Friday, March 23, 2012

Rediscover the Gospel

In a related post to the song below called "Let Me Rediscover You", I want to talk about rediscovering the Gospel.  We all have the head knowledge that Christ came to earth, taught us how to live, died for our sins, was resurrected, and then ascended On High in a brand new glorified body.  At the Resurrection, we will also be given brand new glorified bodies like His.

We might sing of His glory, we might listen to the message in church, we might bless our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But have we truly internalized what God has done for us?  Have we truly grasped the scope of it?  He came into the world as the Son of God.  God walked among us.  God with us (Emmanuel).

He willingly humbled Himself to walk as a man.  He emptied Himself of all His glory and became a servant.  Our GOD, Creator of the Universe, the very one who designed our bodies and planets and trees and stars, lived with us.

That, in and of itself, is mind-blowing.

But then you go deeper.  God knew we couldn't atone for our own sins.  Animal sacrifice was a broken system.  In order to truly pay the price for sin, a perfect human must become the lamb.  But there is no such thing as a perfect human.  We're all sinners!  There was absolutely NO WAY for any of us to spend eternity with a holy God, because His holiness demands perfection.  Nobody's perfect.

Therefore He knew He had to do it HIMSELF.  He had to come into the world and take our sin upon His Own shoulders.  He kept every commandment in the Law, He never had a vile thought, never did a vile thing.  He was God in flesh.  He WAS perfection.

Think of how deep His love is for us, that He became a man to reconcile us back to Him.  He died for us while we were yet sinners.  He became the Lamb of God and DIED, taking God's wrath and drinking to the last drop so that we would never feel it.

And this is the mystery of Christianity.  This is why we're bound to Christ like a husband and a wife -- He became our sin, and we become His righteousness.  Now, we have no record of wrongs, because God replaces our life with the life of Christ.  Now, at the Resurrection, we will have perfection and we will be allowed into the presence of God, because we are given the perfection of Christ.

Spiritually speaking, God doesn't see Christ on that cross, He sees ME hanging there, in all my disgusting sinful ugliness.  And when God looks at me now, He sees CHRIST.

This is what is so amazing about the Gospel.  We can have head knowledge about what God did for us all the day long, but if this story doesn't CHANGE you, if you're not ALL OUT for God, if you aren't completely and totally IN LOVE with our amazing God, then have you really TRULY internalized the message of the Gospel?

So like I said before, we might sing of His glory, we might listen to the message in church, we might bless our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But unless we TRULY internalize all God went through to purchase your soul from Hell, we will never be able to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  That is the Greatest Commandment, straight from the mouth of Christ.  The second Great Commandment is like it, to love our neighbors as ourselves.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.

Do you think God wants a lukewarm love from you?  Do you think God wants a passing fancy, a "Hey, thanks Buddy, for dying for me!"  Heaven won't be filled with those who don't want to go to Hell, but rather, those who love CHRIST.

The cross of Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God's love for you.  He came into this world for you.  He died for you.  He loved you that much.  God asks for your love in return.  Remember, not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord!" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  What does Christ say to these people?  "Depart from Me, I NEVER KNEW YOU."  We need to have a loving, personal relationship with our Savior, not just a passing acknowledgement of what He's done.  Not head-knowledge.  Christ doesn't just want lip-service, He wants our hearts.  Totally and utterly.  That is why the Greatest Commandment is to LOVE the LORD THY GOD -- with what?

All your HEART, all your SOUL, all your MIND, all your STRENGTH.

That's everything you got.  Every last drop of your devotion.  That's what God wants.  ALL of you.

Do you love Him like that?  Do you REALLY?  Before your spouse?  Before your kids?  Before your possessions/family/friends?

If not, you haven't truly internalized the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Puritan Jonathan Edwards likened his reawakening to the Gospel to a man that had known, in his head, that honey was sweet, but for the first time had that sweetness burst alive in his mouth.

This is what happened to me over the past year.  In January of 2011, I began to reawaken to the Gospel.  And everyone in my close circle of family and friends knew there had been a change in me.  I had always loved Christ and praised His name, but never really took in the depth of His sacrifice, never thought about His beauty, His infinite Love for me, His desire to be with ME.  I've always loved Jesus.  But that's when I fell in love with Jesus.

Now I understand God's Greatest Commandment.  Now I understand that we should love God SO MUCH that all other love pales in comparison.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited to go to Heaven.  Not because it's a ticket out of Hell, but because I will be with my JESUS!  I don't care about rewards and mansions and crowns.  I don't care about streets of gold or the tree of life, or seeing any of my friends/family who have passed before me.  I want CHRIST, Him and only Him, for the rest of my eternity.

He is my First Love.  We love because He first loved us.  The magnitude of what God did to save my soul will never be marginalized in my heart.  I pray the Gospel will never be marginalized in your heart either.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Let Me Rediscover You With Lyrics - Downhere

I posted this song to my Facebook wall a while ago, but I felt it needed to be posted here on my God blog.

There is such truth in this anointed song. I've been Christian for about 25 years, but only in the past year have I been "rediscovering" God. He's been drawing me deeper into a more intimate relationship and I've returned whole-heartedly to my First Love. I heard this song a few months ago and it was as if God was showing me my heart's cry. It sang of me and my renewed journey to know my Bridegroom. This might just be my favorite song ever.


Sunday, March 4, 2012


You know what's odd?  The fact that every time a person came to Christ through the preaching of the Apostles, they would immediately get baptized.  Have you noticed that?  In Acts, whenever someone believed on Jesus, they found somewhere to baptize the person.  In fact, they most likely preached near water!

The reason why I bring this up is because it's such a stark difference between the early church and the way we do things today.  Today, it's all about "appointment".  Today, it's all about a "religious ceremony" rather than a public declaration of faith.

Today, we have to be "ready" to be dunked because we have these expensive cell phones and clothing.  We need to have a nice change of clothes and a camera for photo ops.  And we can't forget the towels!

The problem here is the fact that baptism isn't taught much in church these days.  The focus is all on "Repent and be saved!"  But Christ called us to be baptized as well.  We have altar calls for the repentant, but when's the last time you saw a "baptismal call"?

WHY isn't a church's baptismal OPEN and READY 24/7??  Don't you think the Apostles would put an emphasis on this?  Who cares if it's a fancy pool or what have you?  The point isn't fancy.  The point is dunking.  Got a swimming pool?  Got a bathtub?  A hot tub?  Goodness, a water trough?  Use what you got!!

There really is NO excuse for a church not to have a baptismal.  Even if it's only a "glorified" water trough.  The problem I see with not doing immediate baptisms the moment a new believer calls upon the name of the Lord is because they either:

A.) Don't know about baptism
B.) Don't think it's that important
C.) Put if off and procrastinate
D.) Don't know when or how to get baptized

Let me say this:  Baptism doesn't save you.  Only Jesus' work on the cross saves you.  

However, He DID tell us to repent AND be baptized (Mark 16:16).  It is a public declaration of your faith and an act of obedience to His command.  You are symbolically dying to your old life and raising to a new life with Jesus.  In that context, it makes SENSE to baptize right after conversion.  There's no need to take a "class" and "learn" about baptism if it's PREACHED FROM THE PULPIT!  Seriously, the Apostles did not give a class.  They PREACHED and they dunked.  End of story.

I waited a few years after I got saved before my baptism.  I didn't know much about baptism and I also put it off because I didn't think it was that important.  If baptism would have been preached along with repentance, I would have LOVED to have been baptized after I'd first believed!  Let's put this in the perspective of Christ's Apostles two thousand years ago.  Don't you think they would have been AGHAST at the thought of being baptized YEARS after you first believed on Christ?  Seriously, years?  Years??  And I'm sure I'm not the only one!

You never hear that when John the Baptist preached or St. Peter or St. Paul preached that people had second thoughts because they were going to get wet.  Maybe there were some people in the crowd who didn't like that idea.

But let's put that into perspective.  You're publicly proclaiming and giving your very life to the God of the universe and you're worried about some wet clothing?  Really?

If anything else, churches should publicly display their baptism schedule so that new church members, veteran church members, or even people who might wander in off the street don't have to ask around, wonder about it, procrastinate, be too scared to ask someone, or not KNOW when baptisms are held.

Baptism is IMPORTANT, folks.  The Apostles did it immediately upon conversion.  This shouldn't be looked at as a "first century" thing.  No, the Apostles knew that baptism was a PART of the conversion!  It wasn't something to do "later" at a time that's "convenient".

Churches, I challenge you on this.  Have a baptismal ready and someone willing to dunk a new believer at the drop of a hat.  If nothing else, post a schedule of baptisms so that people don't have to wonder when they can join in.  I've NEVER been to a church where I didn't have to go on a scavenger hunt for their next baptism ceremony!  Ridiculous!  The Apostles would be scandalized at the downplay of baptism in modern Christianity.

Let's be less worried about the ceremony and more worried about getting it done!  What's the ratio of baptized believers to non-baptized believers?  I bet you'd be astounded by how many Christians out there are NOT baptized due to our putting it off for a religious ceremony!! 

And what would Jesus say about THAT, hmm?  I thought He regularly put the smack down on "religious" types?