Saturday, January 28, 2017

CHRIST IS NOT DEAD IN VAIN

By Jack Kinsella

The Omega Letter is aimed at those who have already grasped the simplicity of salvation. A lot of what we focus on is what Paul calls the 'strong meat' of Bible doctrine.
For example, we've examined the nuts-and-bolts answers to hard questions like, "Why did Jesus have to die?" and "would a loving God send people to hell?" etc.  But it is good from time to time to revisit the basic gift of salvation.
I have friends who can't seem to 'get' how simple God made salvation.  The miss the forest for the trees.  Maybe you have friends like that too.  They can't grasp the basic fact that salvation is for sinners. They think they have to earn their way by doing good.
When Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment of God, He replied: 
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)
Love God above yourself and love your neighbor as yourself.  Simple. 
A person cannot have a personal relationship with God apart from Jesus. There is a gap that exists between God the Father and sinful humanity.
God is completely holy and cannot tolerate the presence of any sin. But we are all selfish sinners. To redeem us, He had to become ONE of us.
To do THAT, He had to physically enter sin's 'quarantine zone' (the earth's atmosphere), conquer sin in THIS world, thereby defeating sin's universal stranglehold on humanity. And then, having qualified as an acceptable Sacrifice, He paid the eternal penalty for sin on our behalf.
When Adam sinned, God cursed him, saying;
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:19)
God covered the first sin of Adam by clothing his nakedness with dead animal skins. Sin, by definition, introduced death into the world. ". . . without shedding of blood is no remission." (Hebrews 9:22)
Jesus paid the penalty prescribed by Adam's sin, just as every human being since Adam, but Jesus was WITHOUT sin.  Having been born of the Father into this sin-sick world, He lived the life that God expected of each of us and then paid the penalty for sin that we deserve.
He was not under that penalty for Himself, which is why He could pay the price demanded on our behalf. Having defeated the cause of death (sin), He then defeated the penalty of sin (death) by His Resurrection.
Nobody who ever sinned, even once, has defeated sin personally, and all remain under sin's penalty of death.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" (Hebrews 9:27)
But death is in two parts. The physical death, and what the Bible calls the 'second death' eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.
And so is the judgement. The believer's sins were judged at the Cross, and the penalty for them has already been paid.
For those who trust to their own good works, there is a second judgement before the Great White Throne, where they will be judged according to ALL their works, good and bad.
There is no balancing scale. One sin earns eternal separation.
Our personal sin still earns the wages of physical death. We are spiritually and eternally saved, but the world in which we live remains under the curse. Sin has its consequences on the things which are in it.
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Jesus sinless Sacrifice paid our eternal debt -- there is nothing left to judge but our rewards. Nothing we could ever do could earn it, because it is a gift, freely offered to all men.
By accepting Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf and committing to follow Him we are declared righteous by God on the basis of our faith.
Therefore as new creatures, recreated by the Blood of Christ, wearing His righteousness instead of our own, we are able to come before the throne of God blameless and cleansed, reestablishing our relationship with God.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
It has NOTHING to do with religion. Paul was preaching to the Church at Galatia, where a heresy had crept in that said Christians had to be circumcised like Jews in order to prove they belonged to God.
Paul makes it clear that Christians are neither Jews nor Gentiles, but something entirely new.
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Galatians 6:15)
The difficulty in trusting Jesus is rooted in the failure to understand the 'new creature' for what it is. We've discussed this many times in the past, but for the benefit of new members and as review for the rest of us, the Bible teaches that there are four sentient spiritual creations of God.
First, God created the angels. Then, He created Adam in His Image and in His Likeness. At Adam's fall, his spiritual state was changed, he became separated from God, and Adam was the father of the spiritually unregenerate Gentiles.
Abraham, through faith, fathered the first of another new spiritual creation. Isaac was the first spiritual Jew, the father of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel.
Since then, every person is born either a Jew or a Gentile, from the perspective of their spiritual state of existence. The first three sentient, spiritual creations of God, then, are angels, Jews and Gentile, descended from Adam, but in God's Image, with an eternal spirit.
A descendant of Isaac can never become a Gentile. He can denounce Judaism, become a Buddhist, an atheist, or whatever, but in God's eyes (as well as man's) he is still a Jew.
A Gentile can become a practicing Jew, but he remains a spiritual Gentile, since his eternal spirit remains estranged from God apart from Christ. 
Jesus introduced a new spiritual creation with His Resurrection. Those who trust Jesus are transformed into a totally new spiritual creation, personally indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, and restored to the fellowship lost by Adam.
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12)
"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)
Having been MADE righteous and restored to fellowship, Christians are neither Gentile nor Jew. Nor are they angels, either literally or figuratively. The Bible calls them 'saints' -- something entirely unique in the history of the universe.
Jews and Gentiles are born what they are. Christians are REBORN into a 'new birth' -- a new spiritual creation of God.
Salvation is a permanent transformation from one kind of spiritual creation to a different kind of spiritual creation.  It is the misunderstanding of the new creature that is a stumbling-block to grasping the simple assurances of the Gospel. 
At the point of salvation, according to Scripture, the old creature (Jew or Gentile) is "passed away." (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
The Bible says the old creature is dead. Only God can raise the dead, not an act of man. God would be forced to raise the dead spiritual Gentile,  and undo His new spiritual creation based, not just on an act of man, but on a sinful act.
If sin can force God to undo His own creation, then where is the victory?
The Bible says to repent (literally, change your mind), realize your sin will take you to hell, and that there is nothing you can do about it except to trust Jesus' promise that by trusting Him for your salvation as the Lord of your life, you are now a new creation of God.
It's so simple. So simple, in fact, that there are millions upon millions who just can't get it. Paul spoke of being "wise in your own conceits" (Romans 12:16) not the least of which is the belief that our works contribute to our salvation.
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." (1st Corinthians 1:27)
 If Jesus didn't do it all, then He didn't have to do it at all and He died in vain. 
"I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21)

Monday, January 23, 2017

JESUS WILL SET US FREE!




BY Pastor Mike Taylor


31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free......
35And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31-32, 35-36)

Have you sat down and thought about why it is , that what you believe and why you believe it? The Bible is full of the reasons for Christianity, and its teachings...But if you are thinking about it right now, what is the one thing that stands out as unique about the Bible to you? What is it about our belief in Jesus Christ that makes it different than any religion found on this earth?


There are numerous answers to those questions. Some will find different answers that are just as valid concerning with being a Christian and a follower of Jesus Christ as another. But what makes it (in my mind) to stand out independent of all other religions on earth, it's an all or nothing perspective on Who and what we believe in.
Just think of all the many different details that surround our belief system in Jesus Christ, as the Messiah, and our Lord and Savior...if any of those details that surround the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus are false, then the whole Gospel message just falls apart. If the Bible did not tell the story exactly as it happened, how Jesus lived, what He accomplished in His life, what He did to save us from our sins, and to rise from the grave on the third day, according to the time line of facts that the bible lays out, then we are a people that are most certainly misled and the Bible account of the most important Man/God that ever lived, collapses in on itself.
12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished”. (1st Corinthians 15:12-18)


There are many secular so-called Christian scholars who deny that the Resurrection was an actual event, but instead take a contemporary view of Greek philosophy which believes that the soul is immortal, but not the body. Which if you think about it, why are they even called Christian, or followers of Christ, when they deny the Biblical resurrection of Christ? They are actually Gnostics who deny Jesus is the risen Christ bodily and  glorified.


JESUS THE FIRST FRUITS OF THOSE BORN OF THE DEAD
But the bible tells us that one day, the spirit of man will be reunited with a glorified raised physical body for those raised belonging to Christ, at His appearing. It has and will come in stages....Jesus the first fruits of those who are born of the dead, then those who are raised to new life, at the catching away of the church at the appearing of our Lord. The Bible calls it by definition, 'harpazo” which literally means be “taken by force”. Some call it the rapture. Then the next stage is those who are raised to life at the end of the Tribulation, who are the Tribulation saints who died in Christ as martyrs , and this is the first resurrection.
5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:5-6).

Christian doctrines mandates that all men will be resurrected, some in the “first Resurrection” from Jesus being raised, till the Tribulation saints are raised, this encompasses the first resurrection..But there is one final resurrection at the Great White Throne judgment. It will be those NOT found in Jesus Christ and they will be damned to an eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire where Satan, the Anti-Christ, and the false prophet end up, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.



But note that the Rusurrection of Christ, being the first fruits of those born of the dead, MUST have a real historical event, or the entire doctrine collapses. And as Paul tells us, then if there be no resurrection, then we are all (including himself) found to be liars, as Paul pointed out to the Corinthian Church:
13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1st Corinthians 15:13-17)
In continuing our investigation that I started last sermon, was the “Apostles Preaching a Fraud”, let us look even more closely into that aspect of our faith.
The New Testament story is based entirely on eyewitness testimony.  The Apostles wrote what they saw.  So if they did not witness an actual, bodily Resurrected Christ and yet claimed they did, then none of the rest of their testimony is reliable. 



THE APOSTLES PREACHED A RISEN CHRIST.



Yet everyone of them (save John the Beloved) chose to die a martyr's death rather than recant their eye witness testimony. They recanted not one word of what they saw and heard. To further ram home the obvious point, if they knew their explantion was false, and their witness was a lie, why would they choose to be killed for a lie? Doesn't make sense does it?
Men throughout history have given up their lives for what they thought was true, which turned out to be false. Men die for an unworthy cause, which they believed was a true and a noble cause, but turns out was not true at all. But I know of no historical case, where a person would willingly die for something they knew to be FALSE. Reason being, the sympathetic nervous system has a fight or flight safety mechanism to preserve life at all cost. Courage makes you charge into danger for a just cause, knowing it could cost you your life, but no man in their right man charges into danger, when they know the cause is anything but truth.
To argue that the Gospel is not true means arguing that ALL the Apostles faced painful, torturous deaths that they could have avoided by simply recanting.



The skeptic denies the apostles eye witness testimony that was written down as a record for their belief in the Only Begotten Son of God, but fail to give an explanation for their skepticism for why would the apostles give up their way of life, for a life of misery, deprivation, heart-ache and pain at the hand of a pagan government, cultimating in a torturous death just to spread a myth?



As we discovered last time, why would any man, on any level, being a reasonable, sane individual make up a story that ruined their lives, costing them their family and friends and trading it for a life of persecution ending with a miserable death as a criminal of the state? For what? So their names would be known 2000 years later and they would be famous?? Now does that sound reasonable to any person of logical deduction reasoning?



SOME DENY OBVIOUS PROOF, EXCEPT SECULAR WRITERS



Why is it that nobody denies the accuracy of some of the Greek philosophers writings, such as Plato, Socrates, or Homer? Or Suetonus, or Flavius Josephus (save the part where he actually refers to Jesus as a real historical figure)?
.
Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls our earliest Hebrew copy of the Old Testament was the Masoretic text dating around 800 A.D. The Dead Sea Scrolls date around the time of Jesus copied by the Qumran community, a Jewish sect living around the Dead Sea. But there are other text that confirm the validity of our faith.
We also have the Septuagint -- a Greek translation of the Old Testament dating to the second century B.C.
The oldest existing original manuscript of a New Testament book dates to 125 A.D. It was found in Egypt, some distance from where the New Testament was originally composed in Asia Minor.
In all, there are more than 24,000 ancient manuscripts against which to compare our modern Bible. Now that is a huge body of work and PROOF!



If you compare the amount of evidence for the existence of Jesus and His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, the evidence is astounding the amount of material available to prove the whole of Christianity. When compared to other historical writings, such as Caesar's "Gallic Wars" (10 Greek manuscripts, the earliest 950 years after the original), the "Annals" of Tacitus (2 manuscripts, the earliest 950 years after the original), Livy (20 manuscripts, the earliest 350 years after the original), and Plato (7 manuscripts).
The New Testament manuscripts agree in 99.5% of the text, compared to 95% of say the Iliad. Most discrepancies of the New Testament are in spelling and word order. A few words have been added, but the minor changes does not change the doctrinal significance of the whole of the Gospel message.
Skeptics, liberals, atheist, and cults of false religions baseless claims that the Bible has been tampered with have been proven completely false by extensive, historical manuscript evidence.
We who are pre-Tribulation rapture believers would be completely refuted, if there is no bodily resurrection of Jesus. If the Resurrection is not a completely historical event then the tragedy is only compounded. (Not only are you putting your hopes in a false promise of redemption, but you are still dead in your sins). .If there is no resurrection, there is no Comforter in the Holy Spirit that indwells you as an earnest deposit in waiting your future glorification.
Yea, and we are then found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God :
15 “Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” 1st Corinthians 15:15-20)

Other confirmation come from the book of Job, the oldest book, chronologically, in the Bible, spoke confidently of his own resurrection:, even before the time of Abraham:



"For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me." (Job 19:25-27)
But Jesus gave us additional revelation, a new 'mystery' for the Church, telling us exactly what happens when we die.  There is no 'soul sleep' as those who read the OT prophets supposed.



Jesus spoke specifically that in the moment of death, our conscious spirit moves on...lives on, awaiting the resurrecion of the dead, which our spirit awaits the reuniting with our glorified body. Paul spoke of in a mystery of our glorious change in 1st Corinthians 15:52 :
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”



But John reveals what the transformation shall be when he proclaimed:
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1st John 3:2)
FRET NOT AS ONE WITH NO HOPE

But as Christian people, when a loved one dies, we are heartbroken...why is that? Even when we know that their race is over, and they have received exactly what we want to receive. We miss them, because we are deprived, for a little while, of their companionship. Amazingly, every one wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. But some erroneously believe they are only sleeping.



But we aren't 'sleeping' while we wait.  During the Dispensation of the Church, the Apostle Paul noted that for believers to be ‘absent from the body’ meant to be ‘present with the Lord.’


6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
7(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
9Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (2nd Thessalonians 5:6-9)



The Apostle Paul wrote of physical death as it pertains to believers, saying;
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13)


JESUS WILL SET ALL OF US FREE AT HIS COMING

On this earth, in this life, we have a sure and lasting promise of a time that is coming when Jesus will ascend from heaven with the voice of an archangel and the Trump of God and “the Son will set us free”.


14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)


Jesus has been resurrected, and history proves that many speak of a historical Jesus, who really lived on this earth...We have eye witness testimony of our Risen Lord by thousands of people who spoke with Him, touched Him, and ate with Him, after His resurrection. We have historians that give proof of the life and death of Jesus Christ, and we have the eye witness testimony of His Apostles who went to their death for One they lived and died for. Logic tells us, that they had to be telling the truth, as no one dies for a lie...the evidence is overwhelming.

And for us, living in the end of the Age of Grace, we have an even greater promise that will possibly be fulfilled in my lifetime. Jesus promised that from the blooming of the fig tree which is Israel, that a generation who sees this happen will see the return of Jesus Christ.

32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:32-36)

A generation is 70 years, and 80 years by strength. Anyone can do a quick math problem and add each number to 1948....it shows how close we could be. .Many Christians are watching the heavens looking for that blessed Hope to return to take His church out of this world. If you have followed any of my messages, you know I propose that it MAY happen on the next Feast Day to be fulfilled, the Feast of Trumpets...now no one knows which one, or which day, as there are two day of that particular feast day, as God has fulfilled each one on the very day of its observance by Ancient Israel....I will be looking to the heavens this fall, listening for a trumpet blast....I pray it is coming soon.....but we don't know the year...but we watch and pray.

But as a side note, I had one person give me an interesting observation....their question was something I had not thought about and they may be just looking for a clue to the time of Jesus' return, but the reader pointed out one current event related to our political climate on this verse:

52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last TRUMP (my emphasis): for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:52)

As anyone knows, we just elected as POTUS....the last TRUMP...was God sending us a message? I don't make any predictions, but I found it interesting.

But assuredly, the signs of His soon return are all around us....I believe that when the time of the Lord's return is close, God may just give us the same revelation He gave Noah before the flood...God told Noah, after 120 years of preaching a coming flood, that in 7 days, the rains would begin....will God give us a revelation of His Son's soon return, by bringing a man into the POTUS with the same last name, as the last “TRUMP”? We don't know, and again, I make no predictions..I just hope and pray it is so...but when it happens will you be found rising to meet him in the air? Because it is going to happen, maybe sooner than anyone thinks.

If not, you will be missing the greatest event in our history, next the Lord's resurrection. Better get ready for the time could come without any warning...How will you get ready?


16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

Jesus will surprise those who are not looking for Him...it will be as a thief in the night.

1But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1st Thessalonians 5:1-6)


So all that believe in Jesus, believe in His resurrection after being crucified on a Roman cross, are in the light, even as He is in the light, and we will not be surprised...we will be joyful and our hands lifted high in praise to His Holy Name. But to those who are in darkness and do not believe what I just wrote, then you will be sorely surprised and in remorse, when you finally understand what has just happened....but as a “watchman on the wall” our job, those who preach His soon return are to warn those who do not have Jesus in their heart and lives...


"When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." (Ezekiel 33:8).
So my friend, consider this a warning delivered in love, that the hour is close and very soon, our Lord will ascend from heaven, and ultimately..JESUS WILL SET US FREE. How about you?


This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you are ready at the trumpet sound. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a friendly ear. Email me at realteam1999@sbcglobal.net, , God bless you all.

TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET