What Salvation Means for Today

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Reading the Word

Romans 5:1–5 (ESV)

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Book of Romans teaches clearly that all people are saved by grace through faith. We are all sinners and our works are insufficient to save us. We must be justified in some other manner. Paul tells us that we are justified by faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us.

In Romans 5, we read of three important truths that result from our justification. The first is that we are now at peace with God. We go from being under his wrath to being at peace. We are no longer God’s enemies, but his friends! The second thing resulting from our justification is that we have the “hope of the glory of God.” This speaks of the future hope that belongs to all of God’s people in eternity. We will be in God’s presence and we will be made new along with all of creation to reflect the glory of God as we intended to before we sinned. And the last thing our justification means is that we can face our present sufferings with rejoicing. We know that the hardships we face in this life serve to focus our eyes on the future and the Savior who died for us.

Every day is an opportunity to praise the One who saved us by his grace and who promises a glorious future for all who believe.

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The Way, the Truth, and the Life

John 146 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 14:1–6 (ESV)

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Christianity is controversial. It has always been controversial. The reason is found in this passage, especially Jesus’s words in verse 6. Jesus clearly and pointedly stated that there is only on way to the Father and it is through him. This means that all paths are not the same. All paths do not lead to the same destination. All religions are not equal. There is only one way. There is only one truth. It is found in Jesus Christ alone.

Of course, just because a person claims to have the one right answer does not make it so. Many people have made that claim through the years. However, Jesus is not just any person. He is the one person who died and rose from the dead. The resurrection validates that all Jesus said was true. His words were not just the words of a crazy man or wishful thinking. His words were authoritative. And this means that Jesus is the only way to the Father. And he also tells us that if we repent of our sins and place our faith in him, we will be saved. Why would you go any other way?

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Joy Inexpressible

1 Peter 18–9 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

1 Peter 1:3–9 (ESV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Understanding and Applying the Word

O the future that awaits the people of God! It is beyond our comprehension how wonderful it will be. Christ’s resurrection from the dead assures us that his promise of eternal life is true. We will be with our Lord for eternity! No matter what we may face now, we are assured that there is a glorious future and we can “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible.”

As those who belong to Christ and who have an inheritance that can never be taken away, we should be the most joyous people around. We have been given a wonderful gift. We have received the promise of eternal life in a world without sin and death and pain and suffering. The Son of God loves us and died for us to bring us life. Let us rejoice in our Savior and our future!

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The Promise Guaranteed

Ephesians 113–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

2 Corinthians 1:12–22 (ESV)

12 For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 13 For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand— 14 just as you did partially understand us—that on the day of our Lord Jesus you will boast of us as we will boast of you.

15 Because I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a second experience of grace. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to the flesh, ready to say “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time? 18 As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Understanding and Applying the Word

I miss the old cartoons I watched when I was young. I loved Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, and Popeye the Sailor Man. My kids do not understand what they are missing. They know nothing of the power of eating your spinach!

Thinking of those old shows reminds me of the character Wimpy who used to always say “For a hamburger today, I will gladly pay you on Tuesday.” I always got the impression that Wimpy probably could not be trusted. His promises seemed empty.

How should we think of God’s promises to us? He has surely promised a wonderful future, but how do we know he will deliver? Well, God did not simply make a grand promise, but he has left us with a down payment. Paul writes that God has “put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” The never-ending presence of the Spirit of God working in us is a constant reminder that God has not forgotten us. He is still at work and his promises will be fulfilled. Guaranteed!

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Suffering with Hope

Revelation 214 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 8:18–25 (ESV)

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This life has its share of suffering. We will all face it to one degree or another. We will all face sickness, being hurt by others, being treated unfairly, the death of those we love, and our own deaths. These things are part of the common plight of mankind. However, the suffering we face now is nothing in comparison to the glory that is to come!

Yesterday, we looked at Hebrews 11:1, which says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” As we go through life, with all of its bumps and bruises, we do so with our eyes to the future. We know what God has already done in the past. That is our assurance that he will fulfill his promises for the future. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to suffer, die, and rise again if he did not intend to keep his word to his people! We know the future is bright because we know the one who holds the future and he has promised a new heaven and new earth with no more pain or sorrow or suffering. Are you hurting? Call out to the Lord and know that your pain is temporary. The future is glorious!

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Reason for Rejoicing

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page to continue reading along each day. We are reading through the life of Jesus Christ from the four New Testament Gospels in 2019. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Luke 10:17–20 (ESV)

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

You Will Die in Your Sin

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Reading the Word

John 8:21–30 (ESV)

21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this dialogue with the Jewish leaders (cf. John 8:13), Jesus got right to the point with the Pharisees. If they did not believe in him, they would die in their sins. The Pharisees had continually sparred with Jesus and refused to accept him as the Messiah. Now Jesus warns them that if they continue to reject him, they would not be able to go where he was going (i.e. to the Father). As a result of Jesus’ pointed warning, some did respond in belief (cf. John 8:30).

Jesus and the entire New Testament teach us that we are all condemned because we are all sinners. Jesus came into the word to save us from our sin and the punishment we deserve, which is eternal separation from the holy God who created us. Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and all who trust in Jesus’ sacrificial work on their behalf will be saved. However, those who do not trust in Jesus will die in their sins and will not be saved. Those people will not spend eternity in the presence of God.

Take this as a strong warning. Trust in Jesus Christ today and find forgiveness and salvation in his name.

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Learning to Give Thanks

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Reading the Word

Psalm 136:17–26 (ESV)

17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In verses 4-9, we are told to give thanks to God who is our Creator. In verses 10-16, we are reminded that it was God who led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. And now, in verses 17-26, we are called on to give thanks to the Lord because he brought the people into the Promised Land and conquered the powerful kings who resided there.

This psalm reflects on the history of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. However, it also speaks to Christians today. We should give thanks to God who is our Creator. He is also the one who has delivered us from slavery to sin and death through his Son, Jesus Christ. And he has promised that we will inherit the true promised land, a new heaven and new earth where sin and death will be no more. We will dwell in that land for all of eternity and the Lord himself will be there with us. We have much to be thankful for!

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Let Creation Rejoice

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Reading the Word

Psalm 98:7–9 (ESV)

7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Understanding and Applying the Word

All of creation is called on to sing for joy. This includes the sea, the rivers, the hills, and all of the world and those who dwell in it. This means all of creation, including mankind. Why? Because the Lord comes to judge the earth with righteousness and equity.

The Bible tells of a day when God will judge the world. In that day, sin will be dealt with once and for all and will be no more. God’s people, who have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ, will then dwell with him forever. When we speak of our eternal home with God, we often refer to it as “heaven”. We might even imagine a cloudy scene with angels and harps. The Bible has a different picture for our eternal home. It is described as a “new heaven and new earth”. It is a new creation without sin and its consequences. This is why all of creation joins in singing for joy in this psalm. All of creation rejoices at its release from bondage to the curse of sin (Romans 8:21). We look forward to that day when we will inhabit a new creation without sin. What a joyous day that will be!

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Glorious Things of You Are Spoken

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Reading the Word

Psalm 87:1–7 (ESV)

1 On the holy mount stands the city he founded; 2 the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. 3 Glorious things of you are spoken, O city of God. Selah 4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush— “This one was born there,” they say. 5 And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her. 6 The Lord records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah 7 Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm pictures a day when not only Israel, but all the nations, look to Zion (i.e. Jerusalem) as their spiritual home. Jew and Gentile alike look to the city and speak glorious things about it. Even nations that were the enemies of the Jewish people are listed: Rahab (i.e Egypt), Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, and Cush (i.e. Ethiopia). When the people are registered, it will be recorded “This one was born there,” to show that they are all the people of God.

Scripture tells us of a day when all the nations of the earth will gather in the New Jerusalem and worship God. Those who have trusted in Jesus Christ will be counted among the people of God. Those who belong to God will be bound together by their shared faith. Even now, we get a glimpse of this future when we look at the Church, which is made up of every nation, tribe, and tongue. What a beautiful city God is building!

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