Archive for February, 2016

Daily Devotion: Evidences of the Death of Christ

Daily Devotion: Evidences of the Death of Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

Evidences of the Death of Christ

The eyewitness John keenly observed two unusual things that happen at the crucifixion of Jesus. These facts made a deep impression on him as he watched the crucifixion taking place.

The crucifixion took place on the day of preparation for the Passover festival that would begin at 6 p.m. The Jewish authorities felt an urgency to get the bodies off the crosses and buried before the sun went down.

“So that the bodies might not remain on the crosses on the Sabbath (for the Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31; cf. Deut. 21:22-23).

The legs of Jesus were not broken as was the case of the other two men crucified that day, and in His case a Roman soldier seeing He was already dead thrust a spear deep into His side and out flowed water and blood. Either to make doubly sure that Jesus was dead, or out of hate he picked up a spear and thrust it deeply into the side of Jesus (John 19:32-34). A real man, with a real human body, with real human blood, died on the cross that afternoon in Jerusalem.

Prophecy was fulfilled in a most unusual manner. One Scripture said the Savior’s bones must not be broken (Exodus 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20), and another said His body must be pierced (Zech. 13:1).

These Roman soldiers would have done just the opposite. They came to break the legs of Jesus as they had the other two men, but there was no point in breaking his legs since He was already dead.

Moreover, they had no intention of piercing the side of Jesus with the spear. To John’s utter amazement that is exactly what the soldiers did.

Why was this observation so important to John?

God intervened and caused it to happen as His Word said it would centuries before. God overruled the circumstances and caused it to happen according to His will. The enemy was unconsciously executing God’s counsels. A sovereign God was in control at Calvary. The soldiers had received instructions to break the legs of Christ, but this had not been done. The soldier had not received the order to pierce the Savior’s side, but this he did (John 19:34).

The purpose of God was fulfilled in the case of the typical Passover lamb whose bones were not broken (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12). The astonishing thing that John pondered was the fact that not a bone of Jesus was broken proving that He was the Passover Lamb that God provided. Not one bone of the Passover lamb was broken. God slew His own Lamb and made provision in the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that when the judgment of God comes, He will see the blood of Jesus and pass over you. Only the blood of Jesus makes atonement for our sins.

It was no simple pricking of the body of Jesus, but a wound intended to kill someone. “If you are not already dead, this will finish you off,” was the intent of the soldier. Blood and water flowed out of His body.

The prophet Zechariah had written, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity” (Zech. 13:11).

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Infinite Love of God

Daily Devotion: Infinite Love of God

Message by Wil Pounds

Infinite Love of God

The Lord God has chosen to fully reveal Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has done it in such a way that a finite mind might grasp the essential truth of God’s infinite being (Rom. 1:19-20).

“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). We have come to know God’s love “because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16). “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9, 10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

God declared His love in the cross of Jesus Christ, and we need never question it ever again. Jesus Christ “loved me and gave Himself for me.” We perceive and understand the love of God because Jesus laid down His life for us.

In eternity we will have “a ceaseless unfolding of that fathomless expression of boundless love,” says Lewis Chafer. “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” The ultimate picture of the love of God is the cross of Jesus.

Why such a demonstration of love? “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). Every righteous judgment of God against sin was removed by Christ.

Sin is not a fleeting thing, or a small issue with God. It has eternal repercussions and was dealt with at Calvary by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The only means of dealing with sin is the all sufficient Substitute who stood in the sinner’s place until all the grounds of our condemnation was dealt with past, present and future.

Jesus Christ died for me, and as a result, I will never have to bear what He bore on the cross on my behalf. Christ “died for me” so that I might not die. “The wages of sin is death.” Christ died my death for sin. God’s love provided a substitute for me which reaches out into infinity. This is His constant attribute toward the sinner.

Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth.” God’s love is undiminished. God has perfectly demonstrated His love to sinful man. The cross is God’s perfect and final revelation of His love.

God manifest that great love while we were still hostile sinners (Rom. 5:6, 8). Sin created the greatest problem for God, and in the cross of Jesus God provided the only possible solution for Himself. Every sinner is at enmity toward God. The cross of Jesus reveals the desperate wickedness of our sins.

God alone accomplished the reconciliation of sinful, rebellious man to Himself. He accomplished it by the death of Jesus on the cross. “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. 53:6). “Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Rom. 3:25). “For He [God] has made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

God accomplished our reconciliation to Himself through the death of Christ. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” Jesus said, “I lay down my life, that I might 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). Jesus was in control of His own death. “Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Moreover, God the Father was involved in Jesus’ death (Acts 2:23).

Infinite love was unveiled at the cross in the saving act of God in the death of Christ. “God was in Christ.” In that death, “God has set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins. . . that He might be just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26).

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Are You in Adam or in Christ?

Daily Devotion: Are You in Adam or in Christ?

Message by Wil Pounds

Are You in Adam or in Christ?

Charles Hodge asked a crucial question: “If God requires one thing, and we present another, how can we be saved? If He has revealed a method in which He can be just and yet justify the sinner, and if we reject that method and insist upon pursuing a different way, how can we hope to be accepted?”

The safest answer, of course, is in the Scriptures. What has God revealed?

The first man sinned, but not just once; Adam sinned many times. Before he sinned the first time he was righteous. His righteousness was of his own doing, as a created being. It was the righteousness of a man. However, Adam never had the righteousness of Jesus Christ upon him. What he lost was his own self righteousness.

When you and I put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior we are not merely given back a human righteousness that Adam had before the fall. We are given the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. God gives us “much more” in abundance, a superabundance of grace. He gives us the full weight of His perfect righteousness.

Adam did not stand in his own righteousness. He fell. If we attempt to stand in our own righteousness we, too, shall fall.

The gift of God in Christ far surpasses the effects of Adam’s sin and all other transgressions we have committed.

The humbling fact is we were all in Adam once, and we fell in him. He brought sin and death to the human race by his own sin.

How can you and I escape the effects of the fall of Adam on us?

We can stand in a divine righteousness provided by our divine substitute that will never be taken from us. It is God’s gift to us in His grace. The poet expressed it beautifully:

Jesus thy Blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress.

The apostle Paul wrote that we have received, “God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

We “reign in life” even now through Jesus Christ. We have been elevated to a position far above what Adam had before his fall. We not only have been “recovered from the fall, but made to reign through Jesus Christ.”

The righteousness of Jesus Christ has been put to our account, put upon us and it is a righteousness in abundance, ever superabundance.

Because it is of divine grace, all of the glory belongs to God alone. Adam stood at the head of the human race and brought death upon all, so our Lord Jesus stood for man and brings life to all who believe on Him.

Every one of us is in Adam. However, the most important question is, are you in Christ? We have Christ only through faith.

We are under grace because we stand before God as justified men. Grace is the state of justification. Because we have been justified, we remain justified and we can never be condemned.

We have been justified by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. There is no other way to have a right standing with a just and holy God. “Oh to grace how great a debtor.”

God was under no duress or compulsion to save us. Nothing made Jesus Christ die for our sins on the cross. Nothing made God credit the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account. God did it because He chose to do so out of grace.

If you are objecting to God’s revealed word saying how can I be saved by something someone else has done fore me, it is probably because you are not saved.

The good news for all in Adam is that a righteous God by a judicial act declares sinful men to be in a right standing before Him, not on the basis of their own merits because they have none as sinners, but only on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done by dying in our place on the cross. Jesus took the penalty of death for our sins upon Himself and died on our behalf. Now those sins have been punished and God imputes the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to our account.

You are in Adam, but are you in Christ?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Satisfied Faith

Daily Devotional: Satisfied Faith

Message by Wil Pounds

Satisfied Faith

Faith is simply taking God at His word and then acting on it.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29b). These words are for you and me because we have not seen Him in the days of His incarnation.

Jesus is not suggesting faith without the facts, but “a satisfied faith.” It is a faith that is satisfied with God’s provisions and does not plead for visions, miracles or strange experiences as evidence of God’s blessings.

Jesus is saying that a faith without these evidences is superior because it is a mature faith.

God’s word is full of promises to those who by faith act on His truths. God blesses faith in the Triune God. The Bible teaches us to trust in Him, and not the living out of some spectacular experience. The blessings of God are for all believers, and are common to all who call upon the name of Christ as God and Savior.

If we are constantly looking for spectacular miracles, rather than walking by faith in Christ, we will gradually become insensitive to the thousands of normal everyday experiences that God continually gives us.

God blesses those who live by faith, and not by sight. The person who enjoys the great benefits of the Christian life lives by their faith in the character and benevolence of God and not in the evidence of visions, miracles, or other religious experiences.

It is by faith that we become the children of God and enter into His family (Jn. 1:12-13). We received eternal life by simple faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who gave His life for us and rose from the dead (Jn. 3:16; 20:30-31; 11:25-26).

It is also by faith in Christ that we grow in His likeness. We live by faith in Him and He delivers us from spiritual darkness and bondage (12:46). He gives us His life to enjoy today. Jesus is the Bread of Life and He invites us to feast upon Him by faith (6:35). All of our spiritual longings are fulfilled as we walk by faith in Christ.

It is by faith in Christ that He uses us to minister to a faithless world (14:12). When the child of God takes Him at His word He uses us to impact a watching world. The unbelieving world is watching to see what God is going to do in and through your life. Do we step out by faith and trust Him to do the impossible in our lives? This is the only way God will be glorified in our ministry. Without faith we are just like the heathen, who are surrounded by the glory of God and never see it. May God open our spiritual eyes so we can see what He is doing all about us daily.

It is only as we put our trust in God that our eyes are increasingly open to see where He is at work.

The Holy Spirit works through us so that we may point people to Jesus.

By faith we will one day see Jesus in all the fullness of His glory (11:25-26, 40).

What is faith? Faith is our spiritual eyes that looks away from ourselves and focus on the Lord Jesus. Do not rest, then, on your faith, but on the Savior Himself.

It is not the character or degree of faith, but Christ. How much is a grain of mustard seed? Not much. It is tiny, but that is what God requires of us.

Faith is simply believing what God has said regarding His Son in the Holy Scriptures. The moment you do that you are saved.

“Whosoever that believes shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is like saying to a starving beggar, “Here, take and eat. Here is a free gift. All you have to do is receive it.” Faith says, “Thank you.”

Lord, increase our faith so that we may see and obey You.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Daily Devotion: The Forsaken and the Forgiven

Daily Devotion: The Forsaken and the Forgiven

Message by Wil Pounds

The Forsaken and the Forgiven

The poignant, opening sentence in Psalm 22 reveals the disturbing fact of God’s servant crying out in God forsakenness.

How could one of the members of the Godhead turn His back on another member of the Trinity?

“God forsaken of God” was the price of our atonement. When Jesus Christ bore our sin on the cross He was forsaken of God the Father. He paid the full price for our atonement on the cross when He bore the penalty of the wrath of God against sin for us. This sacrificial act reveals how much God loves us.

Psalm 22 has been described as the “Psalm of the Cross” because it is the best description in the entire Bible of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is King David wrote it a thousand years before the event described actually took place in history. Moreover, execution by crucifixion was never practiced by the Jewish people and was unknown for centuries until developed by the Carthaginians and later refined by the Romans. David paints a prophetic picture of the anguish of the Suffering Servant of God to pay the penalty for our sins. Psalm 22 is entirely messianic and prophetic. David foresaw and spoke of the suffering of the Anointed of God.

No event in the life of David accounts for the terrible events in this Psalm. It defies a naturalistic explanation.

The words of the poet are fulfilled literally and exactly in the execution of Jesus Christ. The desolate God forsaken cry (v. 1; cf. Matt. 27:46); the contrasting periods of light and darkness (v. 2; Matt. 27:45); the extreme humiliation and treatment of the sufferer (vv. 6-8, 12-13; Matt. 27:39-44) and the casting of lots for His garments (v. 18; Matt. 27:35) are some of the greatest evidences for divine inspiration of all the Scriptures including this Psalm.

What was Jesus thinking about while He hung on the cross during the terrible three hours of God forsakenness? The Gospel writers Matthew and Mark inform us He suddenly cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” It was a direct quotation of Psalm 22:1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34).

“My God, my God” is the translation of Eli, Eli “my Strong One,” “my Strong One.” It is He who turns His face from the suffering one (vv. 2-3).

Why is it that our ancient fathers trusted in Elohay, the One to be feared by men, and He always answered them, but even though His Servant cries “by day,” the response is, “You do not answer; and by night, I have no answer” (v. 2)? They “trusted,” “cried out,” were “determined” and “not ashamed” (v. 4). God has turned His back on Him and has forsaken Him.

Jesus was apparently reflecting on great Old Testament Scriptures as He hung dying as our sacrifice. He saw His crucifying as a fulfillment of the Scriptures. These prophecies gave Him encouragement and focus as He died to purchase our atonement.

Psalm 22 opens with the awful sense of God forsakenness that took place during the three hours of darkness at Calvary. The one crying out in God forsakenness feels completely enshrouded by the wrath of God.

The answer to the question, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is found in the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Have you experienced perfect forgiveness from the One who was God-forsaken?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Song of Two Jail Birds

Daily Devotion: The Song of Two Jail Birds

Message by Wil Pounds

The Song of Two Jail Birds
“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). It was a prayer and praise service going on in a Roman prison! The other prisoners were attentively listening to every word.

The effect of true Christianity is still the same since the first century A.D. These men “have turned the world upside down.” They were guilty of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:16-23). Those were the charges against them.

The world is still upside down. It is self-centered, and it eyes the God-centered person as eccentric. “These men have turned the world upside down are come here.” That is how the riot got started.

“The world is down-side up,” said G. C. Morgan, “and therefore, the men who are turning it right side up; and consequently, the men who are living in the world will think they are turning it upside down.”

That is always the case when the true gospel of Jesus Christ clashes with the cultures of the world.

Paul and Silas had no idea an earthquake was coming that night. They weren’t singing because they were going to be set free. They were singing because prison didn’t really matter. They were prisoners of Jesus Christ, and that was all that mattered. Paul was in and out of prison on many occasions for sharing Christ.

They were praying and singing hymns. The opportunity would come in time for the preaching (v.32). Preaching came after the earthquake. God opened the door because He had His chosen people ready to serve Him.

They were singing from their hearts. The two of them were gathered in the name of Jesus, and He was there in their presence. They were worshipping God! The most significant thing for Paul and Silas was the presence of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). That was true then, and it is still true today.

Are you singing in your prison cell? Are you worshipping Jesus right where He has placed you today? “Men who sing in prison are men who cannot be imprisoned.” “You may put these men within your stone walls, you may make their feet fast in the wood of your brutal stocks, but they are not there. They are sitting with Christ in the heavenly places,” observed Campbell Morgan. “As to bodily presence, they are there in the prison, but as to spiritual essence, they are with God.”

People who sing in their prison have learned the secret, the method by which spiritual growth and service takes place.

You sing in your prison, and other prisoners will listen to you. The earthquake does not always come, but God does. Your prison doors may not fly open, but the intimate, abiding presence of God in Jesus Christ will set you free. Many thousands of servants of Jesus Christ have died in literal prisons, but they sang, and they continue to sing.

What are your circumstances? Are you singing? God will bless your “prison” experience if you will sing praises unto Him, and the “prisoners” will listen and be saved.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Sanctified by the Word of God

Daily Devotion: Sanctified by the Word of God

Message by Wil Pounds

Sanctified by the Word of God

Jesus tells us in John 17:16-19 that we have a practical progressive sanctification of our present life by the application of the truth of God’s Word.

The word “sanctify” in verse seventeen means “to consecrate, or to set apart persons or things to God” (Ex. 28:41; 29:1, 36; 40:13; 1 Thess. 5:23, etc).

The Holy Spirit uses the Word to do His work within the believer. Let’s distinguish between the sanctification by the Holy Spirit within us at the beginning of God’s work of salvation in our souls, and the everyday application of God’s word in the Christian’s life. We are in the need of daily sanctification by the truth of God’s Word. This is a progressive work that will go on in our lives until we are presented perfect in Christ at His second coming.

Sanctification is not the eradication of our sinful nature, or of the “old man” in a once and for all experience.

However, God takes His Word, not human speculation or opinions, and sets us apart from the world to Himself. We are set apart for God’s special use. Therefore, our values, goals and behaviors are distinct from the world’s.

The Word of God sanctifies us as we study, meditate, memorize and apply its truths to our daily life. The Holy Spirit uses it to make us aware of sin, confess it and repent. He takes the Word and reveals God’s perfect will for our lives. We grow in His grace through the knowledge of His truth. As we yield in obedience to His truth we are sanctified by the truth.

Jesus prayed to His Father, “For this sake I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19). Jesus was already set apart to God. Indeed, He was sinless. However, the night before His death on the cross He was dedicating Himself “that they too may be truly sanctified.” Literally, He said, “sanctified in truth.” Jesus’ death eternally separated believers to God and His kingdom, and God’s truth is the means of their daily sanctification.

“Sanctify them in truth; Your Word is truth” (v. 17). Just as Jesus was set apart for special use, so are the believers. “The truth” is communicated in the “Word.” As we hear the Word, we comprehend the truth and obey it. This changes our values, our lifestyle, and a behavioral change takes place. We are changed in our everyday practice.

As we daily appropriate God’s Word we are sanctified by it. We are set apart to God and changed in the way we live so that we bring honor and glory to the Father.

True daily sanctification in this life comes through the ministry of the Word of God. Jesus told His disciples, “Now are you clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). God set us apart to Himself when He saved us. As we grow in Christ we experience more and more sanctification. We are progressively set apart to God as we grow in our faith, and love for God more than the desire of the world. This being set apart daily comes as the Holy Spirit applies God’s word to our everyday experiences. The Holy Spirit enables us to obey God’s Word. He is the author of the Word and He uses it to enlighten our minds, enable our will and encourage our hearts.

We were made clean through the Word at the new birth. As we obey the Word of God daily the defilement is washed out of our lives. When we sin we do not need to be saved all over again. We will never be regenerated a second or third time. After you bathe, you do not need to bathe again when you get your hands dirty. You wash them off and you are clean once more. God has given us a bar of soap. It is found in 1 John 1:9. Use it daily.

This is the practical and progressive sanctification that is seen in Ephesians 5:25-27 as Jesus sanctifies and cleanses His church. As the believer makes himself available to the Holy Spirit he is changed from the inside out. The Word of God has the liberty in the heart of the Spirit-controlled Christian to displace sin and replace in its place the righteousness of God. The blood of Christ cleanses the believer from actual sin.

Every born again Christian does pursue holiness until the second coming of Christ. At that time He will change these bodies of humiliation and make them like His glorious body. When that happens we shall have reached our goal and become absolutely, perfectly holy and sinless forever.

It is our responsibility to apply the word of God daily in the power of the Holy Spirit. It does not come automatically. For example, to abstain from sexual immorality requires the exercise of self-discipline enabled by the Holy Spirit.

God’s perfect will is that His people be holy (1 Thess. 3:13). “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). The context deals with sexual immorality; however, the truth can be applied to any area of our lives. “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (v. 7). Paul has in mind the progressive sanctification of his readers whereby they are conformed to the image of Christ in daily experiences.

God’s purpose is for the Christian to live separated lives in purity of mind and body. This is practical sanctification.

A holy life demonstrates God’s supernatural power at work in a believer’s life. A holy walk involves a right relationship with God.

Do you have an appetite for God’s pure Word? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to walk in holiness as you search the Scriptures and obey His Word.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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