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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Passive Salvation

This post is part 2 to Gypping Jesus. In that post I said Jesus will get all that He paid for on the cross. This includes the salvation of all people.

But how does He save all people when most people don't want anything to do with Him?

Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
This can't end well.

Straying sheep

Jesus, "the Great Shepherd of the sheep" (Hebrews 13:20), has been given a job by His Father: save all people of the earth from sin and death. That's billions of people.

The problem? All the people of the earth have strayed from Him to do their own thing. The sheep are trying to shepherd themselves. Guess how that ends up.

The prophet Isaiah says,
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way (Isaiah 53:6)
And our own way puts us in tough spots. But thankfully, Someone is going to rescue us. Yes, the Great Shepherd.

But we're often confused by His timing. We see millions of people go into the toughest spot of all - death - without being rescued by Jesus. Where was the Great Shepherd when they needed Him?
Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
Ever wonder to yourself, "How did I end up here?"

Though death seems to be an insurmountable obstacle to us, it isn't to Him. He already overcame death by His own resurrection. So when the straying sheep is in death, the Great Shepherd will raise him or her up.

Jesus said in John 5:28-29, "Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging." The main point of these verses is that all will be rescued from death. No sheep can stray beyond the reach of the Great Shepherd.

Yes, some will go into judgment after their resurrection. But the goal of this judgment is clear. Jesus said in John 5:22-23, "For neither is the Father judging anyone, but has given all judging to the Son, 23 that all may be honoring the Son, according as they are honoring the Father." There it is in bold -  that all may be honoring the Son. This is the ultimate goal of all judgment handed out by Jesus.  

The Great Shepherd is working

Look at what Jesus has already done for all of us straying sheep.
  • He left the comforts of Heaven where He was with His Father
  • He came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10)
  • He came to earth where He was hated (John 15:18-25)
  • He faced continual opposition - mostly from religious people
  • He was killed by the world He came to rescue
  • He was separated from His Father in His death
  • He overcame death by His resurrection
And He's still working. Straying sheep are currently being rescued. When He returns to the earth, He will complete the massive task His Father gave Him to do (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).

The Great Shepherd owns all 

What are sheep good at? Well, they can provide meat, milk, wool and hides (but they're not thrilled about the meat and hides thing). They can control unwanted vegetation. And they can be cute and cuddly. But they are also good at straying. This is why they need a shepherd - to protect them from themselves and predators.

To the shepherd who owns the sheep, they are very valuable. To the shepherd who doesn't actually own the sheep he shepherds, well, they're not valuable enough to risk his life for (John 10:11-13).

This is what makes the Great Shepherd different. He made us. He owns us. We're all valuable to Him. Valuable enough to willingly lay down His life on the cross. Valuable enough to continue to work until the salvation of all sheep is a reality.

Jesus truly cares for us,
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Ever feel weary and scattered? These are symptoms of a Shepherdless soul. Jesus can fix that.

The Great Shepherd highly values every single sheep

Do you want proof that every sheep is important to Jesus and His Father? Here it is. Jesus said,Image result for sheep running from shepherd image
"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.' I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." (Luke 15:4-7 and Matthew 18:11,14)
Obviously Jesus isn't talking about sheep. He's talking about humans - us! Read this again, only insert children or child for sheep. Who among you wouldn't do all he could for your lost child who is in the wilderness? Unless you're a heartless douchebag, you now get a glimpse at the heart of Jesus and His Father.

Notice in the first sentence why Jesus (a.k.a. - "the Son of man") came to the earth - "to save that which was lost." Do you think He came to save all, or only part, of what was lost? A 99% success rate would be awesome for us. But 99% falls short of Jesus' standard. He wants nothing less than 100% of His sheep.

Now look at that last powerful sentence taken from Matthew 18:14. It's clear that God's will is that none of these little ones should perish. In the eyes of the world, we were all "little ones" at one time in our life. But in the eyes of your loving heavenly Father, you'll always be a "little one." All three of my young adult children are still my "babies." And that will never change because I'm their father. Does God's will for any "little ones" change as they grow older? No! Do we ever outgrow our value to God? No! Read this -
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
There you have it. Not 99%. ALL!

The Great Shepherd will overwhelm all the straying sheep

Saul was a baaad-baaad sheep before Jesus got him. This same Saul, who later became known as Paul, is the same guy who wrote about half of the New Testament. There are three words he uses to describe himself in the first part of 1 Timothy 1:13. Here's how several Bible versions translate these three words:
persecutor, outrager, blasphemer, injurious, shameful outrageous violent aggressor, calumniator (make false and defamatory statements), aggressively insulting, arrogant, cruel, overbearing, violent, contumelious (scornful and insulting), proud, oppressor, hunted down [Jesus'] people, invective (insulting, abusive, or highly critical), religious terrorism, slandering the things of God, full of wrongs, speaking evil
I told you he was a bad dude! And what do you think Jesus did to this bad-ass straying sheep named Saul? This former "little one" who wandered off got the holy ghost smackdown. Starting in the very same verse that told us how bad Saul was, we read these amazing words,
" ... but I was shown mercy, seeing that I do it being ignorant, in unbelief. 14 Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 15 Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all welcome, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, foremost of whom am I. 16 But therefore was I shown mercy, that in me, the foremost, Jesus Christ should be displaying all His patience, for a pattern of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian." (1 Timothy 1 - CLNT)
There's so much in these words that several books could be written on these few verses alone.

A few highlights. Scoundrel Saul, "the foremost" or chief of sinners (v.15):
  • was shown mercy - v.13
  • was overwhelmed by Jesus with grace, faith and love - v.14
  • was used by Jesus to display all His patience - v.16
  • became a pattern of those who will later believe in Jesus - v.16
Since Saul was "a pattern" for those who would eventually believe in Jesus, all other straying sheep will also be shown mercy and overwhelmed by Jesus with grace, faith and love.

When you are overwhelmed by something, you are powerless against it. When Jesus overwhelms a straying sinner with grace, faith and love, it will be rescued. Once Jesus lays that sheep on His shoulders, it's all over. The sheep is no longer lost in the wilderness. The lost has become found. This is great news for the sheep.

This is how the Savior of the world actually saves the whole wide freaking world - He overwhelms it with grace, faith and love. His Father gave Him all authority in heaven and earth to finish His work (Matthew 28:18). And who's gonna stop the Almighty Son of God from doing this? No one!

Until Jesus completes His task to save all that was lost, we can only live one day at a time while faithfully looking to the amazing future.
Then [God] will send you Jesus, your long-heralded Christ, although for the time He must remain in Heaven until that universal restoration of which God spoke in ancient times through all his holy prophets. (Acts 3:21 - Phillips)


Friday, December 23, 2016

Gypping Jesus

Related image
The prince of gyppers
Has this - or something kinda like it - ever happened to you?

You pull up under the Golden Arches because you're craving some of the world's best fries and a Big Mac. You smell that smell.

You already know what you want as your eyes feast on the menu covered with images of perfect burgers. You don't care that your Big Mac won't look that good. It's the taste you're after.

You clearly and politely enunciate your order so no mistakes are made. Your mouth begins to water as you pull two crumpled five-dollar bills from your tattered leather fanny pack.

Tears begin to run down your face in anticipation as you ease your moped toward the first window to pay. By the time you get to the second window you're sobbing and drooling, and people are staring, pointing and laughing at you. You don't care!

You thank the window-food-lady and speed off to the local park to devour your prey. You nearly snap in half your six-foot tall orange moped flag pole in your haste.

You open the bag.

You inventory the contents: Big Mac - check; ketchup packets - check; forty extra napkins - check; fries ... fries? ... fries?! ... NO FRIES! What the @#%&? (Except you didn't say "@#%&".)

Depression and red-hot fiery anger flood your body. You throw the Big Mac to the ground in disgust. You fly home, snapping the six-foot tall orange moped flag pole in your haste. You throw on your pajamas (nevermind that it's only 12:42 in the afternoon) and watch Jerry Springer re-runs the rest of the day. It's the lowest point of your life.

You were gypped.

Jesus' shopping spree

Jesus came to earth to buy something. No, He came to buy everything. He scanned the menu, and He wants the whole thing - regardless of how it looks right now. The cost? Two crumpled fives? Not even close. Jesus didn't even wear a stupid fanny pack (that was Judas' job). The cost was His life!

Feast your eyes on these verses.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1 - New King James Version)
Did you see that - He came "to reconcile all things to Himself ... things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."
Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:12 - NKJV)
There it is again - "His own blood."
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13 - NKJV)
Boom! Again - "the blood of Christ."
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1 - NKJV)
Is it precious in your eyes - "the precious blood of Christ"?
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Revelation 5:9 - NKJV)
Jesus doesn't care about where you were born or the color of your skin. He created the color of your skin. He bought us for God by His blood! This is heavy stuff man! Are you getting it?

And this - don't skip this. Put your eyeballs on it and think hard about it.
4 [God our Savior] will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2)
So Jesus bought all things - this includes all people - with His precious blood. But He hasn't taken possession of everything yet. It's like He bought the whole freakin' store, grabbed a giant shopping cart and is putting the stuff He owns into the cart. It doesn't happen all at once. But when He's finished the cart will be filled with the complete inventory of the store. All men will be in the cart. All men will be saved. None will be left on the shelf to rot. Jesus bought every person because He wants every person.

Jesus' Father gave Him the power to do this, and He's going to do it. Check this out.
[God has] put all things in subjection under his feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. But we do see Him who was made a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:8-9)
Ok. How do I know all things will become subject to Jesus? I'm glad you asked.
24 Then comes the end, when [Jesus] delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15)
So when it's all said and done, the cart will be completely full, and God will have everything subject to Him. He will then be "all in all."

The attempted gypping of God's Son

Jesus doesn't have to hire out the job of getting all that He's paid for. He believes in the old saying, "If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself." Besides, no mere mortal can accomplish the things God has empowered Jesus to do.

But, alas, some say He will not be able to get all that He's purchased. Some say His shopping cart is just too small, and He's going to run out of time. Who are these people? Sad to say, those who proclaim His inability to do this are the very ones who claim to be His followers. They carry His book, wear crosses, gather together on Sundays, and thank Him for their own salvation. But they don't believe He will do what He came to do - buy all things with His blood, save all people, and bring all things under His Father.

Yes, mainstream Christianity says Jesus is going to get gypped. And they say mere mortals are the ones who are going to gyp Him. Hmm, how they gonna do that? Well, apparently when Jesus reaches toward the shelf to put people into His enormous cart, most will simply say to Him, "No, Jesus. I like the shelf." He will honor their desire and leave them. End of story.

Or is it?

Check out my next blog post - Passive Salvation - to see how Jesus gets all people off the shelf and into His cart.