Archive for September, 2015

Daily Devotion: Evidence that Demands our Faith

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Evidence that Demands our Faith

 

Evidence that Demands Our Faith

How do I know that God has fully accepted the death of Jesus Christ as payment for my sins?

“When Jesus died, He died as my representative, and I died in Him; when He rose, He rose as my representative, and I rose in Him. . . . I look at the cross of Christ, and I know that atonement has been made for my sins; I look at the open sepulcher and the risen and ascended Lord, and I know that the atonement has been accepted. There no longer remains a single sin on me, no matter how many or how great my sins may have been. My sins may have been as high as the mountains, but in the light of the resurrection the atonement that covers them is as high as heaven. My sins may have been as deep as the ocean, but in the light of the resurrection the atonement that swallows them up is as deep as eternity” (R. A. Torrey, The Bible and Its Cross, pp. 107-08).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof that the LORD God has accepted the full payment for our sins in the death of His Son. God is fully and completely satisfied with the atoning work Jesus did on the cross for my sins because He raised Him from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that every believer in Christ is justified by faith, and cleansed by His blood of all their sins (Heb. 12:1-2; Phil. 2:8-11). It is the evidence from God Himself that the penalty for our sins has been paid in full by the death of Jesus Christ. By the resurrection of Jesus from the dead God declared that He has accepted the death of Jesus as an atonement for our sins.

Do you “believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead”? (Romans 4:24). Jesus “was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (v. 25). God the Father sent Jesus to the cross to die for our sins (Acts 2:23), and “God raised Him up again” (v. 24). “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses,” declared Peter (v. 32). The death of Jesus Christ was according to God’s determined plan to accomplish our redemption. Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).

Moreover, Jesus deliberately chose to die as our substitute. He “died for our sins.” He died in our place on the cross as our sins-bearer.

The fact that we are sinners is proof that we deserve to die. “The wages of sin is death.” We deserve eternal damnation, but Jesus was delivered up by His Father for our transgressions. He was crucified for our sins. I deserve Hell, but Jesus took my Hell and served the sentence of death in my place (Rom. 5:6, 8). We have redemption through His death (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

How do we know this as a fact? Why should we put our trust in His death? How can we know for sure that the death of Jesus Christ is all-sufficient to cover all our sins? “He was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” That is all the proof I need. The resurrection is God’s proof that He accepted the death of Jesus in my place. Because Jesus is alive I know beyond a doubt that a full payment for my sins has been made.

Such evidence as this demands that we respond to God by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9-10, 13). It was by His substitutionary, vicarious death that Jesus turned the wrath of God aside and became the basis upon which God is able to justify the sinner who believes.

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Christian Perfection (2)

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Christian Perfection (II)

It is true that we will never be perfect in this life, but the perfections outlined by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount are still those for which we should aim and that we should increasingly attain by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We are to aim at Christ-like character. Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

How good must a person be to stay saved?

I am a sinner. Nothing I will do will ever be perfect. What can I do to be saved and to keep saved? Since self-efforts will not save us, we must receive the perfect righteousness that God has provided in the atoning substitutionary death of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).

Only the LORD God is perfect, and He works to perfect sinful man.

How does God work to perfect sinners? There are three Biblical facts we must keep clearly in mind.

1. We are sinners, and there is no denying that fact. Sin is an offense against God, and He cannot ignore it. Sin has to be dealt with completely according to His just standards. This is why God the Father sent God the Son to die for our sins. Jesus bore the penalty for our sins in full, and canceled all claims of God’s justice against the believing sinner forever. God punished our sins on the cross of Jesus. “By one sacrifice Christ has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14). Have you believed on Jesus Christ as your Savior?

How perfect must a Christian be? The Christian believer must guide his life by the perfect, ethical standard of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “You are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

2. The second principle we must keep in mind is that from the moment we believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior, God begins a work in us to perfect us in this life. At the new birth, we are given a perfect standing before God in one sense, but it is also true that we are far from perfect in our daily life.

The apostle Paul distinguishes between two ways the word “perfect” is used in the New Testament. In Philippians 3:12 he writes, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12). Paul has in mind here absolute perfection – God’s perfect standard, absolute spiritual maturity, fully-grown just like Jesus Christ. It is the same idea that Jesus Christ spoke of in Matt. 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

In the next sentence Paul tells us that even though he has already been declared acquitted before God on the basis of his faith in the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, he is still in the need of practical daily work of being perfected in Jesus Christ. “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (Philippians 3:13-16).

“Perfect” in verse fifteen is a relative, spiritual maturity, indicating the stages of growth, hence, perfect in growth at certain stages. Even as an elderly Christian, Paul had not arrived to sinless perfection, but he did not give up, and make excuses for sins. All of his guilt is covered by the payment of Christ on the cross. The penalty has been removed, but God is still at work in his daily practice of holiness. Paul is not getting better and better so that one day he can say he is without sin in his daily life. God has provided for us in His saving grace a provision for cleansing of sin and restoration of fellowship in the Christian’s life (I John 1:8).

3. Our ultimate sanctification or what the Bible calls glorification will take place when we are presented perfect just like Jesus Christ, and it will take place in the moment of our death. God’s work of perfecting the saints will take place when we see Jesus in glory and not before then. At that moment we will be presented to God the Father sinless and complete (1 John 3:1-3). We never know that perfection in this life. We will in the likeness of Christ be pure and holy in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, wisdom, humility, obedience, etc.

What God began in your new birth, He will continue to work on throughout this life until He has perfected us and presents us perfect to the Father. What God begins, He always finishes (Phil. 1:6; Rom. 8:24-29). God will not give up on any born again believer. He will keep on perfecting us until the day when Christ comes for us.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Daily Devotion: Christian Perfection (1)

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Christian Perfection (1)

Christian Perfection (I)
How good does a person have to be in order to be saved? Perhaps we can best answer that question by asking, how perfect is God?

Jesus said, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

The LORD God told the children of Israel, “You shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2; cf. Deut. 18:13).

The Hebrew word tam or tamim means to be “without defect” or “without blemish.” The Hebrew sacrifices had to be “without blemish,” spotless and entirely without defect (Exodus 12:5; 29:1; 1 Pet. 1:19; Eph. 5:27). Another word shalem means “whole” or “complete.” That which is without defect or blemish is complete.

God’s righteous standard never changes because He does not change. God is the perfect standard or He would not be God.

Jesus used the word “perfect” (teleioi from telos) meaning end, goal, limit. It is the absolute standard of our heavenly Father. Such a person is perfect or fully developed “in a moral sense.” Therefore, in the moral realm it means “blameless.”

Jesus is the perfect example of that divine standard (1 Peter 2:21-25).

The word “holy” in Leviticus 19:2 gives us the reason for the sacrifices under the Mosaic law. God is holy and man is a sinner. Sin separates man from God. The source of our sanctification is “the LORD who sanctifies you” (20:8). The meaning is to set apart or separate.

God’s standard for man is complete, perfect, moral rectitude. To be acceptable to God every human being must be as blameless and sinless as Jesus Christ.

That standard of righteousness creates a moral and spiritual crisis for all mankind. The Bible tells us we have all sinned and fall short of such moral perfection. “There is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God’s standard is a clean heart and it is evident from studying the Sermon on the Mount that no one can live up to its demands (cf. Matt. 5:20-25, 27). The center of our personality condemns us. Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornicators, thefts, false witnesses, slanders,” etc. (15:18-20). It is the heart that has to be changed (2 Cor. 5:17).

I have a problem. I am a sinner. But my problem is even greater than I ever imagined. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Our sinning can be illustrated by an archer shooting his arrows from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Central America, at the North Pole. He will miss it every time. It will always fall short. No one will ever get to heaven by his or her own efforts because we miss God’s perfect standard.

God never lowers His standards to accommodate sinful man. His absolute holiness is the standard. He will not accept half-way or half-hearted obedience. God is infinite in His perfections. Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are to be “brought to completion, full-grown, lacking in nothing.”

How can that be since what has been written describes me? Great! Because that is why Jesus Christ went to the cross and died as a sacrifice for sin. “The wages of sin is death,” and Jesus died your death on the cross. Based on the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ as our substitute, God can now save us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God credits to our account the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. God dealt in full with our penalty by sending Christ to the cross to die for us. When we believed on Christ, God the Father and Judge declared us acquitted based on the saving work of Christ.

Every Christian struggles with holiness in his life, and all of us will until we see Jesus Christ face to face (Phil. 3:12-16).

God makes us holy by changing us from the inside out (2 Cor. 3:18). It is a progressive sanctification, not a once-for all sinless perfection before we die.

The ultimate goal of the believer is to live in harmony with Matthew 5:48, and “to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.”

We will be established “unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (I Thess. 3:13).

It is to those who strive to attain the goal that the victory is assured. We will reach the ideal goal of perfection when we see Jesus in glory. It will be the perfect gift to the believer (Psa. 17:15); Phil. 1:6; 3:12; II Tim. 4:7, 8; Rev. 21:27; 7:14).

Selah!

Daily Devotional: The Unchanging Christ: The Same Forever

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotional: The Unchanging Christ: The Same Forever

“When our Savior comes again,” wrote H. A. Ironside, “God is coming to take control of things in this world and the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh. Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in council in the past eternity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit working out our salvation here on earth; Father, Son and Holy Spirit bringing in the glory by and by when the long period of man’s trial is over, when the kingdom is fully established, and the Lord Jesus Christ abides forever the One in whom the Father and Spirit as well as the Son are fully displayed—for He is the image of the invisible God.”

The writer of Hebrews simply said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

In His awesome prayer the night before His death by crucifixion, Jesus prayed, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Jn. 17:5).

“Jesus Christ is the same . . . forever.”

He came from glory and He returned to glory. Here is one of the most profound, relevant truths in God’s Word. Jesus Christ came from glory and took upon our flesh, and humbled Himself to die as our substitute to pay our death penalty. Now He has gone back to the glory He had with the Father in eternity, but He remains a man in that glory.

“This same Jesus.” Oh, praise God. “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

He will come back the way He went—this same Jesus. This same Jesus who was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and with whose stripes we are healed, who cried, “It is finished,” rose form the dead and ascended into heaven—this same Jesus will be unchanged when He returns to this earth in triumphant glory.

He is our unchanged and unchangeable Savior. When He comes again He will not be wearing servants robes, but the robes of the eternal King of glory. He will be dressed in the robes of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for eternity.” He came the first time to bear our sin and iniquity and die as our substitute. Today He lives ever to make intercession for us as our Mediator. When He comes every knee will bow and confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

“This same Jesus” is the “same yesterday, today and forever.” Jesus is eternally the same.

We have received the complete and final revelation of God to man in the person of Jesus Christ which can never be superceded or supplemented by something better.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn 14:6). The apostle Peter preached, “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).

In the context of Hebrews chapter 13, the faithful leaders in the church had gone to be with the Lord, but the writer reminds the church members that Jesus remains the same.

Jehovah in the Old Testament is the Jesus of Nazareth in the New. The unchangeable One is the Messiah.

For the first readers of the epistle of Hebrews the Temple had been destroyed, the ceremonial law was gone, and the Levitical priesthood was no more. However, Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New covenant between God and man abides unchanged forever.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Daily Devotional: The Unchanging Christ: The Same Today

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotional: The Unchanging Christ: The Same Today

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

The pre-incarnate Christ changes not.

It is said that Plato, the Greek philosopher proposed to his students one day, “It may be that some day there will come forth from God a Word, a Logos, who will reveal all mysteries and make everything plain.”

The Lord God answered Plato when He came in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Logos was made flesh and dwelt among men, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:1, 14, 18).

The Lord God has answered the cry in the heart of mankind for God to reveal all mysteries and make plain who He is. No, He has not answered all of our questions about an eternal, all-knowing, sovereign creator. However, He has revealed enough about Himself to answer our deepest needs.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today . . .”

The simple fact of history never changes; Jesus Christ is alive. He is the same person who pre-existed before He became flesh and He is the same one who walked the dusty roads of Galilee, changed the water to wine in Canaan, and raised the dead in Lazarus’ tomb.

There were three witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. We are told that the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Now since He raised Him from the dead He had to be an eyewitness.

The Holy Spirit was there. We are also told in the Scriptures the Holy Spirit quickened Him from the dead.

Jesus was there. It was His experience! “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” On another occasion Jesus said, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:17-18). Other passages of Scripture reinforce this idea. “He is not here, for he has risen, just as he said. Come, see the place where he was lying” (Matt. 28:6).

There is perfect unity in the holy Trinity in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. The Godhead always works in perfect harmony. The Father raised Him from the dead, the Spirit raised Him from the dead, and the Son raised Himself from the dead.

A perfect, unchanging, loving God became flesh and in the person of His Son died on the cross to redeem us. After His resurrection He went back to be with the Father in intimate perfect fellowship.

The same Jesus, the same one who lived, and died, and rose again is the same today in His majestic love and grace for sinners.

The three-in-one still says, “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, we will come in to him, and will sup with him.”

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.”

The moment you receive the Holy Spirit you receive the Father and the Son.

“I am the vine, you are the branches.’ “Abide in me and I in you.”

What an eternal blessing to be enjoyed today!

Intimate, holy communion with our eternal Savior. “Make it relevant,” preacher. Can there ever be anything more relevant than this great truth? “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever,” and He invites us to dine with Him for all eternity. He invites and makes possible for you and me to feast upon Him!

Our Christian doctrine does not change from day to day, or as religious leaders pass on because Jesus Christ is the same. The Truth is fixed in Him. His Gospel is everlasting.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Unchanging Christ: The Same Yesterday

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: The Unchanging Christ: The Same Yesterday

All of my life I have heard the plea for a relevant “new Christ for a new age.”

The truth is Jesus Christ is God’s final word to men in all ages. He is relevant for every age. He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

The same Jesus sits today “on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). He is the same person as He was when here on the earth.

When we read the words, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday” we are carried back to the long ages before He became flesh. I can point to a date, time, and place when I was born. However, Jesus did not begin to live when He was born in the flesh of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem. He simply changed His robes.

The apostle Paul tells us Jesus was in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, divested Himself of His garments of glory that had been His from all eternity and clothed Himself in the garments of a common household slave in the flesh and was obedient unto death. He was God-man. He was fully God and fully human (Phil. 2:5-8).

The absolutely essential fact is He was the same in past eternity; He changes not.

I search for an absolute in an age of change; He changes not, and I therefore have security.

He came from the Father and He returned to the Father. He dwelt in the ageless past in the bosom of His eternal Father. The apostle John tells us, “in the beginning was the Word.” When everything else had a beginning He already existed and He had no beginning. His beginning had no beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (John 1:1-4).

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday . . .” His eternal existence is declared in these words, “in the beginning was the Word.” He is no vacillating whim of the age. “The Word was with God,” a distinct personality of the true and perfect deity because “the Word was God.” His personal relationship with the Father is unchangeable. He “was in the beginning with God,” and because of His resurrection and ascension, He still is in the presence of the Father in a perfect relationship.

Moreover, His understanding of man never needs to change. No one knows me like the one who made me. “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” “In Him is life.”

Where would you turn for a relevant Christ that is not found in the historic Christ? Would you, like the modern self-made cults, turn to your own making, or to some new age “enlightenment”?

God in Christ has already become one of us in order to demonstrate His love for us, and to show us what God is really like. God came and revealed Himself to sinful and disobedient rebellious men.

I don’t need a greater “light.” I only need to respond to the One true and all supreme Lord of all creation. Why should I turn to some lesser “light”? All other spiritual lights are only creepy shadows of the one who masquerades as “the angel of light,” Satan himself.

We don’t have to look afar to discover what evil lurks within the heart of man. God has fully revealed Himself (Heb. 1:1-3), and man in his stubborn rebellion cries for something greater and better like selfish, pampered, narcissistic children whining for something new.

God has spoken. He has not changed and He will not. He is the same as He was yesterday, and I find stability for my soul and eternal peace with God. Because He is the same I have eternal security of a right relationship with Him, not of my self-making, or choosing, but in His all-sufficient wisdom and grace.

Because He is the same yesterday, I know that what He has said will still remain true for you and me today. “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” (John 3:16).

That great truth will not change, because our Savior changes not. His word and eternal promises remain the same throughout all eternity. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Thank God.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Peter in Heaven and Judas in Hell

Message by Wil Pounds
Daily Devotion: Peter in Heaven and Judas in Hell

Both Peter and Judas committed the same sin. They both denied their Lord and Master.

But why did one go to heaven, and one go to hell?

The Gospel writer Matthew is careful to compare and contrast the fall of Peter and Judas. Both men failed badly. The fall of Peter was temporary, while the fall of Judas was permanent. One is in heaven, and the other is in hell.

Both men confessed their sin and failure, but only one repented and put his faith in Christ.

Somewhere in Judas’ life, he took an evil turn that eventually resulted in rejection of Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior and eventual suicide. One bad attitude toward Jesus led to another, and a pattern of rejection and bitterness must have led to the ultimate rejection of Jesus.

In fact, it was prophesied in the Old Testament that a person close to Jesus would lift up his heel against Him (Psa. 41:9; Jn. 13:18; Acts 1:16). He was appointed to this end from the beginning (Jn. 17:12).

After Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a common slave (Zech. 11:12; Matt. 26:14-16), he purchased a field with the money (Acts 1:18-19). When the “good opportunity” came, he acted on his evil intent and delivered Jesus to the Jewish authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:46-50). After it happened he felt a sense of remorse realizing what he had done, and declared to the religious leaders that Jesus was innocent (27:1-5). Judas tried to atone for his own sins and failed. Then he went to the field and hanged himself.

Judas betrayed Jesus because he did not love Him. He only cared about himself and his personal agendas (John 12:6).

Judas confessed his sin without repentance. There was no radical change in his mind that resulted in a change from spiritual death to spiritual life through faith in Jesus Christ. True repentance would have turned him to Jesus for forgiveness.

On the other hand, there is Peter who had also been with Jesus, and likewise fell. We will too if we do not learn his lesson in Luke 22:31-32. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter loved the Lord Jesus. He tried to defend Jesus in the garden when the soldiers arrived (Matt. 26:50-54). In fact, Peter failed because he was in a situation that he would not have been in if he had not loved Jesus. What happened to Peter still happens to the strongest of Christians today.

Peter did not believe Jesus’ warnings (v. 31; Zech. 13:7). “This very night you will all fall away on account of Me.” Very emphatically, over confident Peter contested, “I will never fall away” (v. 33). Jesus repeated the warnings in even stronger terms, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (v. 34). Peter got arrogant saying to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too (v. 35).

Peter knew the same thing you and I know. “Jesus is never wrong, never confused, never mistaken.” Peter thought he knew better than Jesus! If we expect to win in the spiritual warfare we had better determine early on in the Christian life to trust Jesus in everything and not explain away His Word. Peter fell that night with the slightest provocation when a servant girl tripped him up (Matt. 26:58, 69-75).

Perhaps it would have been different if Peter had remained in the company of his compassion and Christian brother, John.

Peter responded with increasingly strong denials to the questions of bystanders in the courtyard of the high priest. His denials were even filled with cursings and oaths before it was over (Matt. 26:70-74).

At the moment, Peter denied Jesus the third time a rooster crowed, and Jesus “turned and looked straight at Peter” (Lk. 22:61). Peter realized what he had done and rushed out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75; Mk. 14:72; Lk. 22:62).

Peter learned the lesson that Jesus “is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25).

It is easy for us to point our fingers at Peter and Judas, but what about own own denials of Christ in the workplace, school, public arena, etc.? What about when he bids us come and follow Him and we halt, or go in another direction? He invites us to join Him in what He is doing but we don’t step out by faith and follow.

God does not compare us to Peter or Judas, but to His Son who was obedient even unto death. We all fall short of His obedience.

There is only one person who can make atonement for our sins, and that is Jesus Christ. Only His shed blood will make atonement for our sins and free us from our guilt. There is no hope for us if the blood of Jesus Christ does not wash us of all our sins. In the death of Jesus there is salvation for all who will call upon His name. “What can wash away my sin?” Nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Judas turned his back on Jesus who was his only hope.

Peter repented and turned to Jesus and found hope.

We do well to heed the words of Peter and learn from his experience. “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” (2 Peter 1:12-11).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Our Eternal Sanctification by the Blood of Jesus

 

Daily Devotional: Our Eternal Sanctification by the Blood of Jesus

Message by Wil Pounds

Our Eternal Sanctification by the Blood of Jesus

One of the most precious and beautiful themes in the Bible is our positional or absolute sanctification by the blood of Jesus Christ. This sanctification is an unchanging and unchangeable eternal position with God.

It is the result of the finished work of atonement Jesus accomplished to take away our sins on the cross. We are accepted in the Beloved. As He is, so are we. We are reckoned by God to be as Christ is in our new standing or position in Christ.

How can we make such a statement? Jesus suffered outside the gate “that He might sanctify the people through His own blood” (Heb. 13:12). The blood of Jesus Christ was shed and sprinkled upon the altar to cover all our sins. Every one of our sins have been purged by His blood, and we have been set apart to God because we are now His possession.

Jesus offered a better sacrifice than the Old Testament rituals. The purpose was to sanctify a people for God. As animal sacrifices were burned outside the camp of Israel so Jesus was crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem.

Jesus suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem in order that He might sanctify the people of God. We are saved by grace and set apart to God’s honor and glory.

The great benefit of our eternal sanctification by the blood of Jesus Christ is that God has entered into a new covenant with the believing sinner, and we now have an unhindered approach to God. It is not based on the perfection of our character, but upon the work of Another, Jesus Christ, our substitute. Our sins have all been eternally atoned for by the bloody sacrifice of Christ.

“We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). Our sanctification is by the offering of Jesus on our behalf. God declares, “We are sanctified.” This is a great fact, a reality, which is true of all believers. Our sanctification by the blood of Jesus is eternal in character because Jesus’ work was done perfectly. It is never repeated like the high priest of Israel did each year on the Day of Atonement.

“By one offering He [Jesus] has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Jesus did what the old sacrifices failed to do. The word “perfected” means “to bring to a state of completion.” Everything essential to the salvation of the individual is included in this one great gift of Christ, which the believing sinner received, by faith in Christ. “Them that are sanctified” is descriptive of the believer in Christ who has been set apart to God.

The “sanctified” have a status in God’s presence that is “perfect.” Every believer approaches God with the full acceptance gained thought the death of Jesus Christ (10:19-22).

The writer of Hebrews does not have in mind spiritual growth, progressive sanctification, or a second work of grace. He is stating a great fact, which is true of all Christians.

The one perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross effectually purges the Christian’s conscience once for all. His sacrifice is perfect. It is eternal. It is all-sufficient for our atonement. Every person who believes on Christ can rejoice with the assurance that he or she is forever cleansed from his or her guilt and defilement by the precious blood of Jesus.

Because of the purging of our conscience by the sacrifice of Christ we never fear entering into God’s presence. We are always free to enter the throne of grace. All of God’s righteous claims against the sinner have been met by the death of Christ. In the sight of our holy and righteous God all of our sins have been purged by Christ’s blood and we are “perfected forever.” We are sanctified for eternity by the blood of Jesus.

We now have a complete and perfect acceptance with God. We are complete in Christ. Christ is our sanctification. Our Mediator represents us before the throne of grace and mercy.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional on Discipleship

 

Daily devotional on discipleship

 

Message by Wil Pounds

Discipleship
The call to discipleship is on Christ’s terms, not ours.

The cost of discipleship is determined by the Lord, and not by the servant.

In our desperate attempt to play the numbers game in today’s churches we invite people to come and join without any regard to the cost of discipleship.

Jesus Christ is Lord; He is the only Lord.

Jesus reached out to touch a leper, and the leper was instantly cleansed. He is the Great Physician and Master over all kinds of sicknesses.

Jesus lay asleep in the stern of the fishing boat and when the disciples feared for their lives Jesus spoke and the storm departed. When Jesus spoke, God spoke. To defy the Lordship of Jesus Christ is to defy God. He spoke as God’s authority and as God the Creator. He is the Lord of creation.

Jesus told the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.” Only God can forgive sin. Jesus is the sinner’s friend. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

The same Jesus who has authority over demons, sickness, death, nature has the same authority over every Christian. He is Lord. If we are to be His disciples it must be on His terms.

Dr. Luke in his gospel tells of three individuals who were would be followers of Christ (Luke 9:57-62).

One of the individuals must have been listening to the teaching of Christ and he approached and said, “I will follow You wherever You go” (v. 57).

It is easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm and excitement of the moment and join the crowd. But this man must have failed to think through what following Jesus involves.

Jesus did not want him to have any false apprehensions. He said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (v. 58).

At the end of His ministry, the day of His crucifixion, Jesus owned nothing, but the clothes on His back. The cost of discipleship for Jesus was high. It cost Him His life in execution as a criminal to follow the will of His heavenly Father. Jesus was obedient unto death.

Jesus calls us to radical discipleship. Is this the reason so many drop out after joining up?

Another person heard the call, “Follow Me” (v. 59). But he replied, “Permit me first to go and bury my father” (v. 59b).

Was the man’s father dead? Probably not, because he was there listening to Jesus. If his father had been dead this man would have been busy with the details because in Jesus’ day a person had to be buried the same day that he died. The man is probably saying that he wants to wait and remain at home as long as his father lives, and then he will consider following Jesus after this phase of his life is over.

Jesus’ call to discipleship is radical. “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the Kingdom of God” (v. 60).

Let the spiritual dead bury the dead. They are dead to spiritual realities. On the other hand, those who are spiritually alive will drop everything, counting the cost, to follow Jesus as Lord.

Discipleship demands that we drop everything, even our families and anyone opposing Him. Who would seek to exercise a higher relationship of affection in our lives? Discipleship makes us chose between Christ and others.

Another person in the crowd said, “I will follow You Lord, but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home” (v. 61). Jesus replied, “No one, after putting his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God” (v. 62).

Who but God could make such demands on His followers? He has not left the choice of standards of following Him up to us. We want to submit Him to our lordship and it will not work. Jesus is Lord. He determines the conditions of discipleship. If Jesus is Lord then this kind of discipleship is really not radical, or extreme, but is normal. Since He is God we owe Him total obedience and total self-surrender. That is radical in the world’s way of thinking.

I suspect we are quick to join up without counting the cost, and then when faced with the choices of obeying our Lord and Master or the pleasures and demands of the world we follow our true desires. You cannot serve two masters; you will love one and hate the other. The disciple no longer lives for himself, but for the Kingdom of God. What happens to my life in unimportant. What really matters is my submission to the will of God.

The disciple of Jesus Christ cannot live to please himself. He can live only to please the King. “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ living and incarnate,” wrote Bonhoeffer. “Costly grace . . . calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.”

Where is your priority? Who is Lord of your life?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: From Despair to Hope

Daily devotional: From Despair to Hope

Message by Wil Pounds

From Despair to Hope

It is almost uncanny how the poet describes the abandonment of the sufferer by God to the scorn of evil people who mocked Him. The Hebrew poet-king wrote,

But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
“Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him” (Psalm 22:6-8).

King David writes using gestures of helplessness, frailty, and hopelessness in these verses. It is another vivid picture of the events at Calvary put in writing a thousand years before they actually took place in history (Matt. 27:39-43).

“They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring loin” (v. 13). The crowd at the crucifixion of Jesus did just that in graphic detail. His bones were pulled out of joint at the hands, arms, shoulders and pelvis (v. 14). “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted within me” (v.14). Perspiration pours profusely from the intense suffering, and the exhaustion and strain affects the functioning of His heart. With His strength exhausted, and dehydration, His tongue clings to His mouth from extreme thirst (v. 15). “My strength is dried up like potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws” (v. 15).

We draw up near the cross in verse sixteen and hear him say, “For dogs [Jewish term for derision for Gentiles] have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet” (cf. Matt. 27:35; Jn. 20:20, 25).

They stare at Him on the cross. He is so frail from suffering they can count His bones on His naked body. Even the casting of lots for His clothing is literally fulfilled (v. 18; cf. Matt. 27:35; Lk. 23:34; Jn. 19:24; 19:23; Mk. 15:24).

Any unbiased reader of this messianic poem must come to the inescapable conclusion that it finds its historical fulfillment in the crucifixion of Christ.

The death of Jesus Christ made perfect atonement for our sins. He was forsaken of God so we could be forgiven.

This matchless messianic poem also declares that the suffering servant of God died in triumph knowing that His suffering produced perfect atonement for the sinner. He tells how His prayer was heard and affirms that He will praise God before the brethren in the great assembly.

There is an abrupt change in the steady progress of the poem from the despair in suffering to one of renewed trust in God. Verses 22-31 conclude with the results that spring from the resurrection. It closes with a message of thanksgiving and hope in the anticipation of the proclamation of the good news.

“I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise thee” (v. 22). He admonishes others, “You who fear the LORD, praise Him” (v. 23a).

Moreover, the message is not just for the Jewish brethren (vv. 22-24), but also “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee” (v. 27). Is this not the great missionary message preached after the resurrection of Christ? (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:16; Phil. 2:8-11; Rev. 4-5).

The psalmist gives a great invitation for all to humble themselves and trust in the Savior. Salvation is for those who “fear the LORD” (vv. 23, 25), “seek the LORD” (v. 26), “remember and turn to the LORD” (v. 27), and “bow down before Him” (vv. 27, 29). It is for all who will call upon His name and be saved.

People yet to be born in future generations will serve Him (v. 30-31). “It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it.”

You and I are included in this great multitude (Jn. 17:20). The Savior had you and me on His mind while He hung on the tree. Have you responded to Him in faith?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Effectual Call Of God

Daily Devotion: The Effectual Call of God

Message by Wil Pounds

Have you responded to the effectual call of God to salvation?

In his effort to encourage suffering Christians, the apostle Paul wrote, “For whom He [God] foreknew, He also predestinated to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; and whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

This beautiful golden five-link chain of salvation demonstrates the awesome love and grace of God reaching down to poor, lost, depraved sinners and gives the assurance of eternal life.

The effectual call of God in salvation brings about regeneration, or spiritual birth in the person who is called. The effectual or specific call to salvation comes through the general call by means of the preaching of the good news in Jesus Christ to a lost world. It is through the preaching of the gospel that God calls sinners. As the Word of God is preached some seed falls on stony, shallow ground, and some on good soil. God prepares the soil and gives life. The seed that sprouts and takes up root in the good soil results in a spiritual harvest and people are saved.

God calls the individual to salvation by a specific and effectual call that produces spiritual life in the one who hears the call. The individual who hears the effectual call of God will responds by faith. The effectual call enables the person to respond to the Gospel. The Holy Spirit produces the new spiritual life in the person who is effectually called. The evidence of that new life is repentance and faith in Christ Jesus. When referring to faith and repentance Spurgeon said don’t make two old friends fight.

The effectual “calling” in the New Testament is consistently used for the call that ushers men into a state of salvation and is therefore effectual.

Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him” (John 6:44).

How do you know whether you are of the elect of God? The best answer is found in another question. Have you responded to the call of God? The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). Have you? If you have believed then know that God has set His love upon you to save you. Moreover, He will continue to love you and keep you throughout eternity.

Left to ourselves no depraved sinner will respond positively to the general call of the gospel. People hear the gospel message, a general call of God to salvation, and turn their hearts away. There is also the effectual call of God to salvation that provides the willingness to respond positively to the message of salvation by grace through faith. It is God bringing spiritual life to the individual who hears and comes to life spiritually.

Donald Grey Barnhouse helps with the distinction between the general call of the gospel and the effectual call to salvation. “If men heed no more than the outward call, they become members of the visible church. If the inward call is heard in our hearts, we become members of the invisible church. The first call unites us merely to a group of professing members; but the inward call unites us to Christ Himself, and to all that have been born again.

“The outward call may bring with it a certain intellectual knowledge of the truth; the inward call brings us the faith of the heart, the hope which anchors us forever to Christ and the love which must ever draw us back to Him who first loved us. The one can end in formalism, the other in true life. The outward call may curb the tendencies of the old nature and keep a soul in outward morality; the inward call will cure the plague that is in us and bring us on to triumph in Christ” (God’s Heirs: Exposition of Bible Doctrines . . . , vol. 7, pp. 171, 172).

As fast as the called one comes, God justifies that person. Have you responded to His free grace and love and believed on Him for salvation?

Selah!

Daily Devotional: The Kingdom of God Has Come

 

Daily Devotional: The Kingdom of God Has Come

 

Message by Wil Pounds

 

The Kingdom of God Has Come
Jesus Christ has come; therefore, the kingdom of God has come to man.

It takes the supreme power of God to overcome the strong, but not omnipotent power of Satan.

Since Jesus came and drove out demons by the power of God, the kingdom of God has come. The King in the kingdom is Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Jesus said, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12:28).

Jesus rendered perfect obedience to God the Father. It was because Jesus rendered perfect obedience to the Father that He received unique power. No other person could be trusted with such absolute power.

Jesus Christ the King of Kings came to this earth, and in His coming the kingdom of God came. The full consummation of the kingdom will come in the future when Jesus returns to this earth.

What is the kingdom of God? It is the sovereign rule of God in which His perfect will is done on earth as it is presently done in heaven.

The citizen of the kingdom of God must accept and obey the laws of God. Since the kingdom of God means the sovereign rule of God no individual can be within the kingdom unless he or she submits himself to the lordship of God in perfect obedience to His will.

Jesus said membership in the kingdom involves personal acceptance by each individual of the will of God. It is a personal issue between the individual and God. To enter the kingdom means to personally accept the will of God. Any person who accepts the will of God is within the kingdom.

We enter into the kingdom by means of a spiritual birth. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one in born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Furthermore, the kingdom of God is embodied in Jesus Christ. Only Jesus perfectly and completely fulfilled the will of God. He lived His life in perfect submission and obedience to the will of His Father. His whole life can be summarized with the words, “Thy will be done” (Matt. 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 4:34).

In the person and work of Jesus Christ, we see the perfect embodiment and perfect demonstration of the meaning of the kingdom of God. In and with Jesus the kingdom came. Jesus began, continued, and ended His earthly life in complete obedience to the will of God!

Moreover, Jesus enables others to enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus removed the wall of opposition between God and man. He died to remove the penalty of sin, and by His Spirit He gives us the strength to overcome the present power of sin. When Jesus Christ returns, He will deliver us perfectly from the presence of sin. He gives us the ability to obey the will of God.

Have you entered the kingdom of God? (Luke 12:31) Jesus admonishes us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). This should be the object of our desire every day of our lives. “Not my will; Thy will be done.”

Are you doing the will of God? Are you in His kingdom? You cannot have one without the other.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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