God Remembered!

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God Remembered!

James R. Aist

“I will compensate you for the years the locusts have eaten…” (Joel 2:25)

The trail of this testimony began when I was forced to accept the fact that my first marriage, which produced three wonderful and dearly beloved children, was soon to end in divorce. I was especially concerned about the eternal destiny of my children, so I went to my “meeting rock” under an oak tree at the edge of a small woods behind my house to meet with God about it. I sat down on the rock and began to cry out to God on behalf of my children. I didn’t try to hide anything. I confessed that I had not fulfilled my biblical responsibility as spiritual head of the household, and, consequently, my children seemed to be headed in the wrong direction, spiritually. At that time I had little positive influence on them, and I confessed that, through my own negligence,  I was not in a good position to lead them spiritually and teach them about the things of God. I told God that if my children were going to be saved, He would have to step in and, somehow, make up for my negligence and do whatever it takes to save them. Then, with Joel 2:25 in mind, I pleaded with Him to do it.

Several years passed, and God responded gloriously to this prayer. I was attending the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International Men’s Advance at Lake George in upstate New York. One day when they were immersion baptizing in the lake, I stepped forward to be immersed by Pastor Don Yarborough. We had never met, and he knew nothing about me. As I approached him in the water, he just stared at me straight in the eye with a blank look, and kept staring. I thought to myself, “That’s strange; he doesn’t seem to even see me coming.” Finally, as I drew near to him, he reached out his hand to me, we shook hands, and I introduced myself. Then he said that something very unusual had just happened; it had happened only once before in his ~20 years of baptizing people. He said that as I was approaching him in the water, he received a prophecy for me, in the form of several Bible passages from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They all had to do with the head of the household being saved and all of his family with him. He then proceeded to share with me all five of those Bible verses. When he had finished with that, he gave me the interpretation of the message: “God wants you to stand on and hold fast to these biblical promises, which he is confirming to you and your children.”

Wow! Through this prophecy, God had just told me that all of my children will be saved. Clearly, this was God’s response to my prayer, at the “meeting rock”, for their salvation! Needless to say, I was a “happy camper” the rest of that afternoon.

I didn’t say anything to any of my children about this glorious promise at that time, because I didn’t want to risk getting in the way of what God was going to do or how He was going to do it. After all, I had given the salvation of all of my children over to Him to take care of, and I meant it.

Salvation: It’s More About God Than Us!

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Salvation: It’s More About God Than Us!

James R. Aist

I almost entitled this article “Its All About God”, because, in a sense, it is. Salvation is how God transforms us from creations that dishonor and scandalize Him into new creations that praise and glorify Him. But, I relented, because I didn’t want to minimize the mind-boggling magnitude of God’s love for us, which was amply demonstrated when Christ died in our place (Romans 5:8). Hence, “salvation is more about God than us” better captures the fullness of what I hope to get across in this article.

I would venture to guess that most born-again Christians have gotten the impression that salvation is all about us. After all, God so loved us (John 3:16), Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and salvation is a free gift to us (Romans 5:15-16). And, if the only reason that God saved us was to keep us out of hell and bless us forever, then salvation would be all about us. But, there’s more to it than that, much more. So, I’ll get right to the point.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) states that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” In an earlier article, I presented a biblical basis for these conclusions (click HERE). The first of these two conclusions tells us God’s primary motive in creating us; that is, to glorify Himself. The second conclusion “…to enjoy him for ever”, describes what God intended for us to get out of our new relationship with Him; namely, to enjoy Him forever in heaven, which is eternal life. But, when sin entered the world, death followed, and mankind no longer glorified God and ceased to enjoy Him at all, much less forever. And, that’s where salvation came in. God had a plan to restore mankind to the original, created condition, so that mankind would, once again, glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

So, exactly how is our salvation more about God than it is about ourselves? Let’s start with salvation belongs to God (Psalm 3:8; Revelation 7:10 and 19:1), and go from there. When His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, was born, the angels ascribed glory to God (Luke 2:14). This Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), through which we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). Moreover, we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And, it is God who chose us for salvation, not the other way around (click HERE).  We are reminded repeatedly in the New Testament that our victories in Christ are for the glory of God. In fact, a quick search of the New Testament (MEV) produced at least 50 verses that speak of various ways that mankind gives glory to God. Even our confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord” is to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:11). Salvation is about the glory of God first and foremost, from the beginning covenant given to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), right through to the New Covenant, sealed in the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:25). God is the giver here, while we are the recipients, and it is the giver to whom all the glory for our salvation belongs, because God will not share His glory with others (Isaiah 42:8; 48:11). Without such a great salvation, we would have remained without God and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12)! It was God’s ingenious plan of salvation that paved the way for mankind to, once again, glorify God. As a result, mankind is enabled to enjoy Him forever, which, by the way, is also to the glory of God (Romans 15:7)!

That said, please don’t get the idea that I am discounting the role that God’s love for us played in motivating Him to save us; I am not. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)! And, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). For sure, we are eternally grateful for God’s great love toward us! But, in contemplating the gift of salvation, we often tend to forget that God created us to glorify Himself in ways that no other being that He created on the earth is able to, because only we can really know Him and love Him back (click HERE). That, I believe, was His ultimate purpose in creating mankind in the first place: to reflect His glory back to Him, just as Jesus does (Hebrews 1:3 with 2 Corinthians 3:18). And now, thanks to God, we are willing and able to do that!

(To read more of my articles with biblical themes, click HERE)

The Only Love That Can Fully Satisfy

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The Only Love That Can Fully Satisfy

James R. Aist

“Consider how much love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God.” (1 John 3:1)

Before I jump into this subject with both feet, it is important to first bring to mind just who this God of the Bible really is. Perhaps you have never really taken to heart just how authoritative, powerful and supreme God is. The God of the Bible is often referred to as “God Most High” or “Most High God” (e.g., Genesis 14:22 and Hebrews 7:1). Psalm 97:9 declares, “For You, O Lord, are Most High above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods.” Thus we derive the Christian doctrine of the “sovereignty” of God, His absolute rule and reign over all of His creation, including the affairs of men. Nothing happens that He did not either do Himself or allow to be done. There is no higher authority than the God of the Bible, He always gets it right the first time, and nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). His opinions trump the opinions of mere mortal men – and the devil – every time.

That said, when God created Adam and Eve, there was, I believe, a built-in need for this creator-God to approve of them. They were, after all, the only created beings who God made in the image and likeness of Himself (Genesis 1:26). And, because of the infinite greatness of God, their “parent-child” relationship, if you will, was far more highly valued and essential than even the best parent-child relationships we can experience with each other. I reckon that Adam and Eve became accustomed to the unqualified approval that they experienced as God walked with them in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). And, ever since they forfeited this intimate and unchanging approval by lusting after the knowledge of good and evil, mankind has longed for God’s approval to be restored. However, our attempts to replace this divine approval by such things as wealth, fame and/or power, or even human relationships, are all in vain, because all of these fall short, leaving us with a built-in, inner longing for the infallible approval that only God can satisfy.

I have learned over the years that a person has to know someone to really love them. A newborn baby can soak up the personal attention of its mother and respond affectionately when its mother fulfills its basic needs for breast milk and a sense of security. But that isn’t really love, but a positive response to having its needs met. The baby knows nothing of the mother’s character and integrity. It doesn’t know what kind of person its mother is. It is not even aware of the degree to which the mother is committed to its well being. So, the mother may assume that the baby loves her with a perfect love, since the baby has no basis for judging her. But, as the baby grows and develops and gets to really know its mother as a person – both the “good” and the “bad” – the capacity for real love develops, and so does the capacity for judgment. When the child has grown enough to love its mother despite her perceived flaws and weaknesses, then real love has made its debut. The love of God toward us is like that. Only God knows us completely; He knows everything about us, good and bad (Psalm 139:14), yet He still loves us. Why is that?

Why does God love us?

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness – Genesis 1:26. God loves us because we are uniquely made in His image and likeness. We may not know for sure just what that “looks like”, but we do know that God does not have that kind of relationship with any other of His created beings, including even the angels!

You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, and set him over the works of Your hands. – Hebrews 2:7. Again, we don’t know for sure in what ways we were created a little lower than the angels, but we do know that we are the pinnacle of His creative juices manifested during the six days of creation (Genesis 2:4-23). And, we know that God must have a very high regard for us in order for Him to crown us with glory and honor and set us over the works of His hands!

We are the only earthly beings created to be able to know God and to glorify Him intentionally (click HERE). This fact makes us unique in our ability to freely love and sincerely glorify God.

We were created to glorify God (click HERE). There is no greater calling than to glorify the God of the Bible!

In short, God created us to be capable of loving Him and worthy of His divine love! Therefore, He loves us.

How great is God’s love for us?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. – John 3:16. Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8. There is no greater love than God’s love for us. God said so, and He proved it!

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19. The love of God for us is so unimaginably massive that it must be experienced to be fully capable of satisfying our hunger for divine approval.

Consider how much love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God. – 1 John 3:1. Your biological children are related to you in unique and precious ways, too numerous to quantify and too special to measure. Ponder that for a moment, and then let it sink in that the God who created the Universe has declared us who follow Jesus to be His spiritual children, children of God, no less!

How secure is God’s love for us?

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, neither height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. – Romans 8:35, 37. Unlike any merely human relationship, our relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ is guaranteed, by God Himself, to never fail, not ever. Now that is absolute, fully trustworthy security!

How authoritative is God’s love for us?

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He spoken, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? – Numbers 23:19. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:9. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31. God, and only God, has the authority and the power to declare those who believe in Jesus to be the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) and, therefore, worthy of His divine and everlasting love!

Whose opinion will you believe?

What, then, is the “take home” message in all of this? Simply put, if you have put your faith and trust in Jesus, then don’t believe the opinion of the devil when you are experiencing doubts about God’s love for you. His love for you is the only love that can fully satisfy. Believe God’s opinion of you, not the opinion of the devil, for “When he lies, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

That They May Have “Life”

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That They May Have “Life”

James R. Aist

“The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

In John 10:10, Jesus was speaking to Jews in Jerusalem who were taking Him to task for healing people. I used to wonder why Jesus would say to people who were obviously living, breathing beings, that He came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. Don’t they already have life? Jesus seemed to be saying that He came to give them something that they already have. It just didn’t make sense to me.

But, I discovered recently the solution to this seeming contradiction. It all has to do with the translation from the original Greek to the English language. In the New Testament, there are mainly two Greek words having different meanings that are both translated “life” in the English versions. Sometimes “life” refers to our biological life (“psuche” or “biotikos” in the Greek) here on earth; at other times, it refers to the new or “eternal” life (“zoe” in the Greek) in Jesus. In John 10:10, Jesus was referring to the latter kind of life, “eternal life”, not our present, biological life. To help you more fully appreciate the significance of this distinction, here are some pertinent verses from the Apostle John, beginning with John’s definition of “eternal life”: “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent (John 17:3); “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11); and “In Him was life, and the life was the light of mankind (John 1:4). In all three verses, the Greek word translated “life” is “zoe.” So, now we can see that everyone has “psuche”, or biological life, but only those who believe in the One who was sent by the Father (John 5:24 and 38; John 6:29 and 40) have “zoe”, or eternal life. This is the life to which the angel was referring when he commanded Paul to “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).

So, now the question becomes, “In what way did Jesus come that they may have eternal life more abundantly?” I believe that it is in actually knowing Jesus Christ, the long awaited Jewish Messiah, and in knowing that they now possess the “eternal life” that He won for them on the cross. Moreover, this life with God in Christ (eternal life realized) will be far more glorious than the eternal life they may have imagined before Christ appeared. The Apostle Paul described it this way, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him”(Corinthians 2:9; see also Isaiah 64:4). That, my friends, is indeed, “life more abundantly”, and it will be yours if you put your faith and trust in Jesus!

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE)