Confession and the Blessings of Salvation

October 29, 2016

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   (1John 1:9)

In the original Greek language, what we translate as confess is a compound Greek word: to say and the word for sameness.  It literally means to say the same thing God says or to agree with God.  If you know the Word of God and are in the Spirit enough to be convicted by the Holy Spirit, you can know what God says and how He feels about what you have done.

Your confession is to agree with Him. Our responsibility is to agree with Him.  God does all the rest.

God knows when we are lost.  Because God loves us He very much wants us to agree with Him that He might recover us and lead us into green pastures and still waters that flow to a table of provision and a full cup that never empties.  That’s why God wants us to confess our sins and start climbing in the right direction spiritually.

God is not a divine policeman with a huge club just waiting to crack us over the head when we step out of line.  The ministry of Jesus is summed up in the Gospel of Luke this way: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)  That Gospel shows us in beautiful ways the blessings that come into the lives of lost people because Jesus finds them and leads them to the blessings of salvation.

Dick Woodward, 02 October 2012


A Christmas Challenge (all year long!)

December 19, 2014

“So the Word became human and made his home among us…And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”  (John 1:14 NLT)

God became human and made His home among us so we could see and not just read what He wrote in the 39 books of the Old Testament.  We should find a Christmas challenge in the words of the Apostle Paul which tell us “… that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2Corinthians 4:11).

One of the reasons God did Christmas was because He felt that a written Word was not enough.  He wanted us to see as well as read His Word to us.  Everything Jesus was, said, and did was one great spoken Word from God to you and me (John 1: 1, 14, 18).

It is the plan of God that unbelievers in this world today should see as well as read His Word through your mortal flesh and mine.  That truth, which is clearly articulated by the Apostle Paul, moved me to make an important decision in my ministry as a Bible pastor/teacher.  In the early sixties I was praying about accepting an opportunity presented to me to be a radio Bible teacher.  Those words of Paul were used by God to direct me to be the pastor of a church where people could see as well as hear the Word of God in my mortal flesh.

“We’re writing a Gospel a chapter each day by things that we do and things that we say.  Men read what we write whether faithless or true.  Say, what is the Gospel according to you?”

That should be our Christmas challenge all year long.

Dick Woodward, 16 December 2011


Multi-facted Forgiveness

July 25, 2014

“…If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins…” Matthew 6:14-15

We need forgiveness in three dimensions: when we look up, when we look around, and when we look in.

If we believe the Gospel, the first dimension is a given. The great Bible word for that is “justified.” It literally means to ‘un-sin’ our sin. You can break up the word this way: just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned. Plus, the word means that He declares us righteous. In the 18th chapter of Luke, Jesus pronounced that anyone who prays, “God be merciful to me – a sinner,” is justified. Can you see why I say the first dimension of forgiveness is a given if you believe the Good News?

The second dimension is more complicated. You need a special measure of grace to forgive those who have greatly harmed you. And you can’t control whether or not those you have hurt will forgive you. But Jesus mandated that we have forgiveness in this second dimension. When He taught his disciples how to pray, He literally told them to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us.”

At the end of His teaching His disciples how to pray He added a solemn commentary: “If you do not forgive those who have sinned against you, then My Father in heaven will not forgive you your sins. In other words, if you don’t have forgiveness in this second dimension you lose your forgiveness in the first dimension. What a solemn truth!

Those who have sinned grievously will tell you that the third dimension of forgiveness is the toughest one. When devout people fall into sin, they especially have a very difficult time forgiving themselves.

Pray for forgiveness in these three dimensions because the greatest obstacle to inner healing is un-forgiveness.

Dick Woodward, 17 January 2009


The Third Level of Commitment to Christ

October 11, 2013

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…”  (2 Corinthians 5:20)

The third level of commitment to Christ is identified by the preposition “for Christ.” Paul concludes that when we understand all that we have available to us “by Christ,” and we fully appreciate what it means to be “in Christ,” we are therefore ambassadors “for Christ.”

Paul writes:“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)  According to Paul, everyone who has been reconciled to God by Christ has been given the message and the ministry of reconciliation.  This means every believer is a minister.  The seventh beatitude “blessed are the peacemakers” is another way of saying the same thing.  As conduits of God we should plead with people to be reconciled to God.

There is another application to this third level of commitment as demonstrated by the legendary missionary David Livingstone. On one very hot day in Africa, he faced a stream he had to cross. Holding his gear over his head he waded through sewer-like water that had a terrible odor.  Covered with decayed plant life up to his chin, when he reached the other side he laid down his gear.  Falling prostrate on his face, David Livingstone cried out, “Father I thank you for the privilege of going through this putrid jungle stream for You!”

I was once asked as a pastor to visit a missionary couple who returned after 48 years in China without any welcome or appreciation.  Although living in tenement housing and in poor health, they were in wonderful spirits.  When I inquired about their attitude they said, “You have to know Who you are doing it for.”

Do you know Who you are doing it for?


Three Levels of Commitment to Christ

October 1, 2013

“And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”   (2 Corinthians 5:18 KJV)

In the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians we find one of the most profound passages of Scripture in the New Testament.  In this chapter we have a window into the heart of the Apostle Paul as he writes about what motivates him.  It is a passage that clearly defines the Gospel.  Paul gives us here the vision absolutes that defend why he lived like a madman.  He then clearly writes that every believer who has been reconciled to God by Christ has been commissioned with the message and the ministry of being a peacemaker and a minister of reconciliation.  The passage concludes with a very clear description of the meaning of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

This profound passage also describes three levels of commitment to Jesus Christ that are identified by prepositions.  In the verse quoted above the first ‘entry’ level of commitment to Christ is described as Paul uses the preposition “by Jesus Christ.”  We are saved “by Christ.”  When He saves us He often fills our life with good things the way He filled Peter’s boat with fish (Luke 5: 1-11). It doesn’t take us long to realize that the changes taking place in our lives are by Jesus Christ.  We also discover there are many things we can only do by Jesus Christ.

Study this passage (verse 13 through 21), and see if you can identify two more levels of commitment to Christ.  What are they and what would they look like if you applied them to your walk with Christ?


A Fellowship in the Gospel

September 3, 2013

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to his favorite church we hear him express his definition of a church.  According to Paul, the church is “a fellowship of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:5; 27)  He agrees with Luke who describes the church the same way in his history of the church as quoted above.

According to Luke the fingerprints of the church are as follows: the thumbprint is evangelism.  The people he is describing would not be there if they had not been reached by the evangelistic sermon of Peter on the Day of Pentecost.  The index fingerprint is teaching.  The middle fingerprint is fellowship.  The ring fingerprint is worship and the little fingerprint is prayer.

Just as your thumb naturally touches your four fingers, the teaching, fellowship, worship and prayer of the church are meant to lead to evangelism.  These four functions of the church equip, edify, inspire and empower the church to reach out and bring lost people to salvation in Christ.

Our churches can often be described as a group of people sitting in a circle with their chairs facing in.  According to Paul and Luke we should turn our chairs back to back and face out in a fellowship of the gospel.  I have visited the Dead Sea which without an outlet is stagnant and dead and earns it its name.  Also the Sea of Galilee which is filled with life because it has an outlet.

So it is with our churches.  When we face out and reach out we have an outlet that fills our church with the young life of new believers.  Is your church a fellowship in the gospel?


The Defense of the Gospel

August 27, 2013

“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you…  That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”  (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he defended the gospel.  He wrote that when he came to them he determined to know nothing among them but Christ and Him crucified.  He did not use enticing words of man’s wisdom because he did not want their faith to be rooted in the wisdom of man but in the power of God (1Corinthians 2).

When he brought his letter to a conclusion he reminded them of the gospel he had preached in a very clear summary.  It is simply two facts about Jesus Christ: He died, and He was raised from the dead for our sins.  That was what Paul preached, that was what they believed, that was what saved them, and that was the foundation upon which their faith was to stand.  Furthermore, if they believed anything else they were lost (Chapter 15).

We who are preachers often go beyond the gospel Paul proclaimed.  Perhaps we are trying to make it more interesting for ourselves.  We may be preaching to each other.  Whatever our reasons may be we need to return to the simple presentation of the gospel Paul preached in Corinth and all over the world.

I know of no one who did that in my generation like Billy Graham.  He wrote that early in his preaching when a meeting was not right, in prayer the Lord showed him that he was making it too complex.  He then returned to an uncomplicated gospel and never wavered from that clear gospel message.