The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel (see Jer. 50:18a) says in Jeremiah 50:20.
In those days, at that time,’
declares the Lord,
‘search will be made for Israel’s guilt,
but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
but none will be found,
for I will forgive the remnant I spare.
This is such good news. Guilt resulting from the committal of sins is the fundamental problem of the human race. It is because of sins that we will eternally die. It is not poverty, disease or a miscellany of a myriad of things that will damn us, it is our sin. We stand guilty before the eternal judgement throne of the eternal Judge. We face the sentence of “guilty” and the punishment of death.
Then the good news comes there is no guilt; it is gone. There are no sins; they are gone. We are in Romans 8:1 territory: there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because of our Lord Jesus taking our sins and our guilt to Calvary’s cross we can rejoice with Israel and Judah about removed guilt and removed sins. Oh precious is the fact of our Lord Jesus giving himself. So let us believe in Him afresh and rejoice in Him afresh.
If these fundamental truths grip our hearts we will be set for a good Lord’s Day tomorrow.
1 Corinthians 8 addresses the issue of how we interact with one another when we see things differently. In particular it is when we see that we have freedom in Christ to act in a certain way, whilst another Christian does not feel comfortable in engaging in that same behavior.
In such a situation we need to be careful about how we speak and act towards such a fellow Christian. Our freedom should never be a means for bringing the other brother to stumble in their faith.
Paul reaches the apogee of his argument when he speaks of how the brother you souls stumble is one for whom Christ died (see 1 Cor. 8:11. Christ gave up all of His freedom. That freedom entailed eternally and joyously being in the favour of God and heaven. He relinquished that in order to go to the degradation of the cross. And he did all that in order to bring eternal blessing to your brother.
In view of that won’t I (and won’t you) be very careful about indulging our freedom in Christ. We should always act circumspectly to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Moreover, the passage continues in 1 Corinthians 8:12 to say: Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. How serious this all is. When you act to hurt your brother you hurt one who is in the body of Christ. Thereby you hurt Christ.
It is one of those things to have always in our minds in dealing with fellow Christians that they are ones for who Christ died. “One for who Christ died” is the label they wear.
I am left wondering about the prevalence of simply using the name “Jesus” for our beloved Lord. Almost without exception now I hear our Lord referred to as “Jesus” when the preaching of the Word occurs. Now, the name Jesus is ever so special because it tells us the One who will save his people from their sins (see Matt. 1:21). However, in scripture He is revealed in a far fuller way through His names and titles. He is our Lord Jesus Christ, for example. And there are so many other names and titles associated with Him.
Jesus, is the the name of His humanity. I don’t want to say we should never use that name, but when His disciples address Him, in the gospel records, they generally called him Lord. The Muslims get carried away with all the paraphernalia of what they have to attach when certain names are used. However, at least there is some gravity for the naming of their important figures, although this is falsely conceived.
I am just urging that we be thoughtful about this. How beautiful it is to hear Him called Lord Jesus and appreciated for all His majesty.
All of humanity is called to believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. There is, after all, salvation in no other. When we believe in Christ, we place our weight on Him totally as the deliverer from our sins. We rely on Him; we depend on Him.
In believing in Christ we are to believe in the true Christ who is revealed in Scripture and Scripture alone. We are not to believe in concocted misrepresentations of the Christ who are only false Christs. The crucial implication of this is that we believe in the One who was incarnate, born of a virgin, delivered up to death on the cross of Calvary, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of the sins of all who believe. We believe in the One who was buried and rose again on the third day; ascended into heaven and will return again. If we have faith in any other Christ, we are not believing in the true Christ for salvation.
Further, our faith, as Christians, is in a real living being. When we connect with Christ, by faith, we connect with one who is animate with life. furthermore, It is through Him we are brought to the God of life.
Which brings me to the original question do we have faith in the blood of Christ? To which I answer that Scripture teaches that we are to have faith in the Christ who shed He blood on the cross and not faith in the cross itself. To emphasize the matter I ask the question in a slightly different way: Do we have faith in Jesus’ blood or in His cross? The answer is neither. Paul puts it like this when he says in Ephesians 1:7-8a In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Redemption is in Him who shed His blood and not in His blood itself.
Accordingly, we do not preach the crucifixion, but we preach the crucified One. Again we listen to Paul who says we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23-24).
But what of Romans 3:25? There the KJV has the phrase “faith in his blood”. W.E Vine says this. “The rendering “faith in His blood” is incorrect. Faith is never said to be in the blood. Faith is imposed in a living person. Faith is the means of making the pardon ours; the blood is the means of its effect. The preposition of the original is instrumental. The phrase “by His blood” expresses the means of propitiation.”
—-nobody’s problems. But I know someone who is the solution to everyone’s problems. I must remember this as I deal with people. And in doing so I will realise that it is not my wisdom that will be useful to anybody, but that which is from the Lord Almighty; the eternally Wise One.
So I will always be wanting to speak biblically when i am approached for advise or counsel about a situation. Very often this might mean asking for time to consider the matter that has been raised.
Also, always I will be praying to the Lord. In doing this we follow the exhortation of James in James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. Not only will I be praying before i speak, I will be dependent on Him whilst speaking to people as well. “Oh Lord give me wisdom and the right words to speak” will be my prayer.
So don’t forget, Philip, you are the solution to nobody’s problems.
In Acts 10:38 we read how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
I want to particularly ponder upon the phrase “doing good”. It is an obvious point, but easily ignored point, that all the miracles of our Lord Jesus were beneficial to people. He did not make people sick, he did not give demons to people and he did not deprive people of food. Our Lord Jesus came into the world to bring blessing, He came to enhance people’s lives.
In his ministry Jesus was displaying the grace of God. He was showing how undeserving people, afflicted with various maladies, could be blessed with deliverance and restoration.
In contrast the works of the evil one are always harmful to people. He is the one who destroys our humanity. Indicative of this are these observations in Mark 5:2-5 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
Let us be clear then, that if you come to Jesus in obedient faith He will always do you good. In contrast the devil will harm you. Moreover, remember from 1 John 5:19b that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. You are either in Christ and that means blessing or under the control of the evil one and that means harm and destruction.
We were considering the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men (and women and children) with a small group aged 10 to 17 at church last week. We read this in John 6:5-7
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’
The response of Philip led us to ponder upon the way that this world thinks. Amongst us, and this was not from me, we noted that the way of the world is to think of “money, shops and the things you can see”. I felt that was quite a pithy, but very helpful description of the world in which we live. In fact Philips’ words would indicate that these reflect a mindset which permeates the ages.
Sadly it is not the way of thinking that helps to deal with the real issues of life and to find ultimate solutions. That way of thinking focuses on Jesus Christ as the miracle-working Lord of eternity. When He steps into a situation he brings satisfying transformation. “Money, shops and the things you can see” always lead to an ache for more. When Jesus comes and intervenes there is always satisfaction.
So in the feeding of the five thousand we read that all the people had as much as they wanted (v11b) and they had all had enough to eat (v12a)
Amidst the issues of life. Do we look to the way of the world or the way of Jesus?