Tag Archives: salvation

How Do We Respond to Jesus?

We should show our gratitude to Jesus for all he has done for us

The Bible records many things Jesus did when he was here on earth. A reoccurring action is Jesus healing people from their physical and spiritual maladies. Matthew 8 records several of these instances, and we will focus on one of them.Live for Jesus

Jesus goes to Peter’s house; his mother-in-law is sick in bed with a fever. (Note the reference to Peter’s mother-in-law. This tells us Peter was married.) Though we may not think too much about a fever today, this illness was bad enough to keep this woman in bed. She wasn’t merely resting, waiting to get better. She was incapacitated and not able to do anything. The situation was serious.

Jesus walks up to the bed and touches her hand. When he does her fever leaves her body. The next phrase is curious. It says she gets up to wait on him.

The cynic might say that Jesus healed her with selfish intentions, that he made her well only so she could take care of him, likely preparing some food for him to eat. Though this is a humorous thought and one many women likely nod their head in agreement with and might make men snicker, this misses the point.

Instead, I see Peter’s mother-in-law taking care of Jesus as a response to show her gratitude to him for what he did to make her better. Her example is one for us to follow.What do we do to show our gratitude to Jesus for all he has done for us? Click To Tweet

Jesus has done so much for us. What do we do to show our gratitude to him?

It’s too easy for us to move from day-to-day and take Jesus’s work in our lives for granted, to not bother to show him our appreciation.

Jesus saved us, forgave us, and restored us to right relationship with his father. Plus, Jesus loves us, teaches us about God, and shows us how to live.

For all Jesus has done, what should our response be? What can we do to show Jesus how much we appreciate him?

Perhaps we should live for him.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 8, and today’s post is on Matthew 8:14-15.]

Put Your Faith in Action

Good deeds and right living don’t earn our salvation, but they do confirm it

Paul writes to his friends in Thessalonica. He reminds them—and us—that salvation is a gift from God. We can’t earn it and can only receive it through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But it seems that many people do try to earn their salvation through their actions, by living in right ways and doing good works for others.Put Your Faith in Action

James helps us put this into perspective. Though our actions don’t earn our right standing with God, they do prove it. He asks, “How can I see your faith apart from your actions?” He goes on to say, “I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice. You’ll know my faith is real by the things that I do,” (see James 2:18).

From God’s perspective, our actions don’t earn us anything. Yes, doing good may earn us attention from other people. We can receive appreciation from those we help and admiration from those who watch us. Yet to God our good works don’t matter.

Then why should we bother?

It’s through our right behavior and what we do to help others that we prove we have faith. By putting our faith into action, we demonstrate that it’s real. Faith without works is dead.Our actions say thank you to God for what he has done for us. Click To Tweet

We don’t act in certain ways to garner God’s favor. Instead, the things we do emerge from our gratitude for what he has done for us. Think of our actions as a tangible way of saying “thank you” to God for the gift he gave us.

By his grace and through our faith, we receive salvation. We need nothing more. But if we truly appreciate this gift of what he has done for us, then we show him by what we do.

We put our faith into action. And that honors God.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is James 2, and today’s post is on James 2:18.]

A Criminal Makes a Deathbed Confession

While we shouldn’t wait to follow Jesus, it’s nice to know that he’ll give us up to the last minute to make a decision

A Criminal Makes a Deathbed ConfessionIn Luke’s biography of Jesus, the author sometimes shares details not found in the Bible’s other three accounts of Jesus’s life. One such example is about the two criminals who are executed with Jesus. One of them mocks Jesus, but the other one doesn’t. Instead this second criminal rebukes the first. He says knock it off. We’re guilty and getting what we deserve, but Jesus is innocent.

Then the man makes a simple request of Jesus: remember me in your kingdom. What a simple statement, one filled with faith. This man, whose life is about to end because of a serious wrong he has committed, knows there is something more awaiting him after death. Yet through no merit of his own and with nothing he can do to earn it, he asks Jesus to be part of Jesus’s future kingdom. It’s bold, and it’s sincere.

Jesus could have said, “Sorry man, but you messed up.” But no. Instead Jesus lovingly says “Yes!” And not only is the answer affirmative, but it is also timely. Jesus says, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

How cool is that? Follow Jesus today to live for him in this life and live with him in the next. Click To Tweet

While we can wait until the last minute and make a deathbed conversion with full confidence that Jesus will say yes, the risk is too great. We don’t know when our last breath will come and if we’ll have time to ask Jesus to remember us.

So don’t put it off. Follow Jesus today so you can live for him in this life and live with him in paradise in the next.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 23, and today’s post is on Luke 23:39-43.]

Save

Save

The Near Death Experience of Jonah

Live a life of obedience and without regret in order to finish strong

The Near Death Experience of JonahMost people know the story of Jonah: God sends Jonah to help Nineveh. But Jonah gets in a boat headed in the opposite direction. God sends a storm to get Jonah’s attention. Jonah implores the crew to throw him overboard in order to calm the storm. After some prodding they toss him into the water. A fish swallows Jonah. God gives Jonah a three-day timeout. The fish spits out Jonah on dry land. Jonah obeys God.

But what happens between the crew throwing Jonah into the sea and the fish swallowing him? Jonah nearly drowns. It isn’t as if the fish is hanging out by the boat waiting to rescue Jonah.

No, Jonah goes in the water and fights to survive. He flails as long as he can. Out of strength he can fight no longer. He sinks. Water fills his lungs. He can’t breathe. Jonah is dying. His life flashes before his eyes. Then the fish comes and saves him. He doesn’t die after all.

How do I know this? I don’t. But Jonah’s prayer to God suggests his watery rescue comes at the last possible moment. He says, “When my life was ebbing away…,” (Jonah 2:7). In other words, he is about to die. His final thoughts are of God and God’s holy temple. Jonah prays. He affirms God and promises to make good. Jonah acknowledges that salvation comes from God – in this case, his salvation is both literal and figurative.Will our final thoughts be filled with regret over unfinished business and disobedience? Click To Tweet

When we get to the end of our life, what will we think about? Will our final thoughts be filled with regret over unfinished business and disobedience? Will we recall good times with family and friends? Perhaps we will anticipate eternity with God. Or maybe we will pray. Will our final prayer be one of desperation or of peace?

Living in obedience to God and without regret is the surest way to make sure we finish this life strong. Then God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21). May it be so.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Jonah 1-4, and today’s post is on Jonah 2:7-9.]

Save

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

The source of life, truth, and the way to Father God is through Jesus

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the LifeThe disciple Thomas wants to go where Jesus will go but doesn’t know how to proceed. He seeks clarification. Jesus gives him a five part answer, which another disciple John records for us. Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6, NIV).

I Am: In the Old Testament God the Father effectively tells Moses to think of him as “I am.” When Jesus repeats this phrase in his concise answer we are reminded that Jesus also exists as God, in the form of God the Son.

The Way: Jesus is the path to God the Father. Jesus points us in the right direction and provides the means for us to get there.

The Truth: Jesus personifies truth. He exemplifies truth, proclaims truth, and models truth. We can rely on the words of Jesus as true.

The Life: Not only does Jesus give us life, he is life. As taking part in creation, he emerges as one with life eternal.As God the Son, Jesus provides us with the path to God the Father. Click To Tweet

The Door to Father God: The first four parts of Jesus’s answer, culminate in his conclusion: it is through him that we are reconciled with God the Father.

Jesus provides all that we need for our journey in this life and into the next.

What does Jesus mean to you? How do you understand Jesus?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is John 13-15, and today’s post is on John 14:5-6.]

We Must Choose to Follow Jesus Every Day

Each morning we decide how we will live that day: for ourselves or for a greater purpose

We Must Choose to Follow Jesus Every DayIn highschool a friend caught me off guard when she said with confidence that “once you’re saved you can’t lose your salvation.” I asked her where the Bible said that; she didn’t have an answer.

Instead she just insisted it was true; her minister said so. “Once saved; always saved,” she spouted. She was as sure of that as her own name. She had prayed a prayer asking Jesus into her heart and that was all that mattered. End of discussion.

I worried about her conclusion and her eternal destination. I implored her to not treat something so important with casual indifference. She began acting less and less like someone who followed Jesus. I watched as she turned and walked away from him.

Before long she was talking and acting like someone who didn’t know Jesus at all. She believed she had her eternal get-out-of-jail-card, and nothing else mattered.

People who study such things call “once saved, always saved” the “doctrine of eternal security.” Grabbing a spattering of carefully selected Bible verses they build a case for their conclusion. I’ve spent time with such people who consider eternal security as an unquestionable, absolute truth. I kind of see their point but think the evidence they present is far from conclusive.

I’ve also spent time with people equally convinced that the principle of eternal security is an errant conclusion. They have their own verses to support their contention. I kind of see their point, too, but I think the evidence they present is far from conclusive.

I agree with both camps, though I hold both of their conclusions loosely. By faith I have a certainly of what life after death holds for me, but I will not treat this confidence carelessly. Too much is at stake.Every day I choose to follow Jesus again. I’d be foolish not to. Click To Tweet

When my wife and I married, we agreed it was for the rest of our lives; divorce would not be an option. However, each day we also make this decision again. We choose to remain committed to each other and love each other. Most days we do this well and other days, not so well. Yet in each of these days we move forward as a married couple.

Only a fool would claim that saying “I do” one time at a wedding ceremony was enough and that actions from that day forth mattered not. So, I choose to say “I do” every day to my wife.

I do the same with Jesus, too. Each day I say “I do” to Jesus again; I choose to follow him anew. I’d be foolish not to.

What are your thoughts on “once saved, always saved?” What do you do to say “I do” to Jesus every day?

Save

Save

Moses Dies Before He Reaches His Lifelong Destination

Even one sin is enough to disqualify us from attaining God’s perfect standard; Jesus bridges the gap

Moses Dies Before He Reaches His Lifelong DestinationThe book of Deuteronomy concludes with the death of Moses.

Moses faithfully leads God’s people as they wander in the desert for forty years, brings them to the border of the land God had promised to give to them, sees it from afar, and then dies before he can step into it.

It’s not fair!

How could God treat his dedicated servant this way? Yet this is what God had decided to do.

Years before Moses has a tiny slip-up. He disobeys God. God tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will gush forth. Instead Moses hits the rock with his walking stick – twice. Perhaps he’s frustrated with the people’s grumbling; maybe he wasn’t listening to God’s instructions; possibly he didn’t think it mattered.

It did.

As punishment for his mistake, God says Moses will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land, his final destination (Numbers 20:7-12). That’s the penalty for not meeting God’s exacting expectations.One mistake disqualified Moses. The same applies to us, but Jesus provides the solution. Click To Tweet

We all fall short, so death is our penalty as well. But Jesus makes us right with God, bridging the gap between our failings and God’s gold standard.

Through Jesus we will make it to our final destination, the presence of God and eternity with him.

Thank you Jesus!

Do you think God was fair with Moses? Is he fair with you?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 31-34, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 34:1-5.]

Save

All Things Are Possible – With God

All Things Are Possible – With GodA rich man asks Jesus how to get to heaven. The man reels off a list of all he’s done, of all of God’s commands that he’s kept. He waits for Jesus to affirm him, but deep down he knows he still falls short. “What else must I do,” he asks?

Then Jesus hits him in the wallet. “Give all your money and possessions to the poor. Then follow me.”

The man walks away despondent. He’s not ready to put Jesus first in his life and follow him instead of relying on money.

Then Jesus explains to his disciples how hard it is for people who put their trust in money to make it into heaven. But it’s not just the rich people who are at risk. Jesus adds more: getting into heaven is impossible if we try to do it on our own. The good news is that “with God, all things are possible.”With God, all things are possible. Click To Tweet

This is an indirect way to remind us that we can’t earn our salvation. It is a gift from God.

How does this verse speak to you? What things do some people try to do to earn their salvation?

(Matthew 19:26)

Book Review – True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In

True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In

By James Choung (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Book Review - True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In
Caleb is questioning God, faith, and what he has been taught. “What if we’ve settled? What if Jesus did more than we think?” Pastor Dave is unnerved by the questions, wanting to give pat evangelical answers – or to dismiss the questions altogether. Caleb’s friend Anna isn’t helpful either; she is skeptical and antagonistic.

So begins James Choung’s narrative story of a young follower of Jesus who yearns for more. Fortunately, he finds a willing mentor in Shalandra, one of his professors. She patiently takes him on a spiritual journey to rediscover and reinvigorate his faith. The good news about Jesus is much more than just about going to heaven when we die; the good news starts here and it starts now.

Shalandra helps Caleb deconstruct the incomplete gospel that he has been taught, rebuilding it on the foundation of Jesus and the whole Biblical narrative, that is, the “true story.” Although Caleb is a willing traveler on this journey, it is at times too intense, too much for him to absorb, yet he keeps going.

Anna’s a different story. Having rejected Christianity for the hurtful things that some of Jesus’ followers have done, she doesn’t want to hear what Caleb has been learning, even though the causes she is passionate about nicely fit into the “true story.”

Will Shalandra’s tutelage succeed? Will Caleb accept this new gospel of “a Christianity worth believing in?” Can the rift between Dave and Caleb be mended? And what about Anna; will she ever be open to listen?

True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In is a cleverly woven narrative, providing insightful instruction in story form. True Story is ideal for the postmodern thinker who is seeking real answers and practical solutions to their place in this messed up world. It also aptly serves the modern thinker who wants to understand today’s younger generations. Either way, if you want to have a Christianity worth believing in, check out James Choung’s True Story.

[True Story: A Christianity Worth Believing In, by James Choung. Published by InterVarsity Press, 2008, ISDN: 978-0-8303-3609, 231 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Save

What is Eternal Life?

The phrase “eternal life” occurs 42 times in the Bible. What exactly then is eternal life?

Some suggest eternal life is synonymous with heaven. If we believe in Jesus, we will go to heaven when we die. That is eternal life.

That’s a good start to our understanding of eternal life, but that’s not all there is to it; there’s more.

As I read the Bible, I see eternal life beginning now, here in this world. We learn this from John, whose references to eternal life are often present tense.

When we follow Jesus, eternal life begins immediately, right now, today. Eternal life begins here on earth through Jesus and continues into heaven when our physical bodies die.

If you follow Jesus, are you enjoying eternal life today?

[verses about eternal life in the NIV Bible, John 5:24, John 3:14-21, John 5:39-40, John 3:34-36]