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Tag Archives: First Epistle to the Corinthians

Whipping Away the Traders Within Us

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” (John 2:13-16)

Now, this has a rather obvious meaning, and a rather more hidden one. The obvious one I believe all can see: we shouldn’t monetize the house of God (the Church); we shouldn’t charge people to hear the Gospel. (Though a pastor should be paid for his preaching, the payment should come as a gift from the congregation, not as a requirement for hearing it)… But, let’s look at this from a different angle (this would be the somewhat more hidden meaning). Paul tells us we ourselves are the temple of God (see: 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:19).

Think about it a second: how often have we had money-changers inside yourself? To put it another way, how often have we loved money more than God? How often have we been sold to the idea of getting our own sacrifice, and attempting to make ourselves pure by that? (i.e. Make ourselves perfect by our own works). Or, perhaps a better question, what is currently inside of us? What is currently inside of God’s temple? Are we full of a desire to make more money, or to buy and make our own sacrifices, or is Christ there?

The reality is that we’ve all had something go awry in ourselves; in God’s temple. Some of us may even still have something wrong going on. Yet there is a solution! We need Jesus to come in with a whip, and drive away all the money-changers and dove-sellers inside of us. The easy way; the broad road leading to Hell, is to allow the people to stay. To keep them safe and stored away for private enjoyment. After all, if we do that, who are we hurting but ourselves? Plus, no one likes a whip. Yet it’s the only way! We must turn to Christ, and ask Him to free us from the trap that we’re stuck in; we can’t do it ourselves. We have to look to the cross, and focus on that, to purify our minds. We must ask Jesus to give us His strength, ask Him to whip away any evil that may be inside of us, only then can we actually be free.

The point being this: we can either leave the money-changers and bird-sellers within us, and keep them as friends, (all the way to Hell), or we can give them up, and turn to Christ. This is speaking to both believers and un-believers alike. We, the temples of God, get side-tracked with money, with material things, and with trying to offer our own sacrifices. (Please don’t ask how it’s possible for a temple to offer sacrifices. I figure all things are possible when we’re talking about Spiritual things). The un-believer has the same problems, yet on a far greater scale. It’s not just a pleasant distraction, but a full-time occupation, to put it in simple terms. Both parties must turn to Christ. No matter what, it’s sort of a requirement… Unless, of course, we actually want eternal condemnation.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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A Look into Spiritual Gifts

Hello again!

This is what God has given me today in His word:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

In everything, God is sovereign. This is also true when it comes to Spiritual gifts; even if it seems we don’t have any, we do. It’s just that our gifts are all different, as Paul said above, to some are given wisdom, to some the utterance of knowledge, etc.. Paul also points out that no matter how small the gift we have is, we still have one. As compared to an unbelievers, who is unable to help build up, but only tear down: that’s another thing that separates the believer from the unbeliever. Where one is (supposed to be) building up, the other is only able to tear down. And its only by coming to Jesus, and accepting Him as savior, that we’re able to stop tearing down, and start building up.

But, even though Christians are able to build up others with words and actions through gifts, the strange thing is, it seems Paul doesn’t want us to be content! In fact, quite to the contrary:

1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. (1 Corinthians 14:1)

We’re told to “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit,”. This is possibly the only time that it actually is alright to not be content: yes, we’re able to, and should be building up others with the gifts that God has given us. But we’re also told not to stop there! As Christians, we’re supposed to eagerly desire more… A little more specifically, we’re to eagerly desire more so that we may better “follow the way of love” (build each-other up).

In addition to all this though, its important to realize one more thing: God has given us these gifts. This may seem like a fairly basic concept, but sometimes we lose sight of what God has done for us, and start thinking that, “yeah, we’re really pretty good to have done this.” In other words: we sometimes forget that its God’s work, and not ours. Though I’ve never seen someone forget who (God) gave them the ability to heal someone (possibly because I’ve never seen someone with the gift of healing), those with more subtler gifts may find it a temptation to praise themselves for something, rather than God. For example: the gift of the utterance of knowledge. It may be a temptation with that to think of how well someone has “trained their brain,” or some such thing.

As it is, however, we’re to praise God: He’s the one whose given us any and every gift, and He’s the one we should be focusing on; not ourselves.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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God Will Always Make a Way Out

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)

Temptation can be anything: a new bike, a new (better) job, anger, family, even reading the Bible (not applying the Bible, but reading it anyway, is a natural pathway to pride) can be a temptation to falling to Satan. Yet it’s important to realize that, no matter what temptation we face, it isn’t something that a hundred others haven’t already gone through before you a hundred times. The actual reason this is an important realization, is because of a couple of things: first, it puts the suffering (from temptation), whatever that may be, into its proper perspective. In addition, it’s just, in general, encouraging to know that you aren’t the only one whose had this problem.

Temptation is dangerous, yes. Just as dangerous as the sin it can produce. But with that being said, God will always provide a way out. And that, right there, is the second biggest difference between an unbeliever and a believer. – The first biggest difference is, of course, that we’ve been saved; washed clean by Jesus’ blood. – An unbeliever will fall, fall, and fall again. A Christian, though he may stumble, will never fall; will never become inescapably snared in the Devil’s trap.

Even though a Christian will never be completely trapped, as God will always create a way out, we should still “run from idolatry” of all kinds. Yes, God always makes a way out, but let’s make an effort to make sure He’ll (almost) never have to! Let’s turn around and run towards God, and growing into His image!

So, to summarize: God will always provide a way to overcome temptation, Christians may stumble but will never fall, and we’re supposed to run as fast as possible away from idolatry.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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What Is and Isn’t Lawful For a Christian

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-13)

Really? All things are lawful for Christians? It seems Paul has just given us immunity from the law! – Well, yes, all Christians are allowed to do anything that they want… Unless the thing in question contradicts the rest of the Scripture.

Think of it this way: the ten commandments state both that we’re to obey our parents, and that we’re not supposed to murder. But what if our parents tell us to murder? Well, in that case, we shouldn’t obey them as it goes against the rest of Scripture. Same thing goes here: are we allowed to do anything and everything we want to? Absolutely! It’s just we want to do has to be in context with what the rest of Scripture says. In addition to this though, it’s also very important to realize that are bodies are not our own: but the Lord’s, and meant for Him. i.e. Would you “do evil” with the Lord’s property? Then don’t do so with your own body.

But now that we’ve experienced the warning not to do things contradictory to Scripture, we need to realize that, as Christians, our minds have been encased in God’s helmet of salvation, and our wants have been changed/are being changed to reflect the wants of our Heavenly father: God. Thus, though we still need to examine our motives for doing things, and the results those things will have, it isn’t something we have to spend much time worrying about… Now, before people start getting angry, let me explain: our minds and bodies are being conformed into the image of God. Because of that, our wants are changed. What we now want should no longer be what we used to want, but should be what God wants. Therefore, we do need to keep an eye (so to speak) on our thoughts and continue to bring every wrong thought captive to God, it isn’t something we need to have a heart attack over.

To summarize: our wants and desires are no longer what they once where, but are focused on Christ. Therefore, Christians are allowed to do whatever they want to, that is in accordance with Scripture. And, for the record, if you can’t find a verse in the entire Bible that tells you can’t steal, you’re aren’t looking hard enough; same goes for everything the law says (read Romans 13 to see what I mean).

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Wants and Desires

 

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Santification

A quick warning before we start: if you’re going to read the beginning of this post, please read the end to! You need to read the end of the post in order to realize I’m not supporting legalism in the beginning… With that said:

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Such were some of you… But you’ve been washed clean by Christ. That may be one of my favorite verses in the Bible, as it perfectly captures what exactly it is that Jesus has done for us: He’s washed us clean in His blood. Sometimes we hear that phrase, as Christians, so much that it’s meaning is deadened to us. He’s actually washed us clean in His blood. Immortal God came down to Earth, becoming a man, and died for us. More than that though, now Christ has sanctified us! And, as this sanctification includes the mind, our wants and desires are changed as well… Something, however, which poses a rather interesting question:

What if I continue to want what I wanted before coming to Christ? Am I not a “true” Christian, and if not, what would make me one?

Well, I’m not about to put myself in the place of God, and tell you how to become a “true” Christian (as compared to a “false” one), but this is what the Bible says on the matter (this is the later half of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples):

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17:13-19)

Jesus says here that his disciples are “hated by the world,” something which, it is inferred, was caused by Jesus giving them His word (“I have given them my word and the world has hated them,” as if the two where synonymous). Thus, because we are also Jesus’ disciples, and have His word – and because of His word, the Bible, understand that we’re not supposed to be homosexuals, thieves, etc. – the world should “hate us” as well. If the “World” (unbelievers in general) doesn’t hate us, than the only other possibility is that the world completely loves us: there is no grey line with Christ, either you serve one master (Jesus), or the other (the World), you can’t serve both. Thus, if the World loves us, we’re not “of Christ.” See where I’m going here?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting legalism! There is forgiveness for sins, and, sadly, every Christian still falls to sin while on Earth. But we should no longer need that sin to find fulfillment. Instead, we now find fulfillment in Christ! What I’m saying is this: if we still feel as if we need to do this or that, or to have this or that, “this or that” is an idol that we’re worshiping instead of Christ! We shouldn’t need or want any sin, ever. This isn’t to say we won’t still fall (unwillingly!) to temptation, but it does mean that we’ll always get back up again. Paul puts it far better than I do:

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:1-7)

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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What It Means to Be a Temple of God

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Something some people don’t realize, is that all Christians are temples of God. – Something which is understandable, as it isn’t exactly an idea that springs to the mind easily. – being a temple of God means several things, almost all of which we can see in the above verse:

It means we’re holy, that God will destroy those who destroy us, and that God’s very spirit dwells within us. Let’s look at these each, individually:

  • We’re holy. Meaning that Jesus has now washed us clean, and that we’re spotless in the sight of God. But, along with this, it also means that God’s spirit helps to overcome sin struggles. Which is, of course, the usual way in which we think of “being holy.”
  • God will destroy those who destroy us. Those who tear us down/try to stop our ministry will “reserve their due.” Look at 2 Timothy 4:14 to see some of what I mean.
  • God’s Spirit dwells within us. Thus we have power to demolish strongholds, arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. In addition to that though, having God’s spirit dwell within us also means two more things: we no longer want what our old Spirit, the flesh, wanted (i.e. instead of wanting to sin, we should now want to please God). And we each have gifts of the Spirit (read this post for more on that subject: https://goldenbible.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/to-each-his-own-gift-is-given/).

Addition to all those things though, there’s one more: because we’re the temples of God, our bodies are no longer are own:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

We were bought with a price: Jesus’ blood. Thus, we should now serve God as best as He has enabled us! We’ve been bought at a price: let’s keep that in mind as we go about our day today.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Looking Towards the Cross

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

Paul: famous apostle of Christ, someone whose written fourteen book (known books, that is, it’s still unknown if he wrote Hebrews) of the Bible, and someone who despite beatings, whippings, and ship wrecks, persevered… Went to the Corinthians with fear, trembling, and weakness, in order to better share the Gospel with them. Not only that, but he even resolved to know nothing while he was with them but the Gospel (of Jesus). So, after reading all that, it seems rather apparent that the Gospel is important… Except, of course, in this day and age, where it needs to take a back-seat, right? After all, people today need ten steps to overcoming! They need six ways to stop getting drunk! Yes, the Gospel is vitally important to get people saved, but then we really need to put it in a corner by itself and give them “solid teaching.” — Let’s let the Bible decide if this line of thinking is wrong or right:

1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

“Standing,” implies the present tense: they were still “standing” on the Gospel, even after they had been saved. — Something which is vitally important, is the realization that the Gospel isn’t just meant to “save people,” and then put to the side. Rather, it’s the very power of God (See: Corinthians 1:5), and should be treated as such. With that being said, Paul also says this in the following verse (the verse after the one quoted earlier from 1 Corinthians):

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. (1 Corinthians 2:6)

Yes the Gospel is vitally important, and is the power of God, even so, people still do need to be taught how to avoid temptation, etc. and please don’t think i’m not saying otherwise. But we should never lose sight of the cross! This is what the author of Hebrews says on the matter:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Wordily Wisdom: The Newest Epidemic

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 John 1:9-11)

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. – That’s an interesting way of phrasing that: “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide…” John seems to be talking about those who ‘go ahead of Jesus’. But how could that be possible? After all, isn’t Jesus our ‘all in all’ and all that stuff? i.e. How can someone step in front of someone who is everything?

“I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet….I don’t think the liberals have it right. But I don’t think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.” –Brian McLaren – Well, at least he isn’t trying to leave the Gospel behind. Rather, it seems he simply doesn’t have it. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/november/12.36.html?start=4)

Whenever someone tries to introduce some deep truth, such as the one I quoted yesterday (that’s a joke!), they’re trying to put them self in front of Jesus. Whenever someone doesn’t make the Gospel of Christ – which is that he died and rose again to save us – their main subject, they’re trying to leave Jesus behind. When someone, “forgets” what their very salvation was procured by. When someone isn’t abiding in Jesus, by abiding in his word rather than his own wisdom. When someone rationalizes their sin. They all are attempting to step in front and obscure Jesus from view. A perfect example:

“So we must stop looking for some objective Truth that is available when we delve into the text of the Bible.” –Tony Jones – Can you perhaps tell I’m not a huge fan of the emerging church? (Postmodern Youth Ministry, p. 201)

What happens when we step in front of Jesus? As I’ve already mentioned, we put ourselves up front; obscuring Jesus from view. The only reason we would ever do that is out of pride! In fact, John says that even the person who simply greets such a person takes part in his wickedness; you really shouldn’t attempt to go ahead of Jesus. It never works out for anyone, much less you.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” (1 Corinthians 3:19)

When you try to use your own wisdom, God catches you. Take Bernard Madoff, he thought, using his own wisdom, that he could make his fraud work. Yet now, he’s in prison. – Trying in our own power to do anything, much less preach or teach others, is foolish. We can’t work our own way out of sin. However, we’re very capable of working our way into sin by trying to save our self through our own wisdom (which is what the emerging church leaders are trying to do). What we; what everyone, should do, is get down on our knees and thank God for sending his son to die for us and save us!

People Try To Save Them-self → They Realize That Doesn’t Work → They Decide to  justify themselves by telling others about what they must do. → People end up hurt.

The devil always makes sure of that last bit. Whether because they continue to try to work their way to Heaven all their lives, and thus go to Hell. Or because they realize their mistake, and it takes time to change; Here’s a much kept secret: Much better would be to simply realize we can’t do anything to save our self and accept Jesus’ sacrifice. In fact, better, and much safer.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Fulfillment: Our’s, and the law’s.

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (1 Corinthians 15:55-56)

How can the law be the power of sin? I always thought it was the thing that told us what to do, granted, it was more of a, “what to do; or else,” sort of thing. But it still tells us the way to salvation! So how and why does Paul say it’s the power of sin? How could something given by God himself be the power of sin?

First, how can the law be the power of sin? …

Well let’s think about it a minute. Let’s say I tell you not to think about a pink elephant (an example my dad uses). What did you just think of? A pink elephant… Adam and Eve in the garden, God told them not to the fruit of the tree of good and evil; what could they not resist doing (with a little help)? But now, is this really the purpose of the law? God after all did give it to help the Israelites, right?

20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:20-21)

The law is the power of sin in this way: it tells us what not to do, but doesn’t give us the power to do it. In fact, to the contrary, it gives us the idea of doing those things. The point of the law isn’t so much to make us perfect, as it is meant to lead us to the one who can; Christ.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Second, now that we understand the purposes of them law, what good does it do us who are saved? … i.e., now that we know what the law is meant to do; point us to Jesus. And now that we’ve been saved, what good can the law do us?

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

How does one realize they are sinful? Guilt? Some inward moral code? Your conscious? All three, or maybe some mixture? Yes, all of those things, possibly minus the second one, could be contributors, but not necessarily. Someone realizes they are sinful by, frankly speaking, realizing they’re sinful. Or more accurately, by realizing what they’re doing is wrong. How can someone experience guilt if they don’t know what they’re doing is wrong? Can’t conscious be, “dulled”? How can anyone have a inward moral code if they don’t know what is moral and what isn’t? The law is meant to show us what is right and what is wrong.

We have to keep in mind now though that the law was taken down and that it was destroyed not in part, but the whole. – The law was meant to make the Israelites look at themselves and see what they were, what they were doing. However, they could look all they wanted, they had no real ability to fully, as in, 100%, without any break, to obey it. That’s why sacrifices were instituted. We too have no ability to obey the law, that’s why the sacrifice was instituted. That one, fulfilled all the one prior to it.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Of course, we still do, “good works”. But for an entirely different reason and purpose. We found in the verse in Exodus that the Israelites had the fear of the Lord pushing them on to attempt perfection, we don’t have that. They’re purpose was as already mentioned, perfection. We won’t have that until we die and know not to the try. So what is our reason for doing anything good in life? Why not live like the nations the Israelites destroyed used to; In sin. Because as Paul noted, it’s not us so much doing the work as it is the Lord inside of us. And it’s not us who makes the work prosper, it’s the Lord (God). That’s why we still do, “good deeds”.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

[Chorus:]
Hear us say Jesus
Where are we while the world caves in? Are
we showing love or hate, are we enemy or friend
what was black and white has now turned grey
Let’s right this wrong with
love today. Stand our ground but with a helping hand

[Chorus]
So sing it out now, with one voice loud and clear
Sing
Hallelujah, for our Redemption’s near

Fall In Line
Seven PlacesCD: Hear Us Say Jesus
BEC (2004)

 

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The Work That Actually Did Save Us

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)

Wait a minute Paul, how do you know it was by God’s grace that you did all those things? As you say yourself when writing to the Philippians; formerly you were zealous for the law, perhaps you simply transferred that zeal of yours to the Gospel therefore not making it by God’s grace, but by your own works that you worked harder than anyone else. You of all people should know by now that we only need God’s grace to be saved and not for anything else, “You do your best, and God will do the rest!” and all that jazz.

First, by whose power did Paul do more than anyone else? … His own or God’s?

for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

Paul was just as zealous for the Gospel as he had been for the law, yes. However, it’s only by God’s grace the Paul could use that zeal. That saying is slightly mislead, but I won’t get into that now.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:22-23)

Like with Paul, it doesn’t matter how much zeal we have, how much we work for our salvation, however much we attempt to obey the law; we can’t do it. And it’s that we try to keep the room clean until Jesus comes to make the bed (maybe not the best analogy, but you get the point). We can’t do anything, Jesus has to come in and change our hearts around before we even realize that instead of cleaning, we’re throwing stuff on the floor. Actually, we pretty much don’t do anything, God is the one who calls us, we don’t decide to follow him. Christ is the one who gives us the will and in fact the ability to do good deeds for him.

The point being: any ability we had to obey the law, died along with the fruit that Adam and Eve plucked off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Second, how are saved then, if not by works? … You probably already know this by now, seeing as I’ve been saying it through the whole first point. But let’s highlight it slightly.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

We’re saved the same way Paul was, by faith. We can work for God the same Paul was able, through his sinful nature’s death on the cross. “How are we saved, if not by works?” That’s the whole point, we were saved by works. Not our own, but Jesus’.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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