Chosen for Salvation

But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

When we are aware of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, that our Heavenly Father has looked to us and that His Holy Spirit continues every day working in our sanctification, the word thanks should perennially remain on our lips. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 it says that we have been chosen for salvation; but this choice of ours was not a decision that God took at the last moment, but from the beginning. What a greater honor!

To realize the magnitude of being numbered among the elect of God, let’s look at what Matthew 22:14 says, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” There is no doubt that to be among the chosen few is a great privilege, which is magnified knowing that who made the election is the Creator of everything that exists, the supreme owner of the Universe and of every creature that inhabits it. Being on that exclusive list of chosen ones is priceless. The elect have responded positively to the call to salvation of the gospel.

As long as we are in the world, being chosen from God does not free us from problems. The elect could be deceived, as Matthew 24:24 says, For false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. We are exposed to deception in the world, and even within Christian congregations. In addition to deception, the elect are exposed to being treated unfairly and falsely accused.

Of course whoever chose us will not stand idly by injustice and accusations. Luke 18:7 says, Will not God grant justice to His elect who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay to help them? While Romans 8:33 says, Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. The thief who came to kill, to steal and destroy, the father of lies, the accuser, has no jurisdiction over the elect, his accusations cannot touch us, just as we will be defended by God from the injustices of the world.

Before the glorious coming of our Lord will occur very serious events where all the inhabitants of the earth will be tested. The Bible does not say that the elect will be taken to a special place to protect them from the great trials that are to come; but does affirm that God has taken into account the chosen ones and will give them an exit and will keep them from the test. In Matthew 24:22 we read, And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

And though the elect remain in the world until the triumphal return of our Lord, the best news is that glorious encounter with Him. Matthew 24:31 describes it this way, And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. On that glorious day, we will share in the honorable glory of being chosen by God from the beginning for salvation. God bless you.

Grace Was Given to Us

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”

Ephesians 4:7-8

The word grace means undeserved favor. When Ephesians 4:7-8 says that grace was given to us, it means that we have received an undeserved favor from God. Our merits are not enough to come out of the captivity of sin and attain salvation. So God offers us a gift through Christ. Gifts are received free of charge and do not depend on what we do but on the will of the one who has given it. Thus, the grace given to us comes from the will of God.

From where or from whom does the grace given us come? The answer to this question is in John 1:14-17, And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what religious traditions say, the only person that the Bible mentions that is full of grace is Jesus Christ, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, that same Word that was in the beginning with God and was God, of No one else can be said to be full of grace, only of Him. Therefore, we take the grace of Him who is full of grace, of Jesus Christ and the grace that has been given to us only comes from Him.

What does grace do for us? Acts 15:11 says, But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ[a] we shall be saved in the same manner as they. And to reaffirm that grace saves us, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. The abundant grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is what gives us salvation. Our works are useless to achieve it.

Our salvation has a very broad meaning. Romans 3:24 says, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The grace that comes from our Lord saves us through our justification. Being justified means being made righteous and being redeemed means that the Lord paid the price so that we would be acquitted in the judgment of God. For our sins, the verdict of judgment is one of guilt; but grace comes to us and Jesus Christ paid with his blood for our sins.

Receiving grace is a good reason to live grateful to those who have done us this undeserved favor. And if we have been saved by grace, it is not to keep grace treasured in us selfishly but to share it with others. Matthew 10:8 says, Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Let us share the good news of salvation and the filling of the Spirit with others.

To receive grace we must leave our past behind; but above all, leave our pride. James 4:6 says: But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humbled before Him, let us take the grace. God bless you.

Reconciliation through the Cross

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Ephesians 2:13-18

The cross of Calvary has a much broader meaning, in terms of reconciliation, than we generally think. Christians understand that, thanks to the cross, there was a bridge that reconciled humanity with God; but that does not stop there. Before the cross, only the people of Israel knew the true God. The Gentile peoples were pagans and did not know the God of Israel. The cross did what the Law could not do; to remove sin through the Lamb of God, and for them as well as for those who did not live under the Law, gave them grace.

Although many have used the cross for centuries as a frontier between the people of Israel and the Gentile peoples who have accepted Christ, it is certainly not the purpose of God. On one side and the other there has been enmity, the very opposite of God’s plan to establish a reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles by means of the cross of Calvary. In His conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus told her what is written in John 4:22, You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

The Samaritans were considered by the Jews as a separate people from them even though they lived on the same land. By contact between Jews and Samaritans, the latter had some knowledge of the God of Israel and worshiped him; but, as Jesus said, they worshiped what they did not know, while the Jews knew the God they worshiped. John 1:17 explains why the Jews knew first-hand the God they worshiped, For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Moses, who led the people of Israel from Egypt on their way to the Promised Land, received the tablets of the Law from God Himself. In this way the people chosen by God had the knowledge of the rules that govern their relationship with God. But God’s plan was far greater than just giving His Law to the people of Israel. God Himself wanted to manifest Himself among His people through His Son. In John 1:11 we read, He came to His own, and His own[b] did not receive Him.

The majority rejection of the Son of God by the people of Israel opened the doors for the Gentiles to know the true God. And as Jesus says very well in John 4:22: salvation is of the Jews. The true God, the one who worshiped Christians, the God of our salvation, is the God of Israel, the God of Isaac, the God of Abraham, and the God of the Jews. And the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was a Jew in the flesh and it was on the cross that He reconciled the Gentile people to the chosen people of God, since He died for the redemption of all Jews and Gentiles. It is the same God for Jews and Christians. God bless you.

Two Kinds of Odors

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Smell is one of our five senses and with it we can distinguish a wide range of odors. Smells are nice and others are not. In the spirit world we are much more familiar with two other senses: sight and hearing. Thus we have heard of our spiritual eyes or our spiritual ears. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 we are talking about what we might call the spiritual nose of God, which is able to distinguish those who are saved from those who are lost.

Although there are thousands of different odors in the world, scientists have determined that human smell is capable of distinguishing ten different types of odors. The ten types of scents are: Fragrant or floral; Woody or resinous, suitable for wood or resin; Fruit, excluding citrus fruits; chemical; Mentholated or refreshing, such as mint/pepper; Sweet; Burned or smoked, like popcorn; Citric or lemon; Rotten or nasty; and acrid or rancid. Of these odors, the first eight go from pleasant to neutral, the last two are unpleasant.

The spiritual nose of God distinguishes a pleasant odor from one who is not. The sacrifices that were pleasing to God in the Old Testament, He perceived them as a pleasant odor. An example is Genesis 8:20-21, Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.

Just as this sacrifice of Noah after the flood was perceived by God as a pleasing aroma, so were the sacrifices He commanded His people when they offered animals in atonement for the sins of Israel. But when the sacrifice did not please God, the smell was not pleasing to Him. We see what Leviticus 26:31 says, I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. Straying from the path of God is equivalent to convert a floral smell into rotten.

Of all the sacrifices, the best smell for the spiritual nose of God was Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. Ephesians 5:2 says, And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. When we decide to believe in Jesus and surrender our life to Him, we are impregnated with the fragrant aroma that God perceives because now we smell Christ, we smell eternal life, we smell salvation, and we smell the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

But when we decide to seek our salvation according to our own criteria and reject the Son of God, the spiritual nose of God perceives in us a rotten odor, a smell of death, a rotten, pungent, stale smell. It is the smell of perpetual doom, it is the smell of sulfur from the lake of fire. Let the divine nose smells the best fragrance in us. God bless you.

Who Rejects the Gospel

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.  Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!

Matthew 10:14-15

The servants of Jesus Christ have been commissioned to preach the gospel to every creature in every nation on earth. Our commission does not involve trying to convince people about Jesus Christ, but just delivering the message. Some will heed the call; but others will reject it. In Matthew 10:14-15, the Lord does not tell us to keep arguing with people who reject the gospel, but to leave that house or city. Already God himself will take care of passing the bill to those who reject it.

I remember a phrase my mother used to say, “These are lentils, or you eat them or leave them.” What she meant by that phrase was that she was not going to force me to take what she offered me, but I would have the option of decide. In the same way, the gospel is presented to the people and they decide to accept or reject it without further argument. Indeed, the offering of the gospel is like a unique opportunity that if we reject it, the Lord might tell us: “You lose it.” And it is that He does not have to beg us to accept grace.

I know that when we have met Jesus and we have realized that there is salvation only in Him, our desire for others to be saved is also great. We long for everyone to whom we preach the gospel to tell us immediately: “Yes, I accept Jesus Christ,” but that will not happen, since many will reject it regardless of how well we show Him the good news of salvation. When we are in the first love with Jesus Christ, we tend to feel much pain when someone to whom we present the gospel rejects it.

And knowing that whoever rejects Jesus Christ has no salvation, we are horrified if it is a loved one who does not accept it. But we must have something very clear, all human beings have offended God by sinning. Romans 3:23 says this very clearly, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It is we who are at fault with God, not Him with us. By His infinite mercy, God sent His Son to die in our place, and if we repent and accept grace, we will be saved.

If our pride and self-sufficiency do not allow us to see our depraved condition, God is not compelled to beg us to accept His forgiveness. Romans 6:23 gives the two options: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. In presenting the gospel to someone we give the person the option of accepting God’s gift of salvation or, in case of rejection, the person assumes the responsibility of paying the price for his sins.

The blood shed by Jesus on Calvary is too valuable to be trampled on by those who do not want to repent of their sins. So if the message we present to someone is rejected, let’s do as the Lord tells us: when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. If he who rejects the lentils will be hungry, he who rejects the gospel, he is left without salvation: Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city! God bless you.

What Christ Did for Us

But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—

1 Corinthians 1:30

The title of today’s message may lead many people to think that Jesus died for us on the cross. And that’s true, He did that for us; but we must understand the true meaning of the sacrifice of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, the apostle Paul tells us that Christ was made by God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Therefore, His death on the cross had specific purposes that have to do with every human being who receives Him and place their faith in Him.

Righteousness is the action of making someone righteous before God. Righteousness happens when God declares that whoever puts his faith in Christ is righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. That is, Jesus became our substitute on the cross so that we could become “righteous” before God. We were guilty, but God has declared us righteous. Our righteousness reaches us unreservedly, for the price paid by Jesus in our place.

There are doctrinal discrepancies among Christians regarding the meaning of sanctification. Many agree that sanctification means being separated to God. Others understand that sanctification includes all that God does in us by His Spirit in releasing us from the power and presence of original sin. And there are those who say that sanctification involves the work of the person. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 says, But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

Through the redemption of Christ He has delivered us from guilt. Romans 3:24 says, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The word redeem means “to buy.” The term was used specifically with reference to the payment of a slave’s freedom. The application of this term to the death of Christ on the cross means exactly that. If we are “redeemed,” then our precondition was slavery. God has paid for our freedom, and we are no longer under the bondage of sin or Old Testament law.

Taking our place on the cross, Jesus did many things for us. We were all unrighteous because we had broken the Law of God through sin. We did not deserve to receive an acquittal; but the righteous Jesus carried on His blessed shoulders our guilt and received the condemnation that corresponded to each one of us: the sentence of death for our sins. That also opened the doors to the Holy of Holies to gain access to the Holy God. And He redeemed us, paying the price for our ransom from the slavery of sin.

Do you realize what Jesus did for you and me? Certainly we who sinned were us, not Him. The wages of sin is death and that is exactly what we deserve. Neither you nor I are good enough to deserve to be justified by God. Only grace, undeserved favor gives us the opportunity to be justified, sanctified, and redeemed. What do you wait to give your life to Jesus Christ? He already gave His for you. God bless you.

Christ Redeemed Us from the Curse of the Law

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).

Galatians 3:13

God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, gives us knowledge that we have sinned and are worthy of death. No one can be justified by the works of the law. Instead of reaching salvation through the law, what we get is a curse. Only Jesus redeems us from the curse of the Law. He offered himself as a guarantor of our salvation by becoming a curse according to what is written.

Scripture is quoted in Galatians 3:13 is Deuteronomy 21:22-23, which says: If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God. We’ve all committed crimes deserving death of being hanged and made curse; but Jesus took our place and made himself a curse for us.

Contrary to what some may say, the law was to be fulfilled not to be to rape it. Jesus fulfilled the law completely. Galatians 4:4-5 says: But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. When we are under the law, any violation, however small it may seem condemns us. Jesus Christ came to take the place of every human being for the weight of the law fall on Him and giving us the opportunity to be exonerated of our guilt.

Paul reaffirms that concept in Romans 8:3-4 when he says:  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. The law makes it impossible for us to save ourselves because of our carnal weakness. The righteousness of the Law can only be fulfilled in us through the totally righteous Son of God.

When we meditate deeply what the Bible says, we can realize that there is not a single human being able to say that gathers sufficient merit that guarantee a place in the Kingdom of God. The truth is that sin excludes us from the presence of a holy God and everyone, without exception, has sinned. God, in His perfect justice will not leave any sin without due punishment and the wages of sin is death as it is written. So who wants to be saved by his or her own righteousness is practically assured their exclusion from the presence of God.

The real redemption comes from God himself, who sent a perfect being, His Son Jesus Christ, to pay for the sins of all mankind. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Salvation is not about what we can do but what Jesus Christ already did for us on the cross of Calvary. Our part is to repent of our sins and give a 180 degree turning us to Him. Salvation is a gift, let stretch out your hand and reaches this wonderful gift that will give eternal life. God bless you.