Posts Tagged Jesus Christ

The Best Wedding Ever

It is a marvelous season of the year, and my life, as I have the joy and honor of seeing many of my friends happily becoming engaged or married. I have witnessed two weddings of very dear friends in this month alone, one of which was the most beautiful wedding I have ever been to. The chapel was gracefully decorated, paper lanterns of various shapes glowing blue. The wedding party entered, dressed in fine regalia, and the groom was beaming with joy of a dream come true. His youngest brother came in carrying a sign that read, “Here comes the bride!”

We all stood and turned our heads; it was as though an angel had appeared in our midst. Wearing white – the radiant fire of true purity – she shone in the light. The entire affair was pure loveliness, pure radiance, pure joy. The Light of the World shone through His beloved vessels that night.

The second wedding of the month was equally wonderful, but it felt different, unique. The bride appeared ethereal, and as we all stood gazing, the groom could not help but let a quick “Oh my goodness” escape his lips.

Then came the consummation of it all, when, after the vows had been said, the covenant had been affirmed, the pastor said, “You may now kiss your bride.” Oh, the beauty of pure love! I challenge any man who does not believe in magic to witness the purity and the happiness I saw as, somehow, two people are made into one flesh. This is something that the world cannot understand, for it is holy.

It is especially magical, knowing personally the bride and groom, and being intimate with their love story. The first groom is a man who has been my elder brother, a companion, and friend. The second, an intimate brother, one with whom I have fought alongside of, laughed alongside of, and cried alongside of. Their stories are both testimonies to the great grace and love of our God. As they both begin their lives together with their new spouses, I ask God to bless their unions. What God hath joined together, may no man break asunder.

Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 are some of the greatest and most beautiful verses on marriage in Scripture:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

In the end, every Christian marriage is to be a parable of the love Christ has for His Church. A wedding ceremony in itself is a picture of this: The bride, dressed in white, cleansed and pure. They exchange a covenant, holy before God. The groom gives his life to his bride; the bride, in return, takes on the groom’s name, and will forever be known by him. They came in separate; they leave as one. This parable known as marriage will one day end, for it is but a shadow of what is to come. And imagine – if the shadow is glorious, how much more the fullness!

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I Am a Hypocrite

My name is Nik, and I am a hypocrite.

I have written many a post in my day, in both this blog and my old one. However, I have not always lived according to what I wrote. No one ever wants to become a hypocrite, least of all me. Yet, inadvertently, I have become the very thing I have hated. Perhaps you say I judge myself to hard; but if I say one thing and live another, what do you call that?

I have lied.

I have cut corners.

I have let my eyes wander.

I have toyed with unholy thoughts.

I have been irritable.

I have wasted time.

I have presented myself as spiritual when I haven’t been.

And not only that; what about the things I have not done?

I have not loved my neighbor as myself.

I have not used my time to pursue God.

I have not been devoted to my spiritual practices.

I have not cared about the lost and dying world outside my door.

What am I?

Liar.

Murderer.

Cheater.

Sloth.

I am all this and more:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” – Romans 3:10-18

I am a criminal worthy of damnation. The worst sin is not necessarily an act; it is an attitude. It is called pride. It can infiltrate the highest levels of religion; and far too often it has found a home in me.

BUT

“… if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

All the above? That’s the Old Nik. According to Romans 6, Old Nik is dead and buried; has been for some time now. He pops his head in every once in a while; but he is dead. He has legally been ousted. The New Nik is here. I am no longer all of the above.

I am in Christ.

I am pure.

I am free from sin.

I am accepted with God.

I have been adopted as His son.

He has given me…

“…beauty for ashes”

“… the oil of joy for mourning”

“… the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” – Isaiah 61:3

How has this happened?

“And, having made peace through the blood of [Christ’s] cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight…” – Colossians 1:20-22

Though I utterly deserve to be damned by God, I have peace with Him because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I no longer have to wear a mask and pretend I’m good or spiritual, because in Him, I actually can be good and spiritual. There is no room for pride at the cross. It goes; for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. I can only live the life He has called me to by His grace. Nothing else can do it. Only by His grace; only by Him.

 

A similar post by a friend: http://www.cowtippinjosh.com/2011/03/im-a-hypocrite.html 

The sermon that stirred these thoughts: http://ellerslie.com/Eric_Ludy_Sermons/Entries/2012/4/29_When_a_Pastor_Leads_a_Double_Life.html

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Dripping Red

Lately I have been meditating on the death of Christ and all that achieved for us, particularly the aspect of cleansing by blood. Perhaps that is why one particular line from the new film The Avengers struck me in a unique way. One of the main characters, known as Black Widow, has been a spy and an assassin in the past. She has killed numerous people, purposefully and perhaps accidentally. Because of this, the main villain mocks her, “You don’t just have red on your record; your record is dripping in blood. And you think repaying some small debt will change that?” Later, she confesses to another hero, “My record is dripping with red. And I want it cleared.”

This thought struck me: we all have records dripping with blood. It reminded me of Romans 3:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

And again, in Isaiah 64:

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

I highly doubt any of you have been undercover spies for Russia and have assassinated multiple people. Neither have I. However, the simple truth of Scripture remains as this: we are all, without the aid of Christ and God, unrighteous. Our records are black with sin and rebellion against the Most High, and we deserve to be punished. Think with me about this for a moment. You and I both deserve the full weight of the punishment of God.

However, God has not left us in this miserable state with a bloodstained record. He says to ancient Israel, and to us all, in Isaiah 1: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

How is this accomplished? In ancient Israel, God laid down a law that said that all sins must be atoned for by blood. This process is very vividly described in the book of Leviticus. A bull or ram had to be offered; otherwise your sin was upon your own head and your blood was on your own hands. All these sacrifices were merely shadows of God’s original plan to permanently remove the stain of sin from our record. Thus, at just the right time, God came in the flesh, in the form of a child, Jesus, the Messiah.

Paul tells us of this marvelous mystery of redemption in Romans:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God…”

Can you see it? Though our record drips with blood; though our hearts are black with sin; though we deserve the wrath of God as punishment; God has not abandoned us. Our record can be made clean; our hearts can be purged from the black of sin; we can be at peace with God, our Creator and Redeemer. How is this accomplished? Through the poured out blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, if you are in Christ, then you have been made pure in God’s sight! That should be enough to make us weep with joy. Isaiah speaks this beautifully in 61, which testifies of the Messiah, Jesus:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound… to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness… I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…”

We have been clothed in the very righteousness of Christ and through that have been reconciled unto God. When God looks upon us, He does not see our sin, but righteousness. Our record has been cleared, as though it never happened. This is not license to sin; far be it from me to take advantage of this unspeakable gift I have been given! No, this is all the more reason for me to live a life pleasing to God! If God sees me as pure, I want to be pure! I want to be purged inside and out from my sin!

Dear friends, do not take the blood of Christ for granted. It is not to be handled lightly. If you stand in Christ today, listen no longer to the lies of the enemy that say, “You’re impure, and you’ll always be impure, and there’s nothing that you can do about it.” Yes, we cannot do anything; but praise God, we don’t have to, because God Himself has already done it!

And if you stand outside of Christ, or if you have never thought this way before, then come to Christ. Let your cry be the same as King David’s: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Through Christ, you can be reconciled to God. You will be guilty no longer. Hear His words to the adulteress:

“Woman, where are your accusers? has no man condemned you?”

She said, “No man, Lord.”

And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

This song has been the meditation of my heart. Sit for a moment and just think on all God has done for us, and let that overflow your heart into praise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WpQA9ybz8c

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The Foundation of our Faith

Yesterday we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have noticed, however, in my own life and in the church a great lack of emphasis on the resurrection. It is in fact the very foundation of our faith. Just listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (Emphasis Added)”

Not only there, but all across scripture you find the significance of the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ; they are not mutually exclusive. What the first accomplished, the other proved.

So I want to expound upon a few of the incredible things the resurrection of Jesus Christ achieved. This is by no means a comprehensive list and for brevity’s sake has been shortened from my original study; but I hope it will bless you as it did me when I studied it.

1.       It proved He was who He said He was. “…declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead…” (Rom. 1:4)

When Jesus walked this earth, He claimed to be the Son of God. It was for this (supposed) blasphemy that He was slain. Those watching mocked Him, saying, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” Yet Jesus didn’t answer His accusers with a word; He answered them with the undeniable testimony of the resurrection, appearing to the disciples and 500 after. The Roman centurion said at His death, “Surely this was the Son of God”; how much more would he have said that if he had seen the resurrection? Jesus was no mere man, no mere teacher; He was everything He claimed to be: the Son of God, the Messiah, sent from heaven to save His people from their sins.

2.       It proved His defeat over sin, leaving it in the tomb, and won life abundant now for those who believe. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

Paul expounds upon the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ throughout Romans 6. I am struck by the profound depth of the simple act of baptism. It’s not just being submerged under water; it’s being submerged in Christ. As Christ went to death, He slew sin in us, our old man, the flesh. And in the tomb it has stayed. When He returned to life, He brought us with Him so that we might live in new and true life. As the well known verse states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no longer must we walk according to our old patterns of life trapped in sin. On top of that, we can have life, peace, and joy in Him. He doesn’t just remove the old; He replaces it with something new, something radiant and beautiful.

3.       It proved that Christ has the power over death, that death shall one day ultimately be undone, and that we shall enjoy life everlasting with Him forever.  “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:53-55)

I agree with Charles Spurgeon when he said that 1 Corinthians 15 was perhaps the most eloquent chapter in the Bible. It is a chapter of the hope of resurrection life with Christ for all eternity. It is the chapter that details the ultimate destruction of Death itself. How great this hope we have is. 1 Peter 1:3-4 says, “In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you…” It is this inheritance that we shall one day be brought to through the gates of death. For those who believe, death is not the end; it is merely the beginning into something far greater and far more wonderful than anything this life can hold. This is the hope of Christianity, and it is not some vain hope. It is not like the farmer’s hope for rain or my hope I’ll get the things I want. Those hopes might not be realized; our hope in Christ is rock solid. Nothing can shake it or move it. It is a hope based on a fact.

Do you have this hope? Do you want this hope? Do you want joy and peace and life in Christ, here and now? He is who He said He was: the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior. If you turn to Him with your whole heart, you shall not be disappointed.

Yesterday we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have noticed, however, in my own life and in the church a great lack of emphasis on the resurrection. It is in fact the very foundation of our faith. Just listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:

“Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (Emphasis Added)”

Not only there, but all across scripture you find the significance of the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ; they are not mutually exclusive. What the first accomplished, the other proved.

So I want to expound upon a few of the incredible things the resurrection of Jesus Christ achieved. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I hope it will bless you as it did me when I studied it.

1.       It proved He was who He said He was. “…declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead…” (Rom. 1:4)

When Jesus walked this earth, He claimed to be the Son of God. It was for this (supposed) blasphemy that He was slain. Those watching mocked Him, saying, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” Yet Jesus didn’t answer His accusers with a word; He answered them with the undeniable testimony of the resurrection, appearing to the disciples and 500 after. The Roman centurion said at His death, “Surely this was the Son of God”; how much more would he have said that if he had seen the resurrection? Jesus was no mere man, no mere teacher; He was everything He claimed to be: the Son of God, the Messiah, sent from heaven to save His people from their sins.

2.       It proved His defeat over sin, leaving it in the tomb, and won life abundant now for those who believe. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

Paul expounds upon the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ throughout Romans 6. I am struck by the profound depth of the simple act of baptism. It’s not just being submerged under water; it’s being submerged in Christ. As Christ went to death, He slew sin in us, our old man, the flesh. And in the tomb it has stayed. When He returned to life, He brought us with Him so that we might live in new and true life. As the well known verse states, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no longer must we walk according to our old patterns of life trapped in sin. On top of that, we can have life, peace, and joy in Him. He doesn’t just remove the old; He replaces it with something new, something radiant and beautiful.

3.       It proved that Christ has the power over death, that death shall one day ultimately be undone, and that we shall enjoy life everlasting with Him forever.  “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:53-55)

I agree with Charles Spurgeon when he said that 1 Corinthians 15 was perhaps the most eloquent chapter in the Bible. It is a chapter of the hope of resurrection life with Christ for all eternity. It is the chapter that details the ultimate destruction of Death itself. How great this hope we have is. 1 Peter 1:3-4 says, “In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you…” It is this inheritance that we shall one day be brought to through the gates of death. For those who believe, death is not the end; it is merely the beginning into something far greater and far more wonderful than anything this life can hold. This is the hope of Christianity, and it is not some vain hope. It is not like the farmer’s hope for rain or my hope I’ll get the things I want. Those hopes might not be realized; our hope in Christ is rock solid. Nothing can shake it or move it. It is a hope based on a fact.

Do you have this hope? Do you want this hope? Do you want joy and peace and life in Christ, here and now? He is who He said He was: the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior. If you turn to Him with your whole heart, you shall not be disappointed.

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When Uganda Went Viral: My Thoughts on Kony 2012

A few weeks ago, I saw many of my friends on Facebook writing about and discussing the Invisible Children documentary Kony 2012. If you happen to be uninformed, it is a thirty minute film about Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord who kidnaps children, forcing them to fight in his army, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army. The movie is supposed to be a call to action, publicizing Kony’s crimes and causing the world to pursue and bring him to justice. Invisible Children also has an Action Kit, which is filled with T-shirts, bracelets, and posters; from what I understand these sold out within days of the release of the Kony 2012 film.

This post is not a critique of the film, because plenty of people are doing that, and I myself am among the few who have not seen it. I am not personally attacking anyone involved with Invisible Children’s work. This post is an appeal to those of my friends who have seen the film and would consider themselves a supporter.

Ironically, I have not heard a peep from anyone since a few weeks ago about Uganda or the atrocities that continue to happen there. What this has shown me is that we are primarily a sensational generation. By this, I mean that we move from one tragedy to the next, like bees flitting from one flower to another; our care for these issues is only momentary. The question is, how much have we really done?

Do you remember a year ago, when Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami, causing their nuclear power plants to fail and destroying many homes? Even after a year, there are still people there who are suffering, besides the fact that the Japanese people remain one of the most unevangelized people groups in the world. Or what about Haiti – for a moment, the lens was on them; yet despite large amounts of orphans and homeless still there, you don’t hear much about them. And they are still in need of the gospel.

Why does it take a tragedy or a documentary to open our eyes to the needs of the world around us? There are people starving physically and spiritually all over this earth, but unless they are struck by a tsunami or an earthquake, we turn a blind eye. And then our eyes are opened, but only for a brief moment; we blink in shock, cry out in horror, and turn our faces away. What have we really done?

1 John 3:18 tells us, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” It is very easy to update your Facebook status, proclaiming how shocked you are about some tragedy; it is very easy to wear a wristband you bought to support some cause. I can say I love someone, but words can only do so much. What is our attitude towards these things? Is it, “That’s awful!” or “What can I do to help?”

God has called us to more. It is easy to feel like we’ve done our duty, spreading the word about these tragedies; we can pat ourselves on the back and say, “Well done.” We say we love those far away, but do we really?

Not only that, but hear me on this, for I am guilty of this as well: what have you done lately for your family? Your neighbors? Your co-workers? Your friends? Your enemies? It is so easy to say we support some cause overseas, because we garner the applause from the world around us. You don’t get that from washing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, or going the extra mile at work. Anyone who is without Christ around you is without hope in this earth (Eph. 2:12); they could be dying inside, and you may be unaware. Your Christian friends could be struggling with their faith or some tragedy in their own life; have you opened your eyes, ears and hearts to them?

Friends, I am not saying it is bad to spread the word about Joseph Kony or any tragedy in this earth. I am not saying that if you are the type to go to places like Haiti when there’s a tragedy to support them, that that act is wrong. I am simply asking you, what are you doing about the tragedies that occur around you daily? How are you praying for and loving on those closest to you? For if we do not love our actual neighbors, what makes us think we actually love our foreign “neighbors”?

Uganda doesn’t primarily need Kony to be stopped; its primary need is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the hope of Eternal Life, and the forgiveness of sins. Praise God if Kony is once and for all brought to justice; but Jesus said that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents” (Luke 15:10).

Let us bring the good news to all, starting with those sitting right next to us.

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I would like to share two videos as well that helped me put my thoughts into words. The first is much less serious, titled “You Are Not an Activist”; much of what I said was inspired by this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U5sPXSvFXY

The second video is quite different, and is a story from a Ugandan about the power of the gospel and forgiveness. I hope you are as blessed by this as I was: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pdNgQr-I6w

God bless!

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In Adam vs. In Christ

I remember some time ago, I went through the New Testament and found every instance of the phrase “in Christ”, “in Jesus” or “in him” where applicable. It was an incredibly insightful study and I would encourage you to do the same and discover the riches we posses in Christ. So often, however, riches aren’t appreciated unless they are paired side by side with poverty. Blue Letter Bible (http://www.blueletterbible.org/ – a great resource, by the way) had a blog post pairing the contrast of who we were “in Adam” and who we are now “in Christ”. They only had the references, so I fleshed out the examples. Let this be a meditation for you as you consider the greatness of what our Savior has done for us.

In Adam

In Christ

Sin (Rom. v. 12) …

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

… Righteousness (II. Cor. v. 21).

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

 Death (Rom. v. 17) …

For by one man’s offence death reigned by one…

… Life (I. John v. 11).

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Banishment (Eph. ii. 13)

… ye who sometimes were far off…

… Nearness (Eph. ii. 13).

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Condemnation (Rom. v. 18)

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation…

… Justification (Rom. v. 1).

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

Curse (Gal. iii. 10) …

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

… Blessing (Eph. i. 3).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…

Judgment (John iii. 36)

… he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

… Deliverance (II. Cor. i. 10).

Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us…

Shame (Ezekiel xvi. 5)

None eye pitied thee, … to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person…

… Glory (John xvii. 24).

Father, I will that they also, whome thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me…

Poverty (Isaiah lv. 2)

Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? Your labor for that which satisfieth not?

… Riches (II. Cor. viii. 9).

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

Sickness (Isaiah i. 5, 6)

… the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it…

… Health (Psalm xxiii. 3).

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Defeat (II. Tim. ii. 26)

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

… Victory (I. John v. 4).

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Sorrow (Gen. iii. 17) …

… cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life…

… Joy (Rom. v. 11).

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have no received the atonement.

Weakness (Rom. v. 6)

… we were without strength…

… Power (Phil. iv. 13).

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Enmity (Rom. viii. 7)

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

… Oneness (Gal. iii. 28).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Bondage (Heb. ii. 15)

And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage…

… Liberty (Gal. v. 1).

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Let me ask you, are you in Christ? Which column speaks of your life? Are you under the thumb of sin or is your righteousness found and fashioned in Jesus? Are you in spiritual death or have you found life abundant in Jesus? Are you far from God today or have you been made night by Christ’s shed blood? All that we had in Adam was death; and Christ died the death for us, that we might have life forevermore in Him. Where once we were condemned, the very enemies of God, we have been justified and been adopted as His son or daughter! Where once we were in bondage to the fear of death and sin, we now have liberty from sin and can face death with joy! O, that you would know the riches that are in Christ today! If you do not know Him, come to Him and humble yourself before the throne of God. As the old hymn says, “Nothing in your hand do bring; simply to the cross you must cling!” He will by no means cast you out. If you do know Him, rejoice, brother, rejoice, sister and see all that we have by the grace of God!

 

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A Hard Question: Should Christians be Friends with Unbelievers?

I realize that the content of this particular post may be confusing and easily misunderstood. Read through it fully before you come to any conclusions about what I am saying. For more on this theme, I wrote a follow up post that should clear up any misunderstandings. Blessings. 

This isn’t a hard question in the sense that it took me much time to mull over and find a good answer to. It’s a hard question because the answer I will give you will likely be different than the one you’re thinking I will give.

“Christians shouldn’t be friends with non-Christians.”

That was the statement my roommate at Ellerslie made once, and it stuck with me. Of course, at the time, I disagreed with him; how else is a Christian to impact the world aside from being friends with those in it? However, it recently came to mind again, and, after some study, I think I agree with him.

In our American society, we have defiled and degraded the real meaning of friendship. Pause a moment, and think about it: how many Facebook “friends” do you have? How many of those do you actually see on a regular basis? How many do you talk to outside of Facebook? Yet we still consider them our “friends” when, in reality, they’re practically strangers to us. Dr. Baarendse, one of my brother’s professors, said in an essay, “Facebook has inflated the definition of friendship and thus devalued it. A friend used to be solid currency you could bank on: David and Jonathan, John Newton and William Cowper, John and Abigail Adams, Lewis and Tolkien. Diana is Anne Shirley’s bosom friend; Hopeful comforts Christian in Doubting Castle and lifts his face above the icy waters of the Jordan. In Facebook’s world, friend has come to mean casual acquaintance.”

But what is a friend, and why was my roommate convinced that Christians should not be friends with unbelievers (this has nothing to do with who’s your “friend” on Facebook, by the way)? Looking into scripture, I found a much more powerful definition of what it means to be a friend.

Friends share intimate council with one another:

In Exodus 33:11, it says that “the LORD spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaks unto his friend.” Abraham is called “the friend of God”, not because God shared a meal with him, but because God shared intimate knowledge with Abraham, even giving Abraham an opportunity to object to God’s plans (Gen. 18:23-33). If a friend is one with whom we can share intimate council with and receive advice from them, that should not be an unbeliever, because their counsel wouldn’t come from God’s Word, but from their own ideas, which may not be right.

Friends love one another at all times:

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Some commentators have said that this verse could be translated in this fashion: “A friend loves at all times and becomes as a brother in adversity.” Proverbs 18:24 goes even further in saying that “there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Through thick and thin, friends band together, as allies in war. We are in a war, between the powers of darkness and light. You want allies around you who will not draw you towards the enemy, but towards the King’s side; how can someone not on the King’s side help you do that?

Friends sharpen countenances:

The phrase, “Iron sharpens iron” is very well known, and comes from Proverbs 27:17, which states, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” When two friends meet and talk, at the end of the night, they both ought to be better off than they were an hour before. This goes back to sharing intimate counsel with your friends. Whether it’s a discussion on scripture, or simply life issues, friends always strive to better the other where they are lacking. Tolkien and Lewis, who were good friends, critiqued one another on their books, essays, stories, and thoughts, and because of it, they were that much better. Some even speculate that the character Treebeard in Lord of the Rings is the way Tolkien pictured Lewis. As a question, if we are turning to unbelievers to sharpen us, particularly spiritually, the result will more than often be a dulling of the spirit. Unbelievers don’t think spiritually; how then can we expect them to refresh our spirits?

Friends are willing to say and do things that hurt the other:

Proverbs 27:6 tells us that, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” So often the enemy slays us spiritually with comfort and ease; but God pushes us onward with discomfort and hardship. I can attest to the fact that being rebuked by a friend hurts. You don’t want to be hurt, but in order to grow you know there must be pain. They sit you down, and say, “Listen we need to talk about something…” and then they proceed to tell you something you don’t want to hear. But it’s exactly what you need to hear. They are willing to tell you when you’ve messed up and when you need to fix something. Only a true friend will do that. Can you find that in the world, which so often laughs at our standards instead of reinforcing them?

Friends lay down their lives for each other:

Christ said to His disciples in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is one thing to call someone your friend; the ultimate test is when it comes down to your life or theirs. Paul tells us in Romans 5:7, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. (NIV)” It is a rare thing to find the type of man or woman who would literally give their lives that you might live. If you have such a friend, you are very blessed. Such a friend will stand beside you through thick and thin. Would a person, living in the world and in selfishness, be willing to do such a thing as that?

We have degraded friendship to mean something very small, when Scripture calls it something grand. I do not think a Christian should have an unbeliever in their intimate counsel, as those that help them along life’s way. Do not think that I am saying a Christian should never associate with unbelievers. That would be silly and erroneous. What I mean to ask you is, who is your intimate counsel? Who loves you at all times? Who sharpens your countenance? Who is willing to wound and rebuke you when necessary? Who is willing to lay down their life for yours? Are you that type of friend?

There truly is only one friend who can and will stand by you forever. Circumstances may separate you from your earthly friends; even if they are the type of man or woman as described above, there will come a day when you are all alone. What then? Who shall you stand by? The only Faithful Friend, Jesus Christ. He said that “Greater love has no man than this”; and He meant it, proved it by giving His own life that we may live eternally. When there are none to guide you, let Him be your Counselor. When there are none to love you, let Him show you His everlasting love. When there are none to purify you, let His consuming fire burn you. When there are none to rebuke you, let Him search you and try you. And know that He has laid down His life that you might live. Let Him be your Friend, First in your heart; He shall stick closer than a brother, forevermore.

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