Imitating Christ – Why Are We Sent to Hell

Tags

, , ,

John 3: 18 says whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s.

As we have already seen, God does not want to condemn anyone to hell, so why would he send anyone there? John 3: 18 tells us that it is because of our unbelief. Many believe there is a God but this belief is not able to give us eternal life. A better way of looking at this is if we have put our complete trust in God.

In Matthew 7 we have the story of people that are trying to enter heaven, believing what they had done during their lifetime was God’s will. They believed that they had put their complete trust in God, but he said that he did not know them. Their trust was based on their own understanding of who God was and what he wanted his children to do. Their misguided trust may have steamed from not knowing the word of God, lack of a prayer life, a misunderstanding of what God wanted them to do or even the refusal to do what God called them to do.

The refusal to do God’s will is the only condition that will condemn us because we do not have our trust in God. This refusal means that we do not trust God to do what he says he will do nor that he knows what is best for us. Our trust is in ourselves and is often against the will of God.

The other conditions can be a sign of immaturity in our walk with God. There are times when our preconceived idea of scripture is not correct and only studying the word can correct this. Another area we can fail at is our prayer life. Prayer is a conversation we have with God through the Holy Spirit where he will give us instruction and guidance. There are times that Satan can sound like God and therefore misguide us. As we mature we should be able to know the difference. Because we are human we will always have the ability to misunderstand what God wants us to do, When this happens happens we need to admit our mistake and change our ways as soon as possible.

We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and as we imitate

Christ our love for him will increase.

Imitating Christ – why part 3

Tags

, , , ,

John 3: 16

In the beginning God provided the means for forgiveness in the form of a blood sacrifice. This sacrifice would allow all of mankind the opportunity to have their sins forgiven and bring them back into a right relationship with God. This is also the time period that other sacrifices, and offerings were started. We also find that God often spoke directly with people. God would also be teaching people how to live and teaching them what his will was.

The time came that God wanted to give the people written instruction of how to live. The ten commandment told us what our relationship was to be with God and other people. The rest of the law that was given, gave us instruction of how to worship God and how we are to treat others. God knew we could never live without sin in our lives so he continued the sacrifices.

When the time had fully come God sent us his son. He was the son of man and the son of God. He taught the word of God and he proved he was God by the miracles and signs that he did. His next teaching was that no one could enter heaven unless they believed on him and were filled with the spirit of God – see Acts 2. His final act was to become the sacrifice for sin by dieing on the cross. He was fulfilling the law in order to place the law in our hearts.

Since we know that God sent Jesus into the world to redeem us, what is our response to him. Our verse today tell us that we are to believe in him. Believing can come in two types. The first is that we believe and then live our lives the way we want to. A story is told that a person was about to enter heaven and was asked why he should be let in. the person said that he attended church, paid his tithe, shared his faith with others and was an all round good person. Jesus looked at him and said that he did not know him and would not be able to inter heaven. The other type of belief that we need to have is like when a person was asked why he should be let into heaven he said that he had been a sinner but he now let Jesus guide his life. He had a personal relationship with Christ. He learned the scriptures, prayed, met with fellow believers at a regular time, and allowed the spirit of God to direct his life.

We imitate Christ because we believe that he will guide our lives and we will be able to enter heaven

Imitating Christ – why part 2

Tags

, , , ,

John 3: 16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3: 16 helps us understand why Jesus had to die on the cross. Today we will look at the question raised by what we need to be saved from. The answer to this is were are we going to live after we give up our mortal bodies, heaven or hell. Both places will have our souls living for all eternity and the choice for us is where do we want to live? If we believe in Jesus we will live in heaven. If we chose to live our life the way we want to then we will live eternally in hell. The option is ours as to where do we desire to live.

Matthew 25:41 tells us that hell was made for the devil and his angles and that it is an eternal fire. Rev. 21 tells us that sinners will be sent to the lake of burning sulfur and that this is the second death. Matthew 13: 42 tell us that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The first death is when we give up our earthly bodies and the second death is the eternal separation form God.

2 Peter 2 tells us to watch out for false teachers. They have been in this world as long as Satan has been trying to lead God’s people astray. They can be found in all walks of life. Those who do not know God will try to lead those astray who do know God. Some of our Bible teachers have been known to teach a false doctrine. Even some of our preachers have been known to preach what God has commanded not to preach. Many of these preachers have taken a portion of scripture out of context and developed a theology around this teaching. The warning is clear to stay true to the teachings of God. Some preachers and teachers will take a theme from scripture and are keeping true to God’s word.

It is clear from the New Testament that Hell is a real place and will be for eternal punishment with no way of escape once people are sent there. The good news is that God does not want anyone to go there so he has provide a way to escape the eternal punishment. If we believe on Jesus Christ we will be saved. We will look at this point in our next blog.

Finally I leave you with Matthew 10: 28. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

God bless you as you imitate Christ.

 

 

 

Imitating Christ – Why 1

Tags

, , , , ,

John 3: 13-15

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Our next two lessons will be about why we should imitate Christ. We have already dealt with the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh, but why imitate him?

In John 3: 14 and 15 Jesus said that just as Moses lifted up the serpent so was he to be lifted for the salvation of all who believed. There is much more to the serpent being lifted up that we need to look at.

The serpent being on the poll was because the Jewish people had sinned. If the people had been bitten by the deadly serpent on the ground then all they had to do was look at the one Moses put in the poll and they would be healed (saved). Likewise, because all have sinned, when we look at Jesus our sins will be forgiven.

In Gen. 1 we find the first sin , the result, and the provision for salvation.. First sin is disobeying the word of God which brought both physical and spiritual death to mankind. Physical death will come to all of mankind. Spiritual death comes when we disobey God. The good news is that God provided for the forgiveness of our disobedience. He provided the first blood sacrifice. Later god instructed the Israelite to preform their own sacrifice by killing a lamb. Without this blood sacrifice there can be no forgiveness of sin. Going to the cross, Jesus became the lamb sacrifice by shedding his blood. There is no other way for our sins to be forgiven than though the belief in Jesus. God’s plan of salvation is now complete.

Another act of God is sanctification which will be dealt with at a much later time. But we do need to respond to the act of salvation just like the Israelite did in the wilderness.

Our response is to look to Jesus the author and finisher of our salvation.. To do this we must repent of our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us. By repenting of our sins, when we are tempted to do them again we run from that temptation. With every temptation God provides a way to avoid them.

There are many more things that should be shared but they will have to be left to another time.

AS you imitate Christ remember that God has provided all the help you need to imitate him.

Imitating Christ – Heavenly Teachings

Tags

, , , ,

John 3- 12

Our lesson for today comes from John 3: 12 where Jesus tells Nicodemus that if he can not believe the earthly teachings then how could he except the heavenly teachings?

The earthly teachings are found in Exodus which tells us how to worship God and how to treat others. Two examples of how these laws have been corrupted are the dealings with the sacrifice offerings honestly (money changers), and the woman found in the act of adultery (wanted to stone the woman but not the man). If they have rejected the teachings of how to treat others how can they receive the life changing power of God.

Our generation is not unlike that of Nicodemus’ time. After a few years our form of worship becomes a worship by tradition rather than being lead by God. Most churches would like to disagree with this but try to change one thing in the service. Try to stop a service to pray for someone, or try to add a new type of song and you will find out if the service is lead by God or by tradition.

The other teaching of the law was how we treat others. Before we came to Christ we have learned how we can best deal with others. Some of us tend to the positive direction other to the negative aspects of life. Sometimes these lines can get intertwined.

When we come to Christ and ask for his forgiveness he will place within us a desire to love God and his commands. As we follow Christ we will have the conflict to follow him or to revert back to our old ways. Following Christ is an unknown way of living which we find scarey at times but our past life is known and secure for us. Often we will try to mix our life in Christ with our past life not realizing this take us further from God.

For me the Old Testament tells us how God expects us to worship him and treat others, while the New Testament teaches how to overcome our past and live a Christ like life. As we try to apply both the old and new testament teachings through the spirit of Christ we will find that we will become more Christ like. We will come to the point we want to be filled with the spirit of Christ. When this happens we will be able to say that it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.

May God fill you with His Holly Spirit as you imitate Christ.

Imitating Jesus – Where is he going?

Tags

, , , , ,

 

John 3: 8

In his book The Cross and the Switchblade, David Wilkerson tells how he was led by the spirit to meet with seven defendants. He was never given the chance to meet them, but he was able to lead Nickie Cruse to Christ. I was being transferred to a navy ship to start sea duty but when the orders came in they were to a patrol squadron instead. It was at this duty station I met and later married my wife over thirty years ago. I can write a book on how God has led me all through my life. Many times that the Holy Spirit led me was in a way that I would never have guest. Stories like these can be repeated many times over, you may have your own story.

Jesus tells us how this happens in John 3: 18. The wind blows and we see where it is going but not where it came from. The weather forecasters can try to explain where the wind came from but even their attempts are not right. They can only tell us the path it has taken. The Holy Spirit acts much the same way. We see the results of his moving. We can also see where the Spirit is going but not where it came from.

Consider the day the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. The people heard and saw the wind but did not know where it came from. We can trace the movement of the Spirit through the book of Acts. The followers of Christ were scattered throughout the world and did not know where he would lead them.

By now you may be asking what does this have to do with imitating Christ? I’m glad you asked. As Jesus started his ministry many wondered where he came from but no one knew. Jesus started at the beginning, when the bible said there was God. God thought about what was to happen, he moved by the spirit, and then he spoke all things into being. God’s voice then became a man. As a man he to was moved by the spirit of God. No one fully knew who Jesus was when he walked among us. It is his spirit that lives with us now, and all we can see is how he moves among us.

As we imitate Christ we too are led by his spirit. We are led to come closer to him, to do his will, go where he wants us to go. Our lives are given over to him that we might live with him in heaven.. As we live by his spirit we will draw others to Christ. Some of us will plant the seed, some will water it and some will reap the harvest. Never forget that it is God who gives the increase.

God bless you as you imitate him.

Imitating Christ – A Misunderstanding

Tags

, , , ,

 

John 3: 3

Have you ever heard something that got your attention and you wanted to find out more? The time may have not been right for you to ask questions then, so you can back later. I remember one college class that more time was spent in the professors office than in the class room. He never turned me away even though my final grade was only a “c”. This must have been how Nicodemus was with Jesus.

In this conversation there must have been a lot more said than was recorded. Nicodemus accepts Jesus as a person sent by God and therefore has much more knowledge then he has. He may have asked how do we know we will see God in heaven? This would lead Jesus into teaching about being born again. The words that Jesus used had two meanings. The one recorded for us was to be “born again”, the other was “from above” with the connotation of being spiritual. Nicodemus took it to mean the physical rebirth.

Jesus is not trying to manipulate the conversation to bring out a new doctrine, rather he is bringing an old teaching to remembrance. Jesus is reminding Nicodemus that the spirit of God comes from above – or heaven. Isaiah 44: 3 Tells us that God will pour out his spirit upon the offspring of God’s people. The Spirit of God also comes in many forms including the wind. In Ezekiel 37: 9 the wind is called from the four corners and brings life into the dry bones. Proverbs 30: 5 continues this theme by stating that God is a refuge for those who trust in him.

Jesus is aware of how much of the word of God you know and have accepted. When we come to him, he will start from there and teach us what we need to know. The more we understand the more he will teach us. This is important for us to remember.

As we Imitate Christ we are to teach others from the spiritual condition they are in. I have seen preachers have services where people came to the alter and without talking to them say they were there for salvation. They may have also told those these same people that they need to ask God for salvation when they came to pray for someone else. There are also some that will try to manipulate the conversation rather than to lead the conversation toward spiritual matters. There is often a very fine line between manipulating and leading a conversation. Another pitfall we often encounter is that words may have a different meaning to others. To avoid these obstetrical we will need to ask questions of the other person and allow the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation.

Imitating Christ – The Temple

Tags

, , , , ,

 

John 2: 18 – 22

In our busy world today we want to have things done fast. We really do not want to wait for anything. In our scripture today even the Jews wanted to have an answer and not wait for a response

In John, the Jews asked Jesus for a sign that would give him the authority to cast out the money changers. They thought that Jesus would perform some type of miracle for them that only God could do like the prophets of old. The answer Jesus gave was unexpected and impossible for them to understand. They were thinking of the temple built with hands which took years to build. However the concept of a person being the temple was never considered.

Throughout history, at this time, the Jews knew that the temple was the place God came to meet with them. When Jesus answered by saying that if they destroyed the temple, he would rebuild it in three days, he was taking the meeting place from a building to a person. For the first time we have the body referred to as a temple. Jesus is moving the temple from a place where people came to meet with God to a place where God goes with the people. Furthermore Jesus is saying it is now possible for God to live in a person and he is the proof of it.

As we follow Jesus we find some interesting points to ponder. One is that we are to be filled with his spirit. We find in the new testament that when we came to Christ he made his home in us so that it is no longer we who live but Christ lives in us. Because Christ lives in us, God can meet with others through us. Finally this makes our bodies the temple of God here on earth. Jesus meet the needs of people in different ways. Likewise we will see God dealing with those we come into contact in many different ways also. Too often we try to limit the way God works by saying that God can only work the way we want him to work. Another way that we limit God is that we only do those things that are comfortable for us not allowing God to lead us in the way we should go.

As we imitate Christ we are to allow God to direct our pathways. Sometime he will lead us where we do not want to go. After we have given in and allowed God to lead us we see miracles happen.

Imitate Christ – The House of Prayer

Tags

, , , , ,

John 2: 12 – 19 & Matthew 21:13

In my last post From John 2 we have Jesus chasing the money changers and merchants out of the temple. When he did this he told them that the temple was not to be a house of merchandise but rather a house of prayer.

In Matthew 21: 13 Jesus said that the temple was to be a house of prayer. This is a quote from Isa 56: 7. Here God says that those who joined the Jewish faith would have their sacrifices accepted and would be glad in the house of prayer. The definition that I like for prayer is that it is communication with God. It is how we talk to God and he talks to us. Prayer has many forms and expressions. It can be for the needs of others , our needs, for thanksgiving or praises. Individuals come to pray on their own or with a priest. The priest would also pray for the people. This is leading up to what may have been their worship service.

Each levite was given a task to do in the temple. For the worship service there were some who lead the singing, prayers, teaching and reading of God’s word, and performed the sacrifices. If any aspect of the service was left out the worship to God would be diminished.

Because Jesus would have been the one to instruct the Levites on how to perform the worship service, he would include each aspect as a means to communicate (pray) with God the father. The house of prayer was the starting point. Singing, reading God’s word, preaching, and the sharing of concerns only enhances our prayers and our closeness to God.

As we imitate Christ, we should come into the church in an attitude of prayer. (we are not to stop praying) Jesus tells us that we are to bring our tithe into the church. Our sacrifice will be to present ourselves as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. Finally, as we continue to worship we will hear God’s word and sing praises to him. Our time of worship will encourage us for the coming week. We may also receive some instructions from God or be given something that will help those we come into contact with.

God bless you as you imitate Christ in you worship time.

Imitate Christ – Selling in church

Tags

, , ,

John 2: 12 – 19

Has your church struggled with whether or not to let guests sell thing in your church? One group says that we are not to sell anything in the church. Another group says that they need to make a living and so it is alright. And then there are those that will be somewhere in the middle. More often than not John 2: 16 will be brought up to decide if it is proper to sell in the church. Jesus said that the temple was not to be used for merchandise.

I do not want to tell your church how to handle this issue. My purpose will be to give a little background on this matter and use it as an intro to my next post. My church has always tried to put the focus on the service and not on the merchandise. We have refused selling, allowed them to take orders but not sell, and allowed guest to sell on Sundays. I am sure this question can come up again in the future.

At the time of Jesus we find that the Jews were scattered thru out many countries. At the feast days many of them would return to Jerusalem to worship. Part of their act of worship was to bring a sacrifice and an offering to the temple. The priests would not accept any money except the temple coins. There were instructions as to what could be brought for a sacrifice. Exodus and Leviticus are two books that give us instruction for offerings and sacrifices.

The problem that Jesus saw was that those who exchanged non temple money into temple money were not using accurate exchange rates therefore giving less in the exchange than there should have been. As to the sacrifice, the priest would not accept the people bringing in their own animals because they had to certify they were acceptable for the sacrifice. They would keep the animal and then sell the person an acceptable animal at an inflated price.

Now the zeal of the Lord was on Jesus and he drove the money changers and sellers out calling them a din of thieves and robbers. Now comes the part that I say tune in to my next post to see how this unfolds.

One last thought as we Imitate Christ. If we are to have the zeal for the things of God we need to understand the mind of Christ, and I pray that I have helped you toward that goal.