Salvation

Alive & Active

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“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5

 

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17

 

There is a kind of faith that does not save, and the only way for you or me to distinguish between the faith of Christ Jesus that saves, and a faith that may profess Christ but does not save, is by what that faith produces.

 

Jesus said, “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20 NLT

 

Yes; it is possible to have a false assurance of salvation, meaning that we could think we are saved when in fact we are not. Jesus makes this point very clear in several passages. One such passage is Matthew 7. In verses 22 & 23 He said,  “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

How horrifying would that be? God’s love should compell us to compassionately speak the entire truth to all. Yes, that’s right, when we do speak it, we’ll not be very popular with the world, and with many who have joined themselves to the church and yet are still of the world—they don’t know the real Jesus Christ.

 

“The faith that saves is that which actively produces the virtues of Christ within the believer.”

 

These virtues of godliness perform, they do stuff—they are active. The working of His Holy Spirit within is reproducing all the attributes of God in those who belong to Christ. It is called being sanctified—set apart from the world to become holy, just as He is holy. Our works of righteousness can never save us. But the reason God saved us is so that we can and will do good works (Ephesians 2:10).

 

Enjoy these beautiful lines from “The Book of Praise.”

 

Tis from the mercy of our God

That all our hopes begin;

His mercy saved our souls from death,

And washed our souls from sin.

His Spirit, through the Savior shed,

Its sacred fire imparts,

Refines our dross and love divine,

Rekindles in our hearts.

Thence raised from death, we live anew;

And justified by grace,

We hope in glory to appear,

And see our Father’s face.

Let all who hold this faith and hope

In holy deeds abound;

Thus faith approves itself sincere,

By active virtue crowned.

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Categories: Christian Doctrine, Church, Devotional, Faith, Growing in Faith, Poem, Poetry, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reclaiming Truth from Error

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God has always had His faithful remnant—those who hold to the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the doctrines given through His holy Apostles. And yet, much of that doctrine, along with the genuine essence of the Good news down through history, has gone through periods of being horrendously obfuscated for many. It was progressively obscured for centuries by the devilish deceptions imposed upon the minds of a great number of professing Christians. Much heresy was perpetuated by the Roman Catholic state church. But praise God! He has raised up genuinely heroic reformers who, though threatened with being ostracized, excommunicated, imprisoned, or even killed, shone the light of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

 

We do not reject or deny the salvation of individuals simply because of what denomination they may be. We hold that God has, and will continue to lead many souls across the threshhold of eternal life in Christ regardless of their denomination. Requisite, however, is the hearing of the truth of the gospel. So long as they are exposed to the scriptures, or have had the Gospel of Christ preached to them, for faith comes through hearing the word of God. 

 

Probably the best-known event which effectually launched those trying years of reformation transpired on October 31, 1517, when in defiance of the hierarchal reign of religious tyranny, Martin Luther valiantly nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle church. There were myriad truths to be reclaimed—truth which had been hazed over by powerful Catholicism. And out of this reforming movement came Protestantism, blazing with luminary, life-giving truth.  

 

Jesus said that He would build His church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. This magnificent promise continues to be a comforting balm of assurance, especially in our society’s current climate. It’s heartening to know our Lord has things well in hand—we need that affirmation. Because, pseudo Christianity is again on the rise, and a plethora of bogus doctrines are promulgated. False gospels abound and antichrists are plentiful. Most of these are nothing new, but merely old heresies packaged a bit differently than they were in the past to better deceive modern day man. Thankfully, God’s word remains flawless, and we strive to defend the faith delivered by our fathers—its precious authenticity, “against the novel opinions of its opponents.” (Augustine)  

 

If we were to condense some of the most dynamic truths recaptured by the reformation and communicated them, at the heart of such a synopsis would surely be the Five Solas; particularly in reference to soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). But equally important is the authority and inerrancy of scripture in juxtaposition with that of the church and its traditions. Sola is the Latin word for “alone.”

 

THE FIVE SOLAS ARE: 

  1. Sola Scriptura:  Scripture Alone: The Bible alone is our highest authority. 
  2. Sola FideFaith Alone: We’re saved through faith alone, apart from works.  
  3. Sola GratiaGrace Alone: We’re saved by God’s grace alone, apart from law. 
  4. Solus ChristusChrist Alone: Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and High Priest, or Mediator. 
  5. Soli Deo GloriaTo the Glory of God Alone: All that we do is for the glory of God alone.  

 

We affirm the faith delivered to us by Jesus’ holy Apostles who teach us that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. We also affirm the inerrancy and supreme authority of scripture. 

 

Taking each of these vital truths individually, for the understanding of everyone, I’ve already given each of them a brief explanation above. To treat them more thoroughly, I’ll be following up with truncated articles to expound each definition with corresponding examples and applications in succeeding posts and links. We will also discuss regeneration by faith alone, and the righteous works which invariably will follow.

 

These truths are vital for selecting which church to join ourselves to. They are vital for understanding how to be saved. Knowing them can aid us in detecting false doctrine and error. This is why I’ve begun with the most important of the “Alones”—Scripture Alone, from which all five are validated.

 

Please subscribe to be notified when the highly important coverage of these topics are posted. May God bless you with His presence and bolster your peace, strength, hope & joy today.

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Church, People, Providence, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Phases of Salvation

 

Been Saved, Being Saved & Will Be Saved

 

Without a lucid understanding of God’s entire and perfect plan for the redemption of mankind, certain scriptures could possibly be confusing. There are three phases to salvation; hence, the bible uses three tenses in delineating the doctrine of salvation. For me personally, it took many years to understand this—I was saved at 12 years old.

 

Briefly, let’s lay the following stone of truth that we may clear a path to our main topic.

We are saved by a free gift from God called Grace. Grace is bestowed upon those who believe and place their trusting faith in Christ Jesus— the truth. And forever after that, God’s grace continues working for the soul who is saved. Grace is not a once and done kind of thing. When the Lord regenerates us (2 Cor. 5:17) we’ve been born again, and a magnificent transformation has begun. All that we shall be discussing here is included in the works of God’s amazing Grace. In fact, all of God’s dealings with every soul He has regenerated (saved) is included in the works of His grace, even His discipline. All the various giftings for service and for glorifying Him, and for the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are gifts of grace and works of grace: God’s work, not ours. His grace even fulfills every one of our needs and provides love, peace, joy, bodily provisions and inner strength, etc., etc.. When it comes time for our bodies to turn back to dust, the Lord even gifts us with grace to die with inner peace and assurance, looking forward to where we’re going.

 

SALVATION

 

The study of salvation, known among theologians as soteriology, includes all three tenses of past, present and future. The bible uses all three in referring to those of us who’ve been redeemed and are heaven bound. Some verses indicate that we who are in Christ have been saved. Other passages say we are being saved, while still others say we will be saved. The truth in Christ reveals all three to be correct at the same time. The past tense is true because God is doing this work of saving us, and that which from our perspective is yet to be done, is so certain that we can speak of it as already having taken place. If we have truly believed, then we have been saved, and the next two phases or stages both: are happening, and will happen, just as sure as water is wet. God is not bound by time—He is the creator of it and is outside of time, so He sees the completed products of His grace. He sees you and I as we will be in heaven. Time is for us, though it serves God’s purpose. He does not need the differing tenses, but we do, because we are bound within time, until it, at a final point, shall cease to exist. From our current perspective we could say that eternity is one exceedingly long and never ending day.

 

In view of demonstrating the varying tenses scripture employs I’ve cited three verses—each refers to salvation and each uses a different tense.

 

First, we have Past Tense.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:8–9.

 

Next, we move to present tense.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

 

Finally, here’s an example verse containing both the past and the future tense of salvation.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Romans 5:9

 

This last verse is the perfect launching pad from which to discuss all three tenses. Because the doctrine of salvation, known in theological language as Soteriology (repetition deliberate) makes it exceptionally clear that there are 3 Phases to Salvation.

Those who have been born again of the Spirit, and who belong to Christ Jesus, AKA the redeemed or believers are right now in the middle, or current phase of salvation.

The gospel of Christ discloses:

  1. What has already taken place in the past for those who believe.
  2. What is currently taking place within those who believe.
  3. What will happen to those who believe when Jesus returns.

 

At this point we should identify the biblical terms for each of these 3 stages of salvation. They are as follows:

  1. Justification
  2. Sanctification
  3. Glorification

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JUSTIFICATION

Through the atoning blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, that is, through His sacrificial death, we are forever justified before God. Justified means our sins have been forgiven.  A simple way to remember what justification accomplishes is “It’s just as if I never sinned!” Our sins are taken away and we are covered (covered is the meaning of the word atonement) by the righteousness of Jesus. We are given the righteousness of Christ as a covering. The blood of Christ cleanses us and His righteousness covers us. We are made right in the sight of God, by God Himself. To justify is actually a legal term and is important in keeping with God’s nature of being a “just” (right and good) judge. Jesus took our sins upon Himself, and in return covered us with His righteousness, making us right with God. We are straight up and down, perpendicular or justified before God. As a good judge God has seen to it that justice was done when He poured out His wrath against sin as Jesus hung on the cross. He saw to it that the penalty for sin was imposed and carried out. Jesus became sin for us, so that He could take the penalty that we deserved. Now that our sin debt has been paid, we have been (past tense) justified in God’s sight.

Jesus Christ is our deliverer! He delivered us from the penalty for sin. The penalty is death. This is being Justified.

 

But wait, what about the real us on the inside? I’m only covered with righteousness, viewed that way by God, but not righteous in actuality. We still sometimes sin! God did not pay our sin debt for us just so we could continue being such horrible sinners. On the contrary, He has justified us so that He could give to us His Holy Spirit, that we may have the requisite power to say “No!” to our sin nature, and overcome it in this life. Simply being justified is not the final product of salvation. Once justified we begin the growing process of sanctification. We are becoming holy, like Jesus. He is our perfect and exhaustive deliverer. God’s power in the form of His Holy Spirit doesn’t only give us the ability to do what pleases God, He also gives us the desire to do what is right and what pleases God—the urge to do His will, and the power to work it out.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 NLT

 

I’ve been saving this point for right here, but first allow me to preface it with the following. I myself still have urges to do what the sinful flesh wants, like to be noticed as someone of importance. Vanity and pride still wage war against my new life in the Spirit, and this conflict will continue for you and for me until we are glorified. Romans 7 & 8 make this clear. But I am saved. I love God and all that is good. But my flesh still loves the world. I have to deny myself (the flesh), take up my cross and follow Jesus. I must decide daily to die to the flesh and choose to love God more than myself. See Luke 9:23, and Galatians 2:20.

I’ve stated that to ask, which do YOU love more? Oh wow, yes, I just shifted to a personal and pointed voice, because I love YOU and I don’t want to see you be eternally lost. But this is between you and God, I’m just a messenger. I believe a true test for whether or not we are saved could be: which do we love more—God or ourselves? Has God given you the DESIRE to please Him? If so, you are saved. If you choose to follow the flesh over the Spirit most of the time, you probably do not have saving faith. But you still can be saved by TRUSTING Christ with your life. Among other things, this involves doing things His way, knowing that He is going to give us everything that is good. I can humble myself because God has promised to exalt me. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

 

SANCTIFICATION      pho2

To sanctify in the biblical sense means: to set apart as holy, to be used for holy purposes. The words; Saint, Holy, Set-apart, and Sanctify all come from the same root word in the Greek.

Currently, those who are in Christ are saved, and also are being saved, by undergoing sanctification: maturing and growing in holiness. True believers live in the resurrection power of Christ. We are buried with Him by baptism into His death, identifying with Him in His death, so that we may also rise with Him to walk in a new life by His power. We are being conformed to the image of God’s holy Son, Jesus. During this sanctifying process Jesus delivers us from the power of sin, giving us His Spirit. Holy Spirit is the dynamic employed to overcome personal sin, and live in a way that is pleasing to God. Jesus and Holy Spirit are both praying for us.

 

 

GLORIFICATION

When Jesus comes and calls us home to heaven and the saved are raised to life, we shall receive new spiritual bodies that do not sin—ever! The bodies we have now will be raised and radically changed from fleshly bodies to spiritual bodies (see 1st Corinthians chapter 15). We will be delivered from the very presence of sin. This is the final phase of salvation and it is called glorification.

 

“For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

Did you notice how the “glorified” is in the past tense? That’s because it is so certain to happen! And God sees the completely saved you—after the 3rd phase.

 

Jesus saves us in three ways.

  1. He has delivered us from the penalty of sin—Justified (past).
  2. He is currently delivering us from the power of sin—Sanctifying (present).
  3. Jesus will deliver us from the very presence of sin—Glorified (future).

 

Once glorified we will never again sin, we will never see a sin committed—we will be completely taken away and separated from all that is sinful, evil and wicked—in a utopia known as heaven in the very presence of God with all His splendor and glory. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is flawless, genius, and displays His love and patience with mankind in an extremely poignant manner.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I pray that you hunger and thirst to know the Lord God with increasing passion, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He has saved me and set me free from sin.

pho3 

 

If you would like to go a bit deeper and do a proper study of what we’ve discussed here, I recomend prayerful study of the New Testament. But the following is a resource that may help you further. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

Blessings!

 

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Church, Faith, God's Faithfulness, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gore & Love Intersect

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“The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 

 

As a boy of ten years, I kept a scrapbook filled with images of lions and tigers hunting. Many of them depicted gory kills. Several decades later, I can still picture the blood covered faces of those vicious beasts. One day my mom happened upon the bloody pictures I’d been saving. Understandably, she became concerned that I might be turning into some sort of twisted, sadistic kid. Blood has a tendency to make us recoil in horror. But my fascination had to do with a compulsion to understand death.

 

Many old Christian hymns include references to the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. Here’s one example—an old favorite performed by some promising musicians. “Nothing But The Blood” 

 

It’s the blood of Christ which cleanses us from our sins. What picture could better display the awful consequences of sin upon the world than grisly blood? God has a good reason for the use of blood in the bible. The blood used in the old sacrificial system of temple worship was a foreshadow of the blood of Christ. Justice demands blood.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it drastically changed mankind—even the earth was changed by a curse. The consequences of sin are exceptionally horrific. “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a  

And, God says that life is in the blood. “For the life of a creature is in the blood…” Leviticus 17:11a  

And so, spilled blood is synonymous with death—and death is the penalty for sin.

 

As a lasting and stark expression of sin’s staggering cost, God clothed Adam and Eve with dead animal skins. This signified the horrors that the world would experience as a result of sin. Sin brought with it; sickness, war, a curse, slavery to sin, and death for every person since Adam and Eve. Some of the animals changed from herbivores into carnivorous creatures—the images of which I kept in that childhood scrapbook.

 

God has taught me that I should be aghast and horrified at the prospect of sin. It should make me shudder in horror—the same response one would have to a bloody, gruesome death.

But it’s in man’s fallen nature to trivialize sin, rather than to acknowledge its true devastating make-up.

 

Because of God’s awesome love for you and me, Jesus allowed His own blood to be spilled, taking that awful death penalty in our place. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, (from John 10). The macabre sight of His blood flowing down to puddle in the dust, proclaims God’s monolithic love for you and me. Do you see the importance of the blood? If not, you do not yet understand the way of salvation that God has provided for us. His blood equals love, atonement, propitiation, forgiveness and salvation.

Bloody gore and love intersect at the Cross of Jesus. ©

 

Below is Alan Jackson singing  Are You Washed

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Cross of Christ, Devotional, Faith, Salvation, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What You Need To Know

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An insidious influence of wickedness has been embraced by our society, as evidenced by the fact that it is legal. Ted Bundy, a name that invokes horror, and before he was apprehended, terror, into the hearts and minds of Americans, testified about this disease that America seems to love. He told of the affect it had upon him, and how addicted he became to it, until he began acting out the sexual violence that this pandemic invariably produces in those who partake of it. Bundy raped and killed 30 young women and girls.

 

Ted Bundy, however, is far from the only person to have had his moral and ethical restraint enervated by pornography. In his final interview just hours before his execution, he speaks of his many years in prison and the myriad of other men who testify of how pornography had so corrupted their thinking that they too had reacted violently in the perpetration of sexual crimes and murder. Invariably, these men point to the exact same underlying socially accepted evil that led to their crimes: pornography.

 

There have been scores of underdogs who have championed the cause of eradicating pornography, at least displace it from resting under the flags of legitimacy with some groups hoping to make even soft porn a crime. Many of these people operate under the banner of halting the objectification of women. But porn did not stop with women. Today it does not discriminate, and men too are painted as objects to be used and abused for the satiation of unnatural sexual gratification.

 

It is human life that is devalued, degraded, and cheapened by the inundation of sexual stimulus throughout the entire spectrum of the entertainment industry. Television shows, commercials, movies, magazines, music—it has hijacked every form of stimulus that comes into our homes. Everywhere we look we see and hear SEX, SEX, SEX! America is preoccupied with sex. We’ve created the market for pornography by our rebellious demand for the legalization of everything that we think will bring pleasure. We are a hedonistic society and have gone absolutely mad with pleasure seeking. Monogamy has become an outdated concept. Never mind how well the biblical model of marriage works, and how much better a society of monogamists get along together.

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Freedom of speech and freedom of expression have been used as licenses to do anything our little hearts may desire. As a nation, under the laws established to make us free to worship God, we now worship Satan, the nemesis of God, who is blatantly anti-God, antichrist and is in fact the father of disorder and chaos. Teens wear the anarchist symbol hoping for freedom from all restraint, without having the faintest idea of what anarchy is, nor the results of such a chaotic society. But we can clearly see the results. Rebelling against God has never brought the freedom we expected. Lucifer approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, convincing her that rebelling against God she could be like God, having to answer to nobody but herself, and Adam went along with it. He was deceived too. Instead of becoming free, they were enslaved to sin, depravity, sickness disease and death. Even the earth itself became cursed. It’s the very same temptations facing the world today.

 

Freedom from the restraint of God’s laws enslaves us to everything that is harming us, everything against God, against peace, harmony, order, safety, blessing, and love, against everything that is good. Our sins have separated us from our God, and He is the One we need to turn back to, if we hope to be truly free. “He whom Christ sets free is free indeed!” Free from what? Free from the powerful and negative and addictive sins that have made our world a place that is totally unfit for human habitation.

 

The war of the ages will come to a climax, and we call this the apocalypse, the end of days, just before Christ’s return. You will either be in Christ, and fully for Him, or you will be against Him. He is the winner in the end, and if you hope to be on the winning side, you’d best get right with God by placing your faith in His Son, Jesus the Christ. The first time Jesus came it was as a suffering servant, the meek lamb, so that He could redeem mankind back to God, to reconcile us to Him. The next time Jesus comes He will come with His Saints as the Lion of Judah, in great power and glory.

 

We have the testimony of Enoch telling us in Jude verses 14 &15, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied about them: “Behold, the Lord is coming with myriads of His holy ones to execute judgment on everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of every ungodly act of wickedness and every harsh word spoken against Him by ungodly sinners.”

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Image from rikberry.com

 

But addressing again the nefarious evil influences upon the world…  We know that the prince of the power of the air, the god of this world (Satan) is behind all of the evil things perpetrated upon the earth. But there are also his human servants, many of whom are organized groups motivated by huge money, power and sex. Hollywood and the major media outlets are nothing but puppets of those who truly hold the strings of power and control all major industries, high ranking political and military offices, including banking.

 

It’s not as if Spirit led Christians have ever been unaware of what is happening, or why—nothing has caught them unawares. God’s word has prophesied most of this, and the Spirit gives insight and discernment into the remainder.

 

So what is the point of this message? Why do I open myself up to ridicule and persecution by speaking the truth? I assure you, this is not a segway into any form of retaliation, or motivated by hatred, bitterness or pride. This is a call to safeguard your children from participating in the things of this world that are against God and the bible and human decency.

 

Please speak to your children about the dangers of pornography. Talk to them about the beauty of sex in the home between a man and his wife, as an intimate expression of real love, not lust.

 

One man and one woman, living under the authority of our Creator, reconciled to Him through a relationship with Christ Jesus who bore the penalty for all sins.

 

If you’ve not yet done so, cry out to the Lord—humble yourself before Him and agree with what the bible says about all of mankind: we are all sinners in need of a Savior. God has provided that Savior for us: Jesus, God’s only begotten Son died for you and me, and all who will place their faith and trust in Him. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God and not of works that nobody can boast” Ephesians 2:8-9. God loves you!

 

He demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

He has made a way for us to escape condemnation, simply by placing our faith in Jesus and in His finished work at the cross and at the grave in rising from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures.

 

“”Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” Acts 16:31

 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9&10

 

I would not wish eternal torment upon anyone. My heart aches in the knowledge that out of the quintillions of people who have ever lived, a small percentage shall be saved. That’s what Jesus indicates in His teaching.

 

Please! Be one of the few, the godly, the loving, the saved. ♥

 

 

 

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My Champion

soldier

 

 

The soul of shallow thought makes it onerous to emote that heart, seeing that they will little understand. But those who through the turmoils of life’s stormy seas have been battered about—the ones who have risen up to meet those challenges and came out the other side as stalwart souls…they are easier. For these have true life experiences that sharpened their intellect. Besides, they read and study to be winners in this game of Olympic proportions. They have scars to show their hard learned discernment. And it is to these, to you, that I present this piece that was written during a season of dark and stormy trials, when the forces of wickedness had assaulted me with a power like unto a juggernaut. The piece is short, because it moves swiftly, and concisely.

 

My Champion

 

Against me came the dark of night,

With fangs that oozed with hate,

It paralyzed with chilling fright,

Served up on a dirty plate.

 

“How dost such evil haunt me so,

To forage through my being?

Malignant fingers interpose,

And no place I find for fleeing.”

 

“What power ere can rescue me,

And free me from this curse?

To march through hell for liberty?

Traverse this muck adverse?”

 

Yes One! I heard there was but One,

With such ability,

He uses love to overcome,

And He lavished it on me.

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Through the night, dispelling light,

To pierce the heart of dark.

A curse was He, upon a tree,

The price to make me free!

 

The laughing thunder rolled,

He holds the keys to life!

Now, death has lost its hold!

My Victor is Jesus Christ.

 

 

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Love is Powerful

love

The haunting lyrics were first written in 1957 by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and in 1960 The Everly Brothers recorded the song LOVE HURTS. It was included on their album titled A Date with the Everly Brothers.

A year later Roy Orbison remade the song with his distinct and endearing sounds, bringing it up to the top five on the Australian Single Play. Then in 1975 the heavy metal band Nazareth re-popularized Love Hurts, moaning words that expound the hazards a heart in love may encounter.

Love hurts—Love scars—Love wounds and marks—Any heart not tough or strong enough to take a lot of pain…

Country artist Emmy Lou Harris also included it in her repertoire. The song has always resonated with us because most everyone has at one time or another experienced the pain that love has the capacity to inflict.

This leads us to one irrefutable truth concerning LOVE:  It wields tremendous power—to heal or to hurt. To sway or to bring us in line. To kill or to save. And it possesses many different dynamics as well, as other songs elucidate, like The Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News.

While most folks equate the facts of these songs only with romantic type love, it is also true of all kinds of love, such as paternal, brotherly and social love. Who would be foolish enough to argue that the love of a mother is not scary powerful? The nature of paternal love can quickly become a protective juggernaut not to be taken lightly. Motherly Protection 

But there is nothing, and I mean nothing that can measure the lengths a Father’s Love will go to in protecting his children.

You and I have a Heavenly Father who feels more strongly for us that any human parent is capable. Imagine that every soul who has ever lived is your child! Oh, how many have turned their backs and rebelled against Father God? A rebellious child always brings an indescribable heartache to their parents. What about when one of our children is struck by a car and killed, or is diagnosed with cancer? Sent to prison? What if someone were to deliberately injure our child?—just think of the strong feelings it would produce in us, and then multiply it by several billion. But even that wouldn’t come close to revealing the power of God’s awesome love.

God’s love is pure and much higher than ours, and likewise the pain that His love produces in His own heart is greater than anything we could possibly fathom. It was this same paternal love that caused Father God to send His only begotten Son to die in our behalf—so that His created children could be saved. The Author of Life willingly gave His life to save ours. Jesus said,

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

And then He stretched out His hands to be nailed to a cross beam and brutally suffered a horrendous death. He had the power to stop it—He could have wiped us all out and started over with just a single word from His lips. But the power of His love held Him up there to endure it all. Besides, He knew He would rise again and usher in a way for you and I to live forever with our heavenly Parent in His new world, a glorious place with mansions for each of us along a street of gold.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16 KJV

Categories: Christian Living, Current Event, People, Romantic Love, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Becoming One With God: Salvation

saved

 

I have shared God’s simple plan of salvation in many different ways over the years, but today I was led to write it out again, in a little different way. Sometimes I have no idea why God leads me to do particular things, and I’ve learned to just go ahead and do whatever it is He puts on my heart to do. Perhaps this post is meant for a specific person, or it could be for hundreds. Whatever the case, God knows and that’s good enough for me. I’ve taken off my writer’s hat in order to make this message clear and plain, because God’s word is what gives it power and not my skills.

I was asked by a friend on Facebook: “How do we become one with God?” Providing the answer involves more than what I could put into a comment on social media, and it struck me that the following questions are bound up in that question: How are we saved, and how do we walk in the Spirit, and be insured against the loss of eternal life?

When Paul and Silas were arrested and placed in the inner parts of a dungeon-like jail, God sent an earthquake that caused the chains to fall off their ankles and wrists. All the doors in the prison flew wide open. The jailer or C.O. in charge assumed all the prisoners had escaped, which by Roman law would have meant a certain death sentence for him. He was getting set to take his own life when Paul shouted out, “Don’t harm yourself, we are all here!” Acts 16:28

That jailer was filled with relief and wonder. He knew why these two men were in prison and that they were preachers of Christ Jesus. So he ran to Paul and Silas, fell on his knees and cried “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Verse 30)

The answer Paul and Silas gave is the gospel: the good news in condensed form, though we may need some clarification. “They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Verse 31)

Salvation is based upon the most simple of concepts: Belief. But we must understand what it means to Believe. The bible calls it FAITH.

Let’s say that you, me and lots of other people are all in one large room, and if we stay in that room we will most certainly be killed. There’s a bomb set to go off, but nobody knows at what time it is set to detonate. That’s a bit like life on earth, because Jesus’ return is coming and nobody knows when. There are many doors that lead out of this room, hundreds of them. But every single door except for ONE will also lead to our death—eternally separated from God.  Only one door will save us.

But then Jesus comes in and says “I am the door! Come through me and you will live!” There are also many other voices all shouting, “No,” and they are all pointing to different doors saying, “Follow me, this is the right way!”

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

 

Now I want to tell you that the devil believes Jesus is the way to eternal life. Satan believes that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, because we are all sinners. Romans 3:23 tells us: For all have sinned…” AND “The wages of (the penalty for) sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23

The demons believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that He died for our sins and rose from the dead. But they and the devil are not saved. You see that’s a different kind of belief.

The kind of belief that saves us is the kind that includes trust in Jesus. I must trust that Jesus is the right door to go through to be saved. I cannot stay in that room or I will die. I must make a decision, but I must also act upon that decision. In other words, I must actually go through the door!

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7.  I must go into Christ, and when I do, Christ comes into me—to live with me on the inside, in the form of God’s Holy Spirit. He is sometimes called the “Spirit of Christ”. That’s when we become one with Him. This means I follow Him. He is my leader and guide and I do things His way. At least I try my best to do that.

How? How do we become ONE with God through Christ Jesus? First we simply tell God in our own words that we believe in Jesus. We believe that the blood He shed on the cross paid for our sins. I tell Jesus that I believe He died for me personally. And that He rose back to life. And now I am going to give myself to Him. “Lord Jesus, I now belong to you—show me what to do.”

His answer is that we keep on trusting that He is the way. If I really trust Jesus I’m going to do my best to live in the way He tells me I should live. Now we cannot do this perfectly, and we will get to that in a little while. Because God knows we are weak and that sometimes we will still sin. He has done something about that for us! The blood Jesus bled on the cross covers my past sins, my present sins AND even the sins I might commit in the future! But this is not a license to sin!!

I must WANT with all my heart to be pure and holy like He is. When we want to be like Jesus, God begins working inside us, changing us little by little to become more like Jesus. Jesus said, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 And He also said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6.

You see it is my desire to be righteous that begins God’s work of changing me, so that I actually start becoming righteous and holy like He is. The greatest satisfaction and contentment any person can ever have is found by doing God’s will—by being united with Him. I remember thinking how dull and boring the Christian life must be. But it wasn’t until I gave my life to Christ that I learned what real living is all about. He gives life to the fullest and it is intensely satisfying!

We will never “arrive” at perfect righteousness in this life. If we could do that we would no longer need a Savior. We most definitely cannot be perfect in these bodies we live in. God however, views us as being perfect, because we are in Christ, and He is perfect. We have the righteousness of Christ given to us. He took our sins upon Himself and carried them to the grave and buried them there. All our sin! It’s the best deal anywhere. He takes our sins away and gives us His righteousness, Praise God!

So we must trust in our Savior to cover our sins with His blood. On the day Jesus returns to take us home He will give us new spiritual bodies that do not sin. I’m really looking forward to my new body!

I must decide that I am going to die to my old sinful self. I’m going to put the old me up there on the cross with Jesus. And I am going to live the new life that He is giving me. Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

When our old self tells us to do things we say, “No” and we follow what God’s spirit and the bible tells us to do. God will lead us into the right decisions. We deny that old sinful nature and all the wrongful ways we used to say and do things. Instead, we now follow Jesus. When Jesus said to take up our cross, it means that there is work that He wants us to do. But we don’t work for our salvation—that’s already been given to us for free. We are saved by grace just because we believed and trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.

But that doesn’t mean we have no work to do. No, He saved us so that we would work. The salvation is free because we had faith. But if we really did have faith to be saved, then we will also have faith to do the good works. The very next verse after our last one is this: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

The first of that work is to begin changing to be like God’s holy Son, Jesus. But it is actually God doing the heavy work, we simply cooperate with what He is doing inside us, and we must WANT IT. This starts in our minds. That’s why our mind needs to be focused on Jesus, on righteousness and holiness and all that is good. That’s what we are aiming for: Holiness, so we keep our eyes on Jesus. This is one reason it is so important for us to read our bibles. It helps us to stay focused on Jesus. And in this dark and sinful world it can be very hard to do. But we have supernatural power from God to use in our lives. It is used for only one thing: to obey God and do what pleases Him. He also gives us supernatural peace and joy and love! He has given us His Spirit to live inside us and He gives us life! We can die to our old selves because the Spirit is constantly giving us new life. We are united with Him and have become ONE with God as a part of His big family in Christ.

 

Here’s a key to pleasing God: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2 The things we like will gradually begin to change, along with the things we love.

Here is another key verse about being saved: “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die…” Romans 8:13a Living according to the flesh means that I still love my sin. But once we come to know how good the stuff God has to give us is, we begin to love righteousness, holiness and goodness—we love Him! We begin to hate sin just as He does. Even though we may sin at times, we hate it and we can’t stand ourselves until we take that sin to God and confess it. He loves you! And God has promised: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1st John 1:9

As Christians, our sins are already forgiven. But we confess them as the Spirit reveals them to us, and this keeps our relationship with the Lord strong and it clears our consciences. Now back to Romans 8:13b “…But if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”  If I am saved, I will be trusting Christ who is in me. I will live my life day by day and minute by minute following Him, obeying Him, trusting Him. But remember, God has made allowance for our mistakes! Those future sins are covered too, if in fact my heart is SET on HIM. The very next verse says: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”Romans 8:14-15.

“Abba” means “Daddy!” When we experience God’s love for us we no longer have to fear His fiery judgment, because we know He has saved us and is working in us, and through us. We are His children and we love Him back by doing our best to please Him, just as we should do with our earthly fathers.

If you understand nothing else, please understand this: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

 

The following is a very simple prayer suggestion. If you agree with it, please pray this from your heart to God.

“Heavenly Father, I know how desperately I am in need of your grace on a continuing basis. I believe in your Son Jesus and the work He did to save me on the cross, and I believe He has risen from the dead. I accept you Jesus, my Christ, to be the master of my life. Thank you for covering my sins by the blood you shed on the cross. Lord Jesus, please help me to deny what my sinful flesh wants to do, and instead to obey you and your Spirit inside me. Please help me to understand the bible as you speak to me in my heart. Help me to be quiet enough to listen, to sit still and just meditate and think about verses of scripture, and let you transform my heart and mind. I want to be holy. I am now one of your sons, oh God, my Father, and I want to be like your Son Jesus. Help me to live the way you want me to live. And please teach me more and more each day.  Also Lord, I ask that you will help me to know the right person here on earth who will encourage me and help me understand the bible, and who will love me and help to disciple me. Thank you my sweet Savior, in Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.”

In obedience to Christ, we need to be baptized into Him, and into His church. We confess our faith in Jesus in front of witnesses. “With your mouth you confess and are saved.” This is an outward act of obedience which proves our belief. We are commanded by God to be baptized into Christ. Even though Jesus was perfect and had no sin, He was baptized by John the Baptist. I believe this was an example for us to follow.

God Bless You!

 

Categories: Christian Living, Salvation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Ascending Holiness Mountain

 

mount

A little wooden cross glued to a magnet kept wise old adages posted on my refrigerator door where I’d be sure to see them often. Both the words that were written there and the cross which secured them were mementos of things I needed to remember. The symbol was of who I am in Christ, since He’s paid the penalty for me by His death. But since He rose to life on the third day, I am guaranteed to one day rise as well. I must rise to walk in a new life today, since my old one has passed away.

The pinned words were admonitions I should heed. Wise people never forget these words once they ponder their truth.

Sow a thought and reap and act

Sow an act and reap a habit

Sow a habit and reap a character

Sow a character and reap your destiny.

Though Jesus has paid the entire penalty for my sin debt once and for all time, it is still my responsibility to cooperate with the sanctification process. I am being conformed to the holy image of Christ. I must submit to God, and obey His word and His Spirit who was given to me upon my rebirth into eternal life.

My character will be shaped by the thoughts that are allowed to occupy space in my mind. There are many things in the world that will stimulate thoughts, good and bad. This dictates that I must place a guard over what I see and hear. Whether we admit it or not, everything in life has an effect upon us. Another posted adage read as follows.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

The places I go have much to do with what I will see and hear. I must choose carefully where I go. The entertainment and recreation I select has a tremendous impact upon the sights and sounds I will experience, so those must also be carefully scrutinized.

Thoughts come from out of my heart, but there’s also thoughts that are suggested to me, both good and bad. Some are from God, and some from the world, and also some from the enemy of my soul. I must discern and distinguish the source of each thought, and choose to dwell upon those from God, and from the goodness He is growing in my heart. I must immediately reject all other suggestions.

My eternity is at stake

So there’s grave choices I must make

Selfishly, I could just live for today

Ignoring the coming judgment day

But life in Jesus grows sweeter with time

So joyfully I work, holiness mountain to climb.

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

How To Be Sure Of Heaven

heaven

The question weighs heavy on the hearts of many people: “Am I really saved? If I died today or Jesus returns today, will I go to heaven?”

 

Romans 10: 9-10 promises that if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead that we will be saved.

 

Someone may ask, “But preacher, what about Matthew 7: 21?”  There Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

One verse says I just believe and confess, and the other states that I must also do the will of the Father. Is this a contradiction? What is the will of the Father?

 

During Jesus’ earthly ministry the people asked him an important question which weighed upon their hearts, and I believe the same question weighs upon the hearts of people today. They asked, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  What does God want from us? How can we please Him, and how can we have His favor on our lives? Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29

God would have us believe on His Son Jesus as our Christ (Savior). That is His desire for you. But we must understand what kind of belief this is that God requires. The two verses, Romans 19:13 and Matthew 7:21 are saying the same thing. They actually expound and clarify each other.

Listen to this little illustration of a woman who told her husband every single morning before he and she both left for work, “I love you.” Yet, the wife was having an affair with another man from her job. Hmm, not very loving if you ask me.

Considering that love is an action, rather than just a feeling, she was not at all acting in love toward her husband. She did not really love him. The same is true of belief. If we truly believe, we will show it by our actions.

 

If we really love God, we will want to do His will. We will follow Jesus and obey God’s word to the best of our ability—this is what it means to believe. The kind of faith that saves us is the faith that follows Jesus, acting upon what our intellect believes to be true. This is true saving belief, better known as faith.

 

Very graciously, God has made provision for the times we slip-up and make mistakes, or fall to a temptation that we regret. 1st John 1:9 is a wonderful and a comforting promise. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. God is so very merciful, and He knows how difficult it is for us to be perfect. But here’s the big difference between a non-saved person sinning and a saved person sinning. When a saved person sins they hate what they have done. We hate sin just as God does. We desire to be pure, even though we cannot achieve it on our own. God sees our hearts, and He knows the ones who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness. Jesus said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 

 

We believe we are forgiven, because He said we are forgiven. This is a part of believing on Jesus. God is always faithful to His word. We confess that we are sinners and need a Savior. After salvation, we confess our sins to maintain a good relationship with the Lord, and to cleanse our consciences. We turn away from those sins instead of running towards them. In other words, we repent. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. We also believe that God is working in our hearts to make those errors fewer and fewer as we mature in faith. It is God’s Spirit working inside you, reproducing holiness and creating the beauty of Jesus inside you! It is a growing process. The bible says that one day the glory that is being created in us will one day be revealed. (That’s in Romans chapter 8)

God bestows salvation based upon our faith. Ephesians 2:8: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–

 

AND THIS SAVING FAITH IS BELIEF IN ACTION!

 

We have such a gloriously wonderful salvation! It is a free gift of God’s truly amazing grace in Christ Jesus. Ours is a relationship of love, of trusting God, and of an intense desire to obey Him, because of our love for Him. Our first act of obedience to God is to be Baptized into Christ and into His church. We will want to be with other people who are saved. God has designed our spiritual growth around the structure of our spiritual family on earth, in the church. We need each other to help us grow, just as with any family. Eternal life and all the riches of Christ are ours through faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God!

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10: 13

 

Pray this prayer with me:

Father God, please reveal your word to my understanding. Thank you for calling me to faith in Christ. I believe in your Son Jesus and the work He did by dying on the cross to take the penalty for my sin. Then he rose from the dead, guaranteeing that I too will be raised up to everlasting life. Please help me to live in a way that reflects my belief in you, my trust in you, and my love for you. Thank you for saving me and giving me this wonderful hope and peace. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

 

Allow God to speak to your heart today as you read Matthew 7: 13-29. God Bless You!

 

Categories: Faith, Growing in Faith, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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