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The Way It Should Be

The God Without … A Thanksgiving Message

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A Thanksgiving Message by Jack Kelley

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.   For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)

Each year on the 4th Thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the US.  It’s a holiday begun by the early settlers to express their gratitude to God for a bountiful harvest, and it’s patterned after the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.

After the harvest, Israelites from all over the country would gather in Jerusalem for a week long celebration. This was to commemorate the time God had spent with them in the wilderness and to give thanks for another good harvest. All year they saved up their tithes, the first born of their flocks and herds, the first sheaves of grain, the first grapes, figs, olives and other fruit and vegetables and brought it all to Jerusalem in the fall where they cooked and ate everything in a national celebration of praise (Deut. 12:5-7).

After surviving a very difficult year in the new world, the Pilgrims of New England instituted a similar, though much smaller, thanksgiving feast, again with the intent of praising God.   This event finally became a national holiday in the US in 1863, but it took until 1941 to settle on the 4th Thursday of November as its official observance.

My parents made sure we never forgot that it was the Lord who provided for us and so Thanksgiving was a religious observance in our house. Prayers were offered and each family member gave thanks to the Lord for all the good things we had received.

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today (Deut. 8:17-18).

We believed, as the Bible tells us, that even though my parents worked hard all year, it was the Lord who had given them their strength and ability and created opportunities for them. In these verses God reminded the Israelites (and us) not to forget that.  After all, lots of people work hard all their lives and never seem to get anywhere.   We weren’t well off, but we gave thanks for what we had because we knew where our blessings came from.

As an adult I got involved in the self-development field and began learning about the “god within”, an internal force I was told I could use to maximize my “creative potential” for success.  This appealed to my ego and made me seem like the master of my own fate. I forgot all about the Lord’s admonition to remember Him. When I was born again at age 40 I finally saw that this “god within” was only my own self determination. It was really the “God without” who had been blessing me all along even though I was taking all the credit.  In one of my first prayers for forgiveness, I asked the Lord to forgive me for giving myself credit for things that were gifts from Him. As I was praying about this, the phrase “God Without” kept repeating itself in my mind. What was the Lord trying to tell me?

I believe He was saying that the word “without” applies to lots of things where He is concerned, and as I continued to pray several of them came to mind.

If you’re looking for things to be thankful for (even if you live in a country where Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated) try some of these “withouts” the Lord brought to my mind.  I’m sure He will bring even more to yours as you focus on them.

Love Without Limits For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life(John 3:16).

Forgiveness Without Question … Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened (Matt 7:7-8).  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Performance Without Exception All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. And this is the will of Him Who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up on the last day (John 6:37, 39).

Promise Without EquivocationI make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please … what I have said, that will I bring about and what I have planned, that will I do” (Isaiah 46:10-11).

Blessings Without Number You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country (wherever you are). The fruit of your womb will be blessed (your children), and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock-the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks (your work). Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed (you’ll have plenty of food). You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out (when you come home at night and when you leave in the morning) (Deut 28:3-6).

Mercy Without Measure …. It is because of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion fails not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Faithfulness Without FailingKnow therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands (Deut. 7:9).  And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Redemption Without Retraction …  “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” ).(John 6:40)

Salvation Without Merit … But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

Grace Without Guilt Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.(2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

So in a time when mankind has all but forgotten that the Lord is the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the Author of all our victories, who arranges every opportunity and fashions every blessing, these “withouts” might serve as good reminders to give thanks where thanks is due.

And now may “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward

http://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/holidays-and-holy-days/the-god-without-a-thanksgiving-message/

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

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GOD’S GIFT: EVIDENCE OF THE LOVE OF THE GIVER

The Greek χάρις (charis), is translated as “grace” over one hundred fifty times in the New Testament. However, it is translated seven times as “favor,” as well, and all of them occur in the writings of Luke (Lk. 1:28, 30; 2:52; Acts 2:47; 7:10, 46; 25:3).  Oddly enough, the writings of Luke also have χάρις translated as “grace” eleven times (Lk. 2:40; 4:22; Acts 1:23; 13:43; 14:3, 26; 15:11, 40; 18:27; 20:24, 32).  Even if the words are interchangeable, one would think the two would show up in other New Testament books.  But, that is not the case.  And after looking at the context where the word “favor” is used, I hate to admit it, but I still have no clue as to why the word “favor” was used.

Nevertheless, the Word of God supplies us with a definition of χάρις, so that there can be no confusion as to the Lord’s meaning.  Ephesians 2:7-9 gives us the meaning of “grace”: 

“That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  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.” 

The first fact in defining “grace,” is that it is an attribute of God!  He is gracious!  Like “mercy,” “grace” is evidence of God’s love for us.  The two explain just how much God “loved the world” and what that means in John 3:16.

The second truth about God’s “grace” toward mankind, is that it cannot be earned.  It has to be a gift, or it is no longer “grace.”  The two are contrasted as opposites in Romans 11:16, which says, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it be of works, then is it no more grace:  otherwise work is no more work.”

Finally, the text itself declares that salvation is a “gift!”  And just like you and I purchase what we give as gifts to others, salvation is a “gift” purchased by God, to give it to us:  the price?  The life of His only begotten Son (Rom. 5:15)!

 
At Christmas time, we honor God’s gift to mankind:  our Lord, His Son!

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The Works-Salvation Delusion

Author: T.A. McMahon
Source: The Berean Call

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come[s] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. -Galatians2:21

When we compare biblical Christianity with the religions of the world, using the Scriptures to guide us, we see that the gap between them is unbridgeable. In fact, one is forced to the conclusion that there are really only two religions in the world: biblical Christianity–and all other religions. (Note: I refer to biblical Christianity as a “religion” only for comparative purposes: a religion is a manmade belief system, whereas biblical Christianity is what God has revealed to mankind.)

These two “religions” are set apart primarily by what they teach about salvation–how one can get to heaven or paradise or Valhalla or Nirvana or the abode of God, or whatever else people believe about the afterlife. Each of the two can be placed under one of two categories: Human Achievement and Divine Accomplishment–or, to put it simply, the religions of “Do” and “Done.” I’m referring to the fact that either there are things you must do (Human Achievement) or there is nothing you can do because it has already been done (Divine Accomplishment) to earn entrance to heaven.

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Biblical Christianity alone comes under the heading of Divine Accomplishment. All the other religions of the world must be placed under the label of Human Achievement. Let’s first consider some of the major religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and certain denominations or cults that profess to be Christian.

Hinduism has about 330 million gods who must be appeased through some type of ritual. A couple of years ago I was given a tour of a massive Hindu temple just outside Chicago. The parking lot was filled with luxury cars. There was imported stonework from Italy. No expense was spared. Inside, doctors, lawyers, and engineers, among others, according to my guide, were serving meals to the idols, Hanuman, the monkey god, and Ganesha, the elephant god.

Hinduism is a system of works–things that one must do to reach moksha, the Hindu heaven. It involves the practice of yoga, which, contrary to what many have heard, has never been for improvement of one’s health but is rather a means of dying to one’s body in the hope of delivering oneself from the physical realm. This is supposed to yoke one to Brahman, the Supreme Deity of Hinduism. Reincarnation, a system that supposedly enables one to work one’s way to heaven through many births, deaths, and rebirths, is one of the teachings of this religion.

Buddhism is also all about works. Buddha believed that the key to reaching Nirvana, which is allegedly the state of perfect peace and happiness, is through an understanding of the Four Noble Truths and by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path.

In essence, the Four Noble Truths declare that we endure suffering because of our desires or cravings. These “Truths” claim that suffering will stop when we cease trying to fulfill those desires. According to Buddhism, we can achieve this by following the Noble Eightfold Path, which has the elements of “right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.” This is all done by man’s achievement, i.e., “doing things right” in order to reach Nirvana.

In Islam, paradise is attained when Allah weighs a follower’s good works against his bad deeds on a scale at Judgment Day. The Qur’an declares: “For those things that are good remove those that are evil” (Surah 11:114). It’s a quantitative process. Good deeds need to outweigh or blot out evil deeds. From the Qur’an again: “The balance that day will be true: Those whose scale [of good works] will be heavy, will prosper: Those whose scale will be light will find their souls in perdition” (Surah 7:8,9).

Here’s an interesting example of what a Muslim faces to get into paradise: On April 3, 1991, the Egyptian magazine, Akher Saa, recorded a heated debate between four female journalists and Sheik Doctor Abdu-Almonim Al-Nimr, who holds a high position at Al-Azher Islamic University. One of the journalists asked him: “Is the hijab [veil or head covering] obligatory for women in Islam? If I do not wear the hijab, shall I go to hell in spite of my other good deeds? I am talking about the decent woman who does not wear the hijab.”

Dr. Al-Nimr replied, “The ordinances in Islam are many, my daughter, Allah made us accountable to each. It means if you do that ordinance you earn a point. If you neglect one, you lose a point. If you pray, you earn a point; if you do not fast you lose a point, and so on.” He continued, “I did not invent a new theory…for every man there is a book in which all his good and evil deeds are recorded…even how do we treat our children.”

The journalist said: “That means, if I do not wear the hijab, I will not enter the hell fire without taking into account the rest of my good deeds.” Dr. Al-Nimr replied: “My daughter, no one knows who will enter the hell fire…I might be the first one to enter it. Caliph Abu-Bakr Al-Sadik said: ‘I have no trust concerning Allah’s schemes, even if one of my feet is inside of paradise who can determine which deed is acceptable and which is not.’ [See TBC, 10/91] You do all that you can do …and the accountability is with Allah. You ask him for acceptance [Italics added for emphasis].”

In Judaism, heaven is attained by keeping the Law and its ceremonies. Obviously, that isn’t consistent with what the Tanakh (the Old Testament) teaches, yet that has been the practice of Judaism for millennia. As Jesus said, “In vain they do worship [God], teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew:15:9).

His words also apply to a number of “Christian” denominations and cults that stress works as necessary for salvation. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, the Church of Christ adherents, Roman Catholics, Eastern and Russian Orthodox members, Lutherans, and many others all include something that needs to be accomplished or is necessary for salvation, whether it’s baptism, the sacraments, or joining their particular organization and fulfilling their requirements.

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Here is an example from the first 30 years of my own life as a Roman Catholic. I lived by a religious system of laws, many of which a Catholic is obligated to keep. It began with baptism. If one is not baptized, the Church says he can’t enter heaven. It also says that although baptism is required, it is no guarantee. There are many other such rules that a Catholic must keep.

I have a book in my office called the Code of Canon Law. It contains 1,752 laws, many of which affect one’s eternal destiny. Sins recognized by the Roman Catholic Church are classified as either mortal or venial. A mortal sin is one that damns a person to hell, should he or she die without having had it absolved by a priest. A venial sin doesn’t need to be confessed to a priest, but whether confessed or not, all sin adds to one’s temporal punishment, which must be expiated either here on earth through suffering or good works or else be purged in the flames of purgatory after one’s death.

There are obligations that a Catholic must fulfill regarding both beliefs and deeds. For example, one is required to believe that Mary was conceived without sin (an event called the Immaculate Conception). If a Catholic doesn’t believe that, he commits a mortal sin, which carries the penalty of eternal damnation. The feast day of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day of obligation, a day on which all Catholics are required to attend Mass. Failure to do so could result in commission of a mortal sin.

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All the belief systems that I’ve mentioned, and many others as well, consist of doing or not doing certain things to reach “heaven.” All are based upon human achievement. But what about biblical Christianity? How is that different?

Ephesians:2:8-9 spells it out for us: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [salvation is] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast [emphasis added].” That’s pretty straightforward. Our salvation doesn’t have anything to do with our achievements.

Verse 8 tells us that it is by grace that we are saved. Grace is unmerited favor. If any merit is involved, it cannot be by grace. It’s the gift of God. So if it’s a gift, it can’t be of works. That should be obvious. Someone puts in a tough month of work and his employer comes to him with his paycheck and declares, “Good job, Joe, here’s your gift!” No–Joe worked for what he was paid. No gift was involved.

Regarding a person who works, Romans:4:4 tells us that his wages are a payment for the debt his employer owes him, and his paycheck has nothing to do with grace or a gift. A worker who has done a good job can boast or feel a sense of pride in the work he has accomplished. Yet all of that is contrary to grace or a gift. Grace rules out any sense of merit, and a gift does away with any sense of something earned or paid for.

Paul’s teaching in Ephesians is affirmed in his epistle to Titus, chapter 3, verse 4:

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [Emphasis added]

We can see that this is consistent with Ephesians:2:8-9 It’s not by our works that we are saved–not by works of righteousness that we have done –but it’s by His mercy that we are saved.

You may well imagine that, as a Roman Catholic conditioned by a life of Church rules and rituals, I had great difficulty believing that faith was the only basis by which I could enter heaven. It didn’t make sense to me.

Well, not only does it make sense–it’s the only possible way anyone can be saved. It is miraculously sensible!

First of all, what keeps anyone from heaven or eternal life with God? We know that the answer is “sin.” Here is a small sampling of the applicable verses: All have sinned (Romans:3:23); the wages of sin is death (Romans:6:23); sin separates us from God (Isaiah:59:2); the soul who sins shall die (Ezekiel:18:20); sin brings forth death (James:1:15).

In Genesis 2, God explains to Adam the consequences of disobeying Him. Adam was told not to eat from a certain fruit in the Garden of Eden. It was a commandment that was related to obedience and love–not of God’s withholding something from Adam, as the Serpent implied. Remember, Jesus said “If a man love me, he will keep my words,” that is, His teachings (John:14:23). Our love for God is demonstrated by our obedience.

What was God’s penalty for disobedience? Genesis:2:17: “…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Adam and Eve loved themselves more than they loved God, because they didn’t “keep [His] words.” They disobeyed Him, and the consequence was death. “The day you eat of it you will surely die.” In the Scriptures, death always involves separation, and in God’s judgment upon them, two applications are found:
1) physical death (the degeneration of the body, leading ultimately to its separation from the soul and spirit), and
2) eternal separation from God.

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Adam and Eve did not die instantly, but the death process began at that point for them and for all creation. However, their spiritual relationship with God changed immediately and forever. God’s judgment for sin is eternal: separation from God forever. It’s an infinite penalty. And God, who is perfect in all of His attributes, including justice, had to carry out the punishment. He couldn’t let them slide by and just give them another chance. That would have meant that He was not perfectly true to His Word. The penalty had to be paid.

So what could Adam and Eve do? Nothing, except die physically and spiritually, which is to be separated from God forever. And what can the rest of mankind do, seeing that all have sinned? Nothing. Well, one might ask, what if we do all sorts of good deeds that might outweigh our sins, or if we go to church a lot, or get baptized, do religious things, receive the sacraments, and so forth? None of those things will help us. Why? Because they don’t pay the penalty. So what can we do? There is nothing that we can do-except to pay the penalty ourselves by being separated from God forever.

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Our situation would be absolutely hopeless except that God has some other attributes in addition to being perfectly just. He is also perfect in love and mercy! “For God so loved the world” that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the penalty for us (John:3:16).

And that is exactly what Jesus did on the Cross. It is incomprehensible to us that during those three hours of darkness (when He cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”) He took on the sins of the world and suffered the wrath of His Father-for us. On the Cross He “tasted death for every man” (Hebrews:2:9), that is, He experienced and paid the infinite penalty for everyone’s sins.

When that divine accomplishment ended, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” meaning that the penalty had been paid in full. It was a divine accomplishment because it was something that only God could do! God became a man and died physically, because physical death was part of the penalty. Yet, as the God-Man, he was able to experience fully the penalty that every sinner would experience–being spiritually separated from God forever.

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God’s justice demands payment. Either we pay the penalty ourselves or we turn to Jesus by faith and receive the benefits of His sacrificial atonement. What does Roman 6:23 say? “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Bible could not be more clear that salvation can only be “the gift of God” and that we can only appropriate that gift by faith.

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Any attempt to merit salvation by our works is not just futile–it is impossible: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James:2:10). Worse yet, it is a denial of the infinite penalty that God imposed, a rejection of God’s “unspeakable gift,” and a repudiation of what Christ accomplished for us.

It used to be that most evangelicals would agree. This is no longer the case as the apostasy gathers momentum in these Last Days. Recently, a Pew Forum survey of more than 40,000 Americans found that 57 percent of those who said they were evangelicals believed that Jesus is not the exclusive way to heaven. Since Jesus is the only one who provides divine accomplishment, all that remains is the futile delusion of human achievement for salvation. TBC

Related Articles:

– Prayer Requests: Sedgefield Community (Wendy Mcreary) (ONE WAY)
Crossing Paths with God (ONE WAY)
Don’t Fence Me In (ONE WAY)
Hell Bound! (ONE WAY)
Salvation (for Richmond VA) (ONE WAY)
Is One Way the Only Way? (Orble.com)

 

Reblogged from http://pilgrimpassing.com/2013/01/20/are-we-saved-by-works-or-faith/

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GOD’S WONDERFUL PLAN OF SALVATION

Salvation, Atonement, and Redemption (It’s not that complicated!)

Author: Vlad Petrusevich

Source: BibleViews.com

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

The Bible is the word of God, the everlasting Truth. It contains the account of creation, man’s disobedience to God, and the agony which came upon man because of sin. It also tells us of God’s love for man in making a plan to redeem him. It tells of a Savior who was born, who died for man’s sin, and was raised from death for his [man’s] justification. Whosoever believes its message may have forgiveness of sins, peace of mind, love for all men, power over sin, and a living hope of eternal life. SALVATION IS GOD’S FREE GIFT TO MAN.

The Word of God

GOD’S WONDERFUL CREATION

Long, long ago there was no world at all. But God has always been. God, the Creator, is everywhere, is almighty, and all wise. By His spoken word all things were created in perfection. God said, “Let the dry land appear,” and it was so. He created the hills and valleys covered with grass, beautiful flowers, and trees of every kind. He created the fowl, and the birds which sing so many different songs. God created all the animals, great and small, who roam the lands, as well as the small insects and reptiles that live on and in the ground. He created the lakes and oceans for the dwelling place of the fish and all water creatures. He made the continents on which the people of every nation could live. God made the moon to give light at night, and He decked the sky with thousands of beautiful, twinkling stars. last of all God formed man from the dust of the earth. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul. God called him Adam.

Seeing that Adam needed a helper, He caused him to fall into a deep sleep. Then taking a rib from him, God formed a woman with it, and brought her to Adam. Adam knew that Eve was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and he loved her. Eve loved Adam too. They had sweet fellowship with each other. This is God’s plan for a family unit. God created everything in six days, and on the seventh day He rested. He looked upon everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. So God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it as a day of rest for man. God wanted Adam and Eve and all of their descendants to have a day of rest every week, that they might think and talk about God and all His wonderful creation. This would help them to love and obey Him.

The Bible also tells us of a fallen angel called Satan, or the devil. He was cast out of Heaven upon the earth and he is the source of all evil. Because of him sorrow, suffering, sickness, and death came into the world.

THE TRAGIC BEGINNING OF SIN

God loved Adam and Eve. He made a beautiful garden for them to live in. It was called the garden of Eden. Adam was to take care of it. In this garden were many kinds of vegetables and fruit trees for them to eat from. There was one tree called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam that he should not eat of this tree, for in the day that he would eat thereof, he would surely die. One day Satan came to Eve and told her a lie. He said, “Ye shall not surely die . . . ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

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As she looked upon the tree with it’s beautiful fruit, she thought it must be good for food, and eating of it would bring wisdom. So she took some fruit and gave also to Adam, they both did eat of it. Immediately they felt very strange in their hearts. They had never felt this way before. They knew now that they had done something very wrong. They were both ashamed of themselves as they thought of their disobedience. Fear came into their hearts as they thought of meeting God. So they hid themselves among the trees of the garden.

In the cool of the day God called Adam and said, “Where art thou?” They could not be hid from God, so they came into His presence and acknowledged their wrongdoing. God caused them to understand what a great sin it was to disobey His command. He told them that both must be punished according to their evil deeds. They would now have to suffer pain and trouble all the days of their lives. They would now have to work hard for their living. Their bodies would become old and worn out. They would die and return to dust again.

As they were driven from this beautiful garden, God placed Cherubims at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of life. They began to understand what it meant to sin and what great sorrow it brings.

THE SAD RESULT OF SINNING

Adam and Eve were very sorry for their sin of disobeying God. God still loved them, and made them coats of skins, and clothed them. He gave them the promise of a Savior who would come some day to bruise the serpent’s head.

The first two sons born to Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel. They brought an offering unto the Lord. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground. Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock. This lamb’s blood was shed, and was a type of the promised Redeemer who, many years later, came as the lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus died as an innocent lamb on the cross for our sins. Abel’s sacrifice pleased God, but God was not pleased with Cain nor his offering.

We must not neglect to do what God wants us to do. We now have His Spirit and Word which teach us how to live and what His will is for us.

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When Cain noticed that God was pleased with Abel and with his offering, but not with his, envy and hatred toward Abel entered his heart. Then one day as they were together in the field, Cain rose up and killed his brother Abel. God spoke to Cain and said, “Where is Abel thy brother?” Cain did not like to tell the truth, so he said, “I know not: Am I my brothers keeper?” Cain had not been obedient in following the Lord’s instructions. God had warned him before he killed Abel. He told Cain that if he would do well he would be accepted, but if not, sin was lying at the door. How much better it would have been had he corrected his attitude and loved his brother. Now his brother’s blood was calling to God from the ground. Cain was cast out from the presence of the lord and society. He became a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth.

GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS SON

“For unto you is born this day… a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

After Abel was dead and Cain had gone away from home, Adam and Eve had another son. His name was Seth. He grew up to be a good man. God blessed his descendants with many godly leaders, kings, and prophets, who heard and believed God’s wonderful promises of a Savior who would someday be born. Abraham, especially, believed God; for which he was called the friend of God. He was told that through him and his descendants all the families of the earth would be blessed.

birth_of_Christ

Many hundreds of years later God fulfilled the promise He had made of sending a Savior to the world. It happened, in a supernatural way, in the little town of Bethlehem of Judea. There In a stable, a babe was born to Mary; who was a virgin. She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger. (Read Luke 2:1-7). An angel told Mary that the baby’s name was to be called Jesus (meaning Savior). He was to become a great leader who would teach the people many things about God. Jesus grew up much like other children. He was loved and favored by many. At the age of twelve He was wiser in the word of God than many doctors and lawyers of Jerusalem. He seemed to know all about the law and prophets. No one could ask Him a question that He could not answer. He had great interest in the religious activities of His people. When He was about thirty years old, He took part in religious services. Once He read an Old Testament prophecy about the coming Messiah. When He had finished reading, He said to the people, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” He taught the people as one having authority. He preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand, and that repentance was necessary for entrance into the Kingdom. He taught people to worship God in humility and sincerity–from the heart. He rebuked the proud and unbelieving people of their sins, and preached the Gospel of love to the poor and needy.

JESUS HAS POWER OVER DEATH

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and life: He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall live” (John 11:25).

Jesus did many miracles, proving to the people that He was the promised Savior sent from God. He healed the sick, made the blind to see, caused the deaf to hear, cast out devils and raised the dead to life. Once He walked on the water and calmed the stormy sea by His words. His words spoken to a fig tree were so powerful, that it was found dried up from the roots the next day. At one time He fed more than five thousand hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fishes. when all had enough to eat, there remained twelve baskets full. Fishermen caught large numbers of fish when nets were cast at His command. One day Jesus met ten lepers who had heard of His fame. They cried, “Master have mercy on us.” At His command they were cleansed.

Large crowds followed Jesus daily, whether He was in town, traveling in the roads, or in the hilly country. The people felt blessed who heard “the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.” Some said, “Never man spake like this man”. Others were amazed and glorified God saying “We never saw it on this fashion.”

He began to tell the people that He was the Son of God, and that God was His Father. All who believed His words were made happy. He told those who believed, that they were children of God. Jesus said to His disciples, ““I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also“. (John 14:2-3). (This place in Heaven is for all true Christians).

“Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS

“When they were come to Calvary, there they crucified him” (Luke 23:33).

The scribes and Pharisees were greatly annoyed at Jesus and His teaching. He had often reproved them for their honor seeking in religion and unlawful money-making practices. They were very jealous and envious of Jesus, because so many people believed in Him, followed Him, and praised Him. They feared that the people might make Jesus their king.

They tried to make Jesus say or do things that would cause the people to lose faith in Him, but Jesus was too wise for them. They were not able to find occasion to accuse Jesus to the common people. Their hatred and anger grew as Jesus’ popularity continued to increase. Their ill will and hatred toward Jesus became so great that they made plans to put Him to death.

They took Jesus to court and charged Him as an evildoer and trouble maker in the community. They brought many false charges against Jesus. Then they took Him before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea. Pilate could find no fault in Him, so Pilate was going to release Jesus and set Him free. But the accusers of Jesus turned into a mad mob and cried, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” When Pilate heard their angry cries and threats, he gave in to their demands and turned Jesus over to them. They took Jesus and put a crown of thorns on His head and a rod in His hand. In mockery they called Him king. They spit in His face and beat Him cruelly. They finally nailed Him to the cross and left Him there to die.

Calvary

 

Jesus was put to death just as the innocent lamb that Abel offered on an altar hundreds of years before. Abel had offered his lamb as a type of the lamb of God who would die for the sin of the world. Many prophets of old had likewise foretold of Jesus’ suffering and death. John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”, (John 1:29). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Salvation

JESUS AROSE FROM THE DEAD TO SET US FREE

“He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:6).

The third day after the death and burial of Jesus, very early, upon the first day of the week, several women came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. They were surprised to find the tomb empty. The body of Jesus was not there. Their hearts were troubled. Then, suddenly, two angels stood by them in shining garments. They said, “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here but is risen”. (Luke 24:5,6) Upon this they quickly went back to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard. The disciples could not believe their story. So Peter and John went to investigate for themselves. They, too, found the tomb empty and as they entered they saw the linen clothes lie, and the napkin that had been wrapped about Jesus’ head neatly folded as if by gentle hands, placed separately. When they saw these things they believed the story of the women. In the evening of the same day the disciples were together behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Then Jesus suddenly stood in the midst of them and said, “Peace be unto you“. He showed them His pierced hands and side that they might believe. When they saw the lord they were glad and believed that He was the same Jesus who had been crucified and that He had risen from the dead. After this Jesus showed Himself to many people as full proof of His resurrection.

He_is_alive!

This bright morning when Jesus arose from the dead is still the most glorious day in all history. For on this day, God’s wonderful plan of Salvation was completed. Now all who receive Jesus into their hearts, even though they die and are buried, shall resurrect and live forever in Heaven. Jesus said, “Because I live, ye shall live also“(John14:19).
This wonderful plan of salvation is made effective by faith alone, to all who believe that Jesus Christ is God, in His sin-atoning death, and in His literal, physical resurrection.

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead. thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Dear Reader: Have you enjoyed reading this absolutely truthful and impressive account of life and death? God is speaking to your heart. What is your response? Will you repent and believe the Gospel? If you surrender to God you will receive a love for righteousness and power over your sin. You will also want to witness to others of what the Lord has done for you. The Scriptures tell us in Romans 10:11 that no one who believes in Jesus Christ shall be ashamed.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Do not delay. Come to Jesus today.

Repent

The text of this tract is Vlad Petrusevich’s adoption of Leland M. Haines’ writings.

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 REBLOGGED FROM:http://pilgrimpassing.com/2013/01/22/salvation-atonement-and-redemption-its-not-that-complicated/#comment-825

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In tenderness He sought me,
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The Eye Of The Needle

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Q.  I remember being told that in Jerusalem there was a passage between two walls of the city that was referred to as the eye of the needle. It was very difficult for a camel to go thru and hence the words from Christ that it was easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This was a reference to that area in between the walls and the people understood that it would be difficult but certainly not impossible. Have you heard of this?

 A. Over the years I’ve come across several opinions on what the Lord really meant by the eye of the needle comparison.  All of them have tried to moderate the degree of difficulty rich people have in getting into heaven by making the eye of the needle symbolic of something else.

But the Lord’s statement came on the heels of His discussion with the rich young man.  He went away sad because the Lord had exposed his over riding love of wealth.  It was so strong that he couldn’t sell his possessions even if it kept him out of the Kingdom (Mark 10:17-24).

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After the Lord’s gave His “eye of a needle” illustration (Mark 10:25) Peter asked who could possibly be saved because the Jews believed that wealth was a reward for righteousness. The Lord answered that while salvation was impossible for man, it was not impossible for God. All things are possible for God. (Mark 10:27)

I think the Lord had a literal needle and a literal camel in mind to show that it’s literally impossible for even a righteous rich man to get himself into the Kingdom. Only the Lord can do it.  It was as vivid a picture of His Grace as you’ll find anywhere in Scripture

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GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY

 

In studying God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, with respect to salvation, it is important to hold to a balanced Biblical position. Many have erred by emphasizing one side of the truth to the neglect of the other side. The truth lies somewhere between. Both are clearly taught in the Word of God. We do not understand how they can both be true. God has not told us that we need to fully understand these things; however we do need to humbly bow before the authority of His Word and believe what God has revealed.

Those who are saved have only God to thank; those who are lost have only themselves to blame. God gets all the credit for man’s salvation; the unsaved man must take full responsibility for his eternal damnation. The saved person thankfully says, “I’m in heaven because of God!” The lost person must truthfully say, “I’m in hell because of me!” Those who are damned will never be able to blame God or say, “I’m damned because God did not choose me.” Their damnation is based not upon God’s rejection of them but upon their rejection of God (Mk. 16:16; Jn. 5:40; 2 Thes. 2:12).

Man does not contribute to his own salvation. It is the work of God, “not of works lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). God does not contribute to man’s unbelief. That is man’s work. God alone must do the saving. Man must do the believing. God must get all the glory and all the credit: “That no flesh should glory in His presence….That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:29-31). Unbelieving man must take the blame. The believer saved by grace can gratefully sing, “To God be the glory great things He hath done!” “Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!”

 

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