1 John 5:5

Salvation by Faith Alone & Grace of God | Devotion #2: 1 John 5:5
Ryan Story | Student Pastor

We live in a world with numerous amounts of religions, cults, and philosophies that claim to be able to get people to Heaven, or at least what they claim Heaven to be. Several times a year, I will have a Fusion student ask me, “How do you know faith in Jesus is the only way get to Heaven?” At times, I like to switch up the roles and ask them, “How do you know that Jesus is not the only way to Heaven?” It is enjoyable to watch people come up with a response. However, I feel at these times we can almost take that question as a threat, but as time has passed, I have come to realize that question has more of a longing for comfort in the face of uncertainty. No one in this world likes to walk around with uncertainty especially when it comes to our eternal destination. There are many on both sides of what they have concluded about Jesus. On one side of the coin, the question of “how do you know faith in Jesus is the only way to Heaven” has created a joyful eagerness to see Jesus when our time is up on this Earth. Because of the reassurance and hope putting our faith in Jesus brings, we know the answer to that question. Sadly, on the other side of that coin, we have a large amount of the world that claims that Jesus followers are arrogant, delusional, weak-minded, or flat out wrong. 

In 1 John 5:5, it says, “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” The world does not want to accept Jesus. In more than just a conflicting ideological way, the world is trying to destroy all things of God. Jesus even says that “if the world hates you remember it first hated me.” With all the negativity that the world throws at Christ-followers, it is easy to forget this amazing verse. This is a simple verse to understand and a powerful verse to memorize and apply. How do we overcome the world? We overcome when we believe in Jesus and what Jesus did for us.

Now back to that amazing question I get asked. I like to respond to that question with “the reason I believe Jesus is the only way to Heaven is I follow the One who has already won.” After I get a look of confusion, I elaborate. The reason why Jesus is the only way for us to be saved can be simply put. The only one who can save us from death, Hell, and the grave is to follow the one who was victorious against death, Hell, and the grave. If you follow a person who loses, your outcome will be the same. If you follow someone who is victorious, then you will be victorious. Who is the most victorious person to ever live? If you said Jesus was the answer, then you are correct. The only way for us to be overcomers is simply stated in 1 John, “believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” All the theological rhetoric that you may or may not fully grasp becomes clear when we simply put our faith in Jesus. 

John 1:12

Salvation by Faith Alone & Grace of God | Devotion #1: John 1:12
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12 NKJV) 

My sister and brother-in-law are foster care parents. In seven years’ time, they have provided a home for and cared for over 30 children. Most of these children come from absolutely devastating situations. Many are born addicted to drugs. Others are the only surviving child in a violent home. They come from physical abuse and neglect to sexual abuse and more. Each story is crushing. It is often painful work. It is thankless work. It is late nights, exhausting, tears, fear, frustration, and it can be overwhelming. It is especially painful when that child you love and have cared for, is put back into unacceptable situations. Some have a chance, and some will not make it. It is more than just “hard.” With each phone call that comes to take another child, my brother-in-law and sister ask Jesus what He wants them to do. Very often, they say, “Yes, we will take them.” We watch them make those children their own until their season together is done. It is thankless work. It is Jesus’ work.

Now imagine if the richest man in history began to be burdened for abused children and decided to start doing foster care. Not just foster care, but his goal was the adoption of as many needy kids as possible. What if the richest man in the world began to adopt every child who wanted him? His mission was to make them his children. They would live in his home with him. They would eat from his table. They would bear his name. Each child would, from one day to the next, move from the devastation they had only ever known to the immeasurable blessing they would now only ever know. All that he has was now theirs. They were his children. 

This is what the Bible says has happened to us. It is what God has done for us. From one moment to the next, everything is different. We were lost in our sin and guilt, wandering around in the darkness, without hope, without purpose, and without joy. We were broken people. We were blind people, staggering around in a broken world. We were trying to find anything that seemed like life, anything that resembled purpose, anything that would make us happy even temporarily, and life failed. In every real way, life would fail. The key is “But God.” But God stepped into our lives. God stepped in with a mission, a goal, a plan, and a desire to adopt as many as were willing. He went to each lost, broken, and hurting child and offered them life. Therefore, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” We became His own. We bear His name; we are Christians. We will eat at His table and live in His home with Him forever, and all that He has is ours. For, we are His.

And this all happened because we “received Him” when He came to us inviting us. We believed in His ability to do what He offered to do. Rejoice you “children of God” for He has received you!

Matthew 5:18

Inerrancy of Scripture | Devotion #6: Matthew 5:18
Jayson Combs | Family Pastor

“You get nothing! You lose! Good day sir!” This is the climax of the legendary film, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” This is where the movie gets serious. Gene Wilder, aka Willy Wonka, exploded on Charlie (the main character) by telling Charlie that he had violated the factory contract. The movie revolved around five children who are specially chosen to take a tour of the mysterious Wonka Chocolate Factory. When the children first entered the chocolate factory, they signed a seemingly unimportant contract. The font size of the letters was very large at the top of the contract, but as the words continued, the font size got smaller and smaller until it was impossible to read. All the children signed anyway. At the end of the movie, Willy Wonka revealed that Charlie did not follow all the rules of the contract. At which point, Willy Wonka had to pull out a magnifying glass to read the fine print of the contract.   

In Matthew 5:18 (KJV) Jesus says, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” A jot” is the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and is also the smallest letter. The tittle” is most likely a small dash that is only a part of a letter. Here is an example below. 

Jesus says that not even the smallest letter or stroke will pass away from God’s word. In fact, Jesus places the Old Testament in the highest regard, signifying that all of the Old Testament, even the fine print, is true and completely from God. Later in Matthew, Jesus speaks of words again. But this time, He does not speak of the words of the Old Testament. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). He says, “My words.” Jesus is now speaking of His own words here on earth. With this revelation, Jesus “equates his own words with the word of God,” as MacArthur explains, and therefore makes the claim that He is God. 

In the 1970’s, the makers of Star Wars searched for a toy company to make action figures for their movie characters. All of the big toy companies turned down the proposals (Obviously, this was before the first movie came out). Finally, they found a small toy company out of Cincinnati called Kenner that received a very favorable contract. As we all know, Star Wars soon became one of the greatest movie franchises of all time, making Kenner millions of dollars. Contractually, Kenner was required to pay the makers of Star Wars a mere $10,000 a year to maintain the contract, a small iota of their earnings. As years went by: however, someone forgot to read the fine print and did not send the $10,000 check. The contract became void and cost the toy company millions and millions of dollars to get it back.  

The word of the Lord is so important.  We are blessed to have it in our homes, on our computers, and on our phones.  Do not miss out on all that the Bible offers. I want to challenge you to have it in your heart. It is powerful, and every little detail Jesus says is true. Remember this the next time you decide to skip your Bible time.

Isaiah 40:8

Inerrancy of Scripture | Devotion #5: Isaiah 40:8
Caleb Combs | Gathering Pastor

If you live in Michigan or a place that experiences the four seasons, you probably love fall. Fall is the greatest time to be outside with all of the colors at a cider mill, play sports, or just get out for a walk. The colors are breathtaking, the air is crisp, and the scents are delightful. I love all football, cider, and donuts, but one thing I never look forward to is raking leaves. I have eight mature oak trees on my half acre lot that love to torture me. Hundreds and hundreds of bags later, my yard is clear from leaves, but man is it a ton of work. The life of a leaf is interesting. Its birth in the spring and death in the fall make for a short life. All things go through seasons; things come, and things go. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” A band called The Byrds wrote a song in 1965 called “Turn, Turn, Turn” based off of this exact chapter, and it turned out to be hit in the United States and the United Kingdom; it’s still played and sung to this day!

The words of this verse say it all, “for everything there is a season.” Isaiah 40:8 tells us, “the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Things come and go, fads come in style and leave as quick as they came. My kids loved the fidget spinners for a couple of weeks (weird craze in my opinion), but now those things are just lost among the pile of other old toy fads that came and went. We all can think of something that has come into style and now is not, yet we own it. I still like cargo shorts! Ha Ha! However, the book of Isaiah is clear, though everything may fade away and lose relevance, the Word of the Lord will not ever lose relevance. God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. When our world seems to be turned upside down by tragedies, God’s Word is something we can stand on. God’s Word says He will never leave you or forsake you, and that is something that you can take to the bank no matter what the circumstance. So today in the business of your life, know this: when all things come and go, His Word will never leave.  

John 17:17

Inerrancy of Scripture | Devotion #4: John 17:17
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17

The night that Jesus was betrayed, He prayed for me. He prayed for you. He prayed “…for those who will believe in me through [the apostles’] word” (John 17:20). He prayed for unity in the church. He prayed that we would see His glory. He prayed that we would love the Father and each other. He prayed that the heavenly Father would keep us from the evil one. He prayed that God would sanctify us, setting us apart for His holy purpose and service. 

Jesus prays, simultaneously teaching us, that the cleansing (sanctification) process would happen through truth. In John 8:32, Jesus is confronting the religious leaders and says, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth is what purifies our hearts and sets us free from the flesh, releasing the powerful clutches of sin that enslaves us. But what is the truth? In Jesus’ High-Priestly prayer in John chapter 17, He concretely states, “…your word is truth.” 

Truth is a major theme in the Gospel of John. Only hours after the High Priestly prayer, Jesus tells Pilot, “…I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37). But what Jesus states is profoundly important. Jesus has both called Himself truth (John 14:6) and referred to God’s Word as truth. What Jesus means is crucial for every believer to understand. Jesus declares the unchanging reality that God’s Word, the Scripture, is Truth. 

It is through the truth of the Bible that we understand God’s infinitely perfect glory, the depth of our sin, and see the redemptive plan of God unfolding and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The truth not only helps us see the glorious nature and plan of God but truly leads us to love Jesus, the Truth (John 14:6), more. This is so simple and yet so profound. When we read the Scripture, we discover the unchanging truth of God who is Jesus, who sets us free from sin and “…cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We must daily commit to being in the Truth (Scripture) so that we may know the Truth (Jesus, our Savior).

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