Category: Salvation (Page 2 of 30)

Redeemed

This is the second of a three-part series on Ruth chapter four. This post considers Ruth 4:5-12.

At first, the nearer relative is eager to buy back Naomi’s property. “I will redeem it!” he says. Immediately. He knows Elimelech is dead and Naomi’s two sons are dead and she’s too old to have more kids, so there are no descendants to Elimelech’s line. This guy can just buy back the land and it’ll become a part of his family’s inheritance. Whatever he has to pay to redeem it, he’ll make up in the value of the property and the produce it provides. Yeah, of course I’ll take it!

Then Boaz observes, “You realize this property comes with Ruth and the obligation to carry on Naomi’s line in connection with the property.” And the first guy says, “If the land comes with a wife, I’m out!” This guy didn’t want to take on the risk or the responsibility. He didn’t want to spend his own money to purchase a wife and a mother-in-law only to have the kids he has with the wife take the property back to the mother-in-law’s possession. “I cannot do it,” he says. It’s not that he can’t, it’s that he won’t. He wouldn’t make the sacrifice. It wasn’t worth it to him.

Boaz thought it was worth it. Boaz wanted to make the sacrifice for the sake of Naomi and her family. So he did. He redeemed for Naomi what she had lost.

It’s easy to see why the Bible calls Jesus our redeemer and why his death on the cross is described as redemption. Naomi and Ruth were too poor to redeem themselves. And so are you.

You and I need a redeemer more than we need anything else. You need a redeemer to buy back everything you’ve lost, everything you’ve given up, everything the devil and this world have stolen from you. You need a redeemer to restore your righteousness and your holiness, to give back to you your honor and your good name and your place in the community of God’s people. You need a redeemer to fix what’s broken in your life and to make right everything that’s gone wrong. And Jesus Christ is the only one who can do it!

If anyone is in Christ: New Creation! The old has gone! The new has come! God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus has become for us our righteousness, holiness, and redemption!

And like Boaz, Jesus had to be related to us to redeem us.

Jesus left his home in glory; he gave up his authority and power and rights, he came to this earth and made himself nothing, he became a servant, he took on our humanity, our flesh and blood; he took on all our weaknesses and pains and sufferings, he took on all the risk and responsibility, and he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. He did all of that to redeem every part of you because he thinks you’re worth it. The Bible says you were redeemed at a price. Jesus paid that price with his own precious blood to buy you back, to put his name on you, to bring you into the eternal family of God forever.

Peace,

Allan

Thankful for His Coming

On November 21, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter from Tegel Prison: Life in a prison cell reminds me a great deal of Advent — one waits and hopes and potters about, but in the end what we do is of little consequence, for the door is shut, and it can only be opened from the outside.”

Christ is coming to rescue us from the dark prisons of our own existence. He is coming to deliver us from anxiety, from guilt, from sin, and from loneliness. To be ready for this rescue, we first have to recognize how fully we are enslaved. And, then, how thankful we are for his coming.

Peace,

Allan

Your Destiny is Redirected

“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:4

The reality is that you have already been glorified, it just hasn’t been fully revealed. Romans 8 says those he called, those he justified, he also glorified. On that last night around the table with his disciples, our Lord prayed, “I have given them the same glory you gave me.” It’s already a done deal. When you are raised with Christ, your destiny is redirected. You are already rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God. You’ve been re-routed. It is the most certain, most positive, most definite guarantee from our God: When our Lord Jesus Christ appears in his glory on that last day, you are also going to appear right there with him!

Nothing can possibly stop that. Nothing is going to keep that from happening.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” ~John 10:28

You are going to live in Christ’s glory in the presence of God forever. It’s so certain, it’s so guaranteed, the Bible talks like it’s already occurred. And the call is to adapt yourself now to that coming reality. Don’t wait.

Peace,

Allan

Your Life is Changed

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:1-4

Paul is still talking about baptism here and being identified with Christ. You died, he says, and your life is now in Christ. Christ is your life, he writes. He says a similar thing to the Christians in Galatia: I have been crucified with Christ and I don’t live anymore; Christ lives in me. He tells the Philippians, “To live is Christ!”

When you are raised in Christ, your old life dies and your new life in Christ — Christ in you, the hope of glory — comes alive. You begin to realize all the gracious blessings you’ve received in Jesus, all the merciful gifts outlined in the first two chapters of Colossians, and you begin to think more like Jesus. You begin to see people and things like Jesus does. You realize more of what God has done and is doing through Jesus, you understand the bigger picture of the inevitable realities, and it shows in your changed life.

When someone hits you, you don’t fight back, you turn the other cheek. When someone sins against you, you don’t seek revenge, you forgive unconditionally. When an evil person does you harm, you don’t retaliate, you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Not so these bad people can turn nice and leave you alone. That rarely ever works! No, Jesus says you turn the other cheek, you forgive without limits, you walk the extra mile, give up your coat, and love your enemies because that’s the way God is.

When you are raised with Christ and filled with the fullness of God, your life is changed. It’s not new rules to follow or new commands to obey, it’s a changed life. The Bible always emphasizes what a Christian is, not what a Christian is supposed to do. But that changed life will show up in the ways you think and behave. What comes up in the bucket is usually what’s down in the well.

“This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life.” ~1 John 5:11-12

Maybe you don’t feel this new life. You might not be so sure about the reality of God’s transforming power in your life. I get it. What you believe in your head and what you feel in your heart are sometimes two very different things. It’s like a football player who suffered a terrible ankle injury but has undergone successful surgery. He’s still favoring the repaired ankle and it’s hindering his performance on the field. He still limps because he remembers the terrible pain. He’s not 100% sure his ankle is totally recovered.

Maybe you’re walking through life with that same kind of limp. You might not believe God can really change your life. There’s too much history. Too many bad things. Too much pain.

You died. And your life is now secured, it’s safe, with God. Christ is your life. Give yourself totally to him, completely to him, and allow the transforming power of Jesus to reveal the reality that your life is changed.

Peace,

Allan

Your Location is Shifted

When we’re at the house and about to go somewhere together as a family, I’ll do the courteous thing and give my wife and daughters the little reminders. “Twenty minutes!” “Ten minutes!” It feels like courtesy to me, but they may not experience it that way. “Five minutes!” Then, when it’s time to go, I’ll announce loudly to everyone in the house, “I’m in the car!”

But I’m not in the car. I’m standing in the living room. I say “I’m in the car” when I’m not.

The girls will call me on it. “No, you’re not!” Occasionally, our youngest will shout, “Liar!” from her bedroom.

Is it a lie? What do I mean when I say, “I’m in the car” when I’m not?

I mean, “I am on my way to the car and nothing can possibly stop me.” It’s inevitable. It’s imminent. “I am going to the car and nothing will keep it from happening.” It is so absolutely certain, so undeniably guaranteed to happen, that I’m speaking like it already has. My being in the car is going to become a reality very soon, so I’m speaking and acting like it has already occurred. And, you’d better adapt yourself right now to that reality. Don’t wait.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been raised with Christ… what? Since you have been raised with Christ… everything has changed!

One of the main things that’s changed is your location. Just like with real estate, the key to your salvation is location, location, location. And your location has shifted. You’ve been moved. When you participated in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus — when God fully identified you with his Son — you weren’t just saved. You were transported to live on another plane. Christ Jesus has been raised from the dead to sit at the right hand of God in heavenly glory. And that’s where you are, too!

Your life is now hidden with Christ. It’s held or secured in Christ. It’s safe. You are in Christ and the fullness of Christ is in you. So your location is shifted. This same writer, Paul, said the same thing to the Christians in Ephesus.

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” ~Ephesians 4-6

The Bible doesn’t say God will raise us with Christ in the heavenly realms, it says he already has! It’s already happened! You’re already there!

Since you’ve been raised with him, and since he’s in the position of eternal authority at God’s right hand, you have total access to this glory, you have free admission into the presence of God. This is where you live now. Your location has shifted. Nothing can possibly prevent it from happening. And you should adapt to that reality right now.

Peace,

Allan

Secure in the Lord

“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”
~ Psalm 125

God wants you to be more sure of your salvation than you are. You belong to him forever. But we don’t always talk like it.

The way we talk does reveal what’s inside our souls. We say things like, “I hope God just lets me sneak into heaven” or “I’ll be happy just to slide into a little back corner of heaven.” We hear things like this at funerals. “If she’s not going to heaven, none of us has a chance!”

Why? Because she’s so good? Like our salvation is somehow tied to our works?

We don’t believe that. Your salvation has never been tied to what you’re doing or not doing. Your salvation is solidly secured in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!

You say, “I hope I’m good enough.” You’re not! You say, “I hope I’ve done enough.” You haven’t! Your salvation is in the Lord!

He meant it when he said, “It is finished.” Your deliverance from sins, your rescue from death, your salvation and eternal life — it is finished.  It is done. Not by you, no way. But by God in Christ for you. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us; not after we all became saints.

Your salvation is not about you. No matter what your feelings tell you, no matter what bad things happen to you, no matter how many times you slip and fall along the path, those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken, but endures forever.

The cross is not just something God did, it’s who he is. The cross is the essence of God’s being: God in Christ reconciling the world back to himself, personally taking care of everything that might separate you from him. Jesus doesn’t overlook or forget your brokenness and sin, he becomes a part of it. He enters into and participates in your brokenness and sin in order to heal and renew, to bring life and to overcome.

That’s the good news of the Gospel. That’s what we proclaim. And we probably don’t do it enough. I figure if the people in our church are weary or beaten down, if my brothers and sisters at Central are discouraged or tired, maybe it’s because I’m not announcing the Gospel enough. Maybe I’m talking too much about what we do and not enough about what God has done and is doing in Jesus Christ.

I don’t believe in once-saved-always-saved. But I also don’t believe in once-saved-barely-saved.

Jude 24 says our God is able to keep you from falling and will present you in his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.

Being a Christian is like living in the security of a mountain fortress in the hills of Jerusalem. All the way safe. All the way secure.

Go Mavs!

Allan

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