Using Jesus’ Name ( by Carley Evans )

John says to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in Your Name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (Mark 9:38, NIV) Jesus tells John not to stop the man. Jesus says, “No one who does a miracle in My Name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:39-40)

Notice the man has been driving out demons in Jesus’ Name — not one demon, but many demons. He’s performed real miracles in the Name of the Lord, not once but many times. Yet, he does not belong to Christ, at least not according to the disciple, John.

Jesus says good performance doesn’t come from a man who sets himself against Him. If he is not against us, says Jesus, then he is for us.

“Whoever welcomes Me,” says Jesus, “does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me.” (Mark 9:37)

The Work of God Displayed ( by Carley Evans )

Jesus comes upon a man blind from birth. He tells His disciples that no, the man is not blind because he sins or because his parents sin. Rather he is blind “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3, NIV)

Jesus spits on the ground to make a mud, which He places on the man’s eyes. Then He commands him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. The blind man obeys; he is healed, goes home seeing. His neighbors and other people say he’s the same man they’ve seen begging, but some say no, he just looks like that man. The man says, “I am the man.” (John 9:9) People want to know how he can see when he’s been blind his whole life. The man tells them about Jesus.

People take the man to the Pharisees, who demand to know how his eyes were opened. He tells them. Some of the Pharisees call Jesus a sinner, because He does not keep the Sabbath. They challenge the man, asking, “What do you say about Him? It is your eyes He opened.” (John 9:17) The man says, “He is a prophet.” (John 9:17)

The Pharisees doubt the man was actually born blind, so they send for his parents. “How is it that now he can see?” they ask. (John 9:18) Needless to say, his parents are terrified. They acknowledge the man is their son, and that he was born blind, but they deny knowing how he received his sight. They cop out. “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:23)

The Pharisees demand the man “give glory to God.” Referring to Jesus, they spout, “We know this man is a sinner.” (John 9:24) The man says he doesn’t know if Jesus is a sinner or not; he only knows he was blind and now he sees. The Pharisees want to hear his story again. The man almost laughs, “Why? Do you want to become His disciples, too?” (John 9:27) In rage, the Pharisees boldly state they are “disciples of Moses” because they know God spoke to Moses.

Now the man challenges the Pharisees. He challenges their logic. “Nobody ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man is not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:32) The Pharisees insult the man in a fit of great anger and frustration; they then throw him out.

Jesus finds the man. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35) The man wants to know who the Son of Man is so he can believe in Him. Jesus tells him, “You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you.” (John 9:37) The man acknowledges his belief; and he worships Jesus.

Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 9:39)

The Pharisees, who hear, protest. “What? Are we blind too?” (John 9:40)

Jesus responds, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:41)

The disciples suspect the man is blind due to sin; the man’s neighbors and other people in his community think he might be an imposter of the man born blind; the Pharisees claim Jesus is a sinner because He heals on the Sabbath; the man born blind realizes Jesus must be from God because God only works through people who “do His will.” (John 9:31)

Jesus displays God. He shows mercy in the healing of the man born blind. He condemns the Pharisees who claim they are not blind when they obviously can not see the Truth standing right in front of their eyes.

Are Christians ‘Sinners Saved by Grace’ or ‘Saints’? ( by Carley Evans )

An interesting debate pops up now and then — are Christians sinners? Or are they now and ever only saints?

In the same portion of the same letter, the author of 1 John writes, “If we claim to have fellowship with [God] yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” In the very next sentence, he also writes, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:6-8, NIV)

So we are sinners saved by grace who walk in the light, and who are purified by the blood of Jesus. Of course, we continue to sin. We are not perfected yet.

The author of 1 John continues, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:9-10) He goes on to state that he is writing this so that they “will not sin.” (1 John 2:1)

So, we are saints by virtue of the fact that we confess our sins; and Jesus faithfully out of His justice forgives us our sins and makes us righteous.

Thank You, Lord for Your awesome gift of salvation and sanctification. In Jesus’ Name, amen!



What I Have, I Give (by Carley Evans)

A man lame from birth is carried every day to the gate called Beautiful so people entering the temple complex are able to see him; and he is able to beg. Seeing John and Peter, he asks for help. Peter commands, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:4, HCSB) The lame beggar looks at Peter and John expecting a hand-out. Instead, Peter tells the man, “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have I give you: In the Name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

I can imagine the man looking at Peter with some disgust and certainly disappointment. He may know the Name of Jesus the Nazarene; he also may be thinking only of his empty stomach and his aching body. Notice he does not take Peter’s hand or even reach up for him; rather Peter takes the lame beggar by the right hand, and raises him up. “At once his feet and ankles become strong.” (Acts 3:7) When the man realizes his legs are strong, then”he jumps up, stands, and starts to walk, and he enters the temple complex with [John and Peter] — walking, leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8)

Recall it is “by faith in [Jesus’] Name; His Name makes this man strong.” Peter tells the crowd gathering in the temple complex, “So the faith that comes through [Jesus] gives [this man] this perfect health in front of all of you.” (Acts 3:16)

So what does Peter give to the lame beggar? Healing? No. In a sense, Peter loans him faith. Through Peter’s belief, the man’s body is made whole. Once healed, the man finds a faith of his own, leaping and praising God for himself.

“I don’t have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you.” (Acts 3:6)