“We preach Christ crucified”
1 Corinthians 1:23

Grace and Faith A Divine Synergy

“We gained our entrance by faith into this grace, in which we now stand.”  Romans 5:2

God has set up the spiritual dynamics of His kingdom so that grace and faith work together in a synergistic manner. Just as hydrogen and oxygen combine to form the elemental basis of water, grace and faith combine to form the basis of man’s relationship with God. Without grace, faith cannot function; and without faith, grace cannot be obtained. To use the analogy of electricity, if grace is the power, then faith is the “on” switch within our spirit that enables us to receive grace. However, before we continue, let us define grace and faith from a Biblical perspective. The New Testament Greek word for grace is charis, which means God’s divine favor toward man. More specifically, grace is God’s undeserved kindness toward sinners, so that we might be saved from the curse of sin. How did God accomplish this great salvation? The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s grace (John 1:14). God sent Jesus His only Son to die on the cross as the avenue of His grace to redeem us from sin (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Therefore, the Bible says that Christ’s sacrificial death is the free gift of God’s grace to sinners (Romans 5:15-17; 6:23). Thus grace has been called God’s Riches AChrist’s Expense.  Now let us look at the Biblical meaning of faith. The New Testament Greek word for faith is pistis, which means to believe or trust. Faith must be based on the truth of God’s Word, or it is not true Christian faith. The Bible says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1).” Just as physical eyesight enables us to see the natural world, faith is the spiritual eyesight that enables us to see God and understand His heavenly world. For this reason, the Bible says, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal… for we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7).” Thus God has made faith essential to see Him and know Him (Hebrews 11:3, 6). As the Bible says, “God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:17).’” Therefore, faith is the underlying basis of man’s relationship with God, and the means by which man can apprehend God’s grace. In this regard, the Bible says that our attitude should be one of faith toward God and His revealed truth in all that we do (Romans 14:23).  How do grace and faith work together? The Bible says we are saved by both God’s grace and by our faith (Ephesians 2:5; 1 Peter 1:9). “It is by grace that you have been saved through faith; and not from yourselves, it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).” However, salvation is only the beginning and not the end of God’s plan for our lives. Therefore, just as we entered into the grace of God’s salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, we must now live by faith in the Son of God who indwells us, if we want to continue in God’s grace and sanctification (Romans 1:17; Galatians 2:20). In fact, if we do not continue standing by faith, we will be cut off from God’s grace (Galatians 3:2-3; 5:4; 1 Timothy 4:1). The Bible says, “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by your faith… continue in His kindness (grace); otherwise you also will be cut off (Romans 11:20-22).” One verse in the Bible that sums up the complementary relationship between God’s grace and man’s faith is 2 Thessalonians 2:13: “God has chosen you to be saved through the sanctifying work (grace) of the Spirit and through faith in the truth.”  Once again, it is essential to spotlight what is the specific truth upon which our faith must be based to ensure our salvation and sanctification. This is the divinely powerful truth that sets us free from the tyranny of sin: by the grace (the undeserved gift) of Christ’s death, God freed us not only from the penalty of sin (by forgiving our sins); He also freed us from the power of sin (by removing our sinful nature), so that His Son’s Spirit could dwell in us (Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 2:11). When we apply this grace and truth of the cross to our lives each day by faith, we are forgiven for our sins and we are able to “put off” our old sinful way of thinking and acting and “put on” Christ’s way of thinking and acting (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 4:22-24). This is the only way by God’s grace we can overcome sin and walk in sanctification: by faith in the truth (Acts 26:18).  A couple of more points to consider: faith always springs from a heart of humility. Without a humble heart, it is impossible to have the true faith required to receive God’s grace. “For God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).” In this way, God has safeguarded His kingdom from those who are proud, rebellious, religious deceivers and hypocrites by ensuring that only those who are truly humble in heart will have true faith needed to enter His kingdom. Also, remember that our faith must have corresponding action to be effective. True faith is not a feeling; it is a decision to believe and act on the truth of God’s Word; otherwise God’s grace will have no effect in our lives (Hebrews 4:2; James 4:14-26). The Bible says that real faith in Christ is always manifested by our corresponding action (Luke 6:46-48).  In closing, the cross of Christ is the door to God’s grace, and our faith is the key that unlocks this divine door. Neither our initial salvation nor our ongoing sanctification depend on any of our natural strengths, virtues and efforts; instead they depend solely upon our faith (believing and acting) in the grace and truth of the cross of Christ. Remember that grace is always at God’s initiative, but faith should always be our proper response. This is why the whole gospel of God gives equal emphasis to both grace and faith. When either grace or faith is over emphasized to the neglect of the other, it results in a gospel that is out of balance, distorted and incapable of producing healthy spiritual fruit. A beautiful picture of the divine balance between grace and faith can be found in Michelangelo’s famous painting in Rome’s Sistine Chapel. On the chapel’s ceiling dome, the painting depicts God’s hand reaching downward to touch man’s hand that is reaching upward. We can even envision that when God’s hand of grace and man’s hand of faith join together to form an interlocking handshake, their divine relationship and friendship is complete and inseparable. 

 “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence (faith) to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

Grace and Truth United and Indivisible

“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17

Many Christians today live by the creed: “It is all about grace!”  What they mean is that grace covers all their sins: past, present and future. They believe Christians are sinners who cannot stop habitually sinning (just like unbelievers).  They think the only difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that God’s grace covers all of a Christian’s sins so a Christian does not have to worry about God’s judgment for their chronic sins.  As one so-called “Christian” put it: “God grades on a bell curve and everyone gets a passing grade.”  In other words, they mistakenly believe that some Christians may sin more than other Christians, but all Christians will still go to heaven, no matter how much they practice sin.  Some Christians even go so far as to say they no longer need to ask forgiveness for the sins they commit because all their sins (past, present, and future) have already been covered by God’s grace.  And far too many Christians think the “good news” of the gospel is that they can receive forgiveness for their sins and yet continue to live in them.  This philosophy may be soulishly comforting to those who cannot or do not want to stop practicing sin, but it is not Biblically true.  When Jesus told people that their sins were forgiven, He also told them, “Go, and sin no more!” (John 5:14; 8:11)

It is said that every good lie has an element of truth in it.  This is the reasoning behind this falsehood: “Since we could only be saved by grace, then grace must cover all of our sins; otherwise we could be saved by our works.”  The problem with this way of thinking is that it does not line up with the truth of God’s Word.  Because of spiritual ignorance, many Christians do not understand the relationship between faith and works.  What does the Bible mean by “faith” and “works?”  Faith is “what we believe” and works are “what we do,” or the fruit of what we believe.  The Bible says we are saved solely by faith in Jesus Christ because there are no works which could ever earn us God’s righteousness.  Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith… not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).”  But once we are saved, the Bible says we must then express our faith by our works; otherwise our faith is not valid.  James said, “Faith apart from works is inactive and ineffective and worthless (James 2:20).”  Therefore, salvation is not a result of our works, but works must result from our salvation if our faith in Jesus Christ is authentic. Thus we are not saved by obeying God’s commands; however, after we are saved, we will obey God’s commands if our salvation is real.  This obedience is what the Bible calls the “obedience of faith” and the “works of faith” that every Christian should have if they are truly living by faith (Romans 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3).  As James said, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith, but he has no works?  Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14)

As a consequence of this misunderstanding about faith, many Christians are also spiritually ignorant of the true Biblical meaning and purpose of God’s grace.  In order to understand God’s grace, we must look to the plumbline of truth, which is God’s Word; otherwise man’s natural tendency is to embrace some form of humanistic grace that, like soft clay, can be molded to the world’s changing tides of culture, values, ethics and morals.  This is why the Bible says both “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).”  The Biblical truth is that we can only be saved by God’s grace (not by our own works); but after we are saved, God’s grace enables us to stop sinning.  What does this mean?  God’s grace (made available through Christ’s death on the cross) has given us a two-fold deliverance from the curse of sin.  By God’s grace, we have been freed from the penalty of sin; and by God’s grace, we have also been freed from the power of sin (when God removed our sinful nature when we were saved).  However, since most Christians are spiritually ignorant of this second provision of the cross, they think they cannot stop practicing sin.  As Paul said, “Come back to your senses as you should, and stop sinning; for there are some of you who are ignorant of God (1 Corinthians 15:34).”  And Paul also said, “Should we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  May it never be!” (Romans 6:1)   God’s grace must never be used by Christians as a license to keep practicing sin.  The Bible says, “My brothers, you were called to be free, but do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge in sinful behavior… and do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16).” God’s grace (available through Christ’s death on the cross) has been given to enable us to stop practicing sin.  The Bible says, “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, and instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).”  If we believe and act on this truth of the cross, then living a godly life is the proof that our faith in Christ is genuine.  However, if we continue to habitually practice sin, the Bible says that we walk in darkness, and we cannot have fellowship with Jesus Christ here on earth or in heaven.  John wrote, “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has seen Him or knows Him… the one who practices sin is of the devil (1 John 3:6-8).”

The Bible says that any Christian who keeps practicing unrepentant, chronic sin after they are saved can no longer count on receiving the grace of God’s forgiveness; instead they can only expect to receive the wrath of God’s judgment.  “For if we go on sinning willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for (forgiveness of) sins, but only a terrifying expectation of judgment (Hebrews 10:26-27).”  If we never master the sins that habitually entangle us, then the grace of God (made available through Christ’s death on the cross) will have been of no use to us.   In the words of our brother Paul: “As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1).”

 “You have already heard the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you… you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” Colossians 1:5-6

Jesus Christ – Our Way of Holiness

“You are in Christ Jesus whom God made to be our … holiness.”  1 Corinthians 1:30 

The Bible commands us to “pursue… holiness, for without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).”  However, most Christians who pursue holiness lack a Biblical knowledge of how to practice holiness. There are two extremes that every Christian should avoid in trying to practice holiness:  legalism and licentiousness. Legalism is the attempt to please God by your own works rather than relying by faith solely on what Christ accomplished on the cross. Legalism produces an outwardly “moral” behavior, instead of a heart that has been inwardly and authentically transformed by faith. Since legalism is performance-based and not faith-based, it is only natural that when you perform well (according to your standard of holiness) you will feel good, but when you perform poorly, you will feel bad.  It is also natural that you will feel resentful towards other Christians who are not trying as hard according to your standard of holiness.  Legalism means you must do something to obtain God’s righteousness, whereas grace means God did something to impute righteousness to you, which you then receive by faith. Therefore, God’s righteousness (based on grace) depends on your faith in Christ’s completed work on the cross; whereas man’s righteousness (based on legalism) depends on your natural willpower and self-effort.  Legalism and grace are mutually exclusive.  If you are practicing legalism, you are not under grace. Paul warned, “Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by your human effort?… You have been severed from Christ… you have fallen from grace (Galatians 3:3; 5:4).” Legalism is the erroneous belief that if you follow religious rules and regulations, you will be righteous in God’s eyes.  Paul warned believers against the futility of religious legalism: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world… why do you submit to its rules?…  Such practices have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed religion, false humility and ascetic discipline, but they have no value in restraining sinful desires (Colossians 2:20-23).”  For example, legalism is the false belief that if you follow certain rules (such as attending church twice a week and tithing ten percent of your income to the church), you will be righteous in God’s eyes.  Or, legalism is trying your best to be holy by following Christian disciplines, such as Bible reading, witnessing, prayer and fasting, and acts of service. Thus, legalism is the religion of “always trying harder.”  Ultimately, the root of legalism is self-righteousness.  It is the sin of pride to think you have the moral ability to live a holy Christian life, whereas other Christians who cannot are inferior.  When Christians become “burnt-out” from legalism, they often fall into the second extreme: licentiousness.  Licentiousness is a lack of godly self-control, which leads to unrestrained worldly excess. The word licentiousness is derived from the same Greek root word for license. In other words, licentiousness misuses God’s grace as a license to practice sin.  As Paul warned, “Do not use your freedom as a license to gratify sinful desires… for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, training us to deny ungodliness and worldly passions and to live sober-minded, upright and godly lives in this present age (Galatians 5:13; Titus 2:11-12).” The Bible uses the term “dissipation” to describe the fruit of licentiousness (Luke 21:34; 1 Peter 4:3-4). From a Biblical perspective, dissipation means wasting your life on worthless worldly things (such as accumulating riches and indulging in sinful, sensual pleasures).  Christians who practice licentiousness usually have a wrong concept of grace. They believe that God’s grace covers all their present and future sinful actions, even if they live a life of unrepentant lawlessness. This is “cheap grace,” which is not God’s grace at all!  The Bible warns us to beware of “ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness (Jude 4).” The problem of legalism and licentiousness is not new.  Back in the first century, the Galatians fell into legalism and the Corinthians fell into licentiousness. Both churches had to be exhorted to turn back to the straight and narrow way of holiness in Christ.  Now that we have examined the problem of legalism and licentiousness, let us look at God’s remedy for dealing with the true root of our dilemma, which is sin-sickness. The only antidote for sin-sickness is the cross of Christ.  According to the gospel, Christ not only died to free us from the penalty of sin by forgiving our sins; He also died to free us from the power of sin by removing our sin nature (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:6).  After we are saved by faith in God’s grace, we must be careful to avoid the extremes of either legalism or licentiousness as we pursue Christ’s way of holiness.  Whenever we step out of faith in the cross of Christ and enter into our own self-effort, we take the burden for our sanctification out of God’s hands and put it in our own hands.  This act of unbelief prevents God from doing the sanctifying work of the Spirit in us that comes only from believing and acting on the divine truth that we no longer have a sinful nature and Christ now lives in us (Galatians 2:20).  Whenever we find we have lost the joy of the Lord, it is a red flag that we have stepped out of this place of faith.  Whenever we find ourselves overcome by sin, it is a sure sign we have forgotten the freedom from sin that we possess in Christ.  Whenever we are overwhelmed by a sense of failure, it reveals we are trying to be holy in our own strength instead of fixing our eyes on Jesus and abiding in Him. Whether we come under the unbearable yoke of legalism or the ungodly yoke of licentiousness, it is because we have stepped out of the yoke of faith in Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).  Christ’s yoke of discipleship is easy when we are living by faith.  For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty and mercy; not legalism and carnal severity (2 Corinthians 3:17).  What should we do if we stray from the way of holiness in Christ and wander down the wrong path of legalism or licentiousness? There is no condemnation in Christ.  We turn around (repent), ask God to restore the joy of our salvation, and fix our eyes back on Jesus.  If we abide in Christ, He will abide in us.  Then we will walk in His holiness and not fall into either legalism or licentiousness.

“For the kingdom of God is… righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17

Faith Works Through Love

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith working through love.”   Galatians 5:6

The Bible says true faith only works through love. The Greek word for love used in this verse is agapē.  This is the love that comes from God and is the heart of His Divine Being.  Jesus said agapē love is the primary evidence we are His disciples: “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another (John 13:35).”  John wrote, “Beloved, let us love (agapē) one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-8).” The Bible says we cannot say we love God if we disdain others (1 John 4:20).  Paul described agapē love this way: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians13:4-8).” Whereas God’s love is pure and unselfish, man’s love is soulish and based on mutually beneficial interests.  For example, people who belong to the same club have natural affection for one another.  We might call this “club love” or even “neighborly love.”  This can also be true when people belong to the same church.  However, affection that comes from belonging to the same neighborhood, club or church is not the same as God’s love, which comes solely from our abiding in Christ.  Furthermore, it is one thing to love your neighbor, but what if your neighbor is your enemy?  Jesus taught, “You have heard it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:43-44).”  The Bible says I can have faith to function in the supernatural gifts and to even move mountains, but if I do not have love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).  Why is this? There is a difference between the supernatural gift of faith that empowers us to perform miracles, and the fruit of faith that enables us to love others (1 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22).  Whereas the gift of faith is received and exercised spontaneously (Romans 12:3-6), the fruit of faith (God’s agapē love) is produced over time by abiding and persevering in faith (Luke 8:15).  Therefore, simply exercising the gift of faith to perform miracles does not necessarily reflect someone’s spiritual character and sanctification, whereas expressing spiritual fruit is a reflection of someone’s character and sanctification.  Consequently, Jesus said we may function in the gift of faith to perform miracles, but unless we exhibit the spiritual fruit of faithfulness to Him, we will not enter into our inheritance in heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).  Since faith only works through love, this should surely motivate us to practice loving others (especially forgiving others).  As Paul said, “Let love be your highest aim (1 Corinthians 14:1).”  The Bible says if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us, and if we mistreat others, God will not hear our prayers (Matthew 6:14-15; 1 Peter 3:7).

Some people are naturally more kind and merciful, but this does not mean they have God’s agapē love.  Since agapē love is the essence of God Himself, it can only be expressed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and not as a natural attribute produced by our human efforts (Galatians 3:3; 5:2). We cannot express God’s love by trying harder to be more patient and kind.  How then can we manifest God’s love?  There is only one way.  We must believe and act on what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us on the cross.  When we were born again, God spiritually included us in Christ’s death in order to remove our sinful nature, so that His Holy Spirit could live in us (Romans 6:3-11). Now that we no longer have a sinful nature, we have been freed from the tyranny of sin.  Although we no longer have a sinful nature, our soul (our will, intellect and emotions) was not automatically converted into Christ’s image.  But since we are no longer under the power of sin, our soul-life can now be transformed, so that we can love others with a pure heart as God loves us. The Bible says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3).” Purity means something is wholly of God’s Spirit, whereas impurity means something is a mixture of the unconverted soul and His Spirit.  For example, Paul warned that some ministers “preached Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives (Philippians 1:17).” Carrying our own cross and losing our unconverted soul-life by believing and acting on the truth that Christ’s death has done away with our old sinful nature is the way God has designed to purify our soul from impure attitudes, so that we can fully express His agapē love.  As Paul wrote, “The goal of our teaching is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).” And Peter wrote of this sanctification process: “Since you have purified your souls by obeying the truth, so that you have a sincere love for the brethren, then love one another fervently from the heart (1 Peter 1:22).”      If our soul-life is not purified by God’s process of sanctification, it will remain a mixture of impure motives and attitudes that can stop God’s love from being manifest through us.  Even if we try to apply the truth of the cross that we no longer have a sinful nature, our “faith” will not work for us and we will continue to be overcome by sin if we are not motived by God’s love for others.  So faith works through love, and love can only be expressed from a pure heart.  Therefore, after we are saved, we should desire to be progressively sanctified (purified) by the Holy Spirit, so we can love others as God loves us.  Otherwise, we will continue to be entangled in compromising sins no matter how many times we tell ourselves that we are dead to sin, and our so-called faith and holiness will be worthless.  If we want our faith to work, so we know God and live in Him, then let us pursue the holiness which produces His love for others.

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else… now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”   1 Thessalonians 3:12 & 1 Corinthians 13:13

Justified By His Blood Through Our Faith

“God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  And since we have been justified (declared righteous) by the Blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.”  Romans 5:8-9

What does it mean to be “justified” by the Blood of Christ?  The Greek word for “justify” is dikaioō which Biblically means to declare righteous (in right standing with God). It also means to declare not guilty and completely forgiven.  Justification is the opposite of condemnation. Whereas to condemn is to declare guilty, to justify is to declare not guilty.  The Bible says, “Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?  God is the One who justifies.  Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us (Romans 8:33-34).”  The Bible says the reason why God can justify us (acquit us of our sins) is because His Son paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross.  The Bible says, “Adam’s one sin resulted in condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness resulted in justification of life for everyone (Romans 5:18).” Thus justification (forgiveness of our sins) is God’s free gift (paid for by Christ’s Blood).  The Bible says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves. It is God’s gift; not as a result of your works (Ephesians 2:8-9).” This last verse indicates there is one condition we must satisfy to receive God’s gift of justification: we must have faith in His Son’s atoning sacrifice. The Bible says “God justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).”  Therefore, God declares us to be righteous and not guilty of our sins on the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ.  However, the fact that we must continue to have faith in Christ to be justified (acquitted of our sins) is often left out of today’s gospel. Many people mistakenly believe that once they accept Christ, they are justified for eternity, even if they fall away from the faith.  Some Christians carry this further: since they wrongly think their justification (forgiveness) was unconditional and eternal, they incorrectly think they never have to repent and ask God’s forgiveness whenever they sin.  And many Christians use the misguided belief that they are eternally forgiven as an excuse to keep practicing sin since they erroneously think that their chronic lawlessness will not prevent them from entering the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-23).  How on earth did they twist the Scriptures to come up with this false gospel?  The Bible says Jesus died “once for all time” to forgive our sins.  Hebrews 9:28 states: “Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people.” However, many Christians mistakenly think “once for all time” refers to their own “one-time” moment of faith when they asked Christ to be their Savior.  They think this one-time act of faith now guarantees them eternal justification (forgiveness) for their sins, even if they fall away from the faith and live in sin the rest of their lives.  But the Bible does not say we can be initially saved by faith and then live the rest of our lives in unbelief; it says we must continuously live by faith to be righteous (Romans 1:17). If justification (forgiveness and right standing with Him) is God’s response to our faith, then we must certainly have to live by faith after we are saved in order to continue to be justified and righteous in God’s eyes. The Bible says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins.  There is only the terrifying expectation of God’s judgment (Hebrews 10:26-27).”  Paul wrote, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?… For we know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that our body of sin (our sinful nature) might be destroyed and we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6:1-7).”  Many of us who try to walk in Paul’s gospel (God removed our sinful nature when we were saved so that His Son’s Spirit could live in us) may encounter a problem when the Holy Spirit begins to train us to carry our own cross and lose our unconverted soul-life for Christ’s sake.  As a result of this deeper work of sanctification in our lives, our conscience can become highly sensitized, and we can become overly sin conscious and nagged by guilt.  If we are not careful, we can fall into the temptation of thinking we can only have a clear conscience before God by attaining to His higher standard of holiness. This heightened awareness of sin and sense of guilt can become overwhelming and spiritually cripple us. We can even lose sight of the blessed provision of our justification and forgiveness by the Blood of Christ.  Of course, the devil will try to use our guilty conscience as grounds to accuse and condemn us for “failing” God.  Instead of despairing of our sins and inability to maintain this high standard of holiness, we should remind ourselves of the value that God places on the Blood of Christ to both justify us and sanctify us.  We can only approach God based on the Blood of Christ, and never on the daily merits of our conduct and holiness.  Otherwise, we can come under an oppressive cloud of accusation, guilt and condemnation that can rob us of our faith.  We may be weak and we may have sinned, but feeling terrible about our sins and doing penance for them will never make us any holier or improve our fellowship with God.  Whether we have had a good day or a bad day, the basis of our fellowship with God is always the Blood of Christ.  When God reveals our sins to us during this process of sanctification, we do not need to shrink back from His presence out of guilt, shame, fear or condemnation (Hebrews 10:37-39).  The Blood of Christ fully satisfies God’s sense of justice and accountability, and removes our sense of guilt and estrangement from Him (1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 2:1-2).  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).  The Blood of Jesus enables us to approach God without shame or fear.  The Bible says, “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place (God’s presence) by the Blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19).”  Therefore, as we work out our salvation by faith through God’s purifying process of sanctification, we must continuously stand by faith in God’s precious gift of justification (Romans 9:30-10:8; Philippians 2:12-13).

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1

Our New Birth
The Miracle of the Cross

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”  “But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him.  “He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be surprised that I said, You must be born again.”   John 3:5-7

What did Jesus mean that you must be born again to enter the kingdom of God?  The Bible says when we were physically born, we were born with a sinful nature that separated us from God (Psalm 51:5; Isaiah 59:2).  Our sinful nature was like a “sin factory” within us, continually producing sinful attitudes and actions. This was our spiritual condition before we were born again.  We were sinners by nature and no matter how hard we tried, we could not escape the destructive effects of sin.  God’s solution to our sin problem was to get rid of the “sinner,” or the “sin factory” within us.  Since we were born into sin, the only way we could be freed from sin was through death. God’s remedy was to spiritually include us in His Son’s death in order to remove our sinful nature, so that the Spirit of His resurrected Son could live in us (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 1:27).  The Bible says, “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Galatians 4:6).”  This death of our sin nature was not merely symbolic.  When we were saved, God actually removed our sinful nature, which was at the core of our inner being and the root of our self-identity and rebellion toward God (Romans 6:6; Colossians 2:11).  Since our sin nature died when we were born again of God’s Spirit, we have been set free from sin’s dominion and destruction. The Bible says, “Whoever has died has been freed from sin… count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:7, 11).” Thus, when we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God performed what we might call a “divine heart transplant.”  God used His Son’s eternal sacrifice to spiritually remove our terminally sin-sick heart and replace it with His Son’s divine heart (Romans 6:6; 2 Corinthians 13:5).  This New Covenant divine heart transplant was foretold six centuries before Christ’s birth when the Old Testament prophets declared that God would remove our sin-hardened heart and replace it with a new spiritual heart when He put His Spirit within us (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:26-27).  Thus God delivered us from the power of sin by removing our sin nature, so that Christ could live in us (Romans 6:7; 8:9; Galatians 2:20).  This divine heart transplant is the promise of the New Covenant, the purpose of Christ’s Atonement, and the cornerstone of God’s church. We see that God’s way to permanently deal with our chronic sinning was to remove the sinner (the sin factory) from within us and substitute Christ in its place.   This is the miracle of our new birth made possible by Jesus being willing to die in our place. Whereas we were once sinners by nature, God now calls us His saints or “holy ones,” who are partakers of Christ’s nature and members of His heavenly family (1 Peter 2:5 & 9).  

The New Testament Greek word used for eternal life is zoē.  Of the two kinds of life, psychē or soul-life originates from man, but only zoē-life originates from God and is divine.  This is the divine life Jesus described when He said, “I have come that they may have zoē-life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).”  This is the life that John referred to when he wrote, “He who has the Son has the zoē-life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the zoē-life (1 John 5:12).”  Before Jesus saved us, we did not have zoē-life.  Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no zoē-life within yourselves (John 6:53).” Consequently, our life before Christ consisted of our psychē soul-life (which we inherited from our natural parents) and our inward sinful nature (which we spiritually inherited from Adam, the first man).  However, when we were born again of God’s Spirit, we received Christ’s resurrection zoē-life into our spirit.  As Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6).” In God’s divine order, everything reproduces after its own kind.  Plants reproduce plants, animals reproduce animals, and humans reproduce humans.  In the same way, just as earthly seed reproduces the image of the earthly, only heavenly seed produces the image of the heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).  According to God’s plan of redemption, Jesus Christ is the heavenly seed that reproduces His church.   Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single seed; but if it dies, it produces much fruit (John 12:24).”  Jesus spoke here of His death on the cross by which He would birth His church and bring many new-born sons and daughters into His divine glory (Hebrews 2:10).  The Bible says, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God (1 Peter 1:23).”

Jesus did not have a sinful nature.  He was born with a human body and soul (his will, intellect and emotions).  However, since Jesus was born of a virgin, God was His Father and He was indwelt by God’s Spirit.  Jesus did not inherit Adam’s sinful spiritual nature like we did.  This is why He was able to obey God and live a sinless life.  If Jesus had a sinful nature, even He would not have been able to overcome sin.  Now that we are born of God and indwelt by God, we no longer have a sinful nature and are capable of obeying God and not practicing sin (1 John 3:6-9).  Whereas Adam was the first born of God’s old creation of humanity, Jesus is the first born of God’s new creation of a divine race indwelt by God (Colossians 1:18).  But before God could make us His new creation in Christ, He had to first deal with the old Adam creation.  Thus God used the death of His Son to not only deal with the fruit of the old fallen creation (by forgiving our sinful deeds), but to also get rid of its root (by removing our sin nature). The Bible says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old life is gone, a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17).”

 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  1 Peter 1:3

God’s Atomic Bomb The Blood of Christ

“And they overcame him (the devil) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”  Revelation 12:11

The message of the blood of Christ speaks of the totality of Christ’s triumph over Satan and sin through His crucifixion and resurrection.  It also speaks of our victory over Satan and sin through our union with Christ’s death and resurrection when we were born again.  For when Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, He conquered sin, disease, death, and the devil.  Jesus said, “The ruler of this world has already been judged and condemned (John 16:11).’’ By His blood shed on the cross, Christ completely conquered Satan and stripped him of his authority and power (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).  After He had risen from the dead, Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).”  The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not just an historical event that took place two thousand years ago on a bluff outside the gates of old Jerusalem.  Christ’s death was a holy and divine sacrifice that took place in God’s eternal, heavenly tabernacle (Hebrews 9:11-24).  Therefore, Christ’s death on the cross transcended all physical time and space and was a heavenly act with spiritual power that reverberates throughout eternity.  The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was like a spiritual “atomic bomb” detonated in the heavenly realm, and His blood is the eternal basis for Satan’s total defeat.  For by His blood, Jesus Christ not only freed us from the penalty of sin, by forgiving our sins (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7-9); He also freed us from the power of sin, by completely removing our sinful nature (Romans 6:6-7; Colossians 2:11).

Although this twofold divine provision of the cross of Christ is God’s “atomic bomb” that He gave us to overcome Satan and sin, most Christians only apply the first provision of the blood of Christ: forgiveness for their sins.  They do not know that, through Christ’s death on the cross, God removed our sinful nature when we were saved, so that His risen Son could sovereignly live in us. The result is that most Christians are severely hard pressed and handicapped to resist Satan’s temptations and attacks. They believe their sins are forgiven, but they do not know how to stop practicing sin and live by faith in Christ who indwells them by His Spirit.  What sort of salvation would we have if God only saved us from the penalty of our sins, and then left us on our own to deal with the demonic power and oppression of sin?  How could God have destroyed Satan’s foothold in us if He left a hostile and evil sinful nature living within us?  How could we spiritually overcome our enemy, the devil, if we still had an enemy allied to him waging guerilla warfare within us?  This would be a pitiful and incomplete redemption that would not fulfill God’s eternal purpose to have a glorious and victorious church who overcomes the devil and sin by the blood of the Lamb.  Yet most Christians are defeated by Satan and sin because they think this is as far as God went when, in actuality, this is as far as their knowledge of the truth of the gospel has gone.  Consequently, many Christians do not understand why they are entangled in compromising sinful habits; or plagued with bouts of fear, anger and depression; or trapped in food, alcohol, drug, and sexual addictions.  As God has said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).”

Although most Bible translations confusingly use the term “flesh” for both the sinful nature and the unconverted soul-life (the unrenewed mind), there is a crucial difference.  Our unrenewed mind is not like the sinful nature, which was a powerful entity – a “sin factory” within us that continuously produced sinful attitudes and actions and, therefore, had to be destroyed by Christ’s death on the cross. Now that we no longer have an indwelling and controlling sinful nature, the spiritual battleground has shifted to our mind (2 Corinthians 11:3).  However, our unrenewed mind can be transformed and submitted to Christ’s sovereignty if we believe and act on His finished work on the cross.  As a result, we are now able by faith to put to death (and rid ourselves of) the carnal mindset of our unconverted soul-life, and put on the mind of Christ and His way of thinking and acting (Romans 8:13; 1 Corinthians 2:26).

Paul said, “The weapons of our warfare are not natural, but divinely powerful to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).”  By applying God’s spiritual atomic bomb, we can demolish the strongholds of sin in our lives that have habitually defeated us in the past.  Paul further said, “We cast down vain imaginations and every barrier of pride that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).” As we renew and fortify our mind with the truth of God’s Word that we are dead to sin but alive in Christ, we are able to resist the devil and forcefully reject all sinful attitudes and soulish fantasies that would try to undermine our faith and ensnare us in sin.  As Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so you may prove what the will of God is (Romans 12:2).”

The bride of Christ who crushes Satan under her feet wears the full armor of God over her wedding dress.  This is the bride who deploys God’s atomic bomb, the blood of Christ, in spiritual warfare.  The unstoppable shock waves of God’s power and light that radiate out into the heavenly and earthly realm from the divinely powerful, eternal explosion of the cross of Christ will inevitably demolish all the walls of the dominion of darkness into the dustbin of history!  As each successive generation of God’s warrior-saints lays hold of and deploys the divine power that emanates from the cross of Christ to advance the kingdom of God, they will totally demolish Satan’s strongholds of sin – first in their own lives, and then by helping others find God’s deliverance from sin.

“Now have come the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before God day and night, has been thrown down… the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ and He will reign forever.”  Rev 12:10; 11:15

www.ChristCrucified.info

Gospel for the Saved

If you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and
Savior, then you know Jesus died on the cross for
you so that your sins would be forgiven.
“Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For by the death of Christ we are set free, that is,
our sins are forgiven.” Ephesians 1:7

Do you also know you died on the cross with Jesus?
Not only were your sins forgiven, but your old
sinful nature died with Christ. Water baptism
outwardly demonstrates this vital truth.
“We have died with Christ.” Romans 6:8
“Our old man was crucified with Him so that our
sinful nature might be removed.” Romans 6:6

Because your sinful nature is dead and gone, you
are freed from sin’s power. You now have a new
nature capable of obeying God and overcoming sin.
“Because anyone who has died has been freed from
the power of sin.” Romans 6:7
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old
has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

You can know you are free from sin’s power the
same way you know your sins are forgiven –
by believing what God’s Word says is true.
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin
but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11

When you believe and act on the truth that you died to
sin, then Jesus can powerfully live His life through you.
“I have been put to death with Christ on His cross,
so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who
lives in me. The life that I now live, I live by faith in
the Son of God.” Galatians 2:20

God doesn’t improve your old nature. He got rid of it
completely, nailing it to the cross. You overcome sin
and walk in this new life by believing what Jesus did
on the cross – not by trying harder in your own strength.
“After beginning by the Spirit, are you now trying
to attain your goal by human effort?” Galatians 3:3
“We should rely, not on ourselves, but only on God.”
2 Corinthians 1:9
“We glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in
our natural ability.” Philippians 3:3

God used the death of His only Son to perform a
divine heart transplant and save you not only from
the penalty of sin but also the power of sin. When
Jesus Christ died on the cross, God exchanged your
terminally sin-sick heart with His Son’s divine
heart. God removed your old sinful naturenature; you
now have Christ’s holy nature. This is the divine
exchange that occurred within you when you were
born of the Spirit. This is the whole gospel!

“For you have died and your life is now hidden with
Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

Jesus Christ died on the cross in your place.
Do you want Him to live His life through you?
Here is a suggested prayer:
“Jesus, I believe You died on the cross for me. Thank
You that my old sinful nature also died on the cross
with You and I have been freed from sin’s power.
I will no longer rely on my natural ability to live the
Christian life. Jesus, I now ask You by faith to live
as Lord and King in me.”

For more information visit our website:
www.ChristCrucified.info

How to Become a Christian

Do you know God loves you?
“For God loved the world so much that He gave
His only Son, so that everyone that believes in
Him may not die but have eternal life.” John 3:16

But man is sinful and separated from God.
“Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s
saving presence.” “Your sins separate you from
God.” Romans 3:23 & Isaiah 59:2

Jesus Christ is the only way to God.
Jesus died on the cross for you.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
“God has shown us how much He loves us – it
was while we were still sinners that Christ died
for us.” John 14:6 & Romans 5:8

You can receive Christ by faith through prayer:
“Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God and You
died on the cross and rose from the dead. I receive
You as my Lord and Savior. Forgive me for my
sins and take control of my life.”

For more information visit our website:
www.ChristCrucified.info

Be Anxious For Nothing

Based on Philippians 4:6-7
© 2016 Samuel House Ministries
www.ChristCrucified.info

There are numerous times in every believer’s life when the circumstances, stresses and fears of life become overwhelming.  Without knowing the truth that we are dead to fear, and no longer have a sinful nature, we will succumb to those fears and be overcome by them,making it impossible to experience “the peace that passes all understanding” that Jesus enabled us to have when He died on the cross.  I often sing this song during those difficult times, and the Lord carries me on the wings of faith.

Be Anxious for Nothing

Be anxious for nothing
But by prayer and supplication
Make your requests known unto God
And the peace that passes all
All understanding
Shall guard your hearts and minds
In Christ Jesus

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