“A Puzzle” ( Galatians 6:7-8, WYC ) by Carley Evans


English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded ...
English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded woodcarved relief by Martin Vinazer (* 1674 in St. Ulrich in Gröden; † 1744) signed MVF (MV Fecit) Deutsch: Gefasstes Holzrelief des Martin Vinatzer gezeichnet MVF (MV Fecit) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Puzzling, yes? The Word of God teaches us two things which appear to be opposed. We are taught that God can not be scorned; that if we continue in sin, we pay the ultimate price – we die eternally, in corruption.

Roman Catholics get around this puzzle by teaching that some sin is minor – deemed venial or ‘easily forgiven’ – and does not lead to corruption while other sin is major – deemed mortal or ‘deadly’ – and will lead to eternal death, i.e. to damnation of the soul.

The bulk of the New Testament seems to teach, on the other hand, that sin is sin – that all sin leads to corruption. The problem then for mankind is what to do about sin. In Romans 7, Paul speaks of his woe – that the good he wants to do he can not do. He asks who will rescue him from his body of sin and death and then praises God that it is Christ who secures that rescue.

Yet, here in his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul warns that sin somehow hasn’t been nailed to the cross with Jesus.

“Do not ye err, God is not scorned; for those things that a man soweth, those things he shall reap [for why what things a man soweth, also these things he shall reap]. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh he shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the Spirit, of the Spirit he shall reap everlasting life.”

Then there are those who claim that Christians – if they are true Christians – never sin. I presume this belief is to reconcile themselves to the many scriptural passages that imply that if a Christian commits a sin, then God can not be in his or her body. After all, a Christian is the temple of God the Holy Spirit. How can a holy God dwell inside an unholy thing?

Yet, Paul speaks of the deeds done in the body that are unworthy of God burning off as the Christian passes from life into death and from there into eternal life – the mortal being swallowed up by the immortal, so to speak. In these passages, Paul implies that Christians do indeed sin. We makes mistakes, yet we are saved though as through fire.

Sometimes, I imagine Paul himself struggling to fully understand the good news. The good news that we are saved while we are still sinners, that God loves us so much that He considers us His friends while we are still His mortal enemies.

Why would God die for us while we are dead in sin, and then turn away from us because we fail? I can’t imagine. I don’t think Paul was able to imagine that, either. Instead, he reminds us that God’s love for us is higher and deeper and wider than anything we have ever known; that Jesus Christ does for us more than we will ever understand while we remain on this earth.

“Subject Under God” ( Psalm 62: 1, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Why should I be “subject under God?” The obvious answer is that God is my Creator; He knit me together in my mother’s womb, and fashioned me in His Mind long before my conception or birth. I am His, and always have been and always will be.

The other obvious answer is that He saved me. He is “my salvation, or my deliverance” just as David sings in his song of triumph over an enemy.

The enemy defeated by God for me is death, the wage of sin.

Therefore, like David, I sing:

“Surely my soul shall be made subject under God; for my salvation, or my deliverance, is from Him.”

 

“We Have Redemption” ( Ephesians 1: 7, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Here and there in the Word of God, the good news — the gospel — is captured in a single verse. I love these verses.

We find one of the best in the opening of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. Paul writes:

“We have redemption in Him…”

Paul means our redemption is in Jesus Christ, and by implication in none other.

“through His blood…”

Our salvation is achieved through the shedding of the blood of our Lord Jesus on the cross at Golgotha. The blood of goats and bulls are no longer necessary. We now have…

“the forgiveness of our trespasses…”

Meaning our sins are washed away through Christ’s shed blood, resulting in God’s forgiveness, which is…

“according to the riches of His grace…” (Ephesians 1:7)

In a second verse, Paul continues, telling us God’s grace is a gift and God’s grace is rich. Actually, God’s grace is…

“lavished on us…”

Sound foolish? Only to the unbelieving. To us, who are being saved, it is the power of God. He pours out His grace on us…

“with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:8)

His grace is not accidental.

 

 

 

“Not To Deal With Sin A Second Time” ( Hebrews 9: 12, ESV ) by Carley Evans


“[Christ] enters once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” The blood of goats and calves secure only a temporary redemption, one that requires repeating and repeating, year after year. “Under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22)

“Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly.” (Hebrews 9:24-25) Instead, He “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26)

“Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Notice when Christ returns, He is not coming back to deal with sin, for He has already finished dealing with sin. Instead, when He comes again, He is returning to save. His sacrifice for us is once for all, and need not be repeated.

“A Foolish Oath” ( 1 Samuel 14 : 28, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


For some reason, Saul places an oath on all the fighting men of Israel, commanding them to refrain from eating after defeating the Philistines. He says to his soldiers, “The man who eats food before evening, before I have taken vengeance on my enemies is cursed.” (1 Samuel 14:24) This seems almost like a boast. As a result of Saul’s foolish arrogance, no one eats. Even when they find honey on the ground in the forest, these men – out of fear – obey Saul and do not eat. As a result, they are all weakened and “worn out that day.” (1 Samuel 14:24)

Saul’s son, Jonathan, has not heard Saul’s command, so he dips the end of his staff in the honey and eats it. “When he eats the honey, he has renewed energy.” (1 Samuel 14:27) The other men, who have not eaten, “rush to the plunder” – presumably once evening has come – and “take sheep, cattle, and calves, slaughter them on the ground and eat meat with the blood still in it.” (1 Samuel 14:32) In this way, they each “sin against the Lord.” (1 Samuel 14:33) These men have not broken a man’s foolish command, but have disregarded God’s commandment.

Saul recognizes the seriousness of this disobedience; and calls for an altar to be built to the Lord. Oddly enough, this is “the first time he has built an altar to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 14:35) Afterwards, rather impulsively, Saul calls for his men to “go down after the Philistines tonight and plunder them until morning. Don’t let even one remain!” And his soldiers reply, “Do whatever you want.” (1 Samuel 14:36)

The priest reminds Saul that the Lord should be consulted. Saul asks God, but God does not answer. Saul decides the Lord is silent because “a sin has occurred today.” (1 Samuel 14:38) He calls for the death of that sinner, even if it proves to be his own son, Jonathan. Saul’s soldiers again say, “Do whatever you want” (1 Samuel 14:40) So, Saul casts a lot to determine if the sin is from the troops or from himself and Jonathan. The lot falls against Saul and Jonathan. Saul immediately wants to know what his son has done to make the Lord angry. Jonathan admits to eating a little honey. He also adds, “I am ready to die!” (1 Samuel 14:43)

But the troops intervene. They tell Saul that Jonathan “worked with God’s help today” and “accomplished a great deliverance for Israel.” (1 Samuel 14:45) In this way, “the people redeem Jonathan, and he does not die.” (1 Samuel 14:45)

Saul does not appear to fully grasp the foolishness of his command. Rather, he arrogantly wants to pursue and destroy all of the Philistines with famished, exhausted troops. He wants his vengeance before any man among his troops eats. When he becomes aware of the greater sin against the Lord – eating meat with the blood still in it – , he builds an altar but then decides upon a course of action without consulting God. Ignoring the greater sin, he then accuses his men and his son of breaking the oath he commanded. When the lot falls against himself as well as against Jonathan, it does not even occur to Saul that it may have been his foolish oath that angered the Lord. Instead, he asks his son, “Tell me what you did.” (1 Samuel 14:43)

The people stand between Saul – who is unjustifiably self-reliant – and his son, Jonathan who leans upon the Lord to accomplish the deliverance of Israel.

“The Richness Of His Grace” ( Ephesians 1: 7, HCSB ) by Carley Evans



“We have redemption in [Christ] through His blood.” Yes, our redemption is through Christ’s blood, and not through the Law, not through our good deeds, not through our own efforts. Rather, we are given “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavishes on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8) Christ’s grace is the cause of our redemption; this grace which He continues to “lavish on us.” Imagine the richness of the love a mother lavishes on her newborn baby — a pale reflection of the love and grace Christ lavishes on us “with all wisdom and understanding.”

And “the gift is not like the trespass.” “Where sin multiplies, grace multiplies even more so that, just as sin reigns in death, so also grace reigns through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Romans 5:15, 20-21)

“What are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31) “Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.” (Romans 8:33) “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35)

“One Mediator” ( 1 Timothy 2: 5-6, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Job, in his terror, longs for a mediator, one who will state his case to God. Job cries out, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay His hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that His terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of Him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” (Job 9:33-35)

Job wisely asks, “Who can bring what is pure from the impure?” (Job 14:4) And, he just as wisely answers, “No one!” (Job 14:4) Because Job despairs yet hopes, he begs: “If only You would hide me in the grave and conceal me till Your anger has passed! If only You would set me a time and then remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service, I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer You; You will long for the creature Your hands have made. Surely then You will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed in a bag; You will cover over my sin.” (Job 14:13-17)

What Job hopes, Paul confirms: “God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4) Here, Paul shows that Job’s prayer is answered. “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Job’s sins are finally “covered over” and “sealed in a bag.” God’s “anger has passed!” Job is indeed “remembered;” his “renewal comes” and “he lives again.”

“He Turns His Ear” (Psalm 116: 1 – 2, HCSB) by Carley Evans


“I love the Lord because He hears my appeal for mercy. Because He turns His ear to me, I call out to Him as long as I live.”

God is merciful. God’s mercy triumphs over God’s judgement. His mercy triumphs over judgement because of His Son’s sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection. Christ’s shed blood covers our sins so that God is able to be merciful to us.

God tells us that among people “there is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All turn away; all alike are useless. There is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3: 10 – 12) Since everyone “falls short of the glory of God,” everyone is “justified freely by [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3: 23, 24)

We are “declared righteous” when we “have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3: 26) Through Jesus’ work, God “hears [our] appeals for mercy.” God is able to “turn His ear to [us].” He is able to be merciful to us, who are sinners saved by grace.

“Saved To The Uttermost” (Hebrews 7: 25, ESV) by Carley Evans


Jesus lives forever, sitting at the right hand of His Father God, interceding for us so that He is capable, willing, eager, happy to save us “to the uttermost.” With God, there is no halfway salvation. God does not start a work that He does not intend to finish. Yes, we are to run the race to capture the prize, but the prize is ours already in Christ’s accomplished work on the Cross of Calvary.

Let us draw near to God through Christ; and be glad in our redemption.

“God At Work In Us” (Ephesians 1: 7, ESV) by Carley Evans


Paul says that our redemption is “in Him – the Beloved.” Our salvation is not in ourselves or in another. Rather, we are redeemed “through His blood.” We are not redeemed through the blood of bulls, goats, lambs. Rather, Christ’s blood pays our debts. We are forgiven our sins [trespasses, debts] “according to the riches of His grace.” His grace saves us.

Christ “is the mediator of a new covenant, so that [we] who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death occurs that redeems [us] from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9: 15) Christ “appears once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9: 26)

Paul explains that we are “predestined…for adoption as sons.” (Ephesians 1: 5) Our adoption is possible because of “His glorious grace” (Ephesians 1: 6) and “according to the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1: 5) We are not adopted by our will, but by His will.

God “works all things according to the counsel of His will,” reminds Paul. (Ephesians 1: 11) God is the one who is at work in us. He seals us with “the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.” (Ephesians 1: 13 – 14)

Therefore, since God is at work in us, we should praise Him. We should give Him all the glory which is due Him for He sends His Son who willingly dies to make our adoption possible. Hallelujah!