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What do you think of Christ?

What do you think of Christ?

What do you think of Christ?

By Peter Youngren

SOME think that Christ is Jesus’ surname. Others recognize that Christ is a Greek word that corresponds to the Hebrew Messiah –the anointed one. That’s good as far as it goes, but there is a lot more to discover.

Jesus, Christ and Lord; we often use these names and titles interchangeably, yet each has a distinct meaning. We read that God made Jesus “both Lord and Christ,”

Acts 2:36. Lord and Christ? What’s the difference and does it matter? Jesus inquired from the Pharisees: What do you think about the Christ?
Matthew 22:42. I pass the question on to you; who is Christ to you?

The expression – in Christ – appears 164 times in Scripture, but what does it mean? If the Christ vision is only about one person who lived 2,000 years ago, that’s great but of limited interest. The vision of Christ that I propose is much grander – it includes everyone. To discover Christ who came in Bethlehem is to discover the upholder of the universe – the One in whom we and every created thing have our existence.

Consider the following from the Bible:
• Christ is before all things.
• All things were made by Christ.
• In Christ all things consist.
• Everything is upheld by the word of Christ’s power.
• At the end of time, everything will be put under Christ.

The expression – in Christ – appears 164 times in Scripture, but what does it mean?

This leaves no room for devil phobia.

Christ permeates all

Scientists grapple with how atoms, electrons, protons and neutrons, quarks and sub-particles are held together. One scientist noted in Discovery Magazine, that “the further you study this, it becomes simply mystical”. In other words, the complexity of how nature consists is beyond the understanding of the greatest scientific minds.

Paul wrote, Christ is all and in all, Colossians 3:11.The statement is so enormous, that we need to pause and allow it to sink in:

Christ is all and in all!

If I made this statement without a reference to Scripture, some would accuse me of pantheism. Hinduism and Buddhism are pantheistic religions, which claim that god is everything and everything is god.The gospel teaches that God permeates everything, every plant and every bush is upheld by Christ, and in Him everything consists. Christ is the source of everything, life itself, every human, and every flower and blade of grass. Christ is at the center of all things.

The Gospel goes further – Christ is above all and transcends all.

When I preach to Buddhist and Hindu friends I tell them that the one who upholds everything
is Christ but He is also above all things – Lord of all. Jesus– LORD and CHRIST!

Paul told the Athenians, that in Him (Christ) we live and move and have our being. How big is the Christ? Based on Paul’s statement, we can say with certainty that no church, no religion, no denomination has monopoly on Christ; He transcends all.

Photo of the Earth taken from Voyager 1 about 6 billion kilometres away. This spaceship left our planet in 1977 at a speed of 17 kilometres per second. It took 16 years before it reached the outer limits of our solar system.

Christ - the light of the world

Science estimates the size of the known universe to be 94 billion light years from one end to the other. Of course, the universe has no end– that’s just the known universe. We think in terms of hundreds or maybe thousands of kilometers; billions of light-years is beyond
our comprehension.

Our solar system is only one among billions of solar systems. On the map of the observable universe, it is so small that you barely notice it.

The vastness of the universe helps to realize how great Christ is. From the minutest sub-particle of an atom to the ever-expanding universe- everything speaks of the grandeur of Christ.

At creation’s morning God said, let there be light, Jesus said, I am the light of the world, and told his followers; you are the light of the world. What is this light that according to the creation story existed before the sun and the moon were put into place?

In 2019 astronomers, using eight telescopes, took the first ever picture of a black hole in the far reaches of the universe (see picture). The enormity of this black hole defies comprehension; 40 billion kilometers across with a mass 3 million times greater than that of the earth. Referencing the bright light surrounding the black hole, the lead scientist, Professor Falcke stated; we don’t understand how this light is generated.

Interesting! The best scientific minds cannot explain the source of that light, yet it’s there.

To me, it is a reminder that Christ is the light of the world and He lights the path of every person, John 1:9.

First ever photo of a black hole (released April, 2019), taken with eight telescopes; scientist can explain where the light comes from.

Christ at the end

Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power… for He has put all things under his feet… now when all things are made subject to Him then the Son Himself will be subject to Him to put all things under Him that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28, selective).

What a beautiful, victorious end- time vision:

  • All things are put under Christ.
  • God will be all in all.

For those, who revel in speculations about Armageddon, 666, the false prophet and the Antichrist this may seem an unsatisfying description of the end time. But just for a moment; put aside speculative ideas and instead see Christ, the supreme, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Picture Christ – Alpha (the first) and Omega (the last), eternally victorious – Savior of the world, with everything under His feet.

The universe known to science has a radius of approx, 47 billion light years. Our solar system is so small that it is barely visible on this map.

Christ above evil powers


The ChristVision removes fear of the devil and demons. Since all creatures, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, were created by Christ [Col 1:15-17], there is no reason for fear. It is laughable for believers to be afraid of demons and the devil, since these are mere created beings. Should we who have Christ be afraid of beings that Christ created? [I’m not saying that Christ created the devil, He created Lucifer, the angel, who chose to become the devil]. Of course not!

This causes us to rethink “spiritual warfare”. A war is only ongoing as long as the outcome of the battle is unknown. In World War II the allied forces were prevailing towards the end of 1944 and early 1945, but victory was not sure because the Axis forces could have had a secret weapon that would’ve turned the tide.The war was not over until the enemy was totally defeated. That’s why I cringe when I hear people talk about spiritual warfare as if we (the believers) are fighting against the devil and the outcome is still uncertain. On the contrary, the outcome is certain – Jesus Christ has once and for all defeated evil powers. Our battle, the good fight of faith, is against the enemy’s lies; deceptions that make us think that our enemy is still strong and powerful. But, he’s a liar. Christ has fully triumphed!

This leaves no room for devil phobia. Do Christians need deliverance? Only if we have embraced mental deceptions, and the bondages and irrational behavior that follow. The means of deliverance is to believe the gospel: Christ has delivered us from the power of darkness. Past tense! Got it?

Christ in you

 
The ChristVision awakens us to our true identity. The knowledge of God is in every person, Ecclesiastes 3:11. Some call this inward awareness the soul, while others refer to it as consciousness. John wrote; It is not because you do not know the truth that I write to you, because you know it already, 1 John 2:21.There is an inward knowledge that God put in people.This makes it easy to share the message of Christ with Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus. Though some have never heard the name Jesus Christ, yet within every heart the truth rings true.

John continues; We know this, that when everything is revealed, all we will know is that we are like God, and we shall finally see God as He really is”, 1 John 3:2. The purpose of our spiritual journey is to discover more about our source, our identity and our destiny in Christ.

There are three dimensions in our relationship with Christ:

1. Christian or not a Christian– we are all upheld by Christ.

2. To become a Christian is to change our mind (repent) and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior and God.

3. Once we receive the gift of salvation, we have an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of Christ. Here are limitless opportunities for every believer.

Luther called humanity a “pile of manure”, and Calvin preached the “total depravity” doctrine. Paul told the pagan Athenians to receive Christ, in whom they already lived and had their existence. Learn from Paul!

"Pile of manure" or upheld by Christ


This Christ-focused message has too often been replaced by a negative and destructive message. Martin Luther, the 16th-century reformer, who I frequently quote in a positive way, unfortunately portrayed humans as a “pile of manure”. John Calvin, another reformer, articulated the doctrine of “total depravity” and 18th century revivalist, Jonathan Edwards,
spoke of “sinners in the hands of an angry God”. Such statements do not make people Christ conscious, but rather sin conscious and self-conscious.This promotes the kind of thinking that reduces Christianity to a religious system, administered by clergy, and designed to mitigate people’s sins in order to hopefully bring them to heaven.

The Christ message is much greater: God put the image of himself in every person, and in Him we live and move and have our being. And now we– all people– have the opportunity to personally know this Christ. When this message echoed across the Roman world 2,000 years ago it was radical.Two- thirds of Roman society were slaves, but whether slave or free all are created in God’s image, all are upheld by Christ. To see yourself created in the image of God is vastly different from a pile of manure, totally depraved, squirming in the hands of an angry God. Unfortunately the latter view has permeated much of modern day evangelical Christianity. We have much to learn from Paul’s sermon to the pagan Athenians. He articulated that they, and all people, are invited to receive the One, in whom they already live and have their being.

Put on Christ


We were crucified, buried and risen with Jesus Christ, and now; our life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:3.

We respond by putting “on the Lord Jesus Christ”, Romans 13:14. Years ago, I was out for a walk in western Canada, when I noticed a discarded snakeskin. Snakes shed their skin, as new skin develops. The old skin itches, somehow it doesn’t fit. This depicts what it means to put on Christ. When the new life of Christ awakens in us, we recognize that the old skin of lies, gossip, fornication, grudges and condemnation doesn’t fit anymore. Instead we put on love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith and patience. Anything that smells of non-love or condemnation has to go.

To put on Christ is to put on healing, wisdom, love and joy. You in Christ and Christ in you! Healing, blessing and joy are not from an external source. No, it is God’s life that flows within you.You are one with Christ, and Christ is one with you!

 

Christ is the source of everything, life itself, every human, and every flower and blade of grass.

Peter Youngren

Peter Youngren

God’s vision is the world

God’s vision is the world

God’s Vision is the World!

By Peter Youngren

Many have not in their wildest imagination seen what God sees.

God is interested in the world – the whole world! Jesus said: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel!” God loves every person. His view is not narrow, or merely a local vision – God thinks of all people. Jesus shed his blood, died and rose again, not for one religion, or for one people, but for all. His word is the seed, and the world is the field. 

God’s interest in nations is because of the people who live there. That’s why God is interested in Canada because 36 million people live here. If God cares about Canada, he also cares about France with 67 million, Nigeria with 191 million, Brazil, Pakistan and Indonesia, each one of those countries with between 200 and 300 million people. God is interested and thinks about the United States with 330 million, India with 1,370,000,000 precious individuals, and China with 1,434,000,000 people. One person is worth more than the wealth of the world. There’s nothing small or limited about God’s vision, it includes every one of the 7.8 billion people alive now.

 Some Christians have only a limited, introspective vision. When they pray they pray for themselves, “God bless my family, my work, my ministry.” Many have not in their wildest imagination seen what God sees. Others see a little further, and they may pray; “God bless my neighbour, my church and my city.” Some may see their nation or their culture, and when they pray they say; “God bless my country, bless my people.” Still they do not see as God sees.

Sadly, many pastors do not see God’s vision; they see their pulpit, their ministry and their congregation. To see with God’s eyes is to see the world. When I started in ministry, almost every church, even the small ones, had a foreign missions program. Today, many large churches of 10 and 20,000 members have no foreign missions programs; their concern is limited to the people who live in their own geographical area. They may sponsor a pancake breakfast in a low income neighbourhood, or the launch of a new church campus in another part of town, as their “missions program”. The fact that billions of people live in areas of the earth where there is virtually no chance that they will hear the gospel is of little concern.

Why have we put world evangelism outside the local church budget, as something extra?

The Money Issue

Some church leaders suggest that 10%, a tithe, of the member’s income belongs to the local church, but that this does not include world evangelism; world missions should only depend on extra offerings. This concept does not have a shred of evidence from Scripture. Maybe salaries for pastors and staff should only be paid by extra offerings? Or, building costs, since the church is not the building, should only be paid from extra offerings? Why have we put world evangelism outside the local church budget, as something extra? It is a devilish misconception! The reality is that the cause of missions is the supreme task of the local church.

Without Vision

Why it is important to see God’s vision? Because without a vision people perish and may never discover God’s unconditional love for them. Without a vision among believers, billions of non-believers are relegated to climb a religious ladder of good works in order to please a supposed angry deity, only to fall back, and then try to climb back up again. Without a vision, billions will continue to live in fear, rejection and condemnation, not having their eyes opened to the reality that their sin, shame and guilt have been put away by Christ.

False Predictions

Knowing the human tendency to procrastinate, Jesus said: Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’

In the late 1980’s many said that by the year 2000 we would really have done something great for world missions. Then in 2000, I heard church leaders say that by 2020 we will have finished the Great Commission. Now 2020 is here, and some are talking about 2030 or 2040. Jesus’ words are more applicable than ever:

Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!, John 4:35. God’s time is now!

God lays claim to the world, because the Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, and all the people that dwell in it.

The “Next Town”

Jesus had great success in Capernaum, everyone gathered to hear him, and many were healed. This was a great opportunity and Jesus could’ve stayed in Capernaum for a long time. However, early the next morning Jesus left the town, and the disciples searched for him, and when they found him, they said; Everyone is looking for You. Jesus responded, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth”, Mark 1:37- 38.
That’s Jesus, always thinking about the next person, the next town and the next people group. And Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.

We Demand Justice

Twice we read about Jesus feeding the multitudes. The disciples distributed the bread, and on each occasion all the people were fed, every single one. Imagine if the disciples had only given the bread and the fish to those seated in the first row. After they had finished serving one row, they would come back to the first person to give a second portion, again and again. There would’ve been a cry for justice from the 2nd row, the 3rd, the 10th and the 50th row; “this is unrighteous, we do not have crumb of bread.”

Sunday after Sunday, tens of thousands of pastors and preachers prepare beautiful sermons, delivered with great oratorical skills. We give the bread of life to the front row church crowd, again and again, often never considering those who have nothing.

The Unreached on Our Doorstep

This temptation to not see as God sees is very real in the Western world – with large churches. Week after week the congregation enjoys praise and worship, and well prepared teachings. Yet in those same cities, there are large people groups, who have migrated during the last few decades, and they go about their own lives, and never hear the gospel.

There is spiritual impotence. It is as if we only have strength to look at our own needs. The thought of the world, and the Great Commission seems far from the minds of many. Even church planting has been reduced to a pursuit of market share of those already born again. What better way to start a church then to attract people, who are already trained to give offerings and attend Sunday services. Like the rich man, we often do not notice the spiritual beggar at our doorstep.

The Unreached We Never Meet

The temptation to ignore those who have never heard the gospel is even stronger when it comes to those who live beyond our geographical areas.
Jesus was moved with compassion, because the people were like sheep without a shepherd, wounded and bruised. He said to his disciples: The harvest is great, but the labourers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send labourers into his harvest, Matthew 9:35 – 38.

Here is the crux of the problem; the labourers are few.
Paul, the apostle, echoed the same sentiments: How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:14 – 15.

Dynamite

The baptism of the Holy Spirit empowers believers for God’s vision. Jesus said: You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me.
Every time Jesus spoke about the evangelization of the world, he also promised that the Holy Spirit would empower believers. The Greek word for “power” is dunamis, where we get the word dynamite.

Dynamite is dangerous, and the spiritual dynamite of the Holy Spirit is dangerous for religious institutionalism, for lethargy and indifference. This dynamite will blast you out of a boring, humdrum religious existence into fruitfulness. On the day of Pentecost, they spoke in tongues and magnified the Lord, but this was only the first sign that the Holy Spirit had come. The great sign was that their hearts had been filled with love, compelling them to take the gospel to the world.

Dead Sea vs Sea of Galilee

Unless we become involved with the gospel our experience of the Holy Spirit will soon stagnate.
In Israel, the Sea of Galilee is full of life while the Dead Sea is reduced year by year. What’s the difference? The Sea of Galilee has both the inflow and outflow, while the Dead Sea only has inflow. It loses its water through condensation, and becomes bitter and salty. That’s a picture of the Christian life when we only have inflow of God’s life, but no outflow of giving what we have to others; we become sidetracked, bitter and unhappy.

Take a moment to meditate on these statements:

• The baptism of the Holy Spirit, without the Great Commission, is at best self-focused, and at worst a ticket to membership in a bless me club.

• The Great Commission, without the baptism in the Spirit, is a cruel assignment, where believers are destined for failure.

• The baptism of the Holy Spirit with a vision to fulfill the Great Commission is the key to impacting the world.

A Call to Every Believer

In 2020 I call on believers to say “yes” to God’s vision.

Isaiah said; Lord, here am I, send me. Paul said; I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
If you’re retired or in the middle of life raising children, a young person, if you are single or married –everyone is needed in the Great Commission. I’m not suggesting that everyone should travel into a different culture. I am saying that every believer can make a difference. There are four key words: Look! Pray! Go! Send!

We can all lift our eyes and see the harvest. We can all pray. Many can go, and those who cannot go can send someone.

We have the greatest assignment, and it starts with seeing the world like God sees it.

We give the bread of life to the front row church crowd, again and again, often never considering those who have nothing.

The Old is Dead; Live the New and Better!

The Old is Dead; Live the New and Better!

The Old is Dead; Live the New and Better!

By Peter Youngren

“DOES ONE PART OF THE BIBLE SAY THAT THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG IN ANOTHER PART?”

“INSTEAD OF POSTING THE 10 COMMANDMENTS WHICH AROUSE SIN PUT JOHN 3:16 ON DISPLAY.”

IF WE MIX THE OLD COVENANT WITH THE NEW, IN SPITE OF BIBLICAL WARNINGS, THE GOSPEL LOSES ITS ATTRACTION, AND WE SETTLE FOR LESS.

The Old Covenant ended abruptly on August 4th. 70 A.D. On that day the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was burned and razed, as Roman forces defeated the Jewish rebels. This was the end of ancient Judaism. The Law of Moses drew its last breath. While the Jewish people still had the words of the Torah, their ability to live according to the Law vanished. Without a Temple, there would be no sacrifices, and without sacrifices there would be no forgiveness of sin, no relationship with God.

Six years earlier, 64 A.D., the writer of the book of Hebrews had predicted that the last vestiges of the Law will soon disappear.

By calling this covenant “new,” has has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear, (Hebrews 8:13)

70 years before the destruction of the Jewish Temple, the angel in Bethlehem announced the birth of the Savior and a New Covenant for all people. Tribalism was over, and the promise that God had made to Abraham – to bless all nations – was about to be fulfilled. On the cross, Jesus confirmed that the end of the old era was at hand, and announced – it is finished!

Within Judaism, the sacrifices at the Temple continued after Jesus’ resurrection. The book of Hebrews was written to strengthening Jewish believers, who were under pressure to leave their new found faith and return to the Law. The author urges the readers to continue with Christ and to resist temptations to mix the Old and the New Covenants. He shows that Jesus is greater than Moses, greater than the High Priest, and his covenant is superior to the Torah. And Christ’s once and for all sacrifice has ended the need of daily temple sacrifices.

Sadly, today some still seek to blend the Old and the New Covenant, the very thing that Jesus, the Apostles, and the author of Hebrews warned against. We read:

If there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. (Hebrews 8:7).

Take a moment to digest this! This is strong language – something was wrong with the covenant of Moses! To be exact, the part of the Bible where the Law of Moses is found contains something wrong.

Really? Does one part of the Bible (Hebrews) say that there’s something wrong in another part (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy)? Yes apparently! Either I am wrong, or the verse I quoted from Hebrews is incorrect. We can’t have it both ways. I didn’t say that everything in the books of Moses is wrong. Not at all! I just stated, from the Bible that something is wrong.

Is this too much? You may want to quit reading, because our tendency is to discard evidence that contradicts what we have previously thought. When I received my first Bible, at the age of 10, no one warned me that the Law of Moses had faults, and that these wrongs would only come to light once my reading took me into the New Testament.

The writer of Hebrews introduces another strong word – obsolete (see Scripture quoted above). The Bible calls the Torah, the Law of Moses, obsolete, stating that the very existence of a new covenant makes the old obsolete, (Hebrews 8:13).

Obsolete means outdated.

Again, think! One part of the Bible, the Book of Hebrews, calls another part obsolete. Did your pastor warn you to not spend too much time in the obsolete parts of the Bible? Just because something is obsolete does not mean that it is evil. I don’t use cassettes anymore, but that doesn’t mean that I think cassettes are bad. No, they served their time, but now there are better means of communication. Similarly, a passport has a designated usefulness. Once the end date comes, the passport is obsolete, it’s time has been fulfilled. Again, it is not bad or evil, just outdated.

If you think that I discard the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, think again. These are among my favorite parts of the Bible, because these books reveal Christ. In World Impact Bible Institute, I teach three courses, each 18 hours in length, from those very books. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus taught his disciples that the Law and all of Scripture contain vital information about Himself. The Church fathers incorporated the Jewish scriptures with the New Testament for Christological reasons. They preached Christ from the Jewish Scriptures. Note that Jesus never said: study Moses so that you can blend my gospel with the Law.

So, why did God give the Law in the first place, since it was destined to become outdated? Someone may add, “Aren’t God’s covenants eternal; why does the Law of Moses have an expiration date?” Paul, the Apostle, answers: Why then was the Law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promised referred had come. (Galatians 3:19)

The answer is clear; the Law was intended to be temporary, “it was added,” it had an expiration date. It would end when God had fulfilled His promise to Abraham. Paul illustrates further that the Law was a guardian until Christ would come, and once Christ had come, there would be no need for a guardian. To summarize:

The Law of Moses was time-limited covenant for the nation of Israel, while God’s covenant through Abraham, which was fulfilled by Jesus, is eternal and for the whole world.

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day understood that Jesus had come to make the Law obsolete. That is why they crucified him.

On at least six occasions, Jesus said: the Law says… but I say to you. Jesus’ intentions were clear. Some of Jesus’ critics thought that he wanted to destroy the Law. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus explained: Do not think I have come to destroy the Law or the prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfill them, (Matthew 5:17).

Not destroy – but fulfill! What’s the difference?

Read the next verse: For truly I tell you until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Pay close attention here:

#1. THOSE WHO THINK THAT THE LAW OF MOSES IS FOR TODAY ARE LIABLE TO OBEY EVERY STROKE OF THE PEN AND EVERY LETTER (KING JAMES CALLS IT EVERY “JOT” AND “TITTLE”).

That means stoning rebellious children by the city gate, abstaining from shrimp, pork and bacon, and don’t mix your clothing (combining linen, wool and cotton is an abomination). Don’t cherry pick your favorite commandment. If the Law of Moses is for us today then you are responsible for every jot and tittle. No excuses!

#2. ONCE “EVERYTHING IS FULFILLED” THEN THE LAW DISAPPEARS.

Jesus’ listeners must’ve understood that He intended to fulfill “everything”. The Greek term translated “fulfill” is found in Matthew and in Luke, and it means to bring to a designated end. Jesus came to bring the Law to its end. The Law had been on a timer all along, until Christ’s finished work was fulfilled.

#3. JESUS WAS NOT ANOTHER ONE IN A LONG LINE OF TEACHERS AND PROPHETS; HE WAS THE END OF THE LINE.

Once a debt is paid, it is brought to its end, the debt obligation is fulfilled. Jesus was the Seed that God promised Abraham, and once the Seed had come, the Law was fulfilled! God had no further obligation to bring salvation to the world; the promise that God had given to Abraham was now fulfilled in Jesus.

So what changed on August 4, 70 A.D.? That day the sacrifices in the Temple ceased. The consequences were enormous for the followers of Moses; no more forgiveness of sins, no more personal access to God.

Do you ever need forgiveness from sin? If you think that the Law is still for today, you better make an animal sacrifice. That could be problematic, especially if you live in an apartment, or in a city where animal slaughter is not allowed in the back yard. Better luck if you live on a farm. But you still have a problem, because in order for your sacrifice to be valid it must be slaughtered by an approved Levite. There are not too many of those around. So you are stuck with your sins. But you say, “Peter, I just call on God in the name of Jesus and my sins are forgiven.” Not so fast. That is not allowed in the Old Covenant. That is only in the New Covenant because of the finished work of Jesus. If you believe that the Law is for us today, you had better follow the prescriptions in the books of Moses, or you are doomed.

Here’s the big deal?

In contemporary Christianity, there is a tendency to blend the two covenants, which has allowed strange and weird practices to enter the Christian faith. Let me mention just a few.

Have you ever heard someone announce that God is about to judge our country because of its sins? That thinking is not from Jesus, who said that He has not come to condemn the world, but to save. The idea of judging nations is rooted in the Jewish Scriptures, not in the New Covenant, which proclaim that Jesus put away the sins of the world.

Another strange practice is to call certain buildings, places or days “holy”. That’s also from the obsolete covenant. In the New Covenant, believers are called holy.

A third strange idea is that too much of the grace of God encourages people to sin. That’s obsolete! The New Covenant teaches; sin shall not have dominion, because we are not under the law but under grace, (Romans 6:14).

Some may ask, “what about the 10 Commandments, are they not the foundation of Western society, what about their value?” Yes, the Commandments are, as the apostle Paul stated, holy, perfect and just. Yet, there is something wrong also with the 10 Commandments – they cannot make us holy, perfect or just.

Just like a mirror only shows the dirt on our face, and is incapable of cleansing, so the 10 Commandments are powerless to remove sin. While they cause an awareness of sin, they also, according to the apostle Paul, arouse us in desire to sin. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ gives the power to overcome sin, death and darkness. That’s the hope of our society! If we are interested in the power of sin being broken the answer is not to have the 10 Commandments in public places, but to make Jesus known. Instead of posting the 10 Commandments which arouse sin put John 3L16 on display, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”.

Mixing the old and the new covenant hurts us, and it hurts our cause. One reason why early Christianity was so attractive, that the Roman Empire turned from paganism to Christ, was the early believers understood that the Law was obsolete – Jesus Christ was not the Redeemer for all. Jesus had torn down the enmity (the Law) between Jew and Gentile. Everyone was now on equal footing.

Unfortunately, after centuries of muddying the waters, many no longer find the Gospel attractive. Have we poisoned our message? To mix the life-giving New Covenant with the Law that kills (2nd Corinthians 3), is like putting poison in a healthy salad. If my words trouble you, please read 2nd Corinthians chapter 3; you may find the words of the apostle Paul even more upsetting.

Bottom line, the gospel is an attractive message, but we must get to know our message better, and then we will discover that the world is more ready to receive than we ever imagined.

 

TIMELINE OF NEW COVENANT:

BEFORE CHRIST: New Covenant foretold.

YEAR O: Angel announced the birth of Christ and the New Covenant.

33 A.D.: On the cross Jesus proclaimed: It is finished.

64 A.D.: The author of Hebrews states that the Old Covenant will soon disappear.

AUGUST 4, 70 A.D.: Temple destroyed. No more sacrifices. The Law of Moses draws its last breath.

TODAY: Salvation is available to all by Christ’s New Covenant.

“DID YOUR PASTOR WARN YOU TO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH TIME UP IN THE OBSOLETE PARTS OF THE BIBLE?”

With God in the age of disruption

With God in the age of disruption

With God in the age of disruption

Why this could be our finest hour if we seize the opportunity before us.

By Peter Youngren

CHANGE is constant, but to say that we are living in changing times is an understatement – this is the Age of Disruption. Ideas, traditions and systems, as we have known them, are dissolving. We are surrounded by smart phones and sensors; we shop online while retailers we have known all of our lives close shop. We talk about driverless cars and though none of us have ever owned one, we probably will someday. Values that have seemed unshakable for generations are questioned and many are changing rapidly.

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Happy, clappy statements about an impending great revival will not do – we need the gospel.

Communication disruption.

During an average minute, just one minute, almost 1 million people log into Facebook, there are close to half a million tweets, 156 million emails and 15 million text messages. For the last decade, these numbers have been doubling on the average every two years.

Work disruption.

When machines do the work that humans previously did the obvious question is: what are humans to do? Truck drivers, factory workers and office clerks wonder if their jobs will be there in 10 years.

Artificial Intelligence [AI] is disrupting.

This is what enables computers and machines to do what humans used to do. As I prepare this article, there is news that China has announced its plan to lead the world in artificial intelligence in 10 years. Computers can see [facial recognition software], read [that’s how your social media messages are analyzed], and speak [the phone, car or Amazon’s Alexa talking to you]. Speaking of Alexa, one of the most popular gifts this past Christmas, this gadget demonstrates that AI also listens. If you say, “Alexa, wake up”, there is a response, which means you didn’t really wake up your gadget. It was awake the whole time, or how else could it have heard your command. AI will change healthcare. Why wait in a doctor’s office when you can have a smartphone tell your blood pressure and sugar levels. 3D printers, virtual personal assistants, hologram technology, implanted microchips, robotic medical assistants, what’s next? Robots leading worship? I hope not.

When machines do the work of humans, what are humans to do?

Migration disruption.

The world is on the move. During certain periods of history, humanity has migrated. One example is the second half of the 19th century when millions migrated from northern Europe to America to escape poverty and injustice. Migrants have always looked for a better life. History shows that when people become wealthy they have fewer children, while poorer societies have higher birth rates. Eventually the demographics catch up as people living in densely populated areas move to areas of more space and opportunity. Who can blame people for wanting a better life? Imagine yourself a 25-year-old believer, unemployed and living in West Africa. When you read 3rd John verse 2: God wants you to prosper and be in health as your soul prospers, it’s not hard to see how you might come to the conclusion that your success will come by boarding a ship to Europe or North America. Here is the fact: Africa is on the move towards Europe and Central America towards the United States and there is not much anyone can do about it. So, where is the Gospel, what is our response to migration?

Political disruption.

For 70 years, since World War II, Western civilization has mostly followed the idea of globalism. Whatever brings countries together, militarily or in trade, has been considered desirable; the more cooperation the better. While globalization has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, it has also brought about huge and unparalleled income inequalities. Today, populist political parties that emphasize national identities have arisen to challenge globalism. Already we have seen dramatic changes in countries like Poland, Hungary, Brazil, Bolivia, the Philippines and the United States.

Nature is in disruption.

Last fall in Indonesia, a country that I know well, where we’ve conducted 28 Gospel Campaigns, more than 7000 died on the island of Sulawesi, while there were more than 1000 fatalities in West Java, as a result of earthquakes and tsunamis. Wildfires in Europe and America and more than half of Puerto Rico’s population without electricity for 11 months remind us that life is fragile.
Humanity is on the move.

Values are disrupted.

This is big! Political correctness threatens freedom of speech? It was just announced that two Canadian universities, in response to the attacks of freedom of speech, have initiated new policies to ensure this human right. Freedom of speech was always for the purpose of guaranteeing the rights of the person with whom you disagree, but in some quarters a political correctness that calls opposing ideas hate speech has taken over. In Canada, organizations that do not agree with the government’s policies on gender theory are barred from seeking federal grants. Speaking of gender theory, who thought that we would question the basic idea of male and female? Today, there is debate whether or not to include a third gender [or fourth or fifth] definition in the Constitution. Canadian Christian activist, Laura Lynn Thompson, has caused quite a stir, especially in British Columbia, and she recently addressed one of the Sunday services at the Toronto Celebration Church. Her activism is concerning the educational system that encourages little boys to explore whether they are actually girls, and vice versa. Who saw this coming 20 years ago? The reality is that many are afraid to even talk about the value disruption we are living through, for fear of being called a fascist or a bigot. Not surprisingly, Laura Lynn’s activism has cost her a great deal, even among her evangelical friends.
Globalism has dominated the last 70 years.

The church is in disruption.

The church’s credibility is in question. This is not new, there have always been doubters and speakers. There are two issues that are having a profound effect on the general public’s view of the church. One is the pedophilia scandal within the Roman Catholic Church, and second; the merging of evangelical Christianity with politics particularly in United States. The psalmist queried, if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? To put it in current terminology: what should be our response in the age of disruption?
EIGHT RESPONSES

Face reality.

The proverbial ostrich needs to pull its head out of the sand. Times of great struggle are times of great opportunities, but not without facing reality. Happy, clappy statements about an impending great revival will not do. Creative speculations about blood moons and the end times are not helpful. Calls to prayer that do not result in action will disappoint. It’s time to assess our message [is it really the gospel?] and our prayers [are we waiting for God to move, or should we move with what God has already given to us?].

Recognize that Cultural Christianity is insufficient.

In our attempt to present our faith in the marketplace we have become skilled at using coded language, rather than “bearing Jesus’ name” before people. We try to win people by talking about Christian values, about our church, about our pastor, about our program rather than about Jesus Christ. To speak up for Christian morality is not the same as presenting the gospel. Good morals do not come from upholding good morals; good morals are the results of the gospel changing hearts. The gospel is not behavior modification; it’s heart transformation. And once the heart is changed, things will change also on the outside.

Rediscover the gospel.

The gospel is not a morality, self-help message, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and try harder. It is the story of the unlimited God who came into limited human flesh, to enlighten our darkened minds about who we are and who God is, to redeem us, to defeat death and hell and sin, and to win an everlasting victory for everyone, And then Christ lives and expresses Himself through us by the Holy Spirit. WOW, that’s good news!

You, with Christ, are the solution.

We are not consumers of ministry, worship and sermons; Jesus said we are the light of the world. We are not waiting for God to move; he already moved 2000 years ago by sending Jesus Christ. Too much pining, begging for God to bless, anoint and empower us! It’s time to see that you have something. You have the bread of life and you’ll never be hungry again. You have the fountain of living water and you’ll never thirst again. We are not longing and yearning for something out of our reach. The Scripture is clear; we have all [not just a few of us] received Christ fullness. Like Simon Peter we say, what we have we give you!

A strategy for migrants.

Migration is here to stay. Governments, churches and charitable organizations provide language courses, food, social assistance and more. However, without believers having a revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a strategy to share it with others, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist friends that are coming into our country will largely remin unreached. [One small but powerful way to share the gospel with people, including migrants, in your community, could be by distributing the pamphlet, Enlightenment – The Global Quest for God.]

Rediscover prayer.

The purpose of prayer was never to change God, who is unchangeably committed to love the world, but to change us. If you missed my article, Rediscover The Power of Prayer in the Winter 2019 Impact Magazine, check it out at peteryoungren.org.

Offer abundant life.

Christ offers first and foremost eternal life, but this new life involves everything, including finances. There are charlatans who preach a prosperity gospel for selfish gain, but don’t let them have monopoly on the subject. There is a healthy longing for prosperity and a good life that God put in the human heart. Teaching that God is our source for life, including wisdom for finances, is not a fad, it is reality. The wave of migration is driven by hunger for a better life. That better life, including a better financial life, is found in the wisdom of the indwelling Christ.
Moses encountered God in an age of disruption for the nation of Israel.

Take courage from the story of Moses.

Moses lived in an age of disruption. Israel had been a favored nation just a generation earlier, but by the time Moses was born there was political upheaval, and Israel had become slaves.

Moses tried to handle the problems of his time in this own strength. His well-intentioned attempt to deliver Israel only made him a laughingstock. That’s not untypical. The Bible is full of examples of people who tried in their own strength but failed.

Moses encountered God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush, Exodus 3:2. I suggest that Moses, an ordinary man, saw himself in that very ordinary desert bush. But he also saw God in the bush. A bush, by its nature, cannot contain fire, because fire consumes it. That’s what God does with ordinary people; he transforms them. To encounter God is much more than a feeling. Sometimes people talk about experiencing God’s presence, but it doesn’t seem to bring a lasting change. It’s just an emotion, a good feeling during a worship service. The God encounter I’m talking about is transformational; you are forever changed.

Moses made new choices. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and chose instead to be mistreated along with the people of God. Life is a trade-off. When you refuse one thing you get to say “yes” to another.

The scripture explains the change in Moses’ behavior. It happened because he saw Him, who is invisible, and therefore he didn’t fear the king’s anger. There is fear of being rejected, fear of failure, fear of losing friends or having no money. Fear results in negative choices. Love conquers fear, and causes faith to flourish. Faith causes us to see ourselves as we really are in Christ. An encounter with God results in new choices.

When everything is shaken, Christ is not, His ultimate victory is certain. That motivates me to keep going in the age of disruption, because this is our finest hour, if we seize the opportunity for the Gospel.

Too much pining, begging for God to bless, anoint and empower us!

The kind of God encounter I’m talking about is transformational; you are forever changed.

Where is Christianity Headed?

Where is Christianity Headed?

Where is Christianity Headed?

By Peter Youngren

There is a battle for the hearts, minds and souls of people everywhere!

Thought police in Canada? Who saw it coming?

A myriad of voices are vying for our attention, so where will Christianity be 5, 10 or 20 years from now?

There is a battle across the world, and it is a struggle for the hearts, minds and souls of people everywhere! Who are the influencers? At the very top, there is Social Media. Teenagers spend 9 hours per day, while baby boomers [those born between 1946 and 1964] spend 27 hours per week on social media, mostly on Facebook. Some say, ‘people are busy, they don’t have time for God’, but maybe the opposite is true, maybe people have never had more discretionary time. On the streets, in parks, in church foyers, and even while driving, people check their phones. Social Media sets the trends in fashion, thought and political correctness. It identifies celebrities, what they wear, and by implication what you should wear, think and believe. Traditional media, the entertainment industry, religion, family and friends continue to influence, just less. One study suggested that parents spend 130 seconds per day of meaningful conversation with their teenage child. Bottom line, the world is in flux, up for grabs. Who will win the battle for people’s hearts and minds? 

Statistics in the United States tell us that tens of millions who, in 2000 attended a so-called born-again Evangelical church, are gone and they’re not coming back – maybe 60 million or more. Christianity has its own myriad of voices. While some pursue more liturgical forms of worship, to others, the ideal is a pastor with a Coke in one hand and an iPad Bible in the other, a tight T-shirt that accentuates an often too large belly and skinny jeans. Frankly, when it comes to style, I want it all.

Destiny is a popular word. To some it means self-realization, while to others it is about making your life count for something greater. Some propagate an introspective type of Christianity, even as far as a monastic lifestyle, while others focus on making an impact for the gospel. It’s ‘I want to realize my dreams, I want personal fulfillment’ versus ‘I want to be a world changer.’ Celebrity Christianity is huge and many are influenced by their favourite music artist or preacher, rather than thinking for themselves.

Today, like 2000 years ago, some trust in the gospel of God’s grace while others want performance oriented religion with a list of don’ts and do’s. Fear sells, especially when it comes to end time prophecy. After decades of wrong predictions about blood-moons, Y2K and the Lord’s return, people still get caught up in fictitious interpretations, often with a self-serving, America-centric, slant. If you have been a Christian for a while,you may remember that King Carlos of Spain, Henry Kissinger and Gorbachev were but a few of yesteryear’s candidates for the role of the Anti-Christ. Years ago, a guest lecturer at World Impact Bible Institute had convinced many of the students that the 1990 Bush – Gorbachev Summit was the beginning of the great tribulation. Someone may ask, “Peter, why even mention this?” Because when believers become sidetracked, their spiritual energy is drained. Often the very believers who potentially could make an impact for the gospel also have a penchant for sensationalism that pulls them off course.

Inside and outside the church we face a barrage of ideas about marriage, gender and religion. Earlier this year the government of Canada required that applicants for certain government grants must answer questions about abortion, gender theory and same-sex rights in order to apply. Amazingly the government gets away with this. Thought police in Canada? Who saw it coming? Who or what is next?

My purpose is not to analyze or address these topics but merely to show that there is an unprecedented battle for people’s minds and hearts. Where is the gospel? Where are the gospel believers? I make two observations:

The world is in flux, up for grabs. Who will win?

When believers become side-tracked, their spiritual energy is drained.

Observation #1: In order to engage in a cause, one must believe that what we have to offer is of great value, something that others don’t have.

We don’t “push” our faith, but like Simon Peter, we say, ‘what I have I give you’.

Is Christianity a club or a cause?

Annual Pride Parades, held in large and small cities, are organized by people who believe that they have something to contribute. When Muslims stand on street corners giving out pamphlets, a common sight in many European cities, it’s because they believe they have something of value. The same goes for the gospel believers. If we think that the gospel is highly valuable, we will share it. If not, we won’t.

To make it personal, why do I do what I do? Why Gospel campaigns? Why Gospel TV? Why do we engage with Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists? Why do I try to inspire Christians to share the gospel and give finances? ANSWER: Because my deep conviction is that once people discover God’s love in Jesus Christ, they will lead more wholesome, peaceful and productive lives, that Christ’s gospel, not only improves lives, but transforms and ultimately leads to a better society.

Communism may be the most deplorable philosophy of all time, but still at its height, around 1975, it dominated more than 50% of the world. Hundreds of millions believed in communism, and tens of millions died for it. Karl Marx finished the Communist Manifesto, which was a guide for the Communist movement, with the words: ‘You have a world to win.’ Think what we may –they did have a clear cut goal. Bible readers will quickly remember the final words of Jesus Christ, as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which could also be summarized: ‘You have a world to win.’

Why is it that many Christians don’t see themselves having something of great value to contribute to the others? I note two reasons.

First, some have bought the lie; ‘I don’t want to push my faith on others’. Note the negatively loaded word “push”, as in drug pusher? We don’t refer to real estate agents as ‘real estate pushers’, or insurance salesmen as ‘insurance pushers.’ Here is the deal, we have the most beautiful news ever, that God in Christ has reconciled the world to himself. Our message brings peace to troubled hearts, that God does not have an axe to grind with anyone, that God is committed to love, and that he has proven this through Jesus Christ. We don’t “push” our faith, but like Simon Peter, we say, ‘what I have I give you’.

In contrast, there is an unattractive, all too common teaching, which perpetuates the myth that Christianity is for losers, suckers – people looking for a crutch. In this misrepresentation we are inundated with the idea of how “needy” we are, and  we hear phrases like, ‘God wants to meet all of our needs’, and ‘we are a needy people.’ While this sounds spiritual it is not the Gospel, which says that God already has met our needs through Jesus Christ. The gospel is not about pining and begging for God’s presence, hoping for a handout. On the contrary, we are joint heirs with Christ, we have the answer; Christ is in us. This beggarly type of Christianity reduces our motivation to evangelize. Who wants to share a miserable, beggarly religion? If we see the gospel as it truly is, a victorious message for all, then we have something very precious to impart. Imagine believers 2000 years ago in Jerusalem telling everybody how needy they were. No, they were persuaded that they had something valuable to offer, and they were right.

Is Christianity a club or a cause? A club exists to cater to its membership; golf clubs cater to golfers and curling clubs to curlers. If the church is a club then church workers must focus on keeping the members happy. While I realize that the church is much more than a cause, it is a cause! We have an assignment from God to enlighten darkened minds about who God is, and who we humans are, because God loves us. We have a world to win.

We have a world to win.

We have an assignment from God to enlighten darkened minds about who God is, and who we humans are, because God loves us.

Observation #2: Every believer has a decisive role to play in the struggles for the hearts and minds and souls of people.

Do nothing and die slowly!

In Acts chapter 13 the Holy Spirit commissioned the entire church to send Paul and Barnabas into missionary ministry. Gospel ministry must never be outsourced – it is for every believer. If we see ourselves as powerless bystanders we are deceived. Gideon saw himself insignificant and unworthy, but God had a different view and told him, ‘Go in your might’. I think God is similarly tired today to hear Christians describe themselves as inconsequential, powerless, needing more, instead of seeing what they already have in Christ.

A well-known Bible story speaks to today’s situation. There was a desperate famine in Samaria, some ate ‘donkey heads’ and ‘dove droppings’, while others resorted to cannibalism. The situation turned around when four hopeless lepers, who were facing death, marched against the enemy army, because they said; ‘Why are we sitting here until we die? , [2nd Kings 7:3].

Do nothing and die slowly. If Abraham had stayed in his birth city of Ur he would have missed God’s purposes. If David had stayed on the farm, or hid in the cave, he would’ve forfeited his destiny. If Simon Peter had not stepped out of the boat, or had not stepped up on the day of Pentecost, if the believers in the Book of Acts had refused to leave Jerusalem, and if Paul had ignored the vision of the man from Macedonia, these may have become a footnote of history. Christianity is a way forward! We are the people of ‘the way!’

This beggarly type of Christianity reduces our motivation to evangelise

The only way to escape criticism is to do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.

STEP OUT OR MISS OUT

The four staggering lepers were unlikely history makers. They had no idea that God would multiply the sounds of their feet, causing the enemy to think that there was an attack from an overwhelming force. Had the lepers not stepped out they would have missed out on God’s miracle provision, and the same goes for us.

STEP OUT IN SPITE OF FAILURES

Everyone will fail, some learn from their failures and others don’t. Ponder this: The fact that you’ve been knocked down is of limited interest, the length of time before you get up again is what’s important. Learn from failure! Ask yourself: What have I learned? Were my goals disconnected from God’s purpose? Were my plans out of sync with the peace of God in my heart? The four lepers and the whole city of Samaria had failed. The Bible is full of stories about failures; Samson failed terribly, before he saw his greatest victory. Simon Peter sank, but he didn’t drown; he walked on the water.

STEP OUT IN SPITE OF NEGATIVE VOICES

The story about the famine in Samaria begins by recounting a negative voice, a military officer, who claimed that if God would pour bread from heaven, the famine could not be averted. Naysayers and impossibility thinkers will always be with us. The only way to escape criticism is to do nothing, say nothing and be nothing. The apostle Paul saw the glass half full, not half empty, when he wrote; ‘a great and effective door has opened to me and there are many adversaries’. Notice that ‘many adversaries’ did not stop Paul from pursuing the great and effective door.

STEP OUT - YOUR DESTINY IS WAITING

The four lepers come to the deserted military camp, only to find abundance of food and clothing. They ate, until they couldn’t eat anymore, and then it hit them that they must tell the city about what they had discovered: “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent.” That’s a message for us; we must not remain silent, we have fabulous good news about a love that never fails and about Jesus Christ who has revealed that love. We are blessed to be a blessing.

Learn from failure! Ask yourself: What have I learned?

Where is Christianity headed? It depends on every believer; all of us have a decisive role to play.

Many voices seek to dullen our motivation to share the gospel. Just one very small example. From time to time you hear a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi – father of the Franciscan Order: “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”. The idea is that it is more virtuous to proclaim the gospel by a exemplary life than with voice. Just one problem; St. Francis of Assisi never said that. In fact historians record that Francis was quite a preacher, giving sermons in up to five villages in one day. Someone added the famous quote a couple hundred years after Francis‘ death. Ultimately, Francis of Assisi or not we take the words of Jesus to go into all the world and preach the gospel. My thought is; preach with words and demonstrate with your life that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Where is Christianity headed? It depends on every believer; all of us have a decisive role to play. We have a stark warning from history. For 1200 years, the country known as Turkey was a bastion for the gospel, but today Christianity is almost extinct. One recent report stated that within a generation Christianity may be wiped out in Nigeria, a country that many have viewed as a hotbed for Christian revival. Countries are up for grabs. What will happen to your nation?  Take courage because: time and opportunity happen to all, (Ecclesiastes 9:11). This is our time! The battle for the hearts and souls and minds of people is happening now. Step up for the Gospel and take your place! Become involved by sharing, sending and going with the Good News!

Are you excited about righteousness?

Are you excited about righteousness?

Are you excited about righteousness?

By Taina Youngren

There is absolutely nothing that we can present to God as a merit in order to receive His grace.

We reign in life through Him when we receive “abundance of grace”.

We are not beggars, seeking for God’s grace.

One of the basic truths of the Christian life was blurred to me when I started my journey with Jesus decades ago. And yet, that basic truth is one of the fundamentals, and we need to discover it personally in order to experience it fully. I am talking about righteousness.

If we miss the reality of Christ’s righteousness in us we don’t really enjoy the new life benefits, but instead we struggle with issues that have already been dealt with by the death and resurrection of Christ. I am talking about negative feelings of shame, condemnation, low self-esteem, rejection, to mention a few – and we don’t need to struggle with these.

Look at Romans 5:15 – 21 … But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

“The free gift” means “the grace of God.” There is absolutely nothing that we can present to God as a merit in order to receive His grace. A gift must be free – if it costs even a cent, it’s no longer a gift.

And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came after many offenses resulted in justification.

Adam, as a paragon of humankind, brought condemnation through his trespass, but the free gift of God (His grace) brought justification through Christ for all who believe. Believe in what? In Jesus Christ!

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned…much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Instead of inheriting death through Adam we inherited “the gift of righteousness” through Christ. We reign in life through Him when we receive “abundance of grace”. And we received abundance of grace when we received Jesus Christ. It is as simple as that!

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Law of Moses came to increase the awareness of the trespass by defining sin. And where sin increased, God’s grace surpassed it and increased all the more! Yes, sin did reign, bringing us to death, but grace reigns through righteousness of Christ, causing us to enjoy the God kind of life.

My friend, we are not beggars, seeking for God’s grace. The depth of that revelation opens up a whole new world to us. We are free to live, to love, and to reach higher goals in life because we understand that God is not holding back anything, due to any unworthiness in us but everything that we receive from God is by grace. Righteousness is by grace. That’s something to be excited about!

A gift must be free – if it costs even a cent, it’s no longer a gift.

Where sin increased, God’s grace surpassed it and increased all the more! 

Righteousness is by grace. That’s something to be excited about!