Do our works affect our justification? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. This is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us right now with your question. Our phone lines will be open for the next 25 minutes or so. Here's the number.
CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also leave a voicemail at that number anytime, and you can email us your question at questions at corechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to Duncan calling in from Canada. Duncan, what's your question for Adriel? Good afternoon, gentlemen.
Happy New Year. Brother Sanchez, I have a question relating to the discipline of prayer. It seems as we age, our concentration span shortens and the mind wanders.
At least that's the case with me. The same holds true in my prayer life. It seems when it comes to private prayer, it's become a duty rather than a blessing.
How can I reverse that trend, at least change all that? Duncan, God bless you, and this isn't just something that you struggle with. It's something that I think all of us, regardless of our age, and I know the age can be a factor, but I think regardless of our age, it's a challenge for us to pray consistently. For many of us, it does at times just feel like a duty, like something that we discipline ourselves to do, even though I don't feel like doing it.
Think of something like going to the gym or getting exercise. How often do we wake up in the morning and feel like, I kind of feel like going on a run this morning? At least me, I never feel that way, and yet we order our lives in certain ways in order to be healthy because we value the benefit that we get from things like exercise, and it should be the same with prayer. There are seasons in our lives where it feels like prayer comes naturally and it's just sort of flowing. I sit down and my quiet time, my times of prayer are just such a beautiful time of intimacy with the Lord, calling upon the name of the Lord.
And then there are other times where we sit down and it just feels like I'm empty, I don't know what to say, and I'm so easily distracted. So I would say, one, realizing that there are seasons in the Christian life like that, and when we're in those difficult seasons with prayer, what does feel like more of a duty, more of a discipline, I think that there are a couple of things that we can do. One, when you feel like you don't have any words, pray the words of Holy Scripture. Go through the words that Jesus gave us to pray, commanded us to pray in places like Matthew chapter 6 where you have the Lord's prayer. Go through each of the petitions there in the Lord's prayer. Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. And focus on each of those petitions, tease them out in your mind as you're praying to the Lord, what would it look like for the name of God to be hallowed? In my Christian life, in my community, Lord, bring that to pass. Your provision, give us this day our daily bread.
God, provide for my needs, my temporal needs, my physical needs, the needs of my loved ones. And so sometimes having a guide like that can be really helpful in terms of focusing and not losing our train of thought. One thing that I think can be helpful is, I don't know if you have a prayer journal, but a prayer journal, something where you're writing your prayers down can be a real blessing for a couple of reasons. One, it does help you to keep that train of thought to get from dear Lord to amen without being distracted. But also, you can look back on your prayer journal many years later and see how the Lord answered your prayers. And so it really becomes a monument, if you will, to God's faithfulness in your life.
But I would say, not beating yourself up, because this is something that we struggle with as believers. It's interesting that the disciples in Luke's gospel, when Jesus gives the Lord's prayer, when he teaches them the Lord's prayer, it comes in the context of their question saying, teach us to pray. See, the disciples saw Jesus's life of prayer, frequently getting up early and going to a desolate place on his own to pray, and they wanted to be like him. They wanted to pray like Jesus because it was such a prominent part of his life and ministry, but they needed help.
And so do we. And so we go to the Lord humbly and we say, teach us to pray and help us, Lord, to pray truly, our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. And may God bless you as you use scripture, as you use other things like prayer journals, Duncan, to get into that habit of prayer every single day. And even when you don't feel it, when it feels like it's something that's for us, just knowing that the Lord is still at work in and through even those prayers that are very much coming out of just the habit of discipline. May God bless you and thank you for reaching out to us. Duncan, thanks so much for being a regular listener to CORE Christianity there in Canada. We really do appreciate you. Let's go back to the phones. Michelle is on the line from Ohio.
Michelle, what's your question for Adriel? I hope I'm not wasting y'all's time. I've been struggling with the doubt of my salvation for a while. And I come to the conclusion just looking at scripture that basically the reason I'm not saved is because I love my sins and really have little to no desire for Christ anymore.
So I don't know if I'm blasting the Holy Spirit. I have only cared about the consequences of sin and escaping hell. And there's no love for Christ or his people or his word or to be holy. So how can I take my sins and truly repent and come to Christ?
Michelle, you're not wasting our time at all. And I just want to speak to you as a minister, as a Christian, and plead with you and say, well, first, the hope that we have for salvation, for the grace of God in our lives isn't rooted in how much we love God. I want you to look at our shortcomings, our failures, even your own love of sin, and say, well, I must be totally lost and condemned.
God must not be for me because look at how terrible I am. And yet we need to remember that God demonstrated his love for us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In other words, it's the love of God that came to us in our sinful condition that gives us hope.
And we have that hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Satan would want to convince us and convince you that because you love your sin, you're hopeless, that God is done with you, that he's through with you, that it doesn't matter what you do. But that's a lie from the enemy meant to get you to despair and faithlessness and hopelessness and just turning away from the Lord.
Our hope, your hope, needs to be in the crucified Son of God who bore the penalty for our sin so that by believing in him we might be forgiven. And if you know you're in a position right now where you could say, God, I just don't, as I look at my life, I don't love you, I know that I don't love you, I know that I love my sin, that I don't have any desire or affection to be around your people, to love your Son. But you recognize something about yourself that isn't right, that isn't in line with Scripture.
This is not how we're called to be, obviously. And so I would say, Michelle, confessing that to the Lord and saying, God, here's where I'm at right now. I feel like I love my sin, I want my sin more than I want you, I know that I don't have a passion at all, a love for you, for your church, but I confess that to you, and Lord, I pray, help me. Have mercy upon me, a sinner. You might not even feel like you want that, but I believe that you can come to the Lord honestly confessing that this is where you're at, and that when you come to the Lord with that honest confession, that he hears you and that he extends to you his grace.
And Michelle, you're not alone. It's interesting, when I read the prayers of many of the godly men and women who have gone before us, some of the prayers even of the church fathers, there are prayers that they will pray like, God, whether I desire it or not, save me. Because they recognize that oftentimes our desires, our affections are disordered, that we actually want the wrong things. We want sin. And so we plead with God and we say, Lord, transform my desire so that I love you more than I love my sin.
I see right now that that's not the case, but I confess that to you. Those disordered desires as sin, have mercy upon me, a sinner. And Michelle, when you go to God through Jesus Christ, truly with that prayer, he does receive and forgive you. Satan would say to you, no he doesn't, you've sinned too much, but Satan is a liar. And Jesus Christ and his blood are sufficient for you. Lay hold of that promise, that grace, that God extends to you even now through my words and the preaching and promise of the gospel that if you turn to the Lord, confessing your sins, the blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. And that's precisely what John says in 1 John chapter 1 verse 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And so Michelle, let me just, let me go back to you for a moment. Would you say that while you know that you desire the wrong things, you don't desire Christ, you desire your sin. Would you say that you could confess that and say to God, God, I know that this is wrong, have mercy upon me. Could you do that?
Yes, I can do that. And sometimes, let me just say, that's all we have. Sometimes all we have is, Lord, help. Help, Lord, because I know that I don't love you like I should. And in fact, each and every one of us has to say that because we don't love God perfectly. You're going to God honestly. And when you go to God honestly, the Psalms say, He's near to all those who call upon Him, who call upon Him in truth.
And that's what you're doing. And so I want to just take a moment right now and pray for you and lift you up to the Lord and ask Him to pour His grace out upon you even as you confess your need of Him. Father, thank you for Michelle, Lord. And she's in the middle of a real spiritual battle right now where the evil one is telling her that it's hopeless for her, Lord. That her sins are too great for your grace. That the blood of Jesus Christ is not sufficient for her.
I pray, Lord God, that you would silence the whispers of Satan and that you would help her to see with clarity, Lord, the power of the Gospel even for her. That the blood of Jesus, your Son, is sufficient to purge all our sins, can deal with our disordered desires. That there is grace for those, Lord God, who come to you saying, help. I know that I don't love you like I should.
I know that I love the wrong things. Help. Would you help, Lord God, our sister Michelle right now? Would you fill her with your spirit and draw her closer to yourself and give her that hope that is found in the forgiveness of sins through Jesus and the grace that you show for us sinners? Be with her, Lord, I pray, in Jesus' name.
Amen. Michelle, if you would hang on the line, we would love to send you a complimentary copy of Tim Keller's book, Prodigal God, which we think will really be helpful to you in your own spiritual journey. And that's a book actually we're offering to all of our listeners this month. We're really excited about it because Tim Keller is one of our personal favorite authors. Yeah, just really, and I actually think, Michelle, this would be a great book for you.
I want to encourage you to get a hold of it, so stay on the line and read it. And we are offering this book right now over at corechristianity.com for our listeners for a donation of any amount. But one of the things I love about this book is it really gets to the core of the gospel. We use that word all the time, gospel, it means good news. But tragically, many people, even people who are raised in churches, don't understand the beauty, the simplicity, the power of the gospel. And Satan doesn't want us to.
He wants us to be despairing, he wants us to be hopeless, he wants us to think, God has given up on me, it doesn't matter what I do. Brothers and sisters, the gospel, the power of God for salvation is greater than your sin. The gospel is good news for you, and I think that this book will help you to see that.
So get a hold of this resource again. It's Tim Keller's book, The Prodigal God, over at corechristianity.com for a donation of any amount. Such a powerful book, regardless of where you are in your own spiritual search, your spiritual journey. We know this book will be very, very helpful to you.
It's helped so many people. Again, it's called The Prodigal God by Pastor Tim Keller. You can find that by going to corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Or of course, you can call us for any one of our offers at 833-THE-CORE. You can also leave a voicemail at that number 24 hours a day. We love to receive your voicemails if you can't call during the live program. 833-THE-CORE, that's 833-843-2673. Here's a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Marsha.
Hello, Pastor Adriel and Bill. This is a question in regards to the show of November 15th, and a person was calling in asking about the importance of words that we say. And you referenced Matthew 12 37 about the importance of words where Jesus said, by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned. I'm confused about the term being used there, justified. I understand how we're justified, and that is by belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. I'm wondering if you could clarify what that means, by your words you will be justified.
Thank you so much. Yeah, excellent, excellent question. And I understand why there could be confusion. Especially when we talk about justification as a definitive act, which we do because that's what it is. It's this definitive act of God whereby He accepts us as righteous in His sight through forgiving our sins and imputing to us, crediting to us the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It's done.
It's a done thing. We're either justified or we're not. We don't become more or less justified before God's judgment seat.
We either are or we aren't. And so when you get to a text like Matthew 12, verse 37, where Jesus says, by your words you will be justified or by your words you will be condemned, some people think, well, does that mean that I'm justified, but then if I sin with my lips, I'm no longer justified, I've got to get re-justified, that sort of a thing. Well, no, again, the context is key here.
What is the context? It's knowing someone by their fruits. That is determining, if you will, whether the tree is good or bad. Either make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad.
For a tree is known by its fruit. And Jesus, speaking to the religious leaders here, says, you brood of vipers, how can you speak good when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, the good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will give an account for every careless word they speak, by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned. In other words, we're known by our words in one sense, and this is true. That doesn't mean that we're further justified or that we're justified by our words or our works in the sense that, you know, it's through what we do that we receive the credited righteousness of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of our sins, no. But as the justified, as those who have been welcomed into the family of God, adopted, filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God is at work in us, producing fruit unto righteousness. Now, of course, we're never perfect. We're never sinless. We're going to continue to sin with our speech. I mean, it shouldn't be the case with our speech.
It shouldn't be the case. This is what James gets at, specifically in his epistle. You know, he highlights this as well. But it really is that judgment, if you will, before others, being known by others. And here specifically, Jesus is warning about the false teachers and the way in which they speak.
And so that's how we have to understand. There's no contradiction here between what the apostle Paul says, you know, having been justified by faith. We have peace with God, Romans 5, verse 1. We have to look at the context of the passage. And before God, justification works, imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of our sins.
Here it's talking about judging others, in particular false teachers, by their fruit. And so I appreciate the question and an opportunity to clarify a little bit there and just pray for the Lord's blessing in your life. Thank you for reaching out to us. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. By the way, a reminder that we are a listener-supported ministry. We don't receive funds from a denomination or a church or a particular radio station. We actually count on people just like you to help us pursue our mission of sharing the gospel, equipping believers, answering the questions of non-believers and those who are struggling. And if you'd like to make a gift, you can easily do that by going to corechristianity.com. Click on the donate link.
And you can also learn more about becoming an ongoing supporter by joining what we call our inner core. Well, let's go back to the phones. On the line from Missouri, Andrew, what's your question for Adriel? My question today is after Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he went to hell. And I wanted to know if since he went to hell, did he go to hell for us?
So that way when we die, we either go straight to heaven or we asleep until Christ returns. It's still a little big for me. That's why I'm calling in today. Yeah. Hey, Andrew.
Thanks. I mean, I think it's important that we use just careful language here. And so you have like the language in the Apostles Creed that talks about Christ descending into hell or the place of the dead, the grave, if you will, referring to that period of time in between Jesus's death and resurrection from the dead. When the Creed makes that statement, it's alluding to texts and scripture like Ephesians chapter four that talks about the Christ ascending into heaven.
And then Paul says, what does that mean that he ascended except that he first descended into the lower parts of the earth? There the focus is on Christ's victory over death, his vindication against the forces of evil, his proclamation of his power over the grave. This isn't Jesus quote unquote going to hell to suffer like sinners in hell suffer.
And so we really need to understand that specific. Nobody throughout the history of the church has taught that Jesus after dying on the cross went then to hell to a place of suffering where he suffered more before the resurrection. And so that's why we got to be we want to be careful at least define what we mean when we say he descended into hell.
And I think even the language of Jesus went to hell after he I think that that we got to be careful with that specifically. Christ bore our curse on the cross so that we wouldn't have to bear the curse so that we could truly be justified before God. And text that I would go to that makes that very clear is Galatians chapter 3 verse 10. Paul says, all who rely on works of the law are under a curse for it is written, cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law to do them. Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law for the righteous shall live by faith but the law is not a faith rather the one who does them shall live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.
For it is written, cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promised spirit through faith. Brothers and sisters, that is the beauty of the gospel. You cannot be, we cannot be justified on the basis of the works of the law. When we look at God's law in its perfection, in its purity, each of us must confess, God, I don't love you as I should and I don't love my neighbors as I should.
I fall short of keeping your law. I deserve your wrath and curse. But Jesus, the eternal Son of God has stood in my place. He is my great high priest.
He is my hope before your judgment seat. I am clinging to Jesus. And when we do, we're justified. Believing in him, we belong to the Lord. We're in the family. We're brought in. We're saved.
And he keeps us through his great grace. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
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