Tuesday, November 30, 2010

God With Us

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." (Matthew 1:23)

I read recently where some atheist organization had put up a billboard in New Jersey claiming that the nativity is a myth and appealing to "reason." It is truly sad how insecure someone must be to attack a cherished celebration in that way, but then, as Psalm 14:1 says, "The fool has said in his heart, there is no God."

Atheists firmly believe that if they can just appeal to reason we'll lay this God foolishness down. They can't see the reality of "God with us." Jesus didn't come and die to make us religious but to bring us into a relationship. Relationship with God is an awesome wonderful thing. By faith, we lay hold of the reality of that relationship. By faith, we walk and talk with Him and hear His voice. By faith we receive what He has for us. By faith, we live in this wonderful fellowship with Him.

We are in an age where access to information has exploded exponentially. The internet is a wide open opportunity for argument. People who, face to face, would have kept quiet now have a vehicle to broadcast any ignorant opinion they like. You can search online and find a million arguments for or against God. People can argue with your theology and mock your beliefs, but they cannot take away your relationship with God. I see Christians online trying to argue with unbelievers. It rarely works.

But something different happens when you live in relationship with God. Sadly, many believers rarely grasp the fullness of that walk. There is nothing like it. His very presence now dwells within us. God is truly with us! That is the only antidote to an age of skepticism. If we truly desire to walk with Him and know Him He will oblige. The man or woman that knows the Lord is never at the mercy of an unbeliever with a bunch of arguments.

God is with us! As we enter into this Christmas season I pray that the reality of that will be manifest more and more in each of our lives. Jesus came to bring us into fellowship with God. Let's grab hold of what He has provided for us.

Monday, November 15, 2010

No Other Name

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

Jesus Christ is still "the way, the truth, and the life" and no one comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). Salvation is by no other. It was only Jesus Christ who made a way for each of us when we could not make a way for ourselves. He paid my blood debt and bought me eternal relationship with God. It's not cool to believe that anymore. We like to believe that all paths lead to God, but that's just not the truth according to God's Word. Jesus Himself said that the person who doesn't believe is "condemned already" (John 3:18). No amount of monkeying around with scripture can change that. As His follower it's not my job to change the message to make it palatable -- if I were to do that it would, in fact, prove that I am not much of a follower of His. I live according to what He has said, not according to what I think or want to believe.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This salvation comes by faith, in other words, we receive it by believing God. In Romans Paul writes that we must confess with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9). God has purchased our salvation for each of us, but we must receive it by faith. In Galatians 3:22 we read that "the scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." Hebrews 10:39 says that "But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." Perdition means destruction.

Judgment is not a popular topic anymore, but the Bible is clear that judgment awaits those who reject Jesus. 2nd Thessalonians 1:8-10 makes that abundantly clear: "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed." There's that belief again.

In Matthew 28 and Mark 16 we read where Jesus commanded us to go into the world as His witnesses. We carry the most wonderful news in the history of mankind. The word gospel, literally means "good news." We carry the good news because there is bad news for those who reject the Jesus. We are salt and light in a messed up world.

Salvation is by no other.