Author: Melanie Newton

January 8, 2018 Melanie Newton

Redemption-Released-NoLongerInBondageToSin-MelanieNewton.com

Bondage. No one likes being in bondage. Whether it is to a person, a contract, a debt, or something controlling your life, bondage stinks. It stifles. It discourages. It makes you a slave of whatever is holding you “in chains.” Every person who is in bondage longs to be released from those chains. Released.

Did you know that every human being born on this planet is born into bondage? I don’t care how much money or status you have. You were born into bondage. Bondage to what? Colossians 1:13 calls it “the kingdom of darkness.” Romans 6:15-18 describes it as being a “slave to sin.” The slave master “sin” calls the shots. Obedience comes too easily. It’s a trap. But, you are released from that trap the moment you trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls this “redemption.” We sing songs about being redeemed. But, do we really understand what that means?

Six terms describe how our relationship with God is changed because of our faith in Jesus Christ—Propitiation, Reconciliation, Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification, and Sanctification. These 6 relationship changes are the direct result of Christ’s finished work on the cross so they are often called “words of the cross.” My recent blogs have covered Word of the Cross #1 Propitiation and #2 Reconciliation. This blog will cover #3 REDEMPTION.

What is redemption?

The concept of redemption refers to recovering ownership by paying a stipulated sum. Or, it can mean to set something or someone free from bondage by paying a ransom, such as for a kidnapped person or releasing a slave to become free. Either way, a price is paid.

Biblical redemption is based on an understanding of the pain of slavery—a common practice in the Roman Empire at the time. Nearly 50% of the people were slaves—1 out of every 2 men, women, and children! The readers of the New Testament were very familiar with the hopelessness of being owned by a slave master, the buying and selling associated with the slave market, and the only two ways out of the miserable cycle—either die or be bought by someone who would set you free. Jesus did that for us.

Jesus Christ set you free

Jesus declared that He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). It is through Christ’s blood (the purchase price) that we are redeemed. We are redeemed from the slavery of sin and from the empty way of life handed down to us by our forefathers.

Redemption represents an important change in our relationship with God. Before Christ, we were in a state of slavery to sin and to death (spiri­tual & physical). Biblical redemption means that we have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery and released into freedom to serve God in obedience.

The life of slavery to sin leads to someone offering their bodies to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness, free from the control of righteousness with no benefits, only shame. The end result is death. The life of freedom leads to someone offering their bodies to God and His righteousness leading to holiness, lavished grace and eternal life. Their life is characterized by hearts under obedience to God.

Released…no longer in bondage

God chooses to redeem us. It is an extension of His love and His purpose for us.

• God redeems us to rescue us from the dominion of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (Colossians 1:13-14) where we have forgiveness of sins.

• God redeems us from all wickedness to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:13-14).

• God redeems men and women from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Revelation 5:9-10) to be a kingdom and priests to serve Him.

When God redeems you, you become the possession of a loving, merciful God and can live in the security of your freedom from bondage to sin. And, here’s the best part. You have a new master now with greater power living inside of you—the Spirit of God Himself—who can give you freedom from any entrapping sin. Claim that freedom now. Choose to obey the Spirit inside you who will lead you and empower you to say “no” to sin.

Bask in the freedom

You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that you, as a believer, have been purchased by the blood of Christ out of slavery to sin and released into freedom as God’s act of redemption. The third verse of In Christ Alone, illustrates redemption this way:

There in the ground His body lay; light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day; up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine – bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Are you experiencing the freedom from slavery to sin in your life right now? If not, do you have confidence that you do not have to listen to the voice of your old slave master sin? You have been RELEASED…NO LONGER IN BONDAGE. Believe it, sister. Embrace it. Relish in it. Bask in it. Sing it,

“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am.” (Fannie Crosby)

As Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, you are dearly loved!

— — — — — —

Word of the Cross #1 Propitiation: “God’s holy wrath is fully satisfied.”

Word of the Cross #2 Reconciliation: “Our relationship with God is restored.”

You can find out more from these resources:

GRACEFUL LIVING BIBLE STUDY  

GRACEFUL LIVING TODAY – DAILY DEVOTIONAL 

“REDEMPTION” ON BIBLE.ORG

MORE ABOUT REDEMPTION ON BIBLE.ORG

November 13, 2017 Melanie Newton

Reconciliation-RestoredRelationshipWithGod-NoLongerBroken-MelanieNewton.com
At some point in our lives, we will all experience a personal relationship that is broken. You can probably think of one such conflict right now. Broken relationships cause pain and often leave us confused about how we can possibly fix them. Most people want to be reconciled so that the relationship can be restored in some fashion. How sad it is when a broken relationship continues to remain broken and isn’t reconciled. What joy we experience when we see a broken relationship repaired and healthy again. Reconciliation is certainly a reason for rejoicing, especially in our relationship with God! But, what does it take for reconciliation?

Six terms describe how our relationship with God is changed because of our faith in Jesus Christ—Propitiation, Reconciliation, Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification, and Sanctification. These 6 relationship changes are the direct result of Christ’s finished work on the cross so they are often called “words of the cross.” My last blog covered Word of the Cross #1 Propitiation: “God’s holy wrath is fully satisfied.” This blog will cover #2 RECONCILIATION.

The broken relationship restored

As Romans 3:23 describes, all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Before Christ, our problem was a state of alienation (separation) from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2). There was an impassable barrier between us. A broken relationship. Some kind of reconciliation needed to be done. We couldn’t do it on our part—no matter how many good deeds we did. There was always that chasm created by sin between us and God.

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BUT GOD did something about that! I love those two words in the Bible. Whenever it looks absolutely hopeless for us humans, God steps in and does the exact thing we need. God restored the broken relationship by reconciling us to Himself through Jesus’ death. The word reconcile means to re-establish friendship between two parties, to settle or resolve a dispute, and/or to bring acceptance. Wow! Did we need that!

What was God’s motivation to repair the broken relationship? LOVE

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation. (Colossians 1:21-22)

Romans 5:10 says that God loved us so much that even while we were God’s enemies, He did what was needed to reconcile us to Himself through the death of His Son.

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11)

The barrier of sin has been taken away. A bridge has been built through Jesus Christ. As we cross over this bridge by our faith in Jesus, our relationship with God is restored, and we are saved. And, even more than that, Jesus presents us holy and blameless in God’s sight. Jesus Christ has fully paid man’s debt, removing the barrier between God and men. God’s “books” have been balanced; the debt has been paid. God stands eagerly welcoming anyone who will believe the good news and come home (repent, Luke 15:7-10)). Reconciliation is a present reality for every Christian and is worthy of our rejoicing!

Living in the present reality of reconciliation with God

God demonstrated His love for us when Christ died for us so that we could be reconciled to Him. This reconciliation extends to the whole world, that is, to everyone who chooses to receive it by faith. Because of this, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, whereby we appeal to the world in hopes of persuading those who listen to be reconciled to God through faith in Christ. Announcing to others that they can have what we have in a restored relationship with the God who loves them.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

The same power of reconciliation is available to you through Christ for your relationships. If you are in the midst of a relationship that is broken and in need of reconciliation, pray that God would work His mighty hand in the relationship and provide you with His wisdom in pursuing reconciliation. What steps can you take to reconcile the relationship? Read Philemon 1-25 for practical steps and the heart attitude needed to pursue reconciliation. Depend on the Master of Reconciliation to give you the wisdom and the strength to do it.

Restored…no longer broken

You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that the barrier of sin has been taken away and a bridge has been built between you and God because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross. This was God’s act of reconciliation offered to you because you believe in His Son. Your relationship with God is RESTORED…NO LONGER BROKEN. How does that make you feel? Believe it, sister. Embrace it. Relish in it. Bask in it. As Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, you are dearly loved!

— — — — — —

Word of the Cross #1 Propitiation: “God’s holy wrath is fully satisfied.”

Word of the Cross #2 Reconciliation: “Our relationship with God is restored.”

Bible Study Leadership Made Easy. Learning to lead with confidence & grace. An online course at MelanieNewton.com.


You can find out more from these resources:

GRACEFUL LIVING BIBLE STUDY  

“RECONCILIATION” ON BIBLE.ORG

HEALTHY LIVING BIBLE STUDY

 

October 27, 2017 Melanie Newton

Propitiation-Satisfied God's Wrath-God is no longer angry at you-MelanieNewton.com

It comes up time and time again. Women who know Christ, have trusted in Him for salvation and new life, struggle with the notion that God is still angry with them because of something they’ve done in the past. Maybe that is how you feel. Do you wonder if you have a flawed understanding of salvation? Is salvation just getting eternal life when you die? From what are Christians saved? When you study the New Testament, you see that we are saved from many things, ourselves and our own flawed righteousness for example, but especially we are saved from the wrath of God. But, what does that mean? And, how does understanding that give you confidence that God is no longer angry with you or at you?

What is the wrath of God?

In Colossians 3:5-6, Paul referred to the wrath of God. God’s response to all evil and sin is righteous, holy wrath (Colossians 3:6). We must not project our experience with human anger onto God and assume that “His is the same, only bigger.” God’s wrath is not a mood or a fit of temper. God’s disposition toward sin and evil is as constant and unrelenting as His love and goodness. He hates and rejects evil in a perfect and holy anger. He will never bend or compromise with it. His own nature demands that He judge it through action. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. (Romans 1:18-20) Every wrathful judgment of God in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.

God hates sin. It incurs His anger. You can probably recall a time when you incurred the anger of someone you love and needed to make some kind of restitution to “appease” their anger. The act of appeasement leads to that person now being satisfied because restitution has been made. So, the relationship can be restored. That is what God did for us. Romans 3:25 says that God presented Christ as a sacrifice of propitiation for our sins. Propitiation is an old word meaning to appease, satisfy. Some translations use the words “sacrifice of atonement” or “atoning sacrifice” instead. The concept of God’s satisfaction is the same.

God’s wrath is fully satisfied

God took action. God’s holy wrath against all sin is fully satisfied by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Because God’s wrath against all sin is fully satisfied by what Jesus finished on the cross, God is able to extend mercy to every believer in Christ without compromise with evil. This is truth for you to know and claim. Romans 5:9 says this, “Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from God’s wrath.” There is no longer any sacrifice that anyone an ever do to appease God’s wrath against sin apart from what Christ has already done. Picture an empty altar—never again used.

Jesus did the appeasement for you. It’s done, finished! Because you have trusted Christ are now found in Christ, you can dwell on the FACT that God is no longer angry at your sin—ever!Bible Study Leadership Made Easy. Learning to lead with confidence & grace. An online course at MelanieNewton.com.

God is no longer angry at you

Sometimes worship songs express truth so well that it can get implanted in our minds and completely engulf our hearts. The second verses of two beautiful songs we often sing in worship are like that. When I am tempted to think that God is angry with me, I let these beautifully penned words remind me of the truth.

#1—”In Christ Alone” (by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend)

In Christ alone, who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid; here in the death of Christ I live.

#2—”Before the Throne of God Above” (by Charitie Lees Smith)

When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died my sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

 You CAN KNOW and live with confidence that God is no longer angry at your sin because you believe in His Son. God is SATISFIED…NO LONGER ANGRY with you because of anything you’ve ever done. How does that make you feel? Believe it, sister. Embrace it. Relish in it. Bask in it. As Paul writes in Colossians 3:12, you are dearly loved!


Six terms describe how our relationship with God is changed because of our faith in Jesus Christ—Propitiation, Reconciliation, Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification, and Sanctification. These 6 relationship changes are the direct result of Christ’s finished work on the cross so they are often called “words of the cross.” This blog covered #1 PROPITIATION. I will continue to cover the others in future blogs.

Word of the Cross #1 Propitiation: “God’s holy wrath is fully satisfied.”

You can find out more about this from these resources:

Graceful Living

Healthy Living Bible Study (Colossians)

Get the Free Choose a Bible Study Checklist-MelanieNewton.com

September 22, 2017 Melanie Newton

Grace-yes. Karma-no. A Christian's life is based on grace. MelanieNewton.com.Facebook Theology. That’s what I heard it called the other day. You know, those “cute” sayings posted by Christians on Facebook. I see it all the time. Cute sayings that seem “true enough” to sound okay but are really not true and can lead to some really bad conclusions. I recently saw two very colorful, eye-catching posts referencing karma as something to pursue (especially “positive karma”). One was tips for improving good karma. The other said, “Create positive karma now!” My first response to these expressions of Facebook Theology was this, “Does karma have anything to do with a Christian’s life?” So, I decided to examine these in light of Scripture to discern truth from error and then think of a gracious response to someone I meet who thinks karma is an okay thing by which to live your life.

Step #1: Define the terms and issues. Define “karma.”

The first thing I did was to research what “karma” actually meant. I discovered that “karma is a theological concept found in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. It is the idea that how you live this life will determine the quality of life you will have after reincarnation.”1 Although an eastern religious concept, the idea of karma has seeped into our western Judeo-Christian society like it’s something cool. The western understanding of karma is the idea of cause and effect where whatever you do is returned to you. Karma teaches that you get what you deserve. Westerners particularly hold onto this when it comes to wanting revenge on someone who has wronged you.

Get the Free Choose a Bible Study Checklist-MelanieNewton.com

Step #2. Ask questions and support your answer with Scripture:

The next I did was to ask questions about karma and how it differs from what the Bible teaches. So, I posed these questions and answered them biblically.

•  Is the idea of reincarnation biblical?

The answer is, “No.” Hebrews 9:27 says we die once then comes the judgment. For believers, we receive salvation and then get a new body but remain the same person. No reincarnation.

•  Does the Bible teach that you always get what you deserve? Why or why not?

There is a general principle stated in Galatians 6:8-9 about sowing and reaping. The context is your moral and spiritual life. In general, when you choose to live apart from Christ, your life will get messed up. However, there is no one-to-one correlation between doing something good or bad and getting the exact good or bad reward for it. You can be as nice as possible to all your family members and yet have everyone still dislike you or be mean to you. We cannot judge what happens to us by whether we deserve it or not. Thankfully, we do not get what we deserve when it comes to judgment because not one of us would get anything good from God! His mercy chooses to give us His grace instead.

•  What is the difference between karma and grace?

Huge difference here. The Bible does not teach karma. You cannot earn salvation through any good works or lose it through bad works. There are no scales. God took that away. The Bible teaches God’s grace toward us. Ephesians 2:8-9 states very plainly, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast.”

Grace is where you get what you don’t deserve. Grace is unmerited favor. It is love and mercy bestowed upon us by God because He desires us to have it. As you can see, very different to karma. More like polar opposites.2

We deserve judgment — every one of us — but we get life by just our faith in Christ. And, zillions of wonderful blessings come to us by that one act alone! We just might have to wait to receive some of them until later.

•  How does wanting people to “get what they deserve” (referring to the wicked) fit in with the gospel?

You are talking about REVENGE here! Hard-heartedness. There is no place for revenge in the gospel. Romans 12:17-21 tells us to payback evil with kindness and good.

Jesus calls us to respond counter-intuitively. Instead of meeting evil with equal or greater force, he urges us to meet evil with a completely different force: with good. Instead of paying back in kind, we are called to pay back with kindness.3

What is the kindest thing you can do for someone who has wronged you? Pray for their salvation, right? Pray for them to experience God’s amazing grace, right? Not look to “karma” to make things right.

•  What is the one act upon which you can guarantee your destiny?

The one and only act in this life that guarantees what will happen in the next is this: placing your faith in Jesus Christ or rejecting Him. That’s plainly stated in John 3:16-18; 5:24. No doubt about it. Done deal. And, even this is pure grace.

Step #3. Come up with a graceful response.

When someone you know is caught up in the belief in karma, you need to have a graceful response ready to point her to the truth. Recognize that a belief in karma can certainly cause fear in someone’s life or lead to a hard heart towards others. So, how can you respond? Simply say, “I am so glad that God doesn’t give me what I deserve. I deserve severe judgment for my sin and nothing good at all in light of His goodness. I am so grateful for His grace to me that expresses His kindness to me because of His love for me. It’s a much better way to live than to live in fear that I am not good enough or to live in bitterness against those who have mistreated me.”

Does karma have anything to do with a Christian’s life? Absolutely not! By perpetuating the idea of karma, you actually draw people away from Jesus and His amazing grace and toward something that poorly substitutes for Him. Grace = YES! Karma = NO!

So, there is today’s lesson in Facebook Theology 101.

Bible Study Leadership Made Easy. Learning to lead with confidence & grace. An online course at MelanieNewton.com.


For additional reading:

1 What does the Bible say about karma? Gotquestions.org.

2 What is the Difference Between Grace and Karma? Crosswalk.com.

3 Sweet Revenge. Bible.org.

4 What does the Bible say about reincarnation? Bible.org.