Grace Alone – Romans 3:23-24

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24 ESV

Sola Gracia or grace alone, it is the second of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation that I will cover and is the concept that we are saved by grace alone. So what exactly is grace? I am not big for acronyms or catchy phrases to describe theological terms but I often hear grace broken down as God’s riches at Christ’s expense; but as we see in Romans 3 I would modify that statement, and I think Martin Luther’s revelation regarding Romans 1:17 would agree, God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense. You see in the previous verses it mentions that God’s righteousness is given to the believer, it is the same righteousness that Martin Luther agonized over when reading Romans 1:17b, “For the righteous shall live by faith.” What this means is that through grace we are offered God’s righteousness, as that is the only thing that can truly justify us, because when we are measured against God’s glory in our own merit nothing we do can measure up, no matter how moral and good it may seem to us our actions on our own tend to be self serving in some form or fashion.

The fact that we can never measure up to God’s glory, to His standard, He offers us the gift of grace. He states that He is willing to apply His righteousness to us when He sees if we measure up to His glory and standard. You see when we say that we are justified, it is not the simplistic just as if I had never sinned, another of those pesky catchy phrases. So if you remember what it mean to be justified, it is to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable.

But didn’t we just get finished talking about how it is faith alone? Well faith and grace are actually two sides to the same coin. Grace as mentioned here is the gift of God’s righteousness bestowed upon us. It is God stating that rather than using our righteousness to measure up to His standard, he will apply His righteousness to us and use that to see if we measure up. Faith is our trust and belief that God will do just that, in other words our faith is the result of accepting God’s grace. You see you cannot have faith without grace and when we receive grace our faith is the proof before God. Thus as stated in Ephesians 2:8 we are saved by grace through faith.

Why Are We Scared To Share? – Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 HCSB

How often are you scared to share your faith? Do you often make up excuses for not going out and sharing the Gospel with others? I will admit I am the type of personality that often worries about how others think of me and at times I think that keeps me from sharing about my faith like I should. How strange it is that in a country where we can proclaim our beliefs without fear or penalty of imprisonment or death are often scared to proclaim the Gospel because of worry that someone may form a negative opinion about us.

We can oftentimes claim we are not ashamed of the Gospel, yet act in the complete opposite way in order to “not offend” someone. The problem is when you look at this verse think of what Paul was stating. Just before he wrote this, Paul was talking about wanting to come to Rome to teach the Gospel; this was Nero’s Rome a Rome known for its persecution of Christians. Paul here is stating that he didn’t care that preaching the Gospel was a death sentence waiting to happen, because when people hear the Gospel it has the power to bring about salvation.

So now the question is if Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel and willing to proclaim it with the threat of death for doing so, why don’t we share with the same boldness?

Who Persuades You Into Faith? – Ephesians 2:8-9

“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 HCSB

How many times have you held a belief in which someone was able to talk you out of? Or how about how many times has someone talked you into something and then someone else is able to convince you of the exact opposite? Human nature is such that if a compelling enough of a case is made you could be talked into just about anything. The question though comes to what about our faith? I know a pastor that likes to say that he doesn’t want to talk anyone into believing the Gospel, because someone can come along and talk them out of it. That is because our faith is not of our own doing.

We recently celebrated what many consider to be the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with October 31 being the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the chapel in Wittenberg; and when one thinks of the reformation there are a number of verses that come to mind of which these two are among the most prominent. That is because they sum up nicely where our salvation comes from, and who exactly is responsible for our salvation. “For you are saved by grace through faith…not from works,” in other words Paul is telling us that we do not contribute anything towards our salvation. We cannot do anything to earn it as it is given to us freely, we are saved by grace not works. We are saved by grace through faith, the thing is this faith does not originate from us, it is also given to us by God. That is because until the Holy Spirit grabs a hold of us we are unable to turn towards God, in fact we want nothing to do with God before the Holy Spirit changes us. So is the Holy Spirit tugging on your heart, what is keeping you from accepting the gift of salvation that God is offering?

By Whose Merit? – Zechariah 4:6

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 ESV

How often do we blame God for when things go wrong in our lives but then when things go our way we tend to look at as being done in our own power? In this passage God through the prophet Zechariah is giving a message to Zerubbabel, the leader of the Jews returning to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. It is a reminder to the leader that it was not by anything the Jews did, it wasn’t due to being a stronger power, or even them defeating the Persians and Babylonians that allowed them to return and to also rebuild the Temple. God is reminding them that He is the one that brought it about.

How often do we find ourselves in a similar situation. We get a promotion. We purchase a new car or a house. We find ourselves in a position of being blessed. We tend to look at it being done on our own merit, or being our good luck rather than giving glory where glory is due. This verse serves as a reminder that no matter what no matter how we may be blessed, even if it is in a material way, no matter how we may prosper; it is not due to anything done on our own merit, but all because of God’s power.

So let me leave you this week with this question? Have you been giving glory and praise to God when things seem to be going right? Do you give God the glory when you seem to be getting blessed? Think hard about it, because often we tend to forget God when things seem to be going good.

Stop the Spiritual Fluff – 1 John 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 ESV

Who are you listening to? What preachers and speakers do you regularly follow? Do you take what they tell you as gospel truth or do you regardless test what they are teaching against the Word of God? John wrote to the early church warning them about false teachers and he wasn’t the only person to warn the church. Paul in his farewell address as well as when writing to Timothy warned against those that would come in teaching what people want to hear rather than teaching the Truth.

Today in the world of televangelists and mega churches we find ourselves in a similar situation. Crowds gather more to where they are being told what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They want the what amounts to being spiritual sweets while neglecting the spiritual nutritional substances. The problem is much like with our own diet we cannot live on only cakes, pies, and ice cream as our nutritional intake, a spiritual diet of nothing but spiritual fluff is also unhealthy.

That is why we need to test the spirits. We need to be sure that our spiritual diet is healthy. We do this by making sure that the teaching we listen to is firmly grounded in the Bible and not taken out of context. We need to remember that just because it sounds good doesn’t make it true. So let me leave you with this, what does your spiritual diet look like? Do you test the spirits to make sure what you are taking in is healthy or do you just settle for spiritual junk food?

What Really is our Welfare? – Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

This is one of those verses we often look to when we feel to be facing hard times. We look at verses such as this and believe God will never let us suffer, in fact doesn’t this verse indicate that God will help us to prosper? So is this what this verse is actually telling us or is it something more? Is this even a promise that is universal that can be applied to all believers or was it given to just a specific group or person?

When we look at verse 10 we see that this promise was given to the Israelites during the Babylonian Exile. This promise was made to them for after being in exile for 70 years and then being allowed to return to the Promised Land. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God was telling the Israelites that no matter how it may seem, He was not done with them. There would always be a remnant as He had plans for salvation to come through them, specifically through the line of David.

So does this verse have any application for us today? Well we can still gain some insight and value from it. The problem is when we try to put our desires into the meaning of this verse, for you see as a believer sealed by the Holy Spirit we can apply this promise to us. The problem is when we use our desires and understanding for welfare into the verse. We often want it to mean we will be financially stable, never face any hardships, and never suffer in any way. Our welfare is something completely different, it is our salvation and restored relationship with God. It is the offer of everlasting life provided to us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. You see our future and hope is not something in the here and now, but rather it is in spending eternity in the presence of God.

To Know God – Ephesians 1:17

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:17

Do you know God? I don’t mean an intellectual knowledge of God; knowing and understanding the concept of God. To know God is not just stating that God is the creator of all, or even just to state that He exists or that He is our savior. As a Christian our knowledge of God should be something much deeper than just a surface level belief.

When Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians, he was not writing to unbelievers stating that he was praying that they would gain knowledge of God; but he was telling fellow believers that he was wanting them to gain a knowledge of God. In other words this was written to people that knew of God so far that they understood Him to be the one to offer salvation, what Paul is getting at is a more intimate knowledge of who God is.

We see this intimate use of knowing played out many times in our Bible, Adam knew Eve, Abraham knew Sarah, Isaac knew Rebecca, when Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of Christ she stated she never knew a man. While this use is more sexual in nature it drives home the point that a true knowledge of God is something deeper than just being a surface level abstract thought. It is a learning of His likes and dislikes, finding out what He desires and being obedient to those desires. It is having a relationship with Him; when we are born we don’t have just an abstract knowledge of our parents, we form a relationship with them and interact with them, knowing them on a deeper level.

This was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church, and I will add probably his prayer for all believers; and it is also what God desires from us. What parent doesn’t want their children to have a relationship with them and know them? You can bet our Heavenly Father desires it even more so.

Healing Our Hearts – 2 Chronicles 7:14

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV

If you have gone to any of our Becoming God’s Man conferences or remember the six month radio show we had at one time you are know this is a verse we use a lot, and there is a reason for that. This is one of those verses that says many things in a compact little package. Think of it as one of those little pills that you can get at the dollar store that when put in a glass of water turns into a sponge dinosaur.

So what is so significant about this verse, well if you look at it there is a promise from God, the only thing is that the promise is conditional. While originally written in context regarding the ancient nation of Israel the principles of this verse are just as applicable to today’s Christians. The first thing we need to take notice is that this promise is for the believer, whether it was the Jew back in the days of Solomon when the promise was given or a Christian today, we are all those people called by God’s name.

So what must we do in regards to this promise? The first thing is that we need to humble ourselves. This means we need to realize we are not the most important thing and place our focus rather than on ourself or our situation but rather focus on God. Then once we focus on God we can in fact fulfill the other conditions. That is because we won’t truly be praying or seeking God’s face if we are self absorbed. We also aren’t able to turn from our wicked ways either, as we usually fall into those ways because we are focused on self and how to best please ourselves rather than how to please God. In essence it is once we humble ourselves that the other conditions we need to fulfill will just naturally start to fall into place.

So what is being promised? God’s part of this promise is that He will forgive our sins and heal our land. What all does this mean, well with the second part in the times of Solomon agriculture was the source of income for many and if crops couldn’t grow financially many were hurt; but this is not saying that God will make you rich in material means if we fulfill our part. What it does mean is that God will make sure our needs are met, with the most important need being that of our salvation. You see the land that we need healed is none other than our hearts.

Does your heart need healing? Have you surrendered your life to Christ? We all need both, so what is keeping you from humbling yourself and turning to God in order to bring healing to your heart?

Are You Looking For Your 15 Seconds of Fame? – John 3:29-30

He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.
John 3:29-30

How often do we want to find greatness, or to be the center of attention? How often do we get into the mindset of thinking that everything should revolve around us? We often look for what can put us into the spotlight, to have that next viral video or post on Facebook; to be the next chicken nugget tweet, which if I remember right that was one of the most retweeted tweets on twitter. In this world of reality TV and social media, where anyone with a camera has the potential to become a star, that is what many people focus on. They ask how can I become greater, how can I get more likes, more retweets, more followers; they fall into the trap of pride, where all of their focus is on themselves.

Here we see John the Baptist talking to his disciples when they came to him complaining about Jesus becoming more popular than John. You see John had no problem with this as he knew who Jesus was and that he was only there to prepare the people for Jesus, much like an opening act preparing the crowds at a concert for the headline band. John understood that his role was fulfilled once Jesus started His ministry and thus needed to diminish while Jesus’ ministry was to become greater.

In this time of YouTube and Instagram stars, and everyone looking for their 15 seconds of fame we need to take a page from John the Baptist’s playbook and realize that it is not about us. We need to look less at how we can bring ourselves fame and glory and look at how we can point people to the one who deserves all glory. We need to decrease while God must increase. In other words we need to tell ourselves that “I got nothing.”

What are you teaching? – 2 Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 CSB


What are you teaching?


How often do we remember people either telling us to “do as I say and not as I do?” Or perhaps we are the ones making that statement to someone else. The problem is our actions say as much about what we believe and sometimes more so than what our words do. When you see that someone’s actions and words don’t line up, how likely are you to listen to the advice that they give you? If someone were to tell you not to drive fast all while going ten over the speed limit would you listen to them? I know when you look at a child they are more likely to imitate what they see adults do over that an adult will tell them to do; that is why the saying “actions speak louder than words” is so true.


In this verse Paul is encouraging Timothy to keep a check on his actions, telling him to work towards living in such a way that when he comes before God he won’t be ashamed of how he lived, much like an employee standing before their boss during a performance review. If you worked hard, trying to meet the expectations of your employer there is nothing to be ashamed of; but if you slack off and don’t do anything there is plenty to be ashamed of. Our Christian walk should be like that of an employee looking to get a good review, and how do we know what the performance expectations are? That is where the last part of the verse comes in. In the Christian Standard Bible it states “correctly teaching the word of truth,” however other translations mention dividing or handling the word of truth. What this means is that we should be measuring our actions against what we see in the Bible, but not only that we should as John mentions test the spirits to make sure what we are doing and listening to is truth. That is because there are some out there that will use the Bible to teach what they want, but take verses out of context or twist their meaning to support their personal agendas rather than to promote God’s will.


So again I will ask what are you teaching? Are you living in such a way as to promote God’s message?