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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit

“Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God’s mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy [ of God ] that we shall be saved.” – St John Chrysostom

Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and Jesus

Lets first read the following verses as we reflect on the Lord Jesus Christ and how he brought change in Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus by his death. Here we go:

31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

(John 19:31-42)

 

Joseph of Arimathaea is not heard of in most part of the Gospels except just after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Who was this man and what did he have to with Jesus? Also what does Nicodemus have to do in all this?

From what we read in the Gospels (Matthew 27:57–60; Mark 15:42–46; Luke 23:50–53; and John 19:38–42) it’s known that he was a disciple of Jesus Christ. However he followed Jesus secretly as he feared the Jews. He was actually a part of the Sanhedrin which was the council of Jewish religious leaders who strived for Jesus’ crucifixion. However,  the Gospel says that Joseph of Arimathaea did not give his consent but rather opposed their decision. That makes him a good man doesn’t it. Besides he was rich. God made him wealthy for a purpose that only few can ever receive from the Lord God. He took a personal risk of life and of reputation when he went to Pilate to receive the dead body of the One True Savior of the World who is none other than Jesus Christ. And by his wealth he could arrange for Jesus to be laid in a tomb (sepulchre). When Jesus was born he was born in manger as there was no place available for him. But at his death this one man from Arimathaea did all he could so that the Savior could be given some dignity after his death.  Joseph of Arimathaea did not care for his life anymore as he knew he had to honor the Son of God the giver of eternal life more than anything.

Now to speak about Nicodemus. This man due to his short height had to first meet Jesus by climbing the sycamore tree. Though this man was a great sinner, Jesus came to dine in his house much to the dismay of the religious leaders. Yet Jesus led this man Nicodemus to repentance and salvation. In the due course of time, when Jesus died on the cross, Nicodemus did not flee nor abandon Jesus like most of the disciples of Jesus Christ. Very few men were brave enough to stand up for the Lord in public after the crucifixion. This man was one of them. He served the Lord well by bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes so that Jesus’ body could be wrapped in linen with these spices as per the Jewish burial custom. 

Jesus at his death caused Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus to manifest the courage and right action no matter what the circumstances for the sake of the Lord. If you were in place of these men at that would you have done the same for Jesus? It’s a hard question to be honest. But the simple answer would be your actual actions in such times. However there should be nothing keeping you from standing up for Jesus Christ no matter where and when, if you truly believe that he is the Son of God. Yet again, were only courage and good works what Jesus woke these to men to by his death? Not at all, because by his agonizing death on the cross and his glorious resurrection from the dead he made available not just for them but for everyone who believe complete justification and salvation. You don’t earn your salvation by your good works but yes once you accept your salvation by your faith in Jesus and his Gospel then by your good works you can indeed give glory to God. The power of the Lord Jesus in his death and resurrection goes beyond inspiring courage and good deeds. For it has healing for sick, forgiveness for the sinner, deliverance from the darkness, friendship with God and life everlasting. Blessed are those who have not seen Jesus and yet believe. Amen.

Quick Reminder: Do not live in Sin

  • Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree. (Romans 11:22-24)
  • But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

It is a false doctrine to tell Christians that after their first repentance, they never need to repent again for new sins. The blood of Jesus does not automatically wash away FUTURE sins, sins need to be repented of after they are committed. If you disagree, just ask Ananias and Sephira about their pre-forgiven sin. This is why repentance in mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer.

Quick Reminder: Purity and faith are pleasing to God

 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

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The (Easy-to-Understand) Gospel of Jesus Christ, and Why Humanity Needs Him

by Hope Wingo

(Hope’s note:  Please feel free to copy and use all, or any portion, of the following message.)

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE (John 3:16).

You may have heard that verse all of your life, but have you ever read the verses that immediately follow it? The next five verses (John 3:17-21) read, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He 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. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

Do you see what this scripture is telling us? Although John 3:16 is a comforting verse in itself, the message doesn’t end there. It leads into a warning of condemnation to those who refuse to repent of their ungodly ways and it warns of the consequences of unbelief. On the other hand, it teaches that we gain access to everlasting life when we believe in Him and allow our sins to be exposed to the Light (or, made manifest to Him) so that He can forgive them. This Light is Jesus. “I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

So, why do we need this “Light of the world”? Why Jesus? The following will explain humanity’s broken relationship to God and, according to His Word, what we need to do to make it right with Him…

First, the bad news (about us):

Our sins have separated us from a righteous and holy God,

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

and (without repentance) our situation is hopeless; meaning, we are destined for eternal punishment.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Being a good person (or doing good works) can’t save us. We MUST be spiritually “born again”.

John 3:3 – and Jesus answered… Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Now, the good news (about Him):

Our holy, Creator God made a way for sin-cursed humanity to be reconciled back to Him by sending His Son to take our punishment for us. Since the consequence of sin is death, and we were all born into sin through our first father Adam, we were helpless to save ourselves from the pending death sentence of eternal punishment. That’s why God sent His Son to us. Jesus stepped out of eternity to die on our behalf; to pay the sin-debt that we owed. He came down from heaven, became one of us, took our sins upon His own sinless body, then paid the death sentence for us on the cross. (2 Corinthians 5:21 – For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.)

Then, three days after His crucifixion, Jesus victoriously arose from the dead…

Luke 24:46 – …it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.

and ascended into Heaven to be an intercessor (or, an advocate) for us…

Romans 8:34 – It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

until He returns for those who are “in Christ”. (See verse below.) This much-anticipated, soon-coming event is called “The Rapture of the Church”. The reason for the Rapture is to keep God’s people “…from the hour of temptation (or testing) which shall come upon all the world…” (Revelation 3:10). We are told that Jesus’ return for us will be as a “thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2) so we don’t know what day it will occur, but He described many events that would mark the season (or era) of His Second Coming and told us to watch for those signs. He warned us to “…be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44) and to “Watch… and pray always, that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass…” (Luke 21:36). Today, major prophetic events undeniably point to our generation as being that very generation of which He spoke; hence, the renewed urgency of our “don’t be left behind” plea. The following verse describes this “Rapture” of Christians, both deceased and living. (Also see: 1 Corinthians 15:49-54):

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – For 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: Then 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Now, to explain what Jesus’ death on the cross actually accomplished: Our human efforts, however sincere, cannot make us holy; but “without holiness, no man shall see God” (Hebrews 12:14). The moment that Adam willfully sinned against God, humanity began its descent into physical death and the entire (yet to be born) human race spiritually died. Since all of Adam’s descendants inherited his sin-nature, and one sinner cannot atone for another sinner, humanity’s reconciliation back to God could only have come from outside of Adam’s sin-cursed lineage. Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23), so He did not come through Adam’s bloodline. He alone carried the holy, sinless blood of His Heavenly Father. Scripture tells us that the blood not only symbolizes life, but that it is life. “The life of the flesh is in the blood: …for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Jesus paid the ultimate price for the souls of fallen humanity when He offered up His own life’s blood to redeem us from sin.“You are bought with a price…” (1 Corinthians 6:20). There is no greater love than God’s love for us! …and when we repent of our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior, we are redeemed by His blood and become “holy and unblameable in His sight” (Colossians 1:22). One man (Adam) brought sin upon us and one man (Jesus) took it away… “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). Although we are still condemned to die a physical death, the life-giving blood that Jesus shed for us eternally reconciled our souls back to our Heavenly Father. We cannot earn our way to heaven on our own merits (regardless of our good intentions, efforts or works) because we still carry the sin-nature that we inherited from Adam. It is ONLY through our faith in Jesus that we are saved. (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.) Everything in God’s plan of redemption has already been done for us, once and for all (Romans 6:10), through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We, however, must ACT on our faith in order to receive this gift. To do nothing is to reject Him because “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). So… if you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior and trust Him for your eternal salvation, this is how to be born again:

  • Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (John 14:6 – …I am the waythe truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) and (John 8:42 – …for I proceeded forth and came from God; …He sent me.) and (John 10:30 – I and my Father are one.) and (1 John 5:12 – He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.)

  • Believe that He paid for your sins on the cross. (Ephesians 1:7 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…) and (1 Peter 2:24 – Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree…) and (Revelation 5:9 – …for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation).

  • Acknowledge that you are a sinner, then ask Him to forgive your sins. (1 John 1:8-9 – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness).

  • Finally, tell somebody that you believe in Him! (Romans 10:9-10 – …if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.)

So, how do we talk to God? What do we do now? Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy”, meaning God is approachable: He invites us into a relationship with Him. That being said, simply talk to Him as you would talk to a friend. Be honest and open. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and to start you all over with a new life in Him. You’ll be amazed at how everything changes when you allow Him to become your Lord and Savior! Also, start reading the Bible. The New Testament books of John and Romans are a good place to start. They’ll teach you the basics. To the believer, reading God’s Word develops a spiritual hunger to learn more and more; and the more we read, the more we grow in the Lord and understand His ways.

A final heartfelt plea… Today is the day of salvation. “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). When we die, our souls go directly to heaven or hell (Matthew 25:46) based upon whether we have accepted Jesus as our Savior or whether we have rejected Him through unbelief. There is no middle ground. Sadly, Jesus told us that the majority will refuse His gift and will spend all of eternity paying their own sin-debt. He said, “…Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.“ (Matthew 7:14), and “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). The truth is: Jesus will either be our Lord now, or He will be our Judge in the future. He paid the price for our souls because He loves us, but the choice to accept or reject Him is ours to make. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and His steadfast message is, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). There is no other Way. There is no other God. There is no other Truth. There is no other Light. “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12). That’s the pure, biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ, and what we do with it determines our eternal destiny.

Source link for the above article:

www.1way2yahweh.wordpress.com/

Quick Reminder: Avoid self righteousness

* For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

* But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-5)

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God accepts us despite the way we are

Image source: Pinterest.com

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:16-20)

Those are renewed in Christ Jesus should never say God accepted them the way they were but rather that God accepted them despite the way they were. Let none mistake God’s acceptance of the repentant as an approval of his or her sins. But rather count this as God’s forgiveness and mercy to those who reject the ways of sin and accept the only way to God which is through Jesus Christ. And those who are reconciled to God in Jesus Christ have passed from death to life. Happy are those who are ever grateful for God’s acceptance of them despite they missing the mark and yet offered mercy to live in faith through the blood of Jesus which he shed for the sins of the world.

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