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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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works

Follow Me-A Prophet is Purified

This is the last repeat of previous published blog posts in this Follow Me series. Thanks for bearing with me while I got my life caught back up.

We could say a lot about Isaiah, but we won’t. This sort of series, Follow Me, isn’t really designed to give a full biography of any person or to do an exposition of all the Scriptures around them. All I want to do with these is capture a brief devotional-like thought that maybe we can apply to our lives.

Isaiah 6:5-8 King 

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Here  am I, send me.“What a great line, right? We should all be that way. When God calls, that should be the response of all of us. I have talked on that passage before; today, however, that won’t be the point. There’s some other important stuff here that we should all take notice of because it is critical information. The thought behind it is critical.

There is an order here that matters, and it matters a lot. I don’t see that God called, Isaiah answered, and later at some point became purified. Friends, that’s not how it works. That would be a works/merit-based system, and that’s not the Grace program.

Isaiah lamented his sin, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” That’s repentance, right there my friend. Jesus told us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3. The realization of our sinful condition and separation from God is necessary for salvation. Note here, that nobody says we have to stop sinning for salvation. Isaiah was poor in Sprit.

thine iniquity is taken away” The Prophet’s sin, his iniquity, was TAKEN away. It was taken, or washed, by God. Again, Isaiah did absolutely nothing to make this happen, other than his realization of his state and his apparent faith. 

It’s important to see here, that God didn’t call Isaiah for a work until he was pure. That matters a lot. God calls the impure and unsaved for one thing, and one thing only; He calls us to repent and believe, and from that comes salvation. Then, and only then is God going to issue a call for us to work.

Friends, understand this. If you are working and striving in hopes that you will make yourself clean enough for God…..stop. It won’t work. Be made clean first by the blood of Jesus Christ. Then, get to work! Say those words, “Here am I , send me.”

Just a Thought

Our works certainly demonstrate our forgiveness, but they NEVER earn it.


Galatians 2:16 

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Follow Me-A Priest Gets Purified

We could say a lot about Isaiah, but we won’t. This sort of series, Follow Me, isn’t really designed to give a full biography of any person or to do an exposition of all the Scriptures around them. All I want to do with these is capture a brief devotional-like thought that maybe we can apply to our lives.

Isaiah 6:5-8 King 

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

Here  am I, send me.“What a great line, right? We should all be that way. When God calls, that should be the response of all of us. I have talked on that passage before; today, however, that won’t be the point. There’s some other important stuff here that we should all take notice of because it is critical information. The thought behind it is critical.

There is an order here that matters, and it matters a lot. I don’t see that God called, Isaiah answered, and later at some point became purified. Friends, that’s not how it works. That would be a works/merit-based system, and that’s not the Grace program.

Isaiah lamented his sin, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” That’s repentance, right there my friend. Jesus told us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3. The realization of our sinful condition and separation from God is necessary for salvation. Note here, that nobody says we have to stop sinning for salvation. Isaiah was poor in Sprit.

thine iniquity is taken away” The Prophet’s sin, his iniquity, was TAKEN away. It was taken, or washed, by God. Again, Isaiah did absolutely nothing to make this happen, other than his realization of his state and his apparent faith. 

It’s important to see here, that God didn’t call Isaiah for a work until he was pure. That matters a lot. God calls the impure and unsaved for one thing, and one thing only; He calls us to repent and believe, and from that comes salvation. Then, and only then is God going to issue a call for us to work.

Friends, understand this. If you are working and striving in hopes that you will make yourself clean enough for God…..stop. It won’t work. Be made clean first by the blood of Jesus Christ. Then, get to work! Say those words, “Here am I , send me.”

Grace Got You

This song, “Grace Got You,” is a rather upbeat Contemporary Christian song by Mercy Me. Okay, look, honestly I am not a huge fan of this song. It is just too, “happening,” for me. It’s actually a great song. It’s Scripturally based, upbeat and quite appealing. My wife loves it; on Sirius SM she listens to The Message(the CCM channel,) and I prefer Enlighten(The Southern Gospel channel with a lot of hymn-based quartet music.) I don’t have any issue with Contemporary Christian music in large part, but it’s just not my style or personal preference. I refer to some of it as, “Jesus is my boyfriend music.”

I digress, though. There is a point here.

Grace Got You

That matters, and it matters a lot.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them

Do you see that? Grace gets US; we don’t get grace. Grace is the gift of God, and a gift is never earned. If it is earned, it is no longer a gift, but a payment for wages due. My friends, we DON”T want to get the just and fair payment for wages due.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death……..

That is our just and due wages; that is what we have earned. But, wait, there is more:

Romans 6:23 also says ………but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

A gift my friends. We don’t get grace, and we cannot earn grace. We don’t earn God’s favor, but we certainly enjoy God’s favor based on the work of His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.

We don’t get grace; grace gets US.

Does having that gift make some things happen? Do we work, sing, smile and glide? We can, and we should. Because we have not earned but been given the gift.

Jesus Paid It All and His Blood Is the Only Payment Accepted

jesus saves

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

That, of course, is John 14:6.  Those were the words of Jesus Himself and sum up His thoughts about how a person comes to a relationship with God.  It seems like a fairly straightforward statement, really. Jesus did not say He was one of the ways or one truth, or that there was any life other than Him.  He stated unequivocally that the only access to God the Father was through Him, God the Son.  Nonetheless, we live in a time where truth is considered relative, any belief is okay as long as it is sincere; to say there is only one way is considered hateful and exclusionary.

Most people with any spiritual inclination whatsoever would tend to put some credence to words spoken by Jesus. Of course, an atheist would not, but this article is not really for them. This is really to address those who hold the idea that many paths lead to God. We can’t really say that Jesus was just a good man, a good teacher, and one of many ways to Heaven. If He was outright lying in that Scripture and knew He was not the only way to God, then we should never follow a man such as that. If He genuinely believed what He said, but was just monumentally wrong, then we should never follow a man such as that. In either of those two cases, Jesus was certainly not a good man, or a good teacher or any path to Heaven whatsoever. The only real alternatives are to totally disbelieve or completely believe the words He said in that verse. That is simply C.S Lewis’ famous Liar, Lunatic or Lord argument and it remains a valid one.

We hopefully agree at this point that payment is due. See this article for a discussion on that subject:

Jesus Paid it All- Part 1- Your Really DON’T Want To Pay Your Own Way

I hope we also agree that we have no ability to do anything whatsoever to pay the price for our sin, other than the Biblically prescribed one of death. A review of that subject can be found here:

Jesus Paid it All – Part 2 – Your Payment’s No Good Here

Belief in God, sincerely held, is also not enough. After all, James taught us that even the demons believe. (James 2:19). Not only do they believe, but they tremble in fear! Sincerity does not accomplish a thing. Jesus said in our verse above, that He is the Truth.  Sincerely held belief in an untruth does not make it true, no matter how sincere the belief.  Some examples follow.  One can sincerely disbelieve in the Law of Gravity, but if that person steps off a building, he or she will soon discover they were wrong.  The laws of physics trump sincerely held belief. One can sincerely believe auto theft is okay, but a Judge will quickly show that person the error of their ways. The laws of the land trump sincerely held belief.  We could follow examples until the end of time.  The bottom line is, law trumps sincerely help belief every time.

God is the Supreme Lawgiver. His law is just and perfect. We fail to meet His standard, making us lawbreakers. The penalty for transgressions of God’s law is death. Death is both physical and spiritual. Spiritual death is separation from God eternally in a place of torment called Hell.

The reason Jesus is the only way to God is that only Jesus could pay the needed price. He was able to pay it because He was fully human. Humans broke the law and a human had to pay. He was able to pay it because He was sinless and perfect; Jesus never transgressed The Law. Only because He had no penalty of His own to pay could He pay mine. He was able to pay it because He is God. Only God could pay the infinite penalty required on behalf of every person who had lived, was living in His day, is living now and will live into the future.

Just a quick counter to those who claim that Christianity’s statement that Jesus is the only way is exclusionary follows next. Jesus payment on the Cross for sin is not exclusionary; it is available to anybody. No one is denied access to it. Read the following for an explanation:

Jesus Paid It All – Part 3 – The Payment Was Enough For Everyone

The payment Jesus made for us is not exclusionary, but it is extremely exclusive. Matthew 7:13,14 teaches us that the path to destruction is wide but the path to salvation is narrow. No one is excluded, but many will decline the offer.

How does one accept? Understand how you have failed before a Holy God. Agree with Him that your sin is wrong and an offense to Him and deserving of punishment. Believe that Jesus paid the price you could never pay and accept Him as your Savior and Lord.  Repentance toward God and belief in Jesus Christ, it’s that simple.

Just a Thought

Galatians 2.16.JPG

Working hard for your salvation, are you?

That

Won’t

WORK

Jesus Paid It All and Your Payment’s No Good Here

jesus saves

Two Religions

Aside from the obvious non-religions like atheism, humanism and so forth, there are only two actual “religions” in the world.

The first is the religion of good works. Believers in this religion believe that there is something, somehow, that they can do to ensure their own entry into Heaven. There are subsets of this religion:

  • Some believe sacraments and rituals if done properly, ensure entrance into heaven.
  • Some believe in the scale of justice theory of salvation, believing that if their good outweighs their bad they can ensure their entry into Heaven.
  • Some believe that if they just do not do anything “really bad” they can ensure their entry into heaven. Adherents of this religion call themselves many different things: New Agers, spiritual, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, and even Evangelical Christians.
  • Some may call themselves Methodists, Baptists, or any other name one can call to mind.

On the other hand, there is the true “religion”. This is simply the Faith that teaches that absolutely nothing any human can do is sufficient to pay for the sin we have all committed. Our payment is no good here. In the first article in this series, Jesus Paid it All, we discussed the fact that we can each certainly pay our own way for our own sin. That article can be Read Here:

Jesus Paid It All and you Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way

But, as that article shows, the only way we can pay for our own sin is by death, both physical and spiritual. Eternally we pay our debt by being forever separated from God in a place of torment called Hell. That is the ONLY way we can pay for our own sin.

In other words, we can pay our own debt, but we can never redeem ourselves from the penalty of what we have done.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

That verse is really fairly self-explanatory and says and means exactly what it says. It seems to say it with little ambiguity or room for alternate interpretations. Nonetheless, let’s expand a little on what it is really saying.

Only Grace

We are saved by God’s Grace, through our faith(and even that is given to us by God.) Grace is a free gift of God, not earned by us. No work we might ever do contributes one iota toward our eternal Salvation. We WANT our salvation to be by our works because we really, really like ourselves.

Grace plus nothing equals our Salvation. Jesus Paid it All. He doesn’t need our help to finish the project, His Grace is sufficient. Period and end of the story.

We can’t do enough good to cover our own sin.

We can’t avoid enough bad to cover our own sin.

We cannot do anything in our unsaved state to appear favorable in the sight of a Holy and perfect God.

Our Rituals, Sacraments, and Ordinances, while not wrong by any means can never save us.

No sacrifice of any sort by us can ever save us.

What, then saves us? It starts with Grace. God’s gift of His son who COULD pay for our sin, and did. We simply have to accept the gift by Repentance toward God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.

Faith In Action-The Path of Sin

faith in action

James 1:14,15

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

 Whose problem is sin? Well, it’s ours. Note what James says…our own lust. Lust here is not referring to sexual lust necessarily, just all the things we desire for. God did, in fact, create us all to seek certain things. Sexual desire is one of those things. God created men to seek certain things: success, to be good at what we do. Inside of all of us are things God planted so we could use them in attaining His purposes. The fact that they exist is not wrong. The wrongness comes in our application of them.

So, God does not tempt us with sin. Even though Satan tempts us, he does not cause it, either. He does use our own desires, which we all have, to entice us to use them wrongly and sinfully. That is the enticement part, we are enticed to take our God-given desires and point them the wrong way.

Having a desire, and even being enticed to head the wrong way, is not wrong necessarily either. Anybody reading not been tempted to sin or do wrong? I didn’t think so! So, what happens? Lust conceives; that is we come to some point where we think it is okay. And once the sin has conceived, that same thing happens with any conception: a birth. In this case, a sin is born.

Sadly, sin has consequences. When sin is finished, it brings forth death. One form is certainly physical death; sin is what brought that into the world and the death rate remains 100%. It also brought spiritual death, in the form of eternal separation from God.

But, God loves us. We will all physically die, but we need not all eternally die.

Faith In Action-Why Be Joyful Over Trials?

faith in action

James 1:3,4

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.


We already know that James was inspired by the Holy Spirit to instruct us to react to our trials with joy. We are to be glad we are being tempted, or tried, rather than sad or upset over them. Why?

The simple answer is that we need to consider trials not from our standpoint, but from God’s standpoint. Of course, that is usually where we fail in most areas, when we fail to consider things from God’s viewpoint.

The trying of our faith “worketh patience.” We have all heard the old saying about being careful about praying for God to give us patience I am sure. Why is that? Because He won’t just give it to us; He will teach it to us.

“Let patience have her perfect work.” In other words, go with the flow so to speak. We need not fight, resist or rebel against the trial in our lives. Remember counting it all joy?

Now we come to the why part of things. We are given trials, in some cases, so that we may become “perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Does this mean that we will become the picture of sinless perfection or be given all of the things we want. Well, I am afraid not.

That simply means that our trials will cause us to become mature in our Christian lives. To be perfect and entire here means simply we will become more grown up Christians, more suited to the work God wants us to do.

Specifically what type of things might God be trying to accomplish in our lives? Stay tuned and see.

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