Archive for April, 2016

Daily Devotion: God’s Problem

Daily Devotion: God’s Problem

Message by Wil Pounds

God’s Problem

The greatest message God has ever delivered to sinful man is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the declaration of the righteousness of God, and a demonstration that God is both “just and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

The proof of the steadfast righteousness of God was made in the cross of Jesus Christ. God had declared that He is righteous and holy (Isa. 6:3). He cannot and will not tolerate sin in His presence (Ezek. 18:4, 17-18, 20, 30, 32).

The greatest divine problem is how can God be just and at the same time love a sinner and allow him into His holy presence? The cross reveals God’s holiness, righteousness and hatred of sin. It also demonstrates the depth of His love and integrity.

Sin must always be treated as sin, and the wages of sin is always death (Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 3:23; 6:23). It cannot be treated otherwise. So how can God save the sinner and remain righteous? God cannot change His eternal attribute of righteousness.

God taught His people in the Old Testament to anticipate a perfect and sufficient sacrifice for sin. The blood of bulls and goats symbolized the blood that would one day be shed by the perfect “Lamb of God” who would lift up and take away our sins and the sins of the whole world. The blood of animals could never take away sin, but only point to the greater “Lamb of God.”

These animal sacrifices were a part of the covenant of the LORD God that He would “in the fullness of time” provide the perfect substitutionary sacrifice that would deal with man’s sin problem (Gal. 4:4-5). Romans 3:25 tells us the proof of the righteousness of God was made in the death of Christ on the cross concerning all sins committed before Christ died. “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.”

The death of Christ was the true and all sufficient sacrifice that stood as proof that God had fully accomplished His righteousness in all generations down through history.

Moreover, the all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins was fully accomplished on the cross in the substitutionary death of Christ. The cross is also a full demonstration of God’s righteousness to everyone who had lived since Christ died on the cross. Now the cure for our sin problem is not in the symbolic sacrifices in the Old Testament, but in the actual substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for our sins on the cross. The sacrifice of Christ is for “him who believes in Jesus.” The sacrifice of Christ is made effective to all who appropriate it by faith in Him. The sacrifice is effective “at this time” for everyone who believes on Christ (v. 26). It is the full proof of the righteousness of God so that He can be “just and the justifier” of all who believe in the all-sufficient atonement of Christ for sins.

The cross is God’s answer to the problem of His righteousness. He cannot change the demands of His righteousness and keep His integrity. The solution He provides in His omniscient wisdom is the sacrifice of His own Son. God remained just and at the same time saved the believing sinner. As the righteous Sovereign Judge He pronounced the full punishment of the wrath of God against all sin. As the divine Savior of all sinners who believe on Christ He took upon Himself the very punishment He imposed on the guilty sinner and paid the penalty in full. Because of the cross of Jesus, the divine righteousness of God can never be called into question even when He pardons the vilest offender of His righteousness. The Judge Himself has provided the perfect righteousness for the sinner who accepts God’s estimate of his sin and God’s all sufficient solution in Christ.

“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). God satisfied His own righteous requirements at the cross. The death of Jesus was all-sufficient to meet God’s righteous requirements for the sinner.

The Judge paid the full redemption price for the helpless sinner.

God provided the solution for His own problem before any person had sinned, and in the fullness of time, He acted on it. Since judgments have already been perfectly met by the death of Christ, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: I Died

Daily Devotion: I Died

Message by Wil Pounds

I Died

Christ died for me, and I died in Christ.

Pascal said, “Everything which happened to Christ should come to pass in the soul and in the body of each Christian.”

The apostle Paul declared, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Again, he wrote, “You died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2).

Who died? I died.

In God’s reckoning we are even now delivered by our vital union with Christ. That vital, intimate relationship filled the mind of the great apostle.

“I have been crucified with Christ.” “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).

What was true of Paul is true of every believer because we are “in Christ.” Our spiritual union with Christ is entirely independent of all conditions of time and space. And in depth of intimacy there can be no difference between the believer of today and those who knew our Lord on earth, since “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).

Paul writes, “As many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3). The water baptism by immersion is a symbolic picture of an even greater spiritual baptism when we were placed in the body of Christ when we first believed on Him as our Savior.

“In Christ.” “I am crucified with Christ.”

Have you gone back to the cross of Jesus and conceived of yourself so identified with Him in His death and obedience unto death that when He died you died? Jesus Christ paid your death penalty in full. You are now free to live the Christian life.

The apostle Paul’s one obsession was Christ. “That I may know Him.”

Is your one obsession to know Christ in His suffering, His death, His resurrection and glory?

Our spiritual union with Christ is entirely independent of all conditions of time and space. Since we are one with Him by faith then our death in Him was real.

Martin Luther wrote, “Believing in Christ, I am by faith crucified with Christ; so that all these things are crucified and dead with me.”

Paul is not referring to the atonement because no one including the believer can atone for his own sins. It took the sinless blood of Jesus to pay our debt. There is nothing in us worthy of making atonement for sin. It is Christ alone, never Christ plus anything in or of ourselves that makes us right with God. However, there is for the believer a fellowship that can be entered into Christ through identification with His death.

The apostle Paul tells us to “reckon” upon the fact that we died in Christ. The word means “to take into account, to calculate, to estimate.” The work of Christ is imputed to our account. We are to believe that it really is true in our lives. Christ has put His righteousness to our account, and furthermore, the power of sin no longer has dominion over us.

Paul doesn’t tell us to feel as if we were dead to sin, but act on God’s Word and claim it as a fact. Reckoning is a matter of faith that results in action. Reckoning is not claiming a promise; it is taking God at His word and acting on a fact. God does not command us to become dead to sin. He tells us that we are dead to sin and alive unto God. Therefore, He commands us to act on that truth. Even if we do not act on it, the facts are still true. Because sin and death have no dominion over Christ, and we are “in Christ” sin and death have no dominion over us. Jesus Christ not only died “for sin,” but He also died “unto sin.” That means Christ not only paid the penalty for my sin, but He broke the power of sin in my life. Sin no longer is the master of our lives. It no longer controls us. We are dead in Christ, and alive to His righteousness.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Custom Made By God

Daily Devotion: Custom Made By God

Message by Wil Pounds

Custom Made by God

Our great God and Savior knows everything, is everywhere, and is all-powerful.

The LORD God knows me because He made me, and since He made me, I am responsible to Him for my actions. That’s probably the biggest reason why people do not want to accept the fact that God created man. But whether a person acknowledges the facts about creation or not, he or she will still have to answer to Him personally.

The Psalmist David observed that the LORD God “formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Our Creator not only created the first man Adam, but He continues to create. There is not another person on the face of this earth with the same genes, DNA, and chromosomes. I am a unique person, custom made by God for a specific purpose in history. No one else can fulfill that purpose in history; no one else can fulfill my purpose.

God’s dealings with you and me are not a duplicate of His dealings with anyone else in time and space. It is unique to me because I am unique. There is no one else like me. A person who wants to be something different from God’s purpose for him is like a cancer cell. We become like cancer cells in the body of Christ when we want to be like someone else and not what God wants us to be. God deals with each child differently. We do not trust Him when we ask that our experience duplicate someone else’s. No one is inferior or unspiritual because his or her experience is not just like someone else’s.

Thank God that you are who you are. His resources have already been revealed in creating you. “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14). Have you thanked God for making you just the way you are? “My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them ” (Psalm 139:15-16).

I worship a God who knows me and is near me. He created me for today. There is only one me. I am a pattern that God will never use again. In all the time to come, there will never be another me. I am somebody. I am a unique creation of God. Therefore, I must be found doing the will of God. My responsibility is not to seek the praise of men, but to be what God made me.

Have you considered who you are in God’s eyes? Have you in humility thanked Him for making you so wonderfully complex? The Lord’s work is marvelous.

The Psalmist catches his breath and declares, “How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast the sum of them!” (v. 17). “How weighty are your designs” (NAB). “How immeasurable your concepts are” (R. K. Harrison). “How hard it is to grasp your thoughts” (Jerusalem Bible). “How deep I find Your thoughts” (NEB). “How precious and weighty!” (Amplified Bible).

How odd that in our day the U. S. government and the politically correct no longer refer to the unborn child as a baby. The fact is no one likes to think about killing an unborn baby so it has been renamed a fetus or an embryo or human tissue. God said it is His creation fearfully and wonderfully made. It is a baby custom made by God.

The LORD said to Jeremiah, “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). Each one of us is custom made by God.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: God’s Kind of Life

Message by Wil Pounds
Daily Devotional: God’s Kind of Life

From God’s eternal perspective the believer in Christ is already a finished work. From our human perspective in time and space, He is continuing to work the truth deeper and deeper into our hearts so He can conform us to the image and likeness of Christ.

The tension is always there: perfect and yet not perfect, holy and yet sinners, righteous and yet, unrighteous.

Since the day we put our faith in Christ God sees us complete in Him (Col. 2:10). We are already holy in His presence (Col. 3:2). We are already perfect in His eyes (Heb. 10:14). We are His righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). There is nothing else to be done to achieve a right relationship with God. When we accept those truths by faith we will live it out each day. God makes what is already true in the eternal, unseen spiritual reality, a reality in the seen and temporal realm. We live out what is already true. We live in union with Christ. We rest in Him and He lives His life out in us. “Christ in you” means God has permanently joined Himself to you. He lives in you and you in Him.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Jesus says to you and me, “I am the Life.” I am your life. You take Me into you, and you have life. I live My life in and through you. I live my life as you. The Christian life is He in you, and you in Him. He will live His life in you if you will let Him live as He chooses. Christ lives the life that is impossible for us to live. Christianity is Christ, and it is Christ in you.

Do you experience the life He gives with a sense in which you are content with a knowledge of God’s grace that is more than sufficient for your personal needs, that nothing in this life can suppress it, and that God’s favor toward you is unending? Do you live in the reality of your unending unchanging eternal position in Christ Jesus?

Our life in Christ is a life with a surplus. We have it in Christ in superabundance. Jesus said, “I am come that you might keep on having life, and might keep on having it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10b).

How do you characterize this life that overflows in Christ?

The apostle Paul described it as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, etc. (Gal. 5:22-23).

Just the opposite is a life without Christ in control of your life. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Jesus is not the source of that kind of life. Which life would you rather have?

The only source of God’s kind of life is Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus puts His finger on what we most need as human beings in life.

In the presence of Jesus Christ we have received God’s answer to our individual problems. Instead of being alienated, there is “the way” to God the Father. Instead of ignorance and error, there is “the truth” of God. Instead of death, there is “the life” He gives. Only in the person and work of Jesus Christ is there the perfect way from man’s total ruin in sin to the Father. Jesus is the perfect and only way to God, and He promises to give His kind of superabundant life to all who will come to Him. The life Christ gives is God’s kind of life. Therefore, the Christian can no more perish than God the Father can. The normal Christian life is a superabundant life in Christ. Have you put your faith in Him and received the gift of His life?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily devotion: God’s Perfect Goal for You

Daily devotion: God’s Perfect Goal for You

Message by Wil Pounds

God’s Perfect Goal for You
C. S. Lewis said, “Our Lord . . . warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. Make no mistake,’ He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you may push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through… I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with Me’” (Mere Christianity, pp. 157-58).

The apostle Paul wrote, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

What is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God? What is that “good work”? Again the apostle wrote, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your [rational] spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). How do you prove that is the will of God? The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” In verse one the apostle states the goal positively when he wrote, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your [rational] spiritual service of worship.” That is our responsibility as Christians. It is a “once and for all” decision of commitment of our lives to God and a daily renewal of that life-long determination to live for God.

Paul also states the goal negatively in verse two. “Be not conformed to this world.” We no longer want to use our bodies to fulfill sinful pleasures. We now belong to God who purchased us in the death of His Son Jesus Christ. Christ has ransomed us. The Christian’s body is God’s temple (I Cor. 6:19-20). We can now glorify God with our bodies.

How do we experience such a daily transformation? “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It is interesting that Paul uses the same word here that is translated “transfigured” in Matthew 17:2. Jesus was “transfigured” on the mountainside. The word means to “change into another form.” It is an inner change, a radical renovation. The transformation is invisible to the physical eye; however, we do see the outward effects of that inward spiritual birth.

Robert Haldane observed, “There are degrees in this transformation, although all Christians are transformed when they are born again, yet they ought to be urged, as here, to a further degree of this transformation.”

This inner transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. C. E. B. Canfield brings out the force of the tense. “Stop allowing yourselves to be conformed… continue to let yourselves be transformed …”

The renewing of the mind of the Christian is not something that takes place in an instant, but is something that must be continually repeated. It is a process which has to go on all the rest of the Christian’s life.

The Holy Spirit helps us look at life from a new perspective. The renewal is an adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God. It stresses the continual operation of the indwelling Spirit and the willing response on the part of the believer.

The world system of beliefs seeks to control our minds so we will conform to its way of thinking about moral values, behavior, philosophy of life, etc. It constantly seeks to squeeze us into its mold.

We are transformed in the renewing of our minds as the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God over a lifetime. We have spent years under the influence of a constant bombardment of a way of looking at life that is opposed to the Christian way of life. The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and reprograms our way of thinking. His goal is that we will live to please God, and do His will which is always “good and acceptable and perfect.”

I like the freshness of the NET Bible. “Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Conduct in Humility” (Romans 12:2).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Good Works for God’s Glory:

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Good Works for God’s Glory

Why should the believing sinner do good works?

Do we do good works so we can atone for our “temporal” sins after we were baptized? Are we to do good religious works in order to make satisfaction for our sins? Do we contribute to our salvation in some measure by good works? Are we to believe that one day we will stand before God listening to the judgment as He decides if we have had enough good works to outweigh our sins and condemnation?

The essential question is what is your motive for doing good works? Are these done in order to be saved, or are they done because we have been saved by grace through faith? The Bible is clear that we are not justified by faith plus good works, but works do follow justification by faith.

It is only natural that good works should flow out of the salvation already accomplished for us by Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is our Savor. He alone is the sinless Lamb of God who could make atonement for sins. Only His blood cleanses from sin. The only requirement of God is to repent and believe on Jesus Christ.

The only thing left for the sinner to do is accept the finished work of Christ. Have you trusted in His work alone to save you?

Since we are God’s workmanship, created in His sovereign grace, our salvation cannot be of ourselves. We are God-made. We are His workmanship. We have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. We are God’s spiritual handiwork. In regeneration we were made a new spiritual creature by Him (2 Cor. 5:17).

The apostle Paul wrote, “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).

God created us with the view of good works. Good works are not the cause of our salvation, but the object of God’s creation. “We were created in Christ Jesus for good works,” says the apostle Paul.

“God prearranged” for the sinner saved by grace to do good works as evidence of being saved by grace. Good works are the necessary outcome of our salvation by grace through faith. God destined these good works as His purpose for us. The unseen source of these good works is God’s new creation. God’s purpose is that these good works should actually and habitually be done by the believe. It is not an option to serve Christ in good works, yet it is not a requirement to gain our salvation.

Our being God’s handiwork implies that our new nature will reproduce His handiwork. We have been made anew in Christ; therefore we are expected to produce from that new nature a life that is pleasing to our Creator. Our old nature implies that we had to be made a new creation in Christ before we could produce anything pleasing to a holy and righteous God.

Our salvation is all of grace. The marvelous thing is, “If anyone is in Christ; he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Because of being God’s new creation we have a better nature than we had before. Our new nature “is nothing less than the nature of the holy and eternal God within His people.”

C. H. Spurgeon said, “Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them, that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy and grace of God.”

Faith plus good works does not equal justification.

Works follow justification as a consequence and evidence of it. To eliminate good works in a Christian’s life as a result of saving grace must also be rejected. They will always be the evidence of true spiritual regeneration in a Christian’s life.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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