Merry Christmas from the Drakes!

The calendar year is almost complete, and we want to wish you a Merry Christmas!

We are thankful for God’s continued grace, mercy, and provision in our lives – especially the good news of the gospel – that God sent His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to take on flesh, live a perfect life, die on the cross for our sins, and rise again to defeat sin and death for all eternity. We pray you experience a closer walk with Him this coming year and prioritize Him above all else.

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). His name is Jesus. Praise the Lord!

Below are some specific ways you can pray for our family headed into the new year, as well as some short updates on each of us. Marsha and I share our primary hopes, followed by each of our kids’ requests. Thank you for praying for us! If there are any specific ways we can pray for you, please let us know.

Marsha and I ask that you pray God will give us wisdom to shepherd our children’s hearts to love and honor Him. Also, please pray that we will grow in our relationship with Jesus and help others to grow closer to Jesus. Finally, please pray that our church family will grow in our commitment to be disciples who make disciples. Thank you!

This coming year, we will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Praise the Lord!

Marsha is staying extremely busy with getting our kids to their various school events and extracurricular activities, serving in children’s and women’s ministry with our church, doing various tasks around the church property, volunteering in various roles, and being an amazing wife and mother.

I have been pastoring Richland for more than eight years now, and I love what I do! In my free time, I like to walk the dog, be outside, play basketball, and watch high school sports.

Noah asks that you pray for the rest of his final exams (coming up after Christmas break). Also, he asks that you pray he would be a faithful Christian witness and invite more friends to Richland services and events.

A sophomore at North Callaway High School, Noah is helping with student-led Bible studies there. He is also actively involved in our church’s youth group, and he likes watching football and basketball and playing video games in his free time. Since June, Noah has been working at Arby’s, too. They have the meats!

Levi asks that you pray for school and final exams and also that he will be a light and witness to his friends.

A freshman at North Callaway High School, Levi also attends the weekly student-led Bible studies. He is actively involved in our church’s youth group, and he loves playing high school basketball and taking care of our dog, Lottie. In the spring, he plans to run mid-distance events in track again. Since getting his driving learner’s permit in November, Levi is constantly (it seems) wanting to practice driving.

Silas asks that you pray that he will do better in school and that he will read His Bible every morning.

A fifth grader at Hatton-McCredie Elementary School, Silas likes playing football and basketball, as well as watching movies and using his creativity outside. He is actively involved with our TeamKID children’s ministry with our church family, and this past spring he publicly professed His faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and was baptized in May. Praise the Lord!

Zoe asks that you pray she will do well in school and be nice to people. We would also ask that you pray for Zoe to truly surrender her heart and life to Jesus.

A fourth grader at Hatton-McCredie Elementary School, Zoe loves being around people, is involved with student council, and is always wanting to be on the go. She plays basketball and also hopes to be involved with volleyball and track. Like Silas, Zoe is actively involved with our TeamKID children’s ministry with our church family and just began taking piano lessons.

Micah asks that you pray that he can be with his mom as much as possible. Yes, he is still a mommy’s boy and is not afraid to admit that. Will you please also pray for Micah’s spiritual health and salvation in Christ?

A first grader at Hatton-McCredie Elementary School, Micah enjoys reading, drawing, doing various projects, and playing Minecraft. He is also actively involved with our TeamKID children’s ministry with our church family and loves playing with his friends.

Lottie, well, she is a dog. We love her, though, and she is doing well. She loves being around anyone who will play with her and give her attention – people, other dogs, and/or any other living creature. Lottie is great at playing fetch, going on morning walks with me, and swimming. She will also wrestle and play tug-of-war with anyone who is willing.

December 2021 Family Picture
December 2021 Drake Kids

All I want for Christmas…

What do you want more than anything else for Christmas? Questions like that get asked every year, and some of the results have led to songs like “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” by Mariah Carey, and “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” which my dad used to sing to kids who lost their two front teeth. Oh, the memories!

Really, though, what is the one thing you would like to have at Christmas? Might I propose that perhaps the one thing you and I want more than anything else is one of the many things we take for granted? Love is what I am talking about. Because the question of what we want for Christmas is often asked by those who love us, we do not stop to consider what it would be like if we desperately longed for love.

What if you did not have family or friends who cared about you? What if you had such family and friends but recently lost them? What if the holidays were a time you dreaded because of the memories of loved ones that you greatly missed? These scenarios and/or others are the reality for many, and such people might say that they just long for that love again this Christmas – that company, that sense of belonging, that warm embrace, that care and concern, that love.

Really, we all long for that love. We all need that love. God created us for that love. The problem, though, is not only that we take love for granted, but that we look for lasting love in the wrong places. The very reason we might find ourselves feeling unloved is because we have been let down by someone or something incapable of the kind of love we all desperately need – love that endures.

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Luke 1:39-55 about the amazing example of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary understood and embraced enduring love in such a way that her life was changed. In my message Sunday morning, I hope to communicate three realities of love that endures.

Ultimately, of course, this message is about the love of God. Mary realized the vastness of God’s love and declared one of the most famous hymns (or poems) ever recorded (Luke 1:46-55).

And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy” (Luke 1:46-49).

How true it is!

Like Mary, we must find our source of identity, fulfillment, and love in the Lord our God. Otherwise, we will be deeply disappointed and constantly find ourselves let down and longing for the “next best thing.” That “next best thing” will never come, though (or will never last, at least), because God alone can meet our deepest longings and satisfy our greatest needs. Most perfectly and sacrificially, He did so in and through the death and resurrection of His One and Only Son. Now, if you surrender your life to Jesus, you can and will experience the greatest of all gifts – enduring love.

Jesus alone made such love possible, and only when we find our hope, joy, and peace in Him, will we find ourselves continually satisfied and fulfilled. Most importantly, only then will we be made right with God and be able to rejoice like Mary did.

May the Lord help us to say with all sincerity, “All I want for Christmas is to know and experience the love of Jesus and help others to know and experience the love of Jesus!”

If you have yet to experience such lasting love, will you turn to Jesus today? Learn more by checking out The Story.

The Peace We All Want

When you consider what you hope to experience with holiday gatherings this Christmas season, I highly doubt you are looking forward to division, strife, and stress. You want peace and joy in those gatherings, right? If you get together with family and friends, get along with everyone and have a great time, you will look back on that time with fond memories. That is the kind of peace we all want this time of year, and all the time, really.

Do you know what else we all want, though, that we might not consider as much as we should? We all want lasting peace. No one leaves a fun get-together with family and friends and says, “Well, that’s enough peace and happiness. I need some stress and heartache in my life now! Who wants to fight me?!” Okay, at least someone in his right mind does not think or say that.

Lasting peace is the peace we all want. Not only that – lasting peace is the peace we all need and is the peace for which we were created.

The God who created us proved this to be the case by sending His Son Jesus Christ to make a way for us to have lasting peace. Our sinfulness and the resulting fallen world in which we live make such peace impossible, but through Jesus, the impossible became possible. When we turn away from that sin and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, He saves us from our sin and reconciles us to God forever. Only then do we begin to experience the peace we all deeply long for, the peace we all deeply need, and the peace for which God created us.

Have you experienced that peace? Are you looking to and trusting the Lord to help you to continue to realize and embrace the lasting peace that only comes from Him?

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Luke 3:1-18 on the lasting “PEACE” that only comes from the Lord. Through John the Baptist’s ministry, message, and example, we can learn a few essential truths of sincere peace with God – the only peace that endures forever.

In the meantime, I encourage you to seek the Lord and pray for His peace. Pray that peace with Him and peace with others will be the growing desires of your heart. Pray that He will use you like He used John the Baptist to be a messenger and example of what lasting peace looks like. God help us for His glory and for our (and others‘) good!

Do you want lasting peace but are not really sure where to begin? Please check out The Story and surrender your all to the Lord. He alone gives such peace.

Made for Joy

God’s plan for your life is that you have joy. Does that mean things will always be great and comfortable and secure and physically prosperous? Absolutely not. The Bible is full of teaching and examples that declare otherwise. God does want you to have joy and contentment, though. I believe this is clear because we are commanded to rejoice.

What if things are not going well, though? How can we still have joy? How can God expect us to have joy? “Rejoice in what?”, you might wonder.

Well, our reason for joy – the joy that lasts and endures through the ups and downs of life – is Jesus. The Bible never calls us to rejoice in our circumstances or rejoice in our families or rejoice in our careers or rejoice in our sports teams (praise the Lord!). Rather, we are called to rejoice in the Lord. He alone is sufficient to sustain us and fulfill us, no matter our circumstances. Yes, we are still called to give thanks in all things, but there are certainly things we cannot (and should not) give thanks for, i.e. sin and evil. Yet, even in the midst of evil, chaos, destruction, and devastation, we can have joy if we find our identity in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps as well as any person who ever lived, John the Baptist understood this. He found purpose and meaning in the Lord Jesus, and the result was the kind of joy and satisfaction that can only come from Him. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from John 1:19-34, considering John the Baptist’s story and two keys to lasting joy and satisfaction.

To where, what, or whom are you looking for joy? We all long for joy, and we certainly never want our joy to fade away. Yet, when we look outside of God’s plan for our lives, joy will never last. Satisfaction will never grow. Contentment will never continue. Fulfillment will never be realized.

God created us to find our joy in Him. Yet, our sin makes it impossible for us to live in a right relationship with God and thus impossible to find lasting joy. Praise God, though, that He sent His One and Only Son to make a way for us to be forgiven of our sins and obtain a joy that endures.

Do you have that joy? If not, what are you willing to do to realize it and experience it? The good news is that you do not have to figure this out on your own. You were made for joy, so you simply have to look to the One who made you. Trust in Him to change your heart and change your life. Find your joy in Him, and you will not be disappointed. Life will likely get more difficult when you do, and yet, you will never regret surrendering your all to the Lord. In Him alone will you find the meaning and purpose that will satisfy your soul and give you the joy for which you were made.

If you have yet to turn to the Lord for forgiveness and salvation, please check out The Story today. Nothing is more important than being made right with Him.

Reason to Sing

This past Sunday evening, our kids with Richland Baptist Church had a children’s Christmas program. They sang some well-known Christmas hymns and shared some stories of how God has used angels to touch the lives of His people, as recorded in Scripture.

Perhaps more than any other time of year, I love singing hymns about the birth of Jesus. No, I don’t mean the commercialization of Christmas and songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus.” What I love is the great theology found in some of our great Christmas hymns.

I loved hearing the kids sing them Sunday evening, and I especially love singing them myself with our church family.

Jesus is the reason to sing. His coming to take on flesh is a reason to sing. His life, death, and resurrection for our salvation is a reason to sing. Do you desire to sing?

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1:46-55, talking about how “Redemption Is Certain.” When we know and follow Jesus as Savior and Lord, the redemption we have in Him is certain.

Does that make you want to sing? If you have experienced that redemption, I am unsure how your answer could be anything but an enthusiastic “YES!”

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” (Luke 1:46).

The same reason Mary burst out in praise – celebrating our great God of redemption – ought to compel us to to sing praises to the King.

Do you have that reason to sing? If not, would you consider turning to the Lord for the eternal redemption only He can give?

Then, let us sing together. He is worthy!

If you do not have the reason to sing praises to the King, would you read or watch The Story and cry out to the Lord for the Reason?

What a gift!

Perhaps more than any other time of year, December is a month we think a lot about gifts. What will we get those we love? What should we ask for on our Christmas list? What do we “need” or want? How much money should we spend?

Christmas time is often referred to as “The Season of Giving.” While I would like to think that is because we would do well to “keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive‘” (Acts 20:35), more than likely, we call this “The Season of Giving” because we are so consumed with the giving and receiving of gifts. Commercialization rules the season more than we would probably care to admit.

WANTS CONSUME OUR HEARTS

From the time I can remember, I have been asked every single year, “What do you want for Christmas?” I, too, ask this question, although I will admit that I am thankful for my wife, who does the vast majority of our Christmas shopping for pretty much everyone for whom we buy gifts.

Our wants tend to consume our hearts, though, right? Naturally, we ask for things we want, and this is not solely the case with Christmas presents. An honest assessment would reveal that this is the way of our lives.

We think about what we want. We seek what we want. We get obsessed, sometimes, with what we want. And, if we are honest when asked what we want, we tell people what we want. Discretion might keep a 30-year-old from asking for the pony she has wanted since she was 13, but if pressed, maybe she will even admit that desire.

THERE IS A GIFT WE NEED

So much greater than the things we want, though, are the things we need. Sometimes those things overlap, but usually our list of needs is much shorter than our list of wants. Makes sense, of course, because we are pretty fortunate to have much of what we need.

There is no greater need, though, than our need for redemption – eternal life through the debt of our sin being paid in full.

What greater example of “The Season of Giving” than the gift of God’s Son, who came to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)! He came to redeem us – to buy us back. His blood-sacrifice on the cross is the only payment sufficient to cover our sins and make us right with God. His resurrection from the dead is the only victory sufficient to conquer sin and death for all of eternity.

When you purchase Christmas presents, you redeem them, to a degree, with your money. You take possession of them and make them yours (perhaps to then give to someone else) by giving up something – money.

That is exactly what Jesus did when He died on the cross. He gave His life to purchase your salvation. This is why we use the word “redemption” when referring to God’s act of delivering us from eternal death in hell by sacrificing His Son. He bought us and made us His own.

For this to be true of you, though, you must repent of your sins and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for your salvation. On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Matthew 1:18-25 on how “Repentance Is Redemption.” I hope to challenge those listening to trust in Jesus alone for redemption and for the assurance of such redemption.

Have you trusted in the greatest gift ever given – the gospel of your redemption? Are you finding great hope and assurance in this gift? Are you so grateful for this gift that you are passionately sharing it with others? Eternal redemption is the ultimate gift we all need and should be the gift that gives us the greatest joy, hope, and peace. Praise be to God!

If you have yet to experience the joy of redemption, would you consider watching or reading The Story?

Thankfully Waiting

Jesus could return at any moment. We have all heard this, sometimes more often than others. The authors of the New Testament, inspired by the Holy Spirit, believed this and taught this. Jesus could indeed return at any moment, and we must be ready.

Consider, though, that He Himself declared this before He ascended to heaven after His resurrection from the dead nearly 2,000 years ago. That is a long time, from a human perspective, to be waiting. “Any moment” is a difficult phrase to embrace for a coming that generations have anticipated without realizing.

REASON TO BE THANKFUL

Yes, 2,000 years seems like a long time, but also consider how long people waited for the first Advent – the first arrival of Jesus Christ into the world. His first Advent was promised back in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15) and to Abraham (Genesis 12:3), to Jacob (Numbers 24:17), to Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19), to David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalms), to Isaiah (7:14; 9:2-7; 11:1), to Jeremiah (23:5-6), and to Micah (5:2), and those are just some of the references. My point, though, is that people waited thousands and thousands of years for the promised Messiah to come into the world and be born of a virgin and save His people from their sins. Yet, Jesus’ first Advent did indeed happen just as God promised and foretold.

For this reason, we can be thankful even in waiting. We can thankfully wait for His second Advent – when He will return to judge the living and the dead and save forever all who know Him. No, we do not know when that day will be, but we can be certain that day will be.

THANKSGIVING TO ADVENT

Perhaps that can be our Thanksgiving-to-Advent bridge – thankfully waiting. Truly, we have many things for which to give thanks, but when is the last time you gave thanks that you can wait – wait with full assurance of faith for the second coming of Jesus Christ our Lord?

As sure as was His first Advent, His second Advent is sure. Praise the Lord!

What a great reminder to slow down and give thanks in the midst of the chaos that tries to consume our daily lives. Jesus is coming again, and His coming is guaranteed. He never fails to keep His promises. In fact, the reason we have not yet realized His second Advent is because of His love…

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will begin a new Advent sermon series on “A Season of Preparation.” By preaching through Matthew 1:1-18, I hope to communicate that “Anticipation Is Preparation.” We prepare to encounter Jesus by anticipating His arrival. The people of old did this when waiting for His first Advent, and we do this by understanding that first Advent and looking forward to His second Advent.

THANKFULNESS REQUIRES READINESS

If you are not ready for Jesus’ second Advent, though, you will not be able to wait in thankfulness because that day will be eternally terrible for all who are not ready. To be ready, you must know and follow Jesus Christ with a sincere heart of complete surrender. Learn more by watching and/or reading The Story of the gospel. Only Jesus can prepare your heart for His second coming by making you right with God.

If you are ready and walking with Jesus, will you be more intentional this Advent season about waiting in thankfulness? Will you help others prepare and be ready by sharing The Story with them?

If you cannot join us in person Sunday morning for family groups (9:30 – 10:30) and worship (10:40 – 11:45), you can watch the live stream of the service HERE.

Stop Settling for Less!

I am a fan of the Minnesota Twins. In fact, I have been a Twins fan for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately for me and other Twins fans (and the Twins organization), the Twins have not won the World Series in 28 years. For the most part since that last World Series title in 1991, they have been fairly irrelevant in the Major League Baseball picture. Well, except that they have lost an MLB-record (and major American sports record) 16 straight postseason games. Do you realize how difficult it is to lose 16 straight playoff games?

In a sport where a series of games are played in most postseason matchups, it is highly improbable for a team to lose 10 straight games, let alone 16 straight. Being a Twins fan is hard lately – really hard. But, I will stick with them. I will continue to be a Twins fan. You might say I am “settling” for less by choosing to be a Twins fan, and you are probably right.

A couple of days ago, arguably the best pitcher in baseball – Gerrit Cole – signed a monster free-agent contract to play for the New York Yankees. The Twins would have loved to sign Cole, but he did not choose the Twins. He chose the Yankees. By the way, 13 of those 16 straight postseason losses I mentioned earlier were to the Yankees. Ouch!

The Yankees beat the Twins again. Why did Cole choose the Yankees? Well, perhaps the more appropriate question would be: Why would Gerrit Cole not choose the Yankees? With the Yankees, he gets more money, more fame, and a much better chance to win championships. If he chose the Twins, he would be settling for something clearly less beneficial for his baseball career. Sure, I would have loved for him to sign with the Twins, but I certainly cannot blame him choosing the team he grew up cheering for, the team that could pay him a lot of money, and the team that is certainly good enough to win now.

Cole chose the Yankees because, naturally, people do not want to settle for second best. God created us that way.

I say all this not only because I wish the Twins were better, but more importantly because Jesus is the best. And, settling for anything less than Him is the ultimate act of foolishness. God created us to need Him and be in a right relationship with Him, but our sin makes that impossible. He loves us so much, though, that He sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment we deserve, making a way for us to have that right relationship with Him if we will simply turn from our sins and trust in Jesus to rescue us.

So much better than a $324 million contract and a chance to play for one of the most iconic sports franchises in world history, and even so much better than a chance to win multiple championships and get inducted into the hall of fame – so much better than all of that is having a right relationship with our Creator.

Garret Cole probably considered his decision to join the Yankees an easy decision. Anything else would have been settling for much less.

Well, trusting anything or anyone other than Jesus to save you from your sins and give you eternal peace is infinitely more foolish. Only Jesus saves. He Himself said it best when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6).

On Sunday, Lord willing, I will be finishing our Advent series – The Light Has Come – preaching on “The New and Better Way” (John 1:15-18). Do not settle for less than Jesus. “No one has ever seen God. The One and Only Son — the One who is at the Father’s side — He has revealed Him” (John 1:18). Settling for less than Jesus means settling for less than God, and you will only be disappointed.

Please realize, I am in no way saying that choosing the Yankees is like choosing God. In fact, as a Twins fan, I would have to say choosing the Yankees is more like choosing the devil ;-). Rather, I am simply making the point that we do not intentionally settle for less in much less important areas of life, so let us not do so in eternally important areas.

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

The Humility and the Glory of the Incarnation

The most amazing part of the Christmas story is the part, I believe, we far too often take for granted – the incarnation. God put on flesh and became a human being!

Sure, we know Christmas is about the virgin birth of Jesus, and we sing songs about this miraculous event that changed everything. We have cute little nativity scenes and imagine the irony of the King of kings being born in a stable.

But, the incarnation… Do we really consider how incredible the incarnation was? Is it not the miracle of all miracles? You might disagree and say that the resurrection is the miracle of all miracles, but if you believe in the incarnation, then the resurrection is not difficult at all. After all, the Creator of the earth and the Ruler of life and death became a human while still being God. Of course He can conquer death!

Is the incarnation not the essence of the Christmas story and the miracle upon which the entire gospel story depends? Nowhere else is the Christmas story so concisely declared as it is in the verse I will be preaching from, Lord willing, on Sunday morning: John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Throughout the first chapter of John, the truth that Jesus – the Light who has come, the One and Only Son of God – is “the Word” is abundantly clear. And, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

So, God became a man. The One and Only Son of God, who clearly is God, took on flesh. In John 1:14 alone, there are two aspects of the incarnation that are overwhelmingly beautiful and incomparably powerful.

1. INCARNATION = HUMILITY

Consider, if you wanted to go and fix something and could do or be anything you wanted, what would you do or be? Imagine reviving your favorite sports franchise by becoming the star quarterback or the brilliant coach/general manager. Imagine turning around a big company as a genius CEO. Imagine fixing all that you think is wrong with our country by becoming President.

If you could be anything to restore anything, you would surely go big. You would enter the picture with power and might. We all would.

In fact, I imagine that we would all be just like King Caesar was at the time of Jesus’ birth, if left to ourselves. We would gladly want to tell the world how great we are by proclaiming the greatness of our kingdom. That is what Caesar attempted to do. He was declaring his greatness by counting all his people.

God, though, declared His greatness by becoming one of His people. And, not just by becoming one of his people but by doing so in the most humble, vulnerable way imaginable – as a baby.

Even if Jesus came to this earth as a young, powerful man, the incarnation would still be the most incredible act of humility the world would have ever seen. Why? Well, because Jesus is God. He created us. He sustains us. He is over us. Yet, He became one of us. And, the fact He did so by being born to an insignificant, unmarried couple in a no-name town in a cave reserved for livestock… Well, that only further exemplifies this incredible act of humility.

Jesus “emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8).

The incarnation, coupled with the most shameful death imaginable, is the greatest act of humility the world has ever known.

2. INCARNATION = GLORY

In a way only God can orchestrate, the most humble act is also one of outstanding glory. No other person to ever walk this earth embodied the fullness of God, except His One and Only Son. “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in [Jesus]” (Colossians 1:19).

Jesus took on flesh, becoming fully man, but in doing so, He did not stop being fully God. Humility and glory. Again, this is why this was and is the miracle of all miracles. All other miracles can be understood, explained, and believed when you understand and believe the incarnation.

The incarnation is the complete glory of God filling the body of a man. He is the God-Man, and He proved so throughout His life and ministry.

The incarnation is the ultimate act of humility, and it is the greatest act of glory the world has ever seen. If you believe Jesus is who He said He is, and you place your faith in Him, you can receive the forgiveness of your sins and share in His glory for all of eternity. To learn more, check out the link below.

Want to experience new life now and eternal life with God? Check out The Story.

Why We Cannot Save Ourselves

On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be continuing our church’s Advent series – The Light Has Come – preaching on “Rejection for Reception” from John 1:6-13. The truth of the gospel is that Jesus had to be rejected in order for us to be accepted. Jesus had to die in order for us to have life.

In studying for this message, Ephesians 2 kept coming to mind, as verses 1-10 are emphatic on the necessity of God’s grace and God’s rescue being necessary for our salvation. No sinner can save himself, and because we are all born sinners, we must recognize two reasons why this is our reality.

1. SINNERS ARE DEAD

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient” (Ephesians 2:1-2).

Writing to believers who had been saved from their sins, Paul was reminding them of their previous condition before salvation. This is also a sobering reminder of the condition of all people apart from Jesus Christ. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23), and “The wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23).

Sinners are dead – dead in their sin and dead for eternity if something does not change.

2. THE DEAD CANNOT REGENERATE

For the dead to experience life, they must be regenerated. They must be revived. The dead cannot regenerate themselves. They are dead!

Paul made clear in Ephesians (and in Romans, Galatians, and Colossians) that only Jesus can save us from our sins. Only He can bring the dead to life. As dead sinners in need of revival, we are in desperate need of God’s mercy and grace.

Without Christ, we are spiritually dead people walking on our way to hell, and only He can deliver us out of that death. Only He can revive us and give us new life, life that is eternal.

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If a dead man was brought back to life because of someone performing CPR, he certainly would not brag about that revival. Rather, he would want to boast in the one who did the reviving. He would be grateful for the one who performed CPR. He would surely realize what a gift he received in being brought back to life because he would not have regenerated himself. Rather, he was saved by someone else.

BELIEVE AND RECEIVE

To all who did receive Him [(Jesus)], He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

Salvation is not achieved by family, by our ethnicity, by our sincerity, or by our effort. Salvation is received by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Have you received Him? Are you telling others about Him?

If you recognize your need for new life and desire to turn from your sins and follow Jesus Christ, check out The Story.