It’s easy to say, “I’m a Christian,” but harder to live like one. People annoy us, our selfish ambitions get in the way, and much more. We have a choice. The first choice is to accept the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for salvation. The next choice we have to make daily, even hourly, is to put our self-will aside and submit to Christ; to let our lives reflect our salvation. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). We cannot honor Christ by holding tightly to our sins.
There’s a song I’ve always loved and always feel convicted when I sing it. Are Ye Able, written by Earl Bowman Marlatt. So often, I fail to honor Christ, but He continues to lead me.
“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“To be crucified with Me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow Thee.”
That’s a good question. One every Christian should ask. Crucifixion was a brutal execution, and Jesus suffered more than any other man. He was innocent. Not only were nails driven into His hands and feet, but before sentence was passed, He was beaten unmercifully. He was given 40 lashes less one. It was said that the 40th lash would kill the man, so they showed “mercy” by only inflicting 39 lashes. God’s mercy is much better. We are sinners deserving of eternal death, but by God’s mercy, we can find forgiveness through faith in Jesus. He shed His blood for our salvation. Jesus didn’t speak up in His own defense but went through with the beating and crucifixion as a lamb to the slaughter.
So, the question is, are we able to sacrifice our self-centered lives to Him? Are we able to crucify our pride and self-will that causes us to stumble in our walk with Christ? Are we able to boldly and with confidence share the Gospel with someone who is lost and headed for eternal damnation?
Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
We live in a very evil world filled with hatred and wickedness, but those attitudes have been in the world as long as Satan has. Peter was a follower of Jesus from the beginning of His ministry. Peter was bold, but when Jesus was arrested, Peter denied knowing Him. In time, Peter stopped denying His Lord and became a leader of Christians. He was the one who stood up on the day of Pentecost and gave a very convicting sermon. He didn’t sugar-coat anything but spoke to the point. Pastors today should study that sermon and stop being afraid to offend someone. Seeker-friendly sermons won’t bring anybody to salvation.
Peter wrote, “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:14-15).
Once Peter set aside his fears, he was a bold witness for Christ. Peter was indeed crucified for his faith.
Are you able to relinquish
Purple dreams of power and fame
To go down into the Garden
Or to die a death of shame?
Purple dreams of power and fame? These are the lofty ideas we have for our own comfort and glory. Do you want to be a movie star? There’s a lot of compromise that comes with power and fame. As Christians, we need to glorify God, not our own self.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).
Submit your will to the Lord… crucify your pride and lofty dreams. Jesus is our example. He came to this earth willingly. He set aside the glory He had in Heaven in order to give us the only way to salvation. He set aside His glory, so we must set aside our pride. Christ knew that He would be arrested and found guilty, yet He didn’t hide. He did go to God the Father in prayer. He laid His petition before the Father but submitted to His will.
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
Can you submit to God’s will as fully as Jesus did? I try, but too often I fail. Learning to submit to God can be tough, but most of us have the problem of pride, which doesn’t allow us to fully submit.
Crucifixion was a very shameful according to Scripture, which says anyone who was hanged on a tree was cursed (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). The Apostle Paul referred to this.
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
It may be hard to swallow pride in order to submit to Christ, but He suffered a painful and shameful death, becoming sin in our place and taking our punishment. Are ye able to set aside your own lofty dreams of selfish pride in order to serve Christ?
Are ye able when the anguish
Racks your mind and heart with pain,
To forgive the souls who wrong you,
Who would make your striving vain?
Have you ever been wrongfully accused of something? Most of us have, and it isn’t easy to forgive your accusers. It’s easy to spend sleepless nights thinking about how much you hurt over the wrong you suffered. “It wasn’t fair! I didn’t deserve that!!” Do you look for ways to get even with the accusers? Give them what they deserve, and that will make you feel better. What did Jesus do? He forgave. The Jewish leaders arrested Him and put him through an illegal trial; the Roman soldiers inflicted pain, drove the nails, and made sure he died. He was crucified because of Adam’s sin.
No one group of people can be accused of killing Jesus, but His blood was shed for all people. Jesus could have allowed His human side to resent the wrong done to Him. He could resent you and me because it was our sin, not His own, that put Him on the cross. It wasn’t nails that held Him there; it was love.
As He looked down from the cross and His blood was running from His body, He saw the people responsible for His death. He saw the Jewish Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, and the regular sinners like you and me.
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots” (Luke 23:34).
Those people at the foot of the cross didn’t care that Jesus had asked for them to be forgiven, and they went right on sinning. How about you? He gave His life for our salvation, but we treat His sacrifice lightly.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Are ye able to set aside your petty ways and see that Jesus’ love is for everyone, even those who have wronged you?
Are ye able to remember,
When a thief lifts up his eyes,
That his pardoned soul is worthy
Of a place in paradise?
This is a tough one. We all know people who are just bad. We know them by reputation; they’re drunkards, obnoxious loudmouths, thieves, and worse. Jesus was crucified between two sinners. One mocked Him. “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, if thou be Christ, save thyself and us” (Luke 23:39).
That sinner didn’t understand how much he needed Jesus’ forgiveness. There was no way out; he was dying. Still, he mocked. So many people do the same thing today. We’re all dying, and we all need Jesus’ forgiveness before we take our last breath.
There was another man on a cross that day. “But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (Luke 23:40-42).
This man didn’t have time to add works to his faith. He simply asked Jesus to remember Him. He wasn’t baptized; he didn’t say a special prayer or go through religious instruction. He didn’t agree to denominational rules or prove to anyone that he was born again, or display any spiritual gifts. His faith in Jesus brought salvation. It was earnest and not just a quick word or two at an altar.
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
No matter what sin you’ve committed, it’s not too big for Jesus to forgive. The problem with humans is that we continue to condemn. Jesus forgives, but we continually condemn. Are ye able to remember that Jesus forgives sinners? He will forgive everyone who earnestly comes to Him for salvation. He forgave me, and I know He will forgive you.
Are ye able when the shadows
Close around you with the sod,
To believe that spirit triumphs,
To commend your soul to God?
From the moment of conception, we all have an appointment with death. Look at most tombstones; there’s a date of birth, a hyphen, and a date of death. Unless the Rapture takes us Home, there will be a tombstone for each of us. What we do during the years indicated by the hyphen will determine where we spend eternity. We can do nothing to save ourselves, but if we believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we will spend eternity with Him.
The Apostle Paul explains that our works are rewarded if they were done for God’s glory. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15).
It may not seem important to you today to earn rewards, but it will be very important one day. If your works are burned up, you’ll still be saved, but you won’t have any crowns to return to Jesus. It only takes faith in Jesus to bring salvation, not works of any kind. That being said, faith in Him should bring about a changed attitude. You should no longer be self-centered and do things for your own glory. Your attitude should be to follow Christ’s example of love.
Are ye able? Still the Master
Whispers down eternity
And heroic spirits answer,
Now as then in Galilee.
It’s been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus hung on the cross. Do you claim to be a Christian? How close is your walk with Him? Throughout the years, many men have led the way to a closer walk with Jesus, but it’s up to us to follow their lead. Many of those men sacrificed their lives in order to translate the Bible into a language that the common people can read and understand. Because of them, most people today have a Bible; some read it, and many people even study it. It’s more than just a book; it’s the inspired word of God.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
As you prayerfully read Scripture, the Holy Spirit will guide you and teach you. He will give you strength to face each new day, and He will calm your fears, give you boldness in your witness, and lead you in the ways of the Lord. It isn’t your own strength that enables you to live for Jesus, but the Holy Spirit living in you that enables you to fight the good fight. When He whispers His orders to you, respond.
Lord, we are able. Our spirits are Thine,
Remold them, make us, like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty
Accepting Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption should bring a change within. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Remember that it is God who judges our hearts and knows if a sinner has truly repented. To human eyes, that sinner may still look like a sinner, but the Holy Spirit is working on each of us to bring us to a closer walk with our Lord. Some Christians need to learn to stop gossiping and embracing lifestyles abhorrent to God, while some of us need to be less judgmental. With God’s help, we can become more like Jesus.
Are ye able? Am I able? With God’s help, we can all be able.
God bless you all,
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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