Which Jesus do you follow?


Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus you run to when you are in trouble? When the doctor says “it’s cancer” and you want someone who actually knows Jesus to pray for you or your loved one?

Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus who promises a better life than the alternative? Is it the Jesus who will keep you happy and healthy and keep you out of hell?

Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus who watches your every move and is weighing your good behavior against the bad? Is he the Jesus who requires you to check all the boxes each week?

Is the Jesus you follow the Jesus who died for your sins so you can go to heaven? You know, the one who is not a judge but your friend?

Or, do you love and follow this Jesus?

…in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high  (Hebrews 1:2,3 ESV)

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.  (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

This is the biblical Jesus. It is this one who is the very “radiance of the glory of God” and “the exact imprint of his nature”. Everything that is was created by Him and it exists and coheres by his very words. “In EVERYTHING He is PREEMINENT”!

There is no power that is not His power. There is no “thing” He does not own. He is the  beginning and the end, there is no one, no name above His glorious name.

It is this great God and Savior who by His own will laid aside His splendor and every prerogative of deity to become a flesh and blood man whose hands were made rough in a carpenter shop and whose feet became calloused by walking the dusty roads. It was this great God man who willingly died for people like us, sinful through and through. This man, full of grace and truth, died for us with all of our sins upon him. His life and death fully met all of God’s requirements for righteousness and absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin

It is this Jesus before whom we bow. His representative death freed us from the penalty of the law against us and as a free gift He imputes to us His perfect record before God. He suffered the worst punishment, the most awful rejection, and died as a common crook, driven by His love for sinners and His own glory. His triumphant resurrection is the promise that those who believe on Him will continue to live forever.

You will not be judged in the end by how much good, vs how much bad you have done. Nor will how religious you have been be the standard.

 he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead  Acts 17:31 ESV

What have I done about Jesus? What have you done about Him?

Royce Ogle

 

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I Am Encouraged!


Mid afternoon today, Carol and I returned from Tulsa, Oklahoma and the Tulsa Workshop. The Tulsa Workshop is an annual gathering of Church of Christ people who meet for worship, including great singing and preaching, and a great exhibit hall filled with booths promoting Christian schools, children’s homes, missions, ministries, church architects, publishers, etc. and several sellers of Christians trinkets.

This was my second year to attend and I enjoyed it just as much as last year. Meeting friends I made last year and making new ones were highlights of our experience. It was very encouraging to have several people introduce themselves as Grace Digest readers. I was literally shocked when one very well-known preacher, one of the key-note speakers, told me “I read your stuff and really like it…“. It just shows to go you that you never know!

It was especially nice to meet Al Maxey, a New Mexico preacher and prolific writer and thinker. I have admired his work and we had corresponded a few times but I was delighted to meet him and hear him speak three times. He speaks as well as he writes and his messages were timely and much needed.

I was able to spend time with and share a meal with Edward Fudge, who has become a special friend and mentor, and one of the best men I know, relief worker Mike Baumgartner. Dr. Joneal Kirby the founder of Heart to Home Ministries, and her assistant Lauren Vincent were also at the table. Other friends to numerous to mention were there and we enjoyed their company and their ministries during those days.

In my view, the most encouraging and exciting thing about our trip to the Tulsa Workshop this year was the preaching. Everyone I heard speak lifted up the Lord Jesus Christ and made clear that He alone can save a sinner from their sins. Frankly, in some Church of Christ gatherings you are likely to hear more about the Church of Christ than the Christ of the Church but not this time. The message of grace is sweeping across the churches like a prairie fire and again and again God’s grace, demonstrated in Christ Jesus our Lord, was reinforced by each key-note speaker I heard.

Perhaps, just perhaps, New Testament Christianity is finally being restored! I love the ancient plea “We are only Christians but not the only Christians“. It is a theme I can embrace and wear with pride. I don’t completely agree with everything any Christian group teaches but I have found in the Restoration Movement some dear followers of Jesus with whom I expect to be in fellowship with eternally. Every group has its baggage, some history they would like to forget, and a scattering of knuckleheads that are at best troublesome.

I will quickly admit that I am not infallible, the needle on my sanctification gauge is not to the “full” mark, and far too often I don’t love like I should and still call myself a follower of Jesus. I and you are works in progress. On our way toward being like Jesus may each of us major on Jesus and minor on everything else and love everyone in his stead. Love them ’til they ask us why!

Thanks for reading Grace Digest. I sincerely hope it is a blessing and honors Christ.

Agape’

Royce

The Exclusivisity of Jesus for Salvation


(From the archives, Jan 26, ’07)

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13 NKJV)

John’s record sounds very much like Jesus’ own words when He said,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:16-21 NKJV)

The truth is clear. Men are given eternal life based wholly upon what they have done about Jesus. And, the text is also very clear that those who refuse to take God at His word do so because they love their sin, or to put it another way, they refuse to repent. Those who go to the light, simply believing what God has said about Jesus and trusting on him, have eternal life and will not ever be condemned again.

Salvation is not found in living right, in any church on earth, in aligning with a religeous system, or any other way than by taking God at His word and trusting Jesus and Him only. Those who try to get into the kingdom any other way are rejected and will not be saved in the end unless they repent and come to Christ.

Who can God save? Whosoever will let him come.  Does God need my assistance to save? No. Can God extend His love and forgiveness to anyone on the planet at any time He chooses? Yes.

“When we all get to heaven we will sing and shout the victory”. And, every last one there will be saved by the person and work of Jesus and not by our own doing. “There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved”. Simply put, it is Christ or condemnation. Have you believed God’s record or have you believed the “witness of men”? Trust Christ today.

Grace to you,
Royce Ogle

“Gospel” Up Close and Personal #2


The “gospel” is the story of Christ’s work on behalf of sinful people like you and me. I have been immersed in Bible language all of my life and for perhaps now over a half century have studied the scriptures, so this is very familiar language. And, I assume it is to almost all of my readers. But, it isn’t to everyone.

Let’s suppose I find myself conversing with a guy with no church background, who didn’t grow up in the South as I did, and was unfamiliar with biblical lingo. Who is Christ to that man? Who is he to you? Was he just another of the dozens of colorful characters whom we find on the pages of our Bibles? Was he only one of many teachers, rabbi’s,  or religious leaders of the first century in the middle east?

“Christ” died. He was the Messiah of God foretold by the prophets of old, the One who would come to save the people from their sins. He was the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world of whom John the Baptist preached. He was the One whose birth announcement said “God with us!”. He had no human father, he was conceived in a young virgin’s womb by the Holy Spirit of God. He was both man and God.

He is the Creator of all that is and by His power every molecule keeps it’s assigned place. He  is the exact representation of the Godhead and the fullness of His glory. Before the earth was formed He is. He humbled himself and took the lowly place of a man, perfectly kept all of God’s laws, and though tempted as we are, never sinned even once.

His life on earth was one of doing only good. He went about healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead, loving the most unlovely, and reaching out to the untouchables. He alone has all power in heaven and in earth. His name is above every named that can be named and one day every creature will bow admitting his Lordship over all creation. Every man, woman, and child will one day be judged by this one man, The God-man Jesus Christ our Lord. It was this man who died, and he did it for you.

Royce