Charles Stanley – Can Eternal Life Be Earned?

Charles Stanley

Mark 10:17-22

Sometimes teenagers decide on a course of action first and ask for input later. And then, if the response is one they don’t want to hear, they often react negatively. Believers can act the same way toward God.

One day a wealthy man came to Jesus and asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Having spent his days keeping the commandments, he wanted to know what else needed to be done to secure his position in heaven. The man erroneously believed that eternal life could be earned.

Satan, the great deceiver, promotes the false idea that man can make himself acceptable in God’s eyes. Many of us have fallen victim to the Devil’s lies and approach God on the basis of our conduct or performance. Just like the rich man, we may have thought, God will accept me because I am doing the right things. Or perhaps we have assumed that our good deeds outweigh any wrong we have done.

In thinking this way, we have established our own standard of acceptability and ignored God’s. He says we all have a flesh nature bent away from Him, and nothing we do will pay for our sin debt. Only faith in Jesus, who died in our place, makes us acceptable to God. Through the Savior, we are forgiven of our sins and receive life everlasting. Apart from Christ, we face eternal punishment.

The rich young man chose to walk away from Jesus. How do you respond when the truth of Scripture conflicts with what you believe? Do you embrace God’s standard or turn away to follow your own desires?


Our Daily Bread — Lasting Rewards

Our Daily Bread

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things. —1 Timothy 4:8

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina held the record of 18 Olympic medals. She won them in the 1956, 1960, and 1964 Olympics. The 48-year-old record was surpassed when Michael Phelps swam for his 19th gold in the 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay in the 2012 London Games. “[Latynina] kind of got lost in history,” the publisher of the International Gymnast magazine said. When the Soviet Union broke up, “we had forgotten about her.”

Paul, the apostle, reminds us that sometimes hard work is forgotten. Athletes subject their bodies to great discipline as they train to win perishable medals for their effort (1 Cor. 9:25). But it is not just that the medals are perishable. Over time, people’s memory of those achievements dim and fade. If athletes can sacrifice so much to achieve rewards on the earth, rewards that will eventually be forgotten, how much more effort should followers of Christ exert to gain an imperishable crown? (1 Tim. 4:8).

Athletes’ sacrifice and determination are rewarded with medals, trophies, and money. But even greater, our Father in heaven rewards the discipline of His children (Luke 19:17).

God will never forget our service done out of love for Him who first loved us. —C. P. Hia

I thank You, Lord, for the opportunities to use

the gifts You have given me for Your service today.

Help me to do so in obedience, expecting nothing

more than Your “well done” as reward.

Sacrifice for the kingdom is never without reward.

Bible in a year: Hosea 12-14; Revelation 4



Ravi Zacharias Ministry – A Real Person

Ravi Z

There are times when it is worth wondering with the professor from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where logic has gone from the world’s curriculum.

Peter and Susan had come to him concerned about their younger sister Lucy’s outlandish tales of a land hidden deep within an old wardrobe. The professor listened carefully as they reasoned it out before him, admitting their bewilderment with Lucy’s strange behavior and their confusion over how to deal with her. Sighing, the professor lamented, “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” Either Lucy is telling lies, he explained, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. But since she is obviously not mad, nor is she the one among the Pevensie children known for her propensity to lie, her vivid descriptions are not so easily dismissible. In fact, it is most likely that Lucy is telling the truth. “Nothing is more probable,” said the professor, as he muttered to himself, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools.”(1) Logic, it seems, has fallen out of fashion.

A lawsuit in Italy was once brought against a priest accused of unlawfully misleading the public by presenting Jesus in his parish newsletter as an historical figure. “Christ never existed, but is an invention of the Church,” said the man who attempted to bring this case to trial in 2002.(2) A professed atheist himself, the accuser claimed the priest violated an article under the Italian penal code, which under the term “abuse of popular gullibility,” sanctions people who mislead others. A judge earlier refused to take up the case but was overruled by the Court of Appeal, which held the accuser had a reasonable case for his allegation.

Although he comes to a conclusion that most would find unreasonable (the historical evidence that Jesus was a real figure is nearly undisputed), the accuser in this case is right in saying that it is a question the world—many Christians included—takes for granted. Was Jesus of Nazareth a real person? Did the one who many call the Christ ever really exist? As absurd as some find the accusations in this case, it is a question worth asking often and anywhere: Are there historical proofs behind the remarkable presence of this first century Jewish rabbi?

“[O]n the question of the existence,” notes R. Scott Appleby, professor of church history at Notre Dame, “there is more evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth than there would be for many other historical people who actually existed. Not only did Jesus actually exist, but he actually had some kind of prominence to be mentioned in two or three chronicles.”(3)

In addition to the massive archives provided by each of the four gospel writers, the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the extent to which he created a stir far beyond the land of his birth are chronicled by Christian and non-Christian writers alike. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus is considered by scholars to be the most important non-Christian source on Christ’s existence. Also archived in history are the writings of Pliny the Younger, who in the early second century described a policy of executing Christians who refused to curse Christ, as well as Tacitus, another historian of the same period who wrote that Jesus was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate.

The historical evidence of the existence of Jesus cannot be erased from any reasonable history book. There is a solid basis upon which one can intelligently believe in Jesus as a person who actually existed. The Incarnation is not just a story told in Christmas carols and nativity scenes. Jesus cannot rationally be exposed as a myth. What this means for those who will reason is that a real person from Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, left a sizable mark on history and started a chain of events moving well beyond his 33 years on this earth. The next question was posed by Jesus himself: “But who do you say that I am?”

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” (New York: HarperCollins, 1956), 131.

(2) “Italian Lawyers Asked to Prove Jesus Existed,” Associated Press, January 21, 2006.

(3) Ibid.


Alistair Begg – More Grace Brings More Joy

Alistair Begg

. . . Salt without prescribing how much.

Ezra 7:22

Salt was used in every offering made by fire to the Lord, and with its preserving and purifying properties it was the grateful emblem of divine grace in the soul. It is worthy of our careful attention that when Artaxerxes gave salt to Ezra the priest, he set no limit to the quantity, and we may be quite certain that when the King of kings distributes grace among His royal priesthood, the supply is not cut short by Him.

In ourselves we are often in short supply, but never in the Lord. He who chooses to gather much manna will find that he may have as much as he desires. There is no famine in Jerusalem that causes the citizens to eat their bread by weight and drink their water by measure.

Some things in the economy of grace are measured; for instance our vinegar and gall are given us with such exactness that we never have a single drop too much; but the salt of grace is not restricted in its provision. “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”1

Parents need to lock up the fruit cupboard and the candy jars, but there is no need to keep the salt-box under lock and key, for few children will eat too greedily from that.

A man may have too much money or too much honor, but he cannot have too much grace. When Jeshurun grew fat, he forsook God, but there is no fear of a man’s becoming too full of grace: A plethora of grace is impossible. More wealth brings more care, but more grace brings more joy. Increased wisdom is increased sorrow, but an abundance of the Spirit is fullness of joy.

Believer, go to the throne for a large supply of heavenly salt. It will season your afflictions, which are unsavory without salt; it will preserve your heart, which grows corrupt if salt is absent; and it will kill your sins even as salt kills reptiles. You need much; seek much and have much.

1 John 15:7


Charles Spurgeon – The Holy Spirit and the one church


“These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” Jude 19

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 8:5-13

The Holy Spirit when he comes in the heart comes like water. That is to say, he comes to purify the soul. He that is to-day as foul as he was before his pretended conversion is a hypocrite and a liar; he that this day loves sin and lives in it just as he was accustomed to do, let him know that the truth is not in him, but he hath received the strong delusion to believe a lie: God’s people are a holy people; God’s Spirit works by love, and purifies the soul. Once let it get into our hearts, and it will have no rest till it has turned every sin out. God’s Holy Spirit and man’s sin cannot live together peaceably; they may both be in the same heart, but they cannot both reign there, nor can they both be quiet there; for “the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh lusteth against the Spirit;” they cannot rest, but there will be a perpetual warring in the soul, so that the Christian will have to cry, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” But in due time the Spirit will drive out all sin, and will present us blameless before the throne of his Majesty with exceeding great joy. Now, answer this question for thyself, and not for another man. Hast thou received this Spirit? Answer me.

For meditation: When the Holy Spirit enters a person at the new birth, he begins to change that person for the better; but that involves declaring war on the flesh (Galatians 5:17). An intensified awareness of one’s sinfulness can be very distressing (Romans 7:24), but the believer can take courage in the knowledge that God is at work. Those who know nothing of these experiences since professing conversion should examine their professed faith, no matter what other experiences of the Spirit they may claim to have had.

Sermon no. 167

13 December (1857)


John MacArthur – Worship of Distinction

John MacArthur

“When He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him'” (Heb. 1:6).

Even though Jesus Christ humbled Himself and was made lower than the angels for a time, angels are still to worship Him. Since angels are to worship Him, then Christ must be greater than them.

Angels have always worshiped Christ, only they worshiped Him as God. It wasn’t until His incarnation that angels were commanded to worship Him as God’s Son. It is a sin to worship anyone or anything but God–in fact, note how sternly the apostle John was rebuked for worshiping angels (Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9). So the very fact that angels are to worship Christ verifies that Christ is indeed God.

At present, the angels don’t fully understand the entire picture of God’s redemptive plan. Peter tells us that the prophets didn’t understand all that they wrote, “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Pet. 1:11). Then he added, “Things into which angels long to look” (v. 12). They are still trying to figure out things they don’t understand.

But that won’t always be the case. Notice that Hebrews 1:6 says, “When He again brings the first-born into the world” (emphasis added). God already brought Christ into the world once–at the second coming He will bring Him into the world in blazing glory. Then the fullness of the prophecy of Psalm 97:7 quoted in Hebrews 1:6 will come to pass: “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”

In His second coming Christ is revealed in full glory as the Son. More than ever we have reason to join the heavenly chorus in declaring, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).

Suggestion for Prayer:

Thank God for His wonderful plan of salvation. Ask Him to make it more real to you every day.

For Further Study:

Read Revelation 5:1-11 and note the reactions of the angels to the Lamb of God. What specific event motivated their response?



Joyce Meyer – A Big Dose of Humility

Joyce meyer

For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce].

—Romans 2:1

Humility is defined as “freedom from pride and arrogance…a modest estimate of one’s own worth.” In theology, it means having a consciousness of your own defects. We often judge other people because we don’t really have a conscious awareness of our own flaws. We look at everybody else through a magnifying glass, but we look at ourselves through rose-colored glasses. For others who make mistakes, “there is no excuse,” but it seems for us, there is always a reason why our behavior is acceptable.

The Bible says to “humble yourselves…under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6). Examine your own heart and actions and humble yourself before Him. God gives us an opportunity to humble ourselves, but if we refuse, He will do it for us. So pray for God to make you aware of areas that need attention and refuse to sit in judgment on others.

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – At Least As Much


“And if even sinful persons like yourselves give children what they need, don’t you realize that your heavenly Father will do at least as much, and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him?” (Luke 11:13).

A Christian leader approached me after one of my messages on the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“I want to be a Spirit-filled person,” he said, “but I don’t know what to do. I have read many books about the Holy Spirit and have sincerely sought His fullness, but to no avail. I am seriously considering giving up Christian ministry and returning to a business career. Please help me.”

With great delight I shared with this earnest seeker the truths about the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We cannot have two masters.

There is a throne, a control center, in every life and either self or Christ is on that throne. This concept of Christ being on the throne is so simple that even a child can understand it.

It is such a simple truth, and yet, in its distilled essence, that is what the supernatural, Spirit-controlled life is all about – just keeping Christ on the throne. We do this when we understand how to walk in the control and power of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit came for the express purpose of glorifying Christ by enabling the believer to live a holy life and to be a productive witness for the Savior.

The key to supernatural living is a life centered in the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. This supernatural life is often called the Spirit-filled Christian or the Christ-centered life. The spirit-filled Christian is one who, according to Romans 6:11, has considered himself to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Christ is now at the center of his life; He is Lord.

Bible Reading: Romans 8:9-14

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: I will not allow self to usurp the rightful place of Jesus Christ – in the person of His Holy Spirit – at the control center, the throne, of my life.


Presidential Prayer Team; C.H. – No Lines, No Wait


Did you know more than one in every three Americans shop on Black Friday? According to research, 37 percent participate in the most famous shopping day of the year. Why? While a few go for enjoyment, most will admit to joining the chaos for a great deal. People like to get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping and want to buy their gifts at rock bottom prices. They wait in line for hours, camp out the night before, and push and shove their way to save a dollar.

The free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

Romans 5:15

In today’s passage, Paul speaks of a free gift – one where pushing and shoving aren’t necessary. It’s the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. This unique present is in unlimited supply, and you can get it year round.

Do you get more excited about saving money than saving souls? Christ died on the cross for the sins of everyone. And everyone is eligible to receive His salvation. Ask God to create a passion in you for sharing that gift with others now and into the coming New Year. Then pray for your nation’s leaders to discover and accept His free gift of grace as well.

Recommended Reading: Romans 6:15-23



Greg Laurie – A Holy Life in an Unholy Place


“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!” —Luke 1:30

If Jesus were born today, what city do you think He would come from? Maybe Jerusalem, Rome, London, Paris, or New York would come to mind. We wouldn’t expect Jesus to come from Buttonwillow or Pumpkin Patch. Or how about this? Jesus of Las Vegas. That has a negative connotation, doesn’t it?

When people of Jesus’ day identified Him as “Jesus of Nazareth,” that is how it was perceived. There was a negative connotation. Yet in that ungodly place lived a godly young woman named Mary, who proved that you can live a holy life in an unholy place.

In his second epistle, Peter described the world’s effect on two believers. Both lived in wicked cultures, yet one thrived while the other didn’t.

First there was Noah. Things were so corrupt when he was alive that God was sorry that He had made man and was ready to judge the earth. Yet in the midst of this dark time Noah “found favor with the Lord” (Genesis 6:8) because he walked with God. He was a godly man who lived in an ungodly place, yet he never compromised.

Then there was Lot, who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. In contrast to Noah, Lot was sort of worn down. He didn’t approve of what the people were doing, but he didn’t do anything to change it. Scripture says that he was living among them, torturing his righteous soul every day with what he saw and heard by their unlawful and wicked deeds. He lived a compromised life. And when the angel of the Lord came to deliver him from Sodom, he left reluctantly.

Which one of these men do you relate to: Noah or Lot? Or to put it another way, are you changing the culture, or is the culture changing you?


Max Lucado – Grace Forgets

Max Lucado

Do you actually believe God would make a statement like, “I will not hold their sins against them”—and then rub your nose in it whenever you ask for help?”  Was He exaggerating when He said He would cast your sins as far as the east is from the west? (Psalm 103:12).

Are you really forgiven?  Does He really forgive and forget?  Yes, but you and I don’t. You still remember. That horrid lie. That jealousy. That habit. That business trip.

Do you think God is the voice that reminds you of your past?  Was God teasing when He said, “I will remember your sins no more?”  You and I just need an occasional reminder of God’s nature, His forgetful nature.

It’s against God’s nature to remember forgiven sins. He is the God of perfect grace. Grace forgets. Period.

From God Came Near