Amazingly Saved and Radically Changed by the Cross

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Why did Jesus die on the cross? To save our souls? Indeed He did, but that’s not all.

For Him

First, His death means the end of self-centered living and the beginning of Christ-centered living: “. . . He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Second, because we’ve been purchased by His blood, our bodies, which now belong to Him, must be used for God’s glory, not for immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Like Him

Third, His death sets us an example of humility and obedience. “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus . . . . He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

Fourth, His refusal to retaliate (1 Peter 2:21-23) and His endurance in the face of opposition (Hebrews 12:1-3) should lead us to do the same.

For others

Fifth, His death  prompts us to love others as we have been loved. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us . . .” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Sixth, His death calls us to love sacrificially: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

Seventh, now that we belong to Him, we are to put evil deeds behind us and now engage in good deeds (Titus 2:14).

Eighth, His death means we forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32).

But that’s not all—and yet these eight passages should be sufficient to show that God means for the death of His Son to open up for us wonderful new vistas of thinking and living.

And what a life it is!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Through the Eyes of Christ

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Before my time

I remember hearing my dad talk about living through the Great Depression. He and my mother had been married only a couple of years when the stock market crashed in 1929.

Like so many others, they didn’t have much, but they were happy. They had each other, and far more importantly, they had their faith. They learned how to deal with an extremely tight financial situation that dragged on for years.

Most of us were born after the Depression and have enjoyed relative plenty all our lives. Have we come to take prosperity for granted? Do we expect it as our right?

Imagine it!

Suppose a family from the 1930s were suddenly transported to our modern supermarkets and car dealerships. Imagine the look on their faces as they try to comprehend the astonishing abundance as well as the incredible variety of products available. And so much of what we routinely use today didn’t even exist back then.

Theoretically at least, we know we could lose it all someday. And what if we did? Could we deal with it, or would we be emotionally devastated?

The contented life

Christians are in the best position to accept the loss of possessions. Christ Himself traveled light when He walked our earth. He taught the importance of trusting in God for one’s daily bread. He also taught it’s better to give than to receive.

He taught His disciples to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matthew 6:19-21). He warned against the spiritually fatal tendency toward greed (Luke 12:13-21).

And so if we learn to live by His teachings and look at life through His eyes, we’ll be able to handle financial reverses with greater grace than if we were earthbound materialists (Philippians 4:10-20; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 10:34).

The Christian outlook is, by far, the healthiest way to live!

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Just Imagine!

How things have changed

It has been suggested that television and air conditioning have contributed to isolating us from our neighbors. The old custom of sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening and interacting with the neighborhood is long gone. Whether or not TV and A/C are to blame, it must be admitted: People don’t “neighbor” much anymore.

Our Constitution guarantees the rights and freedoms of the individual. Properly exercised, this is good. But is it possible that as a nation we have stressed rights to the neglect of responsibility, and individuality to the detriment of community?

Making a positive difference

Many of our fellow citizens do have a strong sense of community and work hard for the betterment of others. The quality of life in our communities is definitely higher because of their dedicated efforts.

So much needs to be done. Whether in improving race relations, cleaning up blighted areas, attracting new businesses, volunteering in worthy causes, or whatever the need, let’s get involved in doing something for our city.

Having the greatest impact for good

But what is the absolute best thing we can do for our community? Isn’t it for each of us as individuals to live in harmony with the will of God—and to help others do the same by sharing the gospel with them?

Just imagine if everyone in our town truly lived by the teachings of Christ: Would there be any rape, robbery, or assault—at least by our own citizenry? Would we lie to one another or gossip about each other?

Would we have the substance abuse problems we do now? Would husbands and wives cheat on each other? Would children be abused or neglected?

Positively, devotion to Christ means obeying the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7). It means seeking opportunities to serve (Titus 3:1, 8, 14). It means giving instead of always receiving (Acts 20:35). It means shining the light of Christ in a dark, dark world (Philippians 2:15).

Christians who really live by the Book make the best citizens!

How we respond

Sad to say, many will not choose to live for Christ (Matthew 7:13-14), but what’s to stop any of us from resolving that regardless of what others may do, we will give our complete allegiance to the One who died that we might live?

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Looking for a Return on His Investment


What He invests in us

If you invest in the stock market or bonds or any interest-bearing account, you want to see a return on your investment, don’t you?

So does God (Matthew 25:14-30). Think of all the ways God invests in the lives of His people:

  1. He made us in His image (Genesis 1:27).
  2. He pours out daily blessings on us (Acts 14:17).
  3. He invests the blood of His Son for our salvation (Revelation 5:9).
  4. He gives us His Holy Spirit, who lives within us and intercedes for us (Acts 2:38; Romans 8:26-27).
  5. He grants us all spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3ff.).

So what’s our response to all this?

First, we thank Him daily for all these good things which are evidences of His great love!

Second, we shed our old sinful mindset and lifestyle, and seek instead to develop the attitudes and behavior appropriate for one who belongs to Christ.

“Flee immorality . . . . Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body”

(1 Corinthians 6:18-20; see 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Third, we develop the abilities He has given us. “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

Then someday we can hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful slave . . . enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25-21).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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A Remembered Lesson

It was over 50 years ago, but it stands out in my memory. Norman Harnage was teaching our class that Sunday morning in our congregation where I grew up.

Norman said he wanted to talk with us about one thing. And he did.

He cited several passages where the expression “one thing” is found. The following were, I believe, among those he cited:

What’s most needed

Jesus was a dinner guest in Martha’s home. In her preparations she became frustrated with her sister Mary, who was listening to Jesus teach. “Lord,” she complained, “do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, “you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).

What’s lacking

On another occasion a young man approached Jesus and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus cited several of the Mosaic commandments. “All these things I have kept from my youth,” he replied.

One thing you still lack;” Jesus told him, “sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:18-23).

But the young man turned sadly away. Jesus knew he was putting his money ahead of his relationship with God.

What’s most important

Paul wrote, “. . . one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Paul knew what was most important in life, and he was totally focused on the goal. He let nothing distract him from obtaining the prize.

“. . . one thing is necessary . . . .” “One thing you still lack.” “. . . one thing I do . . . .”

Thank you, Norman Harnage, for bringing that simple but profound lesson so long ago.

You were right.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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“Make It Your Ambition”

How we are to live

Does the expression “the quiet life” strike you as appealing or dull? Paul actually encourages us to pray for our rulers “that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2).

In a different context Paul urges Christians “to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands . . .” (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

Addressing Christians who have too much time on their hands—lazy busybodies—Paul urged them “to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:12).

Those who live this way

Aquila and Priscilla were not among those needing Paul’s reprimand. They supported themselves as tentmakers and hosted the church in their home in more than one city. They assisted Paul, helped Apollos, and no doubt aided many others as well.

This godly Christian couple have their counterparts today in members of local congregations who humbly go about their tasks, making no fuss or bother for anyone else. Such people are among society’s greatest assets, whether society recognizes that fact or not.

They help keep our nation from slipping further away from God. They may be largely unknown, but God sees what they do, and He will reward.

The advantages of the quiet life

And don’t we spare ourselves a lot of unnecessary tension when we can learn to live this way?

In the words of John Greenleaf Whittier’s hymn: “Drop thy still dews of quietness,/ Till all our strivings cease;/ Take from our souls the strain and stress,/ And let our ordered lives confess/ The beauty of thy peace.”


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Some things are meant to go together. Only one sock or only one glove is next to useless. One cannot do the work of two.

For good health we need a balance of work and rest. Good communication involves both speaking and listening.

In the spiritual realm

We must believe in Jesus as both Son of God (divine) and Son of Man (human). We must have Him as both our Savior and our Lord—not Savior only (Luke 6:46).

Faith is dead without works (James 2:14-26). Hearing God’s word must be accompanied by obedience (James 1:21-25). Giving without love is of no profit (1 Corinthians 13:3).

The first commandment (Love God) cannot work without the second (Love your neighbor). Forgiveness from God cannot be separated from our willingness to forgive others (Matthew 18:21-35). And truth needs tact (Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Neither lacking

“This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).

What if we’re great in benevolence but lousy in morals? Or what if we are paragons of virtue but help no one? It is not either-or, but both-and.

While the pairs above are not a complete list, perhaps they can help us see where we need to place more emphasis in our lives.

The key is balance.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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