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Hid with Christ

Some days I wrestle with the words, trying to discern their meaning.  Yet, today the words SHOUTED clearly right off the page:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Col 3:1-4, emphasis mine)

What, I’m dead and my life is hid with Christ in God?  That means that I am no longer in me but in Him.  I have been spiritually circumcised out of my flesh and placed into the body of Christ.  Though I still walk in this flesh and these bones, I am already seated at the right hand of the Father with Christ:

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Eph 2:6, emphasis mine).  Notice the past tense.

Through faith, Christ has put His righteousness on my account, taking my sins on His.

And (Abraham) being fully persuaded that, what he (God) had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Rom 4:21-25, emphases mine)

Every promise of God to me is already fulfilled in Christ:

For all the promises of God in him (Christ Jesus) are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2Co 1:20, emphasis mine)

Through I may not yet experience these truths in my present physical reality (I am still walking on this earth and living and breathing in this fleshly body), it does not change the truth of God’s Word – that positionally, in His eyes, I am in His Son:

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Rom 4:16-17, emphasis mine)

I am not my own, I am His.  I belong to Him; therefore, what can any power of earth, heaven, or hell do to me?  Absolutely nothing!  Oh, I might be persecuted, face hardships, get a disease, or even be killed, but absolutely nothing evil will ever pluck me from His hand:

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31-39, emphasis mine)

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2Ti 1:12)

I just had to rejoice in these truths today.  Thank you for allowing me to share them with you.

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2013 in Christian Studies

 

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Brother Phil Robertson’s Personal Testimony… It Is A Blessing To Hear!

This is a reblog from “Settled In Heaven Ministries“, a blog that I occasionally read. The post is the personal testimony of Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame.

Settled In Heaven Blog

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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in News and Culture

 

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Isaac’s Legacy

CCI07082013_00001

Cover of this summer’s “The Village Witness” newsletter

It started with a video that moved a boy’s heart to give all that he had at the time.  Now our hearts are motivated to honor our son’s compassion for the children of India.

We feel extremely blessed that Mission India chose to publish this story in memory of Isaac in this summer’s The Village Witness newsletter.  You can read about Isaac’s compassion and desire for the children of India to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ by clicking on the link below:

Village Witness – Summer 2013_Newsletter – Isaac’s story

Reinforcing Brenda’s closing quote in the article, our desire is that Isaac’s compassion can make a lasting impact on this world and in eternity for God’s glory.

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. (Psa 115:1)

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2013 in Family Updates

 

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Tax Collectors and Harlots

The words of the Lord Jesus Christ, as quoted by Matthew, a publican (tax collector):

But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. (Mat 21:28-32)

The setting for this discourse is the temple in Jerusalem during the week leading up to Christ’s crucifixion.  His main audience is the chief priests and elders of the people, who had just challenged Christ’s authority.  Jesus responded by asking them from whom John the Baptist received his authority, from God or from man.  The leaders refused to answer because either response would be met with a challenge, either from Christ or from the people (you can read this exchange in Mat 21:23-27).  Jesus then refused to answer their challenge, however he then proceeded to tell the parable quoted above.

Let’s first examine the second son in the parable.  He said that he would obey his father but did not follow through in his actions.  He represents the religious leaders, who appeared to say all the right words and followed the letter of the law.  However, their hearts were not turned to God.  They had a form of godliness, but denied His power to change a person from the inside out.  Here is a group of people who knew the Scriptures, yet would not heed the call to personal repentance presented by John the Baptist.  Do we know anyone who is “religious” yet in his/her heart is rebellious towards God?  How about ourselves?  Are we saying that we follow God yet in our hearts are harboring bitterness, greed, envy, etc.?

Now let’s examine the first son in the parable.  He initially said that he would not obey his father, but then changed his mind and did what his father commanded (i.e. he repented).  Jesus associates this son with publicans (tax collectors) and harlots.  These people groups could be classified as the most despised and immoral members of society, the worst of all sinners (do you think this parable spoke especially to Matthew, a tax collector?).  They did not initially follow the law of God, but when they heard the call to repent they changed their ways and obeyed.  What is God’s command?

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1Jn 3:23)

There are days when I need to be reminded of the simplicity and purity of the Gospel.  It is the message of salvation to anyone who will believe in Jesus Christ, regardless of their past.  His blood was shed to cover and take away our sins.   That is why I believe that the gravest of sinners can be saved.  Repentant tax collectors and harlots understand that they have nothing to boast of before a holy and righteous God.  They can only cast themselves upon His great mercy, which was displayed at the cross.  That mercy and goodness leads to repentance.  Yet, those who are considered “good” by society can easily be fooled into thinking they have something to boast of before God.  They often don’t see their need for a Savior, but often measure themselves against their own standard of righteousness.  They foolishly believe that they have led a “good enough” life.  Yet, no matter how good of a life we have lived, we cannot be made right with God by our own efforts for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

So which of these sons in this parable do you most identify with?  Are we willing to see ourselves as tax collectors and harlots and repent of our sinful ways and place our faith in Christ alone?  I hope that you have or will consider making that decision today.

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Christian Studies

 

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About Grace

Sometimes we (or I) need a refresher on the basics…

At our men’s group last Saturday morning, a brother shared the following passage from the Word of God:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Tit 2:11-14, emphasis added)

Notice that it is the grace of God that saves and teaches us.  We are to be looking for Christ, who has redeemed and purified us.  As we look for and obey Christ Jesus, we appear unusual to this world and are eager to do good works.  Grace comes before and leads to the works, not the other way around.  Sometimes we get it backwards and try to offer our works to God to make ourselves holy or merit His grace.

The Scripture also reminds us that:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10, emphasis added)

So, what if after being saved we continue to sin?  Do we return to works to try to purify ourselves?  No, for works will not cover for or keep us from sinning, but Christ’s love will:

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (2Co 5:14, emphasis added)

Have you ever been motivated from your heart to please a harsh taskmaster?  Rather, are you motivated to please someone who shows you love and mercy, such as Jesus Christ has shown us?  Are we motivated by duty (law) or love (grace)?

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:24-26)

It is Christ’s love and sacrifice that moves my heart to follow and obey Him.  I want to honor Him while I am on this earth.  When I focus on my shortcomings and try to overcome them in my own strength, then I stumble.  But, when I go to the cross and see the amazing grace and love poured out for me, a sinner, than I am motivated and empowered to turn about-face and live rightly.  The cross shows me that I am a dead man, slain with Christ, and I now live because Christ lives in me.

Isaac’s home-made cross

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Gal 2:20-21)

Do you notice the phase “grace of God” again?  Using the free downloadable e-Sword software, I searched for the phrase “Grace of God” in the New Testament.  You can access the resulting verse list here.

My hope and prayer is that you and I see God’s grace expressed in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and that we would be a people motivated by grace to please God.

Living in grace,

Andy

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Christian Studies

 

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God’s Forgetfulness

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psa 103:12)

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Heb 8:12)

How can God not remember our sins anymore? Obviously, since God is omniscient (all-knowing), He does not just struggle to remember things like we do. He does not need to keep “to-do” lists so that He doesn’t forget to pick up that item at the grocery store. He doesn’t forget someone’s name. He doesn’t forget what He did yesterday. So what do these verses really mean?

I think that God doesn’t hold us accountable for our sins anymore. When we are baptized into Christ Jesus (not water baptism, but born again into the Body of Christ), we take on His identity. Jesus Christ was the only sinless person to ever live. When He died on the cross, He took on the guilt of our sins so that we can take on His righteousness through faith. So, when God looks at the account of the believer, He sees the sinless record of Christ Jesus instead of the sinful account of the old man.

So, if God forgets our sins then why can’t we?

One argument against Christianity is that it is too easy to just believe and be saved. Someone can infer that one can sin all they want to and then just believe and be saved (i.e. salvation without consequences). While I can understand that point on the surface, I know that it is not just that simple in the experience of the believer (while perhaps it actually should be!). As someone who has been forgiven much, I struggle with the pain of remembering my past life. My old man and enemy remind and tempt me with those things that once promised “pleasure”. Now I have to fight the battle to cast those memories onto Christ, who has made me a new creature. My history is Christ’s history, not the old Andy’s. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1). Perhaps that fact is easier to read and quote than it is to walk it out.

A brother in Christ recently marveled at the Apostle Paul’s statement about having “wronged no man” (see 2Co 7:2). In context, Paul is speaking about his actions as a minister of the Gospel. However, one could look at Paul’s past and accuse him of falsehood in such a statement. Paul (once more widely known as Saul) was a great persecutor of Christians and held the coats of others as Stephen was stoned for his faith in Christ (see Acts 7:58 and 22:20). I believe that Paul could make that statement because he understood who he was in Christ. Being a new creature, he had wronged no man according to God’s record. What an amazing truth that, if we grabbed a hold of it for ourselves, would enable us to walk in freedom from the guilt of our past.

Let us march on in the freedom of God’s forgetfulness.

Blessings,

Andy

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Christian Studies

 

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Blessed Assurance

This week, my good friend John Mallonee wrote a devotion of hope titled Blessed Assurance.  You can read it by clicking here (under Archives, Week 8, 2012).

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Christian Studies

 

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