What comes to your mind when you think of Worship? A group of people singing hymns and praise songs? Prayers that declare God’s Nature and Attributes? You’re right! But Worship is so much more as we’ll see from the following Scripture
1. Worship Affirms Who God Is
"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendour of holiness." Psalm 29:2
What does it mean to ‘Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name’?
What does it mean to ‘Worship the LORD in holy array’?
This verse is part of a contemporary praise song sung in many congregations. You cannot go wrong when you use God’s very words as lyrics. But you can go wrong when the songs are sung in a manner that expresses spiritual apathy. How many times have congregants nonchalantly mouthed these words while ignoring their meanings? Remember, these are commands from our King and deserve our utmost devotion to their fulfilment!
We are commanded to give to our LORD the honour and respect due His Name! We are also commanded to worship, or prostrate ourselves before Him. When was the last time you fell on your face in worship of your LORD? It is at once a humbling and inspiring experience! And lest we think our beautiful buildings and fashionable clothing can attract God’s pleasure, David instructs us to worship in holiness ... in the purity of our hearts and minds, because only worship of that nature will be acceptable by God.
The Psalmist instructs us to do two things in this verse. It is important to note that both are in the form of a command and therefore, are direct orders from our God and King!
Note that the psalmist, David, uses the personal name for God here. He is not talking about a generic deity, but the God who is Creator of all things, and the One who established His covenant with Israel, and through Christ, with all believers.
The word ‘ascribe’ means to render or to give. We are to give to the LORD glory (honour or reverence) that is due His Name. And since His Name is higher than any other, the honour and reverence due Him must be absolutely supreme!
The word ‘worship’ means to bow down or prostrate oneself before another. It is an expression of surrender to the pre-eminence of another.
In ‘holy array’ speaks of worship being brought in utmost purity and sanctity that befits the One who is Holy beyond measure.
If you have never spent time contemplating the excellence of God, you have missed one of your special privileges as a child of God. In obedience to God, practice the following:
1. Purify yourself by allowing God’s Spirit to search your heart and mind for any sin that you have not confessed to Him. Confess them and know God’s forgiveness through the grace of His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. Contemplate God’s Nature and Attributes. (For a study on these feel free to write to us and we will send one to you.)
3. Meditate on God and consider each of His divine qualities in turn.
4. Humble yourself before Him and declare His excellence through your prayers, and songs of worship and praise.
Make the affirmation of God a regular part of your spiritual life. It is food for your soul and strengthens your faith!
2. Worship is Our Service to God
To many, Worship is something you do at church. But to God, Worship is everything you do for Him!
"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe." Heb 12:28
The word ‘worship’ is translated from various Hebrew and Greek words that
convey at least two ideas. First, to revere or honour God and second, to render
service to Him. Everything we do, whether at home, work or play, is potentially an
act of worship to God if we do them with an attitude of service for God! Paul put it
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. " 1Co 10:31
Jesus combined the two ideas in His response to Satan when Satan asked Jesus to worship him.
"Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Mat 4:10
Notice that Jesus did not rebuke Satan by telling him to simply worship God, but included service to God as well. Worship and Service are two sides of the same coin! If you want to know what you really worship look at what you serve. You will have found your god, be it money, power, status, material things or fleshly desires, when you discover what you are so willing to work hard for.
The test for anyone who claims to worship God is whether he serves God. Reverence for God is always evidenced by Service for Him, though the opposite may not always ring true (some serve God for reasons other than reverence for Him).
3. Worship is Completing the Work God Has for Us
Our ultimate service to God is the completion of the work He has given each of us to do. Paul reveals that God had more in mind when He saved us than simply preparing us for heaven.
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Eph 2:10
A careful observation of this verse reveals a very disturbing truth. Not only has God created us for good works, but He has already prepared those works in advance! The caveat is that we must endeavour to ‘walk in them’. That implies a life of faithful service to God.
Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2:10 that our lives are not accidents of nature, but works of God. He has preordained our days and prepared our acts of service to Him. Our destiny is to serve the King of kings and to fulfil His purpose for us.
The completion of the good works God has prepared for us to do brings glory to God, as Jesus testified to His Father.
"I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. " John 17:4
John chapter 17 is Jesus’ prayer to His Father on His disciples’ behalf. It expresses Jesus’ final
thoughts just prior to His betrayal and eventual crucifixion. Verse 4 reveals Jesus’ commitment to honour His Father through His life. The word ‘glorified’ means to honour, to praise or to magnify. God was magnified through Jesus’ devoted service to Him.
Near the end of His earthly life, Jesus testified that He glorified God by fulfilling the work God had given Him to do. Would we all be able to say that at the end of our lives!
In the business of living, it is too easy to miss the most important thing in life ... what God has created us in Christ Jesus to do. If you know God, if you love God, then serve Him with all of your heart and strength, in order that your life may become your ultimate act of worship to the One who alone is worthy!
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1
Even a great general like George S. Patton knew that he could not do it alone. He needed help. He needed to delegate duties. He needed to utilize the talents and skills of others.
When Patton was a cadet at the West Point Military Academy his instructor once gave the class this assignment: without the use of a ladder, measure the length of the flag pole located in the courtyard. The students had one week to work on this baffling assignment and then report back to class with their answers.
Measure the length of the flagpole without using a ladder. How would you go about solving this problem? The cadets in Patton’s class made a valiant attempt to solve the problem posed by their instructor. One suggested measuring the shadow cast by the pole at a given hour of the day. Another suggested measuring the height of the flag, pulling the flag up the pole in increments equal to the height of the flag, and flag. Yet another suggested climbing a nearby tree until you were parallel to the top of the flagpole and then measuring the height to which you climbed.
When the cadets assembled for class the next week they submitted their answers to the instructor. After reviewing all the various solutions offered by the cadets assembled before him, he announced that Cadet George S. Patton had the answer he was looking for.
In answer to the question, “How would you measure the length of the flagpole without using a ladder?” Patton had written one brief sentence, “I would order the master sergeant to find somebody capable of doing it.”
That was the correct answer because it understood the point being made by the instructor: even the greatest of officers does not have the time or the ability to do everything, he must recognize the importance of delegating responsibilities to others.
This is the very lesson Moses needed to learn and we need to be reminded of: The ministry of God’s church is more than any one man can handle alone. Because of the magnitude of the task of ministering to God’s church, you must recognize the need for delegation and personal involvement.
Recognise The Role Assigned To Leader / Pastor
Consider what Moses was doing: each day he sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning to evening (vs. 13.)
Now listen to Jethro’s analysis of this situation. Addressing Moses, he asks, “Why do you alone sit as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?” (vs. 14.) Here is his evaluation of the situation, “What you are doing is not good” (vs. 17.) It might appear to be a noble and heroic effort on Moses part to personally minister to all the people of Israel as they had need, but Jethro defines it as “not good.” Jethro goes on to explain, “You will surely wear yourself out, both you and the people who come to you. The work is too much for you; you cannot do it by yourself alone.” (vs. 18.) Both Moses and the people would eventually suffer “burn out” if Moses were to continue ministering as he is presently doing.
Now consider Jethro’s counsel to Moses, (i.e., the job description he outlines for Moses.) “You must be the peoples’ representative before God and bring their disputes to him” (vs. 19.) Jethro is recommending a ministry of prayer, intercession, and seeking the wisdom of God. Note the ministry of Samuel: “Then Samuel said, ‘Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with Jehovah for you’” (1 Sam. 7:5.) Or, again, we hear Samuel say to the people, “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:” 1Sa 12:23.
Next, Jethro instructs Moses, “Teach them the statutes and the laws” (vs. 20a.) This is the same two‐fold pattern of ministry (prayer and Bible teaching) that was implemented by the apostles to set the precedent for the New Testament church: “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said that it would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God … going on to say, we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’” (Acts 6:2‐4.)
Consider the apostle Paul’s counsel to Timothy:
… devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching ….15Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them ... (1Tim. 4:13,15)
Paul reminds Timothy in 2 Tim.2:15 to Do your best to present yourself to God as one who is approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
Note, too, the apostle Paul’s teaching concerning one very important function of the pastor/teacher … [the Lord gave pastors and teachers] Eph 4:14-15 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. The Lord’s intention is that we become more Christ‐like in every area of our life, and this happens as the Word of God is ministered to us by our pastors and teachers and put into practice by us.
Jethro further counsels Moses, “show them the way in which they are to walk and the duties they are to perform” (vs. 20b.) Moses, as the leader of God’s people, must be an example and model for the people, compare Paul’s counsel to Timothy, “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1Tim. 4:12.)
Finally, Jethro counsels Moses to “select capable men from among the people… and appoint them as officials” (vs. 21.) Jethro counsels Moses to delegate responsibility to able men who will assist him in the ministry. He is speaking of competent men whom he defines as “men who fear God, men of integrity, men who hate dishonest gain”—i.e.; men of principle and integrity. Consider the biblical requirements for church officers as they are presented in 1 Timothy 3:2‐7 and Titus 1:6‐9, Now the overseer (or, elder) must be above reproach, the husband of only one wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not one who drinks too much wine, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. (1 Tim. 3:2‐7) An elder must be blameless, the husband of only one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7 Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick tempered, not one who drinks too much wine, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain; 8 rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:6‐9)
As we consider Jethro’s counsel to Moses, we also come to recognize the biblical role assigned to the pastor, as it is outlined in the New Testament:
1) the special emphasis on prayer and the ministry of the Word of God;
2) the importance of being an example; and
3) the need to delegate the responsibilities of ministry to able men who will assist him.
Recognise The Role Assigned To The Christian Layman / Woman.
The duties they are to perform” (vs. 20c.) The people of Israel were to take an active part in the worship and service of God; they had their own duties of ministry to perform. They were not to merely be consumers of a religious service or ministry, they were to actively engage in worship and service to God, and so must each of us as New Testament Christians and members of Christ’s body, the Church.
Consider what the apostle Paul says about the function of the pastor/teacher and how it relates to those who are the recipients of that ministry: “[the Lord] gave some to be … pastors and teachers 12 to prepare the saints for the work of ministry for the purpose of building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11‐12.) One of the tasks of the pastor is to prepare “the saints” (i.e., the people of God) for active service to Christ and to one another. The Greek word translated “prepare” (katartivzw) is used in Matthew 4:21 to describe the fishermen’s work of restoring their nets, preparing those nets for useful work. Thus, one of the key tasks of the pastor/teacher is to prepare the people of God for useful work in the church of Christ and for the sake of Christ.
By way of illustration: As a Christian layman you must not view yourself as a tourist on a luxury liner, lying on the deck in a lounge chair, absorbing the crew’s professional service and enjoying the cruise.
On the contrary, you must see yourself as a navy pilot aboard an aircraft carrier, being equipped by the ship’s crew for your next mission.
The service for which the pastor/teacher must prepare the people of God is defined as “the work of ministry.” The Greek word translated “ministry,” diakoniva, means humble service to others, the type of service performed by a servant.
Thus, by means of the pastor/teacher’s ministry, the people of God are being prepared to be more like the Lord Jesus Himself: “whoever desires to be first among you must be your servant, 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served (diakonevw), but to serve (diakonevw), and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:27‐28.)
As Christians, we are to especially perform works of service towards our fellow Christians: “You were called for freedom, brothers, only do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the sinful nature [to express itself]; rather, serve one another with love (Gal. 5:13.)
As biblically defined, a major part of the pastor/teacher’s task is to prepare the Christian layman/laywoman for active service. By way of example: You come to the pastor for counseling with a heavy burden and the pastor is able to relieve you of that burden; …not so you can get on with the living of your own self centered life, but rather so that you can get on with the work of ministering to others more effectively. Or again, whenever you are exposed to the pastor’s ministry of the Word of God, one question you might prayerfully ask is: How will this help me to grow in grace and more effectively engage in active service for Christ and to His people?
The Apostle Peter explains that, as you use your spiritual gift, you will actually be ministering a portion of the multi‐faceted grace of God: “Just as each one has received a [spiritual] gift, [so use it], ministering to each other as good stewards the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet.4:10.) As you use your spiritual gifts talents and resources, your Christian life will not only become more profitable, but also more exciting as you become involved in the work of Christ and see Him using you. There is spiritual work for you to do. approach your Pastor / Elder for thoughts on how you can be more engaged.
This is the message to us from Exodus 18:13‐27: Because of the magnitude of the task of ministering to God’s church, we must appreciate the need for delegation and personal involvement.
When the New Testament apostles implemented the very counsel Jethro gave Moses, (namely, that Moses should concentrate on prayer and the ministry of the Word as first priority and delegate responsibility to others, look at the result: “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly” (Acts 6:7.)
Our attitudes and outlook should not be to maintain the status quo, but to advance the kingdom of Christ—among ourselves in terms of spiritual growth, and in the community in terms of evangelism and mentoring other believers. The best way for us to get the job done is for each one of us to concentrate on our God‐given responsibilities and so do our part faithfully.
The Lagoonside Elders are praying for you and our community as you do for us as well.
(Article by Alvin)
Jimmy arrived at my house promptly at 8 a.m. to take me to the airport. He has often done this for me. Jimmy and his wife, Natalie, head overseas later this year as missionaries. He has been in a small group that I lead; he and Natalie also lead a small group at our local church.
But Jimmy was doing more than giving me a ride to the airport. This trip demonstrates the primary approach I take toward mentoring. I rarely ever go on a driving trip alone, and I virtually never drive to the airport by myself. Whenever I can, in the normal course of life, I involve someone I am mentoring. Talking about life and godliness in this context gives life to a mentoring relationship. I call this informal mentoring.
Examine the life of Christ in the Gospels and notice His approach: Jesus spoke to multitudes. He fed thousands. He taught many. He sent out seventy to witness, but He changed the world with only twelve. Even more than that, He poured Himself especially into three: Peter, James, and John.
The greatest impact I have made as a teacher and a minister has been not through preaching to crowds or teaching classes, as vital as those are. It has been those individuals who have walked with me beyond the classroom or small group in normal, everyday life, talking about ministry and theology to be sure, but talking as well about living life for Christ.
I believe in formal mentoring, and I regularly meet with one man or a few men to invest in them. At the very least, informal mentoring can be added to more formal approaches, and in my opinion is the superior mode, for it is the approach Jesus used.
Study the Gospels to see how Jesus mentored the twelve. They saw his heart for the lost (Matt. 9:35-38). He put them in situations that challenged them to think (asking them who He was in Matt. 16; the Transfiguration in Matt. 17). He defended them before the Pharisees (chap. 15). He gave them assignments such as spreading the good news and, ultimately, the Great Commission. These and scores of other examples came through the course of their daily life together.
The best learning comes not from simply listening to a mentor but from seeing truth lived out in the mentor’s life. In this way, informal mentoring offers several advantages:
Informal mentoring allows the person you mentor to see you as you live life, and vice versa. We can all put on a front in a scheduled, weekly meeting, but are less likely to do so as we conduct our normal lives daily.
Informal mentoring allows direct application in a specific context. When I speak at a university, I take students interested in collegiate ministry. I let them critique my message, evaluate the host ministry, and talk about how the gospel could impact that campus. I do the same with student ministry or at leadership conferences. I recently saw a young man who earned his PhD with me. As a student, he helped me serve my wife by planting flowers, something he had never done. We talked theology as we planted that day. He recalled that event, telling me he had just made a beautiful flowerbed for his family. Our mentoring should be theological and spiritual; we should also tie such mentoring to life.
Informal mentoring allows us to invest in others without adding more time to our calendar. When I do yard work, I involve mentees; I take them to run errands. We evangelize together. They help me with writing projects. I even let them drive me around in my car.
Informal mentoring allows us to see those whom we mentor in everyday life settings and observe how they respond. It’s hard while sitting in a weekly small group to see how a young man responds when things don’t go as planned. How does he treat the server in the restaurant? How does he speak of others in authority? How does he respond both to encouragement and rebuke? How does he apply the gospel to his life?
Informal mentoring offers excellent opportunities for defining moments. I have seen a young man process an important life concept in conversation during a two-hour drive far more often than in a more formal setting.
If you are not already doing so, think about someone you want to mentor. Ask yourself what things you currently do that would allow you to involve these protégés: running errands, cleaning your office, working on a project, or doing yard work, for instance. Think of normal activities where you could invite someone to walk with you. Adjust your lifestyle to include other people in these activities. And as you spend time together, talk about life and godliness, about theology and its application. And encourage those whom you mentor to do the same. After all, one vital aspect of the disciples witness was the their proximity to Christ Jesus, as seen in Acts 4:13: “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (emphasis mine).
At Lagoonside Church in Knysna we encourage a lifestyle of Mentoring and being mentored! Ifyou need someone to walk beside you in your journey of life, look us up. We are here for you.
It seems that there is widespread confusion with regard to those who present themselves as the purveyors of Christianity and its benefits.
Just exactly what do you think people assume Christianity offers? Health, wealth, success, peace of mind, a certain level of tranquility, perhaps the promise of a better job, a better career, the fulfillment of your dreams and ambitions and desires, perhaps even everything you can think of and articulate. That would be a fairly common presentation of Christianity today.
But I think the overall general sense of Christianity today is that it offers you whatever you want. Whatever it is that makes you happy; whatever it is that satisfies you; whatever it is that fulfills your ambitions, your desires, and your dreams, that’s what Christianity offers you. Christian offers to make you everything you really want to be. That is a very confusing message and a very unbiblical one.
It also lays out a complex answer to what should be a very simple answer. In a word, what Christianity offers you is Christ. Jesus Christ – that’s what Christianity offers. That is a very simple, straightforward, one-word answer to what has become a very complicated issue. We offer Christ in offering the gospel.
The surpassing theme of the Scripture, the surpassing theme of the New Testament in particular is Jesus Christ. And in not having Christ, you have nothing; and in having Christ, you have everything. The writer of Hebrews says that Christ makes us perfect forever. The apostle Paul, in writing his first letter to the Corinthians, sums up the significance of having Christ with these words, chapter 1, verse 30, “By His doing” – by the work of God – “you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”
All wisdom, all the benefits of wisdom – divine wisdom; all righteousness, all the reality and benefits of righteousness; all sanctification – that is the pursuit of and the attainment to holiness; all redemption, including not only our soul redemption but our bodily redemption – all of that is found in Christ. Everything is found in Christ.
In Ephesians 1, we read this, verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” There is little wonder, then, that the apostle Paul, in that same epistle of 1 Corinthians and that same section in chapter 2, said this, “I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ.” That is our message and our message alone. Christ is Christianity, and He is all there is to offer, because He is all that we need.
The apostle Paul, concerned about the Corinthians, deeply concerned about them, comes to the end of his second letter to them in chapter 11, says in verse 2, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid lest, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity associated with Christ.”
Christianity is very simple; it is very pure; it is about having Christ, knowing Christ. Paul says, in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He says in Philippians chapter 3 that when he saw the glory of Christ, everything else became manure. Verse 8, “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 in order that I may gain Christ, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
And so, he says, “One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal which is the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” What is that? What is the prize when we are called up? It is to be like Christ. Paul says, “One day I will be like Christ. Until then, my goal is to pursue that Christlikeness.”
We have only one message, and that is Christ. We tell sinners they can have a relationship with Christ, and in that relationship with Him, they will receive everything they need, all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. And yet, in the name of Christianity, in the name of the gospel, in the name of the church, in the name of evangelism, people are told all kinds of things, promised all kinds of things, sold all kinds of things. And in the middle somewhere is, if recognizable, a significantly diminished Christ. Anything that diminishes Jesus Christ is a perverted presentation; it is another gospel, a false gospel.
Should you want to make an inquiry on how to know Christ, or to live for Him, visit our website, or our Sunday Service, or just give us a call.
Faithfully In Christ
Lagoonside Baptist Church in Knysna of the Garden Route
(taken from a study by JMac)
Key theme: Jesus Christ is Victor
Key verses: Revelation 1:19; 17:14
I. THE THINGS WHICH THOU HAST SEEN (1)
John’s vision of the exalted Christ
II. THE THINGS WHICH ARE (2—3)
The messages to the seven churches
III. THE THINGS WHICH SHALL BE HEREAFTER
A. The throne in heaven—4—5
B. The tribulation on earth—6—19
1. The first half—6—9
2. The middle—10—14
3. The last half—15—19
C. The kingdom of Christ—20
D. The new heavens and earth—21—22
Go to our Sermons Page to follow the sermons from the Book of Revelation on the website for Lagoonside Baptist Church in the Garden Route.
The place of prophecy in the Word of God and the book of Revelation specifically are seldom, if ever taught.
If the stated purpose of the Revelation is for God to “show His servants things which must shortly take place” (Rev. Rev. 1:1+), what value can there be in allegorical or devotional interpretation which misplaces the locus of understanding from the actual words of the text to the mind of the reader?
The Greek word for revelations is apokalupsis which literally means "unveiling" or "taking off the cover"
We are meant to understand the book of Revelation! Revelation chapter one verse three promises a blessing to those who read and hear the words of the prophecy given to John by the Lord.
The book of Revelation or unveiling, starts at the time of the writing which is approximately 100 A.D. and extends on into eternity, with a new heaven and a new earth!
Join us this Sunday as we start our Sermon Series dealing with topics in the book of Revelation by which we hope to encourage you to dig in to God's Word and not be afraid of the Book of Revelation. Certainly this book is quite relevant for us today as it includes our age and takes us beyond it. It provides a window into the future and God wants you to know it!
Jesus saves – What does this mean?At one time or another, most people in the Western world have heard the phrase "Jesus saves." What does this phrase really mean? Who is Jesus? Why do we need to be saved? How does Jesus save? From what? Is this just some kind of church marketing scheme to get us to give them our money?
Unfortunately, the phrase "Jesus saves" has undergone some cultural hijacking which has obscured its meaning. The truth is, the words "Jesus saves" might be the most important words you ever hear.
Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago in Israel. He was a Jew, and lived and worked among Jews. He was an unremarkable man from an unremarkable family. When He was about thirty years old, He stood up in the local temple and quoted a passage from a Jewish prophet called Isaiah. He said:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18).
This prophecy was known by everyone in Jesus' audience as a prophecy about the Messiah—Israel's future king who would set them free and make their nation great. Jesus shocked them all by saying, after He had quoted the passage, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21; see verses 16–30 for the full account). This began a conflict between Jesus (who claimed to be Messiah) and the Jews (who eventually betrayed Him to the Romans and had Him executed by crucifixion).
The Jewish Pharisees (the religious leaders of that day) hated Jesus, mainly because He told them that their understanding of God was all wrong. They expected the Messiah to be a ruler, a king who would help them defeat the Romans. But Jesus was interested in saving people for eternity. They expected a Messiah who was like themselves: passing out rules, but unwilling to help others (Luke 11:46); glorifying their own morality while treating others with contempt (Luke 18:9–14). But Jesus was interested in forgiveness, healing the sick, and lifting up those who were failing (Mark 2:5; John 3:16–18; Mark 2:17).
Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, and He claimed to be God (John 1:1–3; John 8:58). He backed up that claim by rising from the dead after three days in the tomb, and appearing to a crowd of witnesses and disciples (Luke 24:1–12; 36–49), many of whom would later face a violent death rather than deny that Jesus had risen from the dead.
So, why does this matter to us, today?
Religion today is not much different than it was back in Jesus' time. There are a lot of rules to follow in order to appease a deity. When faced with religion, people usually either
a) delude themselves into thinking they can follow all the rules, do the right thing, etc. and then judge anyone who cannot do the same, or
b) turn away from religion because they realize they are not able to follow the rules. The words "Jesus saves" speak to this problem. Jesus was the Creator God and displayed all of the same character traits as God Himself (Hebrews 1:3). He came to forgive the sins of men; He came because "it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" and He came "not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17 ). What this means is that if you need salvation, Jesus saves.
The fact remains, however, that every person needs Him whether they will admit it or not. We are all prone to mistakes, to addictions, to choosing the wrong path. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) who have fallen short of God's standard (Romans 6:23). We are all less than perfect. And we all feel the moral burden. That is why religion exists—it exists to give us the illusion of control, and to assuage the nagging feeling that we are not measuring up to what God wants. "If we just follow these few rules," we think, "God will be pleased and accept me." But it is not possible to do everything that God requires, because we are human and perfection is not possible for us.
Does this mean God is cruel? That He has set us up for failure? Not at all—Jesus saves! God sent Jesus for this very purpose—to put all the punishment for sin on Him, so that we would not have to bear it (Isaiah 53:5). Now that this free gift is available to us, the only way we can damn ourselves is if we actively choose NOT to take it! Jesus saves anyone and everyone who wants to be saved, but many of us say "no thanks" and cling stubbornly to religion, or to the delusion that we can somehow save ourselves, or that we don't need saving, or even that God doesn't exist. Denying His existence is just another way of avoiding the big issue: Jesus saves, and we need to be saved.
Take the advice of the writer of Hebrews, who said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Hebrews 3:15).
If you believe that Jesus is who He says He is—that He is God who came to earth as a human man, lived a sinless life, died the death we deserve to pay the penalty for our sin in our place, rose from the dead, and offers the gift of forgiveness to you—you can accept His great gift today. A good way to start is to pray something like the following to God. [It is important to remember that this is just a sample prayer. Salvation does not come from reciting specific words. It is a gift of God's grace that we receive through faith in Him. A prayer like this is a way to express your heart to God, tell Him you believe Him, and ask Him to save you.] "Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and I can never measure up to your standards on my own. I know that my sins deserve death. But I also know that you have graciously sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and die in my place. I believe in Him. I believe He rose again and that He offers me the gift of salvation. I want to turn away from my sins and accept salvation in Jesus. Thank you for saving me, Jesus!"
Have you made a decision for Christ because of what you have read here? If so, please write to us and let us know, we'd love to hear from you.
How can I get right with God?
When people say they would like to "get right with God," they usually mean they desire to stop some kind of wrong behaviour and begin living for Him. In order to get right with God, however, a person must realize what is actually wrong.
The barrier that keeps us from being right with God is sin. Romans 3:23 teaches, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." This sin separates us from God: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). The only solution is to receive eternal life from Jesus Christ.
How can you receive eternal life? Jesus taught that eternal life comes by faith: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). You must believe in Jesus to escape death and the punishment for your sins and have eternal life in heaven with Jesus.
What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Romans 10:9 shares, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." First, you must believe Jesus is Lord. Second, you must accept that Jesus literally rose again from the dead. He defeated death to prove His power as God's Son and offer eternal life to you.
Jesus shared a powerful example of His love in the account of the prodigal son in Luke 15. The son had left his father and wasted his inheritance. His only means of survival was working with livestock. He even craved the food the pigs ate. At his lowest point he decided to return home and ask his father if he could work as a servant. As he returned, his father saw him in the distance. The father ran to him, hugged him, and declared a celebration in the son's honor, saying, "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found" (Luke 15:24).
Today Jesus offers the same love this father offered to his lost son. If you will turn to Jesus, He will accept you and celebrate your decision to believe in Him.
There is no special prayer you must say to get right with God. However, if you would like to accept Jesus as your Savior and know for certain you have eternal life, you can tell God with a prayer similar to this:
"Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. Right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God's Son who took the punishment for my sins and rose from the dead to give me eternal life and restore me to rightness with you. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life."
If you prayed something like this today, please let us know so we can encourage you on your journey with God. Email us.
You can find more info to help you at our website for Lagoonside Baptist Church in Knysna of the Garden Route
duty or dependence
The key question we must ask in terms of active faith is “where is the source of our spiritual activity and obedience?”
The apostle Paul addresses this idea in his words to the Galatians:
For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:4-6)
Active faith is not faith that tries to justify itself before God by rule keeping. Rather, active faith is transfixed with a pursuit of intimate relationship with God that is offered to us in the gospel. Here, we exchange duty for dependence: relying wholly on union with Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
When we get this backwards it leads only to Old Testament religion which lacks the power of the gospel! However, active faith that is grounded in “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) will yield a powerful life of natural obedience, produced by God and evidenced by a life of love.
Ian Thomas, founder of Torchbearers put it this way:
“A living faith breathes with the activity of Jesus Christ …That is the work of God. It is your living faith in the adequacy of the One who is in you, which releases His divine action through you. It is the kind of activity that the Bible calls “good works” … “Good works” are those works that have their origin in Jesus Christ – whose activity is released through your body, presented to Him as a living sacrifice by a faith that expresses total dependence … (cf. Romans 12:1-2).”
Faith “that expresses total dependence” is grounded in the indwelling power and presence of Jesus Christ. So our lives reflect the power, service, and love of Christ—which is compelling to others.The key question we must ask in terms of active faith is “where is the source of our spiritual activity and obedience?”
who can be saved
Who can be saved? John 3:16 is an oft-quoted verse for good reason. It declares, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Whoever believes in Jesus can be saved. He extends the invitation of salvation to all. Galatians 3:27–28 says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Jesus is the great unifier of humanity (Ephesians 2:11–16). He does not exclude people from salvation, but lovingly offers it to all.
Sometimes people think they must perform certain good works in order to be saved, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Romans 3 makes it clear that no human is righteous. We cannot do good on our own. Romans 3 also explains that it is only by God's grace, received through faith, that we are justified. Ephesians 2:8–9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Therefore, we do not have to be a "good person" in order to be saved. In fact, we can't be!
Sometimes people think that they have committed too many sins, or too heinous of sins, to be saved. This is also patently untrue. God is able to forgive all sin. First Corinthians 6:9–10 lists some types of people who won't inherit the kingdom of God, and then verse 11 says, "And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and one of the most prominent writers of the New Testament, persecuted the church with great zeal before he was saved (Acts 9). Paul wrote, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:15–16). Forgiveness is available to all who will believe in Jesus.
Anyone who wants to be saved can be. The requirement for salvation is to put your faith in Jesus. Admit that you are a sinner and that you deserve eternal death, the punishment for sin (Romans 6:23). Believe that Jesus is who He says He is—God in human flesh, who lived a perfect life to fulfill the law, then died the death we deserve in our place, then rose again victorious over death, and offered salvation to all who would believe in Him. Trust that God has applied Jesus' sacrifice to your account (2 Corinthians 5:16–21). Leave behind the emptiness of trying to save yourself or trying to live your life apart from God.
As a new believer in Jesus, you can get to know God more through reading the Bible, praying, and joining a Bible-teaching church. And give God praise that He offers salvation to all!
Have you made a decision for Christ because of what you have read here? If so, please let us know and we can help you on in your journey with God.