I have discovered in my lifelong learning experience, that there are 4 types of reality: scientific, mathematical, historical and [divine] revelation reality.
Divine revelation as set forth in the Scriptures, relates the birth, life, death, burial and historical Resurrection of Christ that “spawned” the Christian Religion, which, through the centuries, has been (sorry to say), the high-jacking subject of error, heresy and misapplication of practice. But through it all, the one common denominator, has been the documents – the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and the historic Creeds that help us to focus on the thrust of Christ’s message.
This Christian Religion is, indeed, a very “Flesh and Blood Religion.” Its pinnacle message is, the once for all sacrificial [bodily] gift of Christ crucified [and resurrected] for all of humanity. This free gift of a Savior from sin - that same sin, that damns the soul from a holy God and His perfect heaven, is offered to all, as the principled means to effect forgiveness of sin (s) –- without which, there would be no peace with God, and (heavenly) paradise to come.
Now, just because God has provided His free gift of forgiveness of sin and future presence with Him in heaven, - that does not mean to say, that everyone will benefit. Just because there is a cookie jar, it does not always translate into cookies being present, within that jar. God provided the means to assuage and wipe away personal damning sin, but not all, will, in the end, be positively affected. Did not Christ say:?
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
It Takes More Than Surface Recognition to Benefit from God’s Action Gift of Christ, the Savior
The New Testament Scripture of James 2:19 states: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble.” Pure recognition does not “cut it,” with God. It will not change a person’s state of existence nor his final destination. This is where, “divine revelation reality,” must “kick in.”
I am always suspicious of a type of “Christian crusade endeavor,” which will end with, “All heads bowed and every eye closed,” and a step by step (how to) prayer, that (supposedly) whisks the emotionally struck individual from a sinner state, to that of a saint. Being Christ’s true child and His disciple, is more than subscribing to some formula prayer. It is more than being emotionally distraught over one's damning sins. It is more than the simple act of “claiming for oneself” and “grabbing” (“accepting”) Christ, to escape God’s holy eternal judgment for personal sin!
One of the most misunderstood of all Scriptures, is the Scripture of Christ’s Words to the one religious leader, who came under the cover of darkness, to secretly visit Christ. [John 3:1f] No [language] translation of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures can take the place of serious Bible study. Illustrated in the case of the Gospel of John 3:3, is the reason that one cannot be without an enquiring and searching mind after God's truth.
How often have you heard the phrase: “Born again,” referring directly to the King James translation (of the New Testament Greek), of Jesus’ Words to Nicodemus? [Gospel of John 3:3] However, the more correct and accurate rendering, (in the original Greek) for, “again,” is, rather, “from above.” [ἄνωθεν] This puts a whole new light on Christ's words. It is God’s action that precedes human action, which initiates and appropriates personal belief into the actions of repentance and living a whole new life, patterned after the Lord, Christ.
Too often the Christian Religion is showcased and burdened with the likes of evangelists and preachers who convey the Gospel Message of Christ, as if it were something to be acquired by one’s own efforts and, or, abilities! On the contrary – that same Gospel makes it clear, that “receiving Christ” is initially and wholly dependent upon Divine action:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [authority] 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. John 1:12-13
The Gospel Paradox
After Christ, the Messiah suffered, died and rose from the dead; His disciples still hadn’t fully “seen the light.” Before Christ traveled the last time to Jerusalem, Christ asked His disciples who the public thought He was. The disciples readily answered Christ that the people perceived Him to be some sort of prophet, like John the Baptist, Elijah or Jeremiah. But then Christ asked His own immediate disciples who they thought Him to be. Peter piped up and stated: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” [Matthew 16:16] To that, Christ responded with the following:
Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Gospel of Matthew 16:17
Then, shortly after all this, Christ was crucified and all His disciples fled and were scattered, -- and, were in hiding. It wasn’t until after that, the Resurrected Christ illuminated their minds -- and they truly and more completely became aware of their relationship with Christ; their identity, purpose and mission. Luke 24:36-49 – especially Luke 24:45
The “Gospel Paradox” is that, the (sinless) flesh and blood, Christ, came to earth, “....born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, died and was buried....” [Wording from the Apostle’s Creed] However, Christ, was, a very authentic “flesh and blood man!” But so much more! Christ was the sinless “Son of God,” who then, after having been crucified, rose from the dead. [1 Corinthians 15:1f] And, then, Christ, in His resurrected body, appeared again, in the flesh before many witnesses, before ascending into heaven.
Here we have it folks -- a “Flesh and Blood Religion”
The Christian Religion is a "flesh and blood religion" to the core - from the God accepted animal sacrifice that finally preceeded the supreme sin sacrifice of the prophesied Messiah Christ! [Hebrews 10:1f]
However, though - and, (paradoxically), God has so designed it that no “flesh and blood” person can inherit the “kingdom of God.” [N.T. Matthew 25:34] No flesh and blood can even “accept Christ and believe in Him,” unless it [that acceptance and belief] be, by the Grace and Mercy of God and operation of God’s Holy Spirit – for the sake of Christ, the Savior! Titus 3:3-7 ; Ephesians 2:1-10
No “Salvation” Formula for You (from me)
Finally, I have no 4 or 5 “self help” steps with which, to direct you, or even to help you spell out a certain prayer formula. That is -- if you, who are reading and, or listening to this message, are not one of God’s own children. But I can tell you that you had better be very concerned and serious about your sinful relationship before a holy and just God. Sin cannot live with Him. If you desire a peaceful existence after you breathe your last, you cannot rest, here on earth, until you have been “born from above.” John 3:3
You need not drown in your sins, by struggling with them as a non-swimmer thrashes about attempting to stay afloat. Realize that you can do nothing to effect your eternal state of affairs. Realize that you are a damnable sinner, in need of the Savior, Christ! Don’t deceive yourself and attempt to make excuses, or even latch onto some "self help" forumulas.
You can’t receive (on your own) Christ and His Blessings of a forgiven life and heaven “to boot.” Do not delude yourself into thinking that you can manufacture for yourself all the necessary ingredients to make your “Peace with God,” and be “saved.”
You can, rather, as the Scriptures state, seek after wisdom. [Proverbs 1:1f] Realize your pitiful sinful condition, like the thief on Cross, next to the crucified Christ – Luke 23:39-43] and cry out to the Savior. And then believe in Christ. Believe in Him, for who He truly is. This is the one “work,” which God requires. [John 6:29] Not “works,” but the “work,” of “Faith.” "Without faith it is impossible to please God." — [Hebrews 11:6 ; Romans 3:28] And, most importantly, read and study the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. That same Scripture itself, says: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. “ N.T. Romans 10:17
Please note: 2 past topical messages that help to accent this (aforementioned) message
It’s the Object of Worship – not the sincerity of worship that must be first and foremost
The often overlooked important aspects of the “New Birth”
Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:
Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins
O.T. Isaiah 53:1f – Christ, the Messiah – prophesied hundreds of years before His birth
Gospel of John 1:1-13 and John 3:1-21 – God’s initiating (under girding) action in the “Salvation” process
Luke 24:36-53 – The Resurrected Lord’s Divine Revelation
Romans 5:1f – Christ, God’s effectual gift
Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
Please note: Topical Messages, by subject
Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel
Please also note:
The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.