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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If I should die….then what?


I think it is safe to believe that every person on planet earth who would label themselves “Christian”, at a minimum, hopes that in the end he or she will be able to avoid final punishment, and instead enjoy whatever God has in store for His own.

Now that punishment and that reward is as varied as the tens of thousands of Christian churches that dot the globe. And it seems to me, those who do want to end up on the good side, with God’s people, want to come on their own terms. Most of them, if you ask, will agree that you must be good (by some measure) or at least good relative to being better than those who are worse sinners than themselves. Many people envision some cosmic being with a set of moral scales in his hand where one’s life is weighed with the good on one side and the bad on the other. The hope is that the scale will tip toward the good and God will approve on that basis.

The inevitable result of this sort of flawed thinking is that we measure ourselves morally by ourselves. Joe reasons “I am more moral and more generous than Sam” and church “A” reasons “We are better than church “X””.

Interestingly, God hardly figures into the equation at all. He is seen as largely being the score keeper of the universe. Oh, He did in some way send Jesus to show us how we should live and he was killed for being a good guy but God did raise him from the dead so….?? What does it all mean?

Well, its different from what most people think.

Not one person can ever be good enough to be accepted by God….without regard to which church you favor. The reason Jesus came, lived a perfect life and gave that perfect life as a perfect sacrifice was that everyone was condemned. Every last one of us comes up short when measured by God’s standard and not by ours. We all defy God’s rules on purpose. Some are worse than others but all of us are equally guilty.

Every person who breaks God’s law has committed a capital crime. The person who offends must die. Jesus came to assume your law breaking (sins) and mine and loved us ungodly people so much that he died for us. Our sins are taken away by his sacrifice and we are then, and only then, able to be in fellowship with God. Because God is boss he accepts us as his own children when we take him at his word about Jesus and start obeying his commands the best we can.

God doesn’t grade on the curve. There are only those who pass and those who fail. Those who pass do so only upon the merit of  Jesus. And those who fail do so because they refused to acknowledge and believe God’s record of his Son the Lord Jesus and his work.

 

Avoid Out of Focus Vision


At all cost we must avoid examining ourselves, and others, through the lens of humanism and accepting the conclusions of the pop culture. When we fail in this, we lose sight of God’s revelation about who we really are, our condition before him, and why we desperately need him every moment of every day.

We must be aware that at the end of our lives on earth we will not be judged by popular opinion, or by a panel of pundits, but by the Creator God. Our opinions about ourselves will not matter a wit, the criteria will be the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and what we have done about him.

Acts 17:31

Far to many of us measure ourselves by ourselves, a foolish thing to do. We evaluate those around us and conclude “I am just as good as so and so” or “I am better than….”. The result is a false impression of yourself and others.

When God gives finals he will not grade on the curve. We must sincerely look into the mirror of his Word and see ourselves as he sees us. The Bible must be the final authority for both faith and practice.

2 Corinthians 10:12

I regularly think of myself more highly than I ought. Do you have that problem? Does a little boasting creep in? Lets be honest. It is very easy to paint a mental picture of yourself (or myself) that hardly resembles the real thing, and yet we are tempted to rely on that lie rather than the unchangeable God who has promised.

2 Corinthians 10:17,18

Royce Ogle

God is angry!


wrath“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:35-36)

This passage gives a stark contrast of two realities. The first are those who have eternal life. The second group is those who have no life and the wrath of God is on them.

The same contrast is given earlier in the third chapter of John’s gospel where Jesus says to Nicodemus these words.

“Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)

Here the contrast is given, not condemned, and condemned already. The person who fails to put his faith in Jesus in favor of the love of his own evil deeds, his religion, his church, his family, his work, or a thousand other things, does not wait for condemnation, he is already condemned. The wrath of God is already on him. He is a natural child of wrath. (Ephesians 2:3)

The wrath of God is something to be feared and to avoid at all costs. Just what is the wrath of God? The most basic meaning is that God’s wrath is his hatred of sin, or unrighteousness. But it is more than that. It is also His holy vengeance against sin and finally against sinners. God will get even!

God is a God of love but He is also a God who hates evil. He is a God of forgiveness, and second chances, and more, but He is also a God who damns. He cannot be holy and just and not judge sin and sinners in the harshest way possible. This tension is at the very heart of the gospel of Christ.

Paul addressed the Roman believers in the first chapter of Romans by saying the following.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature   have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:16-21)

The beauty of the good news is that in the telling “the righteousness of God is revealed” (Jesus). Never forget that the righteousness of God is a person, not a pattern of behavior. When we share the very good news about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and what those acts affords those who believe, God is revealing His righteousness. God’s revelation is the written word but it is also the spoken word. As we tell he shows.

Paul didn’t stop where most of today’s preachers stop; he went on to discuss the flip side of grace, God’s wrath. Just as sure as God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel of the grace of God, just as sure is the reality of God’s fierce hatred of sin.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Here is the love of God and the wrath of God. There is righteousness and its rewards, and unrighteousness and its sure end. God has gone to extreme lengths to make clear his nature but wicked men and women put the truth away and believe a lie. Oh, they know God but they liked themselves and their evil ways more and their hearts are darkened. They are objects of the furious anger of a holy God.

When Jesus died on the cross as a common criminal God unleashed his wrath against sin upon the Lamb of God for you, in your place, on your behalf. Now just as in Adam all die, all of those who are in Christ live forever!

So here lies before us the crisis of faith. Will a man repent (change his mind about the course of his life) and put his trust in Jesus who took his appointed wrath upon him? Or, will he, like those Paul described, attempt to fashion his own religion and not honor God, or be thankful, and stay on a course of certain damnation and the wrath of God.

I can’t begin to imagine how terrible God’s punishment for sin will be, but we have a glimpse by looking at the suffering of Jesus.

I beg you, forsake your way of doing things and put your whole trust in Jesus. Don’t trust your church membership, your family heritage, or your own goodness. It is the way of destruction, the broad way to hell. You can exchange death for life, wrath for righteousness…..it’s up to you.

For Jesus,

Royce