Whatsoever Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
Me and Nick: One of my childhood Christmas memories is of a little cardboard tree with flaps or windows in it. It was colorful, looked like Christmas itself to me, and so had the attention of me and my siblings. 
As I remember, there were some twenty four little flaps with messages inside. Mom would gather us around the little cardboard tree each day to see what that day's message would reveal. There would be something about the Christmas story along with a Scripture reference, which went most often ignored. We all participated because of what we thought the season meant, but looking back, I realize what was the elephant in the room.
There was no Scripture or Gospel which is the very Power of God (Romans 1:16).  There was no expounding on the Christmas story itself. Why?  Well not to put too fine a point on it, you can't give what you don't have. By the way, Dad was absent for all of this even when he was there. His reactions ranged from silence to anger, with mockery in between. Still, out of that background, God sent many, ranging from strong men to grandmas, to testify to me; to encourage and to pray for me, and ultimately in my 29th year, I came to grips with my need for a Savior. I wept as I have many many times since confronted by my sinful nature both in thought and deed, and without qualification, I gave my life to The Lord Jesus Christ.  
Let's talk about Nick for a moment. He was in the highest levels of his religion. Folks would consult him with disputes and about the Scriptures themselves. He had a lot of stroke. He had arrived. "If anyone is going to heaven (he might reason) it will be me. I do all the stuff and even teach others how to do stuff".  Nick actually had (not a dream) a face to face confrontation with Jesus Himself in John 3. Nick made a little small talk, but as He often does, Jesus cut right to the chase and said to him: "Verily, verily, (truly truly) I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God".    Do you see the contrast?  Nick thought he had arrived. He had been raised in Church.  He knew how to speak Christianese. He was connected The Church. I, on the other hand, didn't have a clue. I thought Christians were weak minded people at the end of their ropes.  But what was the answer for both of us? Jesus.   
Let's turn the Spiritual Switch. I fear many around us today are putting their faith in what Church they belong to, or How many mission trips they have been on,  How much they give, where or how they were baptized, how often they observe various and sundry rituals, their observance/adherence to the law, or even who their parents are. Nick could have bragged on all of these, but what did Jesus tell him?  "You must be born again."  "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,  to them that believe on his name: Which were born (again), not of blood (genealogy) , nor of the will of the flesh (my own good deeds or observances), nor of the will of men (my denomination doesn't save me), but of God". - John 1:13  Or, as Peter himself said: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by traditions from our fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of  a lamb without blemish and without spot:" = 1st Peter 18-19    And my personal favorite - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast."  Eph. 2:8-9     Note also, that Jesus warns us that without being "born again", we cannot "see" the kingdom of God.  He says the same thing in John 3:36 - "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."  Is this all useless jargon to you? Is it Foolishness?  Can you "see" life?  
Jesus rightfully gets all the glory for my salvation. I could neither acquire nor maintain my salvation, as I am a sinner. To think otherwise diminishes Christ. I am grateful for grace. I don't need justice, I need mercy. What a deal.  It's all just Jesus. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."  Acts 4:12.  God Bless.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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