Questions and Answers about Sin and Salvation

Romans 5:12-21
1. How did sin come into the world?
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man…

  • Adam was culpable because God had given him a direct commandment which he chose to disobey
  • The external physical world, human nature and all or our relationships are now
    affected by sin

 
2. What is the consequence of sin?
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned14
Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of
the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man…17 Forif, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man21…so that, just as sin reigned in death,

  • Death in all its forms are the direct consequence of sin
  • Physical, spiritual and eternal death now reign in creation
  • Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body
  • Spiritual death is separation from God
  • Eternal death is eternal separation from God in Hell

3. Do I sin because I am a sinner or am I sinner because I sin?
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners…

  • Adam’s sin constituted Adam and all his descendants as sinners
  • We all sinned in Adam
  • This is inherited sin or original sin
  • Adam represented the human race. Every person comes into this world a sinner, our choices flow from our nature, so we sin because we are sinners

 
4. What does it mean to have my spiritual identity in Adam?
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man… 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment
followed one sin and brought condemnation,… 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man… 18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men… 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners

  • The is the spiritual resume of every person apart from being born again by the Spirit and receiving a new identity in Jesus Christ
  • This is humanity as being dead in trespasses and sins
  • In Adam all are sinners, under death, under condemnation and judgment
  • We have Adam’s identity and curse imputed to us
  • This is our resume by virtue of our solidarity with Adam; we are sinners who sin and under condemnation and death; we are objects of God’s wrath
  • If we come to God on the day of Judgment with this resume, God’s decision will be one of justice and eternal condemnation


5. What does it mean to have my spiritual identity in Christ
15 But the gift is not like the trespass… how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!16
Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin:… but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17…how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18…so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19…so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous

  • In Christ we are under grace, declared righteous, reigning in life
  • God wipes out our old resume in Adam and gives us a new one in Christ
  • God credits to our account all the work of Christ
  • We have Christ’s identity and blessing imputed to us


6. What sustains me in Christ, today, tomorrow and for all eternity?
20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also
grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  • We have all the more increasing grace; grace triumphs over sin and death
  • Grace reigns through righteousness
  • Grace brings eternal life through Christ
  • We begin the Christian life by grace and that same grace triumphantly works in us now unto to eternal life… it is reigning grace
  • We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!

 

Asking God for big things

How’s your prayer power? Before you answer, remember God is the One who answers prayer. It is not our goodness, spirituality or even fervency that ultimately determines the moving of God. It is His grace, His prerogative, His power and His faithfulness to keep His promises. So what is our part…to pray!
This morning I read the following passage from the book of Acts:
“1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.”
12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the brothers about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.” (Acts 12:1-17)
The early church did not have enough influence to pressure the government to release Peter. However, they prayed and Peter was miraculously released. But notice their response when Rhoda announces that Peter is at the door; unbelief, astonishment and skepticism. The point is that even when we pray for miracles our faith can be weak and we can be surprised when God answers. While faith is important in the Christian life, God is not limited by the size of our faith; He does what He does for His glory. The point is not to minimize or disregard our need to grow strong in faith; it is to realize that even our small faith should not deter us from asking big things from God. God is Big. Let’s learn to ask big things from a big God. Don’t look to your faith, look to God!

In the Bible, the existence of God is presupposed rather than proven. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The whole of the Old and New Testaments affirm the existence of God and of His self-revelation in Jesus Christ. This Biblical presupposition is used by the Apostle Paul to show that every person is accountable to God. Paul argues in Romans 1:18-21,
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
God exists and He has made Himself known. To deny this is to bring self-condemnation and is ultimately a moral decision rather than an intellectual one. In numerous discussions with people about these truths, the following arguments have been used to confirm what the Bible presupposes; God exists and we are accountable to Him:
1. The Limited Knowledge Argument
The limited knowledge argument goes like this: Humankind possesses a fraction of the sum total of all there is to know about everything. Any given individual has even less personal knowledgethan the collective total of human knowledge and the collective total of human knowledge is a small fraction of all total possible knowledge. (This can beillustrated in a pie graph where a small percentage of known data is comparedto the great amount of unknown facts). Given this reality, one must askthemselves, “Is it possible, in the vast amount of information of which I have noknowledge, that God exists? If I say no, then I am claiming to know everything,which I don’t. Therefore, I must acknowledge that God’s existence is at leastpossible” This argument is designed to move people from pseudo-atheism toagnosticism. Agnostics make the claim that they don’t know. Other arguments andthe clear revelation of God in the Bible are used to affirm the existence of God and the good news of how we can know Him personally.
2. Cosmological Argument
The term “cosmological” comes from the Greek word “cosmos” which means “world.” The cosmological argument for God’s existence goes like this: The world could not exist on its own so there must have been a first cause that brought it into being. This first cause is God. Or put another way, the universe could not just exist on its own—someone or something must have made it. The first cause must be sufficient enough and powerful enough to initiate all other causes. This cause of the universe is God.
3. Teleological Argument
The teleological argument is also known as “the argument from design” (The Greek word “telos” means “purpose” or “design.”). The argument goes like this: The universe evidences great complexity or design; thus, it must have been designed by a great Designer or God.
The argument from design can be likened to a watch. A watch is obviously made by a watchmaker. The world, which is much more complex than a watch, must also have been designed by a great Designer or Divine Watchmaker (God).
In sum, the teleological argument asserts that the universe evidences too much complexity to be the product of random chance. We know that the celestial bodies move with perfect accuracy in their orbits. Our bodies, too, are incredibly complex. According to the teleological argument, there’s just no way all this complexity could “just happen.” God must have created it all.
4. Ontological Argument
The third argument for God’s existence is the ontological argument. The Greek word “ontos” is a form of the verb “to be or to exist”. This argument is unlike the cosmological and teleological arguments in that it does not argue from evidence in the natural world. Thus, it is not a “cause and effect” argument.
The ontological argument can be stated in this way: “God is the greatest being imaginable. One of the aspects of perfection or greatness is existence. Thus, God exists.” Or put another way—“The fact that God can be conceived means that he must exist.”
This argument for God’s existence was developed by the twelfth century theologian and philosopher, Anselm. It is based on Anselm’s declaration that God is “that which nothing greater can be conceived.”
5. Moral Law Argument
Another argument for the existence of God is the moral law argument. It goes like this: Morality is the notion of right and wrong. Right and wrong must have an objective standard for evaluation. Absolute right and wrong necessitates an absolute standard. An absolute standard requires an Absolute Lawgiver. Without God morality would be impossible. There must be a Lawgiver (God) who originates and stands by moral law. A universal moral law cannot exist accidentally. There must be a basis behind it—God.
According to this view, every person is born with an inherent understanding of right and wrong. Everyone, for instance, understands that killing an innocent person is wrong. Everyone understands that helping a drowning person is right. Where did this internal understanding of right and wrong come from? According to adherents of the moral law argument, this understanding comes from God. He put it into the hearts of every person. This is the affirmation of the Apostle Paul in Romans 2:14-16
14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Jesus changes lives

The message of Christianity is one of personal transformation.  The radical claims of Christ are the hope of forgiveness, reconciliation and new life.  The Bible promises the following:
2 Corinthians 5:17
17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Romans 5:1-2
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
Ephesians 2:4-6
4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus
One of the most compelling reasons for people to believe in Jesus Christ is because He promises to change their lives.
An example of this is found in Luke 19. This passage records the story of Jesus’ encounter with a man named Zacchaeus.   Zacchaeus was a tax collector, one of the most despised professions of the day.  Tax collectors leveraged the clout of Rome to rip people off of not only their legitimate taxes but also any additional money they could extort.  The story describes that Jesus came to the town where Zacchaeus lived.  Being a short man, Zacchaeus climbed up a tree to make sure he got a good look at Jesus when he passed by.  As Jesus walked by where Zacchaeus was perched, he stopped, looked up and addressed the man in the tree: “Zacchaeus come down for today salvation has come to your house!”  Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus completely changed the direction of his life.  Luke 19:8 records the words of Zacchaeus to Jesus, “8But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Before meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus was a selfish money-hungry tax collector.  After meeting Jesus, he was generous, concerned for the poor and desirous of making restitution to anyone he had wronged.  Jesus changes lives.
Probably the most powerful example of the life changing power of Christ is found in Christianity’s greatest antagonist and proponent, the Apostle Paul.  Acts 9 describes the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.  Saul was a Pharisee, trained in all the intricacies of Jewish Law.  He was so zealous for his religion that he felt duty bound to persecute those whom he deemed as heretics and blasphemers.  It was this religious fervor that led Saul to hunt down, imprison and even preside over the execution of Christians.  On his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, Saul had an encounter with the resurrected Jesus Christ.  Blinded and confused, Saul was led back to the city of Damascus.  There he met a man named Ananias who spoke to him about the way of Jesus.  Saul was converted to Christ and immediately began to speak publicly about Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God.  Acts chapters 13-28 describe the missionary journeys of Saul, who changed his name to Paul.  Paul wrote most of the New Testament and eventually died as a martyr because of his faith in Christ.  In his own words Paul said this in 1 Timothy 1:15-17,
 15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul lived with a daily appreciation for how Jesus Christ had changed his life.  The angry, driven and self-righteous Pharisee was transformed into a humble and influential Apostle of Christ.  Jesus changes lives.
How about you? Are you experiencing the life-changing power of Jesus Christ? God’s offer is open to anyone who would believe. 2 Corinthians 3:15-18 promises:
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Turn to Christ and ask Him to change your life.

10 Steps to Developing God's Vision for your Life

How to develop God’s vision for your life?
1. Surrender your whole life to God 
Mt. 6:33
“33But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Romans 12:1-2
 “1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
2. Confess any known sin
Psalm 66:18
“18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
      the Lord would not have listened.”
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
3. Obediently pursue what you know to be God’s will
John 14:21
21Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to
4. Seek God through prayer, fasting and worship 
Acts 13:1-5
 1In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.4The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
5. Search the Scriptures for the revealed will of God
Acts 17:10-11
 10As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true
6. Be attentive to the impressions and guidance of the Holy Spirit 
John 16:13-15
13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.
7. Honestly evaluate your gifts, talents, passion and resources 
1 Peter 4:10-11
10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Romans 12:3
Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but think so as to have proper judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
8. Use your mind, know the times and learn from others
1       Chronicles 12:32
 32 From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course
9. Translate God’s vision into faith goals and practical action steps
Heb. 11:1
 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
1 Cor. 9:24-27
 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
10.  Believe great things about God, ask great things of God, attempt great things for God
Eph. 3:20-21
 20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Jer. 33:3
3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’
Is. 6:8
 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Experiencing the work of the Spirit

Biblical Titles for the Holy Spirit
The titles for the Holy Spirit reveal who He is and what He does. The following titles reveal how the Holy Spirit acts in relation to God’s people in order to accomplish God’s purposes. Look up each verse and ask the Holy Spirit to work in your life according to His nature and ministry.
Luke 11:13
“If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (The promise of Jesus)

  1. Spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14)
  2. Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17)
  3. Spirit of counsel (Isaiah 11:2)
  4. Spirit of might (Isaiah 11:2)
  5. Spirit of understanding (Isaiah 11:2)
  6. Spirit of knowledge (Isaiah 11:2)
  7. Spirit of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2)
  8. Spirit of judgment (Isaiah 4:4;28:6)
  9. Spirit of burning (Isaiah 4:4)
  10. Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate ( John 14:16,26;15:26)
  11. Spirit of truth ( John 14:17;15:26)
  12. Power of the Highest (Luke 1:35)
  13. Holy Spirit (Psalms 51:11; Luke 11:13; Ephesians 1:13;4:30)
  14. Spirit of Life (Romans 8:2)
  15. Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15)
  16. Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:8-11)
  17. Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:9-11)
  18. Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29)
  19. Spirit of the Living God (2 Corinthians 3:3)
  20. Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4)

How to overcome fear

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear can stop us dead in our tracks or cause us to run in panic. Fear is one of the biggest Goliath’s that people face. Fear creates a biochemical reaction that can either be paralyzing or can induce a hyper-sensitivity to our environment. Fear can make us run; fear can paralyze us or fear can make us imagine things that aren’t even true. Fear deceived the army of Israel.  1 Samuel 17:8-11 says,
8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
“Saul and all his army were dismayed and terrified”, what pitiful words.  Satan’s goal is to neutralize every one of us with fear.  When we are afraid we take our eyes off of God.  When we are afraid we obsess on the object of our fear.  When we are afraid we become self-centered and defensive.  When we are afraid we lash out in anger and isolate ourselves in shame.  When we are afraid we become self-focused rather than God-focused and we become vulnerable to Goliath-sized attacks.  Weakened by fear, we become susceptible to temptation, accusation and deception.
In the book of Joshua, God encourages Joshua to overcome his fears with faith. Three times in chapter one God told Joshua, “Be strong and courageous”. Like Joshua, we need to be strong and courageous in obeying God’s Word. Joshua 1:7-9 says this,
7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We need to obey all the law; we need to stay on its path; we need to have it in our hearts and on our lips; we need to meditate on it day and night and we need to be careful do everything written in it!  This is God’s game plan for success and the true way to overcome our fears.  God’s Word is a guide to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105).  It is the truth that sets us free (John 8:31-32).  It teaches us, rebukes us, corrects us, trains us in righteousness and equips us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  God’s Word literally has the power to change our lives (Hebrews 4:12).  For any one of us struggling with fear, it is the Word of God that replaces fear with faith;Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Rather than being defeated by fear, we can be strong and courageous when we meditate on and apply the Word of God to our lives.

Your Mind Matters

Romans 7:25 states, “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Our minds are the key to the Spirit filled life of victory. This is true because the spiritual battle wages most intensely in our thought life. Our thoughts either reinforce our pursuit of godliness or they lead us to follow our sinful desires. Romans 8:5-7 says:
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Notice the emphasis on the mind. What we allow to occupy our minds inevitably gets expressed through our words and our actions. Picture it this way: Suppose you are on a camping trip with some friends. There is no purified water so you need to boil water to drink.  You set up your Coleman stove, light the gas and put on a pot of water.  Pretty soon the water boils and steam rises out from the pot. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you don’t want any steam to escape from the pot…you find a lid and put it on top of the boiling water. This works for awhile but as the pressure builds in the pot, steam inevitably escapes. You can try to find a heavier lid but what else could you do to stop steam from coming out of the pot? That’s right, turn off the heat!  Here’s the analogy; the fire represents our thoughts, the water represents our emotions and the steam represents our actions.  The fire of our thoughts boils the water of our emotions which produces the steam of our actions. What we think about captures our feelings and influences our behavior.  There is an inseparable relationship between our thoughts, our feelings and our actions. 
Lasting spiritual change happens when we have renewed minds. Romans 12:2 asserts, “Stop being conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” We renew our minds when we surrender our thoughts to the Holy Spirit’s control and we meditate on God’s truth. Colossians 3:2 exhorts us, “Set your minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
Here are practical applications:

  1. Begin every day with a prayer of surrendering your mind to the Spirit’s control. Ask Him to fill your thoughts and your life (Luke 11:13, Romans 8:5-7)
  2. Take some time every day to read God’s Word. As you read the Scriptures, ask God to speak to you and fill you with His thoughts (1 Cor. 2:10-16, Joshua 1:8)
  3. Discipline yourself to hide God’s Word in your hearts by regularly memorizing Scripture. Begin with Romans 8:1-17. Take one or two verses a week, memorize it and daily speak it to yourself and to God (Psalm 119:9-11, Matthew 4:1-11)

 
“Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)

What's the big deal about Jesus?

 
Have you ever wondered, “What’s the big deal about Jesus?” The New Testament consistently presents Jesus as the unique God-Man, the author of salvation and the only way to eternal life.   In order to understand Christianity, we must honestly deal with the claims of Jesus and the eye witness testimony of His disciples.  Consider the following truth claims presented in the New Testament:
1. Jesus claimed to be the source of truth:
John 8:31-32
31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 
John 14:6
6Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me 
2. Jesus claimed to be equal with God:
John 10:30-33
30I and the Father are one.”
31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32but Jesus said to them, “I have
shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
 
John 14:8-10
8Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the
Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” 
3. Jesus claimed to be the unique way of salvation: 
John 3:35-36
35The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” 
Mark 8:34-38
34Then Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life[1] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

4. The eye witness followers of Jesus claimed He was God, the only way to salvation: 
Acts 4:11-13
11Peter, speaking of Jesus said, 
   ”He is the stone you builders rejected,
       which has become the capstone. 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
 
1 Timothy 1:15-17
15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 
Philippians 2:5-11
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should   bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,  to the glory of God the Father. 
The claims of Jesus are both audacious and exclusive. One cannot escape the narrowness of their implication. The law of non-contradiction leads us to the conclusion that the claims of Jesus are either true or they are false. They cannot be both true and false at the same time. The law of the excluded-middle negates the option of a gray area in between. Jesus’ claims are black or white, there is no middle ground.  Jesus claimed to be God and the only way to salvation. If His claims are false, Jesus either knew they were false or he thought they were true.  If Jesus claimed to be God and the only way to salvation but knew His claims were false then He would be a liar.  If Jesus sincerely thought he was God and that He could forgive the sins of all men but it wasn’t true, His claims would be the delusional statements of a man with a mental disorder!  What option best fits the evidence?  Does Scripture and the testimony of history, present Jesus as a liar, a lunatic or Lord?  There is no other option. 
One can’t simply believe that Jesus was a good man or a wise teacher.  If you dismiss the claims of Jesus as false, by default you either believe Jesus to be deceptive or delusional. If you do not regard the statements of Jesus as true, you cannot accept Him as a moral man or spiritual teacher.  Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic or Lord.  Based on the profound example of Jesus’ life and the historicity of His claims, I am convinced that Jesus is who He claimed to be, the only Savior and God.

God Can Change Your Life

Our son was in his element, sitting in his high chair and feeding down on green beans, the baby food variety. As new parents, my wife and I were thrilled to be out to dinner at a nice restaurant with our 6 month old happy, occupied and quiet! His appetite was voracious, working on his third jar of Gerber’s; I noticed there were green beans all over his face and bib. I could just hear John Madden announcing in NFL style, “Now that’s a baby, smiling-food all over the place-that’s a baby!” As I looked closer, not only had the green beans managed to get all over his face, they were on his legs, his shorts and actually spilling onto the floor.  A quick inventory led me to conclude with pinpoint accuracy, “There are more green beans on the ground than in the three jars I just fed this kid.” Before I could reveal my observation to my wife, reality assaulted my olfactory system! You guessed it; those weren’t green beans erupting from the sides of his diapers. Right there in the middle of the restaurant my son had a blow out rivaling Mt. St. Helens! 
Only a parent who’s been there, done that, can appreciate the plop-plop-plop trek I made from the high chair to the restroom, arms fully extended holding my still smiling infant. Examining the damage, I muttered under my breath “This boy needs to be changed”.
Pardon my crass analogy but those are words that could be rightly spoken about the condition of each and every one of our hearts. We need to be changed. We need the cleansing, renewing and re-making that only God can provide. Here’s the good news: God has been in the diaper business for a long time! However we’ve messed ourselves, God can clean us, God can forgive us, God can empower us, and God can change us! 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 states, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all with unveiled faces, beholding and reflecting as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord are being changed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, even from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Let’s take God at His Word and experience the power of the Holy Spirit to change our lives. Let’s claim the promises of 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. Let’s look to God without any veils or masks. Let’s behold and meditate on His glory and invite Him to transform our lives. The promise of God is that the Holy Spirit brings freedom and He changes our lives!