So you want to be like Christ? – Part 1

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I began thinking about this topic a long time ago and quickly discovered I couldn’t do this in one blog or even two. This post will discuss how we can’t be like Christ, and then the last one will focus on the ways in which we should strive to be like Christ.

We last left off with a discussion that I had over the years with a friend. The discussion centered around being a Christ follower or being Christ-like. I argued last time that you must begin as a follower of Christ before you can ever become Christ-like.   I’m hopeful that I successfully showed the majority of people that even claim to follow Christ, don’t. And also those that have a “desire” to follow really won’t leave themselves behind and truly follow. There are many reasons for this but at the end of day the cost is very high. To follow Christ will cost you everything. Many will disagree with this statement , but when we look around at the surface level Christianity today I think there is little doubt. Let’s see.

I’ve thought about Christ-likeness a lot over the past several years. What I want to show you is what the Bible says about Christ-likeness. Not some figment of the imagination about Jesus. Not the all “inclusive” Jesus, although anyone who will forsake their sin and place their full faith and trust in Christ will be included. No, I’m talking about the Jesus of the holy scriptures. That Jesus. It might be interesting to see what He did, and how we can attempt to be like that Jesus.

What did Christ do while He was on this earth? What are the different things we can emulate about His life. I think this is an important distinction because most things about Christ we cannot do.   Let’s consider a few of the can’t do before we look at the can do.

We can’t perform miracles

Unless you are Benny Hinn (that is sarcasm), you can’t perform the miracles that Jesus Christ performed on this earth. I’d challenge anyone to walk on water, to calm the sea, to create bread and fish out of bread and fish. To grow back arms, cause people to walk and to command the dead to live. It’s important to understand that Jesus did these miracles to prove His deity. It’s that simple.

John 10:37-38 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him.”

We are not without sin

Sinless perfection is unattainable for mankind. Despite the teaching of Mary being sinless by the Catholic Church (here), (here), and (here) we believe the bible teaches Christ’s perfection and man’s sinfulness very plainly, even Mary.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

We cannot drink the cup of God’s Wrath

Jesus Christ came to this earth to seek and save the lost. He did this because man has a problem called sin. God’s righteous judgment calls for justice to be served. Law breakers must be dealt with and the way God deals with the lawless is by shutting them in prison for all of eternity where they will bear His anger against their rebellion to His goodness.

Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

They had no idea what they were asking Him for, they had no concept that the Christ was going to the cross to drink the cup of God’s wrath against sin and sinful mankind. But Jesus knew, and He willingly went.

Psalm 75:7-8 But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down.

Isaiah 53:5-6 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

As Paul Washer has said, “All men will melt like wax before a blast furnace as the fury of God is unleashed against them.” Unless they repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness of sin every person condemned will face the wrath of an angry God for all eternity. This is a message that is frightening and should be seen as a severe warning to those walking about as if God does not exist. Thinking they have a lifetime ahead of them not knowing they hang by a very thin string over the pits of darkness.

We cannot rise from the dead

Man has been appointed once to die. There are no second chances after death on this earth. We have been given revelation of God through nature and through His word. All mankind will answer for his life and we must realize once it’s over it’s over. This is why it is imperative to speak. To tell people the good news.

And it has been appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. – Hebrews 9:27-28

I could go on, but I think it’s sufficient to say that Christ has accomplished everything on the cross needed for our salvation. His grace will take us to heaven when we pass from this life to the next. For those that have not repented and placed their trust in Christ, He will pour out His wrath upon them for all eternity. No second chances. Believe in the Son and live.

Next time, I will exhort us to live like Christ if we call ourselves Christians, and I believe this will be very challenging for those in the professing church.

Kevin

The Terrors of Hell – Part 3 – Is God just?

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Is God just in damning men eternally to hell?

Don’t pass over this question, because this is one of the hardest questions the Believer and non-believer will ever wrestle with.  I admittedly struggle with it myself, because I know people that, unless God pours out His mercy, will spend eternity in hell.  It really comes back to a fairness question in most people’s minds.

One of God’s attributes is justice and we can’t have a complete God without Him being just.  I will not be able to completely cover this subject in one post and if you are bothered by this writing I’d encourage you to dig deeper, this writing is meant to arouse sleeping souls, and stir up Believers to preach the good news.  Without the remedy of Christ we are all without hope.

As many question the validity of a place of judgment, Love asks, “Is God just in damning men eternally who sin temporarily in this life?”  Even if someone lives only a brief time on earth, Love claims that such divine action is just for the following reasons.  First, our punishment is not based on the amount of time that we sin, but on the fact that we sin, as when a thief is sentenced to prison for much longer than then the time it took him to break into a house.  Second, we commit sin against an infinite God and so deserve infinite punishment, just as the penalty for striking a public person, such as a prince, is much greater than for striking an ordinary man in the street.  Third, if we lived forever we would sin forever, or “as long as” we can, while we are alive.  Fourth, we continue to sin in hell even after we leave earth, and so further provoke the wrath of God.  Finally, even a momentary lapse into sin shows that we reject the infinite kindness of God and so deserve infinite punishment.  That momentary sin justly brings eternal punishment ought to cause us to avoid “slight thoughts” of sin against an infinite and just God who imposes such torments, and any accusations of severity against Him for imposing them.  Apart from His secret work of grace in salvation, He may even choose to do so in an infant who lives “but a minute in this world.” [1]

Most people will reject this.  Most people that consider themselves Christians will reject this, and we must not shrink from the discussion.  It will be unpopular.  The question will always turn to the fairness of God.  Friends, we do not want fair, we want grace and mercy.  If God dealt in “fairness” we’d be without hope.  It wasn’t fair that Christ suffered the wrath of God, the just for the unjust.

In connection with just in general comes a question related to the impartiality and universality of judgment; “Will most men and women in the world be tormented in hell?”  Love believes that most will, and his confirmation of it he consider to be “one of the most dismal Doctrines” that a pastor can preach.  First, most will go to hell because most do not look to Christ to deliver them from such a torment—whether Jews, Muslims, heathen, or Papists.  Second, even among those who “profess Jesus Christ,” many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14), as most are “either profane in life, or hypocrites in heart.” [2]

Love cites four additional reasons that most are destined for hell and in conclusion says “If most are to be damned, we must see the folly of allowing the opinions of the majority to lead us in life and should try our hearts to know whether we are of the few that will be saved.  We should not be offended at the “fewness of the number of believers,” but lament over the majority that will face such torments, rouse ourselves from delusions of the great number of believers in the world, and not hold “any ill thoughts against the mercy of God” that most men perish. [3]

These words are painful for me to write, and humbling for me to consider.  Many people that I know, many people that I love, many people that you know and love will spend their eternity under the wrath of God.  Anything good we have now will be vanquished and only misery and torment will remain.   No waking up the next day and a better day is on the horizon, only pain and suffering.

Today there is hope if you are in Christ.  Are you a new creation?  Have you turned to Christ for salvation and forgiveness of sin?  Don’t fight against God and despise His truth, but turn to Him and be saved.

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  then Peter said to them, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:37-38

Kevin

  1. Love, Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1671), 280-85. Cf. WCF, 10.3 and the Canons of Dort, 1.17.
  2. Love, Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1671), 286-300.
  3. Love, Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1671), 300-304.

Don’t judge me…

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Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

As a Believer and witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ how am I to understand this verse?  If you, like me, have ever discussed or had a confrontation with someone about their eternal destiny there is a pretty decent chance they’ve used this verse in retaliation.  “Don’t judge me… only ‘god’ can judge…” is what they will say.

Now what?  It seems that they’ve got you just where they want you.  “Oh okay, I guess that’s the end of this discussion, right?”

Of course not, because to rightly divide the word of truth we must have an answer to this sort of a common retort.  Scripture in the hands of those that want to twist and manipulate is a dangerous thing.  Satan used scripture when he was tempting the Lord in the wilderness and as we consider the Lord Jesus Christ’s response we can see the way in which we must handle these very common uses of or misuses of the word of God.

Jesus was tempted by Satan three different times while in the wilderness and he used scripture to make his case.  In each instance Jesus countered Satan’s use of scripture with scripture.

So why would we use any other approach than to imitate Christ?

So what did Jesus mean when He said Judge not, are Believers to judge?

The first thing we need to consider is that nobody has the ability to judge unto sentencing.  In other words I have no authority or power to condemn someone.  Only God has that ability but the sinfulness of man should be judged and for someone to say they don’t judge would be hypocritical.  We all make judgments constantly throughout the day.

What most people are saying in these situations is they don’t appreciate any accountability to their sinful lifestyle and they certainly don’t want to hear what the Bible says about it.

Let’s look at what Jesus goes on to say.  Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

To understand this in its context is the key to understanding what Jesus meant.  Jesus is not condemning making judgments, He’s condemning hypocrisy.  If I attempt to call someone to repentance for their sin, I had better not be entangled in that same sin myself.  How can I call someone on their sin of adultery if I’m engaged in the same thing myself?  I can’t without being a hypocrite.

But what if I’m not an adulterer; can I then tell someone they are breaking God’s law?  Jesus certainly said I should.

Matthew 18:15-17 “Moreover if your brother sin against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone, If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.   And if he refuses to hear them, tell it even to the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

So why should Believers judge?  This keeps purity in the church.

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

How did Paul know this?  Somebody judged this to be a sinful action and reported it to Paul correct?

1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

So for the purity and sanctification of the Church of Christ, which He purchased with His own blood, we must judge those in the church.

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside?  Do you not judge those who are inside?  But those who are outside God judges.  Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

So now I know you are thinking, “Okay I’m not to judge those outside?”  Well, again we can’t judge them unto condemnation, but we must warn them that the sin they are engaged in will lead them to hell if they don’t repent and turn from their sin.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

How can we truly care for people’s souls if we don’t tell them these things? This is not judging them but loving them.  We risk being persecuted, reviled, despised and falsely accused of being judgmental so they can see their separation from a Holy God.  Can we do this in a loving and gentle way rather than a harsh and finger wagging fashion?  Of course and we must, but if you don’t warn them, if you don’t proclaim the remedy to their problem how will they ever know?

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Be gentle today and tell someone Christ died so they could be free from their bondage to sin.

Kevin

Twist not scripture lest you be like Satan – Paul Washer

Spread good seed

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Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?

Do you ever wonder why so few people respond to the gospel message?  Those of us that take the Great Commission seriously see our efforts go by mostly unheeded.  If we read the Bible we know the answer of course, but yet isn’t it sometimes discouraging?

How many souls have you prayed for?

How many times have you discussed the glories of submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ yet they don’t exhibit change?

Some listen politely, others tell you to buzz off and others think they have time to make a decision later (Acts 17:32-34).

If you share the gospel on a consistent basis I want to encourage you today.  The gospel is the power unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and our responsibility is to spread the good seed (Mark 4:26).

Jesus told us few would be saved… (Matthew 22:14)

If the Lord sees fit to bring a soul back from destruction we must rejoice in that and consider it rare, yet let’s not be fooled into thinking it’s an everyday occurrence.

The human heart is wicked and if we embrace this truth we can rely on God’s Word and trust Him for the results of our preaching.  I know this is almost so simple it seems ridiculous, yet how often I’ve prayed for those I love “if only they would hear what I’m saying”.

Can you think back to a day before you believed?

What things occupied your mind?

Can you remember when God opened your eyes to see the beauty of His truth?

A heart that was at enmity with God, which truly hated Him is suddenly melted like a wax figurine thrown into a fire and a new heart emerges.  What a miracle!

Let us continue to spread the good seed and trust God for the results of salvation.

Kevin