Is Jesus Christ equal with God? Part 2

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24

After Jesus healed a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years (John 5:1-15), He established His equality with God before His enemies by claiming to be the Son of God (John 5:16-20). Now He establishes His equality with God the Father by claiming that HE IS THE SAVIOR (John 5:21-26). “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” (John 5:21). The Jews understood that only God has the power to give life. But now Jesus is claiming to have the same power as God the Father. Christ gives both physical life and everlasting life (cf. John 1:3-4, 12).

The claim of Jesus is that life belongs to Him. He only loans it to us for a while. This cuts right across the philosophy and the propaganda of our day! Much of our culture tells you that your life belongs to you, and you can do with it whatever you want; it is up to you to make of yourself whatever you desire. That is what is fed to us all the time. But that’s a lie! Your life is not yours. You did not invent it, you were given it by God. One of these days you will have to give it back to the Lord.

If this claim of Jesus is real, it clearly makes Him the most important Person in anybody’s life. If your very physical existence has come from Him, and your spiritual destiny is in His hands, then He is the most important Person you will ever have to deal with. More than that, He is the most important Person in all the universe.

“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” (John 5:22). The Jews thought it was God alone who would judge the world, but Jesus claims that the Father has given Him that privilege. Why? “…That all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” (John 5:23). The Jews believed that only God was to be honored and worshiped.

Jesus claims the same right to be worshiped and honored that the Father has. This emphasizes the unity of the Father and the Son. What is done to One, is also done to the other because they are equals. This is why other religions fall short. They cannot truly honor God or worship Him apart from Jesus Christ. This is why Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, etc., all fall short because they do not worship and honor God through Jesus Christ. They may say Jesus was a god or a prophet or a good moral teacher, but they do not believe He is the one true God (I John 5:20). And by rejecting Jesus Christ as God, they are rejecting His Father because Christ is the perfect reflection of the Father.

You will remember when Jesus healed the lame man, He chose him out of all the others that were by the pool. And this is a reminder that it is Jesus who graciously gives everlasting life. And this is how it happens…

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24). To whom does Jesus give eternal life? To the man or woman, boy or girl who “hears His word and believes in Him who sent Him.” When one hears His Word and believes what He says, Jesus says he “has everlasting life.” That means right now, not after you die. How long is everlasting life? 10… 100… 1,000… 1 million years? No! It is forever!

Next, He guarantees that you “shall not come into judgment.” That’s a promise and God does not break His promises. A believer in Jesus Christ will not be judged for his or her sins in the future because Christ was already judged for our sins when He died on the cross in our place. Such a one has “passed from death into life.”That means death is behind him, not before him. It is past, not present or future.

During a war, a soldier was critically wounded and the doctors were about to operate. Just before they did, one physician told the man, “It’s only fair to tell you that you have one chance in one hundred of coming through this operation.” The soldier replied, “Let’s get on with the operation. If I come out of it on this side, the doctors will welcome me. Should I come out of it on the other side, my Savior will welcome me.” Do you have that kind of assurance? If you don’t know for sure you will go to heaven when you die, ask yourself, “Am I TRUSTING Christ alone right now to get me to heaven?”

John 5:24 affirms the equality of the Father and the Son. He who hears Jesus’s Word and believes in the Father who sent Christ, has everlasting life. To believe in the Father, you must hear and believe in Christ since the Father sent Jesus that people might believe in Him. To believe in the Father was to believe in Christ because Jesus is the perfect reflection of the Father. Believing in the Son is one way to honor Him (cf. John 5:23).

“Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25). Already the “hour” of which Jesus speaks is nearly 2,000 years long. During that time those who are spiritually “dead” will possess everlasting life the moment they “hear the voice of the Son of God” and believe. Non-Christians are dead people walking around. They lack God’s life – eternal life.

But, Jesus also says, the hour “now is,” that is, it was already happening. By those words He is referring to His own giving to individuals of the gift of eternal life. We have already seen this in John’s gospel. Jesus had given the gift of eternal life to the troubled religious leader named Nicodemus (John 3) and to the dissatisfied Samaritan woman at the well along with the people of her village (John 4).

So, it was already happening, “the hour is coming, and now is,” when the spiritually dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and “those who hear will live” forever. “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” (John 5:26). As the Son of God, the One who is eternally with the Father, Jesus has always had this ability to give life to the spiritually dead. He has this life “in Himself.” He is the One who has always given eternal life, in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. He is our Savior.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the most incredible Person in the universe. You are the perfect reflection of God the Father because You are equal with Him. Thank You for giving me physical life and life that never ends the moment I believed in You. I worship You my Lord and my God because You alone give life and You alone judge this world. Please forgive those who fail to worship You as God. I beg of You to send Your Holy Spirit to them to convict them of their sin since they do not believe in You. Convict them of their need for Your righteousness to enter the Kingdom of God. And convict them of the judgment that awaits them should they continue in unbelief toward You. In Jesus’s name. Amen. 

Living life with the right priorities

“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’” John 4:34

During COVID-19 restrictions, I have noticed my waist line growing in size. If you are like me, you may be in the process of finding a diet plan to take off that COVID-19 fat to look good in your warm weather clothing. And there are as many diet plans out there as there are people. But that is not the case in our spiritual lives. God has one diet plan that will answer the needs of every person. His plan will reduce unwanted spiritual fat and fatigue. It will give you benefits which last far beyond this life. What is God’s diet plan?

LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH THE RIGHT PRIORITIES (John 4:31-34). While the Samaritan woman went back to her village to tell people about Jesus, Christ’s disciples focus on Jesus’ physical needs. “In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’ But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know.’ Therefore the disciples said to one another, ‘Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?’”(John 4:31-33). The disciples were encouraging Jesus to eat and He told them that He had food to eat. The disciples are asking themselves, “How can this be? He didn’t carry any food with Him. Did that woman give Him something to eat?” Before they left to get food, Jesus was tired and hungry (John 4:6), but now food and rest was not important to Him. Whatever food Christ spoke of, they weren’t familiar with it.

Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in what you were doing that you forgot to eat? Christ was so consumed with love for lost souls He had no interest in food or rest.

As followers of Christ, we must be careful that we do not get so focused on the physical realm that we forget about the spiritual needs of others. Christ shares the key to God’s diet plan. “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.’” (John 4:34). His focus is on doing what God wants Him to do. It was God’s will for Christ to give eternal life to the Samaritan woman and through her to the people of Sychar. Consequently, He felt no hunger while doing the will and work of God. God was seeking true worshipers (John 4:23-24) and that is why He gave the woman eternal life so she could worship the Father. Now it was time for the disciples to find worshipers for God. To eat and enjoy that task as one who eats and enjoys food was what Jesus was teaching them now. The Samaritan woman seemed to know this intuitively as she quickly went back to the village to tell others about Christ

Jesus says the priority now is to DO God’s will and FINISH His work. He is not talking about just knowing His will, but doing it. There may be 101 things you can do this week, but how can you get it all done? There is housework, homework, schoolwork, office work and church work. In a world full of things that need to be done, where do we go to get some sense of what to do first? How do we determine our priorities? Most of us just jump right in and overload ourselves. As a result, we begin to get very nervous. We say to ourselves, “Well, I will just have to try harder.”

Learn from Jesus how to determine your priorities:

1. Pray and seek wise counsel from the Lord. We can have problems determining our priorities if we are not taking time to hear God’s voice. Look at the order of determining priorities in Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

a. I must be still enough to hear God’s voice.

b. I will be able to know God and what He wants me to do.

c. God will be exalted as His priorities are carried out.

2. Plan and prioritize. We need to plan. Jesus did not choose to go with His disciples. He found a quiet place and had a one-on-one conversation with the Samaritan woman. He started talking about water, because that’s what the woman came to the well for. Then He gave her water that would satisfy her forever. Prioritize and you will be able to DO and FINISH the works God has entrusted you. 

Prayer: Father God, this is such a convicting message for me. It has been a struggle maintaining the right priorities in my life lately. I can easily become preoccupied with my own physical needs and the physical needs of those close to me during this COVID-19 crisis, so that I forget about the spiritual needs of others. Thank You for the example of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. Even though He was tired from His journey, He focused on her need for everlasting life. His food was to do Your will and finish Your work. Father, I want the same food that Jesus consumed. Please show me Your will for me at this time so I may finish the work You have set before me. I believe it involves sharing Your message of everlasting life with those You have prepared to hear and believe it so they may worship You in spirit and in truth. By Your grace, help me to finish well what You have set before me so that all the glory is given to You. Thank You for hearing my prayer, Father God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What you will and will not find in heaven

The last two chapters of the Bible reveal many details of what you will and will not find in heaven. Focusing on these things can dramatically impact our lives in the weeks and months ahead.

I. WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN HEAVEN

“Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” Revelation 21:5

According to Revelation 21-22, here are five things you will find in Heaven:

1. A REMARKABLE CITY. “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.” (Rev. 21:10). Heaven will consist of a beautiful city that is illuminated by Christ Himself (Rev. 21:11). Jesus’ presence will make this city look like a gigantic, glistening diamond. Instead of there being one pearly gate, there will be twelve pearly gates – three gates per wall. Look at the shape and size of this city (Rev. 21:12-13, 21a). This will be a square-shaped city that is fifteen hundred miles long, fifteen hundred miles wide, and fifteen hundred miles high (Rev. 21:16). This goes well beyond Earth’s atmosphere and into space. If a building in the city is this high and has a generous twelve feet per story, the building would be over six hundred sixty-six thousand stories! The New Jerusalem will appear to shine as a mass of pure gold with streets of gold (Rev. 21:18, 21b). The foundation of this remarkable city consists of twelve layers of precious jewels, making up the colors of the rainbow (Rev. 21:19-20).

2. REUNION with Other BELIEVERS. “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:9-10a).  Note the connection between the New Jerusalem and the Church (bride of Christ). Jesus promised the apostles of the Church, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). This remarkable city is being carefully prepared by God’s Son for His bride, the Church (cf. I Cor. 11:2; Ephes. 5:22-24).

The New Jerusalem will have twelve gates. “Also, she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (Rev. 21:12-13). Gates in ancient cities were often named with reference to where they led. For example, in ancient Jerusalem, the Benjamin gate led to the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. The names of the twelve apostles, whom Jesus promised would rule over the twelve tribes of Israel, are on the twelve foundations of the city (Rev. 21:14). What this suggests, is that King Jesus and the Church will rule Israel and the entire new earth from this city. So, every believer in Jesus during this Church age will live in the New Jerusalem and all other believers before and after the Church Age will live outside the City on the new earth. But these other believers will have access to the New Jerusalem: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Rev. 21:27b). How do you get your name written in the Lamb’s book of life? By grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

3. RESPONSIBILITIES.“And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” (Rev. 22:3). The Bible says you will have the responsibility of serving the Lord in heaven. And there will be many different jobs. For example, Isaiah 65 tells us: “17 For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. [bad memories will be erased] … 21 They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” (Isaiah 65:17, 21). There will be construction work in heaven and gardening. I believe the greatest inventions will be made in eternity. If people can put men on the moon and build skyscrapers in their fallen state, think of what they will be able to do in their perfect resurrection bodies!

Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992
www.revelationillustrated.com

4. REWARDS. There is so much teaching on this in the New Testament, but for now we’ll just look at one verse. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14). Believers whose lives are characterized by obedience to God’s commands now will enjoy access to the tree of life in the New Jerusalem and the privilege of being able to enter the city through its twelve main gates. The tree of life was in the original Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and it will flourish in God’s eternal kingdom, providing a different fruit each month and enhancing the lives of those who eat it. In the Middle East today, some cities have special VIP entrances into the city. The New Jerusalem will have twelve such gates. While all believers will be able to enter the city, only faithful believers will enter by the twelve gates of pearl. In the Old Testament to be “in the gates” was an honor reserved for the elders of the city. To enter New Jerusalem through one of its twelve gates of pearl, will be a great honor reserved only for those Christians who overcame in this life.

5. REJOICING. What I mean by this is we are going to worship in heaven. We will honor the Lord Jesus Christ forever in Heaven. We will celebrate who He is and what He has done throughout eternity! “And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” (Rev. 21:24). In heaven, there will be different nations perhaps much like today. The leaders of these nations (overcomers) will reenact what the wise men did almost two thousand years ago, when they brought their gifts to baby Jesus. In eternity, the kings of the earth are going to bring their glory (treasures) to King Jesus year after year in the New Jerusalem to worship and glorify Christ. This new earth is going to be a glorious place where everyone brings glory to God. All the curses that came as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden are going to be removed. There will be no more pollution… no animals that we need to fear… no people we need to fear – no criminals because no one will sin on the new earth. It will be like the Garden of Eden revisited. It will be paradise on the new earth, not in heaven. So, contrary to what many people think – we are not going to spend eternity floating on some cloud playing a harp in a colorless place. Instead we will spend eternity on the Garden of Eden revisited – the new earth.

Knowing what heaven will be like can motivate Christians to prepare for this wonderful place. While all believers in Jesus Christ will enter or occupy the new earth (Kingdom of God) through childlike faith alone in Christ alone for His free gift of eternal life (Matt. 18:3; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:16-17; John 3:5-16; Rev. 21:6), only those who faithfully trust and obey Christ until the end of their life on earth will inherit (Matt. 5:3; Rom. 8:17b; 2 Tim. 2:12; James 2:5; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 20:4, 6; cf. Exodus 12:48-49; Numbers 18:20-24; 36:7-9; Deuteronomy 21:15-17; I Cor. 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephes. 5:5-6) or possess all that is promised to the overcomer in Revelation including wearing special white garments (Rev. 3:4-5), ruling with Christ (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; cf. 2 Tim. 2:12), eating the fruit of the tree of life (Rev. 2:7), eating hidden manna (Rev. 2:17), receiving a white stone engraved with your own special name that only the Lord and you will know (Rev. 2:17), and receiving a special entrance into the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:7a; cf. 22:14).  

II. WHAT YOU WILL NOT FIND IN HEAVEN

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Here are five things you will not find in heaven according to Revelation 21:

1. No SADNESS.  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 21:4a). No more broken hearts … rejection… loneliness… grief. No more heartache. That is heaven. God will wipe away every tear from your eyes. You will not have sadness or grief again. Those of you who are grieving the loss of a loved one or maybe you’ve been going through a period of depression, one of the things that does in our lives is it just makes heaven seem a little bit closer. We want to go to heaven when we are in pain. Why? Because there is none there.

2.  No DEATH. “There shall be no more death.” (Rev. 21:4b). There will be no funerals in heaven… no more cemeteries. Why? Because in that heavenly city no one ever dies. You won’t ever have to be concerned about losing a loved one because death will be gone forever!

3. No SUFFERING. “There shall be no more pain” (Rev. 21:4c). No more bad hair days ladies and gentlemen. Everything about us will be perfect. This will be a glorious time. We will have glorified bodies. There will be no eyeglasses, no braces, no wheelchairs, no hearing aids, and no crutches. There will be no more hospitals, no ambulances, no CPR. COVID-19 will not exist, aspirin will be gone, accidents over, heart attacks banished, AIDS a distant memory, cancer done away with. No more chronic pain.

4. No SHADOWS. “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Rev. 21:23). There will be no need for the sun, moon or stars in heaven because the glory of Jesus will be its light. This will be the heavenly version of “the city that never sleeps.” We will not need to sleep because we will have glorified bodies that never grow tired. No need for caffeinated coffee! No sadness, no death, no suffering, no shadows…

5. No SIN. “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Rev. 21:27). Nothing that is sinful or leads to sin will ever be a part of the New Jerusalem. Unbelieving people and their evil ways will be confined to the Lake of Fire (21:8). I’m looking forward to the moment that I no longer have any temptations or sin in my life. No more hang-ups. Think about it – no more fears. Can you imagine what it’ll be like to live with no fear, no guilt, no shame, no resentment, no worry, no bitterness, no envy, no jealousy, no loneliness. But you’re still going to be you. You will still have your personality only without any weaknesses.

Heaven is going to be an incredible place! God loves you so much that He wants you to live with Him there for eternity. To do so, you must receive His free gift of eternal life. Why? Because the Bible says we are born with sinful hearts – “Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5). From the moment of conception, we possess a sinful nature that causes us to break God’s rules. Because all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23), we deserve to be separated from God forever in the Lake of Fire (Romans 6:23a; Rev. 20:15). But God’s love for those who don’t possess eternal life is so great that in the final two chapters of the Bible He offers eternal life (“the water of life”) as a free gift (Revelation 21:6; 22:17). “The water of life” is eternal life and Jesus offers it “freely” to those who believe in Him. You don’t work for eternal life because it has already been paid for when Jesus died on the Cross for our sins and rose from the dead.  Jesus said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47).

What is Jesus asking you to do that is hard for you to trust Him with? Is He asking you to trust Him for eternal life, but it’s hard for you to let go of your works and trust Him alone? It’s so simple that children get it and adults miss it. None of us are promised tomorrow. If you were to drop dead in the next minute are you absolutely certain you are going to heaven? If you are not, you can make sure right now. Why would anybody put it off? You need to settle this issue right now and you need to put your trust in Jesus for eternal life. When you trust Him, He gives you everlasting life (John 6:47), He forgives all your sins (Acts 10:43; Colossians 2:13-14), He places you in God’s family forever (John 1:12; 6:37), and He comes to live inside of you through His Holy Spirit (John 7:39a; Galatians 4:6). He guarantees that you will live with Him forever in Heaven when you die or are removed from the earth through the Rapture of the Church, whichever occurs first (John 3:16; I Thessalonians 1:10; 4:13-5:11; I John 5:13).

If you just believed or trusted in Jesus alone for His gift of everlasting life, you can tell Jesus this through prayer. But praying this prayer is not what gets you to heaven. Only trusting in Christ alone gets you to heaven. This prayer is a way of telling God you are now trusting in His Son.

“Dear Jesus, I come to you now as a sinner who cannot save himself. I believe You died in my place on the cross for all of my sins and rose from the dead. I am now trusting in You alone, Jesus (not my good life, my prayers, or my religion) to give me everlasting life and a future home in heaven. Thank You Jesus, for the everlasting life I now have and the future home I will have in heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

When you believed in Jesus, He gave you everlasting life which can never be lost (John 10:28-29). He forgave all of your sins (Acts 10:43; Col. 2:13-14) and placed you in His family forever (John 1:12; 6:37). Christ’s Spirit now lives inside of you to comfort, guide, and teach you how to follow Jesus as you read and apply the Bible (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). To help you grow in your new relationship with Jesus, please visit www.seeyouinheaven.life or www.knowing-Jesus.com or www.evantell.org.

If you found this article to be helpful, please share it with those you want to see in heaven. Thank you and may Jesus reveal more of Himself to you as you learn to follow Him.

*Note: 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.

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.

Why is singing a new song to the Lord important?

“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 96:1

The Psalmist instructs all the earth to “sing to the Lord a new song” (96:1a) because the Lord has revealed new blessings which are “the good news of His salvation from day to day” (96:2). “All peoples” need to hear this good news about God’s “glory” and “wonders” in creation which show that He is greater than all the lifeless “idols” that people tend to worship (96:3-5). All peoples of the earth are to “give to the Lord the glory due His name” because “He is coming to judge the earth… with righteousness” which will provide “salvation” (96:2) or deliverance from His enemies (96:7-13). The Lord Jesus Christ will fulfill these verses when He returns to earth with His church at the end of the Tribulation period to reign over all the earth during His Millennial Kingdom (cf. Revelation 19:7-20:6). 

I was captivated this morning by the command to sing “a new song” to the Lord. Several times God commands us to “sing a new song” to Him (Psalm 33:3; 96:1; 98:1; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10). As God reveals new blessings to His people, they are to respond by singing a new song which praises God for those blessings. Failure to sing a new song when God is doing something new in our lives is disobedience and can lead to a loss of joy and admiration for the Lord in our worship.

But when God’s people obey the Lord and write and/or sing new songs to the Lord which reflect the new manifestations of His grace toward us, He will reveal more of Himself to us (cf. John 14:21). Also, there will be an increase in our praise to Him and “many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (cf. Psalm 40:3). Being sensitive to the new manifestations of God’s grace to us in our songs to Him will increase our “fear” or admiration of Him and lead us to “trust” in Him more in our daily lives, and it can also lead the unsaved to “trust in the Lord” Jesus as their Savior. Hopefully, no Christian wants to hinder unsaved people from coming to faith in Christ because of a music style preference.

Contrary to what many Christians think, music style is not sacred to the Lord, but the words (lyrics) are sacred to Him. God enjoys all music styles (old, new, fast, slow, loud, soft, etc.) because He created them and He loves diversity (cf. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)! Just because we do not like all music styles does not mean God does not like them all. What matters most to God is not the music style, but that the songs we sing are offered up to Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). 

All of us have our music preferences, but as we look back at history in the Old and New Testaments (cf. Exodus 15:1-17; Psalm 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3) and in the Church Age, songs changed as the Lord revealed Himself and His workings in new and different ways. Singing a new song to the Lord enables us to experience and express the new manifestations of His grace in our lives in more meaningful ways. 

As I look back at my Christian life the last forty years, some of the most intimate times of worship with the Lord were when I learned a new song which expressed the new things He was doing in my life. I especially enjoyed it when the worship leader in our local church would write and/or lead us in a new song that reflected the new manifestations of God’s grace in and through our local church. Praise Jesus for those who capture the new things He is doing in the songs they write and/or sing! 

When is the last time you sang a new song to the Lord? Take time today to draw near to Him by singing a new song to Him that expresses something new that He is doing in your life. To find a new song, you can use google and search for “New Christian Songs.” Since God continues to create new and refreshing songs for His Church, you should have no trouble finding one to enhance your worship of Him. One of my favorites right now is “Raise a Hallelujah.”