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Monday, June 1, 2009

Jesus is The Substitute for All

Friday morning before I went off to work I read 1 John 2: 1-27 and pondered this ....
The one who died as our Substitute now lives as our Advocate. I thought ... we are each and every one a sinner, whether we acknowledge it or not. God created us. Adam and Even disobeyed His commands and followed their own desires. Because of their disobedience God punished them, as well as future generations - you and me. It wasn't until God sent His Son, Jesus, to fulfill the law that God achieved what He sought. Jesus became our substitute. He paid the whole price for the sins of all. Even you who do not believe, who insist Jesus was only a prophet ... not the Son of God. Jesus went to the cross. Took the beatings, took the hatred, obeyed His father to the very end of His human existence, all for us. He died. Not a lay-me-down-and-go-to-sleep kind of death, but an excruciating death, with intense pain and torture, with nails pounded into his flesh He died. And then He was buried and after three days, He arose. That is the miracle and that is the basis for our Christian belief. The Substitute - Jesus died for my sin, your sin, and rose from the dead. And after 40 days He ascended into Heaven to be with the Father. And became, still is, our Advocate to the Father through the Holy Spirit who He sent, who abides in our hearts forever when we are One of His.

Verse 23, which says, "Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also," gave room for additional pondering through the weekend.

From 1 John 2: 23 God led me to John 15: 23, which basically says the same thing: "He who hates Me hates My Father also."

John 15: 18 tells us "If the world hates you (meaning Christians), you know that it hated me before it hated you." When we step out of the world and become a follower of Jesus, we become destined to the same kind of hatred Jesus endured. Verse 25a: "They hated Me without a cause." Yes, there was no reason. You don't want any part of something, you don't like hearing what is being said, you find reasons to hate and you find reasons to kill. So it is true, if we are a follower of Jesus the world hates us because of who we are and who we associate ourselves with.

Psalm 35: 19: "Let them not rejoice over me who are wrongfully my enemies; Nor let them wink with the eyes who hate me without a cause." There is no reason for Jesus to be the enemy, yet He is. Why? He simply went about His Father's business. But there were and still are millions of people who are ambivalent. They do not care about Father God. If they did care about God, then doesn't it seem reasonable that they would also care about His Son? Oh no, no no no. Jesus doesn't exist. He existed to a point. He was born and he was a prophet and then He died. That's it. To many, that is it.

Psalm 69: 4: "Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; They are mighty who would destroy me, Being my enemies wrongfully; Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it."

John 16: 2-3: "They will put you out of synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because have not known the Father nor Me."

The Jews do not "know" Jesus. They think they "know" God, because of God's covenant with Abraham, because they are His chosen.

The Muslims do not know Jesus nor Father God, especially when you consider bomber pilots who kill in the name of their god, Allah. When I was searching on the internet for Islamic beliefs in relation to suicide bombers, I came across a Web site written soon after Sept. 11. It contained a couple of statements found in the pilots' belongings left at the airports -- "You're doing a job which is loved by God, and you will end your day in heavens where you will join the virgins." "I pray to you God to forgive me from all my sins, to allow me to glorify you in every possible way."

They think they offer service to God. They think they are doing the will of the Father. But they are not. Interesting thought - the Muslims, the Islam Nation has been thought to have begun when Abraham couldn't wait for the son God promised, but rather thought he himself needed to do something to obtain the promise. Thus Ishmael was born, the son of Abraham and Hagar, Sarah's maid. Ishmael was not the promised one, yet he was promised heir of a nation, a great nation. (Genesis 16 - 21)

John 5:22-24: "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 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. 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."

2 John 9: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son."

Romans 11: 2, 4a-5: "God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew ... I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.'' There were many who did not believe, who still do not believe, whose heart is hardened, but there is a remnant who have, who do, who will. The elect.

Romans 11: 7a-8: "Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were hardened. Just as it is written: God has given them a spirit of stupor. Eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear to this very day." This stumbling was not to cut them off forevermore. God wanted the Jews, the Israel nation to understand and be obedient to His will, but there were only some. Belief, faith, trust, comprehension was absent among many. Verse 11 says, "I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles." I daresay the Jews were not jealous. They were angry. As verse 20 says, "Because of unbelief they were broken off," and Gentiles, the rest of mankind, were made aware of their own lostness and their own need for salvation. The rest of verse 20 says, "and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear." We should not think we are better than the Jewish people. Not one is better than any other. God's son Jesus died for all of us ... the Jews, the Gentiles. Verse 21 goes on to say, "For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either."

On Sunday, we visited our home-away-from-home church in LaGrange, Mo. The Sunday school class I attended was doing a video series on "The Parables of Jesus" and the parable this particular week was on the Royal Marriage Feast in Matthew 22: 1-14.
Jesus tells us of a king who is inviting all to the marriage of his son. The king is God. The son is Jesus. The marriage is between Jesus and the church, His followers. Three invitations are sent out. The first invitation, in verse 3, shows us none of the invitees were interested in attending the festivities. They chose not to attend before the second invitation was even issued. They were not interested in being a follower of Jesus, in following His commandments. The second invitation, in verse 4, indicates the banquet is ready, the celebration is about to begin. But again, the invitees don't care. They are indifferent to the celebration and to the king. They ignore it. They refuse to believe God and His truths. They go about their own thing. They only believe what they want to believe. Their own truths. They don't have time. Whatever was going on in their lives was of way more importance than any marriage feast. Some, because they were so angry as to receive another invitation when it was evident they weren't going to come, made plans to kill the very ones who brought the invitation. Verses 9 and 10 show us then that those who are unworthy are invited to the banquet table. The Jews were the first and second invites. The Gentiles, the lost, became the third invites. And they came. They were ready. Verse 14 shows us that those who are called but do not accept Jesus will die in their sin and end up in eternal hell. They refuse to repent, turn from their wickedness. Those who are called and have received and accepted God's son Jesus as Savior become His chosen ones. His choice. His elect.

Matthew 21: 19: "And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, 'Let no fruit grow on you ever again.' And immediately the fig tree withered away."

Verse 43: "Therefore I say to you, The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it."

"For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)

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"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6