Wednesday, August 5, 2015

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In this blog, I provide biblical teaching on the subject of the five solas, which refers to the Latin expressions Sola Scriptura, Sola fide, Sola gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. Sola Scriptura, means "Scripture alone," sola gratia means "By grace alone," sola fide means "By faith alone," solus Christus means "In Christ alone," and soli Deo gloria means "For the glory of God alone."

Scripture Alone By Faith Alone - Part I By Faith Alone - Part II
By Faith Alone - Part III By Faith Alone - Part IV By Grace Alone
Christ Alone For the Glory of God Alone By the Spirit of God Alone

Author's Note:  I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Doulos Training School


Doulos Missions International now offers discipleship training online through the Doulos Training School (DTS).  Please visit the DTS online at Doulos Training School to find out more about how you or someone you know can participate.
___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Monday, February 2, 2015

By the Spirit of God Alone

Have you ever heard of the five solas? Sola is a Latin word that means “only”. And the reformers came up with five solas that defined the reformed theology. I have written about those in my previous posts.

Just to review the five solas, there is Sola Scriptura that means  Scripture Alone. So our rule of faith is Scripture alone. The Word of God alone is our rule of faith. We don’t put our faith in the traditions of men. Then there’s sola fide, which is By Faith Alone. So the just will live by faith, as opposed to “we’re going to be saved by our good works." Sola Gratia means  By Grace Alone. Ephesians 2:8. Again, it’s not by works. It’s by the grace of God, right? Then there’s Solus Christus which means in  Christ Alone. So that’s the only way we can be saved, is through Christ. He’s the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except by Him (Jn 14:6). The fifth one is Sola Gloria, which is For the Glory of God Alone. As opposed to someone doing something for their own glory, for their own benefit, we do everything for the glory of God. So those are the five solas.

Now, since there are five of them, how could any one of them be a sola? If it’s by faith alone, but it’s also by Christ alone and it’s also by grace alone, how can it be “alone” if there are five of them? The reformers didn’t mean these were “exclusive of anything else”. They meant that all five solas are one and that they have to be taken together. Now, they knew that the truth couldn’t be less than these five solas. But it can certainly be more. There’s more to the Bible than the five solas, isn’t there? But we cannot have a theology that is less than the five solas.

So I want to talk to you about Solus Spiritus -- by the Spirit of God alone. This was not one of the original solas that the reformers defined. Yet it’s in the Bible and it's one with all the other solas. It’s not to be separated out. So all the other ones still stand, but it’s surely by the Spirit of God alone.

“So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”'" (Zech 4:6)

“It’s not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” So this is where we learn that whatever God is doing (In this case, it was rebuilding the temple in those days)  is not going to be accomplished through your might, through your power. It’s going to be by His Spirit. Everything that God does, He does it by His Spirit. Everything! Even the River of Life in heaven is the Spirit of God, which flows through heaven and then comes down here to earth in the invisible form of the Holy Spirit. And we’re going to see throughout this study that it’s only by the Spirit.

The Spirit of the Lord anointed Jesus Christ.  He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18-19). Jesus performed all of His healing and miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Christ was baptized, which you can find back in Luke chapter 3, verses 21 and 22, Jesus was baptized and heaven was opened as He was praying. The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. Now after His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. And after His forty days of temptation, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. And then He went to the synagogue and He read that scripture from Isaiah, chapter 61, verses 1 and 2. And in there, in those verses, what Jesus is saying is that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, because He had anointed Jesus to preach good news to the poor. Jesus did all of His ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. He preached by the power of the Spirit. Look at what else He did. It’s in this verse. He proclaimed freedom by the power of the Holy Spirit. He healed the blind people by the power of the Spirit. He released the oppressed by the power of the Holy Spirit. So everything that Jesus did in His life and in His ministry—His healings that He performed, His miracles—was all by the power of the Spirit alone. He didn’t do anything in His own strength, by His own power, by His own might. It was not by power, not by might, but by the Spirit of God. That’s how Jesus operated. And He is God! But He emptied Himself before He came to earth, so that when He was found in appearance as a man and took upon Himself the form of a servant, He limited Himself, so that He would only be able to perform His ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so everything that we see Jesus doing is the same for us. Whatever we’re going to do for God—healing, miracles, preaching, setting captives free—is going to be by the power of the Holy Spirit.

So what Peter taught us in 2 Peter 1, 20 to 21 is that all of the prophecies, every word of scripture that we have in our Bibles was given by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20-21)

Those prophets that wrote—Moses and the prophets, David and Isaiah and Daniel—they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. So even all the scriptures that we have in the Bible are by the Spirit! So if they were written by the Spirit, they have to be understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, too. It’s only by the Spirit of God.

The next verse is Acts 2:18, which says,

“Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” (Ac 2:18)

So in this verse, Peter is quoting Joel, saying that the promise God gave to the prophet Joel was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. On that day, God began to pour out His Spirit upon His servants, both men and women. And He’s continuing to do it today. And that’s why everybody, every single servant of the Lord, every one of us, both men and women, both children and adults need the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We need the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, don’t we? Because we cannot live for the Lord without receiving the Holy Spirit.

The other verse I want to talk about is in Acts chapter 2, verse 33, which says,

“Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (Ac 2:33)

So, in Acts 2:33, Peter was describing that Jesus rose from the dead, was exalted to the right hand of God, and that He received from the Father the promise. The Father’s promise that Jesus referred to in Luke 24:49 is the Holy Spirit. And Peter said He has now poured the Holy Spirit out, which you can see and hear. They could see and hear the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, because they could see people and hear them speaking in tongues, glorifying God in other languages. That’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s the promise of the Father, that we receive the Holy Spirit.

Now let’s look at Isaiah 59:21, which says,

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord. (Is 59:21)

So in Isaiah, the Lord promises us that this promise of the Holy Spirit is not just for a day or for an hour. But the Holy Spirit will remain with us, which is what Jesus said in the Gospels, that the Holy Spirit, when He comes, He will remain with us and abide with us.

Baptized with the Holy Spirit
Now let’s go to Matthew 3:11. We must be Baptized with the Spirit as they were on the Day of Pentecost. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt 3:11)

So John the Baptist declared that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. We need both the baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire just as on the Day of Pentecost. Every single believer needs this, because again, we can’t live the life that God has told us to live without the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

So it was so important that the disciples all be witnesses for Jesus, but yet, you know the Lord didn’t have them rush off, “Come on, let’s get going. Move alone. Move along. Get out there. There’s no time to waste. You have to preach to all the nations, now. And so far, this is the only nation that’s heard. So you got a lot of work to do.” Notice what He told them. He told them to wait, didn’t He? “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.” It’s the gift of the Holy Spirit that they had heard Him speak about. He even quoted John the Baptist. “John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” And then He said that they would know when they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that they shouldn’t get up and leave, saying, “Well, we probably got it by now. Let’s go ahead and move along.” They would know, because power would come upon them when they received the baptism with the Holy Spirit. And then they would be His witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’” (Ac 1:4-5,8)

Now let’s go to Acts 2:4, which says,

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Ac 2:4)

On the Day of Pentecost, every single one of them that was in the upper room, seeking the Lord, waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. You see? It’s only by the Spirit. Whether we speak in tongues, whether we are witnesses for the Lord, whatever we do, it’s only by the Spirit.

Now let’s look at Galatians 5:16, which says we must walk by the Spirit every step of the way.  The apostle Paul said, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal 5:16)

So Paul taught that we have to walk by the Spirit every step of the way. Make that your prayer, that you would each day walk by the Spirit every step of the way, because that’s the standard for us as Christians, to walk by the Holy Spirit, to live by the Spirit. And if you’re doing that, you won’t be gratifying the desires of the sinful nature. That’s why it’s so important. It’s not just by grace, by faith, by Scripture, and for the glory of God. It’s by the Spirit.

The Anointing
Now 1 John 2:27-28 says,

”As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”  (1Jn 2:27-28)

So the anointing of the Holy Spirit also teaches us about all things, which is why it’s so important that you abide in Him, and that you rely on the Holy Spirit’s teaching. It’s very tempting—sometimes—when you don’t understand something, to look to commentary or to look to someone and ask them, call them up on the phone, or ask somebody, “What do you think?” Whether it’s a scripture passage you don’t understand or whether it’s a revelation that someone’s received, or a prophecy, and you’re trying to determine, “Is this from God?”, rely on the anointing of the Holy Spirit to show you that as you pray. Pray in the Spirit. Bring it before the Lord. As you search the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things. And He will show you whether it’s from God or not. So the Holy Spirit serves a critical and essential role in the Kingdom of God.

One other thing I want to say is that there are plenty of people who have reformed theology out there, but that alone will not save them. Their reformed theology will not save them. And if they don’t remember that it is solus Spiritus also, that that is part of the package, part of the way of God, they can end up rejecting what God is saying in these last days, because God has poured out His Spirit, and there’s prophecies and there’s dreams and there’s revelations. And if you just rely on your five solas, you can end up missing what God is doing and saying. And you can end up calling what God is saying a word from the devil. So you need to rely on the Holy Spirit.

That’s why people who are just saying, “Oh, five solas, that’s it,” and they reject a revelation that’s actually from the Lord, they are making a dangerous move. Those people should keep in mind that it’s also solus Spiritus, because they need the Holy Spirit to show them what is of God and what’s not. And the Lord does speak through spiritual revelations, dreams, visions, and prophecies. And those people, who receive genuine revelations, dreams, visions, and prophecies, though they are still human, speak from God as the Holy Spirit carries them along.  So you’re going to need the Holy Spirit in order to know what is from God and what’s not, along with the Word of God and faith and so on and so forth. But you need the Spirit of God.  Have you received the Holy Spirit yet?

Attribution notice: Most Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I encourage you to read Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to God, Supernatural Power for All Disciples, Discerning the Things of the Spirit, Led by the Spirit, and The Spirit without Limit. You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

For the Glory of God Alone

Are we as disciples of Jesus Christ supposed to compartmentalize our lives? Are we supposed to do certain things for the Lord and with Him in mind, while other parts of our lives are done for ourselves or for others? Yet isn’t this the way most Christians live? I’d like to talk about this, because the Scriptures teach a very different way of life. In God’s Word, we learn to live our lives only for the glory of God.

The early Reformers called this Soli Deo Gloria, which is a Latin expression meaning solely for the glory of God. So let’s take a look at this together and see what it means to live solely for the glory of God and find out if that’s just for church leaders, such as priests or pastors.

Glory Can Be Given
Glory is something that may be given to another. This is certainly true in every day life. We often glorify certain people by the way we speak about them, by the way we treat them, and by the way we serve them.

We’ve all seen Hollywood stars and musicians when they are in all their glory. They are enjoying great fame, notoriety, and a place of high esteem in the hearts and minds of people across the world.

So if we can give glory to people, can we also give it to God? Sure we can! We see this all throughout Scripture.

Jesus Glorified the Father
Jesus said to the Father in prayer, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (Jn 17:4). This prayer was about glorifying God. How do we glorify God? Put differently, how do we give God glory? In this statement, Jesus teaches us that the way He brought glory to the Father was by completing the work the Father gave Him to do.

We Must Live to Glorify Jesus
Just as Jesus glorified the Father, his disciples should glorify God. This is the chief end of man, the primary purpose of our lives.

We bring glory to the Father on earth by completing the good works He has given each of us to do. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:14,16). When people see our good deeds and praise God in heaven, it glorifies Him. God is glorified by our obedience to Him.

The apostle Paul wrote: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Co 10:31). So when he said, “whatever you do,” that includes everything you do. It includes not only eating and drinking, but also working, playing, shopping, relating to others, clothing yourself, adorning your body, and everything else you do. Giving glory to God is not just something you do at church once a week. It’s not just something you do when you are praying. It’s something you do in every aspect of your life.

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve." (Col 3:23-24). It cannot be more clear than this. Whatever it is you do, do it like you are doing it for the Lord, not for men. After all, you are serving the Lord Christ, so act like it in all you do.

“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1Pe 4:11). You see, the glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. So we need to give Him the glory due His name in our speaking, our serving, and all we do. We need to do what we do by the strength God supplies.

Over and over again throughout Scripture, we see this doxology repeated: “To Him be the glory forever.”

The apostle John wrote: “And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev 1:6).

What does it mean that Jesus has “made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father”? It means that Jesus has made our lives to be the realm in which He reigns supremely and completely. And priests represent the people before God. So in every aspect of our lives, we are called to be kings and priests, but not for our own glory. As John wrote, “to Him be the glory.”

Paul wrote: “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:21). In the church glory is to be given to Jesus. The church is not a building, it’s not a meeting. It’s the people who have been called out of darkness into His glorious light. In the church be glory to Him forever!

John saw the angels around the throne of God in heaven saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen." (Rev 7:12). So again, the very praises of God that are spoken around His throne admonish us and remind us to give Him glory.

Paul wrote: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:36). Leading up to this verse, Paul had been explaining the ways of God concerning man, and he had to conclude in the end that all these things come from God in His sovereignty. He also concluded that all these things are through Him, and they are all to be directed back to Him, so that He may receive all the glory.

Paul summarized it well when he wrote: "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2Co 5:14-15). This means that we no longer live for ourselves. We live for Jesus Christ who, in His great love for us, died for us and rose again on our behalf. We don't put God in a box. We don't serve Him only on Sundays when we are at church or only serve Him when we are praying. We give glory to Him with our whole lives.

Putting it All Together
We bring glory to the Father on earth by completing the good works He has given each of us to do. When people see our good deeds and praise God in heaven, it glorifies Him. God is glorified by our obedience to Him.

The good works He has given each of us to do include spending time in the Lord’s presence and speaking with Him. But it goes way beyond just the spiritual aspects of life. Everything we do should be done for the glory of God. That includes working, speaking, eating, drinking, giving, serving, and literally all that we do. This is the primary purpose for our lives. It’s the reason we’re alive.

Are you living your life completely for the glory of God? Ask yourself these questions:

When I eat, am I truly able to say I am eating for the glory of God?
Can I honestly say that my drinking is bringing glory to God?
Am I bringing glory to God through my work?
Am I bringing glory to God by the way I dress and adorn myself?
Each time I speak, am I glorifying God with my words?
Do all my relationships with others bring glory to God? Think about your relationship with your wife, your husband, your fiancé, your children, your neighbor, your coworker, and your boss.
In my planning, do I glorify God?
Does my playtime glorify Him?
Is God glorified by the way I spend my leisure time?
Does the music I listen to glorify God?
Do I glorify God by the movies, videos and television programs I watch?
Do I glorify God by the way I spend my money?
Do I glorify God when I am using the internet?

If you are like me, and you have discovered some area of your life that is not glorifying to God, then you’ve just discovered an area of your life that is not pleasing to God. If so, the thing to do is just repent. Right where you are, right now, you can tell the Lord you’re sorry for doing that. Ask Him to forgive you, and help you to immediately begin doing that for His glory.

Perhaps you are a Christian, but have just realized that you’ve never made a decision to live your entire life for the glory of God. Maybe you’ve separated your spiritual or church life from everything else you do, and you are living a double life. Again, simply repent. Change your mind about that and ask God to forgive you. Then determine with His help to live your life completely for His glory.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: This post concludes a five part series on the five solas. If you have not read the rest of the series and would like to do so, you may find those parts here:

Scripture Alone
By Faith Alone, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV
By Grace Alone
In Christ Alone

You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Christ Alone

It’s pretty uncommon to find a man who would enjoy it when the wife he loves falls in love with another man. That’s not something most men would enjoy. Nor is it any more common to find a woman who would enjoy it when her husband falls in love with another woman. Infidelity like this can destroy a marriage relationship.

Many times we find in the Scriptures that God’s relationship with His covenant people is like the relationship between a husband and wife. The connection between Christ and the Church is like a marriage relationship between a man and woman. And in that relationship, there is only one husband – Jesus Christ.

Yet today we find that the Church has many lovers. Christians are infatuated with many others besides Christ. And in the Church they are often times even taught to do so. It ought not to be. Christ expects fidelity from His people in this holy relationship.

I’d like to open up the topic of Christ alone, which the early Reformers referred to in Latin as Solus Christus.

Jesus Is the Way
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” (Joh 14:6). He left no room for alternative paths. Notice how singular it is. Jesus is THE Way, not one of many possible ways. He made it clear that there is no one who comes to the Father except through Him.

One Mediator
Paul taught that we only have one mediator. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Ti 2:5) Yet how many people look for other mediators like pastors, priests, and saints? We need to get back to pointing people to Jesus. He alone can save.

Faith in God
Many people claim to have “faith”, but in whom is their faith? Who or what is the object of their faith? “And Jesus answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God.’”(Mar 11:22). According to Jesus, our faith should be in God, not in men, whether alive or dead. Our faith should not rest in any other.

The apostle Paul did not just speak mere words, because he did not want people putting their faith in man’s wisdom. But he demonstrated the power of God through signs and wonders. He told the Corinthians that he did this “So that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (1Co 2:5)

Paul was clear that our faith is based on the fact that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1Co 15:14) He taught that our faith would be futile if Jesus had not been raised from the dead. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1Co 15:17)

It’s through faith in Jesus that we have access to God. “In whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.” (Eph 3:12). When we come to God through faith in Jesus, we not only have access to His throne, we have direct access. We have confident access.

The Colossians had faith in Christ. “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” (Col 2:5)

The Thessalonians had faith toward God. “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.” (1Th 1:8)

They had faith in the Truth. “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” (2Th 2:13)

Peter wrote to the saints saying that their faith was in God. “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1Pe 1:20-21)

We are admonished to focus on the Lord. We are to fix our eyes on Him alone. “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2). When your eyes are focused on someone, you are not paying attention to anyone else. When your eyes are fixed on a person, you don’t look away. That’s the way we are to be with the Lord. Our lives must be centered on Him alone. There’s no room for another.


No Other Name
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Act 4:12). We know from Scripture that no one else can give salvation. No one else can redeem your soul. There is no other name but the name of Jesus by which we must be saved! That leaves no room for any other way to God. There is no co-redeemer! Yet how many Christians are calling on another name to save them, besides the name of Jesus? How many are depending on another to act as their mediator before God? Some are looking for their pastor or priest to be their mediator. But there’s only One Mediator – Jesus Christ.

Putting It All Together
With so many people putting their faith in various things like objects, departed saints, and false gods, as well as some putting their faith in faith, it’s important that we find out what the object of our faith should be. We are never taught in Scripture to put our faith in material objects such as relics, statues, or anything else we can touch. We are never taught to put our faith in ourselves. We are never taught to put our faith in man, whether dead or alive. We are never taught in Scripture to put our faith in Mary. We are not to put our faith in man’s wisdom. We are not to put our faith in faith. All of this amounts to spiritual adultery, and the Lord will not tolerate this any more than a husband would tolerate his wife sleeping with another man. The Church would spare itself from so many sorrows if we would put our faith in Christ and Christ alone.

If you have been putting your faith in others besides Jesus Christ, then this message is for you. Let’s repent of these wanderings. Let’s depart from this unfaithfulness, and return to the Lord. He will forgive. He will restore. He will revive us. But we need to do it now while there is still time.

I was once living a life of spiritual adultery. I considered myself a believer, but I had many mediators. I had many gods. When I prayed, I would put out an “all points bulletin”, asking anyone in heaven who could hear my prayer to take my request to God. I often prayed to Mary. I prayed to various saints. I even prayed to angels. Eventually I began to pursue the beliefs of Buddhism. I didn’t know the Truth, so I was bound by sin, caught up in many addictions. I believed many lies until one day my friend Alan kindly told me I was searching for Jesus. I didn’t believe him at the time, but I really was searching for Jesus. And he was not afraid to offend me by telling me so. I’m so glad he did that. We need to point our family and friends to Jesus.

It was only when I found Jesus that my eyes were opened. It was when I found Jesus that I found forgiveness and deliverance from sin. He set me free from all the bondage I was in. He broke my addictions. He took away my shame. He brought me into a personal relationship with Himself. He gave me a new life. And He filled me with peace and joy.

Before I close, I'd like to share a song called "In Christ Alone" that expresses the heart of this message. Please return to this page for my closing after you watch the video here.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

By Grace Alone

All of us have received a gift at one time or another. When you receive a gift, it can be rather humbling, can’t it? Don’t you sometimes feel like you don’t deserve it? This is why people often exchange gifts, because if they know they will be given a gift, they want to give the other person something in return. But when you have not done anything to deserve a gift, in fact even done something hurtful to someone and they offer you a gift, it is humbling.

I want to talk to you about a gift. It’s the most important and the most valuable gift you will ever receive. It’s the gift of God’s grace.

There's a clear distinction in Scripture between faith and works. We know that we are saved by faith alone through grace. The early reformers called this sola gratia in Latin. As Paul said, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph 2:8-9).

That English word gift in this verse of the Bible comes from the Greek word δωρον, doron, do'-ron, which means a present; specifically a sacrifice, a gift, or an offering.

You see, it's not by works, so that no one can boast. If you can work for it, then you can boast that you did it yourself. But it's the gift of God. It's based on His unmerited favor toward you. We need to really get that into our spirit.

We begin our walk with Jesus the moment we put our complete confidence and trust like this in Him. It's at that moment that we are given the gift of God's righteousness. We are justified. It happens instantly, and we are completely forgiven. It's not something we can work for or try to earn.

When someone gives you a gift, you simply receive it. If you don't receive it, then it will remain in the hands of the giver. God's righteousness is a gift.

Our Best Efforts Are Just Like Filthy Rags
Let’s stop and think about that for a moment, because these days righteousness is not something we normally think or talk much about. To be righteous means you have done no wrong and you cannot be blamed for anything. Yet the prophet of God cried out: “All our righteous deeds are like filthy rags!” He said, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64:6).

That’s really how God sees it. I mean He is truly righteous – completely without sin. And when anyone who does not know Christ tries to do the right thing, he is attempting to be righteous. But because of our sin nature, even our good deeds are all like filthy rags. Would you take a bag of stinking, dirty garments and dress up in them before you go to stand in the presence of a president or a mighty king? Of course not! Then why would you dress up in the filthy rags of your own righteousness before you go to stand before the holy and righteous King of all kings – God Himself? Yet isn’t that what we do when we think we will gain acceptance from God based on our own good works?

Many people have unsuccessfully attempted to obtain righteousness through their own works. And Scripture tells us that no one will ever obtain righteousness this way. So if you are doing this, stop trying! Give it up.

The apostle Paul had every reason to consider himself righteous before he came to know Christ. He said it this way: "I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless." (Phi 3:4-6)

Paul was considered blameless by men according to the Law. But when he came to know Christ, who is truly righteous, he saw his own sinfulness. He exchanged his dirty rags for the righteousness of Christ. He counted all those great things he had once done as a total loss. "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ." (Phi 3:7)

He took it a step further than that. It was not just those things that he counted as loss, but ALL things. He said: "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith." (Phi 3:8-9)

Paul said that he considered all things from his past legalistic life as rubbish. The actual word he used in the Greek means animal dung. That's pretty extreme, but that's what the Lord expects us to do. Don't put any confidence in the things you have done for God. But like Paul, put your confidence in what Christ has done for you. Then like Paul, you will be found in Christ, in a relationship with Him, not having a righteousness of your own, but having the righteousness that comes from God. This righteousness is given to you on the basis of faith.

Get Credit for Something You Didn't Do!
You see, Jesus is perfect and without sin – perfectly righteous. He is God. And when He died on the cross for you, He took the punishment for you and me, which we deserved. When you believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, God actually gives you credit for His righteousness. That’s right. You get credit for something you did not do or earn!

The apostle Paul put it this way: “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.” (Rom 4:4)

We can all understand this. When we work, we get paid a wage. So we get exactly what we deserve. It’s the same spiritually. If you want to work to obtain righteousness, you will get what you deserve. Since no one will be declared righteous before God based on their own good works, then those who live this way will not please God. They will stand before God dressed in filthy rags.

But the apostle Paul goes on to say: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Rom 4:5)

Isn’t that wonderful news? It’s the person who does NOT work to obtain righteousness that obtains it. It’s the one who simply believes God, who justifies ungodly people. He makes ungodly sinners righteous! The one who believes in Him receives credit for his faith. What credit does he receive? The credit he receives is righteousness!

God wants to give this gift of righteousness to you. He wants to give you credit for something you didn’t do. The way I explain this to my children is like this. Imagine if I did your chores for you and then rewarded you with a gift for a job well done! That’s what God desires to do for you. But you have to receive it by faith. Everything is by faith. But it's not mere mental assent to the truth. You must step out on your trust in Him and take action based on your confidence that you have received this gift from God.

Like the Criminal on the Cross
I'd like to give you one last illustration of this wonderful gift of grace. When Jesus hung on the cross between two criminals, one of them insulted Him and mocked Him. But the other man was humble and repentant. He acknowledged his own sin and accepted the death penalty as a just punishment for what he had done. He knew he deserved it. He earned it. But he recognized Jesus as the King who would inherit a kingdom. He acknowledged the righteousness of Christ by saying that Jesus had not done anything wrong. He cried out to Jesus, asking Him to save him.

Here's the passage: "One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, 'Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!' But the other answered, and rebuking him said, 'Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' And he was saying, 'Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!' And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.' "(Luk 23:39-43)

You see what Jesus said to the second sinful man, the one who repented? He said that the man would be together with Jesus in Paradise that same day! That's grace! That's what it's like when you are given this gift of righteousness from God. It's instant. That criminal died there that day and never had a chance to do one good work for the Lord. He never got circumcised or baptized either. He was simply saved by grace through his faith in Jesus. He got credit for the righteousness of Christ at that moment.

Putting it All Together
Maybe you started off your walk with God trusting in His grace, but you have returned to trying to earn it by your works. Just quit that right now. It’s a waste of time. Our works should simply be evidence that we have believed in Jesus Christ, and not something we are still doing to try and earn His love. Just repent of that and ask Him to forgive you for trying to obtain righteousness yourself through legalistic acts. Then rest once again in His love and stand in his grace by faith alone. Accept it fully as yours, though you don’t deserve it.

Or maybe you have never accepted this wonderful gift from God. If so, you still have time. Now is the time of God's favor. Now is the day of salvation. Receive God's gift of righteousness to you today.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.