New Life

Disney’s adventure Oz the Great and Powerful first portrays shady illusionist Oscar Diggs struggling in a small town circus. After being swept away by a tornado, he pleads with God to save him from the storm.

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Oscar, nicknamed Oz, plummets into the land of Oz. Here, the following changes transpire:

  • Black and white fades into vibrant color and visual dazzle
  • Oz finds a second chance in life
  • Despite the challenges, Oz finds purpose by using his talent to help the people of Oz
  • Oz finds that the greatness he yearns for is found through a different path than how he first envisioned

Changes

On the grander stage of real life—over 2,000 years ago—Jesus shared how one can make a major life altering change.

  • Change that miraculously begins under a new Masterc3908503a6a55ef561b255330fa6d226
  • Change that cleanses sin ridden hearts and creates new life within
  • Change where dullness fades to vibrant light and color due to a relationship with the living God
  • Change that positively affects us and our relationships in this life and in life after death
  • Change that results in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, wisdom, comfort, and purpose

Why do we need to change? Change from what?

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we are born with this sin problem (Psalm 51:5). Our sin offends God, displacing Him from His rightful reign in our lives. The end result?

For the wages of sin is death. . .”

But . . .

The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  – Romans 6:23

Do I hear an amen?

In a land that applauds the notion that truth is relative, the message of Christ being the only way to God the Father and to spiritual life is unpopular, but this is the truth that never changes.

What is the difference between accepting and rejecting Christ?

Heaven and hell. Life and death (John 3:36).

And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. . . .”  – Hebrews 9:27

Surrendering to and following Christ is worth any temporal sacrifice.

We each must choose. None of us, who are able to understand, will be exempt (Romans 1:19-20).

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him [God] who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”  – John 5:24

“Eternal life”—new life and a relationship with God—begins the moment one accepts Jesus as Savior. This life is completely dependent on God and lasts forever. When one accepts this free gift, the Holy Spirit resides within the believer. And physical death is only a prelude to living forever with God and with each other. This is the great news of the gospel.

 

Bad News, Good News

Care to join me for a steaming latte? It’s 12 degrees fahrenheit in my neck of the woods. Brrr. Reason enough to enjoy the crackling fire with a hot drink within reach.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, God’s first call in our lives deals with salvation. In fact, most of the Bible centers around John 3:16 (NIV), “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The word salvation appears 164 times in the Bible. According to Strong’s Concordance, salvation is “mattâth” in Hebrew and Aramaic, which means “a present: ― gift; reward.” The Greek translation “soteria” means “rescue or safety.”

Salvation can be summarized as follows: deliverance from the power or penalty of sin.

Whose sin? Both yours and mine. We’ve all done wrong things and failed to obey God’s laws (Romans 3:23; 5:12).

The result? Separation from holy God, our Creator. This separation―the penalty of our sin―is eternal death (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:10-15). Our best efforts–moralism–fall short in our attempts to unite with God (Isaiah 64:6). That’s the bad news.

The good news: Jesus–God’s unique Son–never sinned (Hebrews 5:9). He alone bridged the gap between sinless God and sinful mankind when He freely died on the cross (1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 John 5:9-12). He took our place in order to save us from sin’s consequences―including God’s judgment and death (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 5:8-11).

The result? We can have new life because Jesus took our past, present, and future sins upon Himself, forgiving all our wrongdoing (Hebrews 10:5-18). Thus, He reconciles us to God (1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 10:19-22). Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the proof that His substitutionary sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to God. His resurrection has become the source of new life for whoever believes Jesus is the Son of God (John 11:25; Romans 10:9). He grants eternal life, giving union with God to those who believe and receive Him (Ephesians 2:4-7; John 1:12).

Do you believe Jesus is God’s Son? If so, have you confessed your sins to Him and asked Him for the gift of eternal life and forgiveness?

*This article is also posted in the Gospel Blog by FEBC at http://bit.ly/17RG5UK.

God’s Call

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Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a phone call from God–advising you where to live, whether you should work outside of the home, whether you should marry or remain single, etc.? Although God doesn’t speak audibly to us these days, He doesn’t hide His will for our lives either. This is found in God’s eternal Word, the Bible (Psalm 119:89, 105).

(This post article is also posted in the Gospel Blog by FEBC at http://bit.ly/13Lnbwt.)

Hebrews 4:12 says, “the word of God is living and active.” The Bible isn’t simply a collection of words. It is life-changing through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. In a searching, sincere heart, God’s Word spurs on faith. It penetrates to the core of our moral and spiritual life.

The Greek word of “called” is kletos. This means: invited, ie. appointed. We are invited to participate in God’s plan.

Knowing God’s general will leads to knowing His specific will for our lives. What does God call us to?

  • SALVATION
  • SANCTIFICATION
  • SERVICE
  • ACCOUNTABILITY

The call in God’s Word isn’t a light matter, it requires decisions. God’s work in a person’s life requires a demonstration of trust in His character and promises. His call often brings discomfort at first. Just as an athlete must train if she wants to win, likewise God’s call pushes us spiritually. But we will be the better for it, not only now, but for eternity. And, His rewards are unrivaled.

My next post will center on salvation.

Food for thought:

  • Do you believe in a heaven and hell? If so, where will you go? Why?
  • If you died today and stood before God, and He asked you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What would you say?