Get free email updates as I write new articles:

Why It’s Impossible to ‘Make Peace with God’

Have you made your peace with God? It’s a popular phrase. It’s included in movies, uttered on death beds, and talked about in philosophical conversations. But it’s impossible. You can’t make peace with God.

Our sin has incurred a debt we cannot pay. We have offended the Creator and sovereign King of the universe. He gave us paradise and we ruined it. He gave us His law and we smashed it. He asked for our allegiance and we selfishly decided to worship everything except Him. And the most insurmountable problem of all is that this offended God is holy and just and therefore must hold us responsible for our crimes.

There is no making peace with Him. But…

He doesn’t leave us without hope. He gave us His Word, which says, “HE made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” (Colossians 1:20 NLT)

We couldn’t pay our sin debt, so He allowed Jesus to pay it for us. We couldn’t possibly perfect ourselves, so the perfect Jesus became our life and our sacrifice. We couldn’t find Him, so He sought us out. We couldn’t initiate a plan of salvation, so He did it Himself.

You may not like the idea that God required a sacrifice and that His Son willingly stepped into that role for you. It may seem brutal and unfair. His justice may seem cold. But it was all motivated by His deep, deep love for you and for His creation.

You can’t make peace with God. But God, by the blood of His Son, has offered to make peace with you. Have you accepted His offer yet?

What A Wonderful World

At our wedding, Angie and I chose to have Louie Armstrong’s song played… What a Wonderful World. In light of yesterday’s shootings, and so many other monumental tragedies in recent years, is it really a wonderful world? We were driving to Fort Smith yesterday for the annual meeting of the BMA of America and were reflecting on some of the tragedies that have taken place at this same time of the year such as the Oklahoma City bombing (April, 1995), the Waco compound burning (April, 1993), and Columbine (April, 1999). Each of these tragedies evoked emotions of fear and trepidation about living in this present world.

Our daughter begins kindergarten this fall. She’s nearly five years old and we’re already speculating about the nature of the world in which she will grow up and go through school. The news media tackles subjects like campus security and the psychological reasons behind such an awful rampage. But the secular media can never fully comprehend the nature of human depravity. Evil men will do evil things, no matter our level of security. If not on a campus, then in a restaurant, an airport, or a World Trade Center. Is this really a wonderful world?

There are natural and supernatural factors that can only be seen through a God-centered world view. The depravity of man runs deep in the heart. Evil abounds in humankind and murder, war, and bloodshed will continue as long as lost mankind has some dominion over this present realm. Further, Satan is labeled in Scripture as the “prince of the power of the air… the god of this world.” We who live on earth, live in a time and place where darkness has dominion. Is it really a wonderful world?

My answer, surprisingly, is yes. Why? Because it is in this present realm that God is actively working to extend His saving and healing grace to a lost and depraved people. It is here that God moves. It was into this humanity that Jesus, the light, came into the world. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God’s glory was put on display through the life of Jesus Christ, through His atoning death, and through His miraculous resurrection. Do we live in a wonderful world? Only insomuch as Jesus makes the difference.

Last night, we were ministered to by a wonderful gospel singer who performed the old song Beulah Land. I love the lines… “Beulah land, I’m longing for thee, and someday on thee I’ll stand…” Our world, inundated with pain and loss and suffering, is merely a waiting room, a practice run, an incubation chamber for eternity. For those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, heaven is our real home. Hell awaits those who reject His free offer of grace.

Amazingly, we cannot forget that it is this world which will someday be renovated by fire. This world will be redeemed. It currently groans with birth pains, waiting to be delivered from its depraved lostness. It’s a wonderful world, plagued by the inherent sinfulness of humankind. It’s wracked with pain and evil. Yet everything on God’s time line is moving toward a great and triumphant finality. Jesus will rule and reign.

Our hearts are gripped, in times like this, with uncertainty and fear. Then Scripture speaks on behalf of its divine author… “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Is this world your home, or do you seek a city to come, a home not made with human hands preserved in the eternities for you? Jesus Christ came to be the light and hope of a lost and dark world. He came to offer you peace, pardon, and eternal life if you’ll only trust fully in Him, even in the world’s darkest moments. More is to come. Scripture foretells that times will wax worse and worse. Yet Jesus’ hand is always extended toward you. Embrace Him who is ready to embrace you, and enjoy the unspeakable peace and confidence of God.

Hate Sin or Hate Self

Moments ago, I was spending some time in prayer and I was confessing known sin in my life. As I prayed, I said, “God, I’m sorry for this sin, I ought to hate this sin.” Almost instantly God spoke to my heart and I blurted out what I heard Him say, “Brandon, you’ll either learn to hate your sin, or you’ll wind up hating yourself.”

As we confess sin and seek the Holy Spirit’s power to overcome it, we ought to remember that we have a new identity in Christ. We are not to be subject to a very popular but perhaps erroneous “miserable sinnerism” (coined by J. Sidlow Baxter) but rather we are to see ourselves as forgiven and freed. Sin no longer defines us, Christ does, if we’ve been washed once for all in His blood.

In order to preserve a close intimacy with God and forward spiritual progress, I desperately need to see myself as “in Christ,” to see sin as something to be loathed, and to see cleansing as a continuous need. If we loathe ourselves, we’ll give up. If we exalt ourselves, we’ll blow it because of pride. But if we hate sin and exalt the indwelling Christ in us, we’ll see the victory!

Your New Identity

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” -2 Corinthians 5:17

There is much to be said for the power of our identity. The way you live your life, make decisions, and carry yourself all depend on how you define and identify yourself. We all have certain labels we apply to ourselves such as conservative or liberal, old-fashioned or cutting edge, outgoing or shy. We use these terms to further define who we are in the world. Here’s a new term for every believer to remember… “new creature.”

Have you realized yet that if you’ve trusted Christ as Savior, you are now a new creature? In fact, you are “in Christ.” Your life is hidden with Him. He’s now your new identity. You can wear Jesus’ namebadge knowing that He died to cover you with His identity and to forgive you of all of your sins by the blood He shed for you. If you’ve committed your life to Him, then you are now blood-bought, sanctified, set apart for God’s usage. You’re a child of the King. You’re the heir of the Lord of the universe, a joint heir of Jesus. You’re bound for glory.

So smile today. Know who you are! Have you received Christ personally? If so, He’s received You as His very own and He would claim you as His child in front of all of humanity. Walk in the confidence of His forgiveness today. Old things are passed away, all things are new. Meet the new you today!

The Price of a Soul

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” -1 Peter 1:18-19

Do you realize that we’ve each sold ourselves under slavery to sin? We owe a spiritual debt for our rebellion that we cannot pay. Further, we cannot pay the debt of those we love either. For us to be redeemed, purchased back from the grip of hell, One far wealthier than we must pay our price. God, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, who created all that exists, paid our price. He did not pay for us in terms to which we could assign a dollar amount. Even the most precious things on earth could not ransom our soul from the cold grip of death. But the blood of an innocent Savior… that alone would suffice.

So Jesus stepped from the portal of heaven and stood in our place. The nails were driven through His ministering hands and His calloused feet. The crown of thorns was thrust through to His skull. The whip tore the flesh from His back and the blood ran down. Immanuel’s blood covered the cross of shame and flowed to the dust beneath His altar. Once spilled, our souls were purchased. Now all who will receive His sacrifice alone for salvation may have heaven, free of any charge.

Is His blood precious to you? To the world, the idea of the blood of Jesus is a scandal, a spurious thing. But to us who are saved, it is the precious blood of a spotless Lamb. In the words of William Cowper…

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

Have you been plunged into that fountain today? Trust Jesus and live eternally!