The Message of the Cross for the year 2020


We are living in unprecedented times full of nuclear weapons, satellites, space ships, and smart phones. We are living in the last paragraph of the last chapter of earth’s history.

We may be alive to see Jesus return. The only way to endure to the end is to focus on Jesus and His death on the cross. This is not a theological exercise but a spiritual meditation designed to release the power of God in our hearts to overcome evil. Rev 12:11

The death of Christ reminds us of the justice of God and His refusal to change one iota of the law to release us from the curse of death. Instead, He sent His son to fulfill the law to give us a way of escape.

The death of Christ reminds us of the love of God who was willing to sacrifice His only Son to release us from eternal death. God is a God of self-sacrificing love. We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

The death of Christ remind us of our call to sacrifice our lives for Christ in the same way that Christ sacrificed His life for us. God understands our sufferings as Christ endured the worst of the suffering for us. He is our example.

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Stephen Beagles (2020)

What is Holiness?


What does holiness look like in everyday life? Is it a monk living in a monastery? Is it taking a vow of poverty? Is it living in a foreign land without the comforts of civilization?

Is it giving up television, movie theaters, dance clubs, and fiction novels? What is the mental picture that comes to mind when you hear the word “holiness”?

I hear myself saying, “Obedience to God in all things.”

How does God want us to be obedient to Him? What set of rules have been given us to follow in the Bible? The Ten Commandments? The Sermon on the Mount? The exhortations of Paul and the Apostles to live a moral life without reproach and free from the appearance of evil?

What does it mean to live a moral life? Honesty? Loyalty? The fruits of the Spirit? Whose set of rules do we live by? The Catholic rules? Orthodox rules? Lutheran rules? Episcopal rules? Baptist Rules? Methodist Rules? Pentecostal rules? Adventist rules? Or are we left to make up our own set of rules?

I hear Jesus saying, ” By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:15

I hear Paul saying, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

I hear John declaring, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4: 7

To be Holy is to be like God. What is God’s chief characteristic?

God is love (1 John 4:8)

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11

Stephen Beagles (2019)

Justification by Faith–A Message from God


“The present message—justification by faith—is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness.”

~ Ellen White

It is almost guaranteed when I mention Justification by Faith in a church setting, I will get one of two reactions. First, some act as if the language I use is beyond ability to comprehend. This is strange, because many of these people ought to know Justification is a key element of the plan of salvation.

Justification is a common term in the writings of the Apostle Paul. In a biblical context it means declared “Justified” in the divine court of law. It is the same as being “declared righteous” by faith in Christ apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28). It is a gift from God to those who believe. It is the assurance of salvation by faith in Christ alone.

The second reaction I get is from seasoned Adventists who say, “Yes that is true. But faith without works is dead. Let’s turn our Bibles to James Chapter 2. ”

It is a programmed reaction I have experienced hundreds of times. Few Adventists, who are proud of their protestant heritage, actually take time to meditate on what it means to be Justified by Faith.

Often the major assumption when Justification by Faith is discussed is that we want to get out of keeping the Ten commandments by claiming justification apart from the keeping of the law. This is a false assumption. The Bible clearly states that while we are saved apart from the law, we are still bound to the law as our moral standard of righteousness (Romans 3:31).

Justification will always lead us into a closer walk with Jesus and a cleansing from sin (sanctification) that is rooted in love for God who grants us the assurance of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. “We love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19, KJV).

(To be continued…)

Stephen Beagles (2019)

Reference

White, E. G. (1958). Selected Messages From the Writings of Ellen G. White, Book 1 (p. 359). Review and Herald Publishing Association.

Genuine Christianity

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

Being a follower of Jesus means accepting Him as God, believing He died for your sins, and accepting the gift of His righteousness in place of your own in the final judgement.

He also calls you to love others in the same way that He has loved you. Christians keep the 10 commandments only after they have the assurance of salvation by simple faith in the blood that was shed on the cross. No one is perfect in this lifetime, but we set aside our differences to lift up Jesus.

Every verse in scripture is there to support this simple proclamation–Jesus died for you. Will you accept Him as Lord and Savior of your life?

Stephen Beagles

The Endurance of the Saints

After 35 years of Bible study, prayer, and reflection, I am more convinced than ever that the message of Justification by faith needs to be taken more seriously. Many pastors and teachers give it lip service, but their hearts are geared towards teaching morality and Christian living. They forget the Holy Spirit is only given to those who have assurance of salvation.

Justification by faith is not “once salved always saved” or “cheap grace.” It is possible to lose salvation by walking away from Christ, by taking ones eyes off Jesus, or by perverting the gospel of grace by placing conditions other than simple faith. Salvation is a free gift and is only cheapened when one believes salvation can be earned by keeping a set of rules.

Many Christians believe they are saved by grace, but act like they are saved or lost based on behavior. They tend to be critical of other Christians who don’t “measure up” to their expectations of Christian living. They lack the joy and peace of knowing Christ, because there is always another habit to overcome or level of holiness to attain.

The saints who are alive when Jesus returns will keep the commandments of God and  have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12). However, the saints will keep the commandments, because they have the assurance of being declared perfect “in-Christ” and have the verdict of the final judgment. The saints endure because they refuse to question the promise of salvation freely given to all who trust in the merits of Christ alone.

Stephen Beagles,

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." ~ 1 Cor 2:2