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THERE IS POWER IN THE NAME OF JESUS

There is a wonderful praise and worship chorus entitled “Break Every Chain” and it states the one and only power that can break every chain and that is the name of Jesus.  The lyrics say:

There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus

To break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
To break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain

All sufficient sacrifice, So freely given, Such a price, Bought our redemption, Heaven’s gates swing wide
There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus

To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain

There’s an army rising up; There’s an army rising up; There’s an army rising up
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
There’s an army rising up; There’s an army rising up; There’s an army rising up
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain

There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus; There is power in the name of Jesus
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain
To Break every chain; Break every chain; Break every chain[1]


So what does it mean there is power in the name of Jesus?  John1 is a good place to start.  It says In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.[2]  So we’ve learned that Jesus was with God from the beginning and in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind.  I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty powerful to me!  Despite the fact that from the beginning darkness has tried to overcome the light, it has failed, does fail, and will fail no matter what efforts or tactics darkness uses to overcome the light.

God clearly intended for there to be Power in the name of Jesus which is demonstrated by the words written concerning His son and what He was given dominion and power to control.  The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.[3]  This passage shows us that God’s desire is to reconcile Himself to all things; so much so that He sent his Son to make peace through the shedding of His blood on the cross.

The power in the name of Jesus so far exceeds any other name that we find it hard to comprehend.  He was, is and always will be our intercessor with the Father.  “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.   Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.  Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.”[4]  In the name of Jesus we have a high priest to intercede for us and His life, death, and resurrection gives us the opportunity to reconcile with God so that we can claim the promise of eternal life through Him and with Him.

So how does the name of Jesus break every chain?  There are many passages we could explore but for the sake of simplicity I have chosen one passage that says it all.  After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.   ‘I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.  I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.  I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.  While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.   ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.  ‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.  ‘Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me.  I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”[5]

The only thing I can say after that is there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain!


[1] Jesus Culture; Lyrics to Break Every Chain, Awakening:  Live from Chicago, 2011.
[2] John 1:1-5.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[3] Colossians 1:15-20
[4] Hebrews 7:25-28
[5] John 17:1-26

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DO HUMANS BECOME ANGELS AFTER PHYSICAL DEATH?

Despite my best efforts to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings or challenge their way of thinking, I know this article will very likely do both of these things. Therefore, please understand that I do not take lightly the subject matter that I am about to undertake.  The title of this article is a question that is not new but is not often addressed or answered.  We have all heard someone say “Well, they earned their angel wings today” or read someone’s email or post on social media that talks about a human becoming an angel because the person has experienced physical death.  Unfortunately and undoubtedly Hollywood has contributed to this notion.  One obvious example is the old traditional holiday flick “It’s a Wonderful Life.”[1] Clarence is the character in the movie who is trying to help George get his life straightened out so that Clarence can earn his wings.  He references his previous human life and shares the frustration he has experienced not having earned his wings at the time of their meeting.  The fact is that humans and angels are completely different creations of God and a human cannot become an angel.  Now that some of you already have your blood pressure going up, take a deep breath and allow me to use scripture guided by the Holy Spirit to show you the difference.

When we look at God’s Word we find that from the beginning there is a distinction between humans and angels.  Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.[2] So Adam was made in the image of God but there is no scripture that supports that angels were made in the image of God.  While God’s creation includes angels, they are entirely different than humans.  His Word makes it clear that they are part of His creation when it says The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”[3]

Angels were created to serve God, to be his special messengers to carry out His will.  And while scripture is clear that Jesus Christ was sent to save the lost there is no indication that Jesus’ redemption of humans was applied to angels. When we look in the first book of Peter where this is clearly stated as follows:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”[4] 

This passage closes with “Even angels long to look into these things.”  If angels had been previously human, they would have no need to look into the gospel because as humans they would have already experienced the saving grace offered by our Heavenly FatherTo which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?’  Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”[5]  This further clearly states and supports the fact that angels were created by God to serve a completely different purpose from humans and as such they do not have a need for the gospel.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coin and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it.   And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”[6]   While the angels rejoice it is because of their specific role assigned by the LORD and not because they have previously experienced salvation.

Paul tells us herefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  For we live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”[7]  So when a human passes from this world in to eternity, if they have received salvation, they go home to be with the Lord.  Our spirit passes from the body to eternity and with it we carry our soul (the essence of what makes us who we are).

Luke gives a very convincing illustration of this when he wrote There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. ‘The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’  ‘But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’  ‘He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’  ‘Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’  ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’  ‘He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”[8]

Even in death the rich man wanted Lazarus to serve him yet he is told that there is a great chasm between heaven and hell and there is no way to cross from one to the other.  The passage tells us that the angels carried Lazarus to Abraham’s side.  If he became an angel why would he need angels to carry him to Abraham’s side?  It is because it was Lazarus’ spirit that was taken by the angels to be by Abraham’s side.

Let me close with this thought.  Scripture tells us And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”[9]  The “proper dwelling” referenced in this verse is the heavenly realm not the earthly realm.  Based on the way it is written it is likely referencing the angels that followed Lucifer when he was exiled from heaven (one third of the angles in heaven followed Lucifer).  Paul asks us why would God have humans judging angels that were formerly human? The reason we will be able to judge angels in heaven is because we will be higher than the angels due to our being like Christ.

God created both angels and humans to serve Him but the evidence is clear that humans will not become angels in eternity.  While it may be comforting to think that this will happen because of the earthly image that has been created about angels, God has a much greater purpose and for humans it all begins with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  So don’t aspire to be angel-like go for greatness and aspire to be Christ-like!


[1] It’s a Wonderful Life filmed in 1946, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
[2] Genesis 1:26.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[3] Colossians 1:15-17
[4] 1 Peter 1:3-12
[5] Hebrews 1:13,14
[6] Luke 15:8
[7] 2 Corinthians 5:6-9
[8] Luke 16:19-31
[9] Jude 1:6

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All Things Work for Good

One of the many verses in the Bible that is often misquoted or said at the most inopportune times is Romans 8:28.  I have heard well-meaning Believers quote or paraphrase this verse more so to remove their own feelings of inadequacy and not knowing what to say than any real words of empathy for the person that is going through a difficult life event.  Paul tells us “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”[1]  So people jump to this verse thinking it will surely soothe the pain or misery someone is experiencing at that very moment.

So how can we say cancer or a terminal illness works for good; how can we tell a young mother that has just lost her unborn child “in all things God works for the good; how do we tell someone that has just lost a loved one that was not saved and did not know the Lord as their personal Savior that will work for good; how do we tell those around the world that are persecuted and some even killed for their belief that Jesus Christ is the one true Savior works for good? The list could go on and on because there are many things that happen in our world that cannot and should not be described as good.  Yet God’s Word says plainly “And we know that in all things God works for good.”  So how do we take these disasters, persecutions, and tragedies and apply them to this verse?  I am going to do my very best, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to break down the key components of Romans 8:28.

In the opening of verse 28 there is a promise, “And we know that in all things God works for the good.”  It doesn’t say maybe, we guess, or sorta kinda, it says “WE KNOW”.  We can be confident in knowing that God works for the good.  This raises the first dilemma.  So many of today’s men view the world and what happens in it from a temporal point of view.  A temporal point of view is looking at situations in the here and now and is based on immediate time and circumstances not eternity.  To fully embrace the meaning of this verse and the promise it makes we must have an eternal point of view which means we may not be able to see God’s plan with our physical eyes but we know nonetheless that He is working His master plan all of the time even when it seems He is not.

John Piper[2] says it this way “When it comes to the architecture of promises, there are not any bigger buildings than Romans 8:28. This structure is absolutely staggering in its size. It is massive. The infinitely wise, infinitely powerful God pledges to make everything beneficial to his people! Not just nice things, but horrible things, like tribulation and distress and peril and slaughter. What brick would you lay on the top of this skyscraper promise to make it taller? “All things” means all things.

If you live inside this massive promise, your life is as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Nothing can blow you over inside the walls of Romans 8:28. Outside Romans 8:28 all is confusion, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, straw houses of deadening drugs, tin roofs of retirement plans, cardboard fortifications of anti-ballistic missiles and a thousand other substitutes for Romans 8:28.

Once you walk through the door of love into the massive, unshakable structure of Romans 8:28 everything changes. There comes into your life stability and depth and freedom. You simply cannot be blown over. The confidence that a sovereign God governs for your good all the pain and all the pleasure that you will ever experience is an absolutely incomparable refuge, security, hope and power in your life. No promise in all the world surpasses the height and breadth and weight of Romans 8:28.”[3]

So to whom is this promise?  It is actually defined in two ways.  The first is “those who love Him.”  Those that do not love the Lord cannot claim this promise.  It is a promise made to those who love Him.  This aligns itself with what is described in the Gospel of Mark when Jesus was asked the greatest commandment.  He replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”[4]  But Jesus did not stop there, He went on to say “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”[5]  If we do not love the Lord with everything we have … heart, mind, soul and strength … then we will not understand, or benefit for that matter, from the promise made in Romans 8:28.  And if we do not accomplish the first we will most certainly not achieve the second.  In order for us to experience the promise of “that in all things God works for the good,” we must totally and completely love the Lord with everything we have.  This holds true regardless of whether we are in the best of times or the worst of times we must love the Lord our God always.

Paul goes on to add one additional component to Romans 8:28 when he says “who have been called according to His purpose.”  Being “called” is not a frequent topic in today’s church and therefore it is often misunderstood.  Paul gives a powerful word picture when he says “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”[6]  While many may hear the Gospel, not all will accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.  While many may be exposed to the Word of God not all will receive it by faith and stand firmly upon it.  We are called to salvation by the Holy Spirit, we are justified by faith and we are glorified by our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  If we were to break it down to the very root of being called to God’s purpose, it is to be more like Jesus every day. When we accept the challenge of living our lives like Jesus it is then that we begin to see how God can take all of the good, the bad, and the ugly and use it for good.  You see it’s not about us but it is all about Jesus.  It is when we put all three pieces of Romans 8:28 together that we can see what an incredibly awesome God we serve and He is more than capable of achieving the passage that says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”


[1] Romans 8:28.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[2] John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
[3] This quote is taken from a message John delivered October 13, 1985 entitled “Called According to His Purpose”
[4] Mark 12:30
[5] Mark 12:31
[6] Romans 8:30

 

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SATAN IS A LIAR; TEMPTATION IS REAL; HELL IS FOREVER

My intent in writing this article is not to scare or frighten the reader but to give them an understanding of a spiritual reality that is far too often ignored. For the most part it is not being taught in today’s church either.  May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read this article and my heart’s desire is that it will make you thirst for studying God’s Word to gain addition insight about not only hell but the eternal home for all Followers of Jesus Christ, heaven.

Sadly, in today’s organized church far too many have moved away from preaching the truth of the gospel and the reality of spending eternity in one of two places; heaven or hell. There are some fundamental issues that every Follower of Jesus Christ should be well acquainted with so they are prepared to talk to the questions that come up about eternity.  Many, including people in the church, believe that everyone will go to heaven because why would a loving god send anyone to eternal torment.  While a nice thought, that is far from what God’s Word says very straightforward and clearly.  Some believe if we just try to be a good person and do good things for those around us then that’s the best we can do.  Again this is not what we know from God’s Word which teaches us that even with our very best efforts to live a righteous life they are like filthy rags in comparison to God’s righteousness.  So let’s look at three critical elements of understanding Satan, temptation, and the reality of hell being for eternity.

Jesus was talking with the crown and questioned why they could not understand what He was saying.  He quickly identifies the problem and tells them You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” [1] Since the fall of man, we have all entered this world as sinners.  From birth we have a sin nature.  If we surrender to this sin nature then our lives will be patterned after Satan who is described as having no truth in him and further described as a liar and the father of lies.  Deception, distraction and destruction are his tools to keep people in his web of sin.  We are told “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”[2]  Satan and his band of demons use any and all methods to create an inviting environment to follow the false teachings of false prophets created by sin only to lead a person or group to be devoured by their blind devotion to the enemy, Satan.  The church is not immune from these efforts as Satan boldly uses religion as a means of creating false prophets and false teachings.  That is why it is so incredibly important that we stay connected to our Heavenly Father through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word so that we can see through these ploys of destruction. Satan is a liar and from his very first interaction with Eve in the garden he has been telling lies ever since.

Our second critical element is the fact that temptation is for real.  When God condemned Lucifer to the earthly realm, He gave him power and dominion on earth.  Because of this power, anyone that loves the world cannot have the love of our Heavenly Father in them.  Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”[3]  It is because of this power that God intentionally gave to Satan that he can use temptation as a source of drawing people away from God and into his lair of destruction and eternal separation from God.  We can boil it down to a pretty simple concept; when we surrender to temptation our desire is to please ourselves instead of obeying God’s teachings to flee from destructive sin.  Paul made it very clear when he said “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”[4]   Seeking self-gratification and the pleasures of the flesh characterize the unsaved, however, those who are saved can find themselves slipping back into the characteristics described in this passage if we do not follow the guidance given in God’s Word that says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.”[5]

Our third and final element is hell is forever.  Barna Associates, a public survey/research firm, found in one of their surveys that only 32% of adults see hell as, “an actual place of torment and suffering where people’s souls go after death.”  No wonder so many people have bought into the ways of the world.  They don’t believe there are any consequences for doing so.  One of the false teachings that exist today is that hell is temporary.  Not true.  Hell, just as heaven, is for eternity.  In the Gospel of Mark it tells us “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.”[6]  The Gospel of Matthew describes how it will be at the end of time saying “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”[7]  Seems pretty straightforward doesn’t it?  Yet people choose to put on blinders and go their own direction choosing to worship self over a personal relationship with their Creator.  The book of Jude states “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”[8]  The Gospel of Matthew gives us a word picture regarding the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”  This passage goes on to say “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Then he describes the fate of those on the left “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”[9]  Hell is indeed for eternity and there is no way to cross over from hell to heaven.

[1] John 8:44; all scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[2] Matthew 7:15
[3] 1 John 2:15-17
[4] Ephesians 2:1-3
[5] James 4:7-8
[6] Mark 9:43
[7] Matthew 13:49-50
[8] Jude 1:7
[9] Matthew 25:31-33, 34, 41

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WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

Men have always been great story tellers yet it seems that instead of telling the kind of stories that encourage and mentor those they come in contact with, they are telling stories focused on self-centered, self-focused topics.  If not those topics then they are telling their “poor, poor me” stories about how rough their life is and how others have treated them unfairly or inappropriately.  Some have gone so far as to tell stories to harm or hurt other people.  It is a rare occasion that you find a man that is telling the stories of how great and awesome our God is and how blessed they are by having a personal relationship with Him.  Scripture reminds us “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.[1]  Overall, men are failing miserably at telling the most important story we have been given and that it is the story of mercy and grace provided by our Heavenly Father.

 

Big Daddy Weave, a popular Contemporary Christian musician, has a beautiful song entitled “My Story”. The lyrics humble me and inspire me to tell the most important story of all stories.  The lyrics are”

 

If I told you my story you would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story you would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story you would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story; You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story You would hear freedom that was
won for me
And if I told you my story You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song Praising my savior all the day long

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long[2]

          Peter tells us “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”[3]  WOW!  Always be prepared to give an answer.  That means it doesn’t matter where you are going, who you will be talking with, or who else may be around, we must be ready to give the reason for the hope that lies within us.  God’s men should be prepared to do this unashamedly, boldly, courageously, joyfully … I could go on and on with descriptors but I think you get the point.

            I can hear some of you now saying “but I don’t really know how to do that” or “I would be embarrassed to just come out and talk about Jesus.”  I think the best place for us to go for the answer is to these dilemmas is God’s Word.  His Word says “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”[4] 

 

Telling your story is no more than giving God praise and recognition for the mercy and grace He has shown to you.  Looking for those divine appointments where you are given the opportunity by the Holy Spirit to share something with another person that may change their lives forever and all you have to do is tell your story!  Don’t focus so much on where you’ve been but where you’re headed.  Don’t focus on where the person you are talking to may be but where God can take them.  God accepts us right where we are and then He can take us where He wants us to be if we will simply be obedient.  We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) so our story is not about the other person but about how our lives changed when we had that spiritual experience of accepting Jesus Christ as our Personal Savior.

So what is your story?  Are you telling the most important story that can ever be told?  Isaiah nailed it when he said “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strengthThey will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”[5]  We all grow battle weary in this world yet we must not miss the opportunity to be renewed by the Lord to continue to battle on His behalf.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.[6]  You see we already have the victory no matter what Satan or this world may bring; WE HAVE VICTORY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!  “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”[7]  This passage from the book of Acts sums up what should be our story regardless of the consequences:  “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”[8]  AMEN AND AMEN!


 

[1] Romans 5:20&21.  All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.

[2] Publishing: © 2015 Word Music, LLC, Weave Country (ASCAP) / Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Open Hands Music (SESAC) (All rights on behalf of itself and Open Hands Music adm. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC), Writers: Mike Weaver / Jason Ingram

[3] 1 Peter 3:15

[4] Romans 5:1-11

[5] Isaiah 40:31

[6] 1 Corinthians 15:57

[7] 1 John 5:1-5

[8] Acts 20:23&24

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Articles

BIBLICAL CHRISTIAN OR CULTURAL CHRISTIAN?

Biblical Christian or Cultural Christian?
By: Patrick Morley  (1)

 

Christianity is flourishing. There are more Christians today in America than ever before, both as a percentage and in total numbers. Roughly one in three Americans indicate they have asked Jesus to forgive their sins and grant them the gift of eternal life.

Here’s the question: If religion is such a big part of our lives, why isn’t it making more of an impact on our society? The sad reality is that claims of religious commitment run high, but impact is at an all-time low.

Here’s the problem: Although Christianity is flourishing, many of us who are Christians have gotten caught up in this increasingly bankrupt culture. We have adopted many of the values of the world around us. Maybe it’s the new sexual ethics of cohabitation or pornography, rampant greed and materialism, or winking at the needs of the poor. Galatians 5:9 explains why adopting these values is a problem: “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” So when we try to have the best of both worlds, we exchange the truth of God for a lie and the glory of God for idols, we do what seems right in our own eyes, we get engrossed in the secular world, and we worship created things instead of the Creator.

The result? Cultural Christianity. Cultural Christianity means pursuing the God we want instead of the God who is. It is the tendency to be shallow in our understanding of God, wanting Him to be more of a gentle grandfather type who spoils us and lets us have our own way. It is sensing a need for God, but on our own terms. It is wanting the God we have underlined in our Bibles without wanting the rest of Him too. It is God relative instead of God absolute.

What has been the result of this adaptive, cultural religion?
Two Kinds of Christians

The ease with which people now associate themselves with religion has produced two kinds of Christians: biblical Christians and cultural Christians.

Jesus was the first to clarify the different types of people who would or would not associate with Him. The parable of the sower reveals four groups of hearers of the Word of God.

Group 1–The Non-Christian
“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” Luke 8:12
Christ makes clear the point that not everyone who hears about salvation will believe.

Group 2–The Cultural Christian: Type “C”
“Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Luke 8:13

Type “C” stands for counterfeit faith. Among us are some who profess to be Christians, but in reality they are not Christians at all; they are cultural Christians–type “C.” They have a counterfeit faith–a faith that is not a genuine faith in Christ. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Without sounding a false alarm, but in love, I encourage every man who finds himself to be a cultural Christian to consider whether his faith is merely a defeated faith or a counterfeit faith. If counterfeit faith is the condition of your life, don’t be discouraged. God loves you with an everlasting love and wants to reconcile with you. In the next chapter we will look at how you can get on, or back on, the right track.

Group 3–The Cultural Christian: Type “D”
“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14

Sadly, there is little marginal difference between the way many Christians spend their money and the way non-Christians spend theirs. For a group whose primary commission is to be salt and light to a broken, confused world, this example does little to present a viable alternative to empty lifestyles.

Type “D” stands for defeated faith. The type “D” cultural Christian lives in defeat. There is little, if any, marginal difference between his lifestyle and the lifestyle of the man who makes no claim to be in Christ. He has never understood, perhaps because he has never been told, the difference between what it means to be a cultural Christian versus a biblical Christian. This is the category I flirted with before God brought me to my senses.

Group 4–The Biblical Christian
“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:15

A biblical Christian is a man who trusts in Christ, and Christ alone, for his salvation. As a result of his saving faith he desires to be obedient to God’s principles out of the overflow of a grateful heart (see Romans 1:5). Obedience doesn’t save us; faith does. This explains why some men can be cultural Christians–they have a saving faith, but they have not obediently made Christ Lord over all their lives. They have not allowed the Holy Spirit to empower them.

What does it mean to be a cultural Christian today?

Lessons from Elementary School
Do you remember your elementary school teacher demonstrating the principle of diffusion? She started with a clear glass of water. Then with an eyedropper she took some red food dye from a bottle and squeezed one drop into the glass. Within moments, the water was tainted with a pinkish hue as the dye permeated the water in the glass.

To be a cultural Christian in your parents’ generation was to be like a clear glass of water with one drop of red dye. In other words, the secular culture was not that different from the Christian culture. That was before the days of Internet pornography, abortion on demand, explicit sex during prime-time TV, songs that degrade women, and a drug culture that’s hard to avoid. So a man could be a cultural Christian and still be somewhat close to a Christian worldview and values.

To be a cultural Christian today is like having the whole bottle of red dye poured in the glass.

A Look in the Mirror
The man in the mirror will never change until he is willing to see himself as he really is, and to commit to know God as He really is. This objectivity anchors a man; it gives him the clarity of thought he needs to be a biblical Christian.

Is the man looking back at you in the mirror a cultural Christian or a biblical Christian?


(1) The book, The Man in the Mirror, is easily the most impactful resource ever produced by an exponential factor. And one of the concepts that has received the most favorable feedback is the distinction between a cultural Christian and a biblical Christian. Here’s an article on the subject adapted from the Revised and Updated 25th Anniversary Edition of The Man in the Mirror: Solving the 24 Problems Men Face authored by Patrick Morley.

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Articles

THE STRUGGLES WITH FORGIVENESS

So many men struggle with the idea of forgiveness and this is often the area the enemy relies heavily upon to cause men to doubt that God can forgive someone that has a past like they do.  Many in our culture picture God as this angry deity that can’t wait to punish us for our sins.  The fact is we can have forgiveness but it is up to us to accept it.  For this reason, I want to utilize God’s Word to bring awareness of what our Heavenly Father has to say about forgiveness and create a greater awareness of how we can be confident of being forgiven.  John tells us “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”[1]   “His name” refers to Jesus and He is the atonement for our sins.

Paul was speaking to the Jew and the Gentile when he said “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”[2] You notice Paul says “through Him everyone who believes is set free.”  First, a person must accept a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and then justification comes to us because of that relationship.  No matter how hard we might try, we cannot do enough to earn God’s justification by “being a good person” or “living by the ten commandments” but Jesus accomplished it for us by His death, burial, and resurrection.  Clearly this is telling us that God chooses to forgive us of all our sins.  While Satan often tries to use our past as a way to distract and deceive us from God’s truth, scripture clearly shows that no matter how great our sin, He forgives. God tells us “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”[3]

 So for those who choose to look at God as being angry and mad at people and is just waiting to take out his displeasure on all who have sinned (which is all of us), God’s Word doesn’t at all provide support for this ideology. This passage of scripture gives us a valuable description regarding sin and forgiveness: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”[4]Some key points from this passage:

  • For anyone that enters into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone (sinful man) and the new is here (freedom in Christ).  This does not mean we achieve perfection through this relationship but forgiveness.
  • It was God’s plan that made a way for reconciliation; it was not man’s idea because of our sinful nature.  God wants a personal relationship with the part of His creation that was formed in His image so if anyone is in Christ they are reconciled through Christ.  The Holman Bible Dictionary defines reconciliation as “The establishment of friendly relations between parties who are at variance with each other, making peace after an engagement in war, or readmission to the presence and favor of a person after rebellion against the person.”[5]  Sin caused man to be rebellious against God and therefore created separation and distance.  Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we have a way to be in the presence and favor of our Heavenly Father.
  • God allowed His one and only Son to serve as the sacrifice for all sins past, present, and future so that in Him we become the righteousness of God.

So often we forget or ignore the fact that we were sinful by nature and we needed forgiveness and reconciliation with our Creator.  As a result, we fail to forgive others as we have been forgiven.  Men particularly struggle with this idea of forgiveness.  We expect forgiveness from others but have difficulty giving it.  Scripture tells us “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”[6]We are to model ourselves after Christ and our Heavenly Father.  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”[7]Pretty strong message when scripture says “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

In closing, I want to remind all Followers of Jesus Christ that salvation does not prevent us from sinning.  Let’s face it, it is our nature from the beginning; it is in our DNA. God tells us “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”[8]  It is very important to recognize that our relationship with Jesus Christ must be our primary focus and if we maintain that focus we will minimize sin but we will sin nonetheless.  Thought or deed, sin is sin.  God knows this and He gives us words of comfort when he had John write “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”[9]

My heart’s desire is these words regarding forgiveness will give you a new or refreshed look at what God has done for us and what we should be doing for Him in relationship to forgiveness.  Thank you Lord for your grace and forgiveness so that we might reconnect our hearts with yours!


[1] 1 John 2:12
[2] Acts 13:38&39
[3] Hebrews 8:12
[4] 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
[5]Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991.
[6] Ephesians 4:32
[7] Colossians 3:12-14
[8]1 John 1:8
[9]1 John 1:9

Note: this article was inspired by God Has Forgiven You – Jesus Christ brought love from Heaven posted on www.believers.org website