Eternal life is not a what, it is a Who


The ultimate claim of Christianity is the immortality of it’s adherents. I think that many of our well-meaning friends over emphasize that if you come into a relationship with Christ you can have a better life now, at the expense of the message of the resurrection life of Jesus.

If you follow those faithful followers of Jesus after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus the hope of shared resurrection was a constant theme in their preaching. Man’s greatest enemy had been decisively defeated. There was clear proof. Jesus’ closest associates had seen him, eaten meals with him, and had seen him ascend into the clouds. And, on one occasion over 500 people saw him very much alive at one time. And then there’s Paul the Apostle, perhaps Jesus’s greatest spokesman, who didn’t fit the mold of the others, but also saw Jesus face to face long after his resurrection.

The Gospel of John gives the account of Jesus’ conversation with the Jewish leader Nicodemus. What Jesus offered one of the most holy men in Israel was simply “eternal life”. He said it in no uncertain terms. The choices were, trust in me and live forever, or don’t trust me ….you are already condemned.

Then there’s the narrative of Jesus showing up later than expected after the sickness and death of his friend Lazarus. John 11 tells about Jesus’ words to the sister of the dead man saying “I am the resurrection and the life” and that “everyone who lives and believes in me, even though he dies yet will he live” and then asks “Do you believe this?”

Wow! “I am the resurrection and the life“! The implications of this, if true, are staggering. Well, it is true. You see, what God offers through the gospel about Jesus is Jesus himself. Eternal life is not just one of several benefits afforded like forgiveness, peace, community, hope, etc. Eternal life is a PERSON! I have said this to people in classes and small groups and they don’t seem to grasp the weight of it. It is true anyway.

The opening words of 1st John are very straight forward and hard to miss if read carefully and thoughtfully.

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
1st John 1:1-4

John’s testimony is that Jesus is himself eternal life! He has always been “the life” or “eternal life” and he was “made manifest” (the incarnation) and he is now proclaiming “the eternal life, which was with the Father (before Jesus’ human birth) and was “made manifest“. When you are looking at Jesus you are staring eternal life in the face. So when a sinner repents and puts his trust in Christ what God gives him is not a “something” but rather a “somebody”, namely the man Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the 5th chapter of 1st John it is confirmed and I think even more clear.

10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1st John 5:10-12

The record is crystal clear. Jesus is eternal life. People who are living life dictated by the appetites and desires of their bodies and are swimming along with the culture toward certain destruction do not need religion. They don’t need a life coach or new resolve or even better morals. What they desperately need is Jesus who is eternal life and our blessed hope. What the good news offers is a person, A man who lived a life pleasing to the Father that you and I could never live, A man who willingly died being punished for our common sins, as a substitute for us, so we would never have to face the wrath of God.

In short, the good news is very good news! There is a way out! Jesus loves you, He died for you, and if you will put your whole trust in Him, He will give you himself with all that he is. He will come to be your constant companion and friend by the Holy Spirit, and as a promise that you never need worry if you will finally be with him forever when this earthly life is done. Sins gone, eternal life now, a free gift to you by the God who loves you. What a deal!

The Bible describes those who are not Christians as spiritually “dead”. A dead man needs only one thing, life! Here it is, His name is Jesus, trust Him now.

Saved, Safe, and Secure in Jesus


This morning’s email had this encouraging message from my friend Edward Fudge in his gracEmail. This is the 2nd in a series called “Pep Talk”. Here are his words unedited.

Jesus is high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, based on the character of his life. Because he lives forever, he saves forever. And so we are saved by Jesus and we are perfected forever–those whom he sanctified. We’re sanctified and we’re perfected forever because we are given to God on the basis of the perfect obedience of Jesus. If it depended on our human record, if it was up to our faithfulness to determine whether we were saved or not, then it would be a matter of God having to re-examine the record every day, or several times through the day, and saying “Well, you’re okay right now . . . Oops! sorry, you just slipped. Well, now you’re back in . . . Oops, you’re out again. Today was a good day . . . tomorrow could be better . . . but it could be worse.” There’s no certainty, there’s no assurance. There’s not much hope.

The sad thing is that a lot of people who think they’re Christians, who think they’re following Jesus Christ, who think they’ve learned the Gospel, live that kind of life of uncertainty. And at age 85, after a very long Christian life full of sacrifice, service, and good works, they come to their death bed and say, “Well, I hope I have done enough that I might squeeze in and be saved.” Folks, we don’t squeeze in. Jude says God will give you an abundant entrance–because it doesn’t depend on out little lives. If it depended on our ability and our record and our history we wouldn’t even squeeze in. God would just say: “There’s not even a close call. SCRAM! The other place with you!”

We will have an abundant entrance because we come on the basis of the life and the faithfulness and the obedience of Jesus Christ–all of which Jesus offered to the Father as the one sacrifice that can ever take away sins. Jesus did it right and he did it perfectly. Because he did it perfectly, he only needed to do it one time. And when he ha done it one time, God raised Jesus from the dead and made him priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. God is pleased with his life. He’s pleased with his priesthood. He’s pleased with his intercession. Because Jesus represents his people and because his obedience and his suffering were done by him in their name, God is also pleased with Jesus’ people. And Jesus lives forever and he saves forever and he intercedes forever and we can come to him–and to God through him–forever.

Any view of salvation that is less than what Edward says here I believe to be less than the gospel presented in Scripture. He expresses my view of Christ’s accomplishments precisely but he says it much better than I can.

You can sign up for gracEmail and access volumes of Edward Fudge’s teaching by visiting his site, EdwardFudge.com .  Happy Father’s Day!

Royce

Right answer, Wrong question?


If it were not so sad it might be amusing that so many people think they have the right answer when they have never really considered the right question. Unless the right question is posed and answered little is gained.

I read Christian blogs, lots of them. There is considerable chatter across blogdom on the subject of what I’ll call the “technicalities of salvation” for want of a better term. On Church of Christ blogs there is much give and take about the role of water baptism. There are some who believe immersion in water is absolutely essential for salvation and there are others who do not go that far but still have a very high view of the act. There has been tons of bandwidth dedicated to this question, “Is baptism a work?” There are those obligatory standard questions about the role of obedience and how it comes into play when a person becomes a Christian.

Then there are those discussions about what you must do to stay saved. Must your church be a cappella? Can you allow female Christians to serve the Lord’s Supper to others and still be in God’s grace? These are very important and weighty questions for many, many people of the Stone-Campbell heritage. Nobody wants to be out of the Kingdom on a technicality!

Restoration folks are not alone in their probing and seeking the right answers to important questions. Many Southern Baptists are all in a tizzy because of the growing trend of Calvinism among their ranks. There are all sorts of warnings about the dangers of these people and what they believe and teach and frankly much of what they fear has no basis in fact. They range from saying they are not evangelistic to believing a person can be a Christian and live like the devil himself and all in between.

Other Christian groups are not exempt from the irresistible urge to know exactly the split second a sinner is saved. And they want to be sure about some monumental things.

  • Is our church the true church?
  • Am I good enough?
  • Can I know for sure I’m in?
  • What if I forgot to confess some of my sins?
  • Does our church follow the right order of worship?
  • Will my parents or my child be lost because they are in the wrong church?
  • Can other people really be saved who aren’t like us?

All of these and others are questions serious people are grappling with and they really want to find the correct answer. After all, their eternity depends on it!

I think that rather than spending time debating works vs. faith, the efficacy of baptism, the mode of baptism, church differences, good works, Calvinism vs Free will, etc. etc. there is a more pressing question that is not being asked.

Is Jesus Christ sufficient? Is He enough?

In my view when you get this settled, most of the other stuff people debate about and divide over means little. Obviously you will answer Yes! That question might even seem silly to many people. But is it?

If the work and worth of Jesus fully satisfied both God’s holiness and His justice, and if He did it for me, then there is nothing more needed to appease a holy God who hates sin. God has done everything necessary to set men right with Himself. Now he offers life everlasting to those who will take him at His (faith) word and follow. It is a gift undeserved and unearned. This is called grace!

Every person who insists your must do this and do that, keep this ritual and say these words and attend this particular church are without knowing it answering the right question. And the answer is, Christ is not really enough. I need Him and what He has done but I also need this and …… Well maybe, just maybe, the good news (gospel) is much better news than you thought.

Christ is quite enough! You need no more than Him

“19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
(2 Corinthians 1:19-22 ESV)

I believe God only forgives our sins on the basis of Jesus and His death for our sins on the cross. And, I believe we are made righteous based on the flawless life of Jesus which was given for us.

God does not make ungodly sinners His own dear children based on what Christ has done and….anything. The exact reason Paul thrashed the Jewish believers for insisting on circumcision for Gentiles is that they were adding to Christ’s work and worth. Christ and…. is never the right answer.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 ESV)

Let us then not boast in what we have done, what we know, our denomination or lack of it. May we cling only to the Christ of God who alone is eternal life. He is the answer!

Royce


 

 


 

 



 

Christmas, the rest of the story


When I think of the humble birth of Jesus the first Bible verse that comes to mind is this one from Hebrews.

Hebrews 10:5
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,but a body have you prepared for me”.

The “consequently” in that verse refers to the prior verses that explain that offerings, sacrifices, and religious ritual, and law keeping can never take away sin. Only the once for all, once for all time offering of the body of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, can take away sin forever.

It is good and right to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and just as important, we celebrate his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. Each time we share together in communion, eating the bread and drinking the cup, we declare the Lord’s death ’til He comes. And, each time a new believer is immersed in water, the gospel is acted out, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is proclaimed.

The Christ child did not come into the world just to be imitated. He came to pay the awful price of the wrath of God against sin and to show the love of God for sinners. The innocent babe of Bethlehem was just as innocent before His crucifixion until…., until the sins of the world were laid upon him. He suffered the shame, torture, and abandonment of God the Father and friends, and He did it for the ungodly, you and me.

Hebrews 10:10
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Never again would it be necessary for a priest to go daily offering sacrifices. The one offering of Jesus of his own body satisfied completely the justice and righteousness of God so that based on that once for all, once for all time offering, God can declare an ungodly sinner “not guilty”. Those who are in Christ by faith need not try to appease God about their sins or do anything to attempt to gain His favor. His awful punishment of the Christ is His definitive statement on His love for sinners.

The coming of the baby Jesus was marked by people coming from afar to see him and by a bright star that lit the night sky over Bethlehem. He died alone, his friends had forsaken him, even the Father God turned away for a time, and light left the sky. But He rose from death victor over death, hell, and the grave.

Today the gracious offer of Christmas is Jesus Christ who himself is life everlasting, peace, and righteousness. Those who trust Him alone and forsake all to follow Him have newness of life, the forgiveness of all sins, and the promise of a heavenly inheritance reserved for them.

Peace on earth and goodwill toward men is only possible because the One who would suffer and die for us, and now lives for us, was born. “God with us” is the blessing of Christmas. From my home and heart to yours, may you know the true blessing of the Christ whose birth we joyfully celebrate.

Royce Ogle