Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Your Future

Guest posted by Floyd Boles

Most people desire, sometimes earnestly strive, to know or determine their future. To illustrate, if a crystal ball promised to give you a clue, would you be remotely tempted to read it? Yet, we have in our possession something much more reliable on that subject than crystal balls - more reliable than anything else known to man. That "something" is God's word (the Bible). As you read this, you need to know more than anything how much God loves you. His will is that everyone would believe in faith that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to willingly suffer and die on a cross, to pay your sin debt (disobedience to God’s will). He did this out of His great love for you. And, He desires to give you a future that only He can deliver - eternal life with Him through His Grace (undeserved favor) and Mercy.

Only God knows your future because He created all things (Genesis 1) and carries out His plan. And, there is a verse in God’s Word that summarizes your future if you will believe in Jesus Christ and seek to live for Him; it also summarizes your future if you don't. John 3:36 reads, “Whoever believes in the Son [Jesus Christ] has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” To further elaborate on this, below are more excerpts from the Bible (ESV [emphasis added]) that reveal both futures.

Your Future If You Believe: 

  • “Repent [be sorry for your sins and turn away from them, seeking to live for God] and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
  • “Whoever has the Son [Jesus] has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life [eternal life]. 1 John 5:12
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes [Jesus] has eternal life.” Jesus in John 6:47
  • “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word [Jesus’s teaching’s in the Bible] and believes Him [God] who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death [eternal separation from God in Hell] to life [eternity with God in Heaven].”
  • “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.’” John 11:25-26a. [All believers in Jesus Christ will have eternal life in a new eternal body in heaven with Christ forever].
  • “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” 1 John 4:15
  • “No one who abides in Him [believes in Jesus Christ] keeps on sinning.” 1 John 3:6a
  • “God is light [perfectly holy and righteous], and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness [sin], we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light [God’s truth, holiness, purity - the Bible teachings], we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7
  • “And this is His [God’s] commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as He has commanded us.” 1 John 3:23
  • “The one who conquers [perseveres in faith] will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” Revelation 3:5
When you believe in Jesus Christ, who paid your sin debt by dying on the cross for your past, present, and future sins, God forgives your sins and writes your name in the book of life in Heaven, which is your future. 

Your Future if You Don’t Believe:

According to God's Word, if you don’t believe, your name will not be written there. God's Word tells us that on the Day of Judgment (after He comes back and later judges the world), if a person's name is not found in the book of life, that person will be thrown into the lake of fire forever. This is called the second death (the one after physical death). No matter what we may wish or think, this will happen according God’s Word. 

  • “This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14-15
  • “God did not spare angels when they sinned [some followed Satan in sin against God - Isaiah 14], but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment.” 2 Peter 2:4
  •  “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7
  • “I will warn you [unbelievers] whom to fear: fear Him [God] who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” Luke 12:5
  • “In flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
  • “As for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8. [There will be no more hope, but eternal separation from God in eternal suffering].
  • “By Him [Jesus Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17. [There is only one eternal living God who manifests Himself in the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit as seen at Jesus’s baptism (Matthew 3:16-17)].
  • “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22
How to Believe:

How can you have your name written in the book of life, be saved from Hell, and live in Heaven with God for all eternity? Simply by believing in Jesus Christ who paid your sin debt by dying on the cross and rising alive from the grave. 
  • “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6
  • “For God so loved the world [people], that he gave His only Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
  • “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified [forgiven just as if you never sinned], and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10 
Simply pray, sincerely asking God to forgive you for your sins and place your trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then, follow Him by telling others who He is and what He did for them. Click HERE to learn more about this simple prayer.

How to be Sure that You Believe:

You can know your future is with God when you feel comfortable around other believers as loved ones (because you believe in Jesus Christ), and you tell others that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10, above). 
  • “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers [other believers]. Whoever does not love abides in death.” 1 John 3:14
  • “The Spirit [God’s Holy Spirit] Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16  
When we tell others that Jesus is Lord, we bear witness with God's Spirit that we are His. Simply, believe and tell others what you believe.

 You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

He Appeared and the Soul Felt Its Worth

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You get what you pay for”? It is usually meant to imply that if you purchased a certain brand because it required you to pay less, then you usually get lesser quality. But, does the phrase also work if you pay more than the known price? There is a story that I have never been able to confirm about an island in the Pacific where long ago, men had to purchase their wives with a dowry in the currency of cows. The normal rate was three cows for a wife. If the woman were very special, she might draw a dowry of four or five cows. On this island, there was a father of two daughters. The younger daughter was very beautiful and the older was more rejected by society. The father was almost willing to even give the older daughter away just to save him the burden. When a very rich man came to call on one of his daughters, the father assumed it was his younger and more beautiful daughter. Instead, the rich man came to call upon the older daughter for which he ultimately paid an unprecedented dowry of eight cows. The price was so high that it became a famous, almost scandalous story. They were quickly married and left for their honeymoon. Upon their return from the honeymoon, everyone was shocked at how beautiful and happy she now looked. She looked so amazing that the father felt cheated because she was now clearly worth ten cows and not just eight. She was from that day forward reverently and affectionately known as the "ten-cow woman". Even in cases like this, maybe you do get what you pay for?

As we bask in the glories of what we celebrate at Christmas, there is no line that touches my soul and brings me to tears more than the line from “O Holy Night” which goes, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” Never has there been a time in history that something of such low value was immediately made so priceless. God paid the dearest of prices for your dowry - He paid His only Son. In any business transaction, the value of something is determined by what an objective third party is willing to pay to obtain it. When God decided to pay for you with Himself serving as the currency, He thereby determined your value. Your soul went from being worth next to nothing to being the most valuable thing in all creation (John 3:16). There is nothing created that is of higher value and worth than you (Matthew 6:26). This is what the mystery of God taking on flesh means to us personally.

Christian, the exchange that God made to purchase you was to give you a royal crown in exchange for yours. He made you royalty in exchange for His Son bearing your crown of thorns - the sinners’ crown. Jesus paid the price of all of His Father’s wrath being hurled upon Him that you might live and live royally for all eternity. And, after He died, He rose again to secure the deal. That is what Christmas is all about. Christmas is the beginning of Easter. Without Christmas, there is no Easter. Without Christmas, our souls would remain near worthless. Without Christmas, we live in utter darkness and void of all hope. Without Christmas, there is no Emmanuel – there is no God with us. And, it is God’s presence that values everything.

As a follower of Christ, I am called to love everyone. I believe that if I had to take a bullet to spare someone else, even a stranger, I would do it. In that light, I would die for anyone. But, like God, I too have only one biological son. And, I love my son more than I love myself. I believe I can take a bullet for anyone. But, I don’t think I love anyone enough to kill my own son for them. I will never understand the passionate depth of that kind of love. And, I can’t fathom that kind of value being placed on anyone other than my son. For this reason, God’s love for me (and you) wrecks me in a very good way. It reduces me to tears of joy that I can’t fully understand. The world woefully attempts to understand love, which seems to always be in varying forms all of which seem to be conditional. But, there is no such love except that which God paid for us beginning in Bethlehem unconditionally. You see, Jesus was sent by His Father and He willingly came to Bethlehem with the cross as the determined destination. Jesus came to die for you and me that we might live with God forever. He asked for nothing in return - just believe, receive and let it overflow to others. And, that is what Christmas is all about. This year, when you ponder the manger, fall on your knees and hear the angels’ voices because there is nothing more amazing in the history of everything than the gift of God that came through the virgin, Mary.

At Christmas we celebrate the beginning of Easter – the coming of the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world. He came to pay the price for you that only He could afford to pay. No other religion bears such remarkable, simple and profoundly perfect truth. No other religion attributes to the every human soul such immeasurable value. You are worth to God the price of His only Son. That is what He paid for you. That is what you are worth. Christian, do you live as if that is your worth? 

As you walk through this Christmas season, and the days that follow, live according to the level of your worth. Bless others radically as you have been blessed by the Christ child. May others see you and be utterly amazed at how beautiful and happy God has made you. Be the hands and feet of Jesus for all that God brings into your path. Christian, the Holy Spirit (God) resides in you, which is a practical image of God taking on flesh even today - made possible by the greatest Christmas gift of all, Jesus the Messiah. Therefore, may those you intersect with be made fully aware by you of what their souls are truly worth.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.