For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say No to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed Hope the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)
There is so much confusion in our present time. People are confused about all kinds of things, and one major thing the Church can help make clear is what is grace, and what is salvation.
Stop saying that you are saved by grace if you are living under the control of the same sins as before you claimed you were saved. You should instead say you are saved by mercy, which is not a real salvation.
If you were truly saved by grace, which causes you to be born again, you would be living free of the control of sin. Grace by definition is the power through God to do the will of God. Truth is, if you are not born again, there’s a very good chance you are not “saved.” You are only living a life that is frustrating and testing the mercy of God.
Jesus’ work on the Cross deserves more than a weak and powerless grace teaching from the Church. Jesus died to redeemed and purify us. Redemption and purification must be taught as connected and happening together.
Even though the lost and rebellious against God only like the redemption and not the purification part, both must be preached and taught, otherwise the Church is preaching only a half truth, which is a false Gospel of grace.
If you claim to be “saved by grace” the by Paul’s definition, you should be “eager to do what is good.” Not perfect, but at least eager. If there is no eager desire for good, there is no redemption, and that means no salvation.
How very sad for someone to believe they are saved, to live and die under the control of sin, only to find out on Judgment Day they were never redeemed.
Preach the truth, proclaim the Gospel and interceded with prayer for the lost.
There is a verse in Proverbs that has always stuck out to me when friends played jokes and pranked each other. Every year on April 1st it is almost always a guarantee that somebody’s feelings are going to get hurt somehow at sometime during that day. As I watched the mayhem that followed as friends tried to smooth over hurt feelings, Proverbs 26:18-19 would come to mind.
Proverbs 26:18-19 (NIV) Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!”
I have heard it being taught from pulpits that Jesus was a fun guy. They even go so far as to say that Jesus was just one of they guys and must have played pranks on his disciples.
That is a fun picture of Jesus and it even helps sell Jesus like the “My Homeboy” t-shirts. It also helps make the idea of Jesus as Judge a little more tolerable. We can always say to Him in the court of Heaven, “Oh that sin, it wasn’t really sin. I was just joking around, I didn’t mean anything serious!”
But the image of Jesus a jokester, as a man who ‘deceives his neighbor and says ‘I was only joking,’ is not true of his nature, and it was not how Jesus acted towards his disciples in Scripture. To say that Jesus acted in such a way is to malign his character and goes against what is written in the Bible.
Hebrews 6:18 (NIV) God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
Titus 1:2 (NIV) a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which GOD, WHO DOES NOT LIE, promised before the beginning of time,
The truth is that teaching that Jesus is a prankster is a false teaching about who God is. It causes one to ask the question, “Can I trust a God that may be pulling a prank on me?” It lowers a perfect Creator to the level of a sinful and imperfect false god from Olympus.
Matthew 24:24 (NIV) For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect- if that were possible.
It is not the nature of the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit to deceive or pull pranks for his amusement. Hebrews says it is ‘impossible for God to lie.’ To lie is the nature of the “False Christ,” or to say more clearly, the Anti-Christ. To say Jesus did lie, even just as a fun prank, is to attribute the character traits of Satan to Jesus.
John 8:44 (NIV) You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Was Jesus fun to be around? I would say yes. It was a joy to be in His presence, but He never lied or deceived anyone, even just as a joke.
Did his disciples prank each other? The Bible is silent on that account, but the Bible is very clear that Jesus never deceived anyone as a joke.
So what can we take from the real “prankless” Jesus? How about love your neighbor just as you want to be loved. So I would say, bless you neighbor, friends, and family and don’t prank them. Blessing them may just freak them out even more than the best April Fools prank, and then you may be a little more like Jesus.
I’ve seen all kinds of responses on Facebook over the last few days, from pure anger at Chick-Fil-A and Bible living and believing Christians to people saying that we as followers of Jesus should not go to Chick-Fil-A to buy a sandwich because it will be seen as offensive to “Gay” people, and that would make it harder to reach them with the “Love of God”. I have even seen some saying that God is love and that what the owner of Chick-Fil-A , Mr Cathy, stands for is not love. Also have read a lot of times that Christians should not judge anyone, for anything, ever. And this all came from people claiming to be Christians!
I think these are examples and expressions of what is wrong with Christianity today in modern America. We have made Jesus into a sissy with a “Victim’s Mentality”, that is more concerned with not offending anybody then setting them free from sin.
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” – Matthew 4:17
Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. – Matthew 11:20
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32
Does this sound like “Free Hugs Jesus” or “Jesus is my Home Boy”? And if people did not get the point that Jesus’ mission was to preach and teach “Repent or Perish” he makes sure to get the point across and says it twice, to really emphasize the point, in case they didn’t get it the first time, Jesus the Highest of Kings, the creator of the universe, repeats himself, (which can’t be a good sign).
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Luke 13:1-5
Then not only did John preach repentance, Jesus taught repentance, Jesus taught his Twelve Disciple to preach the same message he was preaching, which was…… Repent!
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
They went out and preached that people should repent. Mark 6:6-12
And even after Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead right before he was going to ascend his instruction to his disciples as Jesus explain the scriptures, what had happened and what still must happen.
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:45-47
And what was the first sermon that was ever preached after Jesus left and sent the Holy Spirit? It was by Peter and what did he say- “Jesus is Love, I don’t want to offend anyone today”? No, he said the opposite. He said, ‘All of You by your sins and actions crucified this Jesus. Repent!’
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Acts 2:36-38
Even Paul continued to preach repentance and taught the same as Jesus. While John the Baptist called Israel to repent, Paul teaches that it is God’s will that all men repent.
“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
“I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21
Paul even teaches the same as John the Baptist that repentance of the heart must also be shown in the actions and behavior of the person.
“First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” Acts 26:20
This is the same teaching of John the Baptist about repentance.
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8 and Luke 3:8
Paul is not even sorry that he hurt or offended someone, because Paul, the disciples, and the early church understood that love – the kind that Jesus taught- is to tell the truth to so that people will be “cut to the soul” and be “most deeply grieved,” even outraged. Paul even says he did not regret hurting people by telling them the truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ
“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:8–10
The question is, what is this Gospel that Jesus taught and instructed his disciple to teach and preach? The answer is in the name of Jesus.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
The Good News is not Jesus saves you from hell. Although that would be some good news, it is not the true Gospel. The true Gospel is even better news, it is the best news- that Jesus saves us from the control of sin in our lives. The true Gospel is not Jesus, His work on the cross and resurrection, modifies our behavior like a good psychologist can, or even fixes our sinful and self-destructive behavior with drugs and chemical cocktails like a psychiatrist. All the world and all the other false religions offers are internal or external behavior modifications, which still leaves sin in the heart of the person. They are sitting down on the outside but defiantly standing up on the inside. This human condition is what Jesus called sin, and He gives us a new nature, His nature, the Holy Spirit of God Himself. We no longer have to be slaves to the self-destructive nature.
It would be very BAD news if Jesus’s message was to “Stop being sinful or perish in eternal torment,” when all of humanity could do nothing to change their nature. That would be a horrible God, and awful news, all of humanity would be damned while Jesus hung “Repentance with proof by good Deeds” out in front of all us like a carrot on a stick that we could never attain to.
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” John 5:14
Why would Jesus tell him and others to ‘stop sinning’ if that were not possible for him? That would be a very mean trick to play on humanity. Jesus spoke life and truth, and the Gospel was for this man and is for us today. Jesus will save you from the power of sin and give you a new nature, His nature, by his Holy Spirit. In your new nature you will have the will and desire to obey Jesus as Lord, and this is very, very good news.
It is also very offensive for two main reasons. One- the person really wants to keep their sin. They just don’t want to exchange their sin for freedom (and most will get very mad when you call their actions and nature a sin and say “stop judging me”). The other is they don’t want to have to obey Jesus. They don’t want the new nature because it wills and desires to do the things of God and they don’t want to ever surrender to God because they are mad at Him and either fight Him or deny He exists. Either way, when they are called to repent and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and be free from their sin, they respond angrily and sometimes violently. Most of the time when the true Gospel is preached it gets the same two responses and the early church, disciples, and Apostles got, there either got one or the other, riot or revival.
Where is the real Jesus being revealed today by the American Church, and why is it when the American Gospel is being preached are we not seeing riots or revivals? Maybe it is time that the American Church, instead of trying not to offend anyone, took up her cross and preached the real Jesus and his Gospel. After all, in the end it got Jesus and the Apostles (except John) killed for preaching the truth.
All Scripture is quoted from NIV.
In America, morality is no longer based on facts and truth but is based on what popular opinion polls say is the majority. Morality is now a vote.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:34 NKJV
Jesus is both Lord and Savior. The two can’t be separated. Jesus said;
John 14:15 (NIV) If you love me, you will obey what I command.
Again He says the same, leaving no wiggle room.
John 14:23-24 (NIV)Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
The sad thing is most people live like, and some even believe, that the kingdom of God is a democracy, as if we can vote on what God has said and decreed. They think if they get enough people to agree with their opinion, or that their sin should no longer be in the “Unlawful” and “Against God” category, that they can change the mind of God by saying “According to the popular vote, everybody agrees with me, which makes you, God, a bigot and a hater of what the people agree to.” As if this would change God’s mind and cause Him to resend His law! Some are even in the mindset that after presenting their popular vote to God and He doesn’t agree with the masses, they will impeach Him, voting God off the island.
This is nothing new and is why the gospel of Christ is so offensive to the rebellious mind. Jesus as savior is great and every body likes a get out of jail free card, but to demand that people surrender their will and life in exchange for eternal life is a very offensive and very different gospel.
Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the brulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break
Their bonds in pieces
And cast away
Their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will give You
The nations for Your inheritance,
And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron;
You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.