Going Deeper: No Longer a Stranger! Part Three

In our preceding article, we talked about how there can be no greater motivation for believers to live out their new lives in Christ as a BIG THANK YOU than to have a growing understanding of the grace of God. That is certainly the experience described in Scripture on more than one occasion.

Remember the immoral woman who came to Jesus quite unexpectedly in the home of a Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50)? Braving probable scorn and ridicule, she came to express her love and gratitude for what she had experienced of the grace of God in her life—forgiveness. She was well aware of how undeserving she was but nevertheless God had forgiven her and for this she was supremely thankful.

Rather than drawing back in disdain from this woman with the tarnished reputation, Jesus expressed what was at the heart of her outpouring of emotion: she loved much because she had been forgiven much.

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” (Luke 7:47 NLT)

Possibly a prostitute, this woman recognized how needy, how undeserving she was of Christ’s forgiveness. In fact, she was conscious of her abject spiritual poverty—totally incapable of doing anything to merit God’s forgiveness. Yet, the Bible assures us that…

He [God] does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:10 NIV)

That’s grace—undeserved!

Continue reading “Going Deeper: No Longer a Stranger! Part Three”

Going Deeper: No Longer a Stranger! Part Two

“No longer…!”

In the context of the message of the Gospel, these two words hold tremendous significance. They are words that ought to prompt an overwhelming sense of wonder and gratitude as to what Christ accomplished on the cross on our behalf. Consider that we, as believers, are no longer…

  • slaves to sin but free (Romans 6:6-7,14,18).
  • strangers and aliens but members of God’s family (Ephesians 2:19).
  • servants but friends (John 15:15).

These statements represent powerful, new realities for us who have been transferred at the moment of salvation from the “kingdom of darkness” to the “kingdom of light”—the kingdom of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:12-13).

Each of these declarations holds a wealth of meaning but all hold in common a fundamental fact of change as to how God perceives us, brought about by God alone. Understanding how God now sees us—the new position we have been granted in Christ—is a key principle for living the Christian life.

Continue reading “Going Deeper: No Longer a Stranger! Part Two”

Going Deeper: No Longer a Stranger! Part One

Most of us have experienced the uneasy feeling of being in an unfamiliar setting where we’re conscious of being outsiders who have very little in common with those who “belong.” After finding ourselves in that environment, it’s a welcomed relief to come to a place where we are “no longer a stranger,” but where we’re known and accepted.

As Christians, we can identify. There was a time in each of our lives when we were separated from Jesus Christ—strangers to Christ and everything God desires for us (Ephesians 2:12). This separation came about as a result of sin.

Your iniquities have separated you from your God… (Isaiah 59:2 NIV; cf. Romans 3:23; Ephesians 4:18).

However, for believers, a time came when all that changed as a consequence of what Jesus did on the cross. When we put our trust in what he accomplished by dying in our place, the Bible says to us as believers:

You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19 ESV).

Whereas previously we were separated from God, “without hope and without God in the world,” we have now “been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12 NIV).

No longer a stranger! What welcome news that we have been brought back into a right relationship with our Creator!

And yet, if this is true…

…why is it that so many professing Christians live as if Christ is still a stranger to them? Why is it that many new believers and even others who are not-so-young-in-the-faith experience so much difficulty in growing spiritually, seemingly falling back two steps for every step forward? (If the truth be known, perhaps most of us can identify with those questions because they are part of our personal experience.)

Continue reading “Going Deeper: No Longer a Stranger! Part One”

Going Deeper: Final words of a dying Saviour, Part II

Jesus made seven statements during the final hours on the cross before his death. These are recorded for us in the Gospels, and GoodSeed’s primary tools emphasize three of them. In this two-part Going Deeper article, we examine the deeper significance of all seven statements.

Introduction

Jesus of Nazareth has been arrested in the night on trumped-up charges. Falsely accused, he is paraded through a series of courts. These court sessions are simply a pretext to provide legality to what is already a foregone conclusion in the minds of the Jewish religious leaders: a sentence of death for blasphemy. Jesus is beaten and mocked before he is sentenced to death by crucifixion by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.

The intent of this barbaric form of execution was to prolong the agony of dying as long as possible. However, the crucifixion of Christ lasted a relatively short time, from the “third” hour—about 9:00 a.m. (Mark 15:25) to about the “ninth” hour—3:00 p.m. (Mark 15:33).

As a person reads the description of what happened during those six hours, what isn’t found are sensational, lurid details of the physical suffering Jesus experienced as he hung on the cross. The Bible doesn’t indulge our curiosity. There are none of the horrific details that one might expect in tabloid journalism. Rather, the account of the crucifixion is told in a simple, straightforward manner without any dramatics. This is not to minimize the physical agony Christ felt on the cross. His pain was very real, but pain isn’t what Scripture highlights. Instead, the Bible gives us glimpses of Jesus’ heart for humanity through seven statements he made during the final hours before his death. Just as the final words spoken from the deathbed of a loved one hold great significance to family and friends, so these words of Christ are such that they have reverberated down through history.

In the first part of this two-part article, we delved into the significance of Christ’s first three statements from the cross. Now we will discuss the final four statements.

Continue reading “Going Deeper: Final words of a dying Saviour, Part II”

Going Deeper: Final words of a dying Saviour, Part I

Jesus made seven statements during the final hours on the cross before his death. These are recorded for us in the Gospels, and GoodSeed’s primary tools emphasize three of them. In this two-part Going Deeper article, we will examine the deeper significance of all seven statements.

Bible writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each give us unique insights into the crucial few days surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion.

Setting the Scene

Jesus of Nazareth has been arrested in the night on trumped-up charges. Falsely accused, he is paraded through a series of courts. These court sessions are simply a pretext to provide legality to what is already a foregone conclusion in the minds of the Jewish religious leaders: a sentence of death for blasphemy. Jesus is beaten and mocked before he is sentenced to death by crucifixion by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.

The Crucifixion

The intent of this barbaric form of execution was to prolong the agony of dying as long as possible. However, the crucifixion of Christ lasted a relatively short time, from the “third” hour—about 9:00 a.m. (Mark 15:25) to about the “ninth” hour—3:00 p.m. (Mark 15:33).

As a person reads the description of what happened during those six hours, what isn’t found are sensational, lurid details of the physical suffering Jesus experienced as he hung on the cross. The Bible doesn’t indulge our curiosity. There are none of the horrific details that one might expect in tabloid journalism. Rather, the account of the crucifixion is told in a simple, straightforward manner without any dramatics. This is not to minimize the physical agony Christ felt on the cross. His pain was very real, but pain isn’t what Scripture highlights. Instead, the Bible gives us glimpses of Jesus’ heart for humanity through seven statements he made during the final hours before his death. Just as the final words spoken from the deathbed of a loved one hold great significance to family and friends, so these words of Christ are such that they have reverberated down through history.

Continue reading “Going Deeper: Final words of a dying Saviour, Part I”