I have a friend who has written a tract called “Born Again-ism.” Everybody in America is born again, and the reason why they’re born again is because of most of the preachers and pastors who do not understand the Gospel nor the power of the Gospel and that we've reduced the Gospel down to four spiritual laws and five things God wants you to know. We have done the very same thing that Catholicism has done since its beginning—turned salvation into nothing more than a few little steps and a superstitious prayer at the end, turned salvation into nothing more than a mere human decision whereby a man decides for himself simply to jump out of the line going into Hell in order to jump into the line going to Heaven.
But when you grasp the power of regeneration, everything else begins to fall in place and until you grasp the power of regeneration, you cannot understand the doctrine and the calling to self-denial.
Let me just give you an example ….another little definition I’ve written about man.
Man is a fallen, radically depraved, spiritually dead, morally corrupt, sin-loving, God-hating creature. In the very core of his being, he is as opposed to God as the devil himself. He cannot change and has no desire to do so. He loves a lie and will do everything in his power to restrain and suppress any and every truth about God and the more he knows about God, the more he hates Him, because God is righteous and man is evil.
Now, how do you take something like that, how do you expect a creature like that to all of a sudden hear a Gospel message of self-denial and turn his back on absolutely everything he is and at all cost follow the Christ? How can you expect a man to take a journey of a thousand miles if he’s neither willing nor able to take the first step? And this idea of, well, as the brother put it, “Well, let’s get them saved and then gradually introduce them to salvation and to discipleship and to the call to self-denial.” But I want to tell you something. It is not any easier to coax a dead man to take one step than it is to coax him to take a million. If he’s dead, he’s dead. And within that is found the power of regeneration.
Because I, as a preacher, an itinerant, nothing, little preacher, because of my belief in the power of the Gospel and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, I can look at the most defiled man on the face of the earth and tell him to forsake his mother, his father, his lands, his home, his own life, and I can expect that, out of the group of them, somebody’s coming out. I do not have to lay
down the bar on the Gospel. I can bid men to come and die from the very moment I speak with them because I believe in the power of resurrection. Someone says, “How can you expect a man to do that?” I say, “Well, let me answer that with another question. How can Ezekiel command bones to live? And how can Jesus cry out to a dead man and tell him to come forth?” Because salvation is not just some mere, tiny, puny, human decision.
It is the supernatural work of God.~Paul Washer
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye."
Have you ever seen a Scripture verse so often and misused so often that you almost disregard it entirely? This text is certainly a candidate for that treatment! Nonetheless, these are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. The judgment that our Lord is forbidding us from engaging in is the judgment of a person’s salvation. We must be wise and recognize evil in our world and evil in actions. But we ought not be about telling people that they are condemned. Rather, as disciples of Jesus, we speak about the mercy that is available to all in Christ Jesus and the wonderful gift that is.
Dear merciful Lord, please help me to speak of Your mercy and to be merciful as You have shown me mercy. Amen.
God, remember me, not for my sake, but for Yours. Take my guilt away for it is great; so great that it has become unbearable and drags me down to the depths of Sheol and the pits of despair. In the afflictions of my heart, be gracious to me. In the weight of my sin, be merciful to be and exchange Your yoke for mine. In the peril of death, reach down through the grave and take hold of my life. Make me to know You and Your ways. Grant me repentance so that I may hear of Your salvation and know that I am forgiven. Instruct me in the Way, lead me in paths of righteousness. Humble me under Your cross so that I might be saved. Be faithful to me, a faithless sinner who deserves none of what I ask. May Your steadfast love last forever and ever. Lift up my soul so that I may delight in Your just decrees. Redeem me from sin and death and the devil, for Christ’s sake alone. Amen.
"But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;"
Saul is a pretty bad guy. Some might call him the worst of sinners, the least of all men. In fact, Saul calls himself that. He persecuted the Church. He put Christians in chains bound for Jerusalem and their ultimate stony end. He watched Stephan be murdered and he cheered the whole way through. Yes, he persecuted the Church and so he persecuted Jesus. If there was ever a man who deserved eternal death and damnation, it was Saul. Yet Jesus brings even this sinner of sinners to repentance. Jesus, miracle of all miracles, even died for the likes of Saul. And then He used him to preach the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins to the Gentiles. Who better to preach such a thing than a former racist murdering bigot who should be eternally dead and yet, by God’s boundless mercy, stands forgiven through Christ?
Dear Jesus, thank You for the forgiveness that You have shown to Saul, and to me. Amen.
Devotion by Pastor Eli Lietzau
Produced by Around the Word Devotion
"And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Look at the son on the long road back home. He wants to be taken back as a hired servant in order to make up for all the wrong that we have done. It makes sense. If God is mad at our sins He will be happy with our goodness. No! Our Heavenly Father comes running to us with arms wide open, embraces and kisses us, even before we have the chance to promise to work off the debt that we owe Him. Sins forgiven and welcomed back as sons, even though we had once wished our Father dead. There we are, with His righteous robe wrapped around us and His own name placed upon us with His signet ring. There we are, at a feast we don’t deserve, eating the fattened calf of celebration and salvation. For we were once dead, but now we are alive; we were lost, but now we are found in Christ.
Heavenly Father, for the sake of Christ, welcome us back to You, not as servants, but as sons. Amen.
Devotion by Pastor Eli Lietzau
Produced by Around the Word Devotion