Category Archives: The Gospel

(John 19-21) What About Him?

Do you ever look at the guy down the street and ask, “Why does he have it so easy?” or look at your co-worker and wonder, “Why does she get all the recognition?” Maybe concerning your own hardships you hear yourself pray, “Why me, Lord? What about him?”

Peter was in that boat. Jesus had just described Peter’s future and gave Peter a glimpse at his own death. It wasn’t pretty. So in response Peter pointed to the disciple John and asked Jesus, “What about him?”

Maybe Peter wanted to be sure John didn’t get off easy, or maybe he wanted his own death to be the more impressive of the two. Maybe Peter had genuine concern for his friend John. I don’t know. But I think we all need to hear Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question.

Basically Jesus said, “It’s none of your business.”

When we begin to hear the “why?” questions in our heads we need to hear God tell us the same thing: It’s none of your business. How God works in the lives of other people is totally up to Him and has nothing to do with how He works in ours. God deals with all of us in many different ways, but with a common goal: the salvation of us all.

Do you trust God? Then know that however He is dealing with the guy down the street, that co-worker, or you, is done by a loving, compassionate God who just wants each of us to come to Him, to accept what Jesus died to provide – the eternal salvation of our souls.

Don’t waste time worrying about what that looks like in anyone’s life but your own. The “what about him?” question is none of your business.

(John 6:47-59) Eat Your Fill

I bet you think I’m talking about Thanksgiving dinner, right? Wrong. In fact, my thoughts today might cause you to lose your appetite all together.

I gotta be honest. Jesus’ words revealing Himself as the Bread of Life is gross. If a person didn’t know how often Jesus used metaphors and spoke in parables, they would be right to be disgusted by Jesus’ words in this passage. Be warned, my friend, before you turn to John 6.

But Jesus is not talking about cannibalism. He is not inviting anyone to gnaw on his physical flesh or drink the blood running through His veins here. It is true, however, that people who feed on Him will live forever.

Confused much?

Think about what Jesus is saying while using His body as an example. Being a Jesus-follower isn’t merely a nod at His diety, or acknowledging He is the Savior. Christianity isn’t merely a set of rules to follow, although obedience is certainly proof of being a Christian.

Jesus’ example of eating His flesh and drinking His blood tells me there is something uniquely different about being His. It’s an all-in, total transformation from the inside out. Here’s the correlation: when we eat and drink physical food and water, it enters our bodies and becomes nutrients, calories, energy and makes us healthy and strong. Eating and drinking sustains life.

And that’s what Jesus want to do in us. When we “take Him in,” He becomes our energy, strength, and spiritual health that will help us in this life and take us into eternity. He will transform us from weak, sinful people, into strong and healthy eternal individuals. It’s not about these rundown flesh and blood bodies. It’s about our spirits and souls.

When we ask Jesus to come “into our hearts,” we are asking Him to fill us completely, to become in us what we need for living today and forever. Just like food does for our bodies, Jesus does for our souls.

And Jesus isn’t talking about an occasional taste here. A nibble of food now and then isn’t enough to sustain a physical body. Neither is an occasional connection with Jesus. Read these verses. Jesus is talking about gorging ourselves on Him!

Take a bite. Read His Word. Take another bite and put your trust in Him. Eat some more by spending time with Him, growing in your knowledge and love of Him, allowing Him to transform you, strengthen you, direct your steps so that you look more and more like the One who fills you to overflowing.

Eat your fill. Then eat some more. You can’t get too much Jesus in you!

(John 1-3) The Whosoever

There is a debate among Christians over the “whosoever” in John 3:16. The question is” did God put on human flesh and live on earth for 33 years to die a horrible death for a few “chosen” people He would draw to Himself, and leave the majority of people without hope? Or did Jesus come to purchase salvation for the world, for every man, woman, and child who draws breath?

God loves the world. God gave His Son so that everyone who believes will have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world – not to condemn – but to save the world. Anyone who believes in Him in not condemned. Anyone who doesn’t believe is already condemned because of his unbelief. The truth is, Jesus came to be the Light but some people prefer the darkness. (see John 3:16-21)

Some people will point to Matthew 22:14 where Jesus said: Many are called, but few are chosen, and John 6:44 where the Lord said: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and Ephesians 2:8-9 which says: It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works so that no one may boast. These verses, they will argue, support the belief that God is selective in whose life He is working, that we as individuals have nothing to do with it.

Yet Jesus said: I will draw ALL PEOPLE to Myself. (John 12:32)

Here’s what I see according to Scripture:

  1. Jesus died for the sin of the world, for all of us without exception.
  2. God the Holy Spirit is revealing Himself, drawing to Himself every person – everyone! It’s not a question of “if” the Spirit moves in someone’s heart. The Spirit’s moving in all hearts. That’s a given.
  3. Now here’s where the “chosen” comes in. God chooses to save anyone who believes, anyone who is born again (John 3:5ff). God chooses to reject and condemn anyone who refuses to believe, anyone who prefers the darkness over the light He reveals to everyone.

C.S. Lewis said it best: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.”

Think about that for a minute.

The Lord is “…not wishing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b)

I think there is much more Scriptural evidence to support the fact that God, right now this minute, is working in the hearts and lives of all people everywhere, that He is seeking to save the lost, that God chose mankind to save and provided salvation for “whosoever” at the cross.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

If there are people to whom the Holy Spirit is not revealing Himself, if there are some who God deems expendable, if there are those God is not drawing to Himself because they didn’t make the list, they would have a right to sit in hell and say, “It’s not fair. God didn’t choose me.”

No. They will sit isolated in hell and weep over the fact they didn’t choose God, remembering all the times God wooed, drew, revealed Himself, and died, so had they believed, their eternity would be life instead of the agonizing death they suffer. They will sit there forever without excuse.

If you have yet to submit to God, to be born again, I can assure you God is working fervently in your heart right now. His desire is that you become His child through the blood of His Son. You.

If you have a loved one who seems far from making that decision, rest assured that God is working fervently in that heart right this minute, too. Keep praying. Keep living your faith in front of them. Keep trusting God because He loves that person even more than you do.

He will do everything He can to draw all people to Himself. Except making them come to Him. That is a choice they will have to make for themselves. That choice isn’t “works,” as some people believe. Paul tells us all to make that choice:

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9)

That is a promise to whosoever believes.

And when they make that choice to believe, they become chosen of God. He won’t turn away anyone who comes to Him.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

(The Book of Luke) Meet Your Savior

What does it mean to me that Jesus rose from the grave, that he died, was buried, and lived again? What does it say that many people who witnessed his very public death, watched his body placed in a tomb, then days later sat and talked with him, touched his flesh, saw the nail prints in His hands?

To me, it’s the difference between holding to a belief system, and holding to the Truth. If Jesus died and rose again, I can only bow to His power and proclaim, “He is God.” If He can do that, I can know His Words are true, said with authority no one else has.

I don’t have to hope I know the Truth. He is the Truth. If I see Him through eyes of faith, I see the Father. If I confess my sin He is faithful to forgive. If He tells me He’s preparing a place for me in eternity, I can know that’s exactly what He’s doing.

If you have doubt about the God/man Jesus, I challenge you to read Luke’s Gospel with the determination to hear the Truth. If you read it hoping to reenforce your skepticism, you’ll miss what God wants you to know. Put your doubt aside. Read it assuming it’s true, rather than assuming it’s false.

And meet your Savior.

(Luke 12) Given Much

I’ve heard it said that people who haven’t heard the Gospel will be judged less severely than those who hear and reject it. I’ve even heard it said people who never hear about Jesus will get a free pass. And often, the people who believe that will use 12:48 as the basis for their belief. But is that what Jesus was saying here?

We need to ask ourselves about whom Jesus is speaking – and to whom he is saying it. Is He referring to saved and unsaved people? If you go back to verse 41 and read this whole section, you’ll see He is referring to believers. He’s talking about servants, managers, which begs the question – whose servants are they and whose property do they manage?

This message is for His disciples, those who have been given much!

We who are believers, students, servants of God, will be accountable for more when He returns. The longer I walk with Him, the sweeter the walk, and the more responsibility I have as His child.

You don’t hold a first grader accountable for passing a twelfth grade exit exam, and you don’t reward a twelfth grader for knowing only what a first grader knows. And, yes, God punishes both for not knowing what they are given at their level of understanding.

So don’t use this verse as an excuse for not supporting missions or evangelistic efforts, thinking people would be better off if they never hear about Jesus. The truth is, Jesus is still the only way to the Father.

And you will be held accountable for what you do about that with the knowledge you have received. If you are a believer and have dealt with your own sin at the foot of the cross, you’ve already been given much!

(Luke 7) Who’s Doubt Is It Anyway?

I have appreciated considering the opinions of Bible scholars as I read through my Apologetics Study Bible this year. (Holman Bible Publishers; 2017) It often amazes me at the issues they address, indicating the lengths some people go to try and disprove the Bible.

Evidently there is a discussion about what kind of roof tiles that were on the house the paralytic’s friends dug through to get him to Jesus. Yeah, roofing.

And, is it the Sermon on the Mount, or the Sermon on a Flat Area on the Mountain? There is actually a debate about it. Why?

Skeptics use these kinds of things to suggest because the Gospel writers differ on certain details, the Bible must be full of errors, and therefore untrustworthy. I usually just shake my head and move on, but thankful that should someone use arguments like these, I’ll be prepared to point them back to what is really important.

But sometimes the comments in the Apologetics Study Bible are just plain wrong (in my opinion). One such opinion jumped out at me today, and I’d like us to consider 7:18-30. The apologist would have you take for granted that what you read here is the fact that John the Baptist is “expressing doubt” that Jesus is the Messiah because he sent two of his own disciples to ask Jesus point blank if they should be looking for someone else, or was Jesus the real deal?

First of all, all we know is WHAT John did. Scripture does not tell us WHY. So I read what the apologist said as his opinion. You can read my comments as mine – because that is all they are.

Based on John’s life, not just his imprisonment, here’s why I believe we are seeing something other than the prophet’s doubt:

  1. John recognized Jesus before either of them were even born. (Luke 1:44)
  2. John grew up spiritually strong. (1:80). He dedicated his whole life to preparing the way for the Messiah. (Luke 3:4-6)
  3. John had no hesitation in identifying Jesus as the One he’d been telling them about. (John 1:14-15, 29-35)
  4. From that moment on, John’s ministry was all about retreating into the shadows. “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
  5. Now Jesus’ ministry is in full swing. Some of John’s disciples began following Jesus. But obviously not all of them had made the switch. John was in prison, and maybe he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to get out of there alive. Maybe he wanted his remaining disciples to accept Jesus before he died. They needed to believe Jesus was the One to follow. So just maybe John sent them to Jesus because of their doubt, not his.
  6. Here is my final observation on the subject, and maybe the most telling. Jesus proceeds to talk to the crowd about John. Read it for yourself in Luke 7:24-28. Is there a hint that Jesus thought John was doubting? “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John…”

My point is this: we’ve all made assumptions based on a verse or two. Let me challenge us to let Scripture speak for itself as we consider it all. Think about what you are reading, don’t just assume you know what it means by looking at the face value. Question, then dig deeper into God’s Word to find the answers. Use your ability to reason, and ask God to direct your thoughts.

Sometimes it’s hard to get the voice of our third grade Sunday School teacher, or our youth pastor, or some renowned evangelist or popular author out of our heads. My prayer is that, as we read Scripture we won’t be able to get the voice of God out of our heads, that another verse or passage or story from the Bible will come to mind to help us consider what God is saying to us today. Let’s not just read the Bible verse by verse, but lesson by lesson, truth by truth.

And may God grow us, bless us, and find us faithful to the Truth of His Word.

(Mark 14-16) Remove All Doubt

The Roman soldier recognized that Jesus was truly the Son of God when he watched Jesus die on the cross. The cross removed all doubt that soldier might have had about Jesus..

Have you taken a good look at the cross? Have you really seen the One who endured such abuse, such unrelenting torment in order to take the punishment you deserve? Look at Him. That’s how much He loves you.

“Truly this man was the Son of God,” who gave His life so your sins can be forgiven, so you can live forever with Him. I pray that today you’ll take a good look, then lay your sins at the foot of the cross and let His blood wash them all away.

Take a good look at the one and only Son of God, and let Him remove all your doubt, too. But don’t just stop there. Take the next step, and accept what He died to give you – forgiveness! He’s waiting. And I’m praying.

(Mark 11-13) Final Thoughts

No, I’m not hanging up my blog right now. I’d like to talk about Jesus’ final thoughts shared with us by Mark concerning the Savior’s last week on Earth.

It must have been a busy week for Jesus. And I have to believe His parting words came from a heart fervently wanting His people to understand. These summed up His three years of ministry. So, what were some of the last lessons He taught?

  1. Bearing fruit is not an option for His children.
  2. Faith can move mountains of trouble when we pray from cleansed hearts.
  3. God’s kingdom is no longer Jewish.
  4. Christians ought to be good citizens of our governments, and of God’s Kingdom as well.
  5. Loving God is the most important decision we can make. Loving others flows from that love.
  6. Our world will get increasingly dangerous for believers. But Jesus will return to take us to be with Him.

And over it all is the reality that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. And there is no power greater, no lover purer, no grace sweeter than His.

(Matthew 19) The Impossible

Do you believe all things are possible with God? I do, because Jesus said so. But what are the “all things?”

Does this half-verse mean I can do anything I set my mind to because God can do the impossible? If I’m determined to get that promotion at work, or buy that vacation home at the price I can afford, or get my magic number of followers on SnapChat so I can become an influencer, am I to believe I can succeed because God can do the impossible?

Don’t base your view of God on seven words of a partial verse in the Bible.

What God wants us to know in this portion of His Word is that He can save anybody. He wants to assure us that no one has done so much evil, or is so prideful, or has too hard a heart, that He can’t forgive them when they repent of their sin.

These verses should inspire us to pray for the salvation of our loved ones living so far from the Truth we’re tempted to think they have no hope. God wants us to know they HAVE hope!

Keep praying. Keep being obedient. God might use you to do the impossible in that person’s heart and life.

I beg you, don’t use this verse as a magic wand, believing God has promised to make your dreams come true. He’s not that shallow.

(Matthew 13-15) What Our World Needs

Jesus speaks so often about the difference between head-knowledge and heart-knowledge, of obedience for the sake of the Law, and willing obedience for the sake of Jesus.

Christianity is not a list of rules to follow in order to earn God’s favor. It’s a changed heart that is the result of repenting of sin and accepting the forgiveness God provides through Jesus. It’s a changed heart that wants to obey God out of love and appreciation for having received God’s favor at the cross. It’s willing obedience in light of God’s grace.

Oh, for changed hearts, not just people who do good things, or go to church, or simply wear His Name.

It’s what God demands. And it’s exactly what our world needs.