March 20, 2018 | Jesus is everything we need for our salvation

I love the old hymn “The Solid Rock” written by eighteenth century Londoner Edward Mote.  The lyrics to his hymn have been adapted to the popular worship song “Cornerstone” written and arranged by Hillsong Worship.  You’ve more than likely heard the lyrics (we sang it as a closing song this Sunday).  The verse begins like this: 
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”


And then the refrain that repeats these lyrics after each verse in Moye’s hymn:
“On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”


I’ve been thinking about the theological truth found in that song — Jesus is everything we need for our salvation.  

This is what the apostles preached in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

This is the hope of the Christian faith: “We are saved by Jesus, alone, period”.  If we were to say, “You are saved by Jesus AND_______”, that becomes legalism.  

If we are honest, we enjoy legalism.  Legalism is comfortable for us.  Legalism puts us in control.  Legalism let’s us know that our checklist has (or hasn’t) been marked which let’s us know if we’ve done what is required for God’s acceptance or not.  

And really that’s no different than the message of the Pharisees…is it not? 

If our hope is found in Christ alone…if Jesus is our only way toward salvation…then we must be careful not to put add-ons and extra stipulations in order to be accepted by God.  

For example, we can’t say, “you are saved by Jesus as long as you come to Church”.  That’s not the Gospel at all.  If that were true, then we ought to consider how frequently we must attend church in order to get it right.  And all of a sudden, what was intended to be “good news” has become a burden.  

All of the extras we could think to add of to Jesus for our legalistic enjoyment are Biblical things that are helpful for our faith.  They are good and God intended for them to be practiced for our God and His glory.  

Yes, it’s true that in the Bible, God told us to pray.  He tells us to attend Church.  It’s Biblical to keep marriage between one man and one woman.  The Bible says that sex outside of marriage is sinful.  The Bible says a lot of things about a lot of things that are beneficial for us and expects us to obey.  

The Gospel is simply: salvation is found by grace through faith in Jesus … not Jesus AND ______.  Our hope is found in Christ alone; for, all other ground is sinking sand.

So we must be careful what we add-on to Jesus for salvation.  If we’re saved by Jesus, then we must point people to Jesus; not, Jesus and ________.  For anything else will cause confusion, division, and legalism.

 
In Jesus Name,

Pastor Ashton 
 
March 16, 2018 |Grief may last for a lifetime, but our faith offers us a hope that there is life after death

 

For those of us who have experienced walking “through the valley of the shadow of death”, we know that it is one of the most difficult paths we’ll ever chart in this life.  Whether you’ve lost a parent, a sibling, a close friend, a spouse, or a child, there is no “getting over” the loss of a loved one.  Grief lingers long after the funeral flowers have wilted.  While everyone else’s lives seem to have continued unscathed, the loss we’ve felt has made what was once “normal” unrecognizable.  

While there is no lessening the pain that one’s grief may bring, there is a hope for the Christian who grieves.  Pain is pain no matter how you form it.  But one of the hallmarks of the Christian faith is an understanding that life is brief and eternity awaits those who have believed Jesus for salvation (John 3:16) and have confessed faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 10:9).  In short, grief may last for a lifetime, but our faith offers us a hope that there is life after death.  

Read what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

Paul wrote these words so that believers in Christ “will not be uninformed”.  The Christian faith is not founded in ignorance.  We base what we believe upon the unchanging, divinely-inspired truth of God’s Word.  The specific subject that Paul doesn’t want believers to be uninformed about is “those who sleep in death”.  In both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible, as well as other ancient Jewish literature, the phrase “those who sleep” often serves as a euphemism for “death”.  And the reason for Paul not wanting believers to be “uninformed about those who sleep” is so we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope”.  

Think about those who do not believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection.  They do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  They do not believe in the possibility of life after death.  And they do not believe in an eternal heaven.  They may claim to believe in some form of any of these ideas which have been portrayed in pop-culture.  But there is not bases for their belief because it is not grounded in the truth of Scripture.  Therefore when confronted with the reality of death, what they believe is filled with many doubts and concerns for what will happen after death.  

The Christian’s belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus offers us a solid foundation for what comes after death.  And for those who are in Christ, knowing that death is not the end of life gives us a tremendous hope.  Some of the reasons Christians grieve differently than non-believers because of the “hope we have in Jesus Christ” include: 
    •    We will see our loved ones who are in Christ again.  Paul mention in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 that although he has been prevented from visiting his friends in Thessalonica, he knows that in the presence of Jesus, he will see them again.  Again in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 tells us that those who have died will rise to life with Jesus.  

    •    We will not suffer sickness or pain anymore in heaven.  One of the joys we long for as believers is the reality that Revelation 21:4 promises.  In heaven “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things (which are impacted by sin) has passed away.”  
    •    We will not face temptation to sin any longer.  If the “wages of sin is death” according to Romans 6:23, and if in heaven “there will be no more death…” according to Revelation 21:4, then sin cannot be in heaven.  And if there’s no sin, then we will not longer be tempted to sin.  Sin will finally be finished!  
    •    We will receive new glorified bodies.  Paul writes about these new bodies in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”   

These are just a few of the praiseworthy glimpses the New Testament offers believers into what we can expect in the life after this.  Eternity awaits every believer.  That’s why Paul struggled with what is better when he wrote “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” in Philippians 1:21.  The pain we suffer in our grief is real; but, because of the hope of the Christian faith, it will not last.  We have reason to grieve differently.

In Jesus Name,

Pastor Ashton

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One Response to “Beyond Sunday”

  1. Nancy perry says:

    Thank you. It’s a pleasure to go to church now.You not only preach from the Bible but also from your heart. If I didn’t know any difference I would think you were Dr Stanley son. I watch him 3 times each week. Keep up the great work and I will be their every Sunday if Lords willing
    God Bless you and your family.

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