Category Archives: Uncategorized

He Shall Save His People from their Sins

During Christmas, we often read Matthew 1:21 and consider the reason why Jesus was born. The angel said, “He will save His people from their sins.” We have already learned that “His people” refers to all Jews and Gentiles who received Jesus as opposed to just the Jewish people. We have also already learned that Jesus saves us from not only the eternal consequences of our sins but also the current problem of sin’s control over our lives.

However, we have pretty much only looked at the principle as opposed to specific evidence in the Bible that shows what Jesus did. Were there people in NT Bible times whose lives were set free from the power of sin both current and future? I can think of several examples.

1. The paralyzed man (Luke 5:17-25)

   a. Jesus forgave him (20).
   b. Jesus proved he could forgive by healing him (21-24).
   c. The paralyzed man was healed and forgiven (25).

2. Zachaeus (Luke 19:1-10)

   a. He was known to be a sinner (7).
   b. He was repentant after meeting with Jesus (8).
   c. Jesus saved him (9-10).

3. The woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12)

   a. The woman was caught in the act (3-4).
   b. Jesus knew about ALL of them (7-9).
   c. Jesus gave the woman a second chance (10-11).
   d. Jesus gave the woman a light to follow (12).

4. The thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)

   a. The first thief mocked Jesus (39).
   b. The second thief recognized his guilt (40-41).
   c. The second thief asked for mercy (42).
   d. Jesus promised him paradise (43).

Conclusion

In each of these examples, the person whom Jesus met had a sin problem.

  • The paralyzed man needed to be forgiven.
  • Zachaeus needed to leave his sinful lifestyle.
  • The adulterous woman needed to be freed from her sin.
  • The thief on the cross needed mercy.

In each of these examples, Jesus (who is the Savior) saved the person from sin.

  • The paralyzed man lived a joyful life both healed and forgiven by God.
  • Zachaeus lived a joyful life, repaid those he wronged, and left his sin.
  • The adulterous woman was given a second chance to leave her sin.
  • The thief on the cross repented of his sin and found paradise.

Just as Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, so Matthew 1:21 was fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus. He saved these people from their current sin problem and gave them hope for eternity as well.

Today, we know many people who do not know the Lord. They, like us, have a sin problem that cannot be helped with money, pleasure, alcohol, or drugs. While they may look good on the outside, deep down they have a problem that can only be solved by Jesus. They need to know what Jesus can do for them. Will you tell them about the Savior who saves people from their sins?

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I have always liked the words of this Christmas song — especially the change of heart at the end. But were you aware of the usually-not-sung verses at the end? They complete the song well by showing that repenting from sin and the change of life that God brings are the secrets to peace and good will.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play;
In music sweet the tones repeat,
“There’s peace on earth, good will to men.”

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’ unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep,
For Christ is here; His Spirit near
Brings peace on earth, good will to men.”

When men repent and turn from sin
The Prince of Peace then enters in,
And grace imparts within their hearts
His peace on earth, good will to men.

O souls amid earth’s busy strife,
The Word of God is light and life;
Oh, hear His voice, make Him your choice,
Hail peace on earth, good will to men.

Then happy, singing on your way,
Your world will change from night to day;
Your heart will feel the message real,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

How do you know?

Christians deal with sexual temptation just like everyone else. With the world propagating the idea that satisfaction is found outside the bounds of marriage, we are tempted to give in to passion “like the Gentiles who do not know God.” So how do we know how to abstain and control our sexual urges?

As I read through 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, I was struck with the idea that God’s will involves not only abstinence (3) and temperance (5), but also knowledge (4). What knowledge is available to help with this issue? Perhaps the Bible has a few ideas:

  1. Run away (Gen. 39:7-13; 2 Tim.2:22)

    When accosted by his master’s wife’s proposition, Joseph stated that what she proposed was a sin against God and his master. When she persisted, he didn’t stay to argue but ran away. When we are faced with such temptation, it is best to leave as quickly as possible.

  2. Make a promise to yourself and stick with it (Job 31:1).

    Job was a conscientious believer whom God honored for his devotion. His faithfulness to the Lord was evident to all who knew him. And yet this godly man had experienced the temptation to look at women. His way of handling it was to make a promise to himself to not look. Then he made himself keep that promise. When we are faced with the temptation to look, remember your promise to yourself and the Lord and look away.

  3. Don’t put yourself in a bad situation (Rom. 13:14).

    Paul told the Christians that instead of providing opportunities for their lusts, they were to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The first part is proper thinking. Putting on Jesus is like putting on the armor of God. It is a spiritual choice to think and act like our Lord. The second part is not provisioning the flesh. This is an active choice to not allow things in your life that will enable your felshly desires. As Christians, striving to please the Lord, we need to know our trigger points and avoid them.

Today may be a tough day for you. You may be tempted in this area. And while you might blame the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil, the decision to abstain, know, and control yourself (1 Thess. 4:3-5) is something that you will have to choose for yourself.

In this article, you have been given tips from the Bible to help you. Now you have to face the battle yourself. With God’s help, make wise decisions today.

Longing for others to praise the Lord

The person who wrote Psalm 107 repeats a phrase multiple times. He says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” He seems to be amazed at how often people forget to thank God for his goodness and what he does for them.

As you read through the psalm, he gives several examples of people who were in trouble (sometimes because of their own choices) but who turned to the Lord for help. Thankfully, God is merciful and kind to his rebellious creations. The psalm shows how God often bails them out of their situation and how the rescued person is then thankful for what God did.

If only people would recognize God’s goodness today! If only they would recognize the many times and many ways he has taken care of them through the years! Sadly, it often takes a difficult situation to get their attention.

How can we get people to be thankful to God? For those of us who know the Lord, it should be relatively easy. We see what he did for us through Jesus. That always fills our thoughts with thankfulness. But it shouldn’t end there. We ought to be praising God every day for something new. And our thankfulness should point others to God.

For those who don’t know the Lord, it will not come naturally. Thanking God has to begin with knowing and receiving him. So, our duty, as Christians, should be to serve as ambassadors for Christ. As we show our thankfulness and preach the gospel, some will be regenerated and as a result become thankful.

The Right Thing at the Right Time

A few years ago, I took a job driving railroad crew members in a minivan. A late night or early morning trip had me somewhere on a Sunday morning with not enough time to get back home to go to our home church. So I decided to stay and visit a small church in the area. But there was this tiny problem in my mind. I grew up dressing up for church services and I was still in my jeans and a t-shirt. I shouldn’t have been embarrassed, but I was. What could I do?

Not many shops were open that morning — especially any that would have clothes to purchase. But there was a Rite Aid open at the time, so I went inside and bought a zip up jacket with the local high school’s emblem on it. I still didn’t feel very well dressed but it was all I could do at the moment. So, I headed over to the church and sat as far back as I could so as not to be noticed.

Then it happened. The pastor saw me in the back and pointed everyone’s attention toward me!

“Today we have Andy Rupert with us.”

[Oh how I cringed. I wanted to slip under the pew.]

“You may notice that Andy is in his work clothes.

[Can things get any worse???]

“That’s okay because it is good to see people who are willing to work in this day and age. Andy, would you open our service with prayer?”

What could have been an embarrassing situation was changed into a nice moment for everyone who was there that morning — including me. I appreciated that very much. And I never felt embarrassed to stop at that church when I was in the area no matter how I was dressed — all because a kind-hearted pastor diffused the situation before anyone could be embarrassed.

Now for the rest of the story.

Who was this kind-hearted pastor who diffused the situation? It was non-other-than Pastor Don Gallion who at the time was leading the morning service at Calvary Baptist Church of Willard … the church that I currently serve as the pastor. So remember this: You never know what a kind word or action can do in the life of someone visiting your church.

Those Who Came Before

“For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.” – John 4:37-38

Jesus reminded his disciples that the spiritual harvest they would reap would be the result of those who had labored before them. This statement made me wonder two things:

(1) Who were those who labored before the disciples? Perhaps Jesus was referring to the prophets, John the Baptist, himself, or some unknown but faithful believers who had been actively serving and speaking for the Lord. Their efforts made the disciples’ work successful.

(2) Who are those who have gone before us? At our church there were pastors and church members who were here before us. At Peniel Bible Camp and the Ohio Bible Fellowship, there were faithful leaders, staff, and contributors who gave of their time and resources. Without their work, we would not have what we do today.

While you serve the Lord today in your church, camp, or ministry, remember that you are not alone. There have been many others who have made things possible over the years. Stop and thank God for the godly men and women who have gone before to make things successful today. And be faithful to continue the work that they began years ago.

Appropriate Actions

While preaching through the Epistle to Titus, I have noticed a common theme about doing good works. Paul insists that Titus should remind the Cretan believers to live like they believe. Notice how often he mentions godliness and good works in the epistle.

  • 1:1 – “the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness
  • 1:16 – “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
  • 2:1 – “But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine
  • 2:6 – “in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works
  • 2:11 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age
  • 2:14 – “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
  • 3:1 – “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work.”
  • 3:8 – “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
  • 3:14 – “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.

Why is this so important? Think of it this way. If you are telling someone that God saved you from your sinful past life but you are still living a sin filled life, your actions will contradict the message God is trying to “speak” through you.

A sure way to testify of the change God has made in your life is to live in a way that agrees with what God has done and taught in the Bible. That will involve not doing things that are inappropriate (1:16; 2:12) and doing things that are appropriate (2:1-9). Ask yourself the question, Is this action appropriate for someone who has been changed by God? Or, does this action match what the Bible teaches?

Someone has said that actions speak louder than words. Apparently, God thinks the same way … and so should we.

I did something that might surprise you…

If you know anything about my beliefs about music, you will be surprised that I even know who Kanye West is. To be honest, I don’t know much about him. But when people I know started posting articles about him becoming a Christian, I was slightly interested. Slightly is the correct word. Too often, the celebrity-turned-Christian story ends up being nothing more than a weak, self-help story with little evidence of real life change. And you seldom hear anything about repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is something about what he says and now does. His recent album, Jesus is King, is not something I would listen to, but it may be evidence that something about him has changed.

Christianity is the unwavering focus of Kanye’s gospel album, a richly produced but largely flawed record about one man’s love of the Lord (and himself).

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/kanye-west-jesus-is-king/

I recently listened to an interview of Kanye West on Youtube with headphones on. If he is a Christian, he still is going through the process of sanctification. Because he uses some foul language, I won’t be including a link to the video. However, you might be surprised that he stated some poignant thoughts.

I was four months in, working on the album. I had the best, luxury shock treatment of gospel possible – forty people singing, sixty people, 80 people singing about Jesus. And I had one of my friends come over and we were just having a good time and it was a good feeling. He said, “Man, this is just like one of those LA churches where they come around, just talking about It’s good … Where’s the Word? People gonna need some solid food.” And then we started talkin’ about Christ.

I was always letting that Playboy magazine that I found when I was five years old have an affect on my music. … I bet you the devil was happy on that day. … I was lost.

A lot of the information that’s in rap, ain’t gonna keep you married.

Since we’re here for the interview, let me talk about the idea of sin and repenting. When people have “they own relationship with Christ” … they know they are dealing with sins that they don’t want to have to repent for. The difference, once you’re delivered, everything that you do is in service to Christ, and anything that you know wasn’t in service to Christ, you will repent for.

I don’t know where Kanye West stands with the Lord. He is a passionate person with lots of energy. His way of expressing things is sometimes odd and disjointed. But some of the things he says are good. They made me think that God is working in his heart. To God be the glory.

Human nature and the desire to do something

“Proud, self-centered human nature desires to have some control and to make some contribution toward salvation. To become utterly dependent on God’s grace for forgiveness and salvation requires a genuine confession aptly summed up in the words of a familiar hymn: ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling’ (A. M. Toplady). The free gift of salvation involves repentance and acceptance of God’s grace alone, but self-sufficient humans would rather add something that can be externally observed and for which they can claim credit.”[1]


[1] Thomas D. Lea & Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, (Nashville: Broadman, 1992), 294.

Distant Starlight and a Young Earth

The internet has changed a lot of things. One such change is the ability to watch online videos of Christians presenting information about Creation and evolution. The video posted below is not meant as an endorsement of the speaker or church. Instead, it is posted here to show you several interesting ideas about the “problem” of distant starlight when considering the young age of the earth based on the genealogies in the Bible.

I found his presentation to be thought-provoking. What are your thoughts?