Monday, December 31

It Is Well With My Soul

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Christians are not immune from sorrows in this world. This was made clear to Adam and Eve when they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden for disobeying God. God placed a curse on the ground and misery, death, and trouble became a part of human life on the earth. Due to original sin, man fell out of fellowship with God and became unable to restore this fellowship in and of himself. However, God in his mercy provided a way that man could be reconciled spiritually to a state of fellowship with God. God did this by giving his only son to be a sacrifice for the sins of all who believe in him for the free gift of eternal life. This spiritual truth is what led Paul to write, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

This rhetorical question points out that nothing or no one can harm or change the spiritual well being of all who trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. In this physical life there will be many hardships and sorrows, but no matter what comes their way Christians can say, “It is well with my soul.”

Horatio G. Spafford wrote the hymn below shortly after he lost all four of his daughters in a ship collision in the Atlantic Ocean about two years after losing his only son to Scarlet fever. His wife survived and though they were grief stricken, he wrote the words to this powerful beloved hymn as his ship passed the spot where the ship his family was on sunk. What a comfort it is to know that God is for those that have been called according to his purpose and nothing in this physical world or in the spiritual realm can separate believers from the love of God. Praise and thank God that it is well with the souls of believers even as sorrows roll in like sea billows.

It is Well With My Soul
By: Horatio G. Spafford

When peace like a river, attendeth my way;
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well...with my soul... It is well, it is well, with my soul...

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well...with my soul... It is well, it is well, with my soul...

He lives--oh, the bliss of this glorious thought;
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Oh my soul.
It is well...with my soul... It is well, it is well, with my soul...

And, Lord, haste the day when our faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trumpet shall sound, and the Lord shall descend;
Even so, it is well with my soul...
It is well...with my soul... It is well, it is well, with my soul...

Friday, December 28

Peace with God

Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (2) Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Peace is indeed an elusive commodity. Peace in family relationships, peace in the work place, peace in organizations, peace in the community, peace in the country, and world peace seem to always be in a state of turmoil. While it is possible to be at peace with not having peace, no human being can control or be assured of having peace with any other human being or with any human institution. In our fallen world the lack of peace is such a part of human life that it is taken for granted and considered normal. Police, lawyers, courts, laws, armies, counselors, rules, and divorce are just a few examples of things that are needed because of a lack of peace in human relationships. Man’s sinful nature has produced a world where peace between humanity is not possible, and even worse; mankind is under the wrath of God for this rebellion.

However, God has provided a way for human beings to have peace with Him. Praise God that through Jesus Christ the only peace that people really need is available. Peace with God is secured by his grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Since the promises of God are solid and enduring, peace with God is assured through this faith. Man’s peace may fail you, but the peace with God that comes through Jesus Christ is perfect and forever. You can count on it and rest in it.

No matter what our circumstances may be in this worldly life, having peace with God is far more valuable than any peace we may have with temporary worldly relationships or institutions. What a comfort it is to know that we have peace with God even if we do not have youth, wealth, health, or anything else of this world. Even death itself is but a door that carries us into the beginning of the eternal life that comes through God’s amazing grace. The older we get and the closer we get to passing through that glorious door that takes us to our heavenly home, the more praise we should have for God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Joy and thanksgiving, rather than fear, are the proper responses to such a glorious salvation. There will be peace in the valley for all that place their faith in our savior Jesus Christ. Praise and thank God for this peace that is our present possession and will be made perfect on that great day when we have peace in the valley.

Peace In The Valley
(By: Thomas A. Dorsey)

Well, I'm tired and so weary
But I must go along
Till the Lord comes and calls me away, oh yes
Where the morning's so bright
And the Lamb is the light
And the night is as bright as the day, oh yes

There will be peace in the valley for me some day
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord, I pray
There'll be no sadness, no sorrow, no trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me!

There the flowers will be blooming
And the grass will be green
And the skies will be clear and serene, oh yes
The sun ever beams in this valley of dreams
And no cloud will ever be seen, oh yes!

Well the bear will be gentle
And the wolves will be tame
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb, oh yes
And the beasts from the wild shall be led by a child
And I'll be changed from this creature that I am, oh yes!

Thursday, December 20

The Christmas gift

The ultimate Christmas gift was given at Easter!

The creation story of Genesis 1 is the beginning of the redemption story of Jesus Christ that John tells us about in John 1. The Christmas story is the beginning of the redemption story of the incarnation of Jesus that is fulfilled in the Easter story.

While the Christmas story has nothing to do with the secular holiday of gift giving that it has become, it is about a priceless gift. It is about the only gift that a human being needs or will ever need. It is a free gift that was paid for by Jesus Christ in the Easter story. It is the gift of eternal life to all who have faith in the Easter story.

It is about the uncaused cause for which the secular humanists have no answer.

Romans 6:23 gives us the bottom line of having and not having this gift, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Have you received this gift? If not, then consider accepting the only gift you really need!

Friday, December 14

Oaks of Righteousness

Photo: Oak Alley Plantation on Mississippi River near New Orleans.

These oaks were planted at Oak Alley in the early 1700’s, which was before the United States became a country. They are almost four hundred years old and are indeed a magnificent example of the glory of God’s creation. God is also glorified by the following prophetic passage in Isaiah where he predicts the planting of God’s people by the LORD:

Isaiah 61:1-3 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; (2) to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (3) 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.

Jesus began his ministry by quoting from this passage and proclaiming that, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The planting of the LORD will be called oaks of righteousness seems to indicate that God’s glory will be shown by the redeemed who will make up His Church. Jesus came to bring the good news that, through His blood, He would purchase a people unto Himself. They would be called oaks of righteousness because the LORD would not only save his people, but he would change them from the inside out with the intervention and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. An Angel of the LORD told Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Praise God that His redeemed are like oaks of righteousness and not like willow trees blowing in the wind.

Thursday, December 6

You know them by what they practice…

1 John 3:4-10 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (5) You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. (6) No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. (7) Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (8) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (10) By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

A leading advocate of free grace theology said the following: “When one finds a consistent line of exposition and interpretation that allows him to take the words of Scripture at their face value, in other words, for what they literally say, without the inclusion of secondary assumptions and gratuitous importation, he has found exegetical gold.”

When we look at the passage above and take it at face value and literally as he suggested, what do we learn? Is it accurate to glean the following from this passage using this exegetical method?

(1) Sin is lawlessness.
(2) Jesus is sinless and came to take away sin.
(3) No one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
(4) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil.
(5) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning.
(6) Jesus appeared to destroy the works of the devil.
(7) There are two kinds of people: children of the devil and children of God.
(8) Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God and therefore of the devil.
(9) Whoever is born of God has God’s seed abiding in him.
(10) Those born of God cannot keep on sinning
(11) The children of God are saved and the Children of the devil are not saved.

Since being born again is a divine action performed on a person by God, doesn’t this passage indicate such a person has been changed and is a new creation just as 2 Cor. 5:17 teaches? Therefore, would it then follow that all who are born again and saved respond to this change, caused by God, by not making a practice of sinning and anyone who does make a practice of sinning is of the devil, not born again, and not saved? If this is true, wouldn’t this rule out the possibility of the “carnal Christian” concept of free grace theology, that holds that a person can be saved and yet show no discipleship, obedience, sanctification, or restraint in sinning?

What are your thoughts?