Christmas in Light of the Cross, Day 25 (The Father’s Sacrifice)

I am writing today from  cold and freezing, beautiful Tulsa.

I am writing today from cold and freezing, beautiful Tulsa.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 NKJV

For years I always pictured Jesus as the one making all the sacrifices when He came to earth, and lived and died for us, while the Father just stayed up in heaven and watched. I never realized that it was the Father who was making the greatest sacrifice. That is until one night many years ago, when I got a call from my mother. A young man in his 30’s who was very dear to our family, had just died from a heart disease. He was waiting on a heart transplant, which did not arrive in time. As my mother was telling me all this, she started crying and telling me how she wished she could have just given him her own heart. She said as she sobbed, “I have already lived me life, and he had a young family, why couldn’t I have just given him my heart!” I sat stunned on the other end of the line, thinking, “because you are my mother! That’s why! No way would we let you do that!” 

When I hung up the phone, that is when I realized for the first time, that our heavenly Father was not just simply watching His Son make all the sacrifices. It was actually the Father who was making the greatest sacrifice in allowing all this to happen to His Son. Many of us would rather suffer than to see our family suffer. While the angels longed to rescue Jesus from this cruel world, I imagine the Father would rather have traded place with Him, but that was not the plan.

I see adds where a family is having to move to another city and can’t take their dog for whatever reason.  They have to leave the dog behind.The adds read that they want to make sure their dog goes to a good home. They want it to be well taken care of. If people want their dogs to be well taken care of, then don’t you imagine the Father wanted His Son to be well taken care of? Yet there are dogs who have been treated better than the way Jesus was treated. How this must have hurt the Father, yet He did it because of His love for you! He gave His precious Son to ransom you from the power of sin and the grave. How much He must love us!

 

The heart of God yearns over His earthly children with a love stronger than death. In giving up His Son, He has poured out to us all heaven in one gift.
Through that gift there comes to us day by day the unfailing flow of Jehovah’s goodness. Every flower, with its delicate tints and sweet fragrance, is given for our enjoyment through that one Gift. The sun and moon were made by Him; there is not a star that beautifies the heavens which He did not make. There is not an article of food upon our tables that He has not provided for our sustenance. The superscription of Christ is upon it all. Everything is supplied to man through the one unspeakable Gift, the only-begotten Son of God. He was nailed to the cross that all these bounties might flow to God’s workmanship.
In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Isaiah 9:6. God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. . . . Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love.
Christ bowed down in unparalleled humility, that in His exaltation to the throne of God, He might also exalt those who believe in Him, to a seat with Him upon His throne. –Ellen White, The Faith I Live by, Page 45.

Glimpses of Grace; The Truth About John 3:16

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Last weekend, during the Broncos-Patriots playoff game, Focus on the Family ran a beautiful add where some cute kids recited John 3:16. I was so excited to see this add on national TV and was presented wonderfully! I do hope that people also understood in this verse that God is a God of love and will not be torturing sinners throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. No, the verse very clearly says the unbeliever will perish, not burn for all eternity.

To me the greatest lie that has ever been told about my heavenly Father is that He is a physco path who will torment you for all eternity if you don’t love Him back. I am thankful that He is a God of love. He gave His Son Jesus. He did not just offer Him to us. There is a difference. He gave, not offered. Jesus has been given to you and you must reject him now to get rid of Him! Please don’t reject Him. God also gave Him to us forever. He did not loan us His Son, He gave us His Son to be our Savior and advocate for all eternity!

For more on the truth about the unbeliever perishing instead of being tortured for all eternity please click here.

John 3; God’s Cure for Unbelief

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

John  3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 

 3:15    That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

 3:16    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

 3:17    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 

 Eve sinned when she stopped believing in God’s love, and started believing Satan’s lie, that the forbidden fruit would give her a better life than what God had offered her. The root of sin is doubting God’s love. When we sin, we are saying, “I do not believe God loves me.” When we sin, we reject God who is life and we choose death. See Proverbs 8:36

In the desert the children of Israel, complained about God, strongly hinting that He must not care for them. God left as He does not stay where He is not wanted. In leaving, God opened the way for snakes to come into the camp. He did not send them in so much as He was just no longer there to keep them out. This opened their eyes to God’s love and they said they were sorry. Sorry for doubting God’s love. Moses made a brass serpent so that anyone who had been bitten could look and live.

So today, when we have been bitten by the lie of that old serpent the devil, saying God does not really love us, we can look to the cross. There we see a God who loved us so much that He died for us. Satan’s lie is exposed. We no longer believe in Satan. We believe that God really does love us. We reject Satan’s lie and we reject death. Eternal life is restored the moment we believe God loves us.

When we choose to believe Satan’s lies about God’s character, we reject God and choose death as an escape from the presence of God. When Satan’s lies are all exposed at the cross, we believe in God’s love and eternal life is restored. As we continue to believe that God really loves us, we continue to obey Him.

Eve rejected eternal life the moment she stopped believing God really loved her. Eternal life is restored the moment we believe in His love. At the cross we see that love.

Hell in Light of the Cross

Tarpon Springs 028

You can download a printable copy of the complete set of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides for free here. You can purchase a copy for your Kindle here

The Punishment of the Wicked 

Brief overview: The wicked will be destroyed by fire. The punishment will be everlasting but the punishing will not. The wicked will die instead of being tormented for all eternity. See John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Obadiah 1:16, Matthew 10:28, Ezekiel 18:4, 20.

Why it is important to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked:

I have a friend who is involved in a prison ministry that visits a juvenile detention center. My friend was telling me that they had recently shared the truth about hell with the young men there. My friend said the Chaplin at the jail got very upset with him for letting the young men know that the punishment of the wicked is not an eternity spent in hell but rather death just like the Bible says in John 3:16 and Romans 6:23. The reason the Chaplin did not want them to know the truth about the punishment of the wicked was because he wanted the fear of being tormented for all eternity to motivate them to behave.

The teaching of people being tortured throughout all eternity is the most satanic false doctrine of all! It totally misrepresents the love and character of God making it impossible to love and know Him the way He loves and knows us.

Why it is important to understand the punishment of the wicked in the light of the cross:

Many churches use hell and fear as a motivation for doing good because they do not properly understand the love motivation. They do not understand the depths of Christ’s sacrifice in dying the second death. They make the Cross out to be a mere pain endurance marathon instead of seeing a Savior who was actually willing to say goodbye to life forever in order to save the world. When the early church saw the depths of Jesus’ love and sacrifice it turned the whole world upside down! Meaning it changed everything! It was God’s love that constrained, empowered and motivated them. This love is the only motivation that will actually succeed. Galatians 6 talks of a faith that works by love, not a fear of punishment. In John 14 Jesus says, “If you love Me keep My commandments”, not if you don’t want to go to hell you better keep my commandments. We must uplift the cross and the truth about the cross like never before. Young men in juvenile centers and people everywhere else need to know that there is a God who did way more than suffer for six hours on a cross. He faced the second death for them. He loved them more than He loved his own life. He loved them so much that when tempted to come down from the cross and go back to heaven He chose to die instead. Simply put, Jesus stayed on that cross for the young men in the juvenile detention center because the thought of heaven without them was hell to Jesus! When the love motivation receives its due power it will accomplish so much more than the fear motivation invented by men. Some people quote John 3:16 all the time while preaching of an eternal torment of sinners while that verse clearly says those who do not believe will “perish” instead of being tortured throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity.

Further study on the punishment of the wicked:

What is the opposite of eternal life?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

What is the wages of sin?

For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

What becomes of the souls that sins?

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:4

How long does the devil have?

Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. Revelation 12:12

What will happen to him?

Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never [shalt] thou [be] any more. Ezekiel 28:18,19

What happens to both body and soul in hell?

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

What do the wicked become?

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. Malachi 4:1-3

What is the lake of fire called?

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Revelation 20:14

What is God’s promise?

And I heard a great voice out of heaven  saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:3, 4

Can we trust that promise?

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. Revelation 21:5

Salvation in Light of The Cross

Ray

You can download a printable copy of the complete set of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides for free here. You can purchase a copy for your Kindle here.

Salvation

 

Brief overview: Salvation from death and sin is a free gift from God. It is not earned. It is a free gift courtesy of God’s love and grace. See John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1-10, 2 Timothy 1:9.

Why it is important to know the truth about salvation?

In pagan religions man makes the sacrifices to obtain the pleasure and acceptance of his “god”. Some pagan tribes have offered up human sacrifices just to make sure the sun would rise the next day. They also brought gifts for their “gods” hoping to gain their love and blessing. In Christianity it is the exact opposite. Our God sacrifices Himself on the Cross to obtain not His but our pleasure and acceptance. While we were the guilty ones He did not wait for us to bring a gift or peace offering, but made Himself the peace offering.

Revelations 12 tells us of a war in heaven. Not with machine guns and tanks, but a war of the minds. Isaiah 14 tells us Satan wanted God’s seat to the point where he was willing to kill God Himself to get it. He convinced a third of the angels that it would be in the best interest of the Universe if he was in control rather than God. Satan came to this earth and in Genesis 3 convinced Eve and thus mankind that he was more interested in our welfare than God was. For years a great controversy has raged over who has our best interest in mind.

Why understanding salvation in light of the cross is important:

The Cross settles the controversy of who has our best interest in mind once and for all. At the Cross we see the true character of both God and Satan. While we see Satan manipulating men to kill God, we see a tyrant who is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way of being number one. In contrast we see a God who is willing to give His life to save the world. The Cross shows who is really interested in our welfare and who is just using us as pawns for his own selfish purposes.

While Satan pretended to be on our side and acting in our best interest we see what he is really up to. We can also see the God whom Satan claimed did not really care about us is actually at peace with us and on our side!

For Further Study on Salvation:

WHY DID JESUS COME TO THIS WORLD?
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.  Matthew 1:21
WHAT DOES SIN DO?
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.  Isaiah 59:2
WHAT IS THE RESULT OF SIN?
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 6:23
WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO SIN?
Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.   Ezekiel 18:4
HOW MANY HAVE SINNED?
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;   Romans 3:23
HOW MANY ARE TO DIE BECAUSE OF SIN?
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:  Romans 5:12
CAN WE CHANGE OURSELVES FROM OUR SINFUL WAYS?
Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.     Jeremiah 13:23
WHAT ARE GOD’S FEELINGS TOWARD US?
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9
WHAT PROVISION DID HE MAKE FOR ALL MANKIND?
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16
WHEN DID GOD FIRST LOVE US?
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.   Romans 5:8
WHAT IS THE ONLY WAY A PERSON CAN BE SAVED?
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift
 of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Ephesians 2:8, 9
WHAT DOES THIS SAVING FAITH PRODUCE IN OUR LIVES?
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.    Luke 5:32
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.   1 John 1:9
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.  Proverbs 28:13
WHEN SHOULD WE ACCEPT THIS GIFT OF GOD?
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)  2 Corinthians 6:2
WHAT DO WE BECOME WHEN WE ACCEPT JESUS AS OUR SAVIOR?
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  John 1:12
JESUS AT THE DOOR
O Jesus! Thou art standing
Outside the fast closed door,
In lowly patience waiting
To pass the threshold o’er:
We bear the name of Christians,
Thy name and sign we bear:
Oh, shame, thrice shame upon us!
To keep Thee standing there.
O Jesus, Thou art knocking;
And low! that hand is scarred,
And thorns Thy brow encircle,
And tears Thy face have marred:
O love that passeth knowledge,
So patiently to wait!
O sin that hath no equal,
So fast to bar the gate!
O Jesus! Thou art pleading
In accents meek and low –
“I died for you, My children,
And will you treat me so?”

If you have never given your heart to Jesus, or are wanting to give your heart to Him again, I would love to hear from you at laypastor@tampaadventist.net.

For more studies on the plan of salvation and new birth click here.  For studies on Baptism and God’s Church click here.