Friday, July 29, 2011

Winning The Battle of Old, Part 2

The battle of old started in the Garden of Eden when the evil one attempted to elevate himself to the position of the Most High God. He twisted the Word of God that one eventful day at the garden, and questioned God's good plan for man. And as the tickling ears of the first man and woman inclined into the lies of the devil, they became forever bound into the spiritual slavery of sin and death!

God's most precious creation is forever separated from Him by the taint of sin. There can no longer be any fellowship anymore with man and the Most Holy God, for the LORD God Almighty does not and cannot tolerate sin. His anger was kindled against the filth of sin! And from that day on, man was cast out from the presence of the LORD.

With no way to return to the LORD, man became destined to live a finite life. Death crept into the picture for it was the only thing that a sinful creature deserves. Worst, the physical death wasn't the only thing a person will face in his/her life. For the Most Holy God is also a Righteous Judge and so He had to pass a final judgment upon the soul of the sinner (Hebrews 9:27). This time the punishment is forever, and this time it is final

What the Righteous Judge had to do with a sinner before Him was to cast him/her away from His presence forever. That sinful soul must be eternally separated from the Holiness of God, away from His rest, from His Peace, from His joy, from His Light, and from His Glory. No other place is devoid of all of God's attributes but the place that was prepared for Satan and his angels--that is, Hell.

But then, God decided to send JESUS CHRIST, His One and Only Son to die on the cross in order to SAVE the enslaved soul. And when the Son of God completed His work on the cross, He died and was buried, and was RAISED AGAIN FROM THE DEAD by God the Father! 

He rose from the dead bringing with Him NEW LIFE that He offers to those who believe! Death was defeated! And the Savior has given His message (John 14:6) to those who will HEAR... 

"I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE... 
He who BELIEVES in ME shall not perish 
but will have eternal LIFE!" 

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places
(Ephesians 6:10-12, KJV)

Believing in the finished work of the Savior takes a lot of courage and FAITH! It takes a deep sense of TRUST in HIM and who HE claims to be. One cannot rely on His work as sufficient to save unless we come to the point of believing in who He really is--the SON OF GOD who takes away the sins of the world, and who came to save those who will believe in HIM!

Thus, the battle we wage in is never against flesh and blood, but against "principalities,"  which in the original Greek is ἀρχάς, arché, meaning ruler and beginning..."from the beginning." The fight is against the spiritual wickedness and darkness of this world that did not want the Light of God! It was there from the beginning of time... 

How do we, who are flesh, wage war with this? By simply going back to the beginning... for everything has already been WON even before the beginning of time...

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace,  
which was given us in Christ Jesus 
before the world began... 
(2 Timothy 1:8-9)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Winning The Battle of Old, Part 1

There is a battle in the life of every individual, and perhaps the greatest that one will ever wage in is the battle between good and evil. We all are aware that there is a force beyond that which is in ourselves that would have the capacity to control us. This force could either be for good or for evil.

No, I'm not talking about the forces that we see on the big screen TV where red and green glowing swords clash against each other as noble and skillful Jedi battle with the Sith or those of the Dark Forces. Nor am I talking about the battle between the militant forces of two great nations that march on to strike assault at one another. These may be forces in battles, alright, but these are not the kind I am going to blog about.

The battle between good and evil goes more beyond fighting to uphold Justice and Peace. It is more than conquering new land. Its result has a much stronger impact and leaves a much longer lasting impression. In fact, the Bible tells us that it impacts life, but not as we know it, and it leaves an impression that goes beyond human understanding as it lasts for eternity.

Now, we need to put into its proper perspective that which we call "good," and that which we call "evil." Who's who in the picture and when did it began? The answer to these questions will depend on whether or not you believe in God.

With the awesome order in all the complexities of creation, and even of the human body itself, one cannot deny the fact that there is a "Creator" who for sure made all these natural wonders we see in us and around us.

No matter how hard others would try to deny the existence of Him who created us, there's just no sense in beholding the details and beauty before our very eyes, and believe that they all came into existence because of a cosmic burp! The truth of the matter lies in the Word of God. For the Bible tells us that in the beginning GOD created... (Genesis 1:1) He was the source of Life (John 1:4), and thus, creation received His breathe (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 6:17).

Eternity was the only thing that would have existed. In fact, it's what was set in the hearts of God's most precious creation (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The beauty and the wonder of creation  would have screamed of the glory and power of its Creator forever and ever!

But, we do read about a scheme, a deception, a cunning plan that managed to change all that. One moment, one lie, one mistake changed the course of time and of life. The first man and woman fell under the spell of one creature who questioned God, and who sought to usurp the authority of the Creator (Isaiah 14:12-14). They listened to his voice resulting in a costly disobedience on their part .

From that moment on, everything went a different route as sin entered the perfect picture. Eternity was taken away from man, and for the first time in creation's history death became a reality (Romans 5:12).

Humankind was enslaved with the lie... enslaved with the nerve to question God... enslaved with the thought of resisting His authority. Chains now bind the neck, wrists and ankles of the human soul, forever dragging it down into the deepest pits of the place prepared primarily for the devil and his angels--Hell! (Matthew 25:41)

As the chains of the devil squeezed tightly into place, man lost his desire for God. Man lost the appetite for God's glory. Man lost the hunger for holiness. Man lost the will to seek after the face of the One who created Him in the beginning. Everyone went their own way, like sheep without a shepherd. Lost, bound and broken the human soul was... (Romans 3:10-18)

But this battle had just begun! The Creator's great love for His precious creation could not be contained ... His great Love and Mercy for the bound and broken slave of sin and death has led Him to devise the only plan that could save humanity ... a plan that involves a once and for all death ... a plan that involves a truly great sacrifice on His part. The plan of salvation that will offer a way to bring back eternal LIFE called for God's great Love to have His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to come down from heaven and become like man, in order that He may be able to carry the burden of the slaves and die for them once and for all. (to be continued...)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When Faith & Works Collide

I grew up with a Christian faith,
or so I have been told,
and so have spent my living days
following all the things of old.

Tradition has dictated each
and every move I make.
"You have to do this, do that,
follow each step we take."

And so I lived as I've been told,
assuming my life will become pure as gold.
I tried to be a good a person as can be
to make it heaven for all  eternity.

I prayed to "holy saints" above,
been told of their help that I'd get a lot of.
I prayed, I fasted, knelt and served,
hoping heaven will be what I'll DESERVE.

And so I lived my life as such,
believing one day my good works will weigh much.
I believed that when God would look at me,
He'll at least be proud and happy as can be.

And then one day came amazing "GRACE,"
I've never met Him like that face-to-face.
He told me "LISTEN! I'm the Word of God...
COME now, you're Mine, you're purchased by My Blood."

"Open up now those eyes to SEE...
EVERYTHING you need you'll find in ME.

"YOUR striving, YOUR struggling for heaven's place
is nothing but a VAIN and HOPELESS case.
No-one goes to the Father in heaven BUT BY ME,
that is why I've come to SET YOU FREE!"

I've got my questions raised up in mind,
"But LORD, am I to leave good works behind?
Some are things I've learned from tradition of old!
Turning away from them would be so bold!"

"What will I do without my prayer beads?
What will I be without the ceremonial deeds?
Who will be praying for my poor soul,
if I cease to believe the co-redeemer's role?"
"Lord, I must do something else for me.
Surely it's more than just proclaiming Faith in Thee!
Traditions of old are proofs of what's true,
Didn't the church fathers passed it on from You?"
As I looked into the eyes of Grace
I felt His touch and warm embrace,
"I love YOU, I have died for you.
Let those ears open up to what's True."

Do not struggle, there's really no need to fight.
Believe in ME and in Him who sent Me,
And you'll be with Me for all eternity!"

Have Faith in Me and in My words, child
No longer let your thoughts run wild.
My gift of life is for eternity
I PAID THE PRICE and so to you it's FREE.

I paid in full the price to appease the wrath
my Father in heaven prepared for your very path.
You see you're born into the bondage of iniquity
and no amount of YOUR work could ever set you free.

But I and the Father are one, you know.
And because the Father loves you so,
He sent ME to die in your place,
He sent ME to be that amazing Grace.

A gift that is offered ONCE AND FOR ALL,
Come, follow ME... Come heed my call.

"There is only ONE mediator between God and man,
ONE TRUTH prevails even before the world began.
It is I whom the Father sent."

"When will you put your trust in ME?
and BELIEVE in ALL that I have done for thee?
Traditions are but words of man passed on,
in the end they would all be gone.

MY WORD stands forever and ever,
MY TRUTH is the ONLY answer.
MY GRACE is sufficient to save your soul,
MY POWER will be in control.

And just like that my eyes began to see,
the ONLY TRUTH that's hid from me!
Oh amazing Grace, this I can't hide!
FAITH and WORKS indeed collide.

When He brings life to a deadened soul,
He makes all my brokenness whole.
I could never be saved by MY good works,
But rather, I'm saved by HIM to bear good works.
I have been made whole SOLELY BY HIS STRIPES!
My future is no longer dim!

from death and the bondage of Religious Slavery.
God sent His Son to die for me,
in order that I will live WITH Him for all eternity.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Chains of (Spiritual) Slavery

Contrary to what you might think, slavery is still in existence today. There are about 10 - 30 million of slaves in the world at present. Most of these are human beings trafficked into various countries--no country is really immune of this problem.

Victims include men, women and children who are in less developed countries and are economically vulnerable and undocumented. These slaves find themselves in either forced labor, involuntary servitude, or sexual exploitation. Most often, the use of force or coercion is what's keeping a person in bondage.

Although the chains of slavery and human trafficking exploits the body and is indeed repulsive, there is a much deeper form of slavery that is more hideous than what destroys the body. This form of slavery is the worst and most gruesome thing a human being could be bound into. 

This type calls for the chains of Spiritual Slavery. Billions of people around the world are in bondage of this kind of slavery. People are bound in spiritual chains that force them to labor for their salvation, to serve other gods apart from the God of the Bible, and prostitute their souls to different practices and ceremonies that glorifies self and a created being rather than God the Creator Himself!

Unlike the slave who knows they were trafficked across international borders and are being abused, the sad thing about being a spiritual slave is that the person is not even aware that they are enslaved and bound in chains. The spiritual slave is blind of his depravity, unaware of the TRUTH of his soul's state and is ignorant of the TRUTH in God's Word. He/she is a hopeless case when freedom is offered because each individual does not believe in the chains that bind them.

The chains of spiritual slavery is masked in the ways of Religion. Religion is defined as a set of beliefs usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. It is man's attempt to reach God, and even man's laboring to appease the reality of God's wrath. It is man's striving to get right with God and man's trying to do God's job!

The chains of religion puts a person in BONDAGE. They will always have this striving to attain perfection or at least be "good enough" in order to please and appease God. They are enslaved with the striving and the attempts at piously and sincerely observing rituals and devotions in order to attain some form of soul cleansing. They are enslaved with the idea of trying their very best to be a good person. But there really is no end to this striving because the only standard called for by God is perfection. No-one will be able to attain that no matter how devoted a person is to the ceremonies and devotions of his or her religion! And because perfection is required, the person who is a spiritual slave is driven by wanting to do more for the sake of their own soul's salvation.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23)

The chains of religion gives a person a sense of PRIDE, SUPERIORITY and an elevated opinion of SELF. The spiritual slave depends on the amount of good works he or she is capable of doing in this lifetime, and eventually gets puffed up with pride when they consider their "religious effort and accomplishment" in this lifetime. In the end, the spiritual slave asks this very question:

"Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?" (Matthew 7:22)

You see, it results in a person's elevated opinion of Self. They get puffed up in their minds about their capabilities, their wisdom, their effort, their achievement in terms of religiosity and spirituality in this lifetime. They boast of their own strength, ability and power to accomplish that which was required of them by religion. They trust in their own effort to save themselves by penance, sacrifices, and by how much they've given of their finances, their time in prayer, their power in praying for themselves and others. Their confidence lies in the SELF. And because of that, they are blind to their NEED for a Savior.

We have to come to a point in our lives where we should examine ourselves if we have the chains of religion around our souls. Because unless we acknowledge the fact that we are slaves, we will never come to the point of accepting the offer of FREEDOM IN AND THROUGH JESUS CHRIST the Savior. Unless we accept that we are lost and depraved and hopeless on our own, we will never come to terms with the way of salvation that GOD offered through His One and Only Son.

Lastly, we ought to know that there are no slaves in the kingdom of God. Whoever remains a spiritual slave by the time JESUS CHRIST returns, he/she will face a tragic end to their story as one realizes that those bound with the chains of religion will be cast out in the end...

"And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:23)
(Insights in this post are courtesy of the teachings of Pastor Barry Jeffries of Humble Area's First Baptist Church.)


Blog Widget by LinkWithin