Romans 5:12

Romans 5:12 KJV: Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so that death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.

What a great verse to hold in your heart! What does Paul mean by “one man sin entered into the world?” This is a reference to Adam’s sin in Genesis 3:6-7. Adam’s sin in Genesis 3 provides the foundation for the reason we live in a sin cursed world and need a redeemer in a first place. Dear Christian, do not throw this away! In the spirit of “modernity,” many have found it necessary to avoid drawing on and trusting the supernatural, particularly creation. Some will say, “It doesn’t matter what I believe about creation, if I have Jesus, that’s all that matters.” God forbid. It does matter. Your view of creation is a reflection of, or rather a manifestation of, your view of scripture itself. And the same author who said “In the beginning,” (Gen 1:1, John 1:1) also said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). That author is the Holy Spirit; and His authority is absolute and trustworthy. If you don’t believe Genesis 1-3, tell me, at what point do you start believing?

Here in Romans, Paul confirms that in Adam we all sinned. We all have had a death sentence passed up on us. We all are sinners, and we’ve all sinned. (Rom 3:23) None can stand righteous before God. (Rom 3:10-12) This is important to understand! Hold this verse in your heart to remind you that scripture is sufficient: from beginning to end. Your cleverness is unnecessary; in fact, it will destroy the message. No human author would have conceived of a curse like this, nor redemption in Christ alone, by His righteousness alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, for His glory alone. Read Romans 5:6-19 during your devotion …and see the hope that we can offer others, hope that holds no meaning except that it is declared by the Word…the Word to which we must hold fast!

Acts 4:12

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for this is none under name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.

What’s the biggest obstacle in open-air preaching and evangelism today? I’d say it’s the blatant denial of God and His authority to righteously judge. (Psalm 10:3-4,13) Many folks today, largely due to what is called ‘postmodernism,’ deny the very existence of sin, essentially. No sin means no need for salvation.

What’s the second biggest *problem* I encounter today? What about the LARGE number of people who actually acknowledge sin and, in fact, admit they are sinners? What distinguishes them from those who will not perish? Christ does. John 14:6 (article here).

Why is this important? Because Satan has created counterfeit religious systems; these systems teach partial truths, such as the truth that there is such a thing as sin. Satan is entirely satisfied if you believe you are a sinner, as long as you don’t obey Christ. So false systems have been created which allow men and women to believe they are a sinner, but to deny the truth spoken in Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation in ANY OTHER (emphasis my own). The apostles not only proclaimed that salvation is available in the Christ, but affirmed Jesus’s own declaration that there is NO salvation in any other. Jesus isn’t an “option.” He is not one of many possible paths to God. He is the only path, and the only path to salvation. Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, Church of Christ and Catholicism – these are all religions that deny Christ as the only savior; the only provision for salvation. Christ isn’t one of a number of gods to put on your shelf, He’s God almighty, solitarily! He doesn’t open the door for you to work your way to God, or prove your righteousness to Him; He is the only provision and all the provision!

Does it offend you that I say Christ alone can save? Good! It means you understand the scripture; God has enlightened you to spiritual truths you could otherwise never understand. Praise Him and fall on your knees and beg for His mercy, through Christ alone. If you are not bothered by this it is likely because you are already His; or you are suppressing some truth. (Romans 1:18) You love you sin so you deny its very existence or the power of God. Your pride will not allow you to fully and totally rest on Jesus Christ for your soul’s atonement, because you believe God ought not judge you, or you have a perverted view of God, an idol you worship; usually this is the “God who would never judge.” You make up pithy sayings like, “My god is too big for that” or “My god is love, she would never hate or punish her creatures.

These statements seem profound in their simplicity from human terms, but they are unscriptural and not based in any truth; they are rooted in “what makes you feel better about yourself.” Christ came to free you from that slavery! The bondage of trusting in an unseen, irrational god. The God of your own reason, or Darwin or Dawkins! Instead you are called to trust in the seen (through the incarnation and revelation through scripture) God, Jesus Christ. You are urged to believe the rational God whose logic is infallible, whose arguments can never lose, whose conclusions are always based on true assumptions and reason.

Dear Christian reader, are you LIVING AS IF you believe this verse? Do you desperately pray for your unsaved family, coworkers, neighbors and acquaintances like they may GO TO HELL ANY SECOND? Do you support other people’s religious activities even if you know they deny salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone? Do you celebrate religious diversity in the name of tolerance and getting along with others, all the while allowing people to be deceived by demons and false teachers? Ultimately, by NOT leading them to the cross, you are, due to your negligence, leading them to Hell. Depraved Indifference is a legal term which we can define as

conduct must be ‘so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime.

For you to say you believe Acts 4:12 is to say you believe that everyone you meet is either going to Hell due to their sin, or on their way to Heaven based on the merit of Christ alone, by His grace alone. For you to approach any individual without the mindset that “this person either LOVES the gospel or NEEDS the gospel” is irrational, based on that belief. So we must always be ready! (1 Peter 3:15) Be encouraged, you carry the most important message ever from the greatest King ever about the most awesome story ever! Share it! Do it with joy, compassion, respect, love and boldness! Everyone NEEDS it or already EMBRACES it, so proclaim it and trust the results to God!

Philippians 2:10

Philippians 2:10 KJV – That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in Earth, and things under the Earth;

Philippians 2:5-11 KJV Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Possibly my favorite portion of scripture! Many times I have looked at the humility of Christ, and been humbled…I want to devote a short essay about Ph 2:10, the memory verse for this week, but in order to do that, I felt verse 5 was the latest possible starting point to read into context. Here again, Christ’s perfect attributes are exemplified; even exalted! Essentially, Paul declares that Christ, who had every right to claim of deity, and the benefits thereof, willingly and humbly submitted himself to death on the cross and living as a man as the result of the incarnation. Now getting to verse 9, we see that He is highly exalted: elevated by praise! Why? So that at HIS NAME EVERY knee will bow. I prefer the Php 2:10 NASB translation; and I don’t think it is a bad translation, I think it is the best one if you review the original and cross reference Romans 14:11.

And now, you ask, what could Paul possibly mean by EVERY? I mean, people argue all the time that God didn’t mean “the whole world” in John 3:16, right? Let’s turn to scripture: things in Heaven, things in Earth and things under the Earth! Scripturally, I can’t think of “anyone else.” This encompasses the entire population of Heaven and Earth, all creatures great and small, if you will. And I contend, things under the Earth refers to the dead who are not saved. That means that the very same people who will curse God in this life, who will blaspheme His Name, who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who deny Christ…not only will they suffer an eternity of torment, but they will ultimately bow to Christ as well. And as we see in verse 11, they will also confess Him as Lord. Please Lord, forgive me for my pride and lack of compassion for the lost today, and cause me to share the good news with others, so that they might confess Him as Lord in this life, and put their faith in Him, so that they may be part of the “things in Heaven.”

1 John 2:15

As far as 1 John 2:15 goes, Love not the world! For the record, the same words are used for LOVE, WORLD and THE as in the famous verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” So what does this mean? God the Father himself loved the world according to John 3:16; does He “not have the love of the Father in Him?” Of course not, God has a perfect love, and His delight and love for Himself is obvious and apparent. God could not NOT-LOVE himself. So what is this verse saying then?

I believe that there are two things we can gather here. First, our love for God ought to be so overwhelming, so STRONG, that our affection for the things of this world should pale in comparison. It should seem to people that you “are too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.” That’s our goal as Christians. This has an implication that nonbelievers have much trouble swallowing, that is, that our love for Jesus Christ must be above our love for our own wife or husband and kids!

This is not enough though, and I’m sure, not the sole intent of this verse. Loving the Father the most, and truly loving Jesus Christ will result in a love for the things HE LOVES. It will also result in hatred for that which He hates. I’m talking about things like idolatry, adultery, theft and lying. (Proverbs 6:16-19) These are the things of the world to which this verse refers, for examples. Our affections should be for the types of things God love; why would we want anything less? If the God who redeemed you from your sin, and snatched you from the gates of hell does not love false religion, lying, superstition, adultery, murder, dishonoring of parents, sorcery, and idolatry, why would you? (Revelation 21:8) Why settle for anything less than that which is truly loveable?

What less obvious part of your life are you holding onto right now that God doesn’t love? How are you justifying it? Is it too much TV or internet? Are you maybe a little too fanatical about your sports team, and, thus, not always putting God first? If Jesus visited your Facebook page would He write “Well done my good and faithful servant” in a comment, or would He feel like an intruder on your life? Do you spend more time on idle tasks than reading the Word? What if your spouse could look over your shoulder when you’re on the internet, or see through your eyes at the mall, would he or she consider your heart loyal? God knows all those thoughts and actions…Do not love the world or the things that are in the world!

2 Timothy 1:7

2 Timothy 1:7 KJV For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I’m a KJV guy…not “KJV only” guy, but I often read the KJV, and when I do memory verses I always use the KJV. I have become a big ESV fan lately for reading and studying though. Anyway, the reason I share this is because I would like to show you how studying multiple versions is essential sometimes for proper understanding of the scriptures. It’s also a lot easier for people to do than studying Greek or Hebrew!

So let’s look at 2 Tim 1:7 NASB, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” Now that’s a little different, isn’t it? What if I told you that the word “cowardice” could be used instead of the word “timidity” or “fear?” It is worth noting that the word translated “fear” in this verse is different from the word translated “fear” in the following verses: Rev 14:7, 15:4, 19:5, 11:18, 1 Pet 2:17, Heb 13:6, 11:27. There are several others as well, if you do a word search for G5399 “phobeo.”

My point is this. There are (at least) 2 definitions for fear that we must understand. The first definition, the one used in the verses above that describe a proper fear of God, implies reverence. The word used in 2 Tim 1:7 is a different word. This word has more to do with the cowardice and timidity that people often have out of a desire for SELF-preservation. Let me be clear. God DID GIVE us the SPIRIT OF FEAR and AWE and REVERENCE OF HIM. If you have this, it is from HIM. What God has not given us is the spirit of cowardice that Paul was warning Timothy of in 2 Timothy. If you read the 2 letters to Timothy, you will see that Timothy struggled with the fear of men. He feared persecution for the gospel; I also infer that he was even afraid of some of his own church members’ opinion of him and “his youth.” (1 Tim 4:12) While it is clearly true, and biblical to look up to “elders,” (people of the faith for many years), it is also true that the Holy Spirit may choose to work in any believer’s heart at any rate. Take Paul for example…he wasn’t a Christian for very long before he began preaching and teaching and sharing God’s Word with others! Now he had a lot more special revelation than anyone else, but the concept still applies; the Holy Spirit can and will reveal to a man that which He chooses, and we should test men by what the Bible says, not their apparent reputation, education or age. (Although these factors can be useful!)

Now I’m finally getting to the point of the verse! Paul is telling Timothy that any timidity or fear he had, (as it pertained to his duties as a preacher-teacher-pastor-evangelist), was not the result of God. On the contrary, God had already provided Timothy (as well as all believers) with a spirit of Love, power and self-control, a disciplined mind. Fear of persecution, rejection, or loss of relationships is a self-centered, self-preserving thought, and if captured by your mind and subjected to Christ (Philippians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) you will not be able to remain that way for long. Even if the fear remains, the cowardice or timidity which paralyzes you, and keeps you from acting correctly, (e.g., sharing the gospel), will be overcome by your love for God, the power you know He possesses and will display through you, and the disciplined mind you have cultivated as the result of the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23)! As Tony Miano has reminded me, the cowardly will see the Lake of Fire too (Revelation 21:8), not because works reconcile a person to God, but because if 2 Tim 1:7 is true, then truly regenerate people are no longer “cowards!”

Finally, what are we to conclude about fear anyway? Is it a God-given instinct which aids in preservation of the species? Is there a true fight or flight reaction to external stimuli that God put in us so that we would survive? While this is possible, and there is circumstantial data to show that these phenomenon do seem to occur, I will maintain that biblically we are NOT given a spirit of fear by God. Our sound mind, if anything is that which, and ought to be that which, we use to determine whether to approach a situation, although it does seem we use this to interpret the feelings of timidity we often experience. Let me put it this way. Imagine a person filled with the Holy Spirit, completely trusting that God is sovereign and powerful and Good. Imagine this person believes that every moment of their life is already known by God and every event falls into God’s Holy decree (as the Bible declares). Is it reasonable to believe this person would ever experience self-preserving fear? How many cubits might he add to his stature, (Luke 12:25) or how many years to his own life will he add with this worry? (see Luke 12:22-30) A person who truly trusts the One True God cannot worry! The problem, as always, is a heart problem. We all need to have our hearts turned more toward Him, our focus on Christ as Savior and Lord and Provider, Author and Perfecter (Heb 12:2) of our Faith! It is impossible to worry about self-preservation when you believe that it is God who grants your every breath! It is unreasonable to fear rejection of men when you know you are a child of the King and are but an ambassador on His behalf. None of us, in this life, will ever be fully filled with the Spirit and perfectly live this out, but we can grow in this direction, and trust that the cowardice and timidity we face here will be gone once the curse is lifted. I can say with certainty that Adam did not experience this problem before the fall, and we will not know these terrible emotions after Christ returns. Our world is sin-cursed, and this is just another byproduct of the unholiness we love as sinful men. Praise Jesus for the rebirth of men’s souls, yours included if you are one of His!

If you are finding ministry difficult and fearful, why? Are you actually sharing God’s Word or are you sharing your thoughts and words as the emphasis instead of His? Are you concerned with what people think of you or where they spend eternity and How Christ is magnified? Be unashamed! (Romans 1:16) If there is anything to fear, it would be Christ denying you before His father! (Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 10:32-33) Make sure you are right with Him and then trust Him for every need!

Isaiah 64:6

Isaiah 64:6

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. And we are all do fade as a leaf and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Wow, this verse it tough to remember.  I think it is because I have heard so many translations of it…and for a long time I thought it ended at the word “rags!”

Let’s take a look at it and see if that helps us memorize it!  Many evangelists will tell you that this verse should be a memory verse for evangelizing.  The first half basically calls us unclean, and compares our righteousness to filthy rags.  What this is saying is that in God’s eyes, even the things we do which seem to be “right” (or quite possibly do, in a literal sense meet the requirements of the law) are nothing more than a filthy rag to him.  Why is this?  Because our hearts are deceitful and wicked, (Jer 17:9).  Even the things we do that seem “right” are not done out of a pure heart and a love for God.  Our righteousness, when it comes from ourselves is abominable to Him.  Any self-sufficiency we have is downright insulting to the One who holds all things together and provides all.  To believe that we have anything inherent in ourselves to impress God with is unreasonable and, in fact, punishable by death…for it is sin.

Think of the folly of this line of thinking: Do you ever think God looks down at a large skyscraper or a strong weightlifter, or billions of dollars in a bank account and thinks, “Wow, that is impressive!”  Certainly not!  It’s absurd to believe that the Creator of all would be impressed with anything at all that creatures do!  The God that accepts human offerings of sacrifice or religion is an idol, created by the minds of men who deny truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).  Reason with me, please!  If there is a god, he could not be coerced or moved by human will, else he would not be God!  And there is a God – and He is not compeled by men!  He wills and does as he pleases!  (Eph 1:4-5)

How about the second half, maybe that tempers the previous haunting thought a bit…we all do fade as a leaf?  What?  This sounds like we are considered weak, and dying vessels.  Our iniquities (sin, lawlessness) take us away like the wind takes away a leaf.  Think about this, leaves don’t even FIGHT against the wind.  I don’t think I am taking the analogy too far by saying we are no different when it comes to SIN before coming to a relationship with God through Christ.  How powerless we are!  Keep in mind who controls the wind and has power over weather! (Luke 8:24).  Even in Job 1:12,19, you can see that it is the Lord who grants that power to Satan if He sees fit to bring Him glory that way.

What a pride-crushing concept!  How can a man ever please God then?  By being brought In Christ, by the Holy Spirit.  When His righteousness is what shines through us (Mt 5:16, 2 Cor 4:6-7) we cannot help but please Him, because He is perfect, and He is always pleased with Christ, and only with Christ.

A Tribute to my Bride

What can I say? I owe you! Erin, I love you!

Being your husband means so much to me. I can’t do what I do without you!

I go to work, and I don’t worry about my kids. I don’t worry about my house being clean. I don’t worry about my meals being cooked. I don’t worry about the groceries. I don’t worry about our finances, or you running around on me, or leaving me. I focus on work, and can be successful. (Prov 12:4, Prov 31:11-12)

I stay up late reading the bible and writing. I go out late to evangelize. I coach three kids sports…year round. You clean all our clothes, you have them ready and laid out and ironed for us. Snacks packed, bookbags ready for school, lunch packed for work, shirt and tie picked out. You are my treasure, you are my sanctuary in this world that Christ gave me to love and honor and serve. I do not do those things enough for His sake, nor for all you do for me.

You sacrifice what most other women do not. You do not get to go on as many dates or wear as nice stuff. You choose a humble life and attire because of my goals for ministry. You do not get to spend as much time with me since I go out to witness and preach, and you stay home, taking care of my children. You’ve shared your child with me, and I am eternally grateful. I love you so much.

You are a prize, a crown. Your reward in Heaven will be greater than most, because you are putting up with more than many will have to in this world. You did not get a good man, you got a work-in-progress, and I thank you for the patience you’ve shown. I am so grateful for your love, and I love you now and forever. I would marry you again today in a heartbeat, and I’d take every minute we’ve been together and redo them all over again, for better or for worse.

God bless you, Erin. My bride, to whom I still owe a decent honeymoon, I won’t forget, sweetie.

Michael