Archive for June, 2015

Daily Devotion: God Knows Me

Daily Devotion: God Knows Me

God Knows Me

Message by Wil Pounds

God knows me, and He still wants to pursue a personal relationship with me. That is truly amazing. He knows everything about me, and still wants to enjoy my fellowship with Him.

What does it mean to know God? How do you come to an intimate personal knowledge of Him?

I am not thinking of intellectual knowledge or facts about Him, but the importance of knowing a close friend.

The apostle Paul prayed that believers would know God the Father who chose us, God the Son who redeemed us, and God the Holy Spirit who applied salvation to us personally through the new birth. Now that He has saved me do I have a growing knowledge of Him? Perhaps in our busy schedule and pressures of modern life we should ask do I even want it? How do I fit a hunger for God into a complex worldview?

In Ephesians 1:17-19 the apostle Paul prayed that God would give believers “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation . . . to know Him better.” Paul wanted them to have a “true knowledge of Him.” But you say, they already knew Him as their Savior, and had obtained eternal life. But what I am asking is has God placed within your heart a hunger to know Him better?

With every relationship in life we make deliberate choices as to whether we want to pursue the relationship. God has invited us to get to know Him better. Have we responded to that invitation to belongingness? Do we have that “we” feeling with Him? Have we taken the first few faltering steps and halted? Have we reached a plateau, and is it now time to respond to further instruction in His Word?

Has the Holy Spirit opened the “enlightened eyes of our hearts” in order that we may know “the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe”?

Paul’s prayer for knowledge of God is based on a plea to have a greater knowledge of God’s saving grace. God takes the initiative and invites us to a personal involvement of our whole person. It is a permanent relationship based on the awesome knowledge that He knows me and desires a personal, abiding relationship with me.

Perhaps Paul had in mind the great prayer of Jesus, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

Do you know Him? Do you want to know Him better? It is true that we have a great deal more to learn about Him in His Word. Knowing about Him is important, but knowing Him personally is more important. We must act on what we have learned in His Word.

How do I get to know God better in His personal dealings with me? It begins with a hunger or thirsting for the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to our soul and to open the living Word of God to our inner person. Such a knowledge is not found apart from a study of the Scriptures. It is to the person who sits at Jesus’ feet that God opens His heart to reveal Himself. It is time spent with God on our knees with the open Word that issues in an intimate knowledge of Him. You cannot get to know a real person without spending time with him or her. We cannot know God without time in His presence. We know truth about His attributes from His revealed Word as the Spirit applies them to our lives, and as we act upon that knowledge we experience Him personally.

God chose us, and called us “to be holy and blameless in His sight” as His full grown adopted children. We grow in our knowledge of God as we become more like the Lord Jesus Christ in every way, every day. As we grow in the knowledge of His grace we grow in His likeness. One day we will know Him in perfect character. My prayer is that He will hasten that day. Today, we live in the tension of the here and now and that which is yet to be.

Because we are His unique possession, purchased by His blood, “we share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Col. 1:12). God has rich blessings in store for those who get to know Him better. Are we claiming our inheritance now? We can only as we get to know Him intimately. The apostle Paul said, “We know little; and we know imperfectly.” One wonderful day when He comes we will know fully and perfectly.

Do I know Him in the power of His resurrection? This is to know God’s power by personal experience. Do I know the power that God exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead? The knowledge of God is experienced in the power of Christ’s resurrection in our lives today. Oh, God that I may know you today!

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Evidence of Members of God’s Family

Daily Devotion: Evidence of Members of God’s Family

Message by Wil Pounds

Our possession of the Holy Spirit is the very essence of what it means to be a Christian. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9). Those who belong to Christ have the Holy Spirit living within them. Moreover, if you have Him indwelling you, you will live like Him (vv. 10-13).

We know that we are true Christians because of the Holy Spirit’s presence in us, and because our lives have been changed by His indwelling presence.

Moreover, we have a new status and relationship with God. “All those who being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (v. 14). We have a new relationship to God; we are members of His family. Paul speaks of our being “sons,” “sonship,” “children,” “heirs,” and “co-heirs with Christ” (vv. 15-23).

John Calvin said, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God; all the sons of God are heirs of eternal life; and therefore all who are led by the Spirit of God ought to feel assured of eternal life.”

We are His children by the new birth, and the status of “adopted” children.

Let me be very clear, not everyone is a member of God’s family. We are all His creatures having been created by God, but only those who are “led by the Spirit of God” are the sons of God. Those who are not led by the Spirit are not Christians, and therefore not His spiritual children.

Jesus made this fact clear in John 8:39-47. Specifically note what Jesus says, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God. . . He sent Me. . . You are from your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your Father. . . . He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (vv. 42, 44, 47).

Only those who possess the Holy Spirit and are led by Him are the children of God. Indeed, Paul is telling us that all believers in Jesus Christ are members of God’s family.

In the passage above Jesus says there has been a radical change in our status with God. We have been delivered from Satan’s realm to God’s family. We were children of the devil, but now we are children of God. We are “in Adam,” but now we are “in Christ.” We were “dead in trespasses and sin,” but now we are “alive in Christ Jesus.” We have received eternal life. We were unrighteous sinners, but now we have been clothed with the righteousness of God in Christ. We were slaves who have been emancipated by the redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus. We are children of God by a spiritual birth. He has placed us as full-grown children by adoption in His family.

This new relationship with God in His family is something He did for us in His grace. God imparted to us this new life and status when we repented and believed on Him as our Savior. The “new birth” gives us this new spiritual life. The Holy Spirit stirs and quickens our hearts to cause us to repent and to love God. It is such a radical change that we observe a renewing of our minds after God’s things, our emotional responses to God’s Spirit and our volitional choices are the outcome of this new mindset.

The Holy Spirit uses His Word, the Bible, to convict us of sin, God’s righteousness, and causes us to be born spiritually into God’s family. Then a Christians He uses His Word to guide us in the Christian life.

When the Holy Spirit renews your mind, you will demonstrate it by the way you live.

Have you experienced in your life this radical change that God brings about when He makes us His children? Where is the evidence that you are now a child of God? Do you love Him? Do you love the things of God? Do you love His Word? Are you trying to please Him? Is the Spirit leading you? Are you submissive to His will? Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” If you are a member of His family you will bear resemblance to Him in all you do.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: All Sufficient Sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Daily Devotion: All Sufficient Sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

The very same all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ that enabled God to save us is sufficient to keep us saved for all eternity.

Does sin have the power to set at naught the saving power of God? Is it possible for the power of sin to be more powerful than the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God?

The LORD God has effectively dealt with every sin that has ever been committed (Heb. 9:11-12; 10:10-14). The Son of God is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He was not just any person dying on a cross, but the sinless Son of God who was giving Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for all who would call upon His name.

When Jesus died on the cross, all of our sins were imputed to Him. They were charged to His account, like putting money in the bank. God treated Christ as though He had actually committed those sins (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Jn. 3:5; Rom. 4:25; 1 Pet. 2:22, 24).

The result of the death of Christ was that all those sins have been paid for in full and God no longer holds them against us, because we have trusted Christ as our Savior. That is not all; the demands of God’s holy law have been fully met by Christ in His death once for all.

Those who believe will never have their sins imputed against them again (Ps. 32:1-2; Rom. 4:1-8). As far as their records are concerned, they share the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

The present condition of lost sinners is not because of their sin, but because of their unbelief. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:17-18).

The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover every person’s sin, past, present and future. The sacrifice has been made once for all. No other sacrifice can or will be made. It is all-sufficient for all sin for all mankind forever. However, no one is automatically saved by that death. The death becomes effective when the lost sinner calls on the name of Jesus putting his faith in Him to save and give everlasting life. The only condition is to believe on the saving work of Christ on the cross. All that a person has to do to be lost is nothing. To not believe is to say in effect Jesus did not die for me. To believe on Christ is in effect to declare that He is all-sufficient to cover all my sins for all eternity. The sacrifice has been paid in full. There need be no other and no more. All my sins, past, present and future are under that blood that cleanses.

Judgment is already passed on all who refuse to believe on Christ as their Savior sent from God (John 3:18, 36). However, “As many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12). “God has given us eternal life” (1 John 5:11). The problem is people love spiritual darkness rather than the “Light” of Jesus.

Salvation is received through believing in the finished work of Christ on the cross. People who reject the saving gospel of Christ are already under condemnation because they have not believed. They stand condemned. However, the believe in Christ is “not condemned,” and he “will not be condemned” (John 5:24). The person who believes on Christ has “everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.” The believer has eternal spiritual life now, which is endless (Jn. 3:36). When we trust in Jesus, we have in the present time “eternal life.” No judgment will come in the future regarding eternal life. He will not be judged “because he already passed from one realm—“death”—into another—“life” (Eph. 2:1, 5). We have passed from eternal death to eternal life. Jesus described the resurrection of the lost sinner into eternal life. With the apostle Paul we can also proclaim, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1).

The believer is a sinner, even though he is a redeemed sinner. The difference is that he confesses his sins and claims the forgiveness of God in Christ (1 Jn. 1:6-7). “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (v. 7).

The only difference between condemnation and salvation is faith in the atoning work of Jesus. Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus gives eternal life to anyone who believes on Him because He has already died for that person.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Fully Equipped with Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding

 

 

Daily Devotion:  Fully Equipped with Knowledge,  Wisdom and Understanding

Message by Wil Pounds
When an individual is born into God’s family by faith in Jesus Christ, he is born with all that he needs to grow toward spiritual maturity.

How many believers fail to realize “you are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10)? You are complete in Christ for the only experience you need is the new birth. You do not have to look for something else, something new, something different, and something in addition to Christ.

What is needed in the Christian life is to continue to grow in what we received when we received Christ at the new birth. We have been fully equipped in Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote, “We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to sharer in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

There were false teachers telling these Christians they had to have some additional experience in the Christian life. They were suggesting that Christ is not enough. The apostle Paul writes this letter to refute that nonsense. Christ is all-sufficient for every believer in everything.

Paul prayed that God would fill them “with the knowledge of His will.” He prayed these believers would be filled out to completeness with a full, deep understanding.

The Holy Spirit enlightens a believer’s inner person (1 Cor. 2:5-6; Eph. 3:14-21) with the truth from the Word of God. The Spirit of God makes known the will of God through the Bible and gives spiritual stability (Eph. 2:14).

Where do we find this “spiritual wisdom and understanding”? We discover it “in Christ.” The false teachers were saying you find it in their exclusive possession of their kind of knowledge. The apostle Paul said no you find it in an intimate personal knowledge of the Son of God. This knowledge is not a hidden secret to be whispered in the ear of an initiate. It is open to all and it is to be broadcast to the world. Paul’s prayer is that every Christian be filled with this knowledge. The end result of such knowledge is to “walk worthy of the Lord.” What we know will affect the way we live. Right thinking leads to right conduct.

Paul says that you will be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual, wisdom and understanding so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. That comes from the study of the Word of God under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. We can please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Spiritual growth is not automatic, but we have been equipped us by the Word and the Spirit.

The best person in any church well knows that he is unable to come into the presence of God on the basis of any self-merit. No one can receive anything from God on the grounds of his or her own goodness. However, on the merits of the shed blood of Jesus Christ even the worst sinner who turns from his sin and accepts Christ as his Savior can come with boldness and be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might.” That “strength with all power, according to His glorious might” comes from God. It is what God gives us “in Christ.” It is possible only on the basis of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

True prayer is prayer to God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.

We “receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commandments and do what pleases Him” (1 John 3:22). “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19), and ask Him for whatever we need that we may “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: The Conquering Love Of Christ

 

Daily Devotional: The Conquering Love Of Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

The Conquering Love of Christ

Upon close examination there is only one way to explain the dramatic changes and resultant attitudes and motivations of the Jewish rabbi, Saul of Tarsus. He was a conquered man. He was in his own words, “a servant of Christ Jesus . . . and set apart for the gospel of God.” The most powerful, transforming force in his life was an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

He was in love with the risen Lord Jesus Christ whom he had met on the road to Damascus. He was a changed man. No longer was he striving to please God and earn salvation by striving to do good works. He was now resting in the finished saving work of God in Christ on the cross.

Paul wrote, “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

Martin Luther had no peace with God even though he desperately wanted to please God. The harder Martin worked at earning peace with God, the more elusive that sense of acceptance became for him. He actually came to the place where he hated God because of the impossible standards he thought God imposed on sinful depraved man.

One day while he was studying Romans 1:16-17, God spoke to him with the deep convicting truth of His Word. “The righteous person will live by faith.” God opened his eyes to the saving fact that the righteousness he so longed to have cannot be earned, merited, or gained by man’s virtue, but is a righteousness of God, freely given to all who will by faith receive it.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

We do not have any righteousness of our own to bring to God because we are bankrupt sinners. We receive God’s righteousness, not through any works of our own, but by faith alone in the finished work of Christ.

When we put our faith in Christ, we take God at His word and believe what He says about us and His saving grace in Christ.

Luther said, “I had no love for that holy and just God who punished sinners. I was filled with secret anger against Him. I hated Him. . . . But when I learned how the justification of the sinner proceeds from the free mercy of our Lord through faith, then I felt born again like anew man.”

Luther, like Paul, discovered that Christianity is Jesus Christ.

Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Does He occupy your thoughts? Is He the center of your attention? Do you speak often of Him?

Do you love Jesus? Do you love Him with all your heart? Do you love Him with all your being? There is nothing like being conquered by His love. It lifts you out of the “shallow and selfish, constantly shifting ebbs and flows of cultural sands” in our day. May our very person, like the “man in Christ,” be filled with more and more of Him “who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20) because “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20).

Paul was in love with Christ, and that is the only way you can explain him. He had been conquered and captivated by the living Lord Jesus Christ. I believe with all my heart that when He has conquered our hearts, we will love Him the same way and then and only then will our contemporaries say of us, “There is a man, or there is a woman, or there is a young person in Christ.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Attitude of God Toward The Saved

 

Daily Devotion:  The Attitude of God Toward the Saved

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

The Attitude of God
toward the Saved

Was the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross all-sufficient for God to save the sinner? Was His sacrifice sufficient for God to justly keep the sinner saved? Is God lacking in wisdom and power to fulfill His eternal purpose for the saved sinner?

Ultimately the question of eternal security is reduced to a question of the all-sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ when He died on the cross.

If the person who has received eternal life by believing on Christ is ultimately lost then we must conclude that God is impotent and the sacrifice of Christ is not sufficient to save the depraved sinner. One would have to conclude that the Sovereign LORD God would have to submit to a power greater than Himself that He has created.

The eternal purpose of God for the sinner is that we be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:10; 1 Jn. 3:2). Could our great God and Savior be so careless as to what becomes of the person He has so loved and sent His Son to die for on the cross?

The apostle Paul argues the attitude and power of God will be “much more” for the person He has saved than His attitude of love for His enemies before He saved them. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:8-10).

God has demonstrated His love toward His enemies by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross (vv. 6, 8). Christ died on behalf of, or instead of the sinner. Paul argues from the greater problem to the less saying the greater thing is the justification “by His blood.” Since that was an awesome mystery of profound cost, keeping the sinner saved is less of a mystery. God gave His Son as a propitiation for our sins (Rom. 3:25; Col. 1:10; 1 John 2:20; 4:10). We have become reconciled to God by means of the death of His Son. Paul argues, “much more then” we shall be saved “by His life.” Christ is alive, seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, “since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Since God has gone to such great costs to save us, He will do “much more” if that is needed to keep us saved (Rom. 5:9-10). It is inconceivable that our Good Shepherd and Savior who has sacrificed so much to save us in giving His Son on the cross, would be careless to insure or secure such an investment.

How “much more” is His attitude of love to those whom He has cleansed in His blood, transformed by His power and saved. If God has gone to such lengths to save us then He will surely save us from His fiery wrath by that same blood of propitiation. He died in the place of the powerless, ungodly sinners who were His enemies. Certainly, his Savior will not forsake that “now-declared-righteous” person. Since the blood of Jesus has resolved the greater dilemma, certainly the justified sinner will be saved from God’s wrath. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). The saved sinner will never be condemned to hell (Jn. 5:24).

The atoning sacrifice is totally the work of God, accomplished by the blood of Jesus. God has removed the enmity that stands between people and God. Since reconciliation was done “through the death of His Son,” while we were enemies, then His present resurrection life in heaven will insure the complete and final salvation of believers.

Paul’s argument is, “Before we were saved, God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us. Now that we are His children, without doubt He will love us more.” If God saved us while we were sinners, He will keep on saving us now that we are His children. The child of God will not experience the wrath of God. Since Christ accomplished our reconciliation in His death how “much more” will He do for us in His life of intercession for us in heaven. We are eternally saved because He lives (Heb. 7:23-25; Rom. 8:34). He is interceding for us even now.

Since God the Son died for us when we were sinners who hated Him, how much more will He save from the wrath of God those who are now in a righteous standing as is the Son is with the Father.

“Much more” having been now justified by His blood we shall be saved through Him from the wrath of God. “Much more” having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Daily Devotional: Do You Have Life’s Greatest Satisfaction?

 

Daily Devotional: Do You Have Life’s Greatest Satisfaction?

Message by Wil Pounds

Do You Have Life’s Greatest Satisfaction?

One of the most delightful books I have read was Surprised by Joy in which the brilliant Cambridge scholar C. S. Lewis tells how the “Hound of Heaven” tracked him down and brought him to his knees to surrender to Jesus Christ.

“I was going up Headington Hill on top of a bus. Without words and (I think) almost without images, a fact about myself was somehow presented to me. I became aware that I was holding something at bay, or shifting shutting something out. Or, if you like, that I was wearing some stiff clothing, like corsets, or even a suit of armor, as if I were a lobster. I felt myself being there and then given a free choice. I could open the door or keep it shut; I could unbuckle the armor or keep it on. Neither choice was presented as a duty; no threat or promise was attached to either, though I knew that to open the door or to take off the corset meant the incalculable. The choice appeared to be momentous but I was also strangely unemotional. I was moved by no desire or fears. In a sense I was not moved by anything. I chose to open, to unbuckle, to loosen the rein. I say, ‘I chose, yet it did not really seem possible to do the opposite.’’

A short time later in his room at Magdalene College in Cambridge, England, he made a final personal commitment to Jesus Christ. “In the Trinity Term of 1929, I gave in and admitted that God was God and knelt and prayed: perhaps that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England” (Surprised by Joy, pp. 224, 228-29).

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

Jesus used a strong word for “satisfied” meaning “completely satisfied,” like when feeding cattle are satisfied after grazing in a beautiful lush meadow.

Do you have that satisfaction that comes from an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

It is the result of a spiritual hunger and thirst that only God can satisfy when we submit to Him.

Do you carry a heavy burden that weighs you down? Have you grown weary fighting with God? He is ready to give you His perfect rest if you will come to Him and yoke up with Him. When you submit to Jesus Christ you find rest for your soul as Lewis did.

Are you weighed down by a heavy load of anxiety? Christ invites you to humble yourself “under the mighty hand of God . . . casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

There is no greater spiritual satisfaction, inner peace and joy than that which is found in an intimate, personal love relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Have you entered into that personal relationship with Him? Admit to Him your need and ask Him to be your Savior. “Lord, I confess to you my need for you to be my Savior. I am a rebel at heart and want you to forgive me of my wandering sinful ways and unbelief. I ask you to forgive me and cleanse me of all my sins. I believe Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose from the dead, and I want Him to be my Savior and Lord today.”

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Revelation 22:17). Will you come today and drink freely of the water of life and be satisfied?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Message By Wil Pounds

Daily Devotional: Christianity is Christ

 

Message by Wil Pounds

Christianity is Christ

There is no other way to say it. Christianity is Christ.

Christianity is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. If the focus is on anything else it is not Christianity. That great truth is stated throughout the New Testament. In fact, everything in the Old Testament leads up to that great truth regarding His person and work.

The apostle Peter was one of the first individuals to accept that great fact. Jesus asked the question, who do the people say that I am? (Matthew 16:13). The disciples had been with the people and they told Jesus what they had heard. Some said He was John the Baptist risen from the dead, others that He was the prophet Elijah, some said He was the prophet Jeremiah.

Then Jesus asked the real question. “Who do you say that I am?” (v. 15). Peter spoke up for the whole group saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16).

That is what makes Jesus Christ so unique. He is not just a prophet, or a good moral teacher, but He is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one who will reign forever on the throne of His great ancestor King David (2 Sam. 7:13, 16; Lk. 1:33; Rev. 22:16; Rom. 1:3; Jn. 7:42; Matt. 1:1). The eternal King is the Messiah. Jesus is God’s Anointed One who was sent to do God’s specific will. He is the one promised in the Old Testament.

Jesus is divine. He is “the Son of the living God.” It is an exalted view of Jesus. Peter could not have ascribed a higher place to Him. He declared in his confession that Jesus is God Himself who came to save His people from their sins.

In the original language the statement is even stronger than in English. “You are the Christ, the Son of the God, the living One.” This is a most comprehensive statement of the essential being of our Lord.

This truth is so important for us to understand that Jesus responded to Peter saying, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by the Father in heaven” (v. 17). It is important that we keep in mind that Peter did not gain this understanding by human intelligence or profound spiritual insight. God revealed that truth to Peter; it was received by divine revelation.

We too must understand and accept this important truth in order to be saved. Jesus Christ is “very God of very God.”

One of the disciples of Jesus, Thomas, saw Jesus alive after the resurrection and declared, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

Everything that Jesus did in dying as our sacrifice for sin depends on who He is. If Jesus were not God, His death would be like yours and mine; He would only be dying for His own sins. If He were not God His death could not atone for anyone’s sins. However, because He is “very God of very God” His death on the cross has infinite value to take away our sins as the chosen Lamb of God.

If you believe this great spiritual truth it is because God has revealed it to you by the Holy Spirit. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is the Son of the living God. He is the sinner’s Savior. In fact, He is the sinners only possible Savior. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as you shall be saved.” To trust in anyone else is to spend eternity in hell. There is no other way, not because I say so, but because God said it. The Bible says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: All Things for and Through God

Daily Devotion: All Things for and Through God

Message by Wil Pounds

Old Bishop John Ryle said truthfully: “It is not open sin, or open unbelief, which robs Christ of His professing servants, so much as the love of the world, the fear of the world, the cares of the world, the business of the world, the money of the world, the pleasures of the world, and the desire to keep in touch with the world. This is the great rock on which thousands of young people are continually making shipwreck. They do not object to any article of the Christian faith. They do not deliberately choose evil and openly rebel against God. They hope somehow to get to heaven at last, and they think it proper to have some religion. But they cannot give up their idol: they must have the world. And so after running well and bidding fair for heaven while boys and girls, they turn aside when they become men and women and go down the broad way which leads to destruction. They begin with Abraham and Moses and end with Demas and Lot’s wife.”

What a contrast with the life of Christ who lived to please the Father alone. Man was created to bring “glory, honor and power” to the LORD God. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Hebrews 2:10 reads, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” God created you and me for the purpose of showing forth His glory. God is the cause of every object in nature and its only reason for existence is that the grace and power of God may be seen through it. Everything finds its reason and justification in its relationship to Him. He is the final and efficient Cause of all things. It is for His sake that the whole universe exists. All things in the universe exists for God’s glory.

Instead of all things being “for Him” and “through Him” man rebelled against the Creator and chose to reign for self and through self. History has demonstrated that this self-centered life ends in vanity for the individual and dishonor to God’s eternal purpose.

Jesus Christ came to redeem man from his self-centered life, and to bring us back to a right relationship with God that we may serve Him “for whom are all things and through whom are all things.” The Creator is also the Redeemer. God’s plan was to bring “many sons to glory,” i.e., to bring many to a saving relationship with Himself through the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ who is the Leader in bringing “many sons” to God.

Jesus lived His life on this earth absolutely and entirely for His Father in heaven. He says to us, “All things are for My Father.” His commitment was absolute. His blessedness and everlasting glory are found in living wholly for the Father.

“Through whom are all things” was also true of Jesus. He declared that He could do nothing of Himself because He did only that which the Father showed Him and said to Him. “But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’ . . . Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. . . I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me’” (John 5:17, 19, 30). Jesus counted it all joy to do everything in total dependence upon His Father. It was “all things through God.” He did not do anything of Himself, but in continual dependence waiting on the Father working in Him.

The great truth of the Christian life is “all for God,” and “all through God.” The more intimate is our daily walk with the Father, the more we will love and please Him.

“All for God” without exception for a moment, a thought, a word, a promise, a person, a passion, or a possession is the goal of believer. This is the manner in which we please Him perfectly.

“All through God” is the only way we can live a life pleasing to Him. The clearer we focus on doing everything for God the greater is our sense of utter frustration and impotence because you and I cannot do it in our own strength. Only Jesus Christ can live such a life. I cannot in my sinful nature which is prone to please self. But what I cannot do, God can do. God the Holy Spirit works in us to do God’s perfect will. Because it is “all of God” the Holy Spirit does it “all through God.”

As we make ourselves available to Him, He does in and through us all that pleases Him. What is demanded of us is a life of union with Jesus Christ. “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). To live in that oneness is to do “all for God” and “all through God.” The only way to please God is to make ourselves available to Jesus Christ living in us.

The disciple of Jesus Christ no longer lives to please himself. He lives for the Kingdom of God. Whatever happens to him is unimportant; “all for God” is all-important to the disciple. In place of all selfish attainment, however noble, must be a desire, in deed a passion that demands “all for God.” If it is “all for God” then He will be honored and glorified throughout all eternity. To God alone be the glory!

 

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Clothed with Fig Leaves or Righteousness?

 

Daily Devotion: Clothed with Fig Leaves or Righteousness?

Message by Wil Pounds

 

Clothed with Fig Leaves or Righteousness?

There are no secrets with God. Adam and Eve learned that the hard way. The apostle Paul reminds us, “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:16). The writer of Hebrews says, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).

God in His infinite wisdom and grace gave Adam and Eve a grand opportunity to have dominion over all of His creation (Genesis 2:15). And in love He “commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat from it you shall surely die” (vv. 16-17).

We are all too familiar with the tragic events that followed. The God who sees and knows all things visited the Garden of Eden shortly after Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself’” (Genesis 3:8-10).

Adam and Eve hid themselves thinking they could hide themselves from God. The effect of sin made them aware that they had disobeyed God and they were ashamed. Before they sinned they were delighted to see God, but after they sinned they did not want anything to do with Him. Sin causes us to want to hide from God physically, emotionally and spiritually because we know we are guilty.

Like Adam and we try a lot of “fig leaves” to cover up our shame and guilty conscience (v. 7). A friend of mine said, “The oldest profession is not what people think; it is the clothing industry.” We are constantly trying to cover up.

The psychological exposure caused by our sins is intolerable, and we try innumerable ways to cover it up. The end result of these modern “fig leaves” in our pagan world culture is even greater exposure and guilt. Drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, lust of the eyes, the world, the flesh, etc. do not relieve the stress of guilt; they only increase it. Evasion and excuses increase our guilt before God.

Man has never been able to make a “fig leaf” that will cover his sin. We try “fig leaves” of good religious works, church membership, baptism, confirmation, tithing, the sacraments, religious philosophy, new age movements, philanthropy, etc. But we still cannot escape our guilt.

All outward acts of religion without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins are withered “fig leaves.”

There is only one remedy for sin. “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).

God told them before they sinned, “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23a). “The person who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:20). Adam and Eve died spiritually the moment they sinned. In time, they died physically.

Can you imagine the shock in the mind and heart of Adam and Eve when they saw two dead animals, probably lambs, lying dead before their eyes? God killed the animals and made from their skins garments and clothed Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21).

“The wages of sin is death.” But the immediate death that occurred was not their death, though they were guilty and deserved the death penalty; it was the death of two innocent animals. In His mercy God killed those animals for Adam and Eve. They were guilty and deserved death, but God chose two innocent animals to die as their substitutes. They pointed to another Substitute who in time would give Himself as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The only death that can possibly deal with sin is His death. Only His blood can cleanse us from all sin (Heb. 9:22; 1 John 1:7, 9). There is no other detergent that will wipe away our guilt (1 Peter 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).

God’s perfect covering for sin is the blood of the Lamb of God. Fig leaves will never do what God alone can do. God’s perfect provision and covering is through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Don’t try coming to God with your “fig leaves.” They may be in fashion, but they are inadequate. God will not accept them; they can never please God because no death has taken place. The penalty for sin must be paid (Ezek. 18:4). You will pay it, or your divine Substitute must pay it. God has dealt with our guilt in the death of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:13;Rom. 3:24-25; 4:25). Christ died for our sin as our substitute. The penalty for our sin has been paid in full (Rom. 5:6, 8; 1 Jn. 3:5; 4:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Today, God fully clothes every individual who believes in Christ with the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Isa. 61:10).

The nakedness of your sin must be covered. Are you covered with the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Are you dressed in His robes of righteousness alone?

Either you will stand before your eternal Judge in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, or you will stand naked in your sins.

Selah!

Daily Devotion: Either We Die Or He Dies

Daily Devotion: Either We Die or He Dies

Message by Wil Pounds

Either We Die or He Dies

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

The Scriptures are very clear that the wrath of God is visited upon sinners or else that the Son of God dies for them. Either sinners are punished for their sins or else there takes place a substitution. Either the sinner dies or the substitute dies.

When Jesus Christ became “a curse for us” according to Galatians 3:13-14, He bore the full consequences of our sin. When God made Him sin that we might become “the righteousness of God,” then in some way He took upon Himself our sin and we bear it no more (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God made Jesus die as our substitute that death which is the wages of sin.

Christ died for us; He died that death of ours which is the wages of sin. In the death of Christ, God condemned our sins once and for all. All of God’s condemnation fell in one fatal blow upon Christ. It was a divine sentence executed by God upon all sin.

The Christian method of justification is one that is substitutionary. It is based on the substitutionary aspect of the atonement. The sinner is acquitted through the substituted bloodshedding of Christ. He suffers what God does to sin. Jesus’ death makes visible what happens when man has God against him. Christ bore our condemnation so that we bear it no more. We are justified by a substitutionary process.

Our salvation depends completely on what God has done in Christ. Redemption points us to a price paid (1 Peter 1:18-19). Substitution tells us how much was paid and by whom and for whom it was paid. It was purchased at great cost, at the price of His own blood. Christ paid the price that bought our salvation. The Son of God died once for all for the sinner and thus put away his sin. There is therefore no room for human activity.

As our substitute Jesus Christ made Himself one with those for whom He suffered. He stands in the closest relationship with those for whom He died. Moreover, since the wages of sin was borne by our Substitute our salvation reaches its consummation only when the sinner has become one with his Substitute, and views his sin and Christ’s righteousness with the same mind as his Substitute.

That is why the Scriptures demand a personal response of faith in the finished atoning work of Christ.

Our salvation is totally dependent upon our divine substitute who took our place on the cross. Jesus Christ bore what we should have borne; He is our substitute. Christ paid the price of our redemption. “Christ died for our sins.”

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. . . I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 15b). “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

The Bible insists that we put our faith and trust in that finished work of Christ on the cross in order to be justified before God. “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).

Justification means that God declares the believing sinner righteous in His sight, which is a declaration of peace, made possible by Christ’s death on the cross (Rom. 5:1). No sinner can merit that right relationship with God. It cannot be earned by our virtue because we are sinners. The love of God is “poured out into our hearts” (literal translation). Before we were saved, God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us.

Have you responded by faith to God’s divine Substitute who died for you? Either He dies, or you will die. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Why Try To Become Perfect?

Daily Devotion: Why Try To Become Perfect?

Message by Wil Pounds

 

Why Try to Become Perfect?

Jesus declared the highest possible standard for His followers: they must be “perfect.” “You be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The righteousness that Jesus demanded is nothing less than complete conformity to God’s perfect law in everything a person is and does (22:34-40). Jesus is concerned, not only with our behavior, but with the righteousness of the heart, also. The scribes and Pharisees considered only the outward compliance (5:20). With Jesus’ standard who would ever claim to have reached it?

The very nature of the kingdom of God as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount drives us to despair of ourselves in living this kind of life so that we will turn in faith to Jesus Christ and find new life in Him to live as He lived.

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of life in the believer as we make ourselves available to His indwelling presence. God produces in us by His power what we cannot do ourselves. It is the product of the new life of Christ in us (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13). This way only God can possibly get the glory because we can live it only by His power.

This righteousness is God given. But Jesus also went a step further and declared; “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). The statement is in the form of a command; “You shall therefore be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Does this mean Jesus was teaching holiness perfection in the sense that men could reach sinlessness in this life on earth before death? What does the Bible teach when we let Scripture interpret Scripture we have the correct interpretation (Rom. 7:7-26; Gal. 5:16-24; Jas. 3:2; 1 John 1:8; Phil. 3:12-16)?

You may be asking, “Then why even try to become perfect?”

The main reason is because that is what God commands of us, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

The word “perfect” (teleioi) in the context of this verse means, “having attained the end or aim,” “brought to completion, full-grown, mature, lacking in nothing.” We should not be satisfied with halfway obedience to Christ.

To be perfect is to reach the goal for which a person was designed. Jesus calls His disciples to become mature, reaching the high standard God has for them. We are to be constantly pressing on toward attaining that goal (Phil. 3:16-18; Col. 1:28).

Another reason is because with the new life of Christ in us we want to become like Christ. We are a new creation, and all things have been made new. The apostle Paul longed to become like Jesus (Phil. 3:7-16).We have received as a gift from God an imputed righteousness that was purchased for us by Jesus Christ on the cross (2 Cor 5:21). It is impossible for us to be saved without this righteousness that God alone provides for the believing sinner.

The only way we can be completely conformed to the law this side of eternity is by this imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). No human being can earn this righteous standing before God. There is nothing we can possibly do that will atone for our sins (Isa. 64:6). There is no human detergent that can cleanse the guilty conscience and make a person right with God. Nothing can wash away our sin but the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus poured out His blood on our behalf (2 Cor. 8:9; Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45; Isa. 53:5-6).

The Holy Spirit sanctifies those for whom Christ died. By the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit we obtain a righteousness of inner condition and outward conduct. We become pure in heart by the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit.

Do we become sinlessly perfect so that we never sin again in this life? No. We will sin and God has provided a cleansing that works and restores our fellowship with God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” will be satisfied one day when we enter into glory with Christ Jesus in heaven. It will be realized in us when we see Jesus face to face in glory. It will be perfectly fulfilled when we see Jesus and not before then (Phil. 1:6; 3:12; 2 Thess. 4:7, 8; Rev. 21:27).

Jesus demanded the sincere devotion of the heart to God. We must love Him with all our mind, heart and personal being. If we truly love Him we will keep His commandments.

In the Christian life we always have before us something for which to strive. No matter how far we have progressed in our spiritual life there is still more to conquer. We must bring every thought, every attitude and every behavior into subjection to Christ.

Though we will never be perfect in this life, we are to aim and strive at Christ-like character. By God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit we are to move toward that goal every day of our life.

Our goal in ministry is that “we may present every man complete (perfect, teleioi) in Christ” (Col. 1:28; cf. Eph. 4:13).

 

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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