"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Simple and Serious Gospel of Salvation - Part 3

By James Fire

The Salvation Solution –

There is a dreaded disease far more destructive and insidious even than A.I.D.S., and has a far higher mortality rate as well. This disease has effected every man, woman and child on the planet. A.I.D.S. results from HIV which can incubate for up to 15 years without symptoms showing. This deadlier disease always results in death, and everyone has tested ‘positive’.

Indeed, we are all S.I.N.+ and symptoms show almost immediately in our existence.

Sin is so devastating that it’s affected the heart (that is, the core essence of one’s being or “spirit”) to such a detrimental level as to be considered irreversible.

We find this passage in: 

JEREMIAH 17:9 –10

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (10) I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

The Hebrew word for “desperately” means “incurable”!

Even God can’t cure a heart that has been ruined by sin? No, even God is unable to accomplish this, as incredible as that sounds.

What God must do is replace the sin-infested heart with an entirely new one, completely and utterly free of even the slightest trace of sin: a totally pure heart, fully holy and untainted.

The LORD Jesus who said "Blessed are the poor in spirit", also said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (See MATT 5:3,8)

By what means does God perform this astounding miracle?

We’ll get to that presently; first I must address something of utmost importance. All of this talk of “sin” and “judgment” and holy demands of perfect obedience to the Law could mislead people into thinking that God is a harsh and cruel judge, vindictively intent on the condemnation of hopeless sinners.

Many have turned away from God for this very reason.

Atheists and humanists believe that God’s love is a sham, because while on the one hand, He offers this salvation and love to all; if any reject His offer, then He casts them into hell! “What sort of love is that?” they ask. “‘Either you love Me or you perish in hell’?

We must remember that from the time when Adam sinned by partaking of that forbidden fruit, he not only condemned himself to the judgment of a Holy God that must judge sin in order to vindicate His Holiness; but Adam, acting as the corporate Head of humanity likewise condemned all of his offspring through his fall.

We were all headed to that Throne of Judgment, there to be condemned by the Judge of all the Earth, long before Jesus of Nazareth was born of a virgin, long before He was raised in that small town where He was trained as a carpenter by His step-father, Joseph; long before He began His ministry at thirty years of age.

It was an act of intervention on God’s part that interrupted our eventual flow down river and into damnation. So, any who reject God’s offer of salvation, isn’t then determined to be cast into hell, but merely continues uninterrupted towards destruction.

As it states in: 

JOHN 3:18 

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The truth of the matter is that God loves you, personally. He has gone to the greatest length and furthest extent to demonstrate this love, as we shall see.

God knows you intimately, for He created you. He knows you even better than you know yourself, believe it or not. He knows your every thought, your dearest dreams, your heaviest burdens, your deepest sorrows and your fondest hopes. He’s well acquainted with your times of loneliness, frustration, anxiety and your harshest struggles in life.

He knows what you will say and do tomorrow as well as every sin you’ve ever committed or thought about committing, and for all that, He loves you and yearns for you!

Yet there is a dilemma: While God’s nature is “love” (1 JOHN 4:16), God is also holy and He cannot partake of sin, but as the holy Judge of all souls, by His Divine, holy nature, He must judge sin. Were He to ignore or overlook sin, it would violate His Holy nature.

Still, His love remains and He is not willing that any should perish (2 PETER 3:9)! God drags His feet when He brings judgment, but sprints to deliver mercy!

This is why God so hates sin, why He is so opposed to it: because sin separates those which He dearly loves apart from Him: that’s you!

Isaiah said it quite clearly:

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

God knew full well the choices that our father, Adam and our mother, Eve would make while in the garden of Eden; yet He allowed them their free will in order for them to demonstrate either their love and devotion to Him, freely given, or their disobedience to His command, that resulted in the fallen human race we see today.

From eternity, from that lofty vantage point, the Almighty foresaw this great infraction of iniquity and was fully prepared in offering the one remedy that would prove abundantly and gloriously effective! And so His plan began to be revealed:

From GENESIS 3:15 God Almighty, King of all Creation made His Royal declaration of war against the serpent a.k.a. the devil (whom Jesus called a “murderer” and “the father of lies” for it was through his lies, he deceived Eve, and Adam followed along with her into sin, effectively murdering, spiritually speaking, the human race).

God warned Adam that the day in which he would partake of that forbidden fruit, he would surely die, that is, in the Hebrew: “dying, you shall die.” However Adam lived for hundreds of years after he took that forbidden fruit, on a physical level.

Spiritually, Adam died when he disobeyed God by taking the forbidden fruit; being severed through sin, from the very Life Source that is God alone, and thus began the process of death - spiritually it was immediate; physically it was a slow, wearisome ordeal.

Separation from God always leads to death, just as a fish separated from water, a plant from the soil, an astronaut cut off from his life line while space-walking outside his space shuttle results in eventual death.

In God’s mind, there resided a plan by which sin would eventually be obliterated and its deadly effects nullified. It began in Genesis as God pronounced before the first human couple:

And I will put enmity between thee
(the serpent)
and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Note that peculiar phrase “the seed of the woman” – that is a Messianic title, the first of many throughout the Bible; since the woman bears the egg, not the seed, this title hints of the virgin birth of Christ.

Even then, in the garden, God took away the fig leaves Adam and Eve wore (for they learned that they were naked) and gave them coats of skins, that is, animal skins.
Imagine the horror on their faces when they witnessed for the first time ever, the slaughter of animals, the shedding of blood, death and dying, for their own sakes, so that they could be covered from their shame. Even in this, they began to understand that by the death of another, they would be delivered!

God likewise made a pronouncement to Abram (“father of many”), later called Abraham (“father of many nations”), saying that through him, the father of the Hebrew nation, all the nations of the world will be blessed. In GENESIS 15, God promised Abram the land that would later come to be known as Canaan, and would eventually become the land of Israel. God also promised Abraham a son, Isaac, through whom these promises would be fulfilled.

In GENESIS 22, God did the unthinkable: He commanded Abraham to take his son, (in God’s eyes, his only son even though he had an older son, Ishmael) whom he loved, and offer him up in sacrifice in the place that God would show him!

God never commanded any one else to perform a child sacrifice, and elsewhere condemns this very practice (PSALM 106:34-40); He actually prevented Abraham from carrying out the command in the end.
So, why the big performance?

God was actually teaching Abraham, and via the recorded scripture of this event, all of us who read it, what His plan would entail.

God showed Abraham where he would offer up Isaac, and Abraham called that place, “Jehovah-Jireh” that is, “in the mount of the LORD, it shall be seen.” What was seen there? I believe that God gave Abraham a vision that paralleled what he himself was enacting when he laid the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s back, when he led him to that place of sacrifice, when he bound the hands of his beloved son, and poised the knife to strike.

Remember the words of Jesus Christ . . .

JOHN 8:56
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

For there would come a day when another Son had wood laid on His back, the cross-beam of a crucifix; He likewise was bound, and brought to the place of sacrifice (many biblical scholars and archeologists believe that the place where Abraham offered his son, was the same mount that was later called Golgotha, or Calvary, the place where Christ was crucified).

Slowly, throughout the centuries, God inspired various prophets to write the holy scriptures, and to them were given visions, oracles, and divinely granted understanding in regards to the mystery of him who is called “the Messiah”, that is, “the anointed one” (being anointed by the Spirit of God, and thus empowered to be both the King, and Savior of all Israel).

Two primary chapters that speak of the Messiah-King or “Meschiach-Nagid” in Hebrew are PSALM 22 and ISAIAH 53. May I encourage you to read these passages before you continue on with this article? For an in-depth study of these two chapters check out this two part article: ALTAR of the ALMIGHTY, Part ONE, and PART TWO

In PSALM 22, the very first and last verses are the same first and last statements that Jesus Christ made on the cross:

PSALM 22:1,31
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

That phrase in vs. 31 “that he hath done this” can easily be translated “that he hath finished this” and that’s what Jesus declared – “It is finished.” More about this distinguishing phrase later on.

Rather than review the physical aspects of crucifixion as PSALM 22 prophetically entails, I believe it would prove useful, not to mention emotionally moving, to examine the following articles by physicians who’ve studied the crucifixion and the physiological aspects people suffered during this excruciating process. There is also a video file on the last link for you to watch.

One thing I will say: I was leaving the theater one day after seeing Mel Gibson’s The Passion, and overheard two girls talking. One of them said she felt that the film wasn’t accurate, that the violence done to Jesus was exaggerated. I gently interjected and said to her, “You’re right about that film, it isn’t at all accurate.

“As a Bible student of over twenty five years, I’ve studied this, and what I can tell you is that this film doesn’t even come close to the violence done to Jesus!
According to what we saw in this film the actor James Cavaziel who played Jesus was still recognizable as a man; you could distinguish his features quite readily, even through the blood. Yet in the book of Isaiah, it states that he wasn’t even recognizable as a human being, He was so beaten and abused!” (ISAIAH 52:14)

Crucifixion of Jesus Christ - The death of Jesus on a cross.

Once the last prophet of the Old Testament canon completed his writings (Malachi), there was a span of four hundred years when there was no holy oracle given by any other prophet. It seemed that God had gone mute, but no further revelation was necessary than what they already received; sufficient were the scriptures imparted to Israel in order for them to rightly identify their Messiah who would come.

Finally one last prophet arose, who would herald the arrival of the Messiah: John the Baptist; and while John wrote no scriptures, nor did he perform any miracles, he was indeed the last and greatest of all the Old Testament prophets as stated by the LORD Jesus Himself (MATT 11:11), and he boldly declared the need for the nation of Israel to repent of her sins, and to make ready the way for the Messiah their King.

This is not the end by far, but because of length, I have divided the message up into 4 parts. Tomorrow we will conclude with part 4 of "The Simple and Serious Gospel of Salvation", which will cover the crucifixion of Jesus; His work on the cross; and the foundation of fellowship with our new Father.
Lord, for those readers questioning where they stand with you in eternal matters, open the eyes of their understanding, open their ears so that they can hear you, and soften their hearts to receive You as Lord and Savior of their lives.
For more about the Gospel of salvation where it concerns sanctification, the process of growing in holiness and resembling the LORD Jesus character by growing in His grace, please visit Phase II: The Sanctifier is the Saint's Fire - The Next Step For New Believers in Christ

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