Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Roman Road Evangelism – Romans 10:9-10

Have you ever noticed that in most evangelical tracks Romans 10:9-10 is included among other key verses inviting unbelievers to salvation in Jesus Christ. Most notably these verses are a part of the "Roman Road":

Romans 3:23 – "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

Romans 6:23a – "For the wages of sin is death"

Romans 6:23b – "but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 – "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Romans 10:9-10 – "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

Romans 10:13 – for "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

For over a year now, we have been studying the Romans in Sunday school, verse-by-verse, passage-by-passage and seeing the popular verses of Romans often quoted with their context. Have you ever examined the verses of the "Roman Road" in their context? When you do, you will find some very interesting things. However, I want to focus in on Romans 10:9-10 in this writing.

Romans chapter 10 is at the heart of Paul's three chapter discussion on his own people, the nation of Israel (Romans 9-11). Paul could identify with the nation and how as a whole they had missed and rejected the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. He had missed Jesus and it was not until His encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road that he finally saw the light and realized his mistake (Acts 9). Paul grieved over the rejection of Israel and went so far as to say he would wish to be accursed if it meant that the nation would see the truth concerning Jesus (Romans 9:2-3). Israel had pursued God through the Mosaic Law rather than pursuing Him through the proper channel, faith in Jesus Christ. Paul writes, "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed." (Romans 9:30-33) Again, Israel pursued righteousness by works rather than by faith in the Christ, the Chief Cornerstone. Paul is clearly calling for Israel to pursue God by faith and not forget the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed." (Isaiah 28:16)

Paul reiterates his desire for Israel's salvation at the start of chapter 10, "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation." (v1) Obviously Israel is still on the forefront of his mind when penning this chapter. Israel did not lack a zeal for God (v2), but lacked knowledge of the truth. Paul could identify very well with misdirected zeal (Galatians 1:14). To be sure, misguided zeal on faulty information can be a very dangerous thing (i.e. Islamic terrorists). Israel sought to establish their own righteousness on their own terms by subjecting themselves to the Mosaic Law for life. But the Scriptures clearly teach that no one is made righteous by the Law nor can it justify anyone because no one can keep it perfectly (Romans 3:28, Galatians 3:19-26, James 2:10). So Paul wanted Israel to know that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4) However, the nation of Israel did not believe in the blasphemer Jesus. Clearly Paul compares the "righteousness…based on law" (v4) which Israel chose with the "righteousness based on faith" (v5) which they missed. Did God not tell His people of the "righteousness based on faith"? He definitely told them. In fact, Abraham and David both pursed God by faith (Romans 4:1-8) and found the gift of righteousness. Paul reminds Israel that the righteousness based upon faith was spoken of by Moses, sighting Deuteronomy 30:11-14 which provides the context for Romans 10:9-10. Notice that both the heart and the mouth are involved in salvation (v8).

Interestingly enough, Romans 10:8-11 is in a literary form called a chiasm. Let's look closer.

A But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth (B and B') and in your heart (C and C')"— that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,

B that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (a),

C and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (b);

C' for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness (b),

B' and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (a).

A' For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."

Did you notice that there are actually two salvations mentioned in this famous passage?

  1. Believing in the heart (C and C') resulting in righteousness. This is justification by faith which is a free gift from God (Romans 3:28, Ephesians 2:8-9);
  2. Confession (synonymous with calling) with the mouth that Jesus is Lord (God). This is a response to our justification by faith resulting in physical salvation.

Jesus' own claim of His Lordship (deity) ultimately resulted in the Jews calling Him a blasphemer and condemning Him to crucifixion (John 5:18, 10:33). The reality is that only believers can say with confidence that Jesus is Lord. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:3, "Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit." Who has the Holy Spirit? Only believers in Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit. As such, believing in the heart precedes confession with the mouth (i.e. calling upon the name of the Lord) because only believers have the Holy Spirit and only by the Holy Spirit can believers acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. Not convinced? This next section of Scripture also shows that believing precedes confession (calling).

You will also note that this next section, Romans 10:12-15, is like a stair-step type of chiasm.

A For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for "Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

A' How then shall they call upon Him

B in whom they have not believed?

B' And how shall they believe in Him

C whom they have not heard?

C' And how shall they hear

D without a preacher?

D' And how shall they preach

E unless they are sent?

E' Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!"

The progression is as follows: someone is sent, they preach the gospel, the people hear the gospel, the hearers believe the gospel resulting in righteousness (see Romans 10:10a), and the believers call upon the name of the Lord resulting in salvation (physical deliverance).

Still not convinced? You will note that in nearly every reference in the Old Testament involving someone who called upon the name of the Lord was doing so not for eternal salvation (justification), but rather as an act of worship, for the preservation of life or for physical deliverance from enemies and death. Abraham, Isaac and Moses called upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 12:8, 13:4, 21:33, 26:25, Exodus 34:5). David wrote, "I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears." (Psalm 18:3,6) David also said, "In my distress I called upon the Lord, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears." (2 Samuel 22:7, 1 Chronicles 21:26) Elijah called upon the Lord for the healing of the widows son, "And he called to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, hast Thou also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?" Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the Lord, and said, "O Lord my God, I pray Thee, let this child's life return to him." And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived." (1 Kings 17:20-22) The Psalmist wrote, "Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon the Lord, and He answered them." (Psalm 99:6) The Psalmist also said, "Then I called upon the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I beseech Thee, save my life! From my distress I called upon the Lord; The Lord answered me and set me in a large place." (Psalm 116:4, 118:5) Jeremiah wrote, "I called on Thy name, O Lord, Out of the lowest pit. Thou hast heard my voice, "Do not hide Thine ear from my prayer for relief, From my cry for help." Thou didst draw near when I called on Thee; Thou didst say, "Do not fear!" (Lamentations 3:55-57) Even the men with Jonah called upon the Lord for salvation from the storm, "Then they called on the Lord and said, "We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man's life and do not put innocent blood on us; for Thou, O Lord, hast done as Thou hast pleased." (Jonah 1:14) Even Stephen while being stoned called upon the name of the Lord just before his death (Acts 7:59).

As you can see in each of these examples, these men of God were calling upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance salvation, not for eternal life salvation. As believers we too have the privilege of calling upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance. A good friend of mine only had time to yell "Jesus" before being struck by a two-ton dually truck. Miraculously, he survived without a broken bone! This is certainly a tangible example of a believer calling upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance! Did I mention that both the dually and car he was standing in front of were totaled? Now, when will Israel need to call upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance in the future? The tribulation and final week of Daniel comes to mind (Matthew 24-25).

When considering that Israel is the primary audience considered in Paul's writing in Romans 9-11, it sheds a different light on Romans 10:9-10 and begs the question if these are the best verses to use when leading an unbelieving Gentile to faith in Christ. I prefer verses like Romans 4:5, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16-18, 5:24, Galatians 2:16, and Titus 3:5 which emphasize faith in Christ for eternal life and receiving the gift of righteousness on the basis of faith alone in Christ alone.

So is confession required for salvation? Yes, but for physical deliverance salvation, not for eternal salvation. Eternal life (justification) is a gift from God received simply by faith in Christ (believing in the heart) and trusting in Him alone for salvation from hell. Believers have the ability to call upon the name of the Lord for physical deliverance in this life.

Another interesting thing to point out is the number of Old Testament references used in Romans and how they dramatically increase in chapters 9-11 when Israel is being discussed. See below.

Old Testament References in Romans

OT Reference Verses in Romans


Old Testament Book



Habbakuk 2:4

Chapter 1



Psalm 62:12

Chapter 2



Isaiah 52:5

Chapter 3



Psalm 51:4

Chapter 4



Psalm 14:1

Chapter 5



Psalm 14:2

Chapter 6



Psalm 14:3

Chapter 7



Psalm 5:9, 140:3

Chapter 8



Psalm 10:7

Chapter 9



Isaiah 59:7

Chapter 10



Psalm 36:1

Chapter 11



Genesis 15:6

Chapter 12



Psalm 32:1

Chapter 13



Psalm 32:2

Chapter 14



Genesis 15:6

Chapter 15



Genesis 17:5

Chapter 16



Genesis 15:5



Genesis 15:6


Exodus 20:17

OT Books Authenticated by Romans


Psalm 44:22




Genesis 21:12




Genesis 18:10




Genesis 25:23




Malachi 1:2

2 Samuel



Exodus 33:19

1 Kings



Exodus 9:16

2 Kings



Hosea 2:23




Hosea 1:10




Isaiah 10:22




Isaiah 10:23




Isaiah 1:9




Isaiah 28:16




Deuteronomy 30:12




Deuteronomy 30:13



Deuteronomy 30:14


Isaiah 28:16


Joel 2:32


Isaiah 52:7


Isaiah 53:1


Psalm 19:4


Deuteronomy 32:21


Isaiah 65:1


Isaiah 65:2


1 Kings 19:10,14


1 Kings 19:18


Deuteronomy 29:4


Psalm 69:22


Psalm 69:23


Isaiah 59:20


Isaiah 59:21


Isaiah 40:13


Job 35:7


Deuteronomy 32:35


2 Kings 6:22


Exodus 20:13-17

Leviticus 19:18


Isaiah 45:23


Psalm 69:9


2 Samuel 22:50


Deuteronomy 32:43


Psalm 117:1


Isaiah 11:10


Isaiah 52:15

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Holy Spirit in Acts

Recently I did a word study on the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts. I found it fascinating on the different ways in which the Holy Spirit was actually given to believers in the early church as well as the order of events following belief in Christ. Let's look at each of them briefly.

As you can see, there is not a consistent method mentioned throughout Acts as to how believers received the Holy Spirit. In addition, there is not a consistent order for what happened after believing in Christ regarding such things as water baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit, laying of the apostles hands, etc. Most of the early church, primarily comprised of Jews, received the Holy Spirit after the apostles laid their hands of them and were baptized after believing in Christ and yet before actually receiving the Holy Spirit. However, in the first recorded prominent Gentiles conversion (Cornelius and his family in Acts 10:43-45), we find that they received the Holy Spirit after hearing and believing the gospel message of Jesus Christ, not by the laying on of the apostles hands. As such, they were baptized after believing in Christ and after having already received the Holy Spirit. Again, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as they heard the message and believed it. I believe this is the pattern for Gentile believers receiving the Holy Spirit in the present day. My reasoning is two fold: (1) there are no modern day apostles with the authority to lay their hands upon believers to receive the Holy Spirit like in the days of the early church; and (2) it would be nearly impossible for modern day apostles (if there were any) to visit every single new believer in Christ throughout the world. Paul also suggests that believers receive the Holy Spirit upon faith in Christ, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14) As such, I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is given immediately to believers who have listened to the gospel message and believed in Christ for eternal life.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Baptism and Acts 2:38

The word baptism carries the idea of identification or to be made one with something else. Most often when we think of baptism, we think of water baptism. But actually there are other baptisms mentioned in Scripture that have nothing to do with water. For example, 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 discusses the baptism of Moses in which the children of Israel were identified with Moses and the cloud as they passed through the Red Sea on draw land as the waters were parted. Another baptism is the baptism of the Holy Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Galatians 3:27 in which believers are placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. In addition, John foretold of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire (judgment) in the future by Jesus, "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." (Matthew 3:11) Yet another baptism not involving water is the sacrifice of Jesus itself in which Christ was indentified with the cup of suffering for the sins of the world, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" (Mark 10:38). So as you can see, not all baptisms involve water!

We see in the first part of Acts 2 the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus and prophecy of Joel (2:28-32) in the baptism of the Holy Spirit to believers on the day of Pentecost (50 days after the resurrection of Jesus). Before his ascension, Jesus had instructed his disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promised Holy Spirit, "Which you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (Acts 1:4-5) There is an obvious distinction here between the John's baptism with water and the baptism with the Holy Spirit which does not involve water. These Pentecost believers were not baptized with water in order to receive the Holy Spirit, rather they received the Holy Spirit because they were already believers in Jesus Christ! As such, when thinking about Matthew 28:19 and the phrase "baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" the main point is not necessarily the need for water baptism, but more importantly the need for people identify with the Father, Son and Spirit in salvation. How is one identified with the Father, Son and Spirit? By believing in the Son, Jesus Christ, and trusting Him alone for eternal life (John 3:16). By faith in Jesus Christ, we are born again and given access to the Father and gifted with the Holy Spirit. Now, I am not saying that water baptism is not important, but the act of water baptism itself is an outward expression of the inner spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit when He places believers into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Going back to Acts 2, we see that the Holy Spirit gave Peter incredible boldness to confront the men of Judea and Jerusalem. Peter spoke trying to convince these men that they were wrong about Jesus and had made a horrible mistake. They had not believed that He was the promised Messiah and in fact, had Him crucified for claiming that He was the Messiah. Peter spoke of the death and resurrection of the Messiah as prophesied by David and how Jesus was the fulfillment of these Scriptures. He concluded his message with this powerful verse, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-- this Jesus whom you crucified." (Acts 2:36) The Jews who crucified Jesus did not believe this about Jesus, that He was Lord (God) and Christ (Messiah). They saw Jesus as a blasphemer who was making Himself out to be God (John 19:7). The message obviously resonated with them because the Scriptures say they were ""pierced to the heart" (Acts 2:37). Those pierced then asked the disciples, "Brethren, what shall we do?" followed by Peter's response, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Peter's response was appropriate for these unbelieving Jews who had crucified the Man they need to trust for salvation. Peter asked those pierced to repent, which literally means they needed to change their minds about Jesus and believe that He is the Messiah, as well as be identified with Christ through baptism.

Acts 2:38 is a very tough passage. In fact, a prominent denomination has been established primarily on the contents of this very verse. Here is Acts 2:38 as translated from the original Greek by Kenneth S. Wuest, professor of New Testament Greek at Moody Bible Institute until his death in 1962, who translated the New Testament using as many English words as necessary to explain the original Greek meaning: "And Peter said to them, "Have a change of mind, that change of mind being accompanied by abhorrence of and sorrow for your deed, and let each one of you be baptized upon the ground of your confession of belief in the sum total of all that Jesus Christ is in His glorious Person, this baptismal testimony being in relation to the fact that your sins have been put away, and you shall receive the gratuitous gift of the Holy Spirit."

Some believe that Acts 2:38 states that both repentance and baptism are necessary for salvation. However, countless other places in Scripture (i.e. Romans 3:28,4:5, Galatians 3:8-9, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:9), including the book of Acts (5:31, 10:43, 13:38-39, 26:18), state that forgiveness of sins is based solely upon faith in Christ. Repentance is synonymous with faith when referring to an unbeliever seeking justification, meaning someone must change their mind about what they are trusting for salvation, from something or someone else to Jesus Christ. For example, the Jews in Acts 2 did not believe that Jesus was the Christ. They had to repent (change their mind) and believe that He is indeed the Christ. As such, it was their repentance (faith) in Christ that resulted in their justification before God, not the act of water baptism itself. However, water baptism was the natural response to those who believed in Christ for eternal life.

In addition, in the Greek, the verb "repent" is plural and so is the pronoun "your" in "your sins" indicating that "repent" actually relates with "for the forgiveness of your sins" in this verse. In addition, the phrase "be baptized" is singular, setting it off from the rest of the sentence and suggesting that the clause "let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" is more parenthetical. Thus the verse could be translated, "And Peter said to them, "Repent for the forgiveness of your sins; and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38, my reordering) Again, the repentance for the forgiveness of sins fits with the remainder of Scripture as stated in the paragraph above.

Some also believe that Acts 2:38 states that it is the act of water baptism that imparts the Holy Spirit and provides forgiveness of sins. However, the remainder of Scripture does not support this belief either. In fact, Scripture teaches that by faith alone in Christ one is given eternal life, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:13-14, Luke 24:47, Acts 10:43). If baptism is required for salvation, then how do we reconcile this belief with the thief on the cross who clearly was not baptized but promised paradise with Christ? (Luke 23:43) Also in Acts 10, the gospel was preached by Peter to Cornelius and while Peter was preaching the Holy Spirit fell upon the hearers before they were actually water baptized, "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days." (Acts 10:43-48) Clearly the Holy Spirit fell upon them because they believed the message, not because they were water baptized. Water baptism is an obedient response of a believer, symbolic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and a testimony to the world that you have trusted in Jesus Christ for eternal life.As to the method of baptism (immersion, sprinkling, etc.), whole denominations have been established over which is the right way to water baptize someone. I grew up Methodist and they sprinkle, while now I am attending a Baptist church and they immerse. While the Bible does not explicitly say which method is correct, I think we can gather that believers were immersed in the early church (see Acts 8:35-39). Isn't it interesting how both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch went into the water (v38)? Clearly the eunuch was immersed in the water in this passage. Immersion gives the best picture of the spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit referred to in Romans 6:3-4 in which the believer dies with Christ (goes down into the water), is buried with Him (laid under the water) and then is risen with Him to new life (comes out of the water). So does the amount of water really matter? Not really, but the Bible seems to advocate immersion. However, the most important thing for a believer to understand in baptism is the symbolism behind it and how it is a tangible picture of the spiritual baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

“Do you love Me more than these?”

"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me!" (John 21:15-19)

Distractions are everywhere and unfortunately I'm easily distracted. We live in fast passed global world where anyone can find out about almost anything with an Internet connection. If you need to know something, you can just Google it. We are constantly bombarded with entertaining stimuli from mediums such as 24-hour news, cell phones, email, texting, IPods, I Pads, I Phones, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter. Things are changing everyday and it's almost impossible to keep up.

So are any of these modern conveniences the world has to offer inherently bad? No, not necessarily. But they are bad when they distract us from God or replace God and all too often they do this very thing. So ask yourself what has a greater influence on your life – the things of this world or the things of God? In a given day, what are you most concerned about? What controls you, your thought life and your actions? Where do you look for love, acceptance and fulfillment in life?

It's really sobering to think about the honest answers to these questions and to realize how easily we get distracted from the things that really matter in life.

The truth is we were created to be dependent upon God. Whether we like it or not we need God and cannot successfully go through this life alone. God desires to have an eternal relationship with us and live in fellowship with us on a daily basis.

So why do most of us have this burning desire to call the shots and make our own way in this world? Why do we struggle with the idea of having to be in subjection to another? The simple answer is sin. The fleshly desire within us is to reject fellowship with God because such fellowship is righteous and holy and yet we are so sinful.

In all honesty, I stand before you tonight as a man riddled with sin and one who is guilty of habitual sin. I am a sinner on a daily basis. I constantly undermine the efforts of God in my life and seek my own way and I pay the consequences of my rebellion in various forms be it spiritually, mentally, emotionally and/or physically. I need help! We all need help whether we realize it or not.

The good news is that there is help out there. But are you willing to admit that you have a problem with sin and need the help of the Lord? Are you willing to admit that you need Him? It's very hard to help someone who does not really want your help. Are you rebelling against God or working with Him?

I stand before you tonight and confess that Jesus Christ is the solution to our problem. with sin He is more than willing to and is capable of helping us. I'm convinced that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that He is able to save anyone who believes in Him. I'm convinced that His death was the satisfactory payment for my sins and convinced that His resurrection was proof that He is who He said He is, that He is trustworthy and capable of saving all who believe in Him. It is my faith in Jesus Christ which has made me right with God.

So before we go any further, I want to ask you a simple question. Are you right with God? Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and believed on Him for eternal life? If not, I urge you right now to trust in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Receive life from Jesus by placing your faith in Him. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Biblically speaking, all who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior are freed from the bondage of sin. This means believers now have a choice on whether or not to sin. We have incredible freedom given to us by God to overcome the power of sin in our life. The Holy Spirit gives all believers the power and opportunity to live a life that is pleasing to God.

He has changed me and is changing me. I am learning to live life differently. I am learning to think differently which translates into different actions. I am learning to rebel against the culture and conform to the truths of the Bible. I often fail, but I'm pressing on and seeking righteousness. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matthew 5:6) Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Jesus also said, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." (John 6:35) Are you trusting in Him for your daily bread?

Well that's convicting, so let's look at someone else we can identify with. Peter. Thank God for Peter! He is an example of a believer we can all somewhat identify with. I call him God's rollercoaster disciple. One moment he is flying high and saying Jesus is the Christ and the next he is being rebuked by Jesus as a stumbling block seeking the interests of man rather than the interests of God. One moment he is willing to die for Jesus and the next he is denying him before man. Isn't it easy to be interested in the Lord when it's convenient for us like say on Wednesday night or Sunday morning and then hard when He gets in the way during times when we want to sin say on Friday nights?

But I'll ask you the same thing that Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me more than these?" Peter loved to fish. But he immediately left this love and livelihood and threw down his nets when Jesus said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19) Peter made a wise decision to follow Jesus, but be assured that it cost him very dearly. Jesus says to all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23) The call of following Jesus is a costly choice, but we have everything to gain and nothing to lose except ourselves when we lose our life to find it in Him.

So how will you answer Jesus when He asks you, "Do you love me more than _______?" Think about your life. What is appropriate for this blank? Here are some questions I have been asking myself. Do you love me more than sin? Do you love me more than you love yourself? Do you love me more than your wife? Do you love me more than lust? Do you love me more than sexual sin? Do you love me more than money? Do you love me more than your own pride and reputation? Do you love me more than your technology?

As Jesus was on his way toward crucifixion, Peter was scared and loved his own life more than he loved the idea of dying for being associated with Jesus. He had failed to stand up for Jesus at a very crucial moment in his life and was guilty of denying Jesus before men. Luke 22:61-62 records the incident: "And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, "Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly."

Peter wept bitterly over his sin. He looked His Savior in the eye and was confronted with the reality that he had sinned and blown it big time. We all need a similar wake-up call in life and be confronted with the severity and ugliness of sin by looking into the eyes of Jesus. Sin is always a barrier between us and God and always brings separation and death. The wages of sin is always death (Romans 6:23). In fact, God saw sin as such a problem that He sent Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty of death for it so that we could be forgiven and restored in relationship and fellowship with Him. We must never take sin lightly and confess sin on a regular basis, followed by heartfelt repentance.

Peter felt unworthy, disqualified and inadequate to be a follower of Christ. He had a tough time receiving the Lord's forgiveness. As such, he retreated to his old love, fishing, to avoid having to deal with his guilt and shame. Fishing was not only his livelihood, but was his way of retreating from reality and having to deal with his denial of Christ. Yet Jesus confronted him in love and wanted Peter to know that there was forgiveness available. He was not disqualified from being a disciple of Christ. The truth is we are all unworthy and inadequate, but God loves us and has chosen to give us life. He is in the business of reconciliation and restoring that which is lost by sin. He saves us and then calls us out to live worthy lives through the power He provides.

So can we honestly say like Peter, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You"? Does the Lord know if we really love Him? Of course He does. But how do we show Him love? Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15) Obedience to God shows our love for God. As we are obedient to God we also get the pleasure of knowing God more. In fact, he discloses Himself to us. Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21)

Each day and often throughout each day we must choose whom we will serve -- sin and self or God and righteousness. We must be ready to fight off distractions and things that fight for our attention, allegiance and love. Paul implored believers, "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2) The Christian life is not easy, but it is the greatest life we can ever hope to life and one that will pay dividends for all eternity!

Now, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on this message and be honest with the Lord. Reflect now while it is fresh on your mind. Ask yourself these questions and be honest with God.

  • Are you honestly seeking first the kingdom of God or are you rather seeking to make your own kingdom here on earth?
  • Are you being a servant of Jesus Christ or being a servant of self?
  • Is Jesus Christ your first priority or have other things crept in and taken His rightful place in your life?
  • Is there anything you are not willing to give up for Christ?

As you are in prayer, be honest with God. Know that He loves you and knows you and offers you forgiveness. Accept His forgiveness. Ask for His help in your life. Tell Him that you love Him more than anything else.