Archive for July, 2015

Daily Devotion: Eternal Consequences of Critical Choices

Daily Devotion: Eternal Consequences of  Critical Choices

Message By Wil Pounds

 

Eternal Consequences of
Critical Choices
“The wages if sin is death.” Those are startling words.

The only wages sin pays results in death spiritually and eternally.

The wages of sin is death spiritually. That means spiritual eyes that cannot see God, spiritual ears that cannot hear His voice. It means a spiritual heart that is hardened to God and cannot respond to the atoning sacrifice of His Son.

“Dead in trespasses and sins” is the way the apostle Paul describes our problem in Ephesians 2:1.

The greater horror is that this spiritual death leads to eternal death, separated from God in hell, or what the Bible calls the “second death.”

To die the “second death” is to end all possibility of ever receiving God’s gift of eternal life and is the ultimate in sin.

The prophet Ezekiel said, “The soul that sins will surely die” (18:4, 18, 20).

Don’t blame God. You have only yourself to blame. “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the LORD God. “Therefore, repent and live” (v.32).

That is the offer God gives to everyone. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal live in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

What a glorious contrast in that sentence: wages… sin… death… free gift of God… eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Those are the only two options in life. We either choose to sin and receive the full wage of death, or we choose to put our trust in Jesus Christ and live. If the offer is “eternal life,” the opposite is eternal “death,” and age-abiding eternal separation from God in hell.

“There is coming a day when, according to the Gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:16).

“The kindness of God leads to repentance” (v. 4). But when you refuse to repent and believe on Jesus Christ “because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds” (vv. 5-6).

Even the loving and kind Jesus Christ made it very clear that every individual will one day stand before God and give an account (Matt. 5:29-30; 10:28; 11:22-24; 12:36-37, 41-42; 13:40-42, 49-50; 16:27; 18:1-10; 23:15, 33, etc.).

At the final judgment God will take into account our responses to Jesus Christ and the opportunities we have had to hear the gospel and believe on Christ. There are degrees of punishment. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 11:20-24. Unbelief is the greatest sin. To refuse to repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith is far worse than the sins of the notoriously wicked.

What have you chosen to do with Jesus Christ? God does not owe you salvation. Out of His gracious and loving heart He sent His Son Jesus Christ to go to the cross and die for your sins. Yes, “The wages of sin is death,” and Jesus died your death on the cross.

The only thing God owes us is His righteous justice, and we will receive that justice if we refuse to believe on Jesus Christ as our substitute who paid the price of our salvation by dying in our place.

Our only hope of being saved is to believe on Jesus Christ. Yes, “The wages of sin is death,” but God in His great mercy offers you His righteousness in Jesus Christ. “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Final Victory Over Sin

Daily Devotion: The Final Victory Over Sin

Message by Wil Pounds

Romans chapter eight gives a resounding triumphant song that comes forth from the anguishing question, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Paul shouts “No condemnation”! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The opposite of condemnation is justification. There is now not even one bit of condemnation for the person who is “in Christ Jesus.” There is “no condemnation” now, and there never will be condemnation for those who are “in Christ.”

The apostle boldly declares with a powerful statement the believer’s perfect eternal security in Jesus Christ. The chapter begins with “no condemnation,” and ends with “no separation,” and in between is “no defeat.” Nothing, and no one “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39).

The Christian life is a victorious life, but the apostle Paul does not see it as life without conflict. Even the born again believer has to reckon with the “flesh.”

The apostle Paul is ruthlessly honest with the tension and reality of sin dwelling in the believer so long as he is living this present life.

The victory is in Jesus Christ. He has delivered us from the condemnation of the law because Jesus fulfilled the law. The penalty for sin has been paid in full. He has also given us spiritual birth. We have been born spiritually. We now live the new life in Christ through the power of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. “If we are led by the Spirit” we are the “sons of God” (8:14). If we are not living by the Spirit we are not Christians.

The greatest evidence that we are true believers is that we are living under the control of the Holy Spirit.

God’s Word gives us the promise of the assurance of final victory over the power and presence of sin in the Christian’s life. The inevitable triumph will come through God’s grace. Because God has saved us from sin’s penalty, and is saving us from sin’s power, He will give us the final victory over sin’s presence when Christ returns.

What Paul says in Romans seven leads right on into Romans eight. Both chapters are pictures of the mature Christian as he fights the spiritual warfare. No Christian is completely sinless. We are still sinners. The born again believer still has to reckon with the flesh. However, we rest assured of our victory in Christ. We will receive perfect deliverance from sin’s presence when He presents us complete in Him to the Father. It is a future deliverance when He gives us our glorified resurrected bodies (1 Cor. 15:50-58).

God will rescue me through Jesus Christ! Until the day of final deliverance let’s fight the good fight. The outcome of this spiritual warfare is certain. Christ has and will triumph and we, too, will with Him.

Our knowledge of the final outcome of this fight gives us the courage to continue. “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37, NASB 1995). “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4, NASB 1995).

There is now no condemnation for those who have been joined in a vital union to Jesus Christ by God the Father through the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Pilate before the Kings of Kings

 

Daily Devotion: Pilate before the Kings of Kings

Message by Wil Pounds

 

Pilate before the
King of Kings

The King of kings was on a cross.

Let that statement sink in. The King of kings was hanging on a cross.

The troubling question for the Roman governor Pilate was, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (Matthew 27:11).

A harmony of the Gospels shows that Pilate tried four times to set Jesus free. First, he sent Jesus to Herod when he realized Jesus was from Galilee and under his political jurisdiction (Lk. 22.6-12). Second, Pilate offered to punish Jesus without putting Him to death (Lk. 23:16, 22). Third, he desperately asked the people to choose Barabbas, the insurrectionist and revolutionary in the place of Jesus (Matt. 27:20-26; Mk. 15:6-15; Jn. 18:38-40), and finally, he tried to stir the crowd’s pity by reducing Jesus to a bloody pulp by scourging Him (Jn. 19:1-5).

“Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” (Jn. 18:39-40).

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?” asked Pilate.

“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” they shouted.

The turning point for the coward Pilate came when he realized a riot was starting, and he did not need anymore unfavorable reports sent to Caesar in Rome. The Jewish leaders knew how to manipulate Pilate. “If You let this man go, You are no friend of Caesar” (Jn. 19:12-16). It was political blackmail.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, we are forced to ask at what point in the pressures and demands of life do we cave in and throw in the towel. At what point are we tempted to “wash our hands” of Him? Family pressures, peer pressures on the job or at school, “politically correct” pressure from the media and authorities, economic and financial pressure make us decide for or against Christ everyday.

To what extent do I love Him? Is He the one consuming passion of my life? Do I by my decisions in daily life crucify Him just as Pilate did?

Pilate wanted to place the responsibility of blame off on others. “I am innocent of this man’s blood. It is your responsibility. I wash my hands of this responsibility” (cf. Matt. 27:24).

Pilate was not innocent; neither are we. “The wages of sin is death.” Pilate could not wash away the stains of Christ’s blood by a ceremonial washing. Neither can we.

Only the blood of Jesus can wash away the sins of Pilate, and Pilate refused Him.

His blood and His blood alone can cleanse us. The death of Jesus takes away all our sins.

What do the Scriptures say?

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him” (Isa. 53:5-6). “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18). “He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).

J. C. Ryle makes application of these Scriptures eloquently:

Was He scourged? It was that “through His stripes we might be healed.” Was He condemned, though innocent? It was that we might be acquitted, though guilty. Did He wear a crown of thorns? It was that we might wear the crown of glory. Was He stripped of His raiment? It was that we might be clothed in everlasting righteousness. Was He mocked and reviled? It was that we might be honored and blessed. Was He reckoned a malefactor, and numbered among transgressors? It was that we might be reckoned innocent, and justified from all sin. Was He declared unable to save Himself? It was that He might be able to save others to the uttermost. Did He die at last, and that the most painful and disgraceful of deaths? It was that we might live for evermore, and be exalted to the highest glory (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St Matthew, p. 392).

Jesus Christ is the King of the universe today. He is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). One day the King is coming and He will judge (Matt. 26:64). What He declares about you at that judgment will be determined by what you decide about Him today. You cannot be neutral about Jesus Christ. You cannot place the responsibility off on someone else. The responsibility is yours and the consequences are eternal.

Pilate wanted to be neutral before the king. People want to be neutral today, but Jesus Christ does not give us that freedom of choice. To be “neutral” is to automatically decide to crucify Jesus.

Is Jesus Christ the King of your life? Have you become His subject? You and I have the opportunity and privilege of bowing in submission to Him today, or bow before Him in terror at the judgment day. But we cannot wash our hands of Him.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Conflict – Not Condemnation

Message By Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Conflict — Not Condemnation

It is very unfortunate that there is a chapter division separating Romans 7:25 and 8:1. C. H. Spurgeon observes correctly: “We once heard a friend say, ‘I have gone out of seventh of Romans into the eighth.’ Nonsense! There is no getting out of one into the other, for they are one. I thank God with all my heart that since my conversion I have never known what it is to be out of the seventh of Romans, nor out of the eighth of Romans either. The whole passage has been solid truth to my experience. I have struggled against inward sin, and rejoiced in complete justification at the same time” (Sermons Preached in 1886 by C. H. Spurgeon, vol. xvii, p. 274).

“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25-8:1, NASB 1995).

There is no break in what the apostle says to the mature believer in this passage. To force a division is artificial.

“The fact is, that believers are in a state of conflict, but not in a state of condemnation, and that at the very time when the conflict is hottest the believer is still justified.” Our sin nature has not been eradicated. We are in a fierce battle which will not go away until we are presented complete in Christ at His coming.

Moreover, “The man who never strives against the sin which dwells in him, who indeed is not conscious of any sin to strive against that is the man who may begin to question whether he knows anything at all about the spiritual life. He who has no inward pain may well suspect that he is abiding in death, abiding therefore under constant condemnation; but that man who feels a daily striving after deliverance from evil, who is panting, and pining, and longing, and agonizing to become holy even as God is holy, he is the justified man. The man to whom every sin is a misery, to whom even the thought of iniquity is intolerable, he is the man who may with confidence declare, ‘There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.’ Souls that sigh for holiness are not condemned to eternal death for their sighing proves that they are in Christ Jesus” (Spurgeon, p. 275).

There is now no condemnation for the believer in Christ who is experiencing the struggle in chapter seven of Romans. Every child of God knows this struggle. No one has arrived at sinless perfection if he is honest with himself. Paul is describing his own walk as a mature Christian. “Every child of God must know this conflict if he knows himself. . . . it is an accurate picture of the inner life of the struggling believer.” It is an accurate description of the soul struggling after purity.

This passage should cause the Christian to rejoice in the great salvation God has provided in His profound free grace. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The indwelling Holy Spirit is the source of divine power for sanctification and the secret for our spiritual victory in living a Christ-centered life. We have been justified, declared righteous, and stand in His free grace. We are no longer under the wrath of God. We have eternal life now.

Yes, it was humiliating for the apostle, just as it should be for us to confess we are weak, and we do faith to be all God wants us to be. “I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. . . O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Thank God!

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Faith and the Bible

Message By Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Faith and the Bible

The Bible is God’s perfectly inspired word. The written Word testifies to God’s self-revelation in His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. All Scripture, both Old and New Testament, is a clear testimony to Jesus Christ. The Bible is not just a record of revelation of God, but it is revelation itself, and it is an infallible witness of God to men.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8). There is nothing like the abiding Word of God.

This is why it is so important for us to examine God’s Word and seek to understand it and its authority in the believer’s life. Our faith is defined by God’s Word, and there cannot be any true saving faith without the Word of God.

The apostle Paul wrote, there is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:22). Believe in what? Our faith must rest in Jesus Christ and His atoning work. Our faith must reside in Jesus Christ.

Calvin wrote, “There is a permanent relationship between faith and the Word. Take away the Word and no faith will there remain.”

The Word of God also does something. Apart from the word of God we are dead in our trespasses and sins. We are as Whitfield compared us to Lazarus’ body dead in his tomb before Jesus arrived. Martha told Jesus, “Lord, he has been dead four days and he stinks.” What will awaken us from our spiritual death? “Lazarus come forth!” He shouts to us in his Word, “Wil, come forth!” And the Word of God awakened in me the truth of my sinfulness and the saving work of Jesus Christ.

Have you heard Him calling your name? Only the call of the living Word of God can produce such new life. But where can we hear that call? Not in words of men or women or a religious guru. You won’t find it in secular humanism or pop psychology or self-help preachers. The only place we can hear God calling forth the dead is in the pages of the Bible, where alone God speaks.

The apostle Pete wrote, “You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23 NET). Why is this so important? “The Word of the LORD abides forever” (v. 25; Isa. 40:8). The opinions of men, including mine, will perish. Let’s make sure our faith is centered in the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. All else will burn up one day.

The apostle Paul affirmed, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Our conviction is that the Bible, God’s Word, is God-breathed (v. 16). It was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to men. It is without error because it is God-breathed. God is its author and the Holy Spirit moving over the minds of those whom He chose to record the permanent revelation of God insured that it is totally true and perfectly trustworthy. That is why the Bible is constantly under assault by secular humanists.

Moreover, the Christian’s faith is strengthened and sustained through the Bible. The Bible is filled with promises, admonitions, corrections, and reproof for the believer (2 Tim. 3:16). In order for us to abide in Christ we must saturate our minds with God’s Word. As we study, meditate, memorize the Word it settles down into our hearts and we learn to think and act biblically. The Holy Spirit uses His Word to conform us to the likeness of Christ. If you are not already doing so, please make a commitment to get into the Bible daily.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Walking in the Spirit

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Walking in the Spirit

“We are not justified by the manner of our walk, but by our being in Christ Jesus,” observed Spurgeon.

The most important question to ask ourselves is, “Am I in Christ?” If the answer is yes, then “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The individual who is “in Christ Jesus” does not walk after the flesh, but after and in step with the Holy Spirit. He walks according to the guidance of the Spirit. To be “filled with the Spirit” is to be under the control of the Spirit. Every believer has the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is to be yielded to Him. He has the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. The result of our justification through faith in Christ is a new creation, no longer under the control of the flesh, but in the spirit, a spiritual person.

No, God does not eradicate the flesh. It is still there striving and warring against the spirit, and it will be there until the Christian is taken up into heaven to be with God.

That apostle Paul tells us the person who is “in Christ Jesus” commits himself to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. He gives us guidance, encouragement, correction, and leads us in the paths of righteousness so that we become more like Christ.

Another important question for the believer is, Am I walking according to the flesh? Or, Am I walking in the Spirit? Our response determines what we produce in our daily lives.

The apostle Paul said, “Do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).

How do you know the difference? “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (v. 5).

Is my life conduct under the control of the Spirit? If so, I will produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life (Galatians 5:22-23). It will be the opposite of the works of the flesh (vv. 19-21).

How is your walk? Your walk is determined by your thinking. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Set your mind on the things of the flesh, let it be dominated by fleshly thoughts, and you will produce the works of the flesh. Let your mind be under the control of the Holy Spirit and you will produce the fruit of the Spirit.

Kenneth Wuest translates Romans 8:5, “For those who are habitually dominated by the sinful nature put their minds on the things of the sinful nature, but those who are habitually dominated by the Spirit put their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

Does the Holy Spirit or the flesh habitually dominate your mind? You will know by what your life is producing. Set your mind on the flesh and you will produce flesh. Let it be under the power and control of the Holy Spirit and you become like Jesus Christ in your behavior.

The only way to not walk in the flesh is to change masters of the mind. “Be transformed by the renewing of the mind” (Romans 12:2). Edgar Goodspeed translated Romans 8:5b, “People who are controlled by the spiritual think of what is spiritual.” When we set our minds on the Spirit we produce spiritual things that are pleasing to God. Kenneth Taylor paraphrased this verse, “Those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.”

The Amplified Bible reads, “For those who are according to the flesh and controlled by its unholy desires, set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh. But those who are according to the Spirit and [controlled by the desires] of the Spirit, set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the (Holy) Spirit.”

Where do you choose to let your thoughts dwell? You are what you think. Will you not now choose to bow your mind to the control of Spirit of God? Let Him control your thinking. Let the desire of your heart be to depend not upon yourself, but on Christ alone. That is the work of the Holy Spirit within you. We have everything we need to live the Christian life in Him and what He chooses to provide. Our inner resource is God Himself—the Hoy Spirit. Let Him control your mind, your heart, and your actions will pleasing to God.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Do You Seek A Deeper Life With God?

 

Daily Devotion: Do You Seek A Deeper Life With God?

Message by Wil Pounds

 

 

Do you Seek a Deeper Life with God?

The apostle Paul prayed, “That I may know Him . . .” (Philippians 3:10).

The late missionary to South Africa Andrew Murray was a holy man. At one point in his life he was going through a painful experience. Murray was quiet for sometime before the Lord and then he wrote these words for himself: “First, He brought me here, it is by His will I am in this strait place: in that fact I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace to behave as His child. Then, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow. Last, in His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.”

The Christian is here:

· By God’s appointment,

· In His keeping,

· Under His training,

· For His time.

No natural man can produce that kind of life. It comes as a by-product of a Spirit-filled life. It is the fruit of patient submission to the perfect will of God.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “One’s will must always be abandoned to the divine will, that one’s own will must be given up, if the divine will is to be manifested.”

Of course, the key to everything in the Christian life is the “in Him.” All that we might rightly expect from God, and ask Him for, is to be found in an intimate personal love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Such a life is the manifestation of a life lived close to God and in the light of His holy presence. That is the new life in Christ.

How do you experience such a holy walk?

“No man has a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God,” said Augustine of Hippo.

Have you gone before God and asked Him to enlarge your soul, to give you an intense hungering and thirsting for God? Jesus said, “Blessed are those who huger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

Has the richness of God’s fellowship overwhelmed you? May God enlarge your soul that we contain more of Him and be a fit mansion for our Lord.

Have you a habit of continually conversing with God? Do you talk to Him as you would a faithful companion throughout the day? Go for a long walk in a park or in the woods and talk out loud to God. Grow daily in that kind of fellowship with Him.

“Lord, I cannot do what You are telling me to do unless You go with me.” “Lord, this is impossible. Only You can do that. You will have to do this through me. I make myself available to all Your availability.”

Nothing on the face of this earth can touch the believer without God’s will, and that situation however evil it may be can only drive us closer to Him.

Have you learned to journey inward and go into the deeper life to the secret dwelling places of your soul to find the deep joy of your vital union with Christ? It is there we commune with Him in quietness and listen to His voice. We give Him the freedom to break in upon us and make us aware of Him at any moment (Eph. 1:15-23).

God is seeking us even before we think we are seeking Him. He is always there in the shadows waiting, watching, and listening for us to call upon Him so He can answer with the fullness of His glory.

It is by quiet, persistent practice in turning of all our being, day and night in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward Him who calls in the depths of our souls that we know the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. An inner, secret turning to God can be made fairly steady, after weeks and months and years of practice and lapses and failures and returns. It is a growing, learning experience of daily trust. We can have “the eyes of our understanding enlightened and know the hope of His calling in our lives.” We can begin to enjoy the riches of the glory of His inheritance even now.

Take time now to offer Jesus your whole self in utter joyful selfless abandonment.

Do you know that quiet, blessed surrender and abandonment to Him who secretly dwells within?

Take time today to begin to recover a sense of awareness of the presence of God.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Daily: What is God Like?

Daily Devotion: What Is God Like?

Written by Wil Pounds

What is God like?

This is not a child’s question. There is nothing and no one with whom we can compare Him. He is in a unique category, and we can know Him only as He has chosen to reveal Himself.

The psalmists were always calling men to praise the name of Yahweh. “Praise the LORD” is repeated in the Psalms.

The LORD God is an infinite person. We can come to know Him only as He has chosen to reveal Himself in nature and in His own Word. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse declaring the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1). God has chosen to reveal Himself in His creation (Col. 1:16-17; John 1:3; Rev. 4:11; Rom. 2:14-15). The Creator did not leave Himself without a witness to His grace and mercy. He reveals Himself to the world by His common grace (Acts 14:17; 17:24-29).

God has revealed Himself in His personal name. In Exodus 3:14 He revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush as “I AM WHO I AM.” “I AM” is the LORD, “the God of you fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (v.16).

This is the “four letter” name of God, called the Tetragrammaton. It has four consonants commonly spelled YHWH, YHVH or JHVH. The vowels are supplied and hence the spelling “Yahweh.” Several English translations of the Bible use the word LORD in all capital letters to signify Yahweh. Others use the name “Jehovah.” All of these are attempts to communicate the unpronounceable Name. The meaning can be “I AM,” or “I will be,” from the verb HAYAH, “to be.” It can also correctly be used with other vowels and translated, “He who causes to be,” or “He who brings into existence.” The simplest meaning is “I am who I am,” or “I will be who I will be.”

As a divine person, He has revealed Himself and communicates His person to His creation made in His image. He has revealed Himself as three persons in one – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. There are not three Gods. He is One God in three persons. He can be known, and He wants us to have fellowship with Him.

This great personal name Jehovah, or LORD, reveals to us that He is eternal. He is the great “I AM.” He is God eternal, everlasting, without beginning and without end.

Hebrew scholars tell us the name contains each tense of the verb “to be.” You could translate “I was,” “I shall always be,” and “I shall always continue to be.” He is the eternal I AM, the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is always the same in His eternal being, so we can depend upon Him to be consistent.

Not only is He eternal, He is also unchangeable. He is immutable. What He was to Moses, Abraham, Isaac, David, etc., He will always be to us. He does not evolve, as if an evolutionary religious hocus pocus created Him. He acts with self-dependence. He answers to no one.

He is the Self-determining One, absolute, independent in harmony with Himself throughout eternity. He is today what He will be tomorrow. He has no needs and therefore not dependent upon anyone or anything in His creation. He does not need anyone to defend Him, love Him, or support Him. He is the only All Self-sufficient One.

“We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

He is the One we worship and praise. “Who is a God like you, who pardons sins and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of His inheritance?” (Micah 7:18)

Yes, He is the God of salvation, and the God of grace. The God who reveals Himself in Jesus Christ will always be like Jesus Christ and never change His eternal attributes (Heb. 1:1-3).

In a confrontation with the Pharisees Jesus declared, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:56-58).

He is “our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purity of Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:13-14).

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and forever” (Rev. 5:13).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Heart Of The Gospel

Written by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: The Heart Of The Gospel

 

The Heart of the Gospel

The very heart of the Gospel can be stated in the words of the apostle Paul, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

As sinners we justly deserve condemnation in our unregenerate state. Our trespasses and sins condemn us. However, God in His grace declares, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It is a declaration of acquittal based on the substitutionary death of Christ. Our eternal security and safety is found in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

“No condemnation” (katakrima) refers to the punishment following the sentence, i.e., the punishment, doom. Christ bore our punishment on our behalf on the cross. He paid it all in full for us. The verdict was guilty and the punishment was death. “The wages of sin is death.” No punishment is inflicted upon us because of what Christ did on our behalf as our substitute.

The apostle uses an intensified strong negative (ou de) at the beginning of the sentence. “No condemnation!” The believer is not in a state of condemnation now, and he can never be in that state again. It is impossible to condemn him to the wrath of God because he is justified by grace through faith in the work of Christ.

Sin must be judged and the penalty paid in full. Since Christ met the conditions of a holy God there is now no condemnation for those who are “in Christ Jesus.” “Therefore” takes us back to chapters five and six, and the foundation Paul has already laid in his presentation of the Gospel.

The apostle Paul uses a forensic term, “condemnation,” which includes both the idea of the sentence and the execution of the sentence.

The believer is “in Christ” federally just as all individuals were in Adam. Moreover, we are “in Him” in a vital union such as the branch is in the vine, or the head is to the members of the body in a vital union. We came into this union with Him by grace through faith in Christ.

Paul is stressing a close intimate personal relationship with Christ. To be “in Christ Jesus” is to be one with Him.

We are reminded of Romans 6:3-11 where Paul stressed this union with Christ in virtue of His death, burial and resurrection. We died to sin and have been raised in the newness of life in Christ. Christ is exalted to the right hand of the Father and we share His life. We are seated with Him in the heavenly places.

“Those in Christ Jesus can lead the consecrated, the crucified, the baptized life,” writes A. T. Robertson. “We are pardoned, we are free from the old law of sin and death (7:7-24), we are able by the help of the Holy Spirit to live the new life in Christ.” God condemned our sin in Christ Jesus, so that His righteousness might appear in us.

We have this “no condemnation” status before God the Father because our sin was condemned and executed in Christ. God could therefore declare us just because we are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

God declares “no condemnation” because He condemned His Son as our sin offering, and turned the wrath of God aside. Only God in the person of His Son Jesus Christ could become a propitiation, and turn the wrath of God away from us.

As with all vital issues with salvation, a person is either saved or lost, a believer or an unbeliever, saved by grace through faith or by works, so here condemned or justified. You cannot have both. It is an act of God based on the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Those who are “in Christ” are not under condemnation. Those who are not “in Christ” are under the condemnation of the law and await the execution of the wrath of God.

The emphasis of the whole of God’s Word is God’s work, and not of man. We do not earn it by our good works, or merit it by our good virtue, or our good standing with the church, etc. We are lost, condemned sinners whom God the Father has chosen in His grace to save based upon the merits of the death of Jesus Christ alone. We who were justly condemned have been declared just in God’s sight through faith in Jesus Christ.

The good news is that this great truth has already taken effect because there is “now no condemnation” based upon what God has done in Christ. The word “now” points to the change that took place the moment we believed on Christ for salvation. It was the moment God declared us just in His sight. Our status changed from death to life. We stood condemned by the law because we are sinners, but now by God’s grace we are no longer condemned and headed to the execution chamber

Jesus says to every sinner who comes to Him confessing their need of His saving grace, “Neither do I condemn you; go in peace.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Faith Defined: Knowledge, Belief and Trust

Daily Devotion: Faith Defined: Knowledge, Belief and Trust

Message by Wil Pounds

Faith Defined:
Knowledge, Belief and Trust
“By grace you are saved, through faith” in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8).

The grace of God is the open fountain that saves the sinner. “By grace you are saved.”

The grace of God is an infinite attribute of God. The first and last moving cause of our salvation is God’s grace. “No man comes to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him,” said Jesus. The effectual call of God is of grace. Even our faith is the result of a divine operation. Our salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

“In due time, Christ died for the ungodly.” God in His marvelous grace provided that sacrifice which covers all our sins.

Why is faith so important? Faith is the channel or conduit through which we receive God’s free girt of salvation.

Let us make it very clear that you faith does not save you. We are saved by the grace of God. Faith is not an independent source of salvation. It is not how much faith we have as if we are to psych ourselves up to a certain level of faith. Salvation is received by “looking unto Jesus,” not by looking at our faith. Faith is not the power that saves. God saves us by His grace. The saving power of God is found in His grace, and not in our faith. Faith focuses our eyes upon Jesus Christ alone who died for our sins.

“By grace are you saved, through faith.” You would think that you could not get much clearer than that. C. H. Spurgeon said faith is made up of three things—“knowledge, belief, and trust.”

We must have knowledge of certain facts in order to be saved. What is the good news of Jesus Christ? How do you receive God’s free gift of salvation? We must know certain facts about sin, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. Without this knowledge we cannot be saved.

“For while we were still helpless [sinners] at the right time Christ died for the ungodly . . . God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6, 8). That is essential knowledge we need in order to be saved. Without knowing that we are sinners, and that Jesus died for our sins, we cannot be saved. You cannot be saved without knowing the fact that Jesus died for you, in your place, on the cross.

“He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We receive “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (3:22-25).

God displayed “His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v. 26). “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (v. 28). “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (4:3). “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (v. 5).

Faith begins with knowledge of certain facts, and moves on to believe that these things are true.

I believe the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me of all my sins, and that His sacrifice is completely and fully acceptable to God on my behalf. Since I have believed on Jesus Christ as my Savior I will never be condemned. “Believe these truths as you believe any other statements; for the difference between common faith and saving faith lies mainly in the subjects upon which it is exercised. Believe the witness of God just as you believe the testimony of your own father or friend. ‘If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater’” (Spurgeon).

Faith believes that Jesus Christ will do what He has promised to do. Therefore, we can trust Him.

True faith believes certain things. It rests upon this sure knowledge. When we trust in Jesus we are making a commitment that His sacrifice on the cross is complete and fully acceptable by God on sinful man’s behalf. The object of our faith is Jesus Christ.

When we trust in a chair or hammock to hold us we make a commitment by placing all our weight upon it. It is a leaning upon a thing. When we have faith in Christ we are leaning with all our weight upon Him. We “fall at full length, and we lie on the Rock of Ages. Cast yourself upon Jesus; rest in Him, commit yourself to Him.” When you do that, you have exercised saving faith. Faith is not a blind thing, because faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. We must each one trust in Christ. “He that believes on Him has everlasting life.” We trust Jesus to save us.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Hope For Desperate People

 

Daily Devotional: Hope For Desperate People

Message by Wil Pounds

Hope for Desperate People

There are no hopeless helpless cases with Jesus Christ.

Jesus always invites desperate, helpless, and seemingly hopeless people to come to Him. He issued the greatest invitation to all hopeless and helpless sinners when He said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I wil give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “He looked over the multitudes and felt compassion for them because they were distressed and downcast” (9:36).

Do you feel harassed and thrown aside? To the weary and tired who are ready to give up Jesus says, “Come to Me.” To those who feel like they have been “skinned alive,” harassed, trouble, worried, importuned; He invites to come to Him. To those who have been cast down from a mortal wound and feel helpless, He gives hope and life.

You do not have to look far into the Scriptures before you realize that God’s people suffered. “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated” (Hebrews 11:37). No wonder they were, and still are, “men whom the world was not worthy” (v. 38a). Rejected and forsaken by men, but not of God.

The central and most important emphasis in the Bible is Jesus’ ability to take away our sin and our reproach to God, and to restore us to spiritual health.

Jesus felt compassion for the multitudes and gave them His rest. Matthew, the tax collector became Matthew the apostle. He was politically unacceptable, religiously, and socially an outcast, but not so with Jesus.

To the paralyzed man Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Before you scream that is irrelevant, Jesus not only forgave the man’s sins, but He also healed him both physically and spiritually. It is clear only God can forgive sin, and Jesus is God (Matt. 9:5-8). To every helpless and hopeless person Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus confronted the hosts of hell and they asked, “What will you do with us, Son of God?” Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (8:29). Because Jesus is the Son of God, He alone can cast out the demons in a person’s life and dispose of them as He wishes (vv. 30-31).

To the woman caught in sins He said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). To the incurable woman who had gone to all the doctors for 12 years as her condition steadily grew worse without any help or hope, Jesus brought healing to her from that moment (Matt. 9:22). Jesus took a dead girl by the hand, and she got up being raised from the dead (9:24-25). Jesus can raise the dead because He is God. He touched the eyes of the blind, and “their eyes were opened” (v. 29-30).

In the person of Jesus Christ, there is hope for the hopeless. Apart from the grace of God, our case is hopeless. We are sinners, and we cannot cleanse ourselves. Because we are dead in trespasses and sins, God has raised us up with Jesus and has seated us up with Him in the heavenlies. He has made us alive in Christ. We too can declare there are no helpless and hopeless cases with Jesus.

We are all unclean, isolated, hopeless, and dead in our sins without Christ. To be saved from sin, we must have the powerful, cleansing, and forgiving grace of God. Other than that, we are desperate people.

Moreover, the Spirit of God “helps us in our present limitations” (Rom. 8:26, Phillips). When we are in a hopeless circumstance, the Holy Spirit comes and renews our hope. When we do not know how or for what to pray, He intercedes according to the will of God because there are no hopeless and helpless circumstances.

When our hearts are filled with blinding fear, He sheds the light of His presence and knowledge all about us.

In our state of desperate hopelessness, the Spirit of God comes and instills His hope.

Selah!

Daily Devotional: Holiness Made Practical

 

Daily Devotional: Holiness Made Practical

 

Message By Wil Pounds

Holiness made Practical

Holiness. The word frightens most people. Even Christians fear the word. Perhaps that is because religious people have abused the word.

Holiness is mandatory in the life of a true Christian. I am not pretending that we can be perfect in this lifetime or reach a point in our lives where we will no longer sin (Phil. 3:12-14). The Bible does not teach sinless perfection in this life time (1 John 1:8-10; 2:1-2). Moreover, the Bible clearly teaches that we must walk in the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:6-7; 5:16-26). It is the work of the Spirit to conform us to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. The third person of the Godhead’s very name is “Holy.”

God’s goal in saving us is to make us holy unto the Lord. God saves us so that we who were dead in trespasses and sins might live a holy life. W. E. Vine says hagios, “holy” “signifies ( a ) separation to God, 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; ( b ) the resultant state, the conduct befitting those so separated, 1 Thess. 4:3, 4, 7. . . Sanctification is thus the state predetermined by God for believers, into which in grace He calls them, and in which they begin their Christian course and so pursue it. . . character is in view, perfect in the case of the Lord Jesus, growing toward perfection in the case of the Christian. Here the exercise of love is declared to be the means God uses to develop likeness to Christ in His children.”

When we put our trust in Christ for salvation we were set apart to God by the Holy Spirit. Relationships changed in that we were taken out of the First Adam’s family with its sin and condemnation to death, and placed in the family of the Last Adam with His righteousness and eternal life.

We have a new position before the Lord God that never changes. We were set apart to God (1 Cor. 1:2). This is our positional sanctification. We are “in Christ.”

The work of the Holy Spirit in the yielded saint, in which He sets the believer apart for God in his experience, by eliminating sin from his life and producing His fruit, is a process which goes on constantly throughout the believer’s life. This is called progressive sanctification (1 Thess. 5:23).

How does God do it? The key to a holy life is to base everything we do on what God has already done for us in Christ Jesus. We are to conform our behavior to what we know to be the right thing to do. Jesus died for us on the cross “in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us” (Romans 8:4).

However, holiness is not keeping a list of man-made doe’s and don’ts. It is not a check off list that a person devises. The apostle Paul said, “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (v. 3).

What does Paul mean by fulfilling these righteous requirements of the Law? It is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ who is perfect in righteousness. The character of God is fully seen in the person of Jesus Christ. Yes, the boundaries of the Christ life are the requirements of God’s Word. It is our responsibility as Christians to stay within the boundaries on God’s playing field. To do this we must keep our eyes clearly focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ broke the power of sin by going to the cross and dying in our place. Christ delivered us from sin’s penalty. When we believed on Christ we were justified and acquitted by God. Justification by grace through faith always leads to holy lives.

God condemned sin in Christ, so that His righteousness might appear in us. Salvation is the result of God’s choices and action, and not ours. We are saved by the merits of Christ alone apart from human merits (Eph. 2:8-9). It is all of grace. God made us alive in Christ so that we would produce good works for Him. He saved us so we might be trophies of His grace and a demonstration before a watching world as to what He can do with sinners dead in trespasses who believe on Him for salvation. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

Holiness is the work of the Holy Spirit as He takes the finished work of Jesus Christ and applies it to our lives. It is a progressive work that began when we were born again and made new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

The means to holiness is to act upon what God has already done for us in Christ. “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:11-14).

When we received Christ as our Savior we received “all things that pertain unto a life of godliness.” You do not need another experience. You do not need some new gift. You have been given everything in Christ; you are “in Him” from the beginning of your Christian life.

There is no secret magical formula about holiness. Our responsibility is to realize what God has already done in Christ and just do it. Christ produces holiness by bringing us into a growing mature love relationship with Him (Eph. 5:22-27).

Yes, it is possible for the Christian to live a life of holiness through the power of God. All that God asks is that we make ourselves available to Christ, and let Him lives His life out in and through us moment by moment.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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