You might say that Jesus won the right to rule the cosmos by perfect obedience all His 33 years as a fellow human. But even more than that, Jesus obeyed his Father all the way from boyhood through the gates of death, on our behalf. On the way, He picked up all the sins of all mankind (from Adam on), becoming the victim who died for everyone of us, our substitute on a bloody cross.
God, being perfectly just and fully moral, must solve the problem of human evil in the entire universe (visible and invisible) in the only way possible. This is not something we can do for ourselves. We can not save ourselves. We are not exactly the good people we pretend to be. Our own mortality and failures in life should establish that.
Jesus did not stay dead very long (in our linear, historical time frame). His loyal followers saw that the dead body was hastily interred in a borrowed tomb before the Sabbath Day rolled in at sunset. Sunday morning, faithful women returned to the tomb of Jesus to make certain the body of Jesus had been respectfully wrapped.
But soon Jesus, alive and well, appeared in an amazing new body, which was perfectly tangible and fully human. (Please read Matthew 28; Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, Acts 1-3, and 1 Corinthians 15).
At that same time, Jesus announced to his friends that new powers had been given to Him.
Forty days later Jesus “ascended” out of our mere four-dimensional world of linear time, into the invisible realm of ultimate and multidimensional reality—called “the heavenly places” in Scripture. See Luke 24. The unseen spiritual realm is not ghostly but more solid, more permanent than we see or experience in our present bodies.
That is not the end of the story by any means. Please read Revelation 4 and 5 to get glimpses of the ongoing involvement Jesus has had in world history since the First Century. Jesus is, in fact, involved in every detail of history now, and He will return to earth soon in visible, obvious power, to take over completely. No one will doubt Him then.
What is the big deal about me accepting Jesus as my “personal Savior and Lord?”
Turns out this is the biggest “deal” we will ever make! But when we are “negotiating” terms of our surrender to this Higher Power, it is imperative that we understand who we really are and Who it is in the driver’s seat.
The most common delusion we suffer from is that we are “basically good and moral people. Sure, we all make mistakes, but...” Even more common, is the faulty argument that God wants us try harder and rebound after our failures (nobly, and with dignity?)—after our inevitable failures in our short allocated time on earth.
Most of our crazy folk legends about the Almighty are not supported by the Bible.
Isaiah 64 is one great prayer for God’s help and mercy:
1 Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence— 2 As fire burns brushwood, As fire causes water to boil— To make Your name known to Your adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Your presence! 3 When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence. 4 For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. 5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned— In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved. 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. 7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities. 8 But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand. 9 Do not be furious, O Lord, Nor remember iniquity forever; Indeed, please look—we all are Your people! 10 Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. 11 Our holy and beautiful temple, Where our fathers praised You, Is burned up with fire; And all our pleasant things are laid waste. 12 Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O Lord? Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?
We humans are not basically good people at all. We are mortal and flawed. We all have been lied to and deceived, unless we have been listening to God that is. That is one reason why we grow old and die. The long and the short of all this is that we all need the ‘saving life of Jesus’ far more than we may realize!
Most of the professing Christians today seem to be self-deceived. Many may not know God at all! These dear folks are probably in serous jeopardy. (“Ignorance is no excuse,” because we all really know enough to be accountable.) it is possible, and quite common, to actually know Jesus to some degree yet to be severely compromised!
A second group seen in the world today are the self-righteous among us who do appear to know Jesus by their lifestyle-conduct to some degree. (God knows).These folks are usually church members. This group includes many pastors, elders, Bible teachers, and so on. Pride of one kind or another is at the root of many human failures.
There is another very large group in our world who are seeking the living God (because God is seeking them). He does not want anyone, anywhere to stay lost!
I have met godly Christians who have told me they have known Jesus all their lives (since childhood perhaps). For them, John 3 about being born again does not ring any bells. They are surely regenerated persons, or will be? I think so, in many instances; God knows for certain. Suppose these people are now responding to the light they have been given? (This is a vast topic called “common grace.”) Turns out, God loves everyone in the world and He “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “All who will may come.”
We who do know Jesus need to be sensitive to those people around us who may be searching and seeking to know ultimate answers. Jesus asks us to love everyone we meet and to avoid being contentious. We must be careful not to drive away or reject outsiders who Jesus may be loving patiently into His family. How long did God love you and me before we knew Him?
Today the message we all should take seriously is, “have I ‘died’ to all my native selfishness and pride?" Am I really “in Christ.” "Am I am a member of His Body, the 2000 year old universal church initiated by Jesus and by his Apostles? Or am I still self-deceived?"
Am I living the “exchanged life” described in Galatians 2:20-21?
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
We do not need to be Bible scholars to get started knowing Jesus. We are only accountable for what we already know. Consider again all the people in our world who do respond to the light God has been them. Many are surely on the way to knowing Jesus. Do we “old pros” really know Jesus that well? Jesus warned, “Judge not that you be not judged. For with the judgment you judge others you yourself will be judged.” (Mt 7:1)
There are really only two choices in this life. “Which one of two masters am I actually serving?” This goes to motives as well as to actions. The default choice of serving “self” is nearly universal. Many who actually know Jesus at a given time in their lives, end up back there in “the flesh,” or captured by the lures of the world (“sex, drugs, rock n roll”), inadvertently. It is an illusion that I can do anything on my own steam if I were able to unplug from both of these available “power supplies.”
Here is what Jesus said about this,
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (self interest).” (Matthew 6:24-25)
The New Testament categorizes the Christian’s three enemies as “the flesh, the world, and the devil.” Although the word “flesh” is neutral in other contexts, here it has to do with those selfish, self-serving, (and legitimate desires too), which enter our souls and spirits from the surrounding, fallen world “system” that we are embedded in. (Our bodies are not yet redeemed though our souls and spirits are). Paul’s descriptors of our already-waiting new bodies, (2 Cor. 5, 1 Cor. 15), assures us that the next life is well worth waiting for.
The term “world” in our context here is the culture we live in. This is not about nature or real connections with other persons, etc., in our context the term “world” Is not neutral, but evil, one facet of an unseen empire presently ruled by a brilliant fallen angel. His aim is not our well-being. Jesus called Satan, “the father of lies...and a murderer from the beginning” (John 8).
There is a cosmic war on and how it will end is clear. Meantime the victims of evil are many. No wonder Jesus warned,
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14)
The conclusion is that all of us Christians today need to enter into God’s Sabbath Rest and stay there. (Hebrews 4) We are all so easily deceived in this alien world, so humility and teachable hearts are parts of the orders of the day. Pride is our great enemy and humility is a virtue. Is Jesus available now for you and me? Indeed He is! Please allow Him to move into, and to occupy, your life. There is a throne room in your heart just as there is a higher throne in the heavenlies where God “sits.” He is able to sort out motives, reality versus deceptions, truth as opposed to error. “His banner over me is love” (Song 2:4). Jesus said, “The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” Yielding to Jesus as Lord makes all the difference in the world.
The throne room of our hearts becomes the center of reality for us as soon as Jesus is welcomed there by our free choice. The old cliche calls this “Christ-centered” living.
As a final note, consider our “fallen state” for a moment. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We have many marvelous protection, nurturing, healing and recovery systems already built in. Our internal “batteries” keep us going for 70 or 80 or 90 years. (Never mind, for now, that our forefathers lived 900+ years). “Eternal life” is exactly that. This amazing new life, a free gift, begins now, not merely when we die.
In sum, we have only two choices in life. Our default connection is to the “world system” we were born into. The choice offered to us every day is to allow Jesus to liberate, save and make us whole. Sorry to repeat myself but these are life and death matters.
Trees are a common symbol in the Bible for a human being. Connected to Jesus is how we are designed to live. We then flourish and bear fruit. In contrast, our incomplete obedience as compromised Christians means that we don’t bear fruit acceptable to God and are near to being worthless.
The compromised Christian is a problem for the owner of an orchard of fruit-bearing trees, symbolically speaking.
Jesus also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ” (Luke 13:6-9)
“Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:17-20)
In contrast to trees that are barren because they have no real connections to good soil, water, fresh air and sunshine, the first Psalm tells figuratively of the good tree.
“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Authentic Christian living can not be faked nor counterfeited! This subject of trees is vast in the Bible. We have only scratched the surface here.
I wrote the above notes about living a compromised Christian life based on much experience. I became a follower of Jesus Christ 55 years ago at the age of 30. God drenched me with much and mercy at that point in time when I was spiritually reborn. I am ashamed to admit that I lived a very compromised Christian life off and on after I joined the family of God. Looking back now I see myself as a prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), rather than as a good disciple. I am now grateful to God for never writing me off, or giving up on me. Please write to me you feel I might be able to encourage you.
I am enjoying the messages of Andrew Farley. He speaks from the “Sabbath Rest” of Galatians 2:20 as I do. Please visit
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