What has Christ Jesus accomplished for us by His death and resurrection?

“Jesus our Lord … was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 4:24,25 — 5:2

What has Jesus accomplished for us by His innocent sufferings and death and by His glorious resurrection? That is shown us by the words which the Holy Spirit moved St. Paul to write to the believers in Rome.

“Jesus our Lord … was delivered up because of our offenses.” Jesus was delivered up to death on the cross on account of our sins — yours and mine. Jesus was holy and just. We are unjust sinners. We justly deserve God’s eternal wrath and punishment for our disobedience and sin, but Jesus was delivered up for our sins. He bore our punishment. As St. Peter wrote in his first epistle, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…” (1 Peter 3:18; cf. Isaiah 53:6).

Jesus “was raised because of our justification.” Jesus’ bodily resurrection on the third day proves that God the Father accepted the sacrifice of His Son as full payment for our sins and the sins of the whole world. “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2). If His sacrifice were not sufficient, Jesus would not been raised from the dead and we would still be dead in our sins. But He has been raised — He lives — and we have forgiveness through faith in His name!

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ….” When we believe that “Jesus our Lord … was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification,” we receive God’s pardon and are justified by faith. We then possess peace with God — the peace won for us by the holy and precious blood of Christ shed for us on the cross. Instead of being enemies of God, we are reconciled to God (Romans 4:10-11). The sin which separated us from God has been taken out of the way, being nailed to Christ’s cross (Colossians 2:13-14; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

And we need not doubt our salvation. It is as sure as Christ’s death for our sins and His glorious resurrection on the third day. Since Jesus bore our sins and died in our stead, and since God the Father raised Jesus up on the third day, we have peace with God through faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior!

“… through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” God’s grace and favor — His loving pardon and forgiveness — is not ours by some work that we do. Rather, it is ours through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ! We access God’s grace, not by works but by faith. As Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, so also God’s grace and pardon is imputed to us and becomes our own through faith in Him who raised Christ from the dead (cf. Romans 4:13ff.). It is as St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

And we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Now that we are justified by faith in God’s Son, who “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification,” we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We have the certainty — a certain hope — of the glory of God. Not only do we have full pardon and forgiveness for our sins through faith in Jesus, we have the certainty of heaven. We rejoice because our sinful, earthly bodies will be raised up glorious, heavenly bodies like that of our Lord Jesus and we shall live forever with our God in heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:35ff.; Romans 8:23; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)!

We thank You, dear Lord Jesus, for the bearing upon the cross the just punishment for our sins and for rising again in victory that forgiveness and life eternal might be ours through faith in Your name. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What has God done to save man and to restore His creation?

Man’s fall into sin, described in Genesis 3, changed everything in God’s good creation. As a result, all of us are born into sin and evil fills the earth. We must work hard to earn a living. We suffer pain and illness and, finally, we die and return to the dust of the ground. And with Adam and Eve, we stand condemned on account of sin to eternal death and damnation. But as we heard from Genesis 3:15, God promised the Seed of the woman to crush the serpent’s head and undo his evil work.

What has God done to save man and to restore His creation? Perhaps the most simple and clear answer to this question is recorded for us in the words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Though God is a just God who must punish sin, His first desire for each and every one of us is that we might be saved from eternal condemnation and punishment and live forever in fellowship with Him. In order to provide salvation for fallen and sinful mankind, God sent His Son into this world as a true man to take our place under God’s law and fulfill it for us, and to suffer and die upon the cross to bear the full punishment and condemnation for the sins of all people.

God promised a Savior from the beginning, immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve. He said in His words to the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).

God’s Word tells us: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5; cf. Hebrews 2:14-17).

Since man was unable to fulfill the righteous demands of God’s law and could not make atonement for his own sinfulness, God sent His own Son into this world, born miraculously of the Virgin Mary, true God and true man (cf. Luke 1:26ff.; Matthew 1:18ff.). God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah, or Jesus Christ, lived a sinless life under God’s commandments. He walked in perfect fellowship with God the Father in heaven. In obedience to the Father, He then went to the cross and was forsaken and condemned of God the Father that He might suffer the full and just punishment for the sins of all mankind (cf. Matthew 27:46).

Again, the Bible says: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). The Bible tells us that “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2).

The Bible tells us “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Because Jesus died for our sins and rose again, God’s wrath against our sins is satisfied and He is gracious to us. He reaches out to us with mercy and forgiveness. Through faith in Jesus and His blood shed for us upon the cross, God’s pardon and forgiveness become our own – they are imputed to us for righteousness, we are forgiven and acceptable in His sight for Christ’s sake – and we have life everlasting in God’s eternal kingdom.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” (Ephesians 1:3-7).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How do we become children of God?

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29

Though Adam and Eve were created as children of God, knowing God and His holy will, truly loving Him, trusting Him and fearing and honoring Him with their lives (cf. Genesis 1:26-27; Luke 3:38), Adam and Eve lost their right to be God’s children when they doubted God’s Word and disobeyed Him. They sought to be like God, knowing good and evil, but became children of the devil, enslaved by evil (Genesis 3). As a result, all of us are born “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). We are, by nature, sinners deserving of God’s everlasting punishment!

But, through the promise of His Son to be our Savior, God again gave the right and privilege of sonship to His elect, from Adam through Noah and Abraham to the present. Those who place their faith in Christ Jesus – who was to come and now has come – are called the sons of God (cf. Genesis 6:1ff.; Hosea 1:10; John 1:12-13; 1 John 3:1-2). Those who do not trust in Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior are of their “father the devil” (John 8:44) and continue in his evil ways. Like the judgment of God which came upon the children of men in the days of Noah, so God’s fiery wrath and judgment will come upon the children of men on the Last Day.

How do we become children of God? God’s Word tells us: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27; cf. Mark 16:16).

We do not deserve the right of sonship, nor can we earn it; for we are sinners. But Christ has won it for us by His holy life and innocent sufferings and death in our stead (cf. John 1:12-13).

The Bible tells us that “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Because Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again, the right and privilege of sonship is ours through faith – by believing the truth that God forgives our sins and accepts us as His own dear children for Jesus’ sake (Ephesians 1:6-7; John 1:12-13).

And, through Christian Baptism, God offers, gives and assures to us this forgiveness of sins, right of sonship and eternal life which Jesus won for us on Calvary. In our Baptism, He graciously washes away our sins, and His Holy Spirit regenerates us and gives us the assurance that we are indeed forgiven children of our heavenly Father (Acts 22:16; 2:38-39; Titus 3:5-6). In our Baptism, our sins are cleansed away, and we are clothed with the perfect and holy righteousness of Christ – making us blameless and acceptable in God’s eyes (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27). This is true, regardless of our race, status or sex; through faith in Jesus, we are God’s children and a part of Christ’s family, the Church.

If we are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, then we are the promised descendants of Abraham (Genesis 15:5-6; 17:4-8; 22:17-18; Romans 4:13-25) and shall inherit the blessings promised to Abraham and his descendants. We have “a living hope” because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” for us (1 Peter 1:3,4). When we die, the angels will carry our soul to the bosom of Abraham (Luke 16:22; 23:42-43); and on the Last Day, our bodies will be raised up and changed into glorious and heavenly bodies like that of our Lord Jesus, and we will forever be with the Lord (cf. 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)!

Dear Father in heaven, we thank You for the privilege of being Your children through faith in our Savior. Dear Christ Jesus, we thank You for winning for us the right and privilege of sonship by Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death. Dear Holy Spirit, we thank You for bringing us to faith in Christ Jesus and making us children of our heavenly Father. Graciously keep us in the true faith until we receive the promised inheritance – eternal life with You, the Son and the Father, and all our fellow-believers. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

What do you do when God calls to you?

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:6-8 (Read Genesis 3:1-24)

What do you do when you hear “the sound of the LORD God”? What do you do when God calls to you through His Word and asks you where you are and why? Do you hide from the presence of the LORD? Are you ashamed and afraid of the LORD because of your guilt and shame? Indeed, many hide themselves from God and His Word because they would rather not have their sin exposed. They don’t go to church and have quit reading their Bibles because they would rather not be reminded of their sin and of the just judgment of God upon them.

Right after the familiar words of John 3:16, the Bible also says: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20).

But, as Adam and Eve could not hide their sin or themselves from the presence of the LORD, neither can you! Nothing is hidden from His presence (cf. Psalm 139).

But why do you think that the LORD God came and sought out and questioned Adam and Eve? Was it because God did not know of their disobedience or of their attempts to cover and hide themselves? Not at all! God sought them out and confronted them with their sin and its consequences (very serious consequences for one “small” act of disobedience) because He wanted them to admit their sin and trust in His promise of a Savior in the Seed of the woman who would one day crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Even though Adam and Eve had brought sin into the world, suffered spiritual death (being afraid of God and separated from Him), and brought sin’s curse upon themselves and all of God’s creation, God wanted them to know that He had a remedy to deal with their sin and one day restore all things.

And, why does God call out to you through the Scriptures, saying: “Where are you?” “Why are you hiding from My presence?” “Have you broken My commandments?” Of course, God already knows; but He would have you face the truth, admit your sin and turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness! Cf. 1 John 1:5 – 2:2.

God wants you to know that, though you are a sinner deserving of His eternal wrath and punishment, He has a remedy to make all things right. That remedy is in His Son, Jesus Christ, the promised Seed of the woman, who lived a truly righteous and holy life without a single act of disobedience to God, and who then went to the cross and suffered and died for your sins and the sins of the whole world (cf. John 3:16; Galatians 4:4-5; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15; 7:26-27; 9:27-28; 1 John 2:1-2).

Sure, there are consequences for sin in this world; but God wants us to know that Jesus has already paid in full the punishment we deserve that we might have forgiveness for our sins and everlasting life with Him in the new heavens and earth which He will create. So, quit hiding from the LORD God and His Word! Face your sin and receive through faith the forgiveness and life which God has for you in His Son, Jesus Christ! Cf. Psalm 32 and Psalm 51.

O LORD God, I have sinned against You and broken Your holy commandments. Be gracious unto me, forgive my sin and cleanse my heart for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Your beloved Son in my stead. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

What happened to man and creation?

“What happened?” we might ask. When God created the heavens and the earth, everything was good. Adam and Eve walked in communion with God and were not ashamed. Now, the earth is full of evil and violence. Instead of loving God and seeking to honor and serve Him, people are self-centered and use and abuse others. They lie and gossip and slander. They are dishonest and steal. They lust and commit adultery and even rape. They hurt and murder.

This once-perfect world is now full of heartache, disease and death. It produces thorns and thistles and forces people to work hard all their lives to survive and, ultimately, everyone becomes old or sick and dies.

What happened? Genesis 3 describes historical events which changed everything for mankind and for God’s creation. Please stop now, open your Bible and read Genesis 3.

The devil, also called Satan, used God’s commandment in Genesis 2:16-17 to bring about man’s condemnation and bring a curse upon all of God’s creation. God had forbidden Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of one tree in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17).

Notice how the devil worked (Genesis 3:1): “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” He planted the seed of doubt and made it appear that God’s command which was intended for good was somehow holding them back and keeping them from being like God, knowing good and evil.

Then the devil lied. When Eve answered, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’” (v.2-3), the devil said, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v.4-5).

Then, Adam and Eve fell. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (v.6).

The devil used God’s good commandment to bring about man’s condemnation and death. They disobeyed and ate, and they died spiritually, losing their relationship with God, and also became subject to physical death and eternal death and condemnation. As the Bible says in Ezekiel 18:20, “The soul who sins shall die.”

And what was the result? Adam and Eve were afraid of the LORD God. They hid from His presence and sought to cover up their sinfulness and shame (read v.7ff.). They passed the blame and ultimately blamed God Himself. Their heart changed from one of love and trust and honor toward God to a heart of fear and rejection, and their sin brought about the sin of all mankind and a curse upon all of God’s creation.

God’s Word describes it this way in Romans 5:12: “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Consider the curse their sin brought upon the earth – a curse we see still active in our world today (Genesis 3:16-19): “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.’”

The fruits of their sin were evident. Cain killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4). Wickedness spread upon the earth. Instead of having faith and trust in the Almighty God who created man and all things, man’s heart was only evil from his youth (Genesis 6:1ff.; 8:21:11:1ff.). Every one of us has been conceived and born into sin, spiritually dead to God and His enemy (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12; Ephesians 2:1ff.).

Sin brought about not only spiritual death – the destruction of man’s relationship with God – but physical death and the ultimate condemnation of all to eternal death and torment in hell (cf. Genesis 3:19; Romans 6:23a; Matthew 25:31-46).

Why is our world such a messed up place? Why do we have to work hard all our lives? Why do we grow old and die? Why is their evil, violence, wars, disease and death? Why are people afraid of God and so often trying to hide themselves from God by avoiding the Bible and churches which still teach the Bible? The answer is in Genesis 3. We turned away from God and disobeyed His commandment. We sinned against the LORD God who made us and brought upon ourselves sin, evil and death. We are born into this world dead spiritually. We all die physically and return to the dust of the ground. And we all are under the condemnation of God’s law to eternal death and the everlasting fires of hell.

Our only hope is also mentioned in Genesis 3 in God’s words to the serpent in verse 15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

This ancient promise speaks of one to be born of woman who would crush the devil and undo the work he accomplished in the garden. In the process, His heel would be bruised. The Seed of the woman, God the Son born a man of the virgin Mary, would suffer and die for the sins of the world but would rise again victorious, having accomplished the redemption of all mankind.

The Bible explains in Galatians 4:4-5: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Cf. Hebrews 2:14-18.

We learn more of Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for all mankind in our next lesson.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Christian, are you suffering?

“I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.” Psalm 119:75-76

Christian, are you suffering? Are you facing hardships and difficulties in your life? Do you know pain and heartache all too well?

As Christians, we learn from God’s Word that His judgments are always right — God makes no mistakes in His dealings with us. When He afflicts us and chastens us, He is being faithful to us, as a loving Father.

You need not feel that God has forgotten about you, or that you are suffering wrongfully. God has a purpose and a plan, and He is working for your good (cf. Rom. 8:28; Heb. 12:3-11). Peter writes: “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Pet. 4:19).

In our suffering, we can also find comfort! That comfort lies in the “merciful kindness” of our God. Even in our suffering, God has not dealt with us as we deserve. As the Scripture says, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12; cf. Lam. 3:21-23).

Instead of punishing us for our sins, God laid them upon His own Son, Jesus Christ, and punished Him in our stead. Our sins were punished upon Jesus’ cross, and Jesus’ resurrection on the third day proves that God’s just wrath against our sins was satisfied (cf. Rom. 4:25).

So, dear Christian, believe and take comfort! God is being merciful and kind to you even in your suffering!

O faithful and merciful Father, comfort us in our affliction with the knowledge that You are doing what is good and right for us; and grant us the assurance promised us in Your Word that we have forgiveness and life through faith in Thy dear Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

Why do Bible-believing Christians oppose same-sex marriage?

Why is it that Bible-believing Christians oppose same-sex marriage and other departures from traditional marriage between one man and one woman? Are they just defending a tradition? Are they just refusing to accept alternative lifestyles and grant to others the same rights and protections they enjoy? The answer goes much deeper than that — it goes all the way back to the beginning in Genesis and the Biblical creation account.

In Genesis 1:26-28, “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

God created mankind in His own image — to love God, to trust God and to honor God by walking in His ways. And God made man male and female and gave to them the blessing and command to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”

In Genesis 2, after the LORD God tells us how “He formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (2:7); He tells us of the creation of woman (2:18-25): “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

According to God’s own account, He made woman to be a companion and helper for man, comparable to man. In other words, God created woman from the rib of man — something which shouldn’t seem so unbelievable anymore considering the cloning work that has been done in animals — and He made the woman comparable to man to be both a companion and partner, as well as sexually compatible to have children together and populate the earth.

And, God’s word says that God’s creation of the woman and bringing her to the man is the beginning of marriage and the reason why, still today, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” — a new family unit in which children may be conceived, born and raised and brought up to know and serve the LORD God (cf. Ephesians 6:1-4).

Any lifestyle which is outside of God’s purpose and design in the creation of man and woman is a perversion and sin according to the Bible. To put it simply, it is not living in accord with the will and design of our Creator and is therefore wrong and an abomination to Him.

It is a reason why God’s judgment fell on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. It is why God warned His people against all sorts of sexual perversion (including fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, etc.) in Leviticus 18. It is why God’s 10 Commandments forbid adultery.

When Jesus was asked about divorce in the New Testament, look at what He said (Matthew 19:4-6): “He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’” Jesus appealed to God’s purpose and design in marriage.

This is also why Jesus warned in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:27-28): “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” And why is lustful looking at a woman adultery? Because it adulterates God’s purpose and design in creation. God did not create woman to be lusted after for one’s own sexual gratification; God created woman to be a helper and companion for man and for marriage with man.

The New Testament, too, is quite clear in calling the practice of homosexual acts, or even homosexual desires, a perversion of God’s purpose and intent in creation. Read Romans 1:18ff. and Jude 7. And it is listed among sins which bar people from being a part of God’s church and kingdom.

God says, in Revelation 21:8: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Notice that the lists here and in Romans 1 do not single out homosexuality as the sole damnable sin; they include it among others, including fornication, adultery, drunkenness, reviling and even lying.

None of these things are in accord with God’s purpose and design in creation. He didn’t create us for homosexuality — something which even nature, or human anatomy, should tell us — but neither did He create us to have casual heterosexual sex, to divorce, to lie, to steal, to revile or to be drunk. All of these are damnable sins and, unless we repent and look to God for pardon and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be condemned to hell on account of them.

Notice that St. Paul, after he gave the partial list cited above, said (1 Corinthians 6:11): “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

Yes, Bible-believing Christians call homosexuality sin. It is is contrary to God’s purpose and design in creation. It is a perversion of the truth brought on by our fallen human nature (Genesis 3). But Bible-believing Christians also call any sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and a woman sin. They call lusting after a woman sin. They call divorce sin. They call lying, stealing and coveting sin. They even call it sin when people do not love the Lord God with all their heart and soul and mind. They call themselves sinners and admit that they don’t measure up to God’s law or His purpose and design in creation.

But Bible-believing Christians also call upon themselves and all people to repent and look to Jesus Christ, God’s Son made man, and to trust in His holy life and His atoning sacrifice on the cross as full payment for all our sins. And, because they trust in Christ for forgiveness and life eternal, they seek to conform to God’s purpose and design in creation. As those who are saved entirely of God’s grace and mercy in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), they also remember that now they “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Why do we teach marriage is the life-long union of one man and one woman unto one flesh?

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

Why do we as Christians teach that marriage is the life-long union of one man and one woman? Why do we oppose same-sex marriage, sexual relationships outside of marriage and all forms of adultery? It all goes back to Genesis and God’s creation of the first man and the first woman (cf. Genesis 1:26ff.; Genesis 2:7.18ff.).

God created mankind male and female and gave them the command and the blessing to have children and populate the earth. He created woman for the man – from Adam’s rib – and brought her to the man to be a helper and companion comparable to him. And it is for this reason “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” – a new family unit in which children can be conceived and born and brought up to know and walk in the ways of the LORD God (cf. Ephesians 5:22-33; 6:1-4).

Why is divorce wrong and prohibited in the commandment against adultery? Jesus said (Matthew 19:4-6): “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Divorce, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, sodomy, bestiality and even lusting are not in accord with God’s purpose and design in marriage and are therefore a form of adultery – a perversion and abomination to our Maker (cf. Genesis 19; Leviticus 18; Matthew 5:27ff.; 19:2ff.; Romans 1:18ff.; Jude 7). And those who practice such things will not be a part of God’s eternal kingdom (Revelation 21:8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

What hope is there for those who have failed to live up to God’s purpose and design in marriage? Our hope is in Christ Jesus who fulfilled all righteousness for us and then suffered the just punishment for all our sins (cf. 1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2; Ephesians 1:6-7; 2:8-9). We repent of our sinful ways, look to Christ and His cross for forgiveness and then, as a fruit of our faith, seek to live in accord with His will and do those works He created us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

O LORD God, You created woman for the man, brought her to the man and thus instituted marriage as the life-long union of a man and a woman unto one flesh. Forgive us, for Christ’s sake, for our failures to live up to Your purpose and design in creation and strengthen us to live for You. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

The darkness doesn’t comprehend the light

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5

Who was already there in the very beginning when God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)? Who was with God the Father in the beginning? and with God the Spirit as He moved upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2)? Who created all things that were made? Who formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, giving man life, both physical and spiritual – making Adam a living creature who loved God, trusted in Him and served Him whole-heartedly (Genesis 2:7)?

It is the Word – God’s Son, Jesus Christ! In the beginning, God the Son was already there! He was with God and He was and always has been God! Christ Jesus, before taking on human flesh, created man and all things! Without Him nothing was created that has been made! Cf. Hebrews 1:1-3. And, in time, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He came into this world to die in our stead – as our sacrifice – and redeem us (cf. John 1:29; Galatians 4:4-5).

Man’s life originated in God the Son, and this life was man’s light. But now this Light of life shines in our sin-darkened world, and man does not understand Him or receive Him! How tragic! How blinded we are by our sin not to recognize our own God and Creator come into this world a true man to redeem us and give us back the life in Him we lost by our disobedience!

John writes of Christ Jesus, God the Son (John 1:10-13): “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Dear Lord Jesus, our God and Lord, open our eyes that we may see You and the life You have won for all by Your holy life and Your innocent sufferings and death for us upon the cross; and breathe into us Your Spirit that we may be made alive, enlightened and take hold of You by faith. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

God dwells with us and keeps us

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23

What a comfort to know that Jesus did not abandon us and leave us to our own devices after He suffered and died on the cross for our sins and rose again. As He promised in Matthew 28:20, He is with us always, even to the end of this world, and He and the Father dwell with us and in us by the Holy Spirit.

A few verses before our text, Jesus said (John 14:15-18): “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus promised His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to abide with them forever. Then Jesus said: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

In John 14:23, Jesus said: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Thus, we see that, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son also take up residence with us and in us! We are indeed the temple of God (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22).

Is the Holy Spirit given to us because of our love for Jesus? No! Rather, we love God as a fruit of faith in Christ, which is the gracious work of God’s Holy Spirit through the hearing of God’s Word (Rom. 10:17; Eph. 1:13-14; Gal. 5:22). Through the hearing of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit moves us to repent, trust in Christ Jesus and be baptized in His name for the remission of all our sins. And God graciously gives to us the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:38-39; Eph. 1:13-14; Tit. 3:4-7). As a fruit of God-given faith in Christ, we love Him and desire to walk in his ways, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to strengthen and keep us in the true and saving faith unto life eternal.

As Jesus said, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (v. 26). The Holy Spirit, working through the Word, enlightens us and reveals to us Christ Jesus and His great love and mercy toward us (cf. John 15:26). The Spirit assures us of forgiveness and life in Jesus’ name and teaches us the truth, preserving us in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting (cf. 1 John 2:27).

Come and dwell in our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, O God, and strengthen and preserve us in faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]