December 13, 2009

The Foolishness of Preaching the Cross of Christ, part 1

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to proclaim the gospel, not in wisdom of words, so that in no way would the cross of Christ be made empty.
(1 Corinthians 1:17)

John Gill says in his commentary on this verse:

but to preach the Gospel; for which he was most eminently qualified, had peculiar gifts for the discharge of it, and was greatly useful in it. This was what he was rather sent to do than the other, and this "not with wisdom of words". Scholastic divinity, or the art of disputation, is by the (f) Karaites, a sect among the Jews, called חכמת הדברים, "wisdom of words": this the apostle seems to refer to, and signifies he was not sent with, or to preach, with words of man's wisdom, with human eloquence and oratory, with great swelling words of vanity, but in a plain, humble, modest manner; on which account the false teachers despised him, and endeavoured to bring his ministry into contempt with others: but this way and manner of preaching he chose for this reason,

John Gill made the point well, that Christ sent Paul to preach (the word is euangelizesthai to proclaim the gospel, to evangelize) without using the impressive words of what is considered wisdom by an unbelieving world.

The world thinks that they will only find truth by higher knowledge, intelligence, philosophical and logical wisdom, etc. But the gospel goes forth in plain, common, simple terms, so that even the uneducated can understand by the grace of God.

The simple message of the gospel is the proclamation of facts and belief in what those facts indicate. The cross of Christ was an event in history. Jesus, who is called Christ, was crucified under the authority of Pontius Pilate. The power of that death lies within God's purpose, that Christ would suffer the wrath in place of all who believe in Him as the fulfillment of the Scriptural Messiah (the Christ). His resurrection from the dead authenticated and produced real salvation for God's elect.

The foolishness of it all can be seen in that people are called to believe the only eye-witness accounts written down, which are the New Testament Scriptures. To the world this is not an expression of wisdom. However, to us who believe, it is the power of the cross of Christ.

December 4, 2009

From my personal study notes - Romans 1:17

Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." (ESV)

The revelation of the righteousness of God is important to note. God is righteous and just, yet because of all the injustice and evil in the world, some conclude that He is not. It is in the gospel that God's righeousness is being revealed from faith to faith. That is, His righteousness is revealed to those who believe, and it continues to be revealed to believers in the gospel.

Not only that, but believers live by faith through the righteousness of God. God's righteousness is received as a gift by faith (Romans 3:22,24;5:17). The believer also lives as a righteous person before God (Romans 5:19,21), because God's righteousness is imputed to him or her by their faith or trust in Him (Romans 4:5). The only way for a sinful person to be made righteous before God, Pual tells us, is by faith alone in this gospel for which there is no reason to be ashamed (Romans 1:16).

December 3, 2009

Grace Abounding: Resource for getting a good Premillennial perspective

Being in alignment with reformed and calvinist teachings regarding Scripture (2 Tim 3:16), the absolute Sovereignty of God (Rom 11:36), agreeing very strongly with those doctrines known as TULIP (Rom. 3:12; Eph. 1:4; John 10:15; John 6:37,44; 1 Thes. 5:23,24), and enjoy the wealth of Biblical studies and books produced by reformed Christian leaders (see, makes it very tempting to side with those same theologians on their views of eschatology simply because they say it is right.

In this post, I am simply presenting a resource I have found very helpful in considering a Biblical understanding of premillennialism from a Calvinist Christian perspective. I tend to agree more with the premillennial point of view, while possibly not agreeing with everything. My understanding of the return of Christ and the last times is not very big, but from what I see the Bible saying, I try to understand it correctly and then see who takes the Biblical perspective most accurately as far as I can tell.

So here is a link to some studies done by Fred Butler on his blog, Hip and Thigh, Studies in Eschatology for anyone interested in learning this point of view.

November 29, 2009

A Post for Atheists

God created everything

God owns everything

God explains everything

God judges everyone

God loves those sinners He chooses to save

God chooses who knows and experiences His salvation in Christ

The physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a fact

Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; Ephesians 1:4-7; Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3-10

November 28, 2009

The World is not Worthy

a 23-year-old Christian, converted from Islam, that was killed earlier this month. He was reported to an Islamic militant group by a boy whom he had witnessed to. The statement of what happened to this brother is graphic:

"In an attempt to extract evidence against him and to gain information about other Somali Christians, the militants knocked out all of Yusuf's front teeth and broke several of his fingers. They then shot him twice in the head and discarded his body on an empty residential street."

...continue reading over at Thirsty Soul

November 22, 2009

Isaiah 61

Isaiah Chapter 61

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast.

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.

For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

November 21, 2009

Grace Abounding: Premillennial/Amillennial Calvinism - I'm still learning

I'm learning that the debate over the return of Christ and the meaning of the 1,000 year reign (Revelation 20:4,5,6) is not one that is easily resolved.

I've considered both amillennial views and premillennial views of calvinism, and can say that both make a strong case.

I would say that Kim Riddlebarger (one of the lead amillennial Calvinists) and John MacArthur (Calvinist in favor of dispensational premillennialism) both have a lot of good points they are making. However, I see that both have the tendency to argue from their presuppositions without carefully considering the other side. I guess I could be wrong, I am only now learning from their messages. They are smart guys, but even smart guys can be mistaken. So I'm listening with care.

Whichever view most accurately represents the return of Christ, I want to say this, that we must always reform our understanding according to the entire Bible and look forward with eager longing for the eternal reign of our King and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

May His name be praised as Christian brothers sharpen one another through such debate.

Grace to all in Jesus Christ our Lord!

November 19, 2009

Contemplating Premillennial Calvinism

For a long time I was sort of a mix of amil/premil eschatology, depending on what passage of Scripture I was reading at the moment. That was long before I knew what amillennialism or premillennialism were about. Now I have had to think the issues over a little more.

Recently, I have been contemplating premillennial calvinism. Especially Why Every Calvinist Should Be A Premillennialist by John McArthur.

No Condemnation - Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 ESV

(Some manuscripts add the end of verse 4 after this: "who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.")

It literally says from Greek: "None therefore now sentence of condemnation them in Christ Jesus", which could be translated, 

"Therefore, there is now no sentence of condemnation* for those in Christ Jesus."

*The word for condemnation (katakrima G2631) is legal and means to be judicially sentenced to condemnation, to receive the death penalty.

The word "therefore" indicates a conclusion drawn from what has already been taught in all the chapters before this, specifically that one is justified by faith in Christ Jesus apart from works of the law (Rom 3:28).

A man or woman who is united to Christ by faith is freely forgiven of all sin (Rom. 4:7-8), freely granted the perfect righteousness of God as a gift (Rom. 3:22,24; 4:5-6,24), and therefore it must be concluded that there cannot be any condemnation for them.

It is impossible to condemn one whom God has justified (Rom 8:33), and all who are united to Christ Jesus by faith (resulting in obedience from the heart) are completley justified and totally free from all condemnation (see Acts 13:39).

Praise be to our wonderful God!

Picture by Lee Tomassetti, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved

November 17, 2009

A Portrait of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, part 5

This is the 5th part in a series of short chapter summaries from the Gospel According to Mark.
Here are chapters 9 & 10:

9. About six days later, Jesus took three of his chosen students up to a mountain, and there they saw him transfigured so that his clothes shone bright with whiteness. They were terrified, and a cloud overshadowed them with a voice in it that said, "This is my beloved Son, listen to him." (Mark 9:7). After the vision, he charged them not to tell anyone, not until after he had risen from the dead. They came to a man who was in distress over his boy who was oppressed by a spirit, so that the boy was mute and convulsed. The man asked Jesus, "if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus answered, "If you can! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father cried out, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:22-24). Then Jesus healed the boy and commanded the spirit to never come back. Later, Jesus told his disciples again that he would be delivered into the hands of men and killed, and after three days he would rise from the dead. But they still did not understand him.

10. When questioned about divorce, Jesus reminded them of what God said in the beginning of creation, when He made a man and a woman for unity in marriage, so they should not be separated. He also welcomed little children, took them in his arms and blessed them. He taught that the kingdom of God must be received as a little child in order for anyone to enter in (since it is only by faith one is saved). A young man came to Jesus asking him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). Jesus told the man that God alone is good, and he quoted the last five of the Ten Commandments. The man claimed to have kept them all, so Jesus looked at him with love and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." But since he was very wealthy, he left Jesus disheartened. Then Jesus taught how hard it is for rich people to be saved, so his followers asked if anyone could be saved. He told them it is impossible with men, but all things are possible with God, and promised a great reward for any who leave things they cherish to follow him. After this, he travelled toward Jerusalem, where he said he would be condemned to death, mocked, spit on, flogged and killed, but after 3 days would rise again. Jesus also corrected his students about those who desire to be great in his kingdom, teaching them to be the least and servants of all. He taught that he had come to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Then he healed a blind man who called for mercy, and blessed him for his faith in Jesus as the "Son of David" (the one prophesied to be the Messiah or Christ).

November 14, 2009

Grace Abounding: Dominica Orphanage

During my trip to the Dominican Republic over a week ago, we visited this orphanage and school called Dominica.

The sad thing was that most of these kids were not really orphans but are the offspring of people who have had multiple sexual partners and/or use alcohol or drugs. It moved my heart to see the great needs these kids have, and not only them but their parents and people all around the world.

This made me think of the greatest need of all, the need for reconciliation and life with God through Jesus Christ His Son.

My brother, Lee, put together this video. He has posted this video, along with other video that he has and will be posting from our evangelism and missions at his You Tube channel called LiveBOLDLYforChrist.

November 12, 2009

Being Satisfied

As a single 26 year old Christian man, I am writing to my fellow single brothers and sisters in Christ about satisfaction with God's will in Christ Jesus our LORD.

Sometimes we can hear so much about what we "should" be doing, that we begin to think, "Oh no, not another reminder that I have to be satisfied with whatever God wants for my life, even if it is exactly what I dread."

But that is not the Biblical view of being satisfied with God's will. Biblically, God only gives to the wicked what they most fear and dread will happen to them (Prov. 10:24).

But to the righteous, God gives them the desires of their hearts, satisfies them with good things, renews them and fills them with joy (Psa. 34:9; 37:4; 81:16; 103:5 Prov. 10:24; Isa. 40:31; Rom. 14:17; 15:13).

This is His will for you in Christ: that you always rejoice, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything (1 Thes. 5:16-18).

If this is God's will for us, then why would we want anything different?

"Because what if God does not give me what I want," you might think.

But listen to me, if you know God's Son and you know the Father, and you know His great love for you, then how can you doubt that He wants anything but what is the best for you?

What it comes down to is this: are you satisfied with doing the will of God? His will is simple and clear: 1) always be joyful in Him, He loves you and is making you holy; 2) always pray, because God loves to answer the requests of His children in unexpected ways; and 3) always be thankful, because you are getting way more than you deserve and God is giving you good things to bless you.

If you are rejoicing in Christ, continuing in prayer and thankful in Christ, then you are doing God's will. You can be satisfied with that.

Whether we get married or not, live or die, have this or that, what matters is that we are doing the will of God in the midst of it. I believe that there is no other way for a married couple to not be disappointed with each other than for them to first be satisfied in Christ. There is no other way for singles to be who they are created to be than to first be satisfied in Christ.

I firmly believe that being content takes action. First let's be content with God's will for our lives, if we are saved it is always going to be good, even in hard times. Second, let's do what He commands us to do. This starts with loving Him and loving His people. Get out and work by visiting other Christians, be happy with the godly friends you have, help each other out more, out-do one another in showing honor to each other, do things to help the poor, encourage the downcast and build each other up in the faith, preach the gospel to the lost and visit the hospitals.

If you are a young man and you don't have the gift of celibacy, then get busy ordering your life and finding a wife for yourself. I know she is already getting tired of waiting for you to do something. Remember you can only pick one, so find the one you like and stick with her. Learn to be the kind of guy noble women are crazy about. Read the book of Proverbs as many times as you can in one year and by the grace of God practice it. Experience knowing Christ for real and be gentle, kind and gracious.

If you are a lady, then do all you can to encourage, support and help others out as you wait for that guy to finally do something. Babysit people's kids, learn to be a great cook, help your sisters out, delight in the Word of God, be self-controlled. Every relationship in your life matters. Remember, God knows what you need.

If you are doing these things already, then don't get tired of doing it. Keep in mind that God is blessing you and has great things in store. Maybe your future husband or future wife will see you doing these things and will be irresistibly attracted to you?

Maybe it won't matter to you if anyone sees you or not, because you know what it is to be saved by grace? You know what it is to be loved by God, to have His Son die and rise for your redemption, to be eternally, irresistibly and stubbornly loved in Christ Jesus, to receive His Holy Spirit and to have a future hope of an eternal inheritance. You will one day reign as kings in the Kingdom of our Lord.

If this is you, be happy and keep doing good. If not, then get alone, get silent, get on your knees, get your Bible open and plead to know this love of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

"Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint."
(Isaiah 40:30-31 ESV)

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
(1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

"Trust in the LORD and do good..."
(Psalm 37:3)

Hope this helps you out a little my friends,

Penn T.

(If you have anything you would like to add, comments or questions, please do.)

November 9, 2009

Grace Abounding: Back in the United States

By the grace of God I am home from my trip to Santo Domingo after a week of visiting and evangelism there.

I enjoyed being in the Dominican Republic for many reasons...

I am glad to be back in the U.S. for some also...

1. God's will
2. Fellowship with Christians
3. Spreading the gospel by proclaiming and sharing what God has said in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15, 16, 17).
4. Time with family
5. Able to speak the language ;) lol
6. Work to do
7. (Last-but-not-least) the grace of God in my life

You can watch some video of the trip on my brother Lee's You Tube Channel, but keep in mind that there will be more video to come in the near future.

Looking to Jesus (Heb. 12:2),

- Penn T.

November 4, 2009

Grace Abounding: Estoy en Santo Domingo

I am in Santo Domingo (estoy en Santo Domingo), Dominican Republic, for the week. My pastor, brother and a fellow evangelist friend are here on a mission - to spread the glorious gospel of God's grace through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

So far, it has been an amazing learning experience for us. The Dominican people are very warm people. Yesterday, we visited an huérfanato (orphanage) and spent most of the day learning about the needs and conditions of the orphanage/school and the community. We taught the older kids from the Bible, then later spent a lot of time playing with the little children (los niños).

Our evangelism experience has also been very good. Keep us in prayer as we continue to share the gospel with more people, spreading tracts, booklets and portions of the Bible in Spanish for the people of Santo Domingo to read.

Grace to all who love our great Lord and King!
- Penn

October 27, 2009

Grace Abounding: Returning to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

If the Sovereign LORD wills, early Friday morning, I will be taking off from New York with my pastor, brother and friend to fly back to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

We are taking a lot of Bibles, New Testaments, Gospels of John, tracts and booklets to give away on the streets. It is our desire to share the gospel with as many people as possible while we are there for a week.

We are especially looking forward to the opportunity of mutual edification and godly fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ there in Santo Domingo.

We also need prayers, and will be rejoicing along with those who pray for all that our gracious Lord and God does in response to them.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you who trust in Him.

October 23, 2009

Grace Gems: A Truly Thoughtful Person

A truly thoughtful person (J. R. Miller, "The Grace of Thoughtfulness" 1896)

Some people seem to have a genius for making others miserable! They are continually touching sensitive hearts, so as to cause pain. They are always saying things which sting and irritate. If you have any bodily defect, they never see you without in some crude way, making you conscious of it. If any relative or friend of yours has done some dishonorable thing, they seem to take a cruel delight in constantly referring to it when speaking with you. They lack alldelicacy of feeling, having no eye for the sensitive things in others, which demand gentleness of treatment.

Thoughtfulness is the reverse of all this. It simply does not do the things which thoughtlessness does. It avoids the painful subject. It never alludes to a man's clubfoot or humpback, nor ever casts an eye at the defect, nor does anything to direct attention to it or to make the man conscious of it. It respects your sorrow--and refrains from harshly touching your wound. It has the utmost kindliness of feeling and expression. A truly thoughtful person, is one who never needlessly gives pain to another.

Thoughtfulness does not merely keep one from doing thoughtless things; it also leads to continued acts of kindness and good will. It ever watches for opportunities to give pleasure and happiness. It does not wait to be asked for sympathy or help--but has eyes of its own, and sees every need, and supplies it unsolicited. When a friend is in sorrow, the thoughtful man is ready with his offer of comfort. He does not come the next day, when the need is past--but is prompt with his kindness, when kindness means something.Thoughtfulness is always doing little kindnesses. It has an instinct for seeing the little things that need to be done, and then for doing them!

There are some rare Christians who seem born for thoughtfulness. They have a genius for sympathy. Instinctively they seem to understand the experiences of pain in others, and from their heart, there flows a blessing of tenderness which is full of healing. This is the highest and holiest ministry of love. It is not softness nor weakness; it is strength--but strength enriched by divine gentleness.

Thoughtfulness is one of the truest and best tests of a noble Christian character. It is love working in all delicate ways. It is unselfishness which forgets self, and thinks only of others. It is love which demands not to be served, to be honored, to be helped--but thinks continually of serving and honoring others. He who has a truly gentle heart, cannot but be thoughtful. Love is always thoughtful.

October 20, 2009

Grace and Understanding Justice

Proverbs 28:5 says, "Evil men do not understand judgment, but those who seek Yahweh understand all."

Men controlled by evil (Rom. 1:28,29) do not understand judgment.
They don't understand what is just, righteous and absolutely morally correct.
They don't understand that which is opposite of their own evil,
they don't understand that which condemns their ways and thoughts.

They do not understand God as just and holy.
They don't understand the offense of sin and unbelief.
they don't understand right versus wrong,
judgment versus rebellion.

Those who love another god do not understand justice.
They don't understand the fall of unbelieving man,
pain, suffering, death.
They don't understand wrath,
the fire that burns injustice.

But those who seek Yahweh,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
understand all.
They understand their sin,
they understand the fall,
they understand the judgment
they understand hell.

They understand the Son of God and Son of Man.
They understand the cross of calvary.
They understand the propitiation of the Savior,
the suffering, the death, the burial,
the substitution, the satisfaction.

They understand the resurrection,
the need for a new birth,
the reconciliation and life everlasting.
The mercy and justice that provide forgiveness.
They understand because God's grace has taught it to them (Titus 2:11-12,13-14).

October 15, 2009

The Gracelessness (and Evil) of Self-Esteem Teachings

The extremely Biblely Pyromaniacs blog published a great post today by Dan Phillips titled: Self-help, self-esteem, self-destruction, and large, irresponsible mouths.

It is a powerful short warning about how self-esteem teachings go directly against the grain of what God really wants for you, which is His revealed will in the Bible).

Consider the striking words of Jeremiah concerning those who promote self-contentment:

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”
(Jeremiah 23:16-17)

October 13, 2009

Grace Abounding: Evangelism and Missions

I've been busy the past month planning a second trip to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for evangelism Oct. 30 - Nov. 7, and also to visit my friend Rita, from New Human Life blog, and other Christian brethren there. 

My brother, Lee, has begun using his video camera to help in our mission work here in Pennsylvania, and will be carrying it with him to Santo Domingo as well. You can watch two of his videos on You Tube under "LiveBOLDLYforChrist".

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the [one] name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
(Matthew 28:19-20).

September 23, 2009

Encouragement to be Sober and to Build Each Other Up

One of the passages of Scripture I have been meditating on lately:

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 (ESV)

September 15, 2009

Grace Gems: Your Chief Study

Another great Gem from Grace Gems... Let us study to know and guard our hearts above all!
Your chief study

(Jonathan Edwards)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it
 is the wellspring of life!" Proverbs 4:23

See that your chief study is about your heart:
  that there, God's image is planted;
  that there, His interests are advanced;
  that there, the world and flesh are subdued;
  that there, the love of every sin is cast out;
  that there, the love of holiness grows.

"I, the Lord, search the heart and examine
 the mind!" Jeremiah 17:10

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We have posted Grace Gems for the month of AUGUST in one file!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

September 11, 2009

To See Your Glory - Para Ver Tu Gloria

Today I posted a little translation/meditation of Psalm 63:1-3 from the Spanish Bible on my Learning to Speak in Tongues blog

Those words are a great encouragement for us to be passionate, to be motivated and to seek to be satisfied more and more in God. 

Join me in looking again to those things which are above (Colossians 3:2).

September 10, 2009

You are Complete in Him

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority..." 
(Colossians 2:8-10 NASB)

Why should we never ever let anyone take us captive with their philosophies and religious traditions?

Answer: because we are already made complete in the One in whom the fullness of God dwells bodily. 

In other words, Christ is God and we have all we need in Him. We do not need to add traditions, philosophies, empty ideas, or anything else that would lead us away from being completely satisfied in Christ. Because in Jesus dwells all the fullness of God, and we are complete in Him. 

Praise and glory and honor be to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ who gives us His Spirit! Amen.

September 2, 2009

Grace Abounding: Manoa's wife and Audio from York streets

It was interesting as I read Judges chapter 13 this morning, how the angel of the LORD appeared to Manoa's wife in order to announce to them the coming birth of their son Sampson, who would save Israel from their enemies.

After she went and told Manoa about it, he immediately prayed that God would send the angel back to them so he could question him. The interesting reason was that Manoa wanted to learn how he should raise this child. What an example this is for dads, that they too would be willing to get on their knees and beg the LORD for wisdom about how to raise their children!

However, it seems Manoa really wanted instructions from the LORD since he knew this child was special and would be set apart to be used by God in the deliverance of Israel. I believe he also doubted the LORD's word a bit, just like Zecharia did when the birth of his son, John the Baptist, was announced to him (Luke 1:18-20).

But the story kept getting more interesting as I read on... who is the angel of the LORD? and why did Manoa's unamed and intriguing wife humorously have to rebuke him for thinking they were going to die?... Read the story here, and post your answers in the comments. :)

IN addition to that, I've had some very good conversations on the streets explaining the gospel to people. Here is one example of a guy who was questioning the Bible as Matt and I talked with him in York, last night. (Also listen below). Grace to all!

August 27, 2009

Romans 9:5: Christ is God over all blessed forever!

I did a little study of Romans 9:5 concerning the Deity of Christ tonight. I looked up the Strong's numbers with the Greek on my e-Sword program, then wrote down my own translation from what I could understand.

Here is my English translation from the Greek (literal word for word and in the original order): Romans 9:5:

Whose the fathers and from whom the Christ (Anointed) the according flesh the is over all God blessed into the forever. Amen.

There is an important phrase in this verse referring to Christ as God. However, because ancient Greek had no punctuation marks, there are different possible ways to arrange the word order and punctuation when translating in English. I tried to reword/organize the last half of this verse in these three different ways (emphasized):

1. "To whom are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all God blessed forever. Amen." (Where the last phrase is not as specific. Is Christ over all God, or over all God-blessed? Or is it both?)

2. "To whom are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen." (This wording more accurately ascribes Deity to Christ, calling Him "God over all.")

3. "To whom are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, the blessed God forever. Amen." (This phrase fits with the Jewish tradition of blessing God whenever speaking His name.)

In either case, Romans 9:5 contains a crystal clear declaration that Jesus Christ is in fact God Almighty, and at the same time human.

Here are some popular translations (emphasis added):
KJV: Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

NKJV: of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

ESV: To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

NLT: Their ancestors were great people of God, and Christ himself was a Jew as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

NIV: Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

NASB: whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Note: most translations above list this wording used in the NASB as an alternative, either one works in the Greek)

RVR1960: de quienes son los patriarcas, y de los cuales, según la carne, vino Cristo, el cual es Dios sobre todas las cosas, bendito por los siglos. Amén.

LBLA: de quienes son los patriarcas, y de quienes, según la carne, procede el Cristo, el cual está sobre todas las cosas, Dios bendito por los siglos. Amén.

Amazing verse! Use it whenever you encounter someone who tries to say that Jesus Christ is not God, or that Christ is not equal with the Father. Clearly, we have an infinite, unfathomable, yet intensely personal God, who has sent His Son into the world in human flesh, that we might be reborn in His resurrection image and likeness. Truly God is amazing!

August 21, 2009

Grace Abounding: Resources and Evangelism 1

From Artwork
In this Grace Abounding post, let me first say that God's grace truly is amazing and abounds even to the lowest of His chosen creatures. I love reading Psalm 113, because in it, God is humbling Himself to help the nobodies and the poor and the ashamed women, and He is giving them a wonderful inheritance, all because He wanted to--all because of His grace!

• If you or anyone you know is suffering right now, then I recommend reading as many Grace Gems as you have time for.

Pyromaniacs blog has had some wonderfully challenging posts and reposts all during this past week, on Biblical evangelism. This blog is truly educational when it comes to thinking Biblically and accurately.

• Some brief, and a few humorous observations between Atheism and Christianity are given in this post on the Contemporary Calvinist.

• And finally, please pray for more Biblical, grace and Christ centered evangelism both in our own country and around the world. Since persecution is so wide-spread now, we also have a great need for accurate Biblical doctrine, and focused prayer for all persecuted saints.

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ and are waiting eagerly for His return. Come Lord Jesus, our King and Savior! Amen.

From Artwork

August 16, 2009

John Piper: Understanding the Bible Brings Great Joy

God’s Word, Good Exposition, Great Joy, Much Strength

August 16, 2009 | By: John Piper | Category: Commentary

Here’s another reason I am joyfully committed to expository exultation, that is, preaching.

Look at this amazing statement of what biblical exposition is like when it’s done well—in the power of God’s Spirit and riveted on biblical texts.

Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people.... [T]he Levites helped the people to understand the Law.... They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.... And all the people went their make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:5-8,12)

First, there was a reader of the word of God. Then there were those who explained the words. Then there was true understanding in the minds of the people. Then there was great rejoicing “because they hand understood the words.”

It is astonishing to me how many pastors apparently don’t believe in pursuing the joy of their people in this way. Evidently they think it doesn’t work. I’m sure there are many reasons for this abandonment of biblical exposition.

But I simply want to wave the flag and say: There was joy then. And there is joy today when God’s people see real, divine meaning in texts that they had not seen before.

If you want to see a strong church, keep in mind that it is no accident that in this very context the writer says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

What joy? The joy of verse 12: “All the people went their make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.”

God’s truth followed by faithful, Spirit-anointed exposition, leads to great joy, which is the strength of God’s people. So give the sense, brothers. Give the sense!

(From the desiringGod blog)

August 12, 2009

Grace and Great Men

Who are the 3 most prolific writers of the Bible?

They are:
1) Moses
2) David
3) Paul

All three of these men were murderers.

When the Bible represents its heroes, it represents them as they are, without hiding their severe and serious faults.

They are real men, not make believe. They were also great heroes and have influenced the entire world with their writings more than any other writers who have ever lived.

We can learn from these guys what a real man of God is made of--the grace of God.

"Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17 Amplified).

Grace Gems: I Have All I Need

A weak, defenseless and foolish creature!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The Lord is my shepherd--I have everything I need." Psalm 23:1

"The Lord is my shepherd!" What condescension is this--that the Infinite Lord assumes the office and character of aShepherd towards His people! It should be the subject of grateful admiration, that the great God allows Himself to be compared to anything which will set forth His great love and care for His own people! 

David had himself been a keeper of sheep, and understood both the needs of the sheep, and the many cares of a shepherd. He compares himself to a weak, defenseless and foolish creature--and he takes God to be his Provider, Preserver, Director, and, indeed, his everything!

No man has a right to consider himself the Lord's sheep--unless his nature has been renewed; for the Scriptural description of unconverted men does not picture them assheep--but as wolves or goats! A sheep is personal property--not a wild animal. Its owner sets great value on it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly as David did--that we belong to the Lord!

There is a noble tone of confidence in this sentence. There is no "if", nor "but", nor even an "I hope so". David says, "The Lord IS my shepherd." We must cultivate the spirit of assured dependence upon our heavenly Father.

The sweetest word of the whole verse, is that monosyllable, "MY". He does not say, "The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large," but "The Lord is MY shepherd!" He is a MY Shepherd to no one else--He cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me! The words are in the present tense. Whatever the believer's situation--he is constantly under the pastoral care of Jehovah Himself!

The next words are an encouraging inference from the first statement, "I have everything I need." I might lack otherwise--but when the Lord is my Shepherd--He isable to supply my needs--and He is certainly willing to do so, for His heart is full of love towards His people! 

I shall not lack for temporal things. Does He not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can He leave His childrento starve? 

I shall not lack for spiritual things, I know that His grace will be sufficient for all my needs. Resting in Him--He will say to me, "As your days--so shall your strength be!"

I may not possess all that I wish for--but "I have everything I need." Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may lack--but "I have everything I need." "The young lions may lack, and suffer hunger--but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any goodthing." 

Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, "I have everything I need!" Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack; and even death with its gloom--shall not find me destitute. I shall have all good things and abound; not because I have a large store of money in the bank, nor because I have skill and wit to sustain myself--but because "The Lord is my shepherd!" 

The wicked always lack--but the righteous never! An unsaved person's heart is far from satisfaction--but a gracious heart dwells in the "palace of contentment!"

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

August 11, 2009

Why is Grace so great?

Grace chooses the least worthy of honor 
and bestows upon them so many benefits
that the One who chose and blessed them
is seen as gloriously lovely and praiseworthy.
(Psalm 103:1-5; Ephesians 1:3-7; 2:5-9; 1 Corinthians 1:26)

Grace reveals the face of the most Lovely
in the midst of trials to the most unlovely,
then makes them into that same lovely image.
(2 Corinthians 1:9; 3:18; 1 John 3:1-2)

But what is greatest about grace
is the joy of knowing and being known 
by the glorious One who gave it.
(John 1:18; 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:7)

August 7, 2009

Grace Gems: Spurgeon on Grace for the Young

Today's Puritan Audio Devotional:
"Altogether lovely!"
The preciousness of Christ

~  ~  ~  ~

Some of the advantages ofearly piety

(Charles Spurgeon)

I will just mention some of the advantages of early piety

To be a believer in God early in life--is to be saved from a thousand regrets! Such a man shall never have to say that he carries in his bones--the sins of his youth. The Christian young man will not fall into the common sins of other young men, and injure his bodily health by excesses.

He will likely marry a Christian woman--and so have a holy companion in his journey towards Heaven. 

Early piety helps us to formfriendships for the rest of life which will prove helpful--and saves us from those which are harmful. He will select as his associates,  the godly from the church--and not the rogues from the tavern. They will be his helpers in virtue--and not his tempters to vice. Depend upon it--a great deal depends upon whom we choose for our companions early in life. If we start in bad company--it is very hard to break away from it. 

The man brought to Christ early in life has this further advantage--that he is helped to form holy habits--and is saved from being the slave of sinful ones. Habits soon become second nature; to form new ones is hard work; but those formed in youth-- usually
 remain to old age. 

Moreover, I notice that very frequently, those who are brought to Christ while young, grow in grace more rapidly and readily than others do. They have not so much tounlearn--and they have not such aheavy weight of old sinful memoriesto carry. The scars and bleeding sores which come from havingspent years in the service of the devil--are missed by those whom the Lord brings into His church early, before they have wandered far into the sinful pleasures of this evil world.

I cannot commend early piety too highly. How attractive it is! Grace looks loveliest in youth! That which would not be noticed in the grown-up man--strikes at once the most careless observer, when seen in a child. Grace in a child has a convincing force--the infidel drops his weapon and admires. A word spoken by a child abides in the memory, and its artless accents touch the heart. Where the minister's sermon fails--the child's prayer may gain the victory!

We have posted Spurgeon's superb sermon, "Early Piety--Eminent Piety". Must reading for parents and those who teach children!

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

August 5, 2009

Grace and Vengeance in Psalm 94

As I read Psalm 94 today, I realized quickly from the first verse, that this Psalm is all about asking God to take vengeance on those who are persecuting the righteous people in the land.

We don't always realize it naturally, but such a Psalm is written for our instruction and encouragement, so that through it we would have hope (Romans 15:4).

How might such a Psalm offer hope? Or how does it administer grace to its readers?

Simple... by calling our attention to the One True Living God who can be trusted to bring about justice for the oppressed and innocent who have been murdered. God's grace can be trusted in times of great injustice and persecution, because He will avenge.

In the midst of horrible injustice, the Psalmist said, "If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, "My foot has slipped," Your lovingkindness, O LORD, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul." (Psalm 94:17,18,19 NAS).

When we hope and delight in the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10), we can rest assured that justice will one day be meeted out to all the oppressors, and God will raise the dead in Christ Jesus to eternal righteousness forever! Amen!

Psalm 94 ESV

O Lord, God of vengeance,
O God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth;
repay to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the sojourner,
and murder the fatherless;
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

Understand, O dullest of the people!
Fools, when will you be wise?
He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge—
the Lord—knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath.

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord,
and whom you teach out of your law,
to give him rest from days of trouble,
until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people;
he will not abandon his heritage;
 for justice will return to the righteous,
and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help,
my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot slips,”
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you,
those who frame injustice by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold,
and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their iniquity
and wipe them out for their wickedness;
the Lord our God will wipe them out.

August 3, 2009

Why Paul Wrote with Tears

In the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians, he explained why his previous letter was written out of so much heartache:

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.
(2 Corinthians 2:4 NAS)

July 30, 2009

Praying with King David

I've been reading over David's prayer in Psalm 86, saying "Amen" and praying it for myself over and over again. I thank the Holy Spirit for inspiring this prayer for our instruction and hope (Romans 15:4). 

What I love about this Psalm is how it is a reminder of the God to whom David called to, and who I call out to everyday for help. The Lord who alone is God (v10), who is my God (v2), and the Lord who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (v15). 

We need to be often reminded of the character of the God to whom we pray and rely on. And such is the God in whom I confidently trust by His grace and through His Son!

Psalm 86 (ESV)

A Prayer of David.

1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.
8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seek my life,
and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

July 29, 2009

What is Grace? The Bible's Perspective on Painful Grace

When we talk about grace, what do we mean?

It often depends on the context of our conversation. If we are talking about music, grace means one thing, but when talking about how people interact in relationships, grace means something else.

What do we mean when we talk about God's grace?

Often, we guess at this, because our understanding of grace has been shaped, for the most part, by the culture we are brought up in.

At the church I participate in, we often talk about the grace of God in salvation. We speak of Ephesians chapter two, and how we are brought from spiritual death to spiritual life, and made heirs of the Kingdom of Christ by the Sovereign work of God's grace, given to us through the death and life of His dear Son.

But now, I want to take a look at a passage of Scripture that teaches me to think of grace in a way most of us are not familiar enough with. Which is that the worst pains in our lives, according to the Bible, are actually the grace of the our Lord Jesus Christ being worked out in our lives. Christians who experience hardship, are experiencing it for completely different reasons than unbelievers most of the time. What happens to you or to me is never an accident, but is part of the Sovereign grace of God.

Take a look at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations [Paul had seen visions and received revelation in heaven from the Lord], for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.
And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (NASB)

That is not an unfamiliar passage to me. I've heard that last line quoted all my life, "for when I am weak, then am I strong." However the concept is what is radically contrary to our natural way of thinking, even if we've been familiar with it for a long time. The concept that grace gives us pain so that we may not glory in ourselves, but in the power of Christ.

For this reason, let us exalt in our lowly positions that we find ourselves in. Whether it is pain, persecution, distress, difficulties, insults, weakness, heartache or whatever situation you find yourself in by the Sovereign Providence of God.

What I say to you, I say to myself here: Be well content with it my friend. The power of Christ will dwell in you for the glory of God and for your joy in Him.

July 28, 2009

Paul Tripp's Podcast Audio Free

I think anyone who listens to Paul David Tripp will find it extremely helpful. Go ahead and take a listen on the link below!

Paul Tripp Ministries Inc. audio

July 27, 2009

"Your life is always shaped by desire"

This post by Paul Tripp about Psalm 73:25 on his blog spoke directly to me, right where I'm at. It is worth a few minutes of your time to read:

"...And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you." (v.25b)

You and I are creatures of desire. There is nothing you ever choose, do, or say that is not the product of desire. Desire not only directs your choices, it shapes your dreams. Desire forms your moments of greatest joy and darkest grief. Desire makes you envious of one person while being glad you're not another. Desire keeps you awake at night or puts you soundly to sleep. Desire makes you willing to get up in the morning or causes you to be frustrated at the end of the day. Desire makes you expectant and hopeful in one moment, and demanding and complaining in the next. Desire sometimes makes you susceptible to temptation and at other times is the thing that defends you against it. Desire can lift you up to God or it can make you a willing friend of the devil. Desire can make you a celebrant or drive you to the pit of depression. Desire can make you the best of friends or cause you to drive people away. Desire can cause you to lovingly edit your words or make you willing let it rip with little regard for the damage your words will do. Desire will make you willing to give or cause you to hoard everything you have. Desire will cause you to submit to the King or to set yourself up as king. Desire can cause you to fight for freedom or can be the very thing that causes you to be addicted. Desire can give you power or rob you of the power that could be yours. Desire is your biggest problem and one of God's sweetest graces. But there is one thing for sure; your life is always shaped by desire.

The great spiritual war that is being fought for control of our hearts is a war of desire. (See James 4:1-4 and I Peter 2:11). Remember this biblical principle; whatever rules your heart will control your words and behavior. You and I are human beings. We do not live by instinct. We have been designed by God with the capacity to desire. This means that everything you do or say is done or spoken out of the want for something...

Jesus, Doctor of Sinners

(This is another repost from August 23, 2008, originally published under the title: Jesus Came to Save Sinners [go to the link to see previous comments])

As I read through Luke, a chapter a day, I pray to the Holy Spirit that He would teach me to understand it rightly. I have been noticing that there is a common theme throughout the gospel of Luke, there is a certain emphasis, it seems. Luke makes it clear that Jesus came to seek and to save sinners. The parable of the Lost Sheep, the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the Rich Young Ruler, all these stories and much more emphasize that people are sinners who are lost and need the right Shepherd to come and find them. Consider Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10 ESV:

"He [Jesus] entered Jericho and was passing through." [I remember another famous story about a sinner saved in Jericho, her name was Rahab the prostitute.] "And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich." [Of course, being a tax collector in those days was as low as scum, but Zac was a chief tax collector and was rich.] "And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way." [It is interesting how lowly sinful people were drawn to Jesus in the gospels.] "And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today." [Zacchaeus only wanted to see Jesus pass by, but Jesus wants to see Zacchaeus face to face. The Lord said he must stay at Zac's house. Wonder why?] "So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." [Zacchaeus received Jesus with joy. It makes me wonder that there are people who say they are Christians, but do not react with joy when receiving Jesus. Desperate sinners always find joy in the one and only Savior of sinners. On the other hand, the others could not equate themselves as low as this vile sinner, and so they had no lasting joy in the Lord.] "And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." [Zacchaeus was not ashamed to stand before the Lord and call Him "Lord." He acknowledged Jesus as his Lord, Master, King, God, Judge. 'Lord' means Jesus rules over my life. I belong to Him and submit myself to His rule and judgment. He must be our Lord if he is to be our Savior. This shows that Zacchaeus repented. Jesus had taught in Luke 13 that unless we repent, we will perish (Luke 13:2-3). Zacchaeus showed his repentant heart by what he did. Money was no longer his treasure - Jesus was.] "And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham." [Salvation came to Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus did not come to salvation - it was Jesus who came to his house. Jesus called him a son of Abraham, which meant he belonged to Jesus, was an heir of the promise, a believer (see Galatians 3:29).] "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." [Jesus, the Son of Man (God became a man - John 1:14), came to seek and to save the lost. Abraham's children are lost sinners, and here we see a wonderful example of the Savior seeking those He came to Save. Jesus said in John 10:28, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." Romans 5:8 says, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."]

As I read through Luke, it strikes me how much this theme is carried through. That Jesus saves sinners. What a hopeful message to wretches (such as myself)! It is the lost children of Abraham, who are lost sinners, whom Jesus came to save. We must repent when we receive Jesus with joy. Repentance is a positive two-fold action granted to us by the Holy Spirit. When we repent, we turn from treasuring sin to treasuring Christ (like Zacchaeus when he heartily gave away his riches, because he had a better inheritance in the Savior). Faith always sees more value in Christ than in the fleeting and damning pleasures of sin. As I walk with my Lord and Savior, my prayer is continually, "Lord, turn me from my sin, cause me to do what you command." I know that anything wrong I do is from my own evil heart, but anything good is a gift granted by my Lord, who came to save sinners - even the worst of them (1 Timothy 1:15). It always amazes me... Jesus came to seek and save the lost... and He never fails!

All I can say is, what grace! What a Savior! Can you relate?