … He can't help Himself.
Every once and a while I begin to wonder and question just how much "man" Jesus really was. I say that knowing that Jesus was both a man, and yet at the same time, God. Was Jesus more God than man? Was this why Jesus was able to live as a man without sin? Was He really like us?
Think about this … If He was God in Heaven as the Word, how could He divest Himself of His divine nature … that would be IMPOSSIBLE. He could not … CEASE TO BE GOD … just as God cannot cease to be Holy. Jesus did not cease to be God when He took upon the form of a man … God cannot be less than what He is.
Will you admit that there was something different about Jesus? He wasn't normal. How could He be? He was born of a virgin. That's not the usual way.
But when you look at what Jesus went through as a man; the scourging and the crucifixion … being both God and man … I believe only His physical humanity could have died on the cross.
It's been said that God died on the cross … but God cannot die … although Jesus the man did.
Jesus cries out, "Father forgive them" and then pours out for us what's left of the life in His body; as I look at the blood that ran down the cross, the water that poured from His side, (reminiscent of the life giving water that flowed from the Rock when Moses struck it with his rod in the wilderness) I must say … yes, Jesus was a man and died as a man.
His dead body became cold and stiff just like any other man. After His body was taken down from the cross He was buried in a borrowed tomb; but He wouldn't need it very long. Jesus didn't stay there … He came forth out of the tomb … I believe even before the stone was rolled away. The stone wasn't keeping Him there. It was only rolled away to show the world that He was no longer there … He had risen from the dead.
Okay, so what are some of the other things we should know about the work of the cross besides the price of our salvation that Jesus paid in full for us?
Most of us know and believe from what we read in the Word of God that the stripes, the marks left upon the back of Jesus from the scourging that was inflicted upon Him were purposely given for the physical healing of our bodies. Pilate and the Jews didn't know that, but this was part of God's design and will that was carried out.
All that Jesus suffered; the agony in the garden, the mock trial, the scourging, the crown of thorns and the worst of all … the six hours on the cross … hours of excruciating pain and torment from trying with what little strength was left, to hold Himself up as high as He could so He could breath, while God the Father poured all the sin of the world, past, present and future into His own Son. The Word says that God made Him to become sin for us who knew no sin. Jesus had seen the effects of sin, but had never felt sin itself in His body before.
I also believe that God took every sickness and disease of man, and placed them within the body of Jesus as He hung on the cross, adding even more physical pain and suffering. I believe that the weight of every curse brought upon man by sin was also borne by Jesus upon the cross. Because of that, Jesus has set us free from every curse that man's sin has caused.
The work of the cross not only gave us salvation, but along with salvation came healing. I'll speak to this in a moment.
The object of this discourse about the work of the cross is to make known to those who just might not know … that when you accepted Jesus as your Lord, when you were born again, you received a measure of the Holy Spirit, a down payment of sorts; call it your first withdrawal from the treasury of Heaven. God opened up, not only a savings account for you, but also what I call … a checking account with unlimited funds. But it is up to you to write the check.
So what's in this checking account? Whatever you have need of. Notice I did not say whatever you want. Needs are things like … freedom from worry and fear, finances, safety, peace, love, joy, etc. In John 16:24, Jesus said this … "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."
What's it take for your joy to be full? How about health? How about the healing of sickness and disease? Healing … I have found that healing is not a simple thing to get. And why is that? It shouldn't be that way. As I have just explained … it has already been taken care of … on the cross just like the sin problem. It's part of the work of the cross.
Now stay with me here … the Lord spoke to me and said this. "There are times when you do not need to pray for healing. You already have it. I gave healing to you just like I gave salvation to you. It's part of the total package of the new birth. When I was invited into your spirit, soul and body, I brought healing with Me."
Peter knew this, which is why he did not pray for the lame man asking for money at the temple; but rather just spoke this declaration of faith to the man … "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."
Peter said … "such as I have" … meaning the healing power that was resident within him. We have that same power of healing dwelling within us. It has been deposited in our account by Jesus and we have been given His Power of Attorney to use as we represent Him and declare words of faith … in His name. That's what Peter did. So why shouldn't we? Go ahead and write the check and then … sign His name to it.
But if you don't feel comfortable just making a declaration of faith, and you prefer to pray, go ahead and pray. There is nothing wrong with prayer. Jesus said to ask the Father in His name. The mistake most people make when praying is that they just … "tack on" … the name of Jesus at the end of their prayer. That's not what asking in His name means.
Asking God … "in the name of Jesus" … means you are asking the court of Heaven to grant your petition, whatever it is, as if Jesus has given you the power and authority to represent Him, as if He was the one asking.
All I am saying is … follow your heart; the Holy Spirit will tell you whether you should pray for someone's healing or just … declare it so … like Peter did. Either way, it's still Jesus that does the healing through faith in His name.
Remember … there was more to the work of the cross than … just salvation.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Galatians 5:4 … "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."
Believers are justified by … faith alone.
Justification by faith alone means … justification by putting our faith in Christ alone … because Christ alone has fulfilled the "covenant of works." You can say it this way … we will never be saved by our works; only by the "works" of Christ.
If you are trying to add to your salvation, by good works of any kind; it is the same as being justified by the Law of Works; Paul said you are "fallen from grace."
You have left the "Covenant of Grace" and went back to the "Covenant of Works" which Jesus fulfilled. It's no longer any good. We can't do anything to add to what Jesus has done; if we think we can, we have only deceived ourselves.
Justification is not a declaration on the part of God that we deserve salvation, or that we have any claim for what the Lord Jesus has done; it is a free gift. Justification is given only by God's mercy and grace.
It is not that we are innocent, or are declared to be innocent. We are not innocent; we never have been and we never shall be. It will always be true that the justified sinner has no claim to the mercy and grace of God.
It is a free gift.
What is justification? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat sinners who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, totally and completely on the merits of the Saviour.
It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offences. With pardon the offences are still on your record … just pardoned.
Justification needs pardon first but also respects the sinner in regard to his past conduct and to God’s future dealings with him … as though he had never sinned. God now looks at the believer through the filter of Jesus.
A Saviour was provided … before sin was committed … and the method of man's redemption was settled even before his creation without any regard to any works or merits of men. Man's redemption is wholly owing to the sovereign will and grace of God.
God alone has saved us. God all by Himself took on the responsibility of man's salvation. There will be no other Saviour.
It has already been said … "Man had a debt he could not pay … Jesus paid the debt He did not owe."
None has said it better than the writer of The Book of Hebrews when he wrote about the finished work of Jesus as our High Priest …
Hebrews 9:26 … (edited)
"But as it now is, He has once for all … appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice of Himself.
And having been offered … once and once for all …"
Never again will another offering, sacrifice or even "good works" be needed or accepted by God. "It is finished."
Do you know … you displease God … if you are trying by good works to make your salvation "more secure?"
An example is given in the O.T. to show the importance of the completed work of Christ on the cross. Moses when bringing forth water in the wilderness was unaware of what his actions meant but he had to pay just the same.
In Exodus 17:6, God told Moses to strike this one rock with his rod and water would flow freely out of it. Paul stated in 1st Corinthians 10:4 … "The Rock was Christ" … meaning the rock that followed Israel through the desert for forty years and gave all of Israel water to drink.
After traveling to another camp, the rock that followed them needed its water to start flowing again for the people. God gives Moses a new command …
Numbers 20:8 … "Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock …"
Numbers 20:11-12 … "And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."
Why wasn't Moses allowed to enter the Promised Land with Israel?
The Rock … Christ … once smitten did not need to be struck again, meaning to be crucified again. Moses was just to speak to the rock and it, Christ, would give His life giving water.
To smite the rock twice was to imply that Christ's death on the cross … was not effectual or sufficient … more had to be done.
Even though Moses was not aware of the significance of what he had been ordered to do, nevertheless God held him responsible for not obeying His command. Because of striking the rock twice, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land with the rest of his people.
Obedience to God's will is important and must be followed, whether or not we understand His purpose.
I would be doing the Word of God injustice, if I were to conclude from both Paul's teaching as well as this lesson with Moses, that Christ's death on the cross was not sufficient; that God the Father sent Jesus to only go part of the way; that Jesus didn't pay the full price for sin; that just a little more is required; that we must somehow work, earn or add to whatever is needed to complete our salvation.
When believers in Christ somehow feel the need to do something more than just simply believe that Jesus paid the price … they are doing exactly what Moses did; and that is … to imply that Christ's death on the cross … was not effectual or sufficient … more has to be done.
Moses was kept from the Promised Land. The Apostle Paul said believers can … "fall from grace" by going back under "the covenant of works." I guess my question would be … "If you are fallen from grace, will that keep you out of our promised land, Heaven?"
It has never been about us, what we do … it's always been about "Jesus" and what He has already done.
Jesus said … "It is finished." Nothing more can or should be added to what Jesus did on the cross. God wouldn't accept it anyway.
Finally … all of us need to judge the "motive" behind why we work for the Lord.
All believers should have "good works" in their lives. But these actions (works) should be "automatic" … they should just happen; the love of God in us should birth them in our lives.
Do we do them automatically out of love; or do we do them … "to make our salvation more secure?" Again motive … it's a heart thing.
God judges not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.
Friday, March 12, 2010
The other day a verse of scripture came to me that I couldn't get out of my mind, so as I usually do at such times I started looking up the original meaning to what I consider to be the most important words in it. This particular verse has three words in it that I have high lighted below.
Matthew 28:18 … "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." K.J.V.
The reason I looked up the original meaning was because of the following thought that came to me while I was pondering on, reflecting deeply, (well at least thinking about) this verse … "If Jesus has been given all power, doesn't that mean that Satan does not have any power at all. If Jesus has it all, how can Satan have any?" Thinking about this question for a while, I thought … "Wow, could this really be true?"
So that brought a whole different set of thoughts, like … "Is this verse saying what the Book of Job alludes to; that when evil comes knocking on your door, it is only because a powerless devil has been given the approval and the power to do so by God Himself?"
Job sees his trials as commissioned from God. Remember what Job told his wife when she told him to curse God and die? Jobs reply was … "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"
This same thought was also affirmed by Amos in the form of a question … "Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?"
So, after some reflection on these thoughts, I looked up this same verse in my Amplified Bible and found it used a different word in place of power. It read … "Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me."
Okay, now I'm confused; so I went straight to the Greek to get the meanings of the three words in question.
The word all means … (Greek is Pas) … "all, any, every, the whole … as all of it."
The word power means … (Greek is Exousia) … "Power in the sense of ability: that is by force, capacity, competency, freedom, mastery; Power as a magistrate: potentate, control, delegated influence, authority, jurisdiction, power, right, strength."
The word given means … (Greek is Didomi) … "by implication to give: bestow, commit, bring forth and grant."
The conclusion I arrived at is … all (pās) authority to use that power (exousia) has been bestowed, committed (didomi) or given unto Jesus.
Jesus made this astounding claim in this verse, speaking as one already in heaven with the resources of heaven at His command. His authority and power in His earthly life had been great … but now it is boundless … and includes both heaven and earth.
I found the following statement about this verse from … Albert Barnes.
"The Son of God as the Word and Creator of the universe had an original right to all things and to control them and even dispose of them. But as the resurrected Christ, who redeemed His people, the universe is now put under Him that He might defend His Church; that He might subdue all their enemies.
It is in reference to this, that Jesus speaks here of the power and authority committed to Him over all things, that He might redeem, defend, and save the church purchased with His own blood.
His power and authority extends, therefore, over the material world, over angels, over devils, over wicked men, and over His own people."
So … if I understand this discourse by Albert Barnes, he also is saying "all, meaning all of it, the whole sum total" of all power and the authority to use and control that power has been given to Jesus; therefore I may conclude that any power and authority Satan had, has been taken away from him and given back to Jesus.
John Gill speaking to the same thing says …
"When Jesus says 'all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth' it must be understood of Him governing … with all power and authority … over the affairs of the world.
This power of His reached to things in heaven, having the angels subject to Him as ministering spirits sent forth by Him; and to things on earth, not only to the saints, but to all flesh, to kings who rule and reign; even to all the wicked of the world, who in some shape or form are made to be subservient to His plans and purpose.
This power is not usurped power, but what is given Him, and what He has a right to exercise; having finished sin, abolished death, overcome the world, and destroyed the devil."
What John Gill has stated is confirmed in scripture …
Hebrews 2: 14-15 … "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."
Even though Gill and the writer of Hebrews states that the devil has been destroyed, we know he is still around. He is a spirit being and cannot die. So what does it mean?
1st John 3:8 … "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."
The Amplified Bible reads this way … "The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil has done."
What are the works of the devil? Would I be wrong to say that both sickness and disease are works of the devil? What about hate and murder or crimes of physical lust committed against women and children that are too vile and morally reprehensible to list here? Would works of the devil also include his plans of spiritual evil to take control over the hearts and minds of government leaders around the world?
What about things in the church like fear, worry, pride, greed or malicious gossip we sometimes call … "sharing?" And then there is the greatest of Satan's works, the only thing that prevents us from receiving from God … doubt and unbelief.
Do we have the right to question the thought that "all power" that is or ever was is now contained in Jesus? I ask because most of us still have some power within our own bodies. We can pick up a hammer and use our physical power to drive a nail.
That's not the power Jesus was talking about. I don't want to confuse the power of physical strength or the force applied to an object with the power of authority. There is a difference. But then again … even our physical power has been given to us by God.
The only power and authority we have in and of ourselves is called choice, our free will, and even that has been given to man by God's decree, to use as we see fit. And as I have found out thru experience, it is easy to even mess that up.
The Apostle Peter said that Satan parades around the world as a roaring lion … which he is not. Jesus is the Lion. Even if the devil appears to be, Jesus pulled Satan's teeth when He defeated and destroyed the power of this evil being. Don't listen to the lies of a powerless, toothless, defeated devil.
And isn't that just like Satan … trying to imitate Jesus?
Ignore him and he will go away.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord. When you really know the sovereignty of God and His Lordship over all things both seen and unseen; when you are able to confess that He is your Lord and you are His possession, then at that point you are just beginning to receive one of His blessings … the nature of God.
Nothing could possibly be better than the assurance you have in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When you know that you are situated, that you are located in the heart of Jesus Himself; you are able to step back into His rest and live in the High Tower of His name so that when the enemy comes raging against you … he cannot find you.
When you live under the shadow of the Most High, all your confidence can then be placed in the One who made Heaven and Earth. When you know that everything you need in life is utterly dependent on the goodness, the mercy, the kindness, the love, the grace and the power of the One who is seated on the Mercy Seat at the right hand of God, you can then take each new step by faith, not by sight.
When you know that your present, your future, your health, your destiny and your life, depends totally on God's ability to bring change to your life … then you can willingly place all these things into the hands of a God who totally loves you and is deeply committed to you, and delights in helping you.
This is … the nature of God … to redeem a weak, fallen and sinful people. Why? Because He loves you. Let me say it again ... because He loves you.
You need to understand there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more. There is also nothing you can do to make Him love you less. He loves you because that is what He is like. It is His nature to love. His love is unchanging. You will always be loved.
He won't love you any better when you become better. And even if you have no plans to become better, He will still love you as you are. Even if you don't change, He will still love you with His whole heart because that's His nature. His love is unchanging. He loves you right now, this very moment … as you are. He can't help Himself, that's who He is … God is love.
It is the greatest of feelings to totally trust the most honorable, the most powerful, the most committed and faithful covenant-maker who ever lived … Jesus. Being completely reliant on the nature of His character and integrity is the source of all your joy and peace.
You can rest in the nature of God … He will never change. He is always the same. God is love … consistently, always with no variation.
He is consistent in His nature but He is also unpredictable. You always know where you are with God, but you seldom know what He is going to do next. The reason you always know where you are with God is because … He never changes.
He will never change His heart toward you no matter what you do. He cannot be anything other than what He is. God is consistent, but He is also unpredictable. You never know what God is going to do next; but you always know … what He is going to be like.
God has called you to see Him and know Him as He is. God has not called you to do the things that you can do. He has called you to do the things you will never be able to do in your own strength. Only He can do them in and through you.
He has called you to live in His faithfulness. He has called you to live in His consistency. He will come and do all that needs to be done with you.
This great God that we serve will throw us into situations beyond us in the natural; but know this … He will sustain us. With every excuse we make as to why we can’t do something, His answer is always the same. Move up real close to Him and you will hear Him say … "I will be with you." That is His only answer to human doubt and weakness. "It’s okay, I will be there."
Many times He sends us out as lambs among wolves. Why?
Because the Lion is padding by our side.
I love that thought. Jesus … the Lion of the tribe of Judah … is by our side.
What God has called us to may seem impossible. Our security is not in ourselves. It is not in our talent and ability, nor our gifting. Our security is in … the nature of God … who He is.
Do not be distracted from your journey into … the nature of God. Do not be distracted, because He is the source of your joy, your peace, your rest, your revelation, your anointing and your power. It's all found in the nature of God.
When you learn to rest in the nature of God, you will find He comes walking to you within the impossible you are called to. You will be the one that gets out of the boat like Peter and you will start walking on a substance you have no business being on, except that He is drawing you there. You won’t be one of those who stand there thinking about joining Him. It is your destiny to walk in the nature of God and do greater things than He did.
But you will never get out there unless you learn how to live in Him. You’re perfect; you are perfect for God. He is going to make you … perfect in His nature … stamping the image of Jesus on you.
He is faithful. And know this … there is no such thing as a good day or a bad day. There are only days full of grace. Some days the grace of God allows you to enjoy what is happening. And some days the grace of God allows you to endure what is happening.
Many times God allows in His wisdom what His power could prevent. Even so, enjoy the grace that is present with you each day. The grace of God is going to come each day and bring with it … the nature of God … that you might know Him, rest in Him, move in Him, worship Him and represent Him.
Why? Because … He loves you.
Resource material by Graham Cooke … content edited.