3 Things One Must Know In Proclaiming the Gospel

Any man who has taken on the position of a local pastor-teacher of the Church of Jesus Christ, or anyone who desires to proclaim the Gospel to another, should know at least this much:

1. Salvation is of the Lord alone.

Christians are never told in Scripture to ‘go out and save people’ with the Gospel. You cannot. Saving souls is the work of God, not man. Yet, every Christian is a missionary and the task is equal to all – proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the Great Commission. Proclaim the Gospel as the Truth that it is. Do not wait for an immediate conversion. Leave it in the hands of God.

2. Wound by the Law of God.

The first priority in proclaiming the Gospel to anyone is to wound – not to console or make them comfortable in their sins. The Law of God is the needle that pricks the conscience of the soul. It’s purpose is to shed light on the sin of the one to whom you are speaking. Without speaking of the Law, you have no good news, no Gospel. One must see their infinite sin against an infinite God before they can realize an infinite punishment for having been born in the first Adam, their federal representative, in whom they stand condemned already.

3. Heal by the Gospel

After the Law is preached, then, and only then, should the Gospel, the good news, be given.  The Law of God is powerless to convict a sinner without the working of the Spirit of God – and so also, is the Gospel powerless, without the working of God the Holy Spirit!

Salvation is of the Lord alone!

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Christian, Just Stop It

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. – I Peter 2:1-3 (NASB)

We come up with all kinds of excuses for our sins, don’t we? I know that I’ve come up with more than I can recall. Yet, here in I Peter, we are instructed, not to excuse our sin, but to rid ourselves of it. How?

How are Christians to get up out of bed and daily face the world, demonstrating, exhibiting and therefore proving that we have new life in Christ Jesus? Turns out the answer to abandoning our sin is far less complicated than we often make it.

The key is the word apotithēmi. It is a Greek word meaning (literally or figuratively) to put off, put aside or away. It comes from two Greek words: apo, meaning off, and tithēmi, meaning place. The verb itself gives the imagery of removing a garment, taking a piece of clothing off. What’s interesting is that first word, translated malice, is kakia, and means badness or wickedness. [These are all plural nouns]. That pretty much covers all sins, doesn’t it?

What Peter is telling his readers is pretty clear. Put all malice, hypocrisy, envy and all slander aside. Cast it away. If he had told them to put aside their sandles, they would take them off their feet and lay them aside. If he had told them to put aside whatever is in their mouth they would spit it out. If he had told them to put aside their shirt or hat, they would have taken them off and laid them aside. Simple, isn’t it?

Basically, he is telling them to stop it. Just stop it.

There is no instruction for contemplating, meditating or vacillating. No need for lengthy counseling sessions. No need for checking ourselves in to some type of spiritual rehab center. His instruction is clear: Stop these things.

In light of Romans 6, we know that the power of sin has been broken. it is no longer our tyrannical master, no longer has the hold on us that it once had. Because of this, we can say ‘No’ to sin. So when peter tells them, and us, to stop it, we can. Likewise, when a Christian does sin, it is because we, as Christians, have chosen to.

For the unbeliever, being told to “stop it” just doesn’t help at all, because the power of sin remains – it’s all they can do. But for we who believe and are being saved, ah! brethren! we need not go through any process of contemplation on anything.

As Christians, the first step to furthering our spiritual growth is that we simply need to trust and obey, which in this case, is to simply take a sin and….stop it.

There Will Be No Literal 1000 Year Reign of Christ

“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them.” Revelation 20:4

The doctrine of a literal 1000 year millennial kingdom is not controversial, it is simply false doctrine. In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John says not one word about a literal 1000 year reign OF CHRIST, literally or figuratively. What he says is “I saw thrones and THEY sat on them.” The reigning that is in focus here is not the ruling activity of Jesus Christ, but of those seated on the thrones. There are dozens of passages in Scripture which speak of the eternal kingdom of Christ, but not one single passage in all of Scripture speaks or even hints at a kingdom of Christ that will last a mere thousand years.

Do not be deceived, brethren. We must commit ourselves to the written Word of God, not the inventions of men or the Devil, and dispensationalism is both of them.

The teaching of a 1000 year reign of Christ has its origin in Hell and coming from the father of lies, the Devil. Remember, beloved, Satan has always been set on leading men away from the written Word of God (“Has God truly said…?”) and the one who also rejects it outright (“You surely shall not die!”).

The only Christian position we may take then, given the clear teaching of God’s Word on this matter, is that those who teach a future reign of Christ for a mere 1000 years are being deceived and deceiving, the blind leading the blind.

The Burial of Jesus Christ Essential to the Gospel

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” – I Corinthians 15:1-5

In our thoughts and presentations of the Gospel, much attention is given to the death and resurrection of our Lord, and rightly so. But there is often times a tendency to go from “He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30) to “Now on the first day of the week…” (John 20:1), as if there are no blessings nor comfort to be had between those events. But there are. Let’s not overlook them.

PAUL VIEWED THE BURIAL AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THE GOSPEL

First, a few preliminaries. In the passage quoted above we have one of the most concise summaries of the Gospel in Scripture. In verse 1, Paul says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you”. Immediately following he clarifies the precise points of that Gospel.

He was crucified…buried…raised on the third day… He appeared.

Paul clearly regarded the burial of Christ Jesus as an essential element of the Gospel, and you will note that in Paul’s presentation in Scripture, he does not fail to include it.

JESUS INCLUDED HIS BURIAL AS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF THE GOSPEL

In Matthew 26 and parallel passages, we see Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive ointment, wiping it with her hair (see John 12:7). Note in the passage in Matthew, Jesus says,

“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”(26:13).

How many times will it be said this coming Sunday, “We have met this morning to celebrate the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus…” Brethren, don’t forget the burial!

Our Lord’s burial is far more than a historical footnote, something that so obviously takes place when you have a dead body.

In our main passage quoted above, Paul twice says these elements of the Gospel were “in accordance with the Scriptures.” In other words, these things have occurred as a fulfillment of prophecy and are essential ingredients of the Gospel message to be taken to the world.

One of those prophecies is found in Isaiah 53. Note verse 9.

“And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9).

A note from JFB on this passage is instructive:

Rather, “His grave was appointed,” or “they appointed Him His grave” [Hengstenberg]; that is, they intended (by crucifying Him with two thieves, Mat_27:38) that He should have His grave “with the wicked.” Compare Joh_19:31, the denial of honorable burial being accounted a great ignominy (see on Isa_14:19; Jer_26:23). and with … rich — rather, “but He was with a rich man,” etc. Gesenius, for the parallelism to “the wicked,” translates “ungodly” (the effect of riches being to make one ungodly); but the Hebrew everywhere means “rich,” never by itself ungodly; the parallelism, too, is one of contrast; namely, between their design and the fact, as it was ordered by God (Mat_27:57; Mar_15:43-46; Joh_19:39, Joh_19:40); two rich men honored Him at His death, Joseph of Arimathaea, and Nicodemus.

Remember Joseph of Arimathea? A rich man indeed!

“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” – Matthew 27:57-60

The details of the burial of our Lord are covered in all 4 gospels. Yet is it not true, that often times we focus more on the death and resurrection of Jesus and pass right by His burial? I think so.

So what about the blessings of His burial? We know He died, we know He rose again, we know He ascended to the right hand of the Father where He reigns forever as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

HIS BURIAL GIVES BELIEVERS A HOPE THE WORLD DOES NOT HAVE

Were it not for the mercy and grace of God, had He not intervened at a point in time to show us our wickedness and need for the Savior, we would be hopeless like the rest of mankind outside of Christ.

The world outside of Christ fears death. It is the end of hope for them, yet for the believer, what are we told?

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” – Psalm 116:15.

It pleased the Lord to crush His only Son (Isaiah 53:10), yet the Father did not abandon His Son forever in His burial! Nor will He abandon His true children! Not even in the grave!

Beloved, the world does not have this comfort, yet those who truly are children of God have this blessed hope of not being forsaken in the grave! That’s a blessing! That is the Father looking in our direction, and being pleased because we were redeemed by His Son!

Jesus Christ has transformed even death, sanctified it, set it apart, so that even death is viewed by His children differently than by the world. If we truly believe, we need not fear death nor the grave.

Just as the Father did not forsake His Son in burial, neither will He forsake us. Just as Christ Jesus has risen from the dead, so shall we. God’s Word is true, take comfort!

Why Did Paul Remind the Corinthians of the Gospel?

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Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. – I Corinthians 15:1-5

The Apostle Paul had once preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Corinthians. Now he is reminding them of it.

Why?

Is it because the same Gospel that saves us also sanctifies us? Is it because the Christians at Corinth needed to preach the Gospel to themselves every day? No, that is not found in this, or any other passage of Scripture. That would be eisogesis, or better, ‘lack-o-gesis’ at its finest. It is the error of New Calvinism, and it leads to antinomian thinking, ignoring the imperatives of Scripture to be obeyed in exchange for the freedom of lawlessness so enjoyed by myriads of young people today.

The reason Paul is making known the Gospel to the Corinthians once again is found in the Scripture itself, and in fact, in the same chapter; specifically, verses 12 and 13.

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

The Apostle Paul is reminding them of the Gospel teaching, not because it sanctifies them by ‘going deeper’ and by contemplating more deeply the finished work of Christ, oh no. He is addressing the fact that some in Corinth who had professed Christ and professed to believe the Gospel, are now rejecting  or objecting to the doctrine of the resurrection. They are believing that God raises the soul, but not the body.

That is why Paul is once again reminding them of the Gospel. Not to stress the necessity of the Gospel for the purpose of sanctification, but for doctrinal correction.

If any preacher tells you that the Gospel sanctifies you apart from obedience, that man needs to be marked for division according to Scripture.

Individual Responsibility

The moral decline of America continues unabated. The governing powers manifest this immoral state. Contributing factors are many, but one stands out in my own mind. It is that of individual responsibility. It is as scarce as hen’s teeth in this ‘modern progressive’ society.

People today are irresponsible beyond belief when compared to the early years of our nation, and not too many years back. Today, people depend on others to control their fat and calorie intake, refusing to take personal responsibility for their own health and well being. No one forces them to eat junky, fake, manufactured ‘food’, but people eat it anyway, because to them, it is the responsibility of the producers of the garbage eaten to determine how much is consumed. The same folks, bless their hearts, prefer to search for processed and manufactured foods off the grocery shelves for fat and calorie free products – which are poisoning them – rather than get off their rear-ends and exercise the body to keep the blubber off. Then they have the audacity to proclaim, “I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work.” Ignorance and irresponsibility.

In the realm of child safety, parents are not willing to be personally responsible for their children. Oh no, they turn this over to industry or big government bureaucrats. Every toy, the house and everything in it now requires a warning label for parents in regard to the safety of their children. Parents have stopped thinking, and now let others do the thinking for them – without even thinking about it! Whatever happened to the mother and father having the responsibility for the welfare of their offspring? Who needs a warning label to tell a responsible parent that certain objects, if swallowed by a child (who will put just about anything in their mouths), could result in choking? Seriously? The child is not going to read the warning label, and if the child chokes, instead of the parent taking responsibility for their neglect and irresponsibility, they sue the manufacturer! It has almost become a return to the ancient times of the Greeks and Romans, when parents were relieved of child rearing and the children were turned over to a paid teacher. Of course, the government and government-run schools have assumed the role for this present, irresponsible age.

According to Scripture, child rearing is a personal responsibility of the parents. One of the sad sins of David is recorded in I Kings, chapter one. David, in regard to one of his own children, Adonijah, who sought to be king in violation of God’s revealed will, was charged with a terrible crime:

His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” He was also a very handsome man, and he was born next after Absalom. (1:6).

This was the direct result of a father not taking personal and individual responsibility for the life and welfare of his offspring. Ephesians, chapters 5 and 6 speak volumes to those who would be responsible for the family, the vital element of a stable society, and who profess to follow Christ and His teachings.

Sadly, vast numbers of those who profess Christ, have abandoned His teaching and turned to the priests of the world, the psychologists and the Dr. Spock’s, for instruction. Certainly, to those who are truly followers of Christ, there is no better instruction for every member of the family than that which is given in the epistle of Ephesians. Sparing the rod has spoiled the children and failed to instill personal responsibility. You see then, how ‘modern progress’ has perverted the truth.

Where is the personal responsibility for workers who handle dangerous tools and work in places where danger is always present? Does anyone really need to tell you that a chain saw can be dangerous? Do you need a warning label to tell you that it might kill a man? Does anyone need to be told that a tree being felled poses a life danger when being cut? Or that a ‘widow maker’, a rotten limb high in the tree which the wind could bring down on your head, may cause death or serious discomfort? If workers took personal responsibility, there would be no need for the state or OSHA to protect you. Caution and due diligence when working with tools and potentially dangerous situations is your own responsibility. What happened that the present generation is so devoid of this individual and self-sufficient approach to  life? Where are the parents to instill this thinking into a child’s mind and heart, and who depend on the grace of God to make it stick?

The powers that be have created a welfare state in which to maintain their greedy grip upon the population and control events to their advantage, and to their shame, irresponsible adults let them. Whatever happened to the common sense and Scriptural warning to man in Proverbs:

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. – Proverbs 6:6-8

Whatever happened to the Biblical work ethic which was established in the Paradise of God before the fall of man? Whatever happened to the mandate of the Christian faith which declares, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If you’re not willing to work, you should be really hungry right now. It ought to be clear to all that the hippie generation of Hillary and Bill Clinton have long rejected these mandates of liberty and well-being for a godless state in which tradition and the true biblical faith are to have no place. They not only wish for a totalitarian state, but a one world government of man at the exclusion of God.

Thomas Edison, who was a thinker, when asked a question as to where he got all of his ideas, stated: “One percent of the people think. Nine percent think they think and ninety percent never think.” I have no idea where he got his statistics, but he may well have been right. The present generation is willing to let big government do all the thinking for them. People without personal experience and responsibility doing the thinking for those who have both. What a circus.

Where are the prudent souls, the wise, for this day of national crisis? The foolish abound who will believe the lie; that black is white and white is black; that, like a lapdog, will be faithful to others who drop crumbs from the rich man’s table.

But whatever happened to individual responsibility? There will be no stability in our nation until there is a return to this vital ingredient of personal and individual responsibility for our own actions.This present generation seems to have given up their liberties to those who will do the thinking for them. If you happen to be one of these, you do know what it means do you not?

It means you have an incredibly low view of Scripture and of God, for ignoring His Word which tells us to take responsibility for our actions, and for thinking for ourselves.

If you will not think for yourselves, you have made your bed, go and lie down, enslaved, and wait to die.

The Only Gospel Command to Be Obeyed

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For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? I Peter 4:17 (NASB)

In Scripture, there are many biblical commands or imperatives to be obeyed yet they are not direct ‘gospel commands’.

Mark 1:1 declares the beginning of Jesus’ gospel, and in Mark 1:15, Jesus said,

“”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Regeneration and saving faith both being gifts from God, only the elect unto salvation will believe, of course, yet the imperative to believe in the Gospel is there.

Again, through the Apostle Peter, specifically in the quoted passage above, there is only one ‘Gospel imperative’, that is, one Gospel command specifically regarding the Gospel, and it is not for Christians to preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday. It is simply to believe its good news. The Gospel is good news to be believed, not good news to be therapeutically repeated daily.

In the latter portion of I Peter 4:17, the Apostle asked the question:

“what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

What does he mean by ‘obey the Gospel? The answer lies in the text itself. The Greek  word for obey here is ἀπειθούντων—note the present active tense of this participle (derived from ἀπειθέω (I refuse to believe and obey)).

Peter is asking in essence “If judgment begins with the house of God, what will become of those who are willfully, intentionally disbelieving and refuse to comply with the command to believe the Gospel?”

It is that simple my brethren. To obey the Gospel is to believe it.

The Scriptures, that is, the whole counsel of God, teaches us how to make progress in holiness and press on to maturity in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, Who is our Helper!

Let us be biblical by sticking to the Bible and not the latest fads of ‘spiritual disciplines’ and the error of so-called ‘gospel-sanctification.’

When Leaders No Longer Lead

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A good shepherd leads his sheep to pasture. He cares for their every need. He does not drive the sheep with the shepherds crook, but rather uses it to correct the wayward.

Leadership, at any level, should know and follow the example of the Good Shepherd. Failure to do so leaves the sheep without guidance and in danger. Whenever leaders lose their concern for the people they are supposed to lead and concern themselves with themselves, then the people are in trouble.

Ancient Israel provides our first example of this tragedy. Amos addressed the nation with the following words:

Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! – Amos 6:1

The nation of Israel, during the time of Uzziah, knew a time of great prosperity. As then, so now today. It is always a great danger when the leadership is focused on selfish desires rather than the needs of the people. With leadership asleep at the helm, the people will be lulled into a false sense of security. Priorities in life are turned upside down. The things offered by the world become the focus, rather than the things of heaven.

It was that way in Israel, and it is so in America today. Amos goes on to describe the condition of the people in these words:

Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! – Amos 6:4-6

A self-indulgent leadership leads to a self-indulgent people. The combination spells trouble of any nation. It is a deadly combination. It is one that is being played out in our own country. As long as the people’s bellies are full and they experience prosperity, and there are no leaders to whom the people can look for guidance, then the nation, so afflicted, teeters on the brink of disaster.

Any nation, so prospering with material things, being so secure of body, so careless with the time allowed, will never see the foundations of their nation crumbling. They will never take note of the coming disaster. They will never feel the trembling of the earth – a sure warning. Amos preached two years before the earthquake, yet the people, so led, did not heed the warning.

Amos tried to warn the people by telling them to look at the nations around them who had fallen victim to the same deceit. If America is to endure for long, we had better look at the history of the nations before us who have suffered the same end as that of Israel.

I would point you to two nations in history whose people, because of poor leadership, were seduced into tolerating the present plight of things until disaster struck. Examine the reign of two kings, one of England and the other of France. Charles I of England, Louis the 16th of France . Both of them were puffed up with pride and greed, supported a sovereign monarchy, the feudal system – a system Americans are well on the road of knowing. It was a system in which the monarch, the judiciary, the nobility and the clergy, became so corrupt that there was no one that the people could look to for relief when the bread they earned was eaten by the leadership. They were left with nothing but the burden of heavy taxes and what little crumbs were left. People may be ruled as long as they get the crumbs from the rich man’s table, but deprive them of the crumbs and they will rise up and blood will flow.

The bloody revolts of the masses in England and France ought to provide us a lesson for our own nation. I believe our present leadership fears such a revolt, hence the need to disarm, as did Hitler in Germany the people, prompted by those who ignored the law of the land for what appears to solve a problem for a moment, but never does.

My concern for our land are based on the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament and upon the study of history. Amos had a direct word from God. Mine is indirect, though still from God. It is the written Word of God which reveals the will of God for men who lead and those who follow.

The response of the leadership of Israel to the message of Amos may be the response of those who read this message of heartfelt concern for the people of America. I pray it will not be so. When Amos went to preach this warning to Bethel, the kings chapel was there. Amaziah, the priest, cried out:

“Amos has conspired against you [ the king, Jeroboam] in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.'” And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” – Amos 7:10-13

This is the mentality of the majority of America’s leadership, and the people are suffering for it.

The cry of Amos for justice in the land was ignored. He was a nobody, a simple herdsman from the hills of Tekoa; never having been to seminary or college, but called of God to warn the people. When nothing changed on the part of the people, and the leadership remained unmoved, then, the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the flock of Israel. She became a victim in 586 B.C., followed by the same end for Judah in 722.

Like Amos, I am not a son of a prophet, but called of God. I pray for our leadership that they may be brought to repentance and lead the people in righteousness. The failure here always results in the difference between repentance and revolution, between blessing and blood. My plea is for repentance and blessing, because the death knell of every nation comes when the leadership promotes godlessness rather than godliness.

America will be no exception.

When the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch.

Our Sure Foundation for Peace and Security in Christ Jesus

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And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. – Exodus 12:13

Jesus has delivered the believer from the wrath to come when He will execute judgment upon those who have rejected Him (I Th. 1:10).

The Israelites only needed to touch the lintel and two doorposts on their homes with the blood of a lamb – openly and visibly, not hidden – in order to secure their safety and peace from the destroyer who brought death to the Egyptians, who typified the world of unbelievers. On that dreadful night when the Lord came to strike the Egyptians, the Israelites had nothing else to do but remain inside until morning.

I read Exodus 12:13 this morning and was immediately drawn to that simple phrase, “When I see the blood”.

There is our salvation and our peace with, of and from God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, right there.

“When” God sees the blood of Christ we are safe and have peace with Him; not if God sees it. Our God is omniscient, knowing all things; He is above time and space, He is seeing it right now as you read this.

“I see” , that is, when God Himself sees the blood of Christ we are safe and have peace with Him. The Israelites didn’t need to see it in order to be, feel or know they were safe. They didn’t need to experience anything. Their safety and security was made so only by the blood and the sure Word of God.

They rested in the character of God, in His faithfulness to keep His Word to them. That was the sole foundation for their peace and safety – nothing but the blood. The same goes for the believer today. A Christian does not need to experience, feel, say or do anything to be safe from the wrath of God, for peace with God or even for cleansing of all sin, because it is the blood of Jesus that does that, and God Himself sees it. Therein, in that shed blood alone – by faith – and nothing else – is our peace.

“The blood” of Jesus Christ, shed for me. God tells us in His Word that we have “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Through His blood, nothing else.

The blood of Jesus itself, and it alone, saves us, cleanses us from sin and brings us peace. The Holy Spirit does not cleanse us from sins, only the blood of Jesus does that. I John 1:7. Our thoughts or feelings about the blood do not save us, nor make us secure, only the blood itself. The blood of Jesus does not partially save us, partially cleanse us nor partially shelter us from the wrath of God to come, but does so fully, by faith, in all these things.

Our Lord Jesus, after shedding His blood on the cross, ascended to the Father and before the throne of glory presented His sacrifice for acceptance. He sprinkled His own blood, that it might be seen and  accepted as full payment for our purchase….and it was.

Brethren, our sure foundation for peace and security in Christ is in the written Word of God, describing the grace and mercy of God, through the finished work of Christ. Our security rest in Christ work for us, not the Holy Spirit’s work in us in sanctification. The work of the Holy Spirit is not finished yet, the work of Christ for our redemption is, and we must know for a certainty, that God sees the blood of His only Son, and has accepted that finished work on our behalf as our substitute. It is a reality, God make it so in our hearts during times of doubt!

We need nothing else to rely upon; not thoughts, feelings nor charismatic experiences. Our Mighty, righteous, holy God has seen the blood of Christ, and we stand secure in that glorious, wonderful declaration of mercy and grace, a sure pledge for all who truly believe in Jesus by faith alone:

When I see the blood, I will pass over you

Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Yes, Lord, and amen!

The Obedience of the Thief On the Cross

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I’m often asked, What obedience did the thief on the cross display in regards to his salvation?

Clearly, he did everything required. He believed the Gospel. Everything required for salvation.

Obeying the Gospel – believing it – is not only evidence of genuine faith, it is required for full possession of salvation in the end. See Luke 23. For those of you who think ‘good works’ has nothing to do with salvation, ever, in any way, shape or form, ever. Think again. The Gospel commands obedience.

Professing Christ is one thing, possessing salvation in the end is another – it will not be had without good works. This is not saying we are justified in any way by our works, that is a declaration by God alone, apart from works, by means of faith in the finished work of Christ. What it is saying is this: Sanctification, your pursuit of holiness is not by faith alone, because you are involved, co-laborers with God. The saved thief on the cross gives you no excuse for ‘grace without obedience.’

1. He openly rebuked the other thief:

But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? – Luke 23:40

2. He repented of his sins. He admitted his own guilt, and that he and his co-thief deserved punishment of death on the cross.

And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; (v. 41)

3. He confessed with his own mouth the innocence and sinlessness of Jesus and did that before a public audience (soldiers, Jewish leaders, eyewitnesses to the crucifixions).

but this man has done nothing wrong. (v. 41)

4. Before everyone within earshot, this thief gave testimony that Jesus Christ is Lord and King:

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (v.42)

Yes, indeed, the thief on the cross who went to be with Jesus that day, obeyed the Gospel – because he had been regenerated, given faith to believe and was justified before God. Salvation, even in the case of the rare exception such as this, is completely of the Lord.

"..that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him"- Ephesians 1:17

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