Archive for September, 2015

He is the Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins

September 29, 2015

Kelly Gissendaner is the only woman on death row in the prison system in Georgia. Despite pleas from her children and other anti-death penalty proponents, Kelly Gissendaner faces execution by lethal injection for planning and encouraging the murder of her husband by her former lover. Shortly after the 1997 incident, continual efforts have been made to prevent Mrs. Gissendaner from being executed. All would agree now for Mrs. Gissendaner’s need for He who is the Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins.

According to dictionary.com, atone is defined as to make amends or reparation, as for an offense or a crime, or for an offender. Another word for atone is propitiation. Propitiate means to make favorably inclined; appease; conciliate. Whether atone or propitiate, the connotation is that someone or something covers or makes amends for an offense resulting in the offender being seen favorably. The family of Mrs. Gissendaner’s husband reject the call for atonement or for propitiation. While it appears that amends for her role in the death of her husband will go unanswered, there is hope for atonement for Mrs. Gissendaner.

1 John 2:2 tells us that “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” One may wonder who the “He” is referring. The Word of God leaves no doubt who the “He” is.

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2

Jesus, the Righteous One, is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Like Mrs. Gissendaner, man is facing a death sentence. Romans 6:23 says that “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not only does man face a death penalty, he faces that alone separated from God because of man’s sins. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 Since we face a lonely death, what hope do we have? Jesus, for He is the Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins.

If we fail to trust in the fact that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God who was born of a virgin, suffered, died, buried and was raised to sit at the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us, we are without hope of atonement for our sins. Look at these other verses that support Jesus’ atoning role.

Romans 3:25God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

1 John 4:10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Leviticus 16:10But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.

Psalm 65:3When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.

Hebrews 2:17For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 9:28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Has God hidden His face from you or is Jesus returning to bring salvation to you? You know how you have positioned yourself in relation to God. You are either for Him or against Him. If you are for Him, you are following Him progressively surrendering ares of your life to obedience to Him. If you are against Him, you are living your life as you or others see fit. You do not surrender your will to follow Jesus. He is the Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins.

Trust Jesus so that He can make amends for you with God. Otherwise, your pleas for mercy will go unheard and the final portion of your death sentence will be executed upon His return.

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Dikaios (δίκαιος) – The Righteous One

September 16, 2015

The basic belief about humans is that we are good. The bible presents a contrarian view of man. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?Ecclesiates 9:3 says, “This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.Mark 7:21-22 says “21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

From those verses, it is easy to conclude that man is not perfect. We all would agree that there are no perfect people walking this earth. If we are not perfect, we are not right. We might do some things right but not all of them. Consequently, in and of themselves, there is no one who is righteous. Save one – Jesus!

We go back to 1 John 2. There John says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” The Greek word for righteous is Dikaios (dē’-kī-os).

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states that dikaios was first used of persons observant of dike, “custom, rule, right,” especially in the fulfillment of duties towards gods and men, and of things that were in accordance with right. The Eng. word “righteous” was formerly spelt “rightwise,” i.e., (in a) straight way. In the NT it denotes “righteous,” a state of being right, or right conduct, judged whether by the Divine standard, or according to human standards, of what is right. Said of God, it designates the perfect agreement between His nature and His acts (in which He is the standard for all men).

In presenting The Righteous One, John submits in verse 2 that Christ is a propitiation (atoning) is a sacrifice to God meant to take away the enmity brought by sin between God and the worshiper. Because Jesus is The Righteous One, only Christ can be an effective propitiation. To further support John’s point, listen to these texts

Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”
You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 3:21-23
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:25-27
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.
To compliment those verses, here are a few that point to the nature of man while the former point to the nature of Christ.
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matthew 25 suggest that while no man is righteous, some will be declared righteous. That’s what we will look at tomorrow. Give thanks for Dikaios, The Righteous One.

Reasons for Writing

September 11, 2015

There are all kinds of text. There is the printed text such as newspapers, magazines, poems, short stories, novels, and the like. There is digital text like blogs, online sites, digital books and so forth. There are even more Reasons for Writing than there are mediums to convey those writings. Some are for entertainment and fun. Some writing is designed to educate. Others are to inform or build awareness. There are a multiplicity of Reasons for Writing, but the intent always attend to the audience.

John, the disciple Jesus loved, shares specifically why he wrote the letter of 1 John. In chapter two, John shares another reason why he was writing.

1 John 2

12 I am writing to you, dear children,
    because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.

14 I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

If you notice, the target audience is dear (little) children, fathers and young men. While not explicitly stated, we know that dear children refers to all who believe in Jesus Christ. John himself proclaims that in when he says, “12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” What could be greater than to be apart of the family of God. As a child of God, He has adopted the follower of Jesus into His family. In the context of the passage, John is speaking to those in the faith. He reminds them that their sins have been forgiven on account of his name. His is understood to be Jesus as the name points back to verse 2. Forgiveness comes on account of His name. Just by the name of Jesus. We know that there is power in the name of Jesus because He prays as much when He asked God to “protect them by the power of your name”. The forgiveness of sins is fundamental to the believer. It is that which affords the believer to be in union and fellowship with God. The second statement to the dear children is to convey that they know God. We go back to John 1 to reference “him who is from the beginning”. It says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” John is saying that you know God because you know Jesus. John equated Jesus with God which is what Jesus declared as well.

Through our union with God, we join God in victory over sin and death. In John 16:33, he quotes Jesus as He said ” I have overcome the world.” The world is under the influence of the evil one; therefore, if you overcome the world, you have overcome the influence of the evil one. John is simply reaffirming what Jesus said but also highlighting the transposing attributes of Christ on the follower of Jesus. John told us that we know Jesus if we keep his commands. Consequently, we are able to overcome sin and the world by doing so. In his second statement to young men, this is why John says that they are strong. Our strength comes from the Holy Spirit, God living in us. He, the Holy Spirit, enables us to live righteously.

It has been proposed that the reference to the reader as fathers is because they have the truth about the triune God and are expected to tell and teach that to those who are to come. We know that Paul uses the father/son relationship with those who came to faith in Christ through his sharing Jesus with them. He wanted to remind them of the charge to share Christ. As one who has been in the faith longer than children and young men, fathers are able to impart the wisdom of life i.e. the walk of faith on to those who have not experienced Christ in a deeper relationship. By the way, this is the only reason that I write. I want to fulfill my charge to share Jesus. I can reach more people through this medium as it goes all around the world. I have only been to about five different countries which is a far cry from going around the world.

All believers are expected to go through those phases save the advent of Christ for the second time. John and I are providing our Reasons for Writing. It is to recall, encourage and challenge. This is why I write. Bless you today by the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus.

How Do You Know That You Know Jesus?

September 10, 2015

People name drop all the time in efforts to impress another with one that they know. A lot of times, people really don’t know the one they are claiming to know. Typically, the one claimed is esteemed for one reason or another. I have even told people about players that I coached who went on to college or the NFL. In some ways, those associations affirm or validate your knowledge or skill, but there is one whom I love to claim that I know – Jesus Christ.

Like with others, many people claim to know Jesus Christ, but How Do You Know That You Know Jesus? The Word of God is clear on determining the authenticity of one’s claim to know Jesus. First, let’s hear from John. 1 John 2

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

The Greek word for know used in this verse is ginōskō (gē-nō’-skō). According to Strong’s Concordance, ginōskō is a prolonged form of a primary verb; to “know” (absolutely) in a great variety of applications and with many implications (as follow, with others not thus clearly expressed):—allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) know(-ledge), perceived, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.

John, who walked with Jesus and served as one of His disciples, should have a better idea of what it means to know Jesus by his experience and what Jesus demonstrated and communicated to him. John is clear on what it means to know Jesus. John gives a two-pronged qualifier for one who knows Jesus: 1. the person keeps Jesus commands/obeys the Word of God. 2. the person lives as Jesus did. Now, I know the first inclination is to assert that Jesus was perfect, so how can infallible people live a perfect life. Good reflection.

First, let’s hear what Jesus had to say about those who claim to know Him. In John 14, Jesus says, “23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” In John 15, Jesus says,”“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples…13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command...16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

The notion or remaining in Him is key. In John 16, Jesus follows up His proclamation of remaining in Him by discussing those who fall away, namely Judas. Jesus lays the foundation that those who remain in the fight to live a godly life are the ones who know Him. It is quite clear that God The Father, God The Son and God The Holy Spirit were aware that none of us would be perfect on our own. This is the purpose for which Jesus died. In His death, He received the punishment, separation i.e. death, we deserved. Those who trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord receive His righteousness and perfection which allows any person to be in fellowship or union with God. Jesus says the one who continues in Him will bear fruit of which love is the greatest.

Love for God is equated to obedience. Love for man is equated to sacrifice for them before yourself. How Do You Know That You Know Jesus? Do you obey Jesus? Do you love like Jesus? Do you evidence the fruit of the Spirit? Do you even know what the fruits of the Spirit are? How often do you read, memorize, meditate and apply the Word of God in your life? Jesus says that you will consistently do that if you love Him. Are you? Think of the person that you love the most on this earth. If your allegiance and affection for Jesus is less than that person, you have some questions to answer and some work to do as we all do.

How Do You Know That You Know Jesus? By your love for Him.

Walking in Darkness: Hating Your Brother or Sister

September 8, 2015

In the post Are You Walking in the Dark?, I shared that Jesus said, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 If you are not pursuing life as He outlines in the Word of God, the Bible, you are walking in the dark. It does not matter what I think or what you think, the only thing that matters is whether our lives align with the Word of God.

Our country is full of sin because we all are sinners. The difference in sinners is whether one has allowed the Advocate, Jesus Christ, to atone for his/her sin (1 John 1:2). Many claim to have confessed and repented of their sins to follow Jesus; yet, the evidence in their lives does not equate to that of one who is following Jesus. In John 13, Jesus said, “34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John tells us in 1 John 1 that “ We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” Consequently, if we are not keeping God’s commands, we do not know Him. We know the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus does not put the qualifier that your neighbor has to be a believer. If we are not loving a brother or sister in the Lord, we are Walking in Darkness: Hating Your Brother or Sister. This is what John addresses in the text below.

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Walking in Darkness: Hating Your Brother or Sister is the phrase used by John to describe one who claims to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord. If I believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior with you or another person, John says that we are Walking in Darkness: Hating Your Brother or Sister. Whatever that person has  done, we are required to not only forgive him/her but to love him/her. It evidences the grace of God as we have offended God by sinning against Him. God, who rightly could have destroyed us because of our sin, did obliterate us, but He sought us out forgiving our sin making us a part of His body and brothers and sisters with Christ. How, in our right minds, could we demand something other than love and forgiveness for our brother or sister.

What believer have you held a grudge, a fault or blame against? Let it go. This is particularly true for me. For me, I have struggled for years not holding against a brother a misstep between us. There is no way that I can continue to say I have forgiven but then experience an ebb and flow of hard feelings against him after writing this. This was not on my mind as I began writing this. In fact, it did not hit me until I began this very paragraph.

Lord, forgive me for not following You as You outline in Your Word. I have fluctuated in holding animosity toward a fellow believer who trespassed against me; yet, I have trespassed against others wanting them to forgive me. How dare me. Thank you for leading me out of the darkness into your wonderful light. It is freeing. May you lead those who are reading this and not out of darkness today. May they walk in the light of You. Thank you Father for loving us beyond what we deserve. I give glory to you God Almighty.