Peace Through Guilt…expanded version

“Peace through guilt? I’ve got plenty of guilt without looking for more!”

I understand…but bear with me and I’ll show you how to leave guilt behind by looking for it. You students of the Bible should recognize that as sound advice. Jesus said to be great, you must be servant to all; to have, you must give away; to lead, you must follow; to live, you must die. Not that all seemingly contradictory aphorisms are biblical or even true, but this one is…both.

I once asked a group who would be the only person on the planet who can never be forgiven? Several suggestions were offered: “The one who sins against the Holy Spirit”, “Satan”, “the Antichrist,” and a few serial killers were mentioned. The real answer is even scarier than all these…it could be you.

The only one who will never be forgiven is the one who has done nothing wrong. No sin, no mistakes, no evil thoughts, nothing. How do I know? Scripture tells us if we confess…He will forgive . Forgiveness is conditional on confession*.

So, confess.

“But I don’t feel like I’ve been all that bad.”

My point exactly! You cannot be forgiven for something you didn’t do.

MORE ON PEACE THROUGH GUILT TOMORROW

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Bible ‘Wagon’ Words?

First a note to those who asked about ‘Frank’s ‘Life Strengths Chart’ (from our Daily Devotional / Bible Study email). It can now be downloaded in a clear and editable format so you can easily make changes to suit your lifestyle. You will need to choose ‘Save As’ after making changes. Give it a name you choose and you will still have the original to refer back to. Sorry we didn’t have this sooner but our technology expertise lags behind our ministry. Just go to http://www.axxiom.org/Free_Kit.php and select ‘Life Strengths Chart Download’.

IS FAITH A ‘WAGON’ WORD?

Faith seems to be a touchy subject nowadays. Some are even accused of belonging to a ‘Faith’ movement which is apparently a bad thing. Funny how something Jesus would have applauded (He did several times) can be turned into something negative.

Do you have faith? I hope so. So then you’re a ‘Faith’ person, right? Maybe you accept that label and maybe you don’t. I’m a Methodist and a believer and I certainly consider myself as possessing ‘Faith’. So what’s the big deal?

I’ve been a student of Scripture and Christianity for over three decades and one thing I have learned that interferes with discussion at times is ‘wagon words’. Those are words that carry with them more than just letters.

Sometimes there is a whole ‘wagon’ of meaning and interpretation and misunderstanding and perspective that can confuse any relatively simple conversation.

For instance, if you were looking for something for your children to watch you might go to the ‘children’s’ section of the video store. But if you were looking for something for yourself, would you go to the ‘adult’ section? Probably not.

‘Adult’ is definitely a ‘wagon’ word which if connected to other contexts like entertainment or beverages can become much bigger than originally intended.

And so is ‘Faith’.

‘Faith’ means simply ‘belief’. But of course it is also much more. ‘Trust’ actually comes closer to an American / English understanding.

It is not…
‘I believe in God’…Jesus would say, “…the demons also believe…and tremble.”

Nor is it…
‘I believe everything will work out’…Jesus would say, “…if you do what I say your house will in fact stand…but if not, the storm will wash it away.”

Nor is it…
‘I believe in what has no foundation in fact’…Jesus would say, “…the works that I do, bear witness of me…”

So what is ‘Faith’? And why has it become a ‘wagon’ word?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

1.       What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘faith’? What do you think Jesus was thinking when He said it?

2.       I’m sure you’ve seen a magic show. And you’ve also seen late-night ‘televangelists’ on TV. Is ‘faith’ magic?

3.       Is it possible that the persecution that Paul, Peter and James endured (and of course Jesus, among others) had anything in common with the way some people feel about ‘Faith’ today? In other words, why do you think the ‘religious’ folks back then were offended at the way Jesus talked about ‘faith’?

TOMORROW…Faith without the ‘wagon’…

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Peace Through Guilt part 3

Jesus showed the impossibility of obeying the law. Then proceeded to live by the letter and the spirit of the law and then paid the ultimate price to remove the burden of the law, i.e. forgiveness. Then God raised Him from the dead securing our justification, i.e. righteousness. By making matters even worse than we thought, Jesus made it clear how desperately we needed a Savior.

The beginning to understanding this is to recognize when the New Covenant began. I use the term ‘Covenant’ to contrast with the more common translation: ‘Testament’. The reason is that Jesus used the word ‘Covenant’ when He spoke of His death at the last Passover with His disciples.

‘Covenant’ from its first mention in Genesis has always involved the shedding of blood.

When Jesus spoke of the covenant, He spoke of Himself. “This is the blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you.” He was with His disciples in the ‘upper room’ just two days before His crucifixion.

So when, then did the New Covenant or Testament begin? That’s right, at the end of the gospel account, not at the beginning. This may seem a minor point, and certainly does not change anything about New Testament Scripture. But it does help tremendously to understand the ministry of Jesus and especially the Sermon on the Mount.

If Jesus’ shed blood sealed the New Covenant (Testament), and it did, then everyone Jesus ministered to prior to His resurrection was under the Old Covenant or The Law. Now how do you minister the New Covenant to God’s people who have been under the burden of the law for over fifteen hundred years and who had been schooled constantly in the curse and heard nothing of the blessing?

Jesus had to use the law to demonstrate why He came. Now you begin to see the impact that Jesus’ explanation of the ‘Spirit’ of the law had on those within His hearing. Jesus, the Messiah (Christ; Deliverer; Anointed One) who came to set the sinner free spoke words that were devastating to these Jews who were already ruthlessly governed by the Roman legions and oppressed by their own religious leaders.

More tomorrow…

 

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Peace Through Guilt part 2

OK, here’s the deal.

Jesus, in one of His most memorable sermons raised guilt to an insurmountable level. “You have heard”, He said, “’you shall not murder…’, but I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother…shall be in danger of the judgment.” And, He added, “You have heard…’you shall not commit adultery’ but I say to you, that whoever…lusts…has already committed adultery in his heart.”

A reasonable person might think, “Is He saying that in addition to following the letter of the law He’s reading our minds to check up on our attitude?”

The answer according to Jesus is “Yes.”

This same reasonable person would have to conclude that this is the exact opposite of grace; and I would have to agree. So what was His point? The Psalmist knew, “There is none that doeth good, no not one.” Jesus was making it abundantly clear that no point in the law had ever been fulfilled and furthermore, just in case someone dared think he had come close, He made us accountable to the “Spirit” of the law. Just having a wrong thought was enough to convict even the strictest Pharisee.

“But why? Weren’t we guilty enough already?” Well, Jesus was never one to waste words. He could afford to make His case painfully clear because He came with the answer to the problem. He was the answer to the problem.

More tomorrow…

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Peace Through Guilt

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”—Jesus Christ

“There is none righteous, no not one.”—the Apostle Paul

“Seek guilt? I’ve got plenty of guilt without looking for more!”

I understand…but bear with me and I’ll show you how to leave guilt behind by looking for it. You students of the Bible should recognize that as sound advice. Jesus said to be great, you must be servant to all; to have, you must give away; to lead, you must follow; to live, you must die1. Not that all seemingly contradictory aphorisms are biblical or even true, but this one is…both.

I once asked a group who would be the only person on the planet who can never be forgiven? “The one who sins against the Holy Spirit”, “Satan”, “the Antichrist,” and a few serial killers were mentioned. The real answer is even scarier than all these…it could be you.

The only one who will never be forgiven is the one who has done nothing wrong. No sin, no mistakes, no evil thoughts, nothing. How do I know? Scripture tells us if we confess…He will forgive. Forgiveness is conditional on confession.

So, confess.

“But I don’t feel like I’ve been all that bad.”

My point exactly! You cannot be forgiven for something you didn’t do.

More tomorrow…

Excerpted from SHALOM! THE POWER OF PEACE by G.Johnson Details at www.axxiom.org

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A Letter to Michael part 5

The historicity, validity and authenticity of those documents would have failed in the piercing light of the truth known by those who were there and knew Him (or of Him) and had personal knowledge of what really happened. And the accounts would not have survived a decade much less centuries.

And what does all this prove? Simply that it is not unreasonable to believe that Jesus existed and that he is who he says he is. If you do believe that then his book says,

…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Which means that if you believe his claims and receive him as your Lord you will spend eternity with him and be empowered to live the abundant life he offered here and now…and forever .

Here’s what happened when Jesus came the first time: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him .” But then the good news: “But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God.”

Eternity is a daunting, unimaginable long time. Choices that may affect how and with whom that time is spent should be thought out more thoroughly than any retirement or vacation plan. And make no mistake…this is not a lottery…it’s a choice. And it’s the good folks that are hard to reach with this message. Since you’re definitely one of the good ones I hope you choose to respond positively to his invitation.

Your friend,
Gregg

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A Letter to Michael part 4

A good teacher does not announce his equality with God (John 17:9) or the authority to judge all men on the final day (John 12:48). If your high school Civics teacher (or the preacher at a local church for that matter) made that claim you would have them reported to the police (or at least the local psychiatric hospital). Thankfully we don’t execute folks any more for such stupid remarks.

And if he were just an example then he paid a very high price for our lesson.

No. He was either a liar or he was a lunatic or he was Lord.

(1) either he said he was God in the flesh and knew he was wrong (liar); or
(2) he made these claims and did not know he was wrong (lunatic); or
(3) He believed he was the Son of God and ultimate judge of all mankind and he was right (Lord).

There are no other choices.

Unless…You believe he did not exist at all.

Well, here you’re definitely in the minority. Let me explain.

If I were to write a book about John F. Kennedy and how he came back to life on the tenth anniversary of his assassination he returned to Washington and addressed a joint session of congress on economic and foreign policy issues you’d suspect I was crazy.

If I claim to have interviewed him at that time and was about to publish the book about my findings you would know I was crazy and find it laughable at best.

Why will this book not be published (or last very long if it were)? Well, several reasons of course come to mind. But most importantly there are people alive today who were alive when Mr. Kennedy was alive and saw or heard about his assassination…and would be quick to discredit my story (and produce the dead body).

Similarly, the accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were recorded shortly after the events. Some date a mere forty years later. The point is that there were people alive during the publication of the events of Jesus’ life that were alive (and knew Him personally) when he walked among them and saw or heard about his crucifixion and resurrection…and would be quick to discredit the story if any evidence existed to contradict the accounts (and produce the dead body).

MORE TOMORROW…The exciting conclusion…

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