What Does Believing Really Mean?


Romans 6:23 [widescreen].png

What does Jesus dying on the cross really mean?

We often hear about Jesus dying on the cross to save us of our sins. I’ve heard this saying over and over. But, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when it is said just like this. It is like trying to understand the plot of a movie by watching a trailer. Sure you will get the basic idea. But, there is a lot more to be seen in a two hour movie that a three minute preview can give. Such is the same when someone asks if you believe that you are a sinner and trust in Jesus who died for your sins. If you want to know what this really means, please continue reading.

Like all good stories, we have to start at the beginning. In a place long long ago and if you are living in the United States like I am, far far away. In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. That means everything we see. This is huge because we, as humans, can not create anything. We can only take what is already here and reshape it into something else. God filled the earth with plants and animals and then created us, humans in God’s image. What does this mean? A King will make a statue in the center of his kingdom so that when people look at it, they will see an image of the king and know who the king is. We are the same. When you look at us, we are created to display God’s glory. As you know, this doesn’t happen all to often and that is because of sin. Adam and Eve sinned when they wanted to be like God and ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. What is ironic is that they were already like God. Ever since this sin we have been born into a sinful nature.

This is such a key term, this sinful nature. It means that it is in our core, in our being, that we are a sinful person. It was once said by a missionary named Paul Washer, “if I were to put on the screen a video of your thoughts and desires and made them public for all to see, you would run far away and never come back.” This isn’t just true for you, this is true for me as well. At the core of our being is a horrible and wretched person that we do our best to keep away from our neighbors, our social media, and even our children and spouse. Yet, it is ultimately who we are.

Now comes the biggest problem in the entire Bible and of our entire existence. How can a Holy, Perfect, Just God, be with a sinful people? This is it. Right here is the drama of the entire Bible and the problem of our existence. If God forgives us, then He is no longer Just, Perfect, or Holy. Why can’t God be Just and forgive us if we ask for forgiveness? The missionary I mentioned above shares another story that is very helpful in understanding and I’ll do my best to paraphrase from memory. Imagine you come home to your family and see that your home was broken into and your parents and children and spouse murdered. In a fit of rage you tackle the person but in a moment of clarity you spare his life and tie him up for the cops. He then comes before the judge to be sentenced. The judge looks at the criminal and decides out of love, he is going to pardon him and let him go because he was sorry. With that they remove the handcuffs and he walks free.

If this happened you wouldn’t be able to stand it. You would call for the judges removal and that he was no longer fit to be a judge. You would petition law makers and picket the courthouse to demand justice. The judge is no longer a just judge because justice was not served. The same thing is true if God would to let you go unpunished. God would no longer be a Just and Holy God. The Bible teaches us that the price of sin is death. It is because of this payment that needs to be paid that Jesus comes. God sends His son to earth to teach us what it means to love God and to love others. Then, and the ultimate reason for coming, takes the sin of the world onto himself and pays the penalty that we should have paid in our place. So he was whipped? Beaten? Crucified? Yes. But, that wasn’t the worse part. These were all horrible and part of the plan. Yet, if this was all, we would still be in the same situation. It is during the time on the cross that Jesus, who was perfect, took all the sin of the world onto himself and was separated from God. It is then we hear him say through the Bible, “Father, why have you forsaken me!” Separation from God was required to pay for sin. Then the wrath of God, that was due for us, was released not on us, but onto Jesus. Jesus felt the full wrath and fury of His Father and was crushed on our behalf.

Three days later He was raised from the dead. The offering was accepted, the payment was complete. Through the death of Jesus our sins have been paid. When someone asks if you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This is what they are talking about. Do you believe in this. Do you accept this sacrifice and do you give your life to following Jesus? Before you say yes, understand that it isn’t just believing that this happened. Yes, the Bible says that all who believe will have everlasting life. But, the Bible also says many other things about this life conversion. It says that we will know a Christian by their fruits. In other words we will know a Christian by how they live their life. They shouldn’t look like others. They shouldn’t talk, or act, or post, or do things like they used to. This doesn’t mean that they are perfect. But it does mean that when a Christian messes up, they feel the weight of their sin and know that what they are doing is wrong and the urge to repent (ask for forgiveness and turn from this activity) is very strong. They are a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here.

So, how do you do this? How do you become a true Christian? Sorry to say this, but you can’t do anything. It is a work of God. What! You might say. You went through all of this just to say it is hopeless? Not fully. To believe this, is a work of the Holy Spirit. To most, this is a crazy story and you would be foolish to believe it. If that is you. Like I said, there is nothing you can do. But, if you do believe this story. If you do believe that you are a sinner as I shared before. Then you are to believe in Jesus and what He did for you. You are to repent of your sins. All of them. Ask for forgiveness and turn from them immediately. Pray to God to give you the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit will dwell inside of you spiritually and guide you and help you become who God wants you to be. We are to submit ourselves to this new life and ask God to continue to chip away at our old person. Then meditate and study the Bible day and night. Learn it, love it, live it. Then share it with others.

There is so much more to talk about and to share and to go over. But, this is where it all begins. If you have any further questions. Please let me know and I would be happy to help in anyway I can.

What Does Believing Really Mean?

Are You Christian?

John 112–13 [widescreen]

By: Tony Alonso

I live in the United States and we are known as a Christian country. Over 3/4 of the population call themselves Christian. But, the more I speak to those who claim to be Christian, the more I question their understanding of the term Christian. We see verses like John 3:16 and even the verse above and quickly point out that we believe and therefore, are Christian. Is this biblically correct? Is it that easy? Yes, and No.

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! James 2:19 ESV. This verse reminds us that we do well to believe. But, even demons believe and shudder! What separates us from demons? If they believe are they saved? No. Continue reading the rest of the verse above. It is not the will of flesh (yourself), or of man (those around you), but of God. Ask yourself this. Are you doing the will of God? Are you selfishly doing your own will and that of others? Do you plan your day based on other’s approval? Is the decisions you make today based on glorifying God or yourself? Do you wear what you wear to bring glory to God or yourself? Do you watch shows to ignite your spirit or to satisfy your lusts? Are you Christian?

Make no mistake. We cannot earn our way to eternal life. If this were the scale used to decide if we are worthy, we would all fail miserably. The question is not of your actions but of your heart. Are you living your life to the will of God or the will of others and yourself? If you say you believe and are Christian, but your life is not reflecting it, your thoughts are not clear on your pursuits, then you must question your conversion. Are you a false prophet? Are you claiming Christ falsely? Matthew 7:16-17 ESV says, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every heathy tree cannot bear bad fruit nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” When people look at you, do they see a Christian? When we look at your phone, computer, Netflix or Hulu account, what do we see?

If you are claiming to be a Christian in name only, please stop. You are fooling yourself and those around you. Instead, come to the Father and ask for a transformation. Submit yourself to God. Commit yourself to learning what it means to follow the will of God. Pray for understanding and a renewed mind. The greatest commandment is found in Matthew 22:37 ESV. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Make this your prayer and make this your start. Do you love God with all your mind? Does your heart long for God? If not, start here. Turning your life to God is a life long process. But, the transformation begins by inviting the Holy Spirit into your life to begin radically changing your mind and heart away from yourself and the will of others to God.


Is Now Good?


By: Tony Alonso

Acts 1:6-7 ESV: So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

Is now good? Now seems like a good time. Maybe in the next couple of minutes? How about now? The disciples had their own reasons for wanting Jesus to return: to restore the wrong to right. In light of the events that happened this morning in Orlando and the continued tragedies that happen day in and out, I can’t help asking, “Lord, come now?”

The Jews were anxiously awaiting their Christ. They imagined he would come and bring Israel back to their glory days of King David and King Solomon. When Jesus came, it was during the rule of the Roman Empire and their occupation of Jerusalem. This was the perfect time for Jesus to come and overturn the government with swords swinging. At least it seemed perfect to them. Instead, God had a different plan. A plan that left the disciples scratching their heads and wondering when? The response was not what the disciples had hoped. It is not for them to know. God the Father has fixed this time by his own perfect authority.

This can leave us scratching our heads, too. When we see senseless murders and horrible violence. When we see little girls abducted, gang members riot, planes flying into towers, and terrorists beheading missionaries, we ask, “how about now, God? Is now good?” The answer continues to be, “it is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

We can take this two ways. One, can be to get angry and wonder what kind of God we serve, or two, know that we have more time to do God’s will and bring light to this world. There are still more people that are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. More people that need to know about Jesus. It is not time yet because God’s perfect plan is still being accomplished. While tragedies and horrible acts can deflate our hopes, each day should remind us, it is not time yet. There is still more to do, more love to show, more help to give. Take these times, like what happened today in Orlando, Florida, as reminders we are not home yet. Let it inspire you to live out the great commission of making disciples of all nations as we continue to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Is Now Good?

In The End

By: Tony Alonso

I try not to browse my social media feeds. While I love to see what family and friends are up to, and enjoy the occasional cute animal video, I can get wrapped up in false teachings. Not the glorification of sin, which is all over, but the subtle feel good statements. The ones that sound great, but are horribly wrong.

I was checking out a friend’s page, when I came across several images with inspirational messages on them. One showed a young man walking an elderly lady across the street and read, “In the end, only kindness matters.” While sweet and an act we should do, the logic was flawed. In the end, kindness is not what matters. Not even close. #fail

When this life ends and we stand in judgement, it will not be in front of a kindness meter. I won’t be crossing my fingers in hopes the weight of my kindness on earth crosses a certain number. I will stand in front of Jesus, my Savior. Judgement will not be based on any righteous act of mine, but on His ultimate sacrifice. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift from God. Not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1) No. This is where kindness and many other attributes come in. As a result of being saved, I will be kind, give freely, show love, and much more. Next time you witness a message like this, remember that something meant to be inspirational can still be false and a lie. Guard yourself and be sure to check everything according to the Bible. In the end what matters is Jesus.

In The End

Act As If

James 4:10 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.

It was my first day of high school and I was scared out of my mind. Just a few months ago I was at the top of the class. Now I was at the bottom. My new friend shared during orientation that freshman meant fresh meat and seniors were just waiting to eat me alive. I needed a game plan. This so-called buddy of mine told me about three words that would change my life: act as if. He explained the best way to avoid problems was to be on their level. To act as if you were the biggest, baddest, and craziest person in the entire class. Stare them down, take them on, show them you refuse to be bullied. Doesn’t mean it has to be true, just act as if it was.

The first couple of classes went by smooth. But, P.E. was the first integrated class that would have these evil upperclassman. Once the bell rang, I spent the next 6 minutes giving myself the pep talk of a lifetime. Walking into a locker room of towering seniors the trash talk began. I stood my ground and threw out every insult I could think of.

I wish I could tell you I paved the way for future generations. However, it ended badly for me, very badly. Ever see a movie where the small kid gets thrown into a dumpster? Yeah, that became me. I understood two things that day. First, never trust the first person you meet in a high school orientation. Second, a humble approach will get you a lot further as a freshman than an “act as if” approach.

The book of James shares with us a famous passage about humbling our self before God. Which makes sense after all God created us and everything around us. But, that is not the reason he says for us to humble our selves. It is so He can exalt us. I should have gone in to the locker room and kept my mouth shut and let my skills on the basketball court talk instead of my mouth. Then my teammates could lift me up. We can talk all we want about how great we are at this, or how amazing we are at that. But, it isn’t what we say that matters, it is what others say about us.

via Bold19 – Act As If.

Act As If

The Lion’s Den

Daniel 6:16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “may your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!”

There are times I am ashamed of myself. Times when I take a look inside and hate what I see. I get so easily wrapped up when drama gets plastered over the news or the latest gossip in social media. Sure, I have good intentions. I want to make things right. But, at what cost?

Daniel was in the political realm. He dealt with kings and statesmen. Kind of like we do today with principals, teachers, and coaches. Whether these individuals in power are right or wrong, we are to trust God. While Daniel didn’t preach sermons or hold Jesus Rally’s, he followed God with everything he had. He trusted him in every situation. When he was persecuted and thrown into a pit of lions, his faith did not waiver. Through his trust in God, those in power including the king, saw and believed.

When situations happen that you do not agree with. When people act in a certain way that makes you angry. Remember that God is in control and will use you to bring glory if you let Him. Meditate on areas of your life you can rely on God and let His light shine through you. While we can’t change the world ourselves, we know that we can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us.

via Bold19 – The Lion’s Den.

The Lion’s Den

What’s In Your Feed?

Philippians 48 [widescreen]

By: Tony Alonso

Let me ask you a question. One you might not like. What is in your feed? Which pictures fill your Instagram? How many posts on Facebook lift you instead of bring you down? Do the tweets you read inspire? I noticed the more friends I accepted, and the more acquaintances I followed, the worse my mood would be after I logged off. While generations past did not have social media, they did have many distractions. In this letter to the church, Paul urges the Christians to fill their hearts and minds with the positive.

Let’s be real, there are so many areas where negativity can creep into our lives. Social media can be used in amazing ways to spread the Gospel to more places and quicker than ever before. A timely post could lift your spirits and boost your day. But, it can also be an area Satan can use to grab your attention away from God.

Go through your accounts today and decide what brings Glory to God and what doesn’t. Take control of what you see and read. Think about the content that others post and decide if that helps your day or hurts it. You will be surprised how different you feel when you fill your thoughts with what is right and pure.

via Bold19 – What’s In Your Feed?.

What’s In Your Feed?

It Is Written

Deuteronomy 83 [widescreen]

By: Tony Alonso

We have all been tempted to sin. Most of the time on a daily basis. Sometimes they are easy to avoid and you can see right from wrong. Other times sin sneaks up and what you thought was a good situation, turns quick.

The term Christian means Christ-Like and for a good reason! Christ (Jesus) showed us first hand how to deal with Satan’s temptation. When Jesus was tempted He did not go off on the devil. He didn’t get into a fist fight. He quoted scripture to put Satan in his place.

The Bible is God’s spoken word turned into the form of a book. Many refer to Bible as the living Word of God because of the power it has in your life. The letters speak to us the same way today as it has generations before us. Everything we need to know to get through temptation and to live for God is located in the typed or digital words. This is why it is so important to not only read the Bible, but to study it, and memorize key parts of it. The next time a temptation arises remember you have everything you need to conquer it. Now speak it!

It Is Written