Posts

Jesus is my Savior by Faith

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” – Mark 15:16

In many places, June ushers in warmer weather. Summer begins in earnest, and that means people like to be outside and enjoy the warm temperatures. One activity that many enjoy is swimming. It might be a backyard pool, a community pool or beach, or even a lawn sprinkler. Whatever the method, people love to get wet.

Followers of Jesus get wet too, when they are baptized. Baptism is a wonderful gift of God where water is applied and the words are spoken as Jesus commanded, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). When those words and the water are combined like this, according to Jesus’ promise, baptisms take place. Through this special means, God creates faith in people—infant or adult. Sins are washed away, and by faith in Jesus God makes them members of his family.

After baptism, learning continues so that people grow in their faith and grow closer to God for the confidence and joy of life with God both now and forever. There is much to learn and know in the Bible. It guides us. It refreshes us. And its message saves us! It is the “living water” (John 4:10) that Jesus gives us. Much more refreshing than any pool or beach or sprinkler! It quenches our thirst for belonging to God, for truth about God, and for true peace with God. The Word of God creates and strengthens faith in Jesus as our Savior.

Without faith in Jesus, people will be “condemned,” that is, lost forever in hell when they die. As Christians, we seek to invite everyone to hear Jesus’ message and be baptized, so hell is not their destiny. This is because Jesus told us to baptize and teach, so that people can have saving faith and will enjoy heaven when they die.

Many people think of summer as a gift, when we have rest and relaxation. But the real gift that lasts forever—no matter the weather—is the gift of faith in Jesus that comes through baptism and God’s Word!

Why is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead significant for me?

It was refreshing, though the situation certainly wasn’t. Sandy’s mom had spent a wonderful, joy-filled day with her and her ten-month-old daughter. But it took just one moment. What started as a minor health scare quickly escalated, resulting in an emergency trip to the hospital. Less than two days later, Sandy’s mother went home to heaven.

They weren’t ready to lose her. If they could have their way, she’d still be here. So what was so refreshing? “We ask that God’s will be done.” “I’m glad she is in Jesus’ arms.” Throughout the entire tragedy, that’s what Sandy wrote.

How could she be so upbeat? In the midst of mourning, she was a modern-day Martha. Martha, fighting through tears for her brother Lazarus, freshly laid in the grave, boldly proclaimed to Jesus, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24).

How could she be so confident? How can I be so confident? As a result of Adam and Eve’s first sin, death was introduced into the world. As a result of sin, I’ve lost loved ones. As a result of sin, I myself will lose my life one day. And as a result of my sin, God tells me there’s only one place where I deserve to go, hell.

How can I be so confident? Because I have a loving Savior. Where I struggle and fail each day to love and obey God, Jesus didn’t ever fail. Even when loving God meant dying for me, Jesus obeyed. His love for me took him to the cross. His love has taken away all the guilt of my sins.

How can I be so confident? Because I have a living Savior. Jesus died, but he’s not dead. His resurrection is more than just an occasion to commemorate once a year on Easter. It’s the proof that Jesus not only forgave my sins and conquered hell, it’s also the promise that because he lives, I also will live. When I die, in his loving and living arms, I will live!

Jesus’ resurrection gives me confidence. It makes me confident to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” I am refreshed in every joy and every sorrow because I know that my Redeemer lives. And when at last my earthly journey is done, I will wake to live forever with my Savior because my Redeemer lives.

Jesus is my Risen Savior

“Because I live, you also will live.” – John 14:19

EMPTY

Finding something empty can leave you feeling a wide variety of emotions. When you have a craving for something sweet, you reach into the cookie jar to satisfy yourself. However, when all you find are crumbs, you feel ________. When you let your teenager use the car for the weekend and on Monday morning, when you are late for work and you see the fuel gauge on empty, you feel ________! When you prepare to pay bills and find your saving account is empty, you feel ________! When death has emptied your life of mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, child or best friend, you feel ________!

Perhaps you filled in the blanks with words such as devastated, disappointed, frustrated, angry. Finding something empty is usually never good. I do not think anyone has ever been happy finding an empty treasure chest. I do not think anyone working in the hot sun has felt overjoyed having an empty water bottle. I do not think waitressing for a table of six and find the tip tray empty has ever caused anyone to cry tears of happiness. To be honest, finding something empty is all of these—devastating, disappointing, frustrating, anger provoking!

That is until we are led to Jesus’ tomb. It is here at Jesus’ tomb where we hear the angel proclaim, “He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6). From reading the Bible, what do we find when we look into the tomb? We find it EMPTY!

Finding Jesus’ tomb empty can leave you feeling a wide variety of emotions. When your conscience condemns you because of your sins, knowing Jesus’ tomb is empty makes you feel ________! When you are bothered by the thought of dying and being placed in the ground, knowing Jesus’ tomb is empty gives you a feeling of ________! When you know that someday you will meet your Maker, knowing Jesus’ tomb is empty makes you feel ________!

Did you fill in those blanks with words such as at peace, comforted, content, reassured, overjoyed, jubilant, relieved?

To be honest, finding Jesus’ tomb empty brings to me all of the above! May Jesus’ empty tomb fill your heart with the same!

 

Will I Rise from the Dead?

Christians say:  “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”  Christians believe Jesus when he says:  “A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear my voice and come out.”  Essential to Christianity is the belief that every man, woman and child who has ever lived will rise from the dead on the day Jesus returns.  We call that day Judgment Day.

Right about now you may be asking yourself: “How in the world can Christians believe all those unbelievable things?”  I’ll agree with you.  The thought that all people will rise bodily from their graves someday, wherever and whatever those graves may be, is “unbelievable.”  But the God who tells us this is not in the business of only doing things that fit into the framework of our way of thinking.  In fact, Jesus once said: “With God all things are possible.”  If God brought the universe into existence out of nothing, as the Bible teaches, he certainly has the power to pull our bodies back together from the dust of the earth on Judgment Day.

So, the answer to “will I rise from the dead?” is a simple “yes.”  Perhaps the more uncomfortable question is: “What’s going to happen to me when I rise from the dead?”  The fact that it’s called Judgment Day sounds ominous.  You and I are going to be judged on that day.  When you consider that God, who is holy, demands that you and I be holy and sinless in order to escape his judgment in hell forever, then Judgment Day really sounds like bad news.

But there’s more.  The one who will come to call us out of our graves, the one who will judge us, is the same one who came to save us!  That’s Jesus.  About 2000 years ago he came to live in this world and give his perfect life in your place.  When he died on the cross he covered you with his holiness.  When he rose from the dead he proved that you, too, will rise from the dead.  He makes the same promise to you that he’s always made: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

And there it is.  There’s the way a person can approach Judgment Day with confidence, not fear.  Jesus has taken away all your sins. Clothe yourself in his holiness and enter everlasting life when you are called forth from your grave.  Believe in the Lord Jesus and be saved.

I believe in…the resurrection of the body

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. – 1 Corinthians 6:14

The Resurrection of the Body

By the grace of God I am led to confess this truth: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” The same God who powerfully raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will, by that same power, also raise me. That is his promise. When Jesus comes again, I am going to be raised from the dead!

As I confess this truth, I acknowledge that I am going to die. The Bible teaches, “The wages of sin is death.” Death is the wage of my sin. After I die, this body is going to be buried and decay, or in some other way return to the ground from which it came: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In addition, I acknowledge that when God raises this body, he will once again breathe life into it. Together with Job, I confess, “In my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes” (Job 19:26-27). Then I will live with God forever in this body which, by the almighty power of God, will be changed from being perishable to a body that is imperishable, from a mortal to an immortal body. (See 1 Corinthians 15:35-58.)

My body is an eternal gift from God. Grasping this truth will impact how I care for it, and how I use my body in this life. However, I need to remember that there is something more to live for than preserving and enhancing my body. The fact that God will raise this body and I will live forever with him in this body leads me to be concerned about more than just how I take care of and use this body.

Knowing that God will raise, restore, and glorify this body so that I can live with him forever in heaven leads me to think about things beyond this body. It leads me to be concerned about the spiritual, eternal welfare of others. It leads me to proclaim the power of God. It leads me to point to Christ’s resurrection and its importance to those I love and even to those I don’t know. It leads me to cling to my Savior and direct others to the Savior, that more may join in this confession today, and that many may join in eternal glory when Jesus comes again.

Believe his promise about the resurrection of the body and thank God for it. No matter what happens to your currently-earth-bound body, no matter how worn out or broken it gets, through faith in Jesus you have a renewed, restored, revitalized reality to look forward to–an eternal life with God.

When is the resurrection going to happen?

When I was a child, one of the questions we couldn’t ask while on vacation was, “When are we going to get there?” Now that I’m a parent, I understand why. Without ground rules, children will ask that question every fifteen minutes.

Most people, certainly Christians, have a sense that this life is a journey to a place where we will spend an eternal vacation. We won’t get there in a car or even a spacecraft. Instead, God himself will bring all those who trust in Jesus to heaven. Even those who have died will come to life again when God is ready to bring his children to heaven.

But when are we going to get there? When will God raise the dead and bring them to heaven?

God does not mind if we ask the question. In fact, he loves it when people seek him and inquire to know what he has said.

One of Jesus’ friends (Martha) once inquired about the resurrection when one of his close friends died (Lazarus, Martha’s brother). Jesus comforted Martha with words about the resurrection and asked her if she believed in the resurrection. Her answer helps us identify when the resurrection will happen, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). The resurrection from the dead will happen ON THE LAST DAY.

But when is the last day going to come? The exact time when God will bring the world to an end (and raise the dead) is information he reserves for himself alone. During his life on this earth Jesus once said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 30:32).

On the one hand, we know exactly when God will raise the dead; he will do it on the last day. On the other hand, we have no idea when God will raise the dead; God hasn’t told us when the last day will come. Trusting that God will raise to eternal life all those who believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins is more important than knowing exactly when the resurrection will come, is.

Only in Jesus can we be sure that when it is time we will get there – that is, to our eternal vacation in heaven!

I believe in Jesus Christ…The third day he rose again from the dead.

 “…God raised him [Jesus] from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” – Acts 10:40-42

Jesus is Lord of All

Cornelius the centurion knew Jesus. The Lord’s fame had spread far and wide and touched everyone—including the Roman legion stationed at Caesarea.

But this centurion knew more. He knew that the Old Testament taught: “the good news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). Cornelius knew that Jesus had preached in Judea and Galilee. He knew Jesus had power over both disease and the devil. He knew that God was with Jesus! He knew the sad story of Jesus’ death as he hung on a cross—mocked by Romans, despised by Jews, cursed by God.

Now God had arranged a meeting between Cornelius and the apostle Peter. Peter told him, “I want you to know the rest of the story. I want you to know what we saw. We saw Jesus alive. I am an eye-witness of his resurrection from the dead.

Vivid, accurate eye-witness testimony rules in court. It trumps the opinions of those who were not there, the speculation of those who did not see. “God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. We saw Jesus alive in the flesh, and we believe it. But we want you to believe it too!”

Peter had received his own revelation, which he shared with Cornelius. He called Jesus “the Lord of all,” and testified to this centurion, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right’” (Acts 10:34-35).

We believe that Jesus died for all, and we believe that Jesus rose for all. The truth of Jesus’ resurrection anchors our faith that Jesus is Lord of people from every nation, tribe and language, and it inspires our outreach to the whole world.

Does the Bible teach Reincarnation?

“The New Testament teaches reincarnation. It calls it by another name, ‘resurrection,’ but reincarnation and resurrection are really the same thing.”

Spiritists and some New Agers make this claim, but it’s utterly false. Resurrection and reincarnation are emphatically not “the same thing.” The resurrection of the body, which the Bible teaches is the restoration to life in glorified form of the same body that died and was buried, is exactly what happened with Jesus (See John 2:19-22 and John 20:19-31). Reincarnation teaches that only the soul survives death. After death, the soul enters another body to begin life over again as a new person, who (usually) has no memory of previous lives.

Not only does the Bible not support reincarnation; it strongly denies the possibility. “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” the writer to the Hebrews says (Hebrews 9:27). In the context of this verse, the point is that Jesus’ work of redemption is as final and certain as the fact of death is for mortal man. Just as people die only once–not multiple times, as in reincarnation–so also Jesus did not have to submit to multiple crucifixions in order to save us. Once was enough.

And that leads us to the most important difference between reincarnation and the Bible’s teaching. In reincarnation, multiple lifetimes are necessary for individuals to finish paying for their own sins. Suffering is explained as a consequence of the accumulated sins of previous lifetimes. Given enough lifetimes, the theory goes, people will eventually finish paying off all their accumulated debt. They will then enter into a purely spiritual existence and won’t have to be incarnated again.

The root of this theory, like the root of most false teaching, is the idea that we have to pay for our own sins by what we do. The Bible rejects this idea completely. Jesus’ suffering and death paid, in full, for all sins committed by all people of all time. That means that the endless series of lifetimes proposed by reincarnation is not only impossible, it’s completely unnecessary.

How can I be sure there is life after death?

The view that there isn’t a life after death is certainly a minority position. People disagree sometimes sharply on what life after death is like, but very few believe that this life is all there is.

Why is that? Perhaps one reason is that a thought like that is too sad to contemplate. The lack of permanence, the brevity of life, the desire for making a lasting impression–all that begs for something more.

Most people have always sensed this, and the Bible tells us why. It says God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

God created you with longings that nothing in this life can satisfy. He would be very cruel if he did not provide a life after death.

There is a much better way to approach your question.

Suppose that someone died in full view of people. Suppose he was certified to be truly dead, and that he was buried in a grave. Now suppose that, some days later, the dead man reappeared, obviously alive and well. Then suppose that he talked and ate with the very same people who had known him in life, some of whom had watched him die. Suppose that over 500 people saw this formerly dead man alive, and that these people spread the news of the miracle everywhere. Suppose further that they stuck to their story so stubbornly that some of them were martyred for it.

Your proof is the eyewitness accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus himself said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).

What happens to us when we die?

What happens to us when we die? What an important question, because we all need and want to know the answer!

Many people attempt to guess at an answer, even people whom many others trust! The guesses are all over the place. Some people think that we will reincarnate as a new life after we die. Others think we continue as a ghost over a favorite spot or maybe as an angel over a favorite friend.

Our eternal God gives the trustworthy answer in the Bible for his believers. He moved one of the authors of the Scriptures to write:
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

We no longer have to grieve like everyone else who may still be guessing about what happens to us when we die. The question has been answered for us. By his death, Jesus paid for our sins. By his resurrection, Jesus guarantees that those who believe in him will have life with him after death. We will spend eternity with him in glory!

Now, since we know that those who fall asleep in Jesus will enter life in heaven, we want to dedicate ourselves to reading, studying, and applying God’s Word! We want to make sure that all our loved ones know the truth about God’s love for them in Christ, so that trusting our Savior we don’t have to wonder what will happen to us when we die. We know with confidence that we will be together forever with the Lord in heaven.