A Cosmic Christmas (Video)

This video is about the birth of Christ from heaven’s perspective as described in the book of Revelation. The message of this video will help you learn how to experience the joy and peace you were meant to have.

All Scriptures are from the New King James Version Bible unless otherwise noted. The Revelation Art is used by permission of Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order art prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site: http://www.revelationillustrated.com. Other digital images are used with permission from Arabs for Christ / FreeBibleimages.org, Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org, Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing, www.LumoProject.com, GoodSalt / goodsalt.com, or they are creative common licenses.

How can I overcome my fears? Part 5

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:23

Since coming to faith in Jesus in 1979, the Lord has enabled me to share the gospel of Christ with many people. For the past ten years, God has also given me the opportunity to train believers in evangelism and discipleship. I have found that it is very normal to experience fear when sharing the gospel with non-Christians. The goal is not to not have fear in evangelism, but to overcome that fear with God’s boldness.

The Lord has taught me that one of the reasons Christians experience fear in evangelism is that they do not know what to say to an unsaved person. So the obvious solution is to teach fearful believers what to say to a non-believer. This leads us to our next verse about overcoming our fears.

We are learning how to overcome our fears by looking at how Jesus enabled His disciples to overcome their fears when He encountered them the evening of His resurrection day hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews.From this encounter we have learned to overcome our fears when we …

– Rely on Jesus to calm our fear with His peace-giving presence (John 20:19).

– Redirect our focus to the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to convince our doubting hearts (John 20:20).

– Renew our sense of purpose (John 20:21).

– Relate to the Person of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22).

After breathing the Holy Spirit upon His ten disciples to prepare them physically and visually for the coming of the Holy Spirit fifty days later on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem (John 20:22; cf. Acts 2:1-21; 11:15-16), Jesus then says to them, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:23).

What does this verse mean? Is Jesus giving His disciples the ability to forgive and retain sins? Does this verse provide the biblical basis for Roman Catholic priests to forgive the sins of their parishioners?

To properly understand this verse, it is important to know that the Bible teaches that God is the only One who has the power and authority to forgive sins committed against Him. The Lord God said, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25). Mark 2:7 points out that only God can forgive sins. “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus demonstrated that He was God when He demonstrated the divine authority to both forgive the paralytic’s sins (an invisible healing) and enable him to walk (a visible healing). Jesus said to the scribes who thought He committed blasphemy by claiming to forgive sins, “ ’But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’ ” (Mark 2:10-12).

When we look at the Greek grammar of John 20:23, we learn that the first verbs in the two clauses (“forgive” and “retain”)are an aorist (aphēte) and present tense (kratēte), whereas the second verbs in each clause (“are forgiven” and “are retained”) are perfect tense verbs in the passive voice (apheōntai,  kekratēntai). “The perfect tense portrays past action and affirms an existing result.” This implies that the abiding state of the second verbs in each clause began before the action of the first verbs.

The passive voice indicates that someone has already done the forgiving or retaining. That Person must be God, since He alone has the authority to do that (Matt. 9:2-3; Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). This means that God’s action of forgiveness (“they are forgiven them”) took place prior to the announcement of forgiveness by Jesus’ disciples (“If you forgive the sins of any”). It also means that God’s action of withholding forgiveness (“they are retained”) also took place prior to the announcement of the withholding of forgiveness by Christ’s disciples (“If you retain the sins of any”). “The grammar used by Jesus did not provide the disciples with the personal authority to forgive sin.” 3

Robertson states, What he commits to the disciples and to us is the power and privilege of giving assurance of the forgiveness of sins by God by correctly announcing the terms of forgiveness. There is no proof that he actually transferred to the apostles or their successors the power in and of themselves to forgive sins.” 4

God does not forgive peoples’ sins because we decide to do so nor does He withhold forgiveness because we will not grant it. We simply announce the previous forgiveness of God. We don’t create it. God has given Christians the privilege of proclaiming His terms on how a person can receive forgiveness of sins. 

The basis for forgiveness is not that God likes us or even that He loves us. It is that Christ laid down His life to pay the penalty for all our sins. “The Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13b-14). Forgiveness is based upon the cross of Christ, not our performance or good works.

Some people think forgiveness is like a man saying to the child down the block who threw a baseball through his window. “It is okay kid. I like you. Forget it.” No, God is love, but He is also righteous and just. Biblical forgiveness is like a child throwing a baseball through a window and the owner’s son paying for the broken glass. Then the man says, “It is okay. My son paid for it.”

What God wants Christians to proclaim to people is that they can obtain His complete forgiveness freely by believing in Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter told a Gentile named Cornelius, “All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” (Acts 10:43 NIV).

What this means is when we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the unsaved, which includes His death and resurrection (I Corinthians 15:3-6), we can say to them, “If you believe or trust in Christ alone, I can say on the authority of the New Testament, that you are forgiven.” Or we can say, “You are entitled to your opinion, but I must warn you that according to the New Testament, unless you believe or trust in Christ alone, your sin remains unforgiven.” The Holy Spirit enables us to  authoritatively declare that God has indeed forgiven the sins of any who believe in Jesus Christ. 5

Jesus did something similar when He said to the Pharisees who overheard Christ’s conversation with the former blind man, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (John 9:41). Christ is saying to these self-righteous religious leaders, “If you recognized your spiritual blindness and acknowledged your sin and guilt, you would have believed in Me for forgiveness. And I would have forgiven you so ‘you would have no sin.’ But because you claim to have spiritual sight and deny your own sin, and refuse to come to Me for forgiveness, ‘your sin remains.’ ”

Now Jesus’ disciples (including you and me) would continue His ministry relative to the forgiveness of sins. When we share the gospel, care must be taken to make sure they understand that only God forgives. But the messenger does state it. What a high privilege we have in announcing the forgiveness of sins to those who believe in Jesus Christ alone.

This leads to our final principle for overcoming our fears. REVIEW CHRIST’S MESSAGE OF FORGIVENESS AS YOU PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST (John 20:23). If you are afraid to share the gospel with the unsaved because you are not sure what to say, review the message of the gospel with another Christian before going out to share with non-believers. You can role play with that believer. Have the other person assume the role of the non-Christians while you assume the role of the Christian and share the gospel with him or her. And remember, the gospel by which we are saved is that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-6). Then invite the non-Christian to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of all his or her sins (Acts 10:43).

When we share the good news of God’s forgiveness with non-believers, we not only bless those who hear the message, but we are also blessed to be reminded of the unlimited forgiveness we have in Christ. One of the greatest blessings we can receive is the joy of knowing that all our sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ! Every time we share the gospel with a lost person, we are blessed to review this incredible truth. Any doubts or fears we may have about being totally forgiven are quickly dispelled as we proclaim God’s free and unlimited forgiveness through Jesus Christ to a lost world.

But it is also true that one of the greatest fears a person can have is knowing your sins are not forgiven before you face a holy God. This is one of the main reasons why people are afraid of dying. They are not prepared to face their Maker without the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

As we saw earlier, the Lord God said, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25; cf. Hebrews 10:16-18). God chooses to remember our sins no more when He forgives us.

If you are a Christian and you know God has forgiven you, but you are struggling to forgive yourself, listen to what Larry Moyer says about such a dilemma. “This is a beautiful way to explain God’s forgiveness: if what we have done is no longer on His mind, it doesn’t have to be on ours either.” 6

The more we focus on Christ’s forgiveness of all our sins, the less fear we will have about our future and the more joy we will have today.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You so much for entrusting us with Your gospel message. Even though we are often afraid before sharing this life-giving message with the unsaved, we are also excited to watch what You will do in the listeners’ hearts. What a high privilege You have given us in announcing the forgiveness of sins to those who believe in You, and Your death and resurrection. Please provide other Christians we can practice sharing the gospel with to overcome our fears of not knowing what to say to a non-Christian. We are realizing that the more we share the gospel with the unsaved, the more we are reminded of the complete forgiveness we received the moment we believed in Jesus. Please let Your forgiveness ring throughout our communities and world. In Your mighty name I pray, Lord Jesus. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1. J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), pg. 367 cites H.E. Dana and Julius Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1927), pp. 200-201.

2. Tom Constable, Notes on John (2017 Edition), pg. 380.

3. Laney, pg. 367 cites Julius R. Mantey, “Evidence That the Perfect Tense in John 20:23 and Matthew 16:19 Is Mistranslated,” JETS 16 (1973): 129-138.

4. Archibald Thomas, A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (with Bible and Strongs Numbers Added!), 6 Volumes (The Ephesians Four Group: 2014 Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 77918-77920.

5. Tony Evans, CSB Bibles by Holman. The Tony Evans Bible Commentary (B & H Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2019), pg. 1829.

6. R. Larry Moyer, Show Me How to Illustrate Evangelistic Sermons (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2012), pg. 288.

How can Jesus’ resurrection make a difference in our daily lives? Part 1

“Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” John 20:1

The apostle John wrote the gospel of John to non-Christians so they “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:31). In chapters 1-12, John records seven miraculous signs of Jesus to persuade non-Christians to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God so they may have eternal life in His name. Then in John 20 he records the eighth and greatest miraculous sign – the resurrection of Jesus! The entire book of John has been leading up to this exciting event! What makes it even more exciting is that John was there to watch it all happen as an eyewitness.

Some people think Jesus was in His resurrected body for a short time on earth and was seen by only a few people. But the truth is He was in His resurrected body on earth for over a month and He was seen by over 500 people (Acts 1:1-3; I Corinthians 15:3-8). This is an incredible event and for the next few days we are going to see how Jesus’ resurrection can make a difference in our daily lives.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to a lot of different people at different times. Today we are going to see that He first appeared to Mary Magdalene. The resurrected Jesus is alive. He makes Himself known in peoples’ lives. The exciting thing about each of these appearances is the difference it made in people’s lives when they saw Him alive after His death and burial.

As we take a look at how the empty tomb challenged the life of Mary Magdalene, we are going to see how He can make a difference in our daily lives. The first way the risen Lord Jesus can make a difference is to DISPEL THE DARKNESS IN OUR LIVES WITH THE LIGHT OF HIS RESURRECTION (John 20:1). The apostle John writes, “Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1). Let’s look at some important details in this one verse.

The first detail is that it was “on the first day of the week.” What is the first day of the week? Sunday. Interestingly, “for the Jews, Sunday (the day after the first Sabbath following Passover cf. Leviticus 23:11) would be the Feast of First Fruits. On this day the Jews would present the first sheaf of the barley harvest to the Lord in the Temple. This offering was both an expression of gratitude and an expression of faith that a full harvest was about to follow. It is significant that Jesus rose from the grave on the Feast of First Fruits. And so Paul presents Christ as the ‘first fruits’ of the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:20-23).“ 1

In the Old Testament, believers worshiped God on the Sabbath which was Saturday. But in the New Testament believers got together on Sunday because that was the day of Jesus’ resurrection (cf. Acts 20:7). This is why believers around the world worship the Lord together on Sunday. It is resurrection day! Some believers insist that you must worship the Lord on Saturday to be a true believer. But the Bible tells us in Romans 14:5-6a that it doesn’t matter what day or night of the week you worship because we are no longer under the regulations of the Old Testament Law anymore (cf. Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24; 4:5). So you could worship the Lord together on a Wednesday night if you wanted to. What matters is that your observance shows your commitment “to the Lord” (Romans 14:6).

The second detail is the word “early.” The Greek word [prōi, πρωί] refers to “the watch that is between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.” 2  It is very early in the morning while it is still dark. The reason Mary and other women [note plural “we” in verse 2, cf. Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1,10) got up early to go to the tomb was because it was a tradition of the Jews to go to the tomb for at least three days after the person was buried to take care of the body and make sure all the spices were in the right places. They couldn’t go on the Sabbath day, so they had to wait until Sunday. I also believe Mary was eager to go to the tomb so early because of her love and devotion for Jesus, living and dead, which was based on her gratitude for His delivering her from bondage to Satan (cf. Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). She had been an observer at the cross and now was the first person at the grave. 3

So as early as she could get up on Sunday while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went down to the tomb. She, being a agile young woman, ran ahead of the other women and came to the tomb first, and discovered that the tomb had already been opened. 4

The third detail to observe is that “it was still dark.” This reference to it being “dark” may refer to both the physical darkness of the morning and the emotional and spiritual darkness that Mary was probably experiencing.Mary no doubt was stricken with grief by Jesus’ sufferings and death. After all, this was the Messiah-God who had healed her from demon possession (cf. Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). He wasn’t supposed to die like this! Mary had no idea what had already happened that Sunday morning. So this was a very dark morning for her emotionally and spiritually.

What about you? Is this a dark day for you? Is your life filled with doubt and uncertainty in light of the coronavirus? Are you struggling with negative attitudes this week? You may not admit it to anyone else, but you may be thinking, “I wouldn’t be around me this week if I were honest about it.” Some of you may be struggling with your faith. You think, “I hear other people talk about faith and how great faith can be and how it makes a difference in their lives but if I was really being honest, I’d have a lot of question marks about it. I’m not a very trusting person.”  

The fourth detail to notice is that John says, “the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” The word for “taken away” [ērmenon, ἠρμένον] means “to lift up and carry away.” It conveys the idea of being “tossed aside.” It was not slowly rolled away. It was thrown aside by the angel of God when he arrived (cf. Matthew 28:2). The power of God tossed this stone aside! This is probably why Matthew tells us the Roman guards shook with fear and became like dead men (cf. Matthew 28:4). I would have done the same!

When the stone was thrown aside, it was not so Jesus could come out of the tomb. Jesus in His resurrected body went through the grave clothes that surrounded Him. Jesus in His resurrected body had the power to go through doors and into rooms without the doors being opened. So I’m suggesting that Jesus had already come out of the tomb before the stone was thrown aside. The stone was removed so the disciples could come into the tomb and see that it was empty. This is what makes Christianity distinct from all other religions. The founders of all other religions are still dead in their graves, but Christians worship a Jesus Christ that left an empty tomb behind Him! We worship a Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and remains alive today! Hallelujah!

If you are struggling in the dark with bad attitudes, doubts, or your faith, the resurrection power of Jesus Christ can change all of that. The same power that brought Jesus back to life can also resurrect a joyful attitude in you and replace your doubts with an unwavering confidence in Jesus and His promises. His resurrection power can revitalize your faith so that all fear is gone and His joy can overflow in your life.

If part of your struggle in the dark is with sin and shame, please know that Jesus’ resurrection power guarantees unlimited forgiveness in Christ to all who believe in Him. You may think your sin is too great for God to forgive. You may believe shame-based lies that say no one could accept or love you as you are. This is not true. Listen to God’s voice of truth: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God loved you so much He sent His Son to die in your place when you were still an ungodly sinner. God loved you at your worst. He did not wait for you to clean up your life. He loved you just as you are. God loves you regardless of what you have done or what others say or think of you.

The risen Lord Jesus now invites you to come to Him just as you are to receive His forgiveness. The Bible says, “Everyone who puts his trust in Christ will have his sins forgiven through His name” (Acts 10:43). The word “everyone” includes the worst and the best of people. It includes people of all faiths. It does not matter if you are a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or Universalist, Jesus invites you to believe or trust in Him alone to receive His unlimited forgiveness.

The Bible says the moment we believed in Jesus alone, “He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14). No one can successfully condemn you now because Christ was condemned to death for your sins, removing your guilt ( Romans 8:34b). Jesus was raised to life, satisfying God’s demand to punish your sins (Romans 8:34c). Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father defending you against all accusations (Romans 8:34d). And Jesus intercedes for you that your faith won’t fail, you won’t give up, so that you can encourage others (Romans 8:34e; cf. Luke 22:32).

Hallelujah! Jesus is alive, and we who believe in Him are forgiven of all our sins – past, present, and future! The darkness is gone because the Son is risen! Oh let us worship our risen Savior together!!!

Prayer: My risen Lord Jesus, I worship You this day because You have conquered sin, death, and the devil through Your death and resurrection. The darkness is gone because the Son is risen! You alone are my risen Savior, Lord Jesus! There is none like You. Even when I have dark days filled with doubt, fear, and shame, You are still alive and You are with me and love me more than I could ask or imagine. Thank You for dispelling the darkness on that first Sunday after Your death and burial. And thank You for continuing to dispel the darkness in this world through Your gospel of grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

ENDNOTES:

1.  J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), pg. 358.

2. Walter Bauer,A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition (BDAG) revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000 Kindle Edition), pg. 892.

3. Edwin A. Blum, The Bible Knowledge Commentary Gospels, Editors John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, (David C Cook, 2018 Kindle Edition), pp. 695-696.

4. J. Dwight Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), pg. 496 cites J. W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1946), pp. 611-612; cf. Laney, Moody Gospel John Commentary, pg. 358.

5. Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Third Edition, pg. 28.

Lesson 1 Part 4 – Three principles to guide discipleship training (Video)

This is the fourth video of our Lesson 1 discipleship training. It addresses important truths for growing in the Christians life. It also looks at three essential principles that will guide the remainder of this discipleship training.

Lesson 1 Part 2 – Sharing the Gospel (Video)

This video provides practical instruction on how to share the good news or gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not have Christ in their lives. If you are eager to introduce people to the Savior of the world, this video will equip you to do just that! This video is also great for those who do not know for sure they will go to heaven when they die. The contents of this video will clearly show them from the Bible what they must know and believe to go to heaven.

How can we experience Jesus’ cleansing truth in our lives?

You may recall that in John 1:14 we saw that Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” He was the perfect balance of grace and truth. Earlier in John 2:1-11, we saw Jesus express His grace by transforming water into wine at a wedding banquet in Cana of Galilee. He replaced something old with something new. New wine replaced old water. Today we will see His truth at work replacing a dirty temple with a clean one. From this we will discover how we can experiencing Jesus’ cleansing truth in our lives. The first way is seen in 2:12-16.

“After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.” (John 2:12). Jesus spends some quiet time at Capernaum with friends – those closest to Him. As important as time with friends is, Jesus did not want to miss going up to Jerusalem to worship God during the Passover. “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John 2:13). The Passover was a Jewish festival celebrating God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, when the angel of death passed over every home where the blood of a lamb was applied to the doorposts of the home (Exodus 12-13). It also initiated the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so the entire celebration lasted over a week. Jews from all over the world came to Jerusalem to meet with God and be obedient to His commands.   

While Jesus tried to make His way into the Temple, He discovered that it had become a place of peddling instead of a place of prayer. “And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.” (John 2:14). This temple money system was known as Annas’ Bazaar. Annas gave up his priesthood to run this temple money system. He placed his three sons in the priesthood, and God killed them. Then he placed his son in-law Caiaphas, in the priesthood so Annas could run the temple business.

Let’s say you come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. You bring an animal to sacrifice to the Lord, because that’s the way you worshiped God then. Your children had cared for this animal for months and he had become a cherished pet – though he was about to become the family’s sacrifice. You go into the temple courtyard and there is a “booth of approval” manned by one of the strictest of the Pharisees. Before you could offer your family’s lamb for sacrifice it had to be approved. But this inspector finds defects in your lamb. “Hey, we can’t accept this animal as a sacrifice – it has too many things wrong with it. You need to go to the venders’ booth, over there. There you can buy a lamb pre-approved for sacrifice.” Think of how your kids feel. “What about our lamb? Doesn’t God care about that? How do we get to God?” So, you go over to the vendors’ booth and pay ten times the real value for a pre-approved lamb. (Just like when you go to the theater and a 50-cent bag of popcorn costs you $4.) So, you get your money out to buy one of his animals.

And he says to you, “Wait a minute. We can’t accept that currency. You need to exchange your coins for temple money over here at the money-changers’ table and that will be an extra fee.” Therefore, you go up to the moneychangers’ table and give them a silver dollar and they only give you 25 cents of temple money. Just like if you went to a pawn shop with a $1000-dollar ring and the broker would only offer you $100. Wanting to show your love for God you pay all these fees. And by the end of the day, you didn’t know if you were pleasing God or just pleasing the religious leaders. Meeting with God seemed too far beyond your reach.

This scene is what Jesus saw when He entered the temple. How does our Lord respond? “When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.” (John 2:15). This is not the soft spoken, gentle Savior that so many of us often think Jesus was. Here we find Jesus angry and aggressive as He drives out animals, overturns tables, and creates a scene. I mean it must have been like being in one of those villages in Spain when they let the bulls run loose in the streets. Cows and sheep are running loose. People are yelling and screaming, “Help! Out of the way! The Carpenter has gone crazy!”

 Whenever Jesus sees one of the merchants, He points the finger and says. “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16). The temple was designed by God to be a place where people could meet with God. But it had become a place where people were abused in the name of God! The tragic truth was this had become the least likely place where you could meet with the Lord. Jesus must remove the religious pretenders before He can truly minister to those who need Him.

For many people today, this is still a reality. There are people today who long to meet with God in a place of worship, but when they go, all too often they discover a system that gives them more work to do to be “close” to God. The problem with this is they never know if they are pleasing God or the religious leaders. You say to yourself, “Something feels wrong with having to follow all of these rules – but it is God’s House. It says so on the sign.” And they get worn out or they leave and give up on God altogether.

Please understand, that if you came out of a church where you had to pay and pay and pay some more to get close to God, you have come to the right place. You have come to a place where Jesus fights for you just like He did back then. And He wants to heal your hurts and lighten your load. He wants to make it so easy for you to come (just as you are) and meet with Him. Jesus does not charge you to meet with Him. It’s free just like salvation. Jesus does not want anything at His church to make it difficult for people to worship Him …to draw closer to Him.

Jesus warns all of us who are spiritual leaders: Woe to you if you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men. We need to ask ourselves are we door-openers or door closers? Are we making it difficult for people to come to Christ or simple? Sometimes the Lord must remove religious pretenders before true worship can take place…before Jesus can truly minister His grace to those in need. I truly believe when Jesus is free to minister His grace in a church – look out! It will explode with people who need His healing touch.

So the first way to experience Jesus’ cleansing truth is to Rely On Christ To Cleanse Your Life (John 2:12-16) from sin and corruption. According to the Bible, where is the temple of God located today? The answer to this question is in 1 Corinthians 3:16. The apostle Paul is writing to Christians, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” The temple of God is no longer located in Jerusalem. It is now located in every believer in Jesus Christ. The temple is located in our bodies. In the Old Testament, God’s temple was a sacred place. It was a place where God Himself resided and where people came to worship Him. Today, God’s temple is still a sacred place where God dwells.

The truth is all of us are like those religious leaders who were robbing the people of their money. All of us are thieves. Now you may say, “Wait a minute pastor. I’m not perfect, but I am no thief.” We probably all agree that we are not perfect, but are we all thieves? Maybe we wouldn’t break into our neighbor’s home to steal his stereo, but we rob him of his reputation when we gossip about him. Maybe you’ve never stolen a woman’s virginity, but you rob her future husband of the gratification that God intended only him to have when you lust after her. You don’t have to steal money to be a thief. If Jesus came today and looked at the temple of God in you, would He have the same reaction as He did in Jerusalem with the corrupt merchants? Would He get angry at what He saw or would He be pleased with what He sees in your life? Friends, if we have pollution in God’s temple, then it’s time for us to allow Jesus to clean it out and stop trying to hide and cover up our sins.

One day a man purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped the mouse into the snake’s glass cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. What did the terrified mouse do? He quickly set to work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem. Listen, no matter how hard we try to hide or deny our sins, it’s futile. Sin will eventually awake from its sleep and shake off its cover and eat us alive.

So how do we allow Jesus to cleanse our lives from sin and corruption? If you are not a Christian, you must trust in Christ alone to forgive your sins. The Bible says: “All the prophets say it is true that all who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of their sins.” (Acts 10:43). Before we become Christians, our lives are contaminated by sin. This sin separates us from God. And since God is holy and perfect, He cannot dwell in our contaminated bodies until we trust Christ to forgive us and cleanse us of all our wrongdoings. So, the moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, God removes the barriers of sin and comes to live inside you forever.

If you are already a Christian, the Bible instructs you to confess your sin to God: “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). To confess means to agree with God that what you did, said or thought was wrong. When you do this, God is faithful to forgive you and cleanse you from all sin, even that which you are not aware of.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I read the Scripture this morning, I found myself sitting in judgment over the religious leaders of Israel who had turned the temple of God into a place of peddling instead of a place of prayer. But Your Spirit convicted me that I am no better than those religious leaders. I also have stolen from others, especially from You, my Lord and my God. Instead of giving You my time, talents, and treasures, I keep them to myself, taking from You what is rightfully Yours. I have also stolen from others with my words and my thoughts. Like the religious leaders, I also have made it difficult for others to approach You in worship by being less than Christlike towards them. Oh my Lord and my God, I agree with You that I have sinned against You and others with my thoughts, my words, and my actions. Thank You for forgiving me and cleansing me of all my sins including those I am not aware of. Thank You for fighting for me so I may approach You just as I am when others have made it difficult to do so with their various regulations and rituals. Thank You for being for me and not against me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Releasing my problems to Jesus

“And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’” John 2:3

There is no such thing as a perfect wedding. There are always going to be problems – some of them small and some of them large. In John 2:1-11, Jesus and His disciples were attending “a wedding in Cana of Galilee” where Jesus’ mother, Mary, seemed to be the wedding coordinator (John 2:2). A big problem took place at this wedding celebration. “They ran out of wine.” (John 2:3a).

To the Jewish people, wine symbolized joy. Running out of wine at a wedding banquet in the first century was so serious that lawsuits could be brought against you by the offended guests. The presence of wine stated that this was a special day and that all the guests were special guests.

I can imagine that the bride was getting pretty anxious about this time! I can hear her saying to her mother, “My wedding day is not supposed to be like this! I’m supposed to be filled with joy. But instead, I’m worried about what everyone is going to say or do when they discover that we have run out of wine.”

Maybe you have had similar thoughts. “My marriage is not supposed to be the mess that it is. Parenting isn’t supposed to be filled with so much stress. Christianity is not supposed to be like this. I’m supposed to be overflowing with joy – or so I’ve heard – but nothing seems to be going right. My joy is gone.” You may not know where your joy went. You just woke up one morning, and the supply had been completely drained. Some things have come along that you didn’t anticipate that have stolen your joy. Maybe some people have come into your life, and by their attitudes or actions, they have depleted your joy. Perhaps you have overbooked your schedule and lost your joy as a result. Sometimes we can lose our joy because of sin in our lives.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, may have been the one responsible for coordinating this wedding feast. It would have been embarrassing for her to admit that she had not planned on enough wine. Embarrassing or not, she was willing to admit that there was a need. She said to Jesus, “They have no wine” (John 2:3b). That’s what we have to do too. We have to admit that there is a need – that we are running out of joy. It may be because of our own choices or the choices of others, it does not matter. What matters is that we admit that there is a problem because then we can do something about it.

That’s what Mary did. When she realized that there was a problem, she took the problem to Jesus. She said to Him, “They have no wine.” (John 2:3b). She didn’t try to solve it in her own strength. The fact that Mary came to Jesus indicates she believed He could resolve the problem. This tells us that Jesus is concerned with the everyday things in life that we face. This family may not have exhibited a lot of wisdom in how they planned for the wedding celebration, but the wisest thing that they could have ever done was to invite Jesus. The very presence of Jesus at this wedding opened the possibility to a miracle.

And you know something? Jesus is also here with us today. The Bible tells us that He died for our sins…was buried… and on the third day He rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-6). He is alive today and His power is available to everyone who believes in Him. With Jesus’ presence in our lives, there is enough power to resolve whatever problem you may be facing and build a life that is filled with joy.

When Mary came to Jesus and communicated the problem to Him, His response toward her may seem a little cold and harsh to us in the twenty-first century. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.’ ” (John 2:4). Literally, Jesus says, “What to Me and to you, woman?” This may seem disrespectful to our modern ears to address one’s mother as “woman,” but this was an acceptable term in that day (cf. John 19:26; 20:15).

There may be times when we bring our requests to God for what we think would bring joy into our lives – but God’s response seems cold and harsh. It seems like the windows of heaven are closed. But the response that Jesus gave to Mary was to let her know that she was no longer in control. He was no longer under obligation to do what she wanted when she wanted it. He was now obligated to fully obey His heavenly Father not His earthly mother.

When it comes to asking God to do certain things in our lives, God is under no obligation to do things our way or in our time. He commands us; we do not command Him. God knows better than we ever could what will bring us the most joy and when is the most beneficial time for Him to answer our requests. God does miracles and He answers prayers, but He does it in His time and in His way.

There is one prayer that Jesus will always answer with a “yes” as soon as that prayer is offered up to Him. That is the prayer for forgiveness. After King David had sinned against God, he prayed to Him, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2). Notice that David did not ask God to forgive him according to David’s goodness or righteousness, but according to God’s “lovingkindness” and “the multitude of” His “tender mercies.” That is called grace – receiving what we do not deserve.

As believers in Jesus, we still sin after we are saved from hell (I John 1:8, 10), but all God asks us to do when we do sin is “confess our sins” to Him “and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9). Confessing our sins restores our fellowship or closeness with God after we have sinned against Him.

If you do not have Jesus in your life, the Bible invites you to believe or trust in Him alone for His unlimited forgiveness of all your sins – past, present, and future. “All the prophets say it is true that all who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of their sins through Jesus’ name.” (Acts 10:43; cf. Colossians 2:13-14). He will then come to live inside of you and fill you with His joy (Romans 8:11; 15:13; Galatians 2:20).

If your joy is gone, or if you have never found joy because you are living a life that is contrary to what God says, then come to Jesus as you are. He will work the miracle of forgiveness. He will fill you with His joy.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I come to You now as a broken cistern that is deplete of any joy. I have stubbornly insisted on living my life my way instead of Yours. Instead of turning to You to restore my joy, I have continued down a path that dishonors and hurts You. Most of my problems I have brought on myself through my foolish and selfish decisions. I am deeply sorry for all the pain I have caused to You and to those close to me. Please forgive me my Lord and my God. Thank You for washing away my sin and restoring Your joy in my life. I release my problems to You. I give everyone one and everything to You, my Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

How to be used greatly by God – Part 3

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” John 1:29

If God is going to greatly use us, we must not only recognize who we are not (John 1:19-21) and who we are (John 1:22-23), but we must also point others to Jesus Christ (John 1:24-29). This is what John the Baptist does next.

After John’s examiners basically ask him what gives him the right to baptize (John 1:24-25), John points them to Jesus. “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” (John 1:26-27). John is saying,“This is not about me. It is not about the rite of baptism. It is not about by whose authority I baptize. It is all about Jesus.” John’s interest is in Christ and Christ alone. In accordance with the gospel of John’s purpose (John 20:31), John the Baptist’s testimony tells us who Jesus is.

So first, John tells us about Jesus’ greatness (John 1:26-27). John informs these religious leaders that there is one who stands in their midst, who they do not know, whose sandals he is not worthy to unlace (John 1:26-27). Loosing another’s sandal was the most menial of tasks. Only the lowest slaves would loosen sandals. Even disciples were not asked to loosen the sandals of their teachers. Yet John says, “I am unworthy to do the single most humbling task—loosen His sandals.” Why? Because of His greatness.    

Throughout this passage we see John’s humility. As the introducer to Jesus, John possessed a tremendous privilege. God trusts the humble with great privileges because He knows they will not receive any glory for themselves. They will give God the glory. If you want God to use you greatly, you must get out of His way and humbly follow Him.

Second, John tells us of Jesus’ sacrifice (John 1:29). John’s public testimony continues the following day. As the Baptizer ministers, he sees Jesus coming toward him and makes one of the great statements of the New Testament. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). What is John saying here? If you read through the Old Testament, you will find it is filled with many blood sacrifices. Abel, the son of Adam, offered a lamb to God and God smiled upon that sacrifice (Genesis 4:4). Later Abraham made offerings to God (Genesis 15:9-21). Then the children of Israel were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle its blood on their doorposts, so the angel of death would pass over their family without killing the firstborn (Exodus 12:1-28). Israelites were also taught at the foot of Mount Sinai to bring certain animals to slay and to offer the blood and meat of those animals to God (Exodus 20:24).

Many are offended by the fact that the Old Testament is replete with animal sacrifices,  of actual blood being spilled. Every morning and every evening there were animals slain in the temple in Jerusalem. On the great feast days of Israel thousands of animals were sacrificed. A stream of blood runs all through the Old Testament.

Every sacrifice was a testimony that Someone was coming who would supply that explanation. Now, at last, there is an answer to the cry of Isaac, as Abraham his father was taking him upon the mountain to offer him, “Where is the lamb?” and Abraham replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb” (Genesis 22:7-8). Centuries later, as John sees Jesus coming toward him, knowing who He was, having baptized Him six weeks earlier, he says to the crowd, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Here is the One who will satisfy God’s demand to punish our sins.

John states that the sacrifice of this Lamb “takes away” the sin of the world. The verb used here (airōn) symbolizes more than just “covering” (to cover something means it is still there). When John says the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world, it means that He removes it.         

When I shared this message in a church in South Des Moines, Iowa, we had an individual wearing a T-shirt with the word “SIN” taped on it. They tried praying and reading their Bible, but the “SIN” label was still there. The person tried to wear a jacket to cover the sin. Others may not see his sin, but God still sees it. Another person came representing Jesus. The “SIN” label was then placed on him. This was the only way his sin could be removed.

Only Jesus’ blood can remove the stain of sin in our lives. No amount of good living on our part can remove the stain. “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). When God looks at the good things we think, say, and do, He sees that they are all stained with sin. Only Jesus can remove the stain of our sin through His shed blood. This is why John the Baptist pointed people to Jesus, the Lamb of God. And so must we.

Furthermore, Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient for “the sin of the world” (John 1:29b). It is comprehensive in its nature. In other words, when Jesus died, His sacrifice was completely adequate for the needs of all people. It was sufficient for all. Listen to what the Bible says about Jesus’ sufficient sacrifice:

We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” I John 2:1-2. The word “propitiation” refers to God’s satisfaction with Jesus’ death being the full payment for all of our sins.

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:11-14 

“He [Jesus] has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Hebrews 9:26

“ But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God… For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12, 14

My wife shared something with me today at lunch that really touched me. You can see her insights in the picture above. The horizontal cross beam reminds us of what Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The cross of Jesus provides the basis for removing our sins as far as the east is from the west, far out of our reach. The vertical post of the cross points to Micah 7:19 which says, “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” The cross provides the basis of casting our our sins out of our sight into the depths of the sea.

To receive the benefits of Jesus’ sufficient sacrifice, you must believe or trust in Him as your Savior from sin. No further sacrifice is required. Christ’s sacrifice was all that is needed. We are told that His sacrifice is substitutionary (Romans 5:8; I Corinthians 15:3-4) and sufficient (Hebrews 9:11-10:14; I John 2:2).

Have you believed in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, to take away your sins? If not, why not believe or trust in Him now for His unlimited forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14)? The apostle Peter invited a religious man named Cornelius to believe in Christ for forgiveness: “All the prophets say it is true that all who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of their sins through Jesus’ name.” (Acts 10:43). Does the word “all” include you? Yes. It includes everyone from every nation, tribe, and language group. Jesus loves everyone and He died for everyone (John 3:16; I Timothy 2:3-6) so that everyone may be forgiven of all their sin if they will come to Him on His terms. What are His terms? Jesus said to “believe in Him” (John 3:15-18; cf. John 6:40; 11:25-26; Acts 10:43). Stop trusting in yourself or your good life and trust in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, to take away your sins forever!

If you just believed in Jesus for His forgiveness of all your sins, the Bible says your sins are forgiven – past, present, and future (Acts 10:43; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Revelation 1:5). All your sins are removed beyond your reach as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12). They are cast out of your sight into the deepest part of the sea (Micah 7:19). Nothing, including your guilt and shame, can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39)! God is now your Father and you are His child forever (John 1:12; 6:37). God wants to use you now to share this good news with others. Learn to follow Jesus and He will teach you how to fish for men and women, boys and girls with His gospel message (Matthew 4:19).

Being used greatly by God involves knowing who we are not (John 1:19-21), who we are (John 1:22-23), and pointing others to Jesus (John 1:24-29). Lord willing, we will talk more tomorrow about pointing others to Jesus. Until then, may Jesus richly bless you.

Prayer: Precious Lamb of God, thank You for taking my place on the cross to pay the full penalty for my sins. Your sacrifice was sufficient not only for all of my sins, but for the sin of the world. The moment I believed in You and Your sufficient sacrifice for my sins, all of the wrong things I have done, said, and thought were all forgiven and removed from my sight and out of my reach forever! Please use me, Lamb of God, to point others to You by focusing on Your greatness as a Person and Your sufficient sacrifice for the sin of the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The darkness is gone because the Son is risen

“Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” John 20:1

The apostle John wrote the gospel of John to non-Christians so they “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:31). In chapters 1-12, John records seven miraculous signs of Jesus to persuade non-Christians to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God so they may have eternal life in His name. Then in John 20 he records the eighth and greatest miraculous sign – the resurrection of Jesus! The entire book of John has been leading up to this exciting event! What makes it even more exciting is that John was there to watch it all happen as an eyewitness.

Some people think Jesus was in His resurrected body for a short time on earth and was seen by only a few people. But the truth is He was is in His resurrected body on earth for over a month and He was seen by over 500 people (Acts 1:1-3; I Corinthians 15:3-8). This is an incredible event and today we are going to see how Jesus’ resurrection can make a difference in our daily lives.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to a lot of different people at different times. Today we are going to see that He first appeared to Mary Magdalene. The resurrected Jesus is alive. He makes Himself known in peoples’ lives. The exciting thing about each of these appearances is the difference it made in people’s lives when they saw Him alive after His death and burial.

As we take a look at how the empty tomb challenged the life of Mary Magdalene, we are going to see how He can make a difference in our daily lives. “Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (20:1). Let’s look at three important details in this one verse.

The first detail is that it was “on the first day of the week.” What is the first day of the week? Sunday. In the Old Testament, believers worshiped God on the Sabbath which was Saturday. But in the New Testament believers got together on Sunday because that was the day of Jesus’ resurrection (cf. Acts 20:7). This is why believers around the world worship the Lord together on Sunday. It is resurrection day! Some believers insist that you must worship the Lord on Saturday to be a true believer. But the Bible tells us in Romans 14:5-6a that it doesn’t matter what day or night of the week you worship because we are no longer under the regulations of the Old Testament Law anymore (cf. Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24; 4:5). So you could worship the Lord together on a Wednesday night if you wanted to. What matters is that your observance shows your commitment “to the Lord” (Romans 14:6).

The second detail is the word “early.” The Greek word [prōi, πρωί] refers to “the watch that is between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.” It is very early in the morning while it is still dark. The reason Mary and other women [note plural “we” in verse 2, cf. Luke 24:1,10) got up early to go to the tomb was because it was a tradition of the Jews to go to the tomb for at least three days after the person was buried to take care of the body and make sure all the spices were in the right places. They couldn’t go on the Sabbath day, so they had to wait until Sunday. So as early as she could get up on Sunday while it was still dark, she went down to the tomb.

The third detail to observe is that “it was still dark.” This reference to it being “dark” may refer to both the physical darkness of the morning and the emotional and spiritual darkness that Mary was probably experiencing. Mary no doubt was stricken with grief by Jesus’ sufferings and death. After all, this was the Messiah-God who had healed her from demon possession (cf. Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). He wasn’t supposed to die like this! Mary had no idea what had already happened that Sunday morning. So this was a very dark morning for her emotionally and spiritually.

What about you? Is this a dark day for you? Is your life filled with doubt and uncertainty in light of the coronavirus? Are you struggling with negative attitudes this week? You may not admit it to anyone else, but you may be thinking, “I wouldn’t be around me this week if I were honest about it.” Some of you may be struggling with your faith. You think, “I hear other people talk about faith and how great faith can be and how it makes a difference in their lives but if I was really being honest, I’d have a lot of question marks about it. I’m not a very trusting person.”  

The fourth detail to notice is that John says, “the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” The word for “taken away” [ērmenon, ἠρμένον] means “to lift up and carry away.” It conveys the idea of being “tossed aside.” It was not slowly rolled away. It was thrown aside by the angel of God when he arrived (cf. Matthew 28:2). The power of God tossed this stone aside! This is probably why Matthew tells us the Roman guards shook with fear and became like dead men (cf. Matthew 28:4). I would have done the same!

When the stone was thrown aside, it was not so Jesus could come out of the tomb. Jesus in His resurrected body went through the grave clothes that surrounded Him. Jesus in His resurrected body had the power to go through doors and into the rooms without the doors being opened. So I’m suggesting that Jesus had already come out of the tomb before the stone was thrown aside. The stone was removed so the disciples could come into the tomb and see that it was empty. This is what makes Christianity distinct from all other religions. The founders of all other religions are still dead in their graves, but Christians worship a Jesus Christ that left an empty tomb behind Him! We worship a Jesus Christ who rose from the dead and remains alive today! Hallelujah!

If you are struggling in the dark with bad attitudes, doubts, or your faith, the resurrection power of Jesus Christ can change all of that. The same power that brought Jesus back to life can also resurrect a joyful attitude in you and replace your doubts with an unwavering confidence in Jesus and His promises. His resurrection power can revitalize your faith so that all fear is gone and His joy can overflow in your life.

If part of your struggle in the dark is with sin and shame, please know that Jesus’ resurrection power guarantees unlimited forgiveness in Christ to all who believe in Him. You may think your sin is too great for God to forgive. You may believe shame-based lies that say no one could accept or love you as you are. This is not true. Listen to God’s voice of truth: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God loved you so much He sent His Son to die in your place when you were still an ungodly sinner. God loved you at your worst. He did not wait for you to clean up your life. He loved you just as you are. God loves you regardless of what you have done or what others say or think of you.

The risen Lord Jesus now invites you to come to Him just as you are to receive His forgiveness. The Bible says, “Everyone who puts his trust in Christ will have his sins forgiven through His name” (Acts 10:43). The word “everyone” includes the worst and the best of people. It includes people of all faiths. It does not matter if you are a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, or Universalist, Jesus invites you to believe or trust in Him alone to receive His unlimited forgiveness.

The Bible says the moment we believed in Jesus alone, “He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14). No one can successfully condemn you now because Christ was condemned to death for your sins, removing your guilt ( Romans 8:34b). Jesus was raised to life, satisfying God’s demand to punish your sins (Romans 8:34c). Jesus is now at the right hand of God the Father defending you against all accusations (Romans 8:34d). And Jesus intercedes for you that your faith won’t fail, you won’t give up, so that you can encourage others (Romans 8:34e; cf. Luke 22:32).

Hallelujah! Jesus is alive, and we who believe in Him are forgiven of all our sins – past, present, and future! The darkness is gone because the Son is risen! Oh let us worship our risen Savior together!!!

Prayer: My risen Lord Jesus, I worship You this day because You have conquered sin, death, and the devil through Your death and resurrection. The darkness is gone because the Son is risen! You alone are my risen Savior, Lord Jesus! There is none like You. Even when I have dark days filled with doubt, fear, and shame, You are still alive and You are with me and love me more than I could ask or imagine. Thank You for dispelling the darkness on that first Sunday after Your death and burial. And thank You for continuing to dispel the darkness in this world through Your gospel of grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.