Truth for Today 6.13.2012

Think about what the prophet said in Michah 7:19:

You will cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea. (ESV)

Through the new birth God forgives our sin and He removes the penalty of sin from us and He removes us from the power of sin (see John 3:3-21, Romans 6:14). He declares righteousness where no righteousness has been. This happens because Christ’s righteousness is added to our account when we trust Him by faith (2 Corinthians 5:21).

It is through Christ and His atoning sacrifice that we can experience this forgiveness and have the assurance that our sins have been placed in the “depths of the sea” and have been placed behind God’s back (Isaiah 38:17).

Have YOU trusted Christ to forgive YOU of YOUR sins? He is able to remove the guilt of YOUR past, He will enable YOU to live in victory in the present and give YOU an amazing future. Trust Him today!

Truth for Today 6.12.2012

In today’s devotion from Fusion (p. 18) (http://www.randallhouse.com/shop/fusion/) we are reminded that SIN keeps people from the Kingdom of God. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul lists several of these sins that were prevalent in the Corinthian culture.

Corinth was a sex saturated culture (sounds like our society). They had taken God’s gift of sex and had deviated from His plan. The same is true today. People are taking fire (God’s gift of sex) out of the fireplace (marriage). Because of this people are getting burned and getting burned bad. Paul reminds the Corinthians that sexual immorality, adultery and homosexuality keep people from inheriting the Kingdom of God.

Paul also deals with some others sins that were prevalent in the Corinthian culture. He mentions idolatry, thievery, greed and drunkenness among other things. Sin keep us from God’s Kingdom! Paul wants to make this perfectly clear.

But then listen to what Paul says in verse 11:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Did you get that? Paul is writing to a group of people who WERE (past tense) sexually immoral, drunks, crooks and the list goes on. However, they are not that anymore! Something happened! What happened?

  • They were washed! Praise God for the precious blood of Jesus Christ that washes away our sins! (1 Peter 1:18-19)
  • They were sanctified. Because of their faith in Jesus Christ they had been adopted into the family of God and were “set apart” from the world unto God.
  • They were justified! The penalty for their sin was removed because the righteousness of Jesus Christ had been credited to their account. God now looked at them “just as if” they had never sinned! (Romans 5:1)

It is easy for us to point out sin and point at people who are guilty of sin, but may we never forget where we would be today without Jesus Christ. The fact of the matter is we are ALL SINNERS in need of a Savior. We like to categorize our sin as “little” compared to some, however any SIN breaks fellowship God regardless of what category we would like to place it in. It needs to be forgiven and cleansed and this takes place through faith in Christ and Christ alone!

Let us offer this hope of forgiveness to those who are still bound by sin. Let us remember the forgiveness that we needed and hopefully have already experienced through our relationship with Christ.

If you would like more information about this relationship please contact us or read http://flagshipchurch.org/truth-will-set-you-free/

Six Ways to Minimize Sin

Timmy Brister lists six ways we can minimize the sin that is in our lives. The six ways he mentions are:

  1. Defending
  2. Pretending
  3. Hiding
  4. Blaming
  5. Minimizing
  6. Exaggerating

God help us not to minimize the very thing that separated us from YOU and that sent Christ to the cross in order that we might be set free from the penalty and power of sin. Help us to hate sin. Help us to despise that which is evil and cling to that which is good.

Truth for Today: Paid in Full

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He died the most humiliating and excruciating death anyone could imagine. He was beaten and spit upon. His beard was ripped from His face, and long, sharp thorns were placed upon His head and then hit with a reed driving the thorns to pierce the skin to the skull. He was then beaten with a leather whip that had nine leather straps on each end embedded with chunks of metal, bone or broken pottery so that when they were whipped, it would cut and rip the flesh.

After this cruel treatment he carried a large wooden cross up Calvary’s hill. On this hill, He was laid on the cross, nailed to the cross through His hands and feet, and then hung up to die.

While He was on the cross, He made several statements. One of those statements was, “…It is finished…” (John 19:30). This statement means “paid in full.” The complete and final payment for every sin you have ever committed or would ever commit is now paid. Jesus was YOUR substitute. He came to save humanity from the power and the penalty that the condemnation of sin brings.

After His death He was buried and then three days later he walked out of the grave. He was seen over a period of forty days by hundreds of people. There was infallible proof (Acts 1:3) to prove Christ’s resurrection. This resurrection made the new birth possible. His death, burial and resurrection provides a new spiritual identity for those who trust Him as Lord and Savior by faith. He makes you into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

A synonym for the “paid in full” concept would be the word “propitiation.” This word simply means “the full payment for.” Notice how it is used in Scripture:

He (speaking of Jesus Christ) is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

Herein is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

Jesus did not pay for part of your sin and leave the rest for you to pay for. He paid for ALL of it! The payment for YOUR sin has been made!

Recently as I was traveling with a neighbor he shared with me how he was almost killed a few years ago. I asked him where he would be if he did not make it. He said he really didn’t know, but he also said that because he had been a pretty good person and because he had a rough life that he thought he would be rewarded in Heaven.  Then I asked, “So why did Jesus have to die then? If we can get to Heaven by being a pretty good person why would He have to die?”

You see God doesn’t need our help in order to pay for our sin and reconcile us to Himself. We just need to admit we are “helpless” and totally depend upon Christ and what He has already DONE! Will you turn to Him today?

Truth for Today-“God Provided a Substitute!”

As I mentioned in the last blog (http://flagshipchurch.org/2012/04/24/truth-for-today-substitute-needed/) not just anyone can pay for the sins of another. Everyone is obligated to pay the same debt because everyone is a sinner. To have our sin debt paid, sin destroyed, and to be renewed from the inside out and be made righteous in the sight of God, we need a complete spiritual transformation that only Jesus Christ can provide!

In John 3 Jesus referred to this spiritual transformation as being “born again.” He was speaking to a man who had been DOING things all of his life to try to bring himself to God. However, Jesus makes it clear to this man that what he needs is a new birth. Listen to the words of Christ as He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 ESV).

The problem with DOING is that:

  • It does not take away the things we have previously done. In other words good works never take away or cover past sin.
  • It does not change our spiritual identity. Scripture makes it clear that we must become righteous. This righteousness can never be earned. God provides His righteousness through a “transfer” that happens when one trusts Christ and what He has DONE.
  • It does not please God. Hebrews 11 reminds us that without “faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please [God]” (emphasis mine). As a matter of fact DOING to be right with God is like saying that what God has DONE is not good enough or acceptable to us.

Jesus goes on to tell this very religious man that “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5b KJV). Every individual experiences the “water birth” (natural birth), but every individual needs to experience the “spiritual birth.” I had the privilege to see each of my children come into this world through the natural birth process. However, the spiritual birth is not something that can be seen with the physical eyes; it is an inward transformation that takes place within one’s heart. Evidence of this birth will be seen as the individual grows in their love for and knowledge of Christ. Just like one cannot see the wind but can see the evidence of the wind, evidence for true Christianity will be demonstrated as one grows in their walk with God.

There is only one Substitute that can provide all of this for us. We find out who this substitute is in various places throughout Scripture, but notice what Romans 5:6 and 8 says-“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (ESV, emphasis mine). Hebrews reminds us that Christ “tasted death for every man.” Jesus also made it clear that only one Substitute will bring us to God. Notice His words in John 14:6b-“I am the way, the truth, and the life: NO MAN cometh unto the Father, but by ME” (KJV, emphasis mine). Jesus made it as clear as anyone can possibly make it. He leaves no room for misinterpretation! We do not come to God through baptism, church membership, a priest, a religion, or any other way. We come to God through Jesus Christ and what He has DONE!

Not only did Christ die for our sins, but three days later he physically and literally walked out of the grave! No other religious leader can make that claim and back it up. He was seen of over five-hundred eye witnesses after His resurrection. His disciples had returned to their old line of work and were discouraged. After they saw the risen Christ, they once again walked away from their careers, and every one of them followed Christ until they day they gave their life for His cause. If they knew the resurrection was just a hoax, why would they be willing to die horrible deaths for a message they knew to be a lie? Would you die for a lie?

I will conclude with these words from Cary Schmidt as he writes about the resurrected Christ, “He came to Earth for one reason—it was the only way to rescue us from the ruthless enemy of sin. This enemy had so invaded our world that it was holding us hostage to condemnation. God loves us so much that He literally came to Earth to rescue us” (DONE: What Most Religions Don’t Tell You About the Bible, p. 61).

Truth for Today-“Substitute Needed”

In our last blog (http://flagshipchurch.org/2012/04/21/truth-for-today-are-you-good-enough/) we established, through Scriptural evidence, that none of us are good enough to reach God on our own. Today we want to look at the idea of the Substitute that God provided in order for us to be able to have the personal relationship with God that we need.

Unfortunately, many sincere people continue to try to be “good enough” to reach God their “own way.” This is nothing new. We see in the very first book of the Bible (Genesis) a man by the name of Cain trying to appease God his “own way.” Cain brought God an offering in his own way, and God rejected the sacrifice.

Jesus Himself warns us in Matthew 7 that there will be MANY who will very sincerely try to get to God their own way, and God will one day say to them, “I never knew you…Depart from me…” They never came to God, Gods’ way. They will forever be separated from God in a placed prepared for the Devil and his angels called Hell. They were very sincere, but they were sincerely wrong about how to come to God.

God loves you and wants you to have a forever relationship with Him. However, His justice demands that our sin be removed before the holy God of Heaven can bring us into the family of God. For our sin to be removed the debt we owe must be paid in full. God is just, but He is also loving, kind and merciful. The book of 2 Peter tells us that God doesn’t want anyone to perish (be separated from Him forever), but that He wants everyone to repent (to turn to Him for forgiveness and the new life that only He can provide).

If you or I owed a large bill that we were unable to pay, the creditor would be more than happy to accept funds from someone who could pay the debt. This is called “substitution.” The major problem with the debt we owe is that everyone else on the face of the earth owes the same debt! I can’t pay your sin debt because I can’t even pay my own. But what if there was One who was qualified to pay this debt? The Good News is that there is a qualified substitute! He has already paid the debt of my sin and yours! For illustrative purposes we could say that He has “written a check to cover our debt.” The check has been made out to us, but unless we “endorse it” by faith and “cash it in” it does us no good. Today, Christ stands with His nail-scarred hands open wide ready to receive you and wash your sins away. Will you trust Him? Will you accept the payment that He has made for you and commit your life to Him?

If you would like to take this step, please contact us or read more about it at: http://flagshipchurch.org/truth-will-set-you-free/

Truth for Today-“Are YOU Good Enough?”

Are you a good person? Well…you aren’t too bad…right? We can all think of people who have done horrific things. We look pretty good when we compare ourselves to them. However, we would also admit that we  are not perfect. We have all made mistakes, and we have all missed the mark of God’s standard.

Notice what God’s Word says in Romans 3:23-“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:10 reminds us-“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (emphasis mine in both verses). We have all fallen short of God’s perfect standard. Even though we may feel good about ourselves because we aren’t doing things others have done, our comparisons with others become irrelevant when we compare ourselves with God’s standard of perfection.

Author Cary Schmidt paints a great word picture here:

Think of it this way. What if God commanded us to jump to the moon? You might be able to jump higher than I can, and I might be able to jump higher than my five-year-old daughter can, but in the end, we all fall way short of the goal.

That’s what God is saying when He says that we all “fall short of the glory of God.” We all fall so short that the slight difference between your goodness and someone else’s goodness (or badness) doesn’t matter in God’s sight” (DONE: What Most Religions Don’t Tell You About the Bible, p. 32).

Our standard of being a good jumper may be reaching a ten foot basketball rim. Some can jump high enough to touch it while others can’t. However, if the standard is touching the moon you can touch a ten foot rim all day long and it will not matter! That is what DOING religions are all about. They set a standard, and as long as you work really hard to meet their standard everything is ok. However, God has set a standard of perfection, and none of us are perfect!

So what do we do? Do we live our lives in despair because we are incapable of meeting God’s standard? NO! A thousand times no! We need to realize no matter how high we “jump” we will never reach the goal. We need to ADMIT we are incapable and trust in One who has DONE it—He has already met the goal on our behalf! We must trust in Jesus Christ. When we do this He lifts us up to God’s standard! God no longer looks at us and our failure to meet the goal, but He looks at Christ who has met the goal for us! Jesus fulfilled all righteousness and paid for the sins we committed when He died on the cross. We depend on what He has DONE for us, and God forgives us and brings us into a personal relationship with Himself. Jump all you want, but you will never reach the goal. DO all you want, but it can never lift you high enough. Trust in what Christ has DONE!

Scripture reminds us in Romans 5:12 that we were born “spiritually defective” because of the sin nature passed down from Adam (see Genesis 3). This defect has separated us from our Creator. However, the Good News is that Jesus Christ came to provide the only remedy to our problem. Many people do not want to hear they have a spiritual problem. However, if I go to the doctor and I have a major physical illness that is treatable I want to know about it! I want to know the treatment! We have a spiritual problem, and Jesus Christ provides the treatment!

Will YOU trust Him today! Will you come to the end of DOING and trust in what He has DONE? He loves you and is waiting to receive you today! For more information please contact us and join us for church this Sunday morning at 10:30am.

Truth for Today-“Knowing Where You Are Going”

Someone asked a friend of mine the other day if he knew where he was going. Her intention was to make sure he knew his destination and how to get there. As we began to back out of my driveway I jokingly (but not so jokingly) said to him, “I sure am glad to know where I am going…I’m going to Heaven!” I am not going to Heaven because I deserve to go to Heaven, or because I am a pastor, or because I belong to a particular denomination or religion. I am going to Heaven because Jesus Christ has DONE everything to pay for my sins and reconcile me to God. There came a point in my life where I realized that my sins had separated me from God and no amount of DOING was going to make things better. I realized I needed what Jesus had purchased, and I turned away from my own accomplishments and depended upon His.

There are many opinions about where a person’s soul goes at the point of death (physical death is simply the separation of the soul from the body). Some suggest that the soul or spirit hangs around planet earth either haunting or comforting people. Others believe in reincarnation and others believe in purgatory. The good news is that we do not have to stake our eternal soul on opinions. Scripture clearly shares with us that we will spend eternity somewhere.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us that we all have an appointment with death, and after death there will be a judgment. Just as death is certain, judgment is also certain. If we know that we are going to die, and we know that Scripture gives us an opportunity to be ready for death and judgment, we are making a foolish decision not to prepare for this appointment.

The trouble with “DO Religions” is that you never know if YOU have done enough. You hope you have and when you compare yourself with others you may feel pretty good about it, but you never really know for sure. The best we can have is an “I hope so.”

God doesn’t want you to go through life wondering if you are ready for this appointment. He wants you to know for sure. Listen to what the Scripture says in 1 John 5:11-13-

And this is the testimony, that God have us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW (emphasis mine) that you have eternal life. (ESV)

God wants YOU to KNOW! He doesn’t want you to live your life in doubt and come to your appointment with regret.

Do YOU know, or do you keep on DOING in hopes that when the appointment comes you have done enough? Cary Schmidt, author of the book “DONE: What Most Religions Don’t Tell You About the Bible” says, “The word KNOW implies full confidence and understanding…It rests on fact rather than wrestling with doubt. It trusts rather than being frustrated in fear” (p. 26).

What if you really knew for sure “where you were going?” How would this change your life? Schmidt says (p. 26):

  1. It would remove the fear of death! I have told people that I’m not afraid of death, just the process. I know, because of my trust and reliance upon Jesus Christ, that when my soul leaves my body at the appointed day I will have a new residence in the place that Christ has prepared for me…a place He called “His Father’s house” [we usually refer to it as Heaven.]
  2. It also gives this life a new perspective. You should no longer be living for just the “here and now” but living for the eternal! You would be able to live a life of hope! You will be able to DO, not to earn abundant and eternal life, but DO in gratitude for it!

God wants YOU to KNOW. I want YOU to KNOW. Flagship Church wants YOU to KNOW! If YOU would like to KNOW we can share more with you through e-mail, phone or a personal meeting. Also feel free to visit http://flagshipchurch.org/truth-will-set-you-free/ for more insight. We hope that you will plan on joining us this Sunday morning at 10:30am at Flagship Free Will Baptist Church, 2728 Pebble Drive, Erie, Pa!

Truth for Today-“Do or Done” (Part 2)

In the previous blog (http://flagshipchurch.org/2012/04/12/truth-for-today-do-or-done-part-1/) we were introduced to two philosophies concerning religion. All world religions, except true Biblical Christianity, focus on DOING. Biblical Christianity is all about the word DONE.

DONE is a great word! Think about some of its synonyms: complete, ended, and fulfilled. DONE is the message of the Bible! “In other words,” Cary Schmidt says, “everything necessary to restore you to God and bring you into eternal life with Him has already been DONE.”

Jesus Christ, as He was giving His life on the cross as a ransom for the sins of the world said, “It is finished” (John 19:30b). In other words He said, “Paid in full.” As these words proceeded from His lips something else took place in the Temple. The veil, which separated the Holy Place from the rest of the Temple, was torn in half. This signified that sinful man could come into the presence of God through Christ’s sacrifice. God was inviting the entire world to come to Him. When Jesus Christ said “It is finished” it was DONE. When God the Father ripped the veil in half it was DONE.

Praise God there is nothing more to DO! Jesus Christ has DONE it all. When individuals try to work their way to God they are wasting their time. So many religious people are so busy DOING they miss what Jesus Christ has already DONE.

Schmidt’s book, “DONE: What Most Religions Don’t Tell You About the Bible,” says:

Here’s another way to say it: religion or relationship. Does God institute systems that lead to Him, or does He desire something more personal—relational? Maybe the fact that He tells us to call Him Dad or Father should shed a little light on the situation. He wants a relationship with you. And close relationships are not a product of DOING, but rather a product of BEING or BELONGING…You can’t perform your way into God’s presence. He wants more than an “employee/employer relationship.” He wants more than cold religion. He wants a close relationship.

There is nothing YOU can DO to earn this relationship. It has already been DONE for you. Your responsibility is to accept it and trust Christ and Christ alone for it. Today YOU can escape the trap of DOING for the wrong reasons. You can get out of the rut of DO and quit trying to be a good enough person. What are YOU trusting in? Is it DO or DONE? Do you have religion or a relationship?

If you would like more information about how you can have this relationship please visit http://flagshipchurch.org/truth-will-set-you-free/ or contact us at alightinerie@gmail.com or (814) 314-9765.