Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago.

Follow the Burning Torch

“I am the light of the world.” John 8:12

Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” That means you have God to thank for everything good in your life and everything good in the world. Without Him there is no light, no love, no hope, no peace, and no joy. Take Him away and everything is darkness.

Walking in a dark tunnel

“Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness…” John 8:12

Imagine that we’re in a dark tunnel. One man has a light, and he’s walking towards us through the tunnel. If we walk with him, we walk in his light. But if we refuse to follow him, his light will get further and further away from us, and eventually we’ll be left in the dark.

That is true in this life, and of course it’s also true in the world to come. Beyond this world there is a place where Christ is. Because Christ is there, it is a world of light and love and peace and joy. But beyond this world there is also a place where Christ is not. Because Christ is not there, it is a world of darkness and hate and turmoil and misery. 

Jesus’ audience immediately begins to question what qualifies Him to speak: “That’s just your opinion!” (John 8:13). But Jesus cuts through the rhetoric: “I’m going away and you will seek me and you will die in your sin. Where I’m going you cannot come” (John 8:21). These folks are certain they’re going to heaven, so they reason: “We’re going to heaven. If we can’t go where he’s going, he must be going to the other place. Is he going to kill himself?” (John 8:22).

Where are you from?

“You are from below; I am from above.
You are of this world; I am not of this world.” 
 John 8:23

Jesus is saying, “Earth is your home. You don’t belong up there in heaven. And heaven is my home. I don’t belong here on earth.” In other words, heaven does not naturally belong to us. 

Suppose someone comes to your house and knocks on the door. You open the door and a stranger you have never seen is standing there. Before you say anything, he forces the door open, brushes past you, walks straight upstairs, and begins unpacking his stuff in one of the bedrooms. 

You say to him, “What do you think you’re doing?”

He says, “This is a very nice house. I’ve decided I’d like to live here.”

Your jaw drops to the ground. “Excuse me! This is my house, and I’m calling the police.”  

If you invite me to your house, I could stay there as your guest. But I have no right to stay at your house. It’s a matter of your invitation. If I stay there at all, it will be at your pleasure. 

Heaven is Christ’s home. We have no right to it. We are from below. We don’t belong there.

The danger

“I told you that you would die in your sins…”  John 8:24

What does it mean to die in your sins? It means to carry your sins into your death with you. There is nothing more tragic than this—dying in your sins. How can I make sure that this does not happen to me? I know I will die. How can I be sure that I will not die in my sins?

Jesus says just a few verses earlier: “You will die in your sin” (John 8:21). Notice there is one sin – what is it? What is the one sin these people are in danger of dying in?

What are you carrying?

“…for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”  John 8:24

Unbelief towards Jesus Christ is the one sin that leaves you taking all your other sins into your death with you. Unless you believe… you will die in your sins. Turn that around and you have the hope of the gospel… If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, you will not die in your sins.

Why is believing so important? Faith is the bond of a living union in which you give yourself to Christ, and Christ gives Himself to you. Christ becomes your Savior. Christ becomes your friend. Christ becomes your Lord and master, and when you belong to Him, His home is yours. 

Jesus lived a sinless life. He is the only person who has ever done that or ever could. The Bible tells us that “he bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). “The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). This is true for every person who has faith in Jesus Christ: Christ carried your sins into His death, so you won’t carry then into yours.

This LifeKey is based on the message (Jan 8, 2012) called: “Dying in Your Sins,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, from the series, “The Inside Story of Your Future Life.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

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The Very First Murderer

“My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth… whoever finds me will kill me.” Genesis 4:13-14

It would not have been surprising if God had ended Cain’s life right there. But in God’s mercy, the world’s first murderer is given another chance.

Cain, even after this terrible crime, God is speaking to you.  He has not cut you off.  There’s still an opportunity for reconciliation.  Accept your punishment, confess your sin and turn to Him in repentance.  The darkest moment of your life could become your turning point.

Instead of taking ownership for what he’d done, Cain begins to wallow in self-pity.  God was gracious and protected Cain, but he made a wretched choice, going out from the presence of the Lord. The last thing we hear is that Cain built a city known for music and industry, culture and commerce—but no mention of God.

How can we avoid Cain’s plunge to disaster?

Never Underestimate the Power of Sin

“If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you…” Genesis 4:7

The quickest way to disaster is to allow sin in your life and then say, “I can handle it.”  Sin is like a wild animal.  When you get angry, when you don’t get your way, when your pride is hurt—it is crouching at the door.

When Cain refused to do what is right, he set himself up for failure.  God spoke to Him, but he turned away and opened up the floodgates to a power that was far greater than he could control.

You may say, “I get pretty angry, but I would never murder anybody.”  When you allow sin to take root in your life, you never know where it will lead you.  Sin is a power.  You must master it or it will master you. The only way to master sin is in the name and the power of Jesus Christ.

Don’t Pretend to Love God If You Hate Your Brother

“Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you… First, go and be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:21-24

I have no doubt that Jesus was thinking about Cain when he said this.  There are times when anger is appropriate, but this was not one of them. Cain’s anger came from jealousy, selfishness and his own stubborn pride, and he refused to do anything about it.

Don’t pretend to love God if you hate your brother, “Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother is a liar” (1 John 4:20), and when John looks for an example of this, he chooses Cain, “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother” (1 John 3:12).

Then John draws a contrast between Cain and Christ, “This is how we know what love is… Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16).  Cain took his brother’s life.  Christ laid down His life for His brothers.

Come to God in God’s Appointed Way

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” Genesis 4:7

All the Old Testament sacrifices point us to the one sacrifice—where Jesus Christ laid down His life on the cross for our sins.  That’s how we’re to come to God.  You cannot come in any other name, including your own, offering God your achievements.  But if you come to God confessing your sin and trusting in Christ’s sacrifice for you, you will receive mercy.

Make a Different Choice

“Cain went out from the Lord’s presence.” Genesis 4:16

Suppose when God invited Cain to do what’s right, he’d said, “Lord, I’m struggling with anger towards my brother.  It’s so powerful, like a fire inside me.  I need your power.  I have this hatred inside of me, I need your love.  I have this pride within me.  I want to make a big impression and what I want drives me all the time.  I need your peace.”  Suppose he’d put his faith and trust in God to do for him what he could not do for himself.

Even after killing his brother, Cain could have taken a different course.  He could have turned away from self-pity, taken ownership of the deed he had done, faced the consequences and then thrown himself on the mercy of God saying, “I have sinned, and I stand before you without excuse.  Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  He didn’t do that.  But you can today.

This LifeKey is based on the message “Deal With Your Anger,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, on January 12, 2003, from the series “Deckchairs on the Titanic.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

“It is finished.”  John 19:30

There was only one person in the history of the world who could ever truly say, “It is finished.”  None of us will be able to say that when we die, because none of us are able to say it while we live.  None of us will say to God, “I brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”  I wish I could say it, but I haven’t been able to say this a single day of my life!

As a Christian, you’ve begun the work of all the commands, but you haven’t finished the work of any!  Every time we come before God we say, “I’ve done the things I ought not to have done and I haven’t done the things I ought to have done.”  That will never change this side of heaven.  You may grow in the Christian life, but you’ll never move beyond being “a believing sinner.”

Jesus completed the work of atonement

“You are accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:6 (kjv)

If you are in Christ, you don’t have to do something else to be loved and accepted.  All that you need is inChrist.  If He is yours, then the love of God, the forgiveness of God and the acceptance of God stream to you in Jesus Christ.

Jesus completed the full course of obedience

“God made him who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

Just as your sins were laid on Jesus and counted as His, His righteousness is draped on you and counted as yours.  In Christ you have already lived a righteous life.  He lived it for you.  You are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).

If your hope of heaven rests on your work, that hope will not stand.  Your works are incomplete.  They’re unfinished.  If your hope depended, in any degree, on something you had to do, in addition to what He’s already done, it could never stand.  But when your hope of heaven rests on Christ’s work, that hope is secure, because Christ’s work is complete.  He says, “It is finished.”

Jesus completed the decisive victory over Satan

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:31

Some of you look at your family history and see the work of Satan, the destroyer, at work over generations.  You wonder if some kind of curse is hanging over your family, “What does this mean for me?”  I say to you, on the authority of Scripture, no curse can stand against you if you are in Christ.  How could it?  He won the decisive victory over Satan on the cross.

Maybe you find yourself overwhelmed by the strong pull of temptation.  Satan knows your weakness and he has been running rampant in your life because of it.  You have failed so many times you can hardly imagine prevailing over this enemy.

General Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army.  One day his granddaughter, Catherine, was getting ready to speak in the open air for the first time.  She was nervous, and she said to her grandfather, “I don’t know if it will do much good, but I’ll do my best.”  The old general said to her, “Catherine, with Christ you can do better than your best.”

Let that be an encouragement when you feel defeated.  You have done your best and you have failed, but with Christ you can do better than your best.  In Christ your enemy is a defeated foe.

Jesus completed the long night of His suffering

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18

No suffering lasts forever.  Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.  One day our Lord Jesus Christ will reveal the glory of the resurrection body, the new creation—no more sin, no more pain, no more tears and no more death.  All this is yours when Christ is yours.  Christ finished.  You haven’t.  But with Him you will!

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

Mary's Salvation

“Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother…” John 19:25

It is very striking that, with the exception of John, all of the disciples had fled.  We’re told that around the cross there were four women: Mary, the mother of Jesus; her sister; Mary, the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.  With John, these four women watched, waited and worshiped, and they’re no doubt weeping, with all the mocking, spitting and taunting of a Christ-rejecting world.

Jesus was on the cross for three hours before the darkness came at noon, and during that time, He spoke only three times.  Three sentences in three hours!  For the rest of the time, He was completely silent in His suffering.  Minutes passed like hours.  It must have seemed endless.

Think about what it was like for Mary to watch during these hours.  The cross is set in place, and then Jesus looks up: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Then silence from Jesus.  Then Jesus turns a little to the side to speak to that thief, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”  Silence again, then Jesus looks down and speaks to His mother…

What is Jesus saying?

“Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”  John 19:26-27

It is the kindness of Jesus to provide for the care of His mother, but John can never take the place of Jesus.  Some of you have experienced the irreplaceable loss of a child.  To say to a mother who loses a child, “Well, there are other children,” fails to grasp the unique bond between a mother and the child to whom she’s given birth.

In the birth of her son, Mary found great joy, and now as He suffers, she feels an irreplaceable loss.  There’s something more going on here than Jesus providing for the care of His mother.  The relationship between Jesus and Mary is changing.  For 33 years, Jesus has been the son of Mary, but He was and He is the Son of God.  He assumed human flesh, so that He could become our redeemer.  This is why He came into the world and why He was on the cross.

On the cross, the blood is draining from His body, His life is ebbing away.  The old order is passing and the relationship between Mary and our Lord is changing.  As Mary stood near the cross, her heart must have been crying out, “My son, my son, my son…”  And Jesus is saying, “No.  You must no longer think of Me as your son.  From now on, John is to take that place in your life.  Regard him as your son.”  How is she to regard Jesus?  As her Savior and Lord…

How would God save her?

“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”  Luke 1:47

When the angel told Mary about the Son she would bear, she said that she had always looked to God as her Savior.  But, how would God save her?  Jesus went to the cross and laid down the life He had drawn from Mary.  His body was broken.  His blood was poured out.  Mary’s son died, and in His death, He becomes her Savior.  I want you to understand what’s happening here…

Mary loses an irreplaceable son and gains an incomparable Savior.  Mary’s gain was far greater than her loss. She lost the love of a son who was taken from her in death.  She gained the love of a Savior, who death could never take from her.  She lost the joys of a son who had brought her happiness on earth.  She gained the joys of a Savior at whose right hand there are pleasures forever more in heaven.

She gave Him life in the flesh for a time.  He gave her life in the Spirit for eternity.  Her gain was far greater than her loss.  Mary has been in heaven for nearly 2,000 years, and if she could be here today, she would say to us, “I was so privileged to have this unique relationship with Him in the flesh, but that changed at the cross.  He made it clear that John was taking His place in that regard.  The flesh passes away and I entered heaven, not because Jesus is my son, but because Jesus is my Savior, not because He is mine by birth, but because I am His by faith.”

This LifeKey is based on the message “How Mary’s Son Became Her Savior,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith, on May 8, 2011, from the series “The Full Extent of His Love.”

Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.

You can receive our daily devotional booklet by mail by visiting and subscribing to the LifeKEYS Daily Bible Devotional BookletYou can also follow Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible on Facebook and Twitter.  

About Colin Smith

Colin Smith is Senior Pastor of The Orchard in northwest suburban Chicago. Before coming to the United States in 1996, Colin served as Senior Pastor of the Enfield Evangelical Free Church in London for 16 years. He is heard daily on the radio broadcast Unlocking the Bible, speaks regularly at preaching conferences, and is the author of more than two dozen books and booklets. Follow Pastor Colin on Twitter @PastorColinS, and Unlocking the Bible @UnlckngtheBible.

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