Cross

Better: Isaac -- Jesus' sacrifice saved you

Jesus can be known better through the Old Testament

We all know people who are choosing to carry the burden of their sinfulness on themselves, even though Jesus already paid the price to take those sins upon himself.

Read: Genesis 22:1-18

This isn't an easy passage to read. Why would God do these things? This is the only time in the Bible when God tested someone in this way. He wanted to ensure that Abraham's trust was in God himself, not just the promises that God had made him. By asking Abraham to offer up Isaac, he was asking him to be willing to give up the promises God had given him.

As well as serving as a test for Abraham, this story foreshadows the coming sacrifice of Jesus. Isaac and Jesus have many similarities. Both were born miraculously, both were to be sacrificed, both were dead for three days (Isaac in Abraham's eyes during their 3 day journey, Jesus in reality for three days), both carried the wood that would be used to sacrifice them up the hill, both were raised to life (Isaac through God staying Abraham's hand, Jesus being raised to life from the tomb). 

In fact, where Abraham's obedience with Isaac caused God to promise again to build a nation through whom the nations of the world would be blessed, he was speaking about Jesus who was to come and whose sacrifice on the cross truly would bless the nations with the gift of an eternal, life-giving relationship with Jesus for all who believe in him. Jesus was the lamb God would provide for himself, mentioned in Genesis 22:8!

God sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice so you could find life and freedom.

Jesus’ sacrifice has saved you. If he went through all that for you, what are you willing to do to share His message of hope?

It's a scary thought for many of us--sharing our faith. But we must remember that God is the God who provides. He provides the growth of faith in the people we share the Gospel with. He is the one who provides us the courage and the wisdom and the words as we do so.

Additionally, while you may be wary of putting yourself out there if it doesn't get you anything, remember the testing of Abraham: consider if you trust in God himself, or just in the benefits you get out of following him. He has commanded all who follow Jesus to share the Good News, and we must do so out of our faith in Jesus, not because of any benefit it may bring us personally.

Action Steps:

  • Consider: are you willing to obediently share your faith if there is nothing in it for you?
  • Tell people about Jesus: engage in spiritual conversations, invite people to church and to our Easter Extravaganza!

Listen to the whole message:

Better: Hosea

Jesus loves you so much!

Where were you on 9-11-2001? How did the events that transpired impact you? How did they make you feel?

Now, think of May 2, 2011. That's the day Osama bin Laden was killed. How did you feel about that? Relief? Joy? Pity? Around the world, millions rejoiced at his death, but what we often forget to consider is that Jesus love him. It broke God's heart that bin Laden would do what he did, but it also broke his heart that he would not turn from his sins--his wrongdoings and rejection of Jesus--and accept the gift of life Jesus purchased for him.

We all have different ways of looking at the world. Maybe you think you're not good enough for Jesus to love you or to forgive you. Maybe you think you're too good (oops, that's pride. Guess what? Yep, sin.). Maybe you looked down at someone today or yesterday and assigned them a lower value than you, or you believe Jesus won't save them. Or maybe you don't think about others at all, 'cause they're just not that important to you.

You need to know: Jesus loves you. Jesus loves them. His greatest desire is to see you run into his loving arms.

We're going to look at Hosea and what we can discover about Jesus from it. Hosea was a prophet who lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (as opposed to the Southern Kingdom of Judah). Israel and Judah both had problems with turning to other gods than the One True God, and to lifestyles God had told them were wrong.

Hosea 1:2-3 (NIV)
"When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son."

Basically, God told Hosea to go out and marry a prostitute. This being told to a godly man living in a culture that put a premium on marrying a virgin!

Hosea 3:1-5 (NIV)
The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.

Hosea brought his wife home. And he paid a bride price for her...even though he didn't have to. Likewise, Jesus paid a price he didn't have to pay to bring you to him; however, the price that Jesus paid was much greater and was the only possible way to open the door for us to come back to him.

Everyone is guilty of rejecting God, but Jesus will never stop trying to bring you home.

When you cling to sin you reject God.

That's not to say that any time you sin you're leaving God behind. Sin is what broke the relationship with God you were meant to have, but when you place your trust in Jesus as Master and Saviour he forgives you of all your sins. No, but when you say that your sin is more important than serving God, that is a rejection of him.

Hosea 14:1-2 (NIV)
Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.

Jesus’ love is bigger than all your sin.

Hosea 14:4 (NIV)
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.

Maybe you see your sin as a big pile or mountain or wall that you can't forgive yourself for, your friends and family won't forgive you for, so surely Jesus won't forgive you for it either. But his love is bigger than all your sin, and if you'll let him, he'll take care of it for you.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Imagine what Pincher Creek would look like if people understood they have worth in Jesus' eyes--he loves them and he wants them to accept his gift of forgiveness and eternal life!

Action Steps:

  • Have confidence in Jesus' love and grace.
  • Share it with at least one of the people he has placed around you this week!

Would you like to accept Jesus' gift of life, or want more information? Send us an email or contact us on Facebook!

 

Listen to the whole message:

Reconciling the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New

Cima_da_Conegliano,_God_the_Father Creation_of_the_Sun_and_Moon_face_detailHave you ever heard someone say that they feel like the Bible talks about two different Gods? One that is angry and vengeful, which we see in the Old Testament, and one that is merciful and loving, which we see in the New? I have heard some people try to explain this seeming difficulty by trying to say that God changes, but we can't say that because God never changes (see Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, and James 1:17)! I know that each of us only has so much time in our day, so this post will not go too deep. I'm going to try to keep it short and simple, just giving you an understanding of how we reconcile the picture of God we see in the Old and New Testaments. Firstly, there is only one God who exists as three persons in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What has changed is our route to God. One of the reasons it is so important for Christians to read books of the Bible like Leviticus is to give us a reminder of how holy God is. He is so perfect he cannot allow sin to even approach him. He made us perfect, but left us a choice so we could have the freedom to choose to love and obey him or turn away. We chose poorly.

Fortunately, God had a plan in motion from the moment that he created us--because he knows everything (see Isaiah 55:9, Job 28:24, 1 John 3:19-20). I don't know why he chose the plan that he did, but I do know that, coming from God, His plan is a perfect plan. After the Fall (see Genesis 3) the world quickly spun out of control; so God, seeing one righteous man (Noah) cleared the earth of the horrid things that were happening with a worldwide flood (which he promised to never do again). Then God picked a righteous man named Abram (later named Abraham) and made a covenant with him, to make him into a nation that God would personally bless. The intention was that this nation would show God's love and power to the world. Unfortunately, it became an exclusive club.

When we read of God laying out the rules to approach him we get the sense that nothing really makes us quite good enough. In fact, the whole sacrificial system (killing animals as atonement for our sins) was based around the fact that all who sin are deserving of death in God's eyes. Therefore, we see a God who, when the people he revealed himself to turn away, was (justly) a God of wrath and would often wipe out large numbers of people. At the same time, he was a God who loved his people and would listen to the prayers of these peoples' godly leaders.

Come the New Testament, where--it now being the fullness of time--"God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Jesus' whole mission is to die on a cross. Why? Because up until that point in time a sacrifice only atoned for past sin, which didn't work so well as people were always sinning. When Jesus (who was perfect) went to the cross God put the burden for all mankind's sin upon Jesus, making Jesus the perfect and final sacrifice for humanity's sins.

All we have to do is believe that Jesus Christ, God's Son (but also the One God), came to earth as fully man and fully God, bore our sins on the cross (because God loves us and wants us to be saved), died, descended to hell and took the keys of life and death from Satan's grasp, rose again three days later, and now lives in heaven again. If you believe that and in the fact that belief in Jesus is the only way to spend eternity with God in heaven, you're saved!

Now, back to our reconciliation of just and wrathful God vs merciful and loving God. They are one in the same and have never changed. God is still just. People that do or think bad things (in other words, sin)--as we all do--justly deserve death for working against their perfect Creator: God. God is justly wrathful at what they have done. God has also always been merciful (saving Lot from Sodom is an Old Testament example) and loving (he desires to be with his children). But now, because of Jesus, those of us who are Christians are now covered over by Christ's blood and our sins are no more. God looks at us and sees his son's perfection. He could justly send us to live an eternity in hell, but his Son paid that price for us. So now, even though we mess up, we're forgiven because we are standing in the identity of Christ.

However, we still live in a fallen world--that doesn't get fixed until all the events in the book of Revelation have taken place. Therefore, the question of "why does a loving God allow..." can be summed up with God being just and the fact that God created a perfect world and handed us its future--which we decided would include imperfection when we sinned in the Garden of Eden. So now we (justly) have what we have until God institutes the New Heaven and New Earth. And I'm looking forward to that day.

In conclusion, we can see that there is no reconciliation of the God we see in the Old and New Testaments. He has never changed, but Jesus' sacrifice for us has changed our approach to him.

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--Pastor Stephen Valcourt pastorstephen