A Type Of The One To Come: Seeing Jesus in the Story of Adam & Eve

What is the Bible really about? Is it about us-what we should do, how we should act, laws we should obey? The Bible isn’t about us. It’s all about Jesus-even the Old Testament. Join us as we  identify the amazing symbols, themes, and types of Jesus and salvation in the Old Testament. If you’ve grown up thinking the Old Testament is boring, buckle up and be prepared to see the Scriptures come to life.The

Discovering The True Jesus (pt. 9)-Jesus’ Aching Love For You.

the-lion-bobby-shawSo far we have looked at many reasons why Jesus came to earth, lived, and died for us. We have looked at who He was, what He taught, and ultimately how He saved us. We have discussed how He left heaven,  became the perfect sacrifice, took the Father’s wrath, rose from the dead, and secured for us a relationship with God and an eternity in Heaven. But today I want to discuss one of the key motivating factors in Jesus’ life and purpose: His own intimate love for each one of us. Continue reading

Discovering The True Jesus (pt.8)- Who Needs Jesus?

So far in this series, we have talked about who Jesus is and what He accomplished during His time on earth. However, it struck me this morning that all of this is in vain if we do not understand our need for Jesus. There is no benefit in understanding who He is and what He did, if we don’t understand WHY we needed Him to do it. In other words: We can’t appreciate Jesus, or even trust Him, without understanding our true need for Him.

So, what do you think? Why do we need Jesus?

Our problem, and our subsequent need, is clearly perceived when we focus on God’s attributes. He is Holy, Just, Perfect, and completely Good. These are all great things, aren’t they? But let me ask you this: what does a Good, Holy, Perfect God do with those who aren’t good, holy, or perfect? Can He have fellowship with them? Can He just forgive their wrongdoings? Unfortunately, He cannot. God cannot maintain perfect holiness and goodness if He pardons evil and sin. Similarly, a state judge would not maintain status as a “good judge” if he pardoned every criminal that walked into the courtroom. Even in society, there are standards to live by, and if one breaks the standards, there are serious consequences.

In the same way, God has set up certain standards for us to live by. These are summed up in the Ten Commandments, which we all have broken many times. Jesus summed up the commandments up when He said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12). Any single breach of these commandments has a consequence: separation from God. Any act of selfishness, greed, worry, dishonesty, pride, envy, or idolatry all break God’s standards…And He can’t simply forgive us just by us asking; there must be a payment. And as often as we will break these commandments, there must be an everlasting payment that can cover all of them! Are starting to feel your need for someone to intervene on your behalf?

In my quiet time this morning, I read in Romans 3,

None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”

Paul was writing to Jews and non-Jews, showing them their desperate need for Jesus. He squashes the assumption that some people are pretty good, and he leaves no room for the possibility that some people are good enough to have a relationship with God. Paul says that no one does good, not even one- they have become worthless. 

I have seen this countless times in evangelism. Most people that I talk to, even people who claim to be Christians, place their hope in heaven or in their relationship with God based on the fact that they are “pretty good,” or that God is “a forgiving God.” If that is the basis of your hope for salvation, I can promise you that you don’t understand Jesus. Paul also says in Romans 2 that it is foolish to presume upon God’s grace or mercy, assuming that He will just pardon us. Why? Because a Holy God cannot forgive and associate with unholiness beings. He has wrath for every unrighteous act that has ever been committed, and He will pour it out on all mankind, unless a holy, perfect sacrifice can appease His wrath, and pay for the sins of mankind.

Do you see our need for a Savior yet?

Jesus fulfills our need and takes us from our helpless state and reconciles us to God. Here’s how:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (with my italics added):

For our sake he (the Father) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus came to earth to take on our sin, and pay for it completely on the cross. The wrath (punishment) that must be poured out on mankind for every unrighteous act ever committed, would be poured out on Jesus on the cross. All of this happened so that “in Jesus,” through trusting in His sacrifice, we might become “the righteousness of God.” Meaning, we are made perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.

When we trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, an amazing exchange happens: Jesus takes our punishment, we are given His perfect record. From that moment on, when God looks on us, He sees the perfect obedience of Jesus. He no longer sees us as unworthy, unholy, imperfect people. He sees us as perfect, because “in Him we have become the righteousness of God.” That is why the Bible can say that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) because there is no more record of our wrong doings! In fact, our entire record has been shredded! There is no more punishment for our sins, past, present or future, because Jesus paid for all of them when He experienced God’s wrath on the cross.

And this wasn’t just a coincidence: it had been planned before the foundation of the world! Jesus wasn’t just conveniently killed by Roman soldiers and God said, “alright, that’ll work!” No. You see, God has been passionately pursuing us since we committed our first sin. He has been on a mission since day one to show us how much He loves us through a relationship with us. And He knew that He could only do this through giving up His own Son to be crucified and abandoned. Isaiah 53 says,  “it was the Lord’s will to crush Him (Jesus).” It was planned by God to send His Son to pay for our sins. Out of His great love for us, He planned to send His Son to die for us. And out of His great love for us, Jesus came down to save us.

THIS is why we need Jesus: Because now, in Him, God can show us His love and care in a relationship with us without violating His attributes, because we are now righteous in His eyes, and because all of His wrath toward us, was poured out on Jesus. The payment for our sin was paid in full.

Do you see your need for Jesus?

Then look to Him! Trust Him as the perfect sacrifice for your sin! Trust Him as the bridge between you and a holy God! Trust that He did all of this- because He loves you and wants a relationship with you! Jesus is the ONLY way to have forgiveness; He is the only way to have a relationship with the very God that created you.

Do you trust Him?

If you have any questions about what I have said above, please email me at jrfletch@uga.edu.

Discovering The True Jesus (pt. 7) – The Perfect Sacrifice (pt.1)

Have you ever wondered why Jesus dying on the cross somehow saves people from their sins if they trust in Him? Or why people can be in a relationship with God because Jesus was murdered? Yes, we know that we can be “saved” through believing in Jesus, but why? What did He do that gives us the ability to be “saved?”

To help explain this point, I want to examine Jesus’ perfection. I believe that what most people don’t understand about Jesus is that He is the perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sins. He is the perfect sacrifice for many reasons; let’s look at a few.

Jesus never sinned. In Hebrews chapter 4 the author says about Jesus: He “was tempted in every point like we are, yet without sin.” Did you catch that? Not one inappropriate word ever came out of His mouth, not one unacceptable thought ever crossed His mind. Every thought, word, action, message, and decision was perfectly holy and perfectly in obedience to God’s law. Why is this important? Because God has always required a perfect sacrifice to pay for sin. Before Jesus came, people had to either sacrifice an unblemished lamb, a perfect dove, a spotless bull, or many other types of “perfect” offerings to pay for their sins and receive forgiveness from God. If the offerings weren’t perfect, then they would not be accepted by God, and there would be no forgiveness.

This is essential to understanding Jesus. A normal human being could not be a perfect sacrifice, because we are naturally born with a sin nature. Jesus wasn’t! This is also one of the reasons He had to be born of a virgin, so He wasn’t a child of sinful man (lineages were traced through the men). But as He grew up and lived His life, not only did He resist the temptation to sin, but He perfectly obeyed His Father in every situation. Jesus says in John 8:29, “I always do what pleases him.” He was perfect.

This is where we encounter the necessity for a sacrifice: God is Holy. Because He is Holy, He cannot have relationships with wicked, evil beings (which we all are). God has wrath stored up for people’s rebellion against Him, which was temporarily satisfied by the sacrifice of animals. However, animals could never pay for His entire wrath, but Jesus could. Jesus was His only Son. He was the only one able to bear such a horrific judgment (experiencing billion’s of people’s eternal separation from God). Jesus came and lived an obedient life, which no human has ever done, and experienced God’s wrath when He was sacrificed on the Roman cross. God validated Jesus’ sacrifice by raising Him from the dead. In raising Jesus, God basically says, “His sacrifice is enough. All who believe in Him will be forgiven. There will be no more wrath, no more condemnation for them.”

Jesus’ perfect obedience is what saves us, but is also what keeps us in a right relationship with God. When we believe in Jesus, we are given His righteousness. He took the punishment for our sins (wrath) and He gives us His perfect obedience. Now, when God looks on those who have trusted Jesus, He doesn’t hold them accountable for their sin. When He looks on them, He sees the righteousness of His Son. You and I can have the perfect record of Jesus, simply through believing in Him. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”( Rom. 8:1) Why? Because HE was perfect.

Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins. THIS is the good news of the gospel!

The Never-Changing God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Our God NEVER changes. One may think, “great, how is that of use to me?” It is of great importance to us! Think of the ways that Jesus responded to the crowds in the first chapters of Mark: there were three different instances when Jesus was almost crushed by crowds of people. He even had to tell his disciples to prepare a boat that He could get in if the crowds started to crush Him (yes, that many people were running to Him!) When He went home to sleep that night, the scriptures say that the entire town was at His house! Yet, He skipped his meal, stayed and ministered to and loved on the people so much that his own family remarked that he was “out of his mind.” So, if He never changes, He still has this disposition, and He still reacts this way to those who run to Him.

Here is solid comfort. Our human nature cannot be relied on, but we can rely on God! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God does not change. If He changed as we do; if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by His mood, who could reveal their secrets to Him? However, we can bring Him praise and worship, because He is ever the same! His purpose is fixed, His will is stable, His Word is sure. Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty oceans of life try to sweep us away. (My translation of A.W Pinks Attributes, pp 692 Kindle)

Think about it. His character is permanent. He could never change for the better, for that would imply that there was something about Him that needed improving before, and thus, He wouldn’t be a perfect God. He has always been, and forever will be, the same, perfect, God. The permanence of His character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises:

For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”               Isaiah 54:10

His promises are true. His hatred of sin endures forever. His love for His children never changes. His satisfaction with the sacrifice His Son paid for our sins will never change…Aren’t you glad that our God never changes?

Father’s Day…Please Don’t Forget Our Heavenly Father!

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Today people all around the country wake up to face father’s day with many different circumstances. Some wake up fatherless, and they have been so every since they could remember. Some wake up with a father who has left them, been absent, abused them, or just not cared about them. Some arise to face their first father’s day without their father, and to the people facing all these different circumstances, my heart goes out to you.

Some of us wake up to a kind, loving, father; and if that is you, make sure you tell him how much you love him. Over and over again. My father has been one of the biggest influences in my life, and I have been very blessed to have such a loving, caring, God-fearing man to lead me the first twenty years of my life. Dads like these are not the norm in our culture anymore, so if you have one, thank them and tell them you love them over 15 times today-the challenge is on! In our culture today, 43% of kids grow up fatherless. And to those without, I can’t understand how that has impacted you or how it must feel, but I want to draw the attention of both ends of the spectrum to our perfect heavenly father.

He is perfect. He created us to have perfect union and relationship with him, but it was broken by sin in the Garden of Eden. However, this did not surprise our all-knowing Father. He loved us so much that he was willing to give up his ONLY son that we may be given back the ability to have a relationship with him. He did this because he is perfectly just and holy yet completely loving and merciful. We can now be restored to an incredible love relationship with him…all because we meant enough to him that he was willing to give up the one thing that he loved the most. My friends, this Father is waiting for you!

This father’s day, make a commitment to live under his perfect fatherhood. He wants to show you what a perfect father is like. He looks down on us thinking, “You mean so much to me. I gave up my only Son and delivered him be tortured, spit on, and hung on a tree, and I had to turn my back on Him, the hardest and most painful thing that I have ever done, all so I could have a relationship with you. Please, come to me, I am the perfect Father, and I will love you and care for you, for all of your days.” If you are reading this post this morning, this is what God is saying to you! He watched his Son be brutally crucified and poured his wrath out on Jesus so that WE could have a relationship with him, free from the bonds of sin and death! He so desperately desires for you to believe in his Son and his sacrifice for your sins so that he can show you what it is like to live with a perfect father! He wants to love, care, help, provide, support, give, and simply do life with you. Its why he created you!

Some of us have great earthly fathers, and some of us don’t, but our heavenly Father is so much more loving and caring than any of the best earthly fathers could ever be! If you have a great earthly father, well, you also have access to one that is much greater than him, and if you have no earthly father, or one with some issues, you have access to a perfect heavenly Father that will love you and care for you much more than any man ever will.

So thank and love on your earthly fathers, but please, please remember your heavenly Father! No dad in all the earth could sacrifice what our heavenly father sacrificed for us! And he did it because he loves us perfectly and desperately desires to have a relationship with us. We are his passion. So pray to him today, read his Word today. Start a new relationship with him, or make the choice to go deeper into the one you already have. Earthly fathers who don’t make time to spend with their children cause their relationship to crumble, and likewise we can cause our relationship with our heavenly father to regress if we don’t make the time to spend with Him!

He delights when we come to Him, He is so passionate about us that when we cut our eyes toward Him his heart beats faster and faster. He so desperately wants to show us how great of a Father he really is as we walk with him throughout our life. Look at the picture above; This is exactly how he wants to do all of life with us, right by our side, holding our hand, comforting us and leading us! How beautiful a Father we have access to!

Spend time with him today, thanking him, telling him how much you love him and appreciate what he has done for you. Surrender to Him by asking Him to Father you!

Happy Father’s Day Everyone!