Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

When He has come, He will convict the world of sin . . . —John 16:8

Very few of us know anything about conviction of sin. We know the experience of being disturbed because we have done wrong things. But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit blots out every relationship on earth and makes us aware of only one— “Against You, You only, have I sinned . . .” (Psalm 51:4). When a person is convicted of sin in this way, he knows with every bit of his conscience that God would not dare to forgive him. If God did forgive him, then this person would have a stronger sense of justice than God. God does forgive, but it cost the breaking of His heart with grief in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so. The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the divine nature to forgive and to remain true to itself in doing so. It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. Once we have been convicted of sin, we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary— nothing less! The love of God is spelled out on the Cross and nowhere else. The only basis for which God can forgive me is the Cross of Christ. It is there that His conscience is satisfied.

Forgiveness doesn’t merely mean that I am saved from hell and have been made ready for heaven (no one would accept forgiveness on that level). Forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a newly created relationship which identifies me with God in Christ. The miracle of redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One. He does this by putting into me a new nature, the nature of Jesus Christ.


When any great blessing is awaiting us, the devil is sure to try and make it so disagreeable to us that we shall miss it.

It is a good thing to know him as a liar, and remember, when he is trying to prejudice us strongly against any cause, that very likely the greatest blessing of our life lies there.

Spurgeon once said that the best evidence that God was on our side is the devil’s growl, and we are generally pretty safe in following a thing according to Satan’s dislike for it. Beloved, take care, lest in the very line where your prejudices are setting you off from God’s people and God’s truth, you are missing the treasures of your life.

Take the treasures of heaven no matter how they come to you, even if it be as earthly treasures generally are, like the kernel inside the rough shell, or the gem in the bosom of the hard rock.

I have seen Jesus and my heart is dead to all beside,

I have seen Jesus, and my wants are all, in Him, supplied.

I have seen Jesus, and my heart, at last, is satisfied,

Since I’ve seen Jesus.


Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good, than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of no practical importance; and our Churches suffer much from petty wars over abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them. Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them altogether; and if we observe the apostle’s precept (Titus 3:8) to be careful to maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with profitable business to take muc h interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless strivings. There are, however, some questions which are the reverse of foolish, which we must not avoid, but fairly and honestly meet, such as these: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? Am I renewed in the spirit of my mind? Am I walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Am I growing in grace? Does my conversation adorn the doctrine of God my Saviour? Am I looking for the coming of the Lord, and watching as a servant should do who expects his master? What more can I do for Jesus? Such enquiries as these urgently demand our attention; and if we have been at all given to cavilling, let us now turn our critical abilities to a service so much more profitable. Let us be peace-makers, and endeavour to lead others both by our precept and example, to “avoid foolish questions.”

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” Hebrews 13:8-9

After Rosie O’Donnell announced that she was “coming out of the closet,” I watched with interest as Bill O’Reilly interviewed her on his TV program, The O’Reilly Factor, during a feature that he affectionately dubs “The No Spin Zone.” He asked if she felt threatened by religious leaders who spoke out against the gay movement. “No,” she replied, because she knew that Jesus taught love, kindness, compassion and understanding. When O’Reilly asked Rosie if she thought God would judge her for her lifestyle, she calmly said no, because after all she had endured while growing up, Jesus would smile on the fact that she could love at all.

As I listened I thought, Wow, Jesus is being spun big time right here in the “no spin zone”!

But spinning Jesus is big sport these days. Not only do people twist Him to fit their agendas, but movie producers and authors reduce Him to a mere mortal, spinning Him in affairs with a prostitute and a marriage to Mary Magdalene. Muslims, while denying His deity, claim Him as one of their prophets. Politicians evoke His name when it might get them a few votes. And religious liberals defrock Him of His divine credentials, His miracle-working power, and His role as righteous Judge. Which relegates Him to the role of history’s leading Mr. Nice Guy. And He is nice, but if that’s all you have, then you don’t have Jesus. At least not the One who walked our planet 2,000 years ago.

When spin doctors go to work on Jesus, left on the editing room floor are facts like His judgment of the living and the dead, and that He will say things like, “Depart from me, you who are cursed” (Matthew 25:41).

Rosie is a classic example. She’s on the money when it comes to Jesus preaching love and compassion. Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies.” If you have one of those cool Bibles with the red ink that shows the words of Christ, you could skim through the New Testament and find over a dozen places where Jesus instructed us to love both friends and enemies.

But Jesus is also the ultimate spiritual referee, as noted in John 5:27, where the text tells us that God has given Christ the authority to judge. For Jesus to fit into Rosie’s mold, He would have to deny   1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which says, “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral . . . nor homosexual offenders . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.” And it’s not just sexual sin, but it’s all the ways that we fall short of God’s holy standards that leave us in jeopardy before Jesus as Judge and King.

So, beware of any attempts to dish out Jesus as something less then He really is. Hebrews 13:8-9 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.” A spin doctor’s clever quip about Jesus can’t change who He has always been and always will be. It would be a bad day to have lived as though there were no accountability for sin, only to find out too late that Jesus is the Judge!

But here’s the really good news. It’s also true that the Judge came to our planet to pay our penalty for sin and to become our Savior and friend (John 3:16-21). That’s something I’d like to tell Rosie—or anyone else for that matter!


  • Why do people want to put their own spin on Jesus? Have you ever done this, even if it has only been in your own mind?
  • This week, look for opportunities to keep Christ out of the “spin zone” by getting the truth out there. Post it on your blog; take out an ad in the newspaper; rent a billboard if you have to!
  • Memorize Colossians 1:15-20. When you are uncertain about what the world says about Christ, measure it against God’s Word.
  • Find a Bible that shows Jesus’ words in red letters. Take some time to read Jesus’ recorded words. In your journal, write down what His words reveal about the true Christ.

By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing . . . I will bless you . . . —Genesis 22:16-17

Abraham, at this point, has reached where he is in touch with the very nature of God. He now understands the reality of God.

My goal is God Himself . . . At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.

“At any cost . . . by any road” means submitting to God’s way of bringing us to the goal.

There is no possibility of questioning God when He speaks, if He speaks to His own nature in me. Prompt obedience is the only result. When Jesus says, “Come,” I simply come; when He says, “Let go,” I let go; when He says, “Trust God in this matter,” I trust. This work of obedience is the evidence that the nature of God is in me.

God’s revelation of Himself to me is influenced by my character, not by God’s character.

’Tis because I am ordinary, Thy ways so often look ordinary to me.

It is through the discipline of obedience that I get to the place where Abraham was and I see who God is. God will never be real to me until I come face to face with Him in Jesus Christ. Then I will know and can boldly proclaim, “In all the world, my God, there is none but Thee, there is none but Thee.”

The promises of God are of no value to us until, through obedience, we come to understand the nature of God. We may read some things in the Bible every day for a year and they may mean nothing to us. Then, because we have been obedient to God in some small detail, we suddenly see what God means and His nature is instantly opened up to us. “All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen . . .” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Our “Yes” must be born of obedience; when by obedience we ratify a promise of God by saying, “Amen,” or, “So be it.” That promise becomes ours.

Be ye thankful–Col 3:15

In the Midst of Adversity

The people to whom this was addressed were mostly people in very humble circumstances. Many of them would have been slaves. Their lot at the best was not a pleasant lot. Their privileges were as few as their enjoyments. And always in a heathen city to be a Christian aggravated everything. Yet the singular thing is that when the apostle wrote them, in such letters as this to the Colossians, he never seems to have offered them his sympathy. When death enters any of our homes, the mourners receive many kind letters. I have often wondered what fashion of a letter the apostle would have written in such circumstances. That it would have been exquisitely gracious we may take for granted from all we know of him, but unquestionably its leading theme would have been praise. The truest sympathy sometimes is not pity. The truest sympathy sometimes is encouragement. The hand that helps is the hand that points the way to new fidelity and service. And so the apostle never hesitates, even when writing to Colossian slaves, to urge them to the grace of thankfulness.

Paul’s Thankful Spirit

In doing so he of course was calling them to what he himself practiced so magnificently. Perhaps there never was a more thankful heart than the heart of the Apostle Paul. Would you know, asks William Law the mystic, would you know who is the greatest saint? It is not the man who prays most or who does most. It is the man who is most thankful. And certainly, tried by such a test, you might search the annals of the Christian church and not discover a greater saint than Paul. You have but to think of him in the prison of Philippi singing praises there to God at midnight to see how he had practiced what he preached when he urged the Colossians to thankfulness.

Thankfulness Rarer than We Think

And so I should like to dwell a little upon that most important Christian duty, and I begin by saying that true thankfulness is probably harder and rarer than we think. All of us abhor ingratitude. We speak of it in the severest terms. I have heard people, Christian people, say they could forgive anything except ingratitude. And yet as life goes on, we often find that the sins which are hardest to forgive are the sins which are easiest to commit. On one occasion our Savior healed ten lepers. He healed them all and healed them equally. Yet of the ten, only one came back and showed himself a grateful man. And we might question without any cynicism whether among all of us who name the Name of Christ today, even one in ten is truly grateful. Doubtless all these ten, while cursed as lepers, had thought that it would be heaven to be healed. They had pictured it and dreamed of it, and in their dreams had Worshiped their deliverer. But among all the hours that come to us to test us and to reveal our hearts, there are few hours more penetrative than the hour in which we get all that we want. The thing we coveted was one thing. When we get it is another thing. It was so easily given. It cost so little. And, after all, did we not deserve it? Indeed, when we look around upon our fellows and see how many have got far more than we, is there any cause for gratitude at all? No doubt such thoughts were in the lepers’ hearts. No doubt they were in the Colossians’ hearts. And he must be strangely ignorant of his own heart who has never been conscious of that quiet revulsion. And that is why, over and over again as if calling us to what is rare and difficult, the Gospel exhorts you and me to be thankful.

Thankfulness in Unique and Routine Circumstances

Of course, in times of special mercy, thankfulness is an instinctive feeling. There are hours when it is natural to weep and hours when it is natural to cry “Thank God.” When a child is rescued from a burning house, when a man is rescued from a watery grave, when the crisis is past and the light of life comes back as in a fever or from the surgeon’s knife, then in a rush of feeling from the depths pure and fervent gratitude is born. And God, who may have been long ignored, is recognized again in that glad moment as He who woundeth and yet His hands make whole. Christian friend, all such hours are good: but in any life such hours come very seldom. And it is not the rare hours that show the man: it is the common hours of common years. It takes far more than one exciting moment to tell you that anyone is really brave. And it takes far more than any tragic moment to tell you that anyone is really thankful. To be thankful in the sense of Scripture is to be thankful every ordinary day. It is to bear our routine burdens cheerfully, to meet our common sorrows without murmuring. It is so to feel the hand of God in everything, so to acknowledge the ordering of His love that for us there is nothing common or unclean. He who is rarely clean is not a clean man, and he who is rarely thankful is not a thankful man. The very joy and power of this great grace lie in the fact that it is universal. And that was what mightily impressed the world when the Christian Gospel began to spread abroad; it was the wonderful gladness of it all.

Resignation in Contrast to Thankfulness

Thankfulness, when you come to think of it, really depends upon our view of God. As is our God, so is our gratitude. If all that happens to us comes by chance, then of course no man can be grateful. Gratitude is not a duty then, for there is no one to be grateful to. Nor can gratitude ever be a duty if God be only a cold mid distant Spirit who takes no personal interest in men. Given a heaven like that, at his best two duties alone are in the power of man. The one is fortitude to face the worst, and the other is resignation in the worst. And that is why in the old pagan world the noblest gospel that was known was that of fortitude and resignation. Then came the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and resignation was swallowed up in thankfulness. And it was not because their lot was different: it was really because their God was different. They had been awakened through their Lord and Savior to a God whose name and character was Love, Love that stooped from heaven to the cross. Given such love, such individual love, life becomes a different thing at once. There is a loving purpose in its darkest hours; a loving watchfulness in all its ordering. And the moment that anyone awakes to that and with all his heart and soul believes in that, then gratitude is born. That is why Paul says in another passage, “In everything give thanks.” Not in some things of quite peculiar gladness, but in everything give thanks. For in everything there is the love of God; love is ordering and arranging everything and willeth not that any man should perish.

The Thankfulness of Jesus

The spirit of universal thankfulness was very conspicuous in Jesus Christ. You do not think of Jesus as resigned: you think of Jesus as rejoicing. There are three occasions in the life of Christ when you find Him giving thanks to God. Three times over, from the depths within, His thankfulness welled over into speech. And one has only to study these thanksgivings and all that is implied in them to realize the thankfulness of Jesus. Once He gave thanks for common things when He broke the loaves upon the mountainside. Once He gave thanks for ordinary people in that God had revealed His secret unto babes. And once in the darkest hour of His life on that night on which He was betrayed, He broke forth into such glorious thanksgiving as none who heard it ever could forget. Think of it: on that night on which He was betrayed when all He had toiled for seemed to be in vain, when the cross was waiting Him and all its agony, and the spitting and the mocking and the grave. Yet on that night we find our Savior thankful and pouring out His gratitude in prayer. My brother and sister, it is that great example that lies at the back of a command like this. We are to walk even as Jesus walked. We are to be thankful as He was. Not for the glad things only but for the shadowed things, not for the great things only but for the common things, and why, just because God is love and in love is ordering all, and all things are working together for our good.

Thankfulness–the Secret of Happiness

This grace of thankfulness diligently cultivated is one of the secrets of true happiness. It is not the happy people who are thankful. It is the thankful people who are happy. Happiness does not depend on what we have, else those who have the most would be the happiest. As a matter of fact, how often do we find that those who have the most are not the happiest? Happiness does not depend on what we have: it rather depends upon our point of view, and he who has won the thankful point of view is always on the highway of gladness. The flower that to the farmer is a weed may to the botanist be treasure trove. The rain that is so vexing to the child is just what the angler has been looking for. And so in life there are a thousand things that have an equal power to vex us or to bless us, according to our different point of view. No one who murmurs is ever really happy, and no one who worries is ever really happy. They have forgotten God and left Him out, and to leave Him out is to leave out the music. And it is only when, through Christ our Savior, we come to see His loving hand in everything that we win the thankful, grateful heart without which nobody ever can be glad. Ungrateful people are never happy people. They are always querulous and discontented. The more we are thankful for our everyday mercies, the more does life become a joyful thing. And that is why Christian life is always joyful, because everything the years may bring to us, Christ makes it possible for all who trust Him to cultivate the thankful spirit. The tiniest gift from somebody we love is of more value than many a costly offering. We take it gratefully just because love is there, and, taking it gratefully, it makes us happy. And so when we learn, as every man can learn, that God is love and that in Him we live, there is a worth in things we never saw before. The way to be glad is to be grateful, and the way to be grateful is to trust in God, to trust in Him as Jesus trusted Him on that night in which He was betrayed. Thus grows the assurance that there is no mistake, that He is watching, guiding, guarding, blessing us, which, when a man has learned, he ceases murmuring and finds that being thankful he is glad.

Thankfulness–the Source of Dedicated Service

But not only is thankfulness the spring of joy, it is also the source of dedicated service. And that is why the service of the Christian is perhaps the freest service in the world. We have all heard of the slave who after years of slavery was purchased by a stranger and set free, and how he fell at his liberator’s feet and offered him all his service for the future. And we do not need to read how that new service, offered freely from a grateful heart, was richer than all the service of the past. Once he had toiled because he had to toil, and now he toiled because he loved to toil. Once he had done his work in daily fear, and now he did it all in daily gratitude. And that swift change of motive in his heart, from the haunting terror of the lash to love, made all the difference in what he did. It made all the difference to him, and it makes all the difference to us. Service is changed down to its very depths when we realize that we have been redeemed. And when we realize that we have been redeemed, not with gold but with the blood of Christ, what can we say each morning that we awaken but “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” My brother and sister, be ye thankful. It may be a secret you have never learned. Think of all you owe to God in Christ, you who are less than the least of all His saints. So shall there come new peace into your life, a happiness to which you are a stranger, a passion to do a little ere the night fall for Him who loved you and gave Himself for you.


Snatch others from the fire and save them.” Jude 1:23

In a conversation with Billy Graham, I asked him what he thought needed to be changed in how we preach to people today compared to the way we preached to people in the 1950s. I expected him to reply with a profound analysis of our culture and the need to contextualize our message. I was surprised, then, when he replied simply and straightforwardly: “Nothing has really changed in terms of the needs of people. Wherever or whatever you preach, you must remind people of their sin, speak to them of heaven and hell, show them to the cross, and urge them to come to the Savior.”

He’s right, of course. The message is the same. The problem is, the receptivity of our culture has changed dramatically. The fundamental tenets of heaven, hell, sin, and the Savior are no longer familiar concepts in our culture. And, generally speaking, people quite frankly don’t really want to hear what we have to say about these matters. Why would they, when popular philosophy teaches us that nothing is wrong or right and that we are entitled to believe whatever we wish since there really is nothing that is truly true?! In a no-sin, no-true truth world that cringes when we claim that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6), it’s easy to give up and lose our nerve. But a lack of urgency in sharing the gospel can lead to tragic consequences for those who need to hear the good news.

Which reminds me of the lesson that D. L. Moody, the Billy Graham of the 19th century, learned.

After proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to a crowded hall in Chicago, the evangelist closed his message by encouraging the attendees to go home, consider the claims of the gospel, and return the next week to settle the matter in their lives. But that night Chicago heard the ringing of fire alarms and the clatter of horse-drawn water wagons being hurried through the streets. Mrs. O’Leary’s cow had kicked the lantern, and the Great Chicago Fire swept the city—hundreds of lives were lost. Because of that, D. L. Moody committed himself to never again forget to urge people to receive Christ immediately—before it is too late.

As Moody learned that night, we can’t afford to wait to share the good news of the gospel in light of the urgent needs of those who are living without a Savior and heading toward a godless eternity in hell.  Jude had this sense of urgency when he wrote to the early believers: “I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3), instructing them to “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them” (Jude 1:22-23).

Having been snatched from the fire ourselves, how fitting that we too should seek to rescue others.  This is the message that has been “entrusted” to us. Let’s pray that the Lord will put a fire in our belly to start sharing His message with urgency! And in the face of a secular, doubting world, remember that we need not be ashamed of the gospel since it is the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). No amount of doubting can thwart the power of God to save those to whom we carry the gospel!


  • Do you agree with the statement: “Nothing has really changed in terms of the needs of people”?
  • What are some reasons why people resist the message of sin and their need for a Savior?
  • How have you responded to the gospel? If you haven’t responded yet, what are you waiting for?
  • What is your attitude regarding sharing the gospel? If you lack a proper sense of urgency, pray and ask the Lord to reignite the fire in your belly for the gospel!