No Other Name but Jesus

As many as received Him, to them God gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).

As you read through the Old Testament and even the Gospel accounts, you discover that both true and false religion existed side-by-side in Israel. The Jews went through the sacrificial motions without a heart of faith in God. They feared breaking the traditions of their culture more than trusting in God’s provision (Matthew 15:8).

God’s condemnation of Israel was common of all religious people. The Jews would draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men (Isaiah 29:13). Jesus used this same verse to condemn the outwardly religious people of His day (Mark 7:6-7).

The people of Israel trusted in the works of their own efforts by following traditions and rituals. They believed that because of their physical ancestry they lived in God’s favor. Through will-power, they were good enough to be in a right relationship with God. Their faith was in their self-effort rather than what God had done. They were good, God-honoring people who tried their level best, but were void of faith in God. Instead of following God’s Way described in Scripture, they killed Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

No one has ever been – or can be – saved any other way than by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone. He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). There is no other name under Heaven, given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

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A Great Multitude

In the midst of Heaven is revealed a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues (Revelation 7:9). The passage goes on to identify this group as those who come out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).

This group, obviously isn’t Jews, because they are of all nations, tribes and peoples. They are Gentiles who will be saved and martyred during the seven years of the Great Tribulation.

How will people be saved during this future episode of judgment against sin in God’s plan? The same way people were saved in the past and the same way we are saved today: by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. His death didn’t appease Satan, for man’s sin isn’t an offense against the devil; he delights in your sin! Christ’s death was to satisfy the just wrath of the Father for the violation of His holy character and law.

By trusting in Jesus alone – not your prayers, your goodness, your religious deeds or your efforts – God the Father takes away your sins, forgives them, and places Christ’s rightness upon you. It is by faith in Jesus Christ where living begins.

God sent forth His Son to be a propitiation [satisfaction of a debt paid in full] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness (Romans 3:25).

Discomfort for Mr Macaroni

slow food pasta art workHeaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.”

Mr Macaroni boiled hearing Moody’s words. He’d always been something of a limp noodle, and today he was doubting his choice of employment. It had always been tough making decisions, but once made one he was left feeling deep regrets. When the clock struck 5, Macaroni was ready to get sauced.

Despite his constant indecision, Mr Macaroni was as true as a man could be. He was no impasta when it came to living, but his new job as a dental assistant was leaving him feeling a bit al dente.

He quickly exited the office on his way to the Meat Ball to dance with his sweetheart, a beautiful Italian gal named Penne. All dressed up, he straightened his little bow tie and slicked back his thick blonde angel hair with a bit of olive oil.

As he stepped from the sidewalk into the street, humming “On top of Old Smokey all covered with cheese,” Mr Macaroni was still steaming. A motorcycle with gleaming chrome twin-forks raced toward him. He never knew what hit him and instantly pasta way.

A moment later Mr Macaroni opened his eyes. Before him were the golden arches and beyond was the dazzling White Castle he’d always heard about. Macaroni was greeted by a choir of French guys singing, “Welcome to the realm of Burger King and Dairy Queen.”

A stout fellow calling himself Big Mac approached and laid a whopper of a story on him about being dead and forever living in the presence of the King. “If you’ll lettuce, tomater my friends and I will take you in-and-out through the kingdom.” It gave Mr Macaroni the shakes.

He hadn’t been at ease with people when he was alive, now an eternity with them was unbearable. He wasn’t made for a place like this. He hadn’t wanted anything to do with the king while he was alive and he didn’t want it now. He longed to have it his way and he wasn’t lovin’ it one bit. Mr Macaroni wondered, “Why did the King bring me here if I didn’t want him back when I was living?

If you don’t enjoy King Jesus today, what makes you think you’ll enjoy eternity with Him?

In My Father’s house are many mansions; it if were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:2-3).

Your Name Here

Do not be called “Rabbi”; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in Heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Matthew 23:8-12).

I abhor titles in the church, though I understand they are helpful at times to distinguish roles. Too often among Christians, titles are used to make mediocre and little people appear significant and powerful. Apostle, prophet, bishop, reverend, and even the title of pastor often burnish the sin of pride and transform leaders into objects of idolatrous adoration and authority.

The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ day were big on parading their titles, but had no fear of responsibility in the titles. Jesus warned His followers not to fall into the same trap, but to remember that we are family and fellow-servants unto Him.

Few are far-between are humble leaders of God’s people content with the title of brother or servant on their Facebook page, church sign, or business card.

The Naked Truth

Okay, here’s the naked truth: more than two thousand years in Greece and Rome, sports were usually played in the nude. As an example, if you go to the Colosseum in Rome, you’ll find carvings of the athletes without their clothes on. When fighting wild animals, wrestling, running, or engaging in track and field events, the last thing you wanted was for your clothes to inhibit your performance.

This image of an athlete free from every snare or entanglement is the thought in Hebrews 12:1-3.

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith …

As we run the race of faith, living out our Christianity where the “rubber meets the road,” we must beware of the sin which so easily ensnares us. Each of us has at least one of those easily ensnaring sins, one to which we are most vulnerable.

Some sins like laziness, bribery, or gluttony, may have no tempting power over me, but others like pride, self-righteousness, or sexual lust may. These latter ones are sins which so easily ensnare me. And weighty hindrances to me, like an ungodly relationship or style of music, may not hinder you.

These things must be cast aside, or literally, stripped away in the presence of a great crowd of witnesses watching us compete. Will we remove everything that hinders our race or will we fail to make it out of the starting block? Remember, it takes only one loose shoelace to fall the greatest runner.

How do we tie up our shoelaces and run without hindrance? We look unto Jesus who not only begins and completes our faith, but is the object of our faith. He is our example. Don’t look at the crowd, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and don’t let anything stop you from reaching Him at the finish line.

We Wait for His Son

Photograph of the solar eclipse seen in Oregon, USA August 21, 2017

We wait for His Son from Heaven, who He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

I live within the path of the recent solar eclipse of the sun. Some Americans believed this passing of the moon between the sun and the earth was a sign of the end of the world. They were sure it would announce the return of Jesus or the advent of the Antichrist. They twisted together speculation and Scripture taken out of context for their strange doctrine. In doing so they created fear and raised money while maligning Jesus Christ and His holy Word.

As Christians, we eagerly await the return of Jesus from Heaven. We look for Him – who died for the Church and was raised from the dead for the Church – to return in the clouds and gather His Church unto Himself to forever be with Him. We anticipate Jesus Christ, not the Antichrist.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 11). We have comfort, joy, hope, and demonstrate lives of godliness in Jesus, we don’t live in despair and fear over the future.

The Greatest Heist

In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men identifying themselves as Boston police officers arrived at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. They said they were responding to a silent alarm that indicated the museum was being robbed. The guard on duty checked the officers’ credentials and let them into the museum.

The two uniformed policemen assembled all the private security officers in the museum, handcuffed them, and locked them in the basement. The police then roamed through the museum, stealing 13 works of art, including a Rembrandt, a Manet, and a few paintings by Degas. The estimated value of the paintings was $500 million dollars!

The next morning, when a new private security detail arrived for duty, 13 empty picture frames were discovered hanging from the museum walls. The theft remains unsolved.

When Jesus gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age (Galatians 2:4), the Bible says that the greatest heist of all time took place. At the very moment Jesus died on the cross, all whom God the Father elected to salvation were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

In broad daylight, under the noses of both Heaven and Earth, Rome and Palestine, angel and demon, Jesus rescued us from Satan’s kingdom unto Himself. It wasn’t some sneaky deception carried out by impostors, but an instant deliverance out from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of Heaven by the King of Glory.

Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 11:28).

For more information on the greatest heist of all time, consult your local Bible and return to this website for additional daily updates.

 

If I had a Million Dollars

winning-a-million-dollarsWhen he was 13, Daniel asked what I’d do if I won the lottery. It wasn’t a difficult question to answer because I’ve never bought a lottery ticket – and never will, but I know what he was asking. He wondered how our lives would change with more money.

The answer was simple: my life wouldn’t change. There would be no new house; I’d stay in my old manufactured home which keeps me dry and warm. No new car; my little Yaris gets me from point A to point B just fine. There might have been a few new toys for Daniel, but the rest would be given away to those whose needs are much greater than my own.

Evangelist John Wesley said, Money never stays with me long; I give it away as fast as I get it lest it burn a hole through my pocket and into my heart. 

For me, giving to God’s work and investing in others is more important than having more for myself. Dr CI Scofield used to remind his students that God won’t judge us based on what percentage we give to Him, but on how much we keep for ourselves.  Americans are a very, very generous people, but we still spend far more on ourselves for lives that are quickly fading into eternity.

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous  (Psalm 37:16-17).

A Bible Revolution

lutherMartin Luther was faced with a decision to remain quiet or speak out. The religious corruption he witnessed was unbearable. Bishops sold places in Heaven to the highest bidder. The pope promised early release from Purgatory for donations to build his palace. Priests were impregnating nuns and aborting the babies. The pope claimed to be the only authority for Christians.

Luther began by writing a letter to his bishop, explaining 95 Biblical reasons the pope was wrong to sell salvation. Then on October 31, 1517, filled with anger, he stormed to his church and nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the doors which served as the community bulletin board. Soon his complaint reached Rome.

For hundreds of years the pope was considered the final authority in all things Christian. His words were more authoritative than the Bible. Suddenly a Bible teacher in a small German village was questioning the status quo.

At that time, Luther was preaching a Bible-based sermon every 2 1/2 days. He also wrote a booklet on a Bible subject every other day for at least 4 years.

Tensions between the pope and Luther grew. The pope threatened the German emperor to get Luther or else. He even told his aides that if Luther “accidentally” died, it would solve many problems.

In hiding, Luther translated the Bible into German, which had only been in Latin for over a thousand years. He believed the German people should be able to compare what they were being taught in church with what God said in the Bible.

The final 13 years of his life, Luther suffered from vertigo, fainting, tinnitus, cataracts, kidney and bladder stones, arthritis, angina, and deafness, but he kept writing and preaching the Word of God.

On the evening of February 17, 1546, at the age of 56, Luther experienced chest pain and hours later died. Any thought that his death would end his Bible revolution was quickly proven wrong. He had founded a movement stressing the authority of the Scriptures above every man, experience, and idea.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Prophecy and Prediction

Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass. Look away from him that he may rest, till like a hired man he finishes his day (Job 14:5-6).

God isn’t like a fortune-teller sitting with a crystal ball outside a circus tent. He doesn’t look across history to see what’s ahead so He can tell us what He sees. Prophecy isn’t God predicting something. God doesn’t predict, He proclaims. He doesn’t fortune-tell, He forth-tells. He knows what tomorrow holds because He predestined it to happen before time began.

This is a blessed truth to the Christian. It reminds us that nothing is a surprise to God. He’s not in Heaven wringing His hands in worry over tomorrow’s stock market, your health, or someone’s political agenda. Instead, everything is moving exactly according to His eternal plan. We can rest easy in His sovereignty today and tomorrow.