Over 2,000 years ago, just outside Jerusalem, on an ugly clump of rock known locally as Golgotha, or the ‘place of the skull,’ the future potentiality of man’s eternal divinity was purchased by Jesus, the Christ of the Living God. Condemned to suffer the death reserved for criminals, He had been humiliated, His flesh flayed to the bone, and finally, was forced to carry the Roman cross of execution to the site of His slaughter.
This ‘man’ was no criminal. He was the sinless-born Son of God’s own divinity. God had sent part of His own Godhead to this earth in human form to become an eternal blood sacrifice for man’s redemption from sin. God had decreed that ‘one man should die for all.’ — one sacrificial death rather than that of a multitude of animals in the Mosaic tradition.
Please read Part I (a) ‘Coming to God.’
This sacrificial purchase had to be in blood, for blood is the life stream of the body. To shed human blood is normally a heinous sin. Nevertheless, God, in His infinite wisdom, had willed that in order to perpetually atone for sin, one sinless man would, in a once-only act of sacrificial contrition, have to shed his blood and die for all.
This man, Jesus, Christ of the Living God, freely chose to ‘give up’ His humanity by providing Himself as a sacrificial offering. The blood shed from His broken flesh is, thereafter, the blood of atonement. Only through this act of self-sacrifice could the sin that permeates both the nature and soul of mankind be permanently washed away.
Generations before, God had told Moses to instruct the Hebrew slaves of Egypt to select and slay a perfect lamb of sacrifice, avoiding the breaking of its bones. An unblemished lamb was needed to signify its purity. A brush of hyssop was dipped in the blood, and it was smeared or painted across the lintel above their doorways. This was God’s sign to the Angel of Death to ‘pass over’ the homes of the Hebrews, as the firstborn sons of the Egyptians were all to die for the refusal of their Pharaoh to release his Hebrew slaves from captivity.
When, in the times of the Caesars, Romans crucified those they had condemned, it was customary to break the leg bones of the ‘criminal’ to ensure he was dead. However, when the soldiers performing the crucifixion came to break the bones of Jesus, He was already dead, so His bones were not broken. There is no disparity between the method of preparing the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb and in the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God. This will eternally remain a breathtaking display of the perfection of God’s will.
The sublime grace that God has delivered upon us through Jesus requires only that we call upon Jesus’ name in repentance to complete the purchase paid for by His blood. And just as Moses sprinkled the blood of sacrificed animals on the Hebrews to seal the covenant God had made with them (Exodus 24:8), so the blood of Jesus was ‘sprinkled’ upon the streets of Jerusalem as He was led to execution by crucifixion, and then, a short time later, his blood also fell upon the rock that supported His cross.
How divinely symbolic!
Israel is the land God selected for Himself. Was then the shed blood of Jesus that fell upon the streets also God’s sign that, in the future, the nation will be redeemed as Jesus begins His millennium rule in the New Jerusalem? But I digress.
The Nature of Faith:
‘Faith’ is the committed belief that Jesus is our Savior God. We would be ‘faithless’ if we simply ‘hoped’ that He was.
E.g., We have ‘faith’ that Jesus is coming for us as He promised, and we ‘hope’ it will be soon.
Faith in God is a fire. Faith energizes our hearts with the love of God by consummating our desire to be Ehud or One with Him.
Tell Me About Christian Faith?
Christian faith is a joyous journey of discovery and enlightenment. Faith in Jesus leads immediately to the conviction that God no longer sees your previous denial. Jesus has washed it from your soul:
Telephone to Jesus,
Oh, what joy is mine,
for I hear Him listening
all along the line.
When I kneel in prayer
and take Him for my own,
then I know He’s listening on
His royal telephone.
(Memories of Sunday School).
Without faith, it is impossible to believe this or to complete the journey.
Before Commencement of Tribulation:
The Bible specifically directs our attention to the type of things that will occur as this present world passes away because of man’s unrepented sin. For when God brings Tribulation to an end, lest all on Earth should die, His Word teaches that Jesus will return to judge the nations. Jesus will then rule the remnant of mankind for 1,000 years until the final defeat of Satan. In completion, God will reform the earth to the glory of Creation.
However, prior to the destruction of this present world of evil through the ‘Tribulation’ brought upon it by the hand of God, Scripture records that Jesus will descend to the clouds above the earth. From this vantage, God has empowered Jesus to remove those He has gifted with the grace of atonement from sin and spare them from the destruction falling upon mankind.
As Jesus does not descend to the Earth, His descent to the clouds cannot be His prophesied ‘Second Coming.’ In the latter, Jesus does descend to stand upon the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem at the same location from which He was witnessed to have ascended to Heaven over 2,000 years ago.
1 Thessalonians 1-10, Berean Literal Bible “and to await His Son from the heavens, whom He raised out from the dead – Jesus, the one delivering us from the coming wrath.”
Spared the Wrath:
The Word of God teaches that resurrection of both the living and the dead who died in Christ will occur before Tribulation commences that they be spared the wrath. The dead in Christ will rise first, to be immediately followed by we who remain alive in flesh. Flesh will be translated to new, eternal bodies, as was the flesh of Jesus translated as He rose from death: Resurrection of our mortal flesh is impossible.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
As Jesus removes His faithful church to heaven (that they be spared the wrath), the person of the Holy Spirit of God that restrains evil is simultaneously removed. Satanic evil now reigns unrestricted, but so does the righteous anger of God as it falls upon the world.
‘The Wrath That Is to Come’ (TRIBULATION)
The Word of God teaches that immediately after Jesus has, from the clouds, ‘snatched away’ His church, the destruction known as ‘Tribulation’ will commence. Then, Satan’s Anti-Christ, ‘the man of sin,’ emerges to rule the world. Clearly, this explains exactly why God has empowered Jesus to remove those of us who believe in Him, as He resurrects them to Heaven. Anti-Christ is to destroy a great multitude of those who, so belatedly, proclaim their testimony in Jesus.
God loves the repentant sinner, and His love is merciful, but His nature cannot abide unrestrained evil, and God, though limitless in power, is bound by His own nature of divine justice. Those who have,
– Chosen not to believe in God,
– Will not repent their sin and,
– To whom the name of Jesus is anathema,
Many will come to God after Jesus has ‘snatched away’ His faithful church. Their eyes opened at last, they will seek the gift of repentance, and it shall be granted by Jesus. Sadly, they face a disastrous situation. Left behind, they face the hatred of Anti-Christ for their new testimony, and he is to have many of them slaughtered for their new-found belief in God. They are the resurrected martyrs described in Revelation.
Watching The ‘Birth Pains’ Identified By Jesus To His Apostles:
Almost nightly, the world media display shocking images of the great hammer blows that are presently striking this world. Jesus called these events’ birth pains,’ for, as happens in childbirth, they will become increasingly intense and close together. And while our ‘leaders’ shout ‘climate change,’ we of Christ know that these are the ‘birth pains.’
In the Book of the Revelation given John, we learn that literally billions of those presently inhabiting this world of denial are to die unshriven, without hope, in the most awful of circumstances. They will have refused the reconciliation with God freely offered by Jesus. The spiritually blind have no defense against Satan and are the ready foils of the unholy ‘trinity’ of himself, Anti-Christ, and the False Prophet. Satan will attempt to convince them that his is the real trinity and must be worshiped if the world is to be saved from the destruction falling upon it. However, only faith in God through Jesus can protect those who presently are lost and unwilling to approach Him in prayer.
Then, Jesus returns with the Host of Heaven to do battle with the Anti-Christ-led world army. Acting on the orders of his satanic master, Anti-Christ marshals his forces on the plains of Armageddon, and the battle is concluded in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. According to Scripture, Jesus will stop this rebellion and destroy Anti-Christ with one word. The devastating defeat of the world army leaves carnage such as never before experienced on Earth. As a result, Satan himself will be taken and bound for a thousand years. Jesus will then reign from Jerusalem as King of kings and LORD of lords during this period. After 1,000 years, Satan is released for a short time, and his ultimate defeat ends time as we know and understand it.
God Restores His Creation:
John, The Evangelist, ‘sees’ the paradise of eternal life on Earth. His vision reveals that the remnant of the nations, peopled by resurrected humans, will all work together toward the cultivation of God’s garden of the restored paradise, as did Adam and Eve, as described in Genesis. They would be co-rulers of God’s world as He takes creation into uncharted territory. This would be far into the future, at the end of the 1,000-year rule of King Jesus as he reigns from the prophesied new city of Jerusalem.
“Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
“LORD Jesus! How Do I Receive Your Grace?”
Repentance. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19).
Declaring with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ then telling at least one other person constitutes a public acknowledgment that you have repented your previous state of denial and the lifetime of sin that flowed from it.
“Oh gee… this is embarrassing!”
Don’t try to hide the greatest gift ever given to mankind by keeping it from others, particularly your extended family and friends. And, what value is this gift from God if you haven’t the intestinal fortitude to stand by your brand-new conviction of faith in God through the atoning grace of Jesus?
What If My Family/Friends Won’t Accept That I’ve Been ‘Born Again’?
‘Stiff Cheddar!’ (but we should pray for their own conversion).
And we do well to remember that Christians are not welcomed by most of this world, and no matter where we live, we will face some sort of persecution for our belief in God.
And having accepted the one gift that will guarantee your eternal future, God knows the state of your heart and the alleged depth of your commitment to Him. Don’t be surprised if He deliberately then places you in a situation where you must ‘fess up!
Do it the right way and mean it.
‘Houston: We have lift-off!’
Baptized In the Name of Jesus:
Coming to God through Jesus, Christians seek public baptism in Jesus’ name in joyful confirmation of their faith. Many who live in lands where Christianity is suppressed are denied that opportunity. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit of God will enter and baptize their soul’s spirit, for Spirit ‘speaks‘ to spirit.
Faith says to our spirit, “Lord, wash our sin away: bring us to our Father!”
1 John 1:7-9 claims this to be a literal washing of your soul by God through faith in His risen Son and represents a holy reality. The Bible testifies to its authenticity. And faith in the limitless power of Jesus to heal us is integral to this healing of the spirit because faith is the foundation stone of Christian belief.
Convicted deniers reject the divinity of Jesus, Who is God. They also reject the Scriptures that describe their own denial as unclean. At their own resurrection, they are offered no ‘crowns of glory,’ only judgment upon the merit or otherwise of their deeds on Earth (Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1).
Sinful people do not believe in God. In other words, it is a wicked thing to deny God, and a denial of God is often accompanied by a wicked lifestyle that is, in itself, ‘unclean .’The verse goes on to list some other characteristics of the irreligious: “They are corrupt; their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14 is a study on the universal depravity of mankind, and that is his spiritual uncleanliness.
As God, Jesus is the healer of souls. We are blessed with the divinity of a Savior Who, as firstborn to rise from death, validates God’s promise that those who are spiritually healed and saved in His name will be resurrected and will rise in glory when He calls.
Jesus continues to bring many previously faithless Jews back to faith in God and spiritually heals both Jew and Gentile.
We who have made this journey of faith worship Jesus in humble adoration. Truly, He is the personification of the ‘living’ God.
I Perform Good Works. Am I Justified Before God?
Don’t listen to false teachings. Too often, they lead people to believe that the performance of commendable ‘works’ before you give yourself to God through Jesus will bring you into a perfect relationship with the Father.
Many retain hope that God will ‘see’ either the goodness of their works for others or their community at large, but they never freely asked Jesus to forgive their denial and sins. Sadly, they are bereft of any possible relationship with God unless they do. And ‘all‘ deeds, both good and evil, are seen by God and weighed within the balance of His perfect justice.
Given to God through Jesus, we should try to perform ‘works’ that would please Him most:
– Believe in Jesus, whom God sent us
– Love God the Father with all your heart and soul, and mind and strength
– Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
John 6:28-29 “Then they inquired, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus replied, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”
Our nature is filled with doubt, and even the apostles of Jesus were not immune. They were not entirely convinced He was the promised Messiah even as they witnessed the power of God in His ministry.
John 14:8-10 “Phillip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus replied, ‘Phillip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing His works.” (my emphasis)
The Transfiguration of Jesus.
Finally, as His crucifixion became imminent, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain to reveal His divine mission to save mankind through Grace. To save word space, I enclose two excellent links.
The Essence of a Sinful Lifestyle:
A sinful lifestyle is lived in denial of God. It is the adoration of ‘self’ and panders to the ebb and flow of humanity’s fallen nature. Without Jesus, denial of God is an incurable condition of the spirit that poisons the soul. And because our soul is where we rationalize our behavior, our spirit is prevented from reconciliation with God.
Spirit is our deepest connection with the Lord, as it expresses our faithful love of God. Believing in Jesus, we come to God in prayer, seeking out the ways of the spirit. Humanity cannot, of itself, cure spiritual blindness. The blindness of denial will remain the most significant reason for separation from God unless the grace offered us by Jesus is accepted. Only in Him can we be justified before God. If ‘you’ are already saved by Jesus, you live within God’s promise of eternal redemption.
Have little doubt; the lost citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah would readily welcome most of this world as kindred, for their world parallels ours to a ‘T.’ And Satan closely ‘rides shotgun’ on this stagecoach to ‘Dodge City.’ In his age-old pitch of deception, he doesn’t want any of us to enjoy the hope of a glorious future in God. Upon our resurrection, Satan would see us judged entirely upon our Godless deeds.
– No forgiveness.
– No eternal redemption.
Those who have chosen to remain separated from God present to Satan like baitfish, and they provide an attractive lure to unclean spirits. Satan is the ultimate apex predator who uses the rationality of Godless denial to win souls from God. He beguiles the faithless as he aims his pitch directly at that envelope of personal conceit and arrogance that indwells our fallen nature. Without the protection offered us through the grace of atonement, we stand little chance of defending ourselves from him.
This world is living on borrowed time because of the imminence of its prophesied destruction, but Jesus is coming for those who have accepted the free offer of atoning grace.
Ask this of Him, and He will bless you with the gift of ‘rebirth’ that creates new life in the spirit through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. And the Word of God will be your true double-edged sword whose blade never dulls: the power of prayer, your armour and shield.
Seeking Help On Our Journey:
Today, more than ever, we need pastors who teach the literal truth of Scripture, identifying our journey’s end and pointing the way home to God as they help us to:
– Develop our love for God through Jesus
– Learn about God’s true nature and
– Understand the importance of obedience to His will
– Show our love for Him by loving our fellow man as we love ourselves
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:1-22).
In Jesus, both Jew and Gentile are freely offered the gift of salvation through the personal redemption of their souls. Few presently gain that prize in our Western democracies.
Thank God for countries such as Iran, where many continue to seek atoning Grace.
“What a Savior!”
Coming Next “Commentary II – The Genealogy of Jesus”