Posts Tagged With: Faith

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.

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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!

 

 

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Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Church, Faith, God's Faithfulness, Salvation, Sanctification, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Learning Spiritual Insights

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At a church I attended some time ago there was one guy who would say things about me, and to me, that sounded like veiled criticisms. It had the same affect on me as fingernails on slate—it was really irritating. His words came out as feeble attempts at joking jibes, and this was a constant thing. But underneath it all, I could detect a hurt feeling, as if I made him feel a little “less-than.” I didn’t realize this in the beginning, but thankfully I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and He is super wise. Cutting me down, while making it sound as if he was only kidding was a way for the poor fellow to express what was going on inside, without anyone calling him on his badmouthing.

Lots of people suffer insecurities, and often those feelings will rise to the surface in both word and actions, often distinguished through facial expressions and body language. These feelings, though usually unfounded, do stem from legitimate needs that are not being met: such as the need for self-worth—healthy self-esteem. Sometimes there are deep rooted emotional injuries from childhood that have never been addressed, hence, have never healed.

At first, his words hurt my feelings and stirred a bit of anger. My knee jerk response was to let fly right back at him with a wittier slam than his, and being a writer I’m quite able in that respect. In fact, I actually did that, and later felt really bad about it. So I repented, and then told the man I was sorry for saying what I did.

A couple days later, while in prayer, God’s Spirit of wisdom showed me that there were underlying hurts and heartaches in that man—some past trauma at the root of the problem. This is something God teaches us to do—be discerning. The Lord has even given us His Holy Spirit so that we’ll have the power to know and understand things that are going on in the spirit world, in our own spirit, and in that of others, like my criticizer. God knows all things, even our most secret motives, and often He shares needed information with us, if we will remain open to receive it. God then affords us the power to respond in the right way, with discernment, discretion and healing love.

God has taught me to pray about everything, and this was one of those things I definitely needed to talk to the Lord about. For one thing, I had to be certain I wasn’t saying or doing things that would perpetuate this man’s feelings of some form of inferiority.

“Lord, why does he feel that way in response to me? Have I said or done something wrong to him?”

Well, as usual, God did not answer in the way I wanted or expected Him to. Perhaps I was hoping for something like, Oh no, you’re fine, Sheldon. It’s that man’s problem and he should not be talking like that.

But instead, I was simply given direction as to what I should do. I sensed God speaking inside me. You may be wondering, ‘How do I know it was God talking?’ Because it’s not what I myself would have thought of, or done in response to the situation. And, it was in keeping with God’s very nature of love and compassion. And, it was in harmony with other things that, as my educator, God has instructed me to do in the past. I’ve already told you what my own human response was, which came from the sin nature. Yes, I’m still growing, but so are all believers.

The Lord said something to the effect of “Ask him to do something for you—something that you don’t know how to do yourself.”

Hmm, that makes sense, I responded. Yes Lord, I will. It’ll make him feel better-than, instead of less-than, and I’ll get a lesson in humility.

“Now you’re thinking,” is what I believe the Lord was saying at that point.

As it turns out, the guy is a whiz with computers, and I owned a laptop that had crashed. Fixing it would require a set of skills that are completely out of my purview. Now I can fix a car and sell it too—I can write some pretty fancy words and even pitch some woo. But when it comes to computers: software, malware, Tupperware; all that jazz, I have to leave it to those nerdy types with skinny necks and pocket protectors who look as if they may take over the world some day.   Sorry about that, I got distracted by my funny bone.

He did a great job fixing my laptop, for free, and he even gave me a beefed up hard drive. That guy was tickled rosy to show me how smart he was, and I made sure to stoke that sensation in him. Ever since that day, he has stopped criticizing me and sometimes he even asks me questions about the bible. I think he and I are becoming friends outside of church too. Now, if I can get him to open up about his past, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to counsel him, and get him to seek the Lord’s help in addressing whatever the root of his dilemma may be. God sure does know what He’s doing. All I have to do is pray, then listen…and then do.

Blessings.

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, LIstening to God, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waiting in Hope

waiting

 

Leading Israel’s army, Joshua waited seven days for something to happen as they marched around the walls of Jericho. It must have felt like a silly thing to do, but this is what God had told them to do. Their patient trust was finally rewarded as the walls fell down, just as the Lord had promised. Without the hope that faith secures, waiting on God can often seem a difficult task, and can give rise to doubts. But that’s only when we’re not operating in faith.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the promised pregnancy with Isaac in their old age. God had promised to make David king over all of Israel, but it wasn’t until waiting about 18 years before that happened. The Jews waited centuries for Messiah to come, but then He came. For ten days, Jesus’ disciples waited in Jerusalem for the power of God’s Holy Spirit to come. My own mother waited for several decades for her prayers to be answered. But finally, I fully surrendered my heart to Christ.

A person who lives in submission to Jesus Christ is someone who is often called upon to wait. And yet there are many good things we can be doing while we wait. Waiting time is not wasting time. With eager anticipation we all wait for Jesus to return and take us to our home in heaven. Yes, these are things that, as Christians, we must learn to do well—trust, hope and patiently wait.

 

They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

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Trust & Obey

Image result for obedience

 

All people have short comings—we are fallible beings, and that’s why it’s sometimes difficult to trust those who may have rule over us. But with God it is much different. He never makes a mistake. The Lord is perfect, holy and filled with love. 

 

“O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29 KJV) 

 

What have I gotten myself into?  That was the predominant thought in my mind at basic-training for the Army. A drill-instructor was demonstrating his control over the men under him. On the roof of a three-story barracks, the drill-sargent ordered a young private to dive head first onto the rocky ground below.  

 

Without hesitation, the trusting soldier took two steps towards the edge, bent his legs for the leap, and sprang up and out to his certain death. Swiftly the Sargent reached out and grabbed the back of the private’s breeches and belt, catching the soldier just in time. 

 

My second thought: There’s no way Id obey such a futile and dangerous order. Observing the imperfections and failings of superior officers stimulated the rebel in me. I didn’t follow every order I was given as a soldier.  

 

Yet, years later I grew very close to my first love. He’s now my Commander in-Chief: Jesus Christ. It wasn’t always easy to trust Him the way that Private trusted his drill-instructor. I have learned, however, of God’s perfect love for me, and of His all-knowing and all-powerful nature. I can trust my life to Him. He’s not a man, who might make a mistake, or tell me to do something futile or foolish.  

 

There are times I don’t understand the Why of a command from God. But I can obey with confidence, knowing He has my best interest at heart. His purposes are flawless.  

 

Thank you, Lord, for your wise leadership. In hindsight we’ll always see the wisdom of trusting and obeying you in all things. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

 

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Never Ending Journey

On this spiritual journey of faith in Christ Jesus, it is often difficult to locate mile markers to know how far we’ve come. But looking back over the past several years, it’s exciting to see the obstacles to our goals that have been overcome.

trail

For instance, on my journey of becoming more like Jesus, I can see myself forgiving others just a bit more easily than I did a couple years ago, and that’s very encouraging to me. This process of sanctification, or being made holy will not be complete for any of us until Jesus returns.

 

When others, who don’t want me to achieve anything at all, show their evil contempt by their actions and treatment of me, it doesn’t ruffle my feathers as easily it used to. Of course, I still have a very long way to go. But I cannot take any of the credit for my growth, not at all. Every good change that has taken place in my character has been done by God, simply because I asked Him to help me. He’s given us who are saved His Holy Spirit to help us along on this arduous trek —all the way home.

 

As I pondered the specific things that I’ve learned along the way, and things God has led me to do, so that I’d continue growing spiritually, several things became apparent. It became noteworthy that others just might be helped if I were to share some of what God has led me to do. That’s why I’ve put together some bullet points as an easy to use checklist each day—simple. though vital reminders that need to stay with us. It is my prayer that someone out there will be blessed by my sharing them.

 

 

Spiritual Health Tips

(A Bakers Dozen)

 

  1. Confront (face) the issues in your past that hurt you, with Christ as your Counselor—He is your healer, not time! If you don’t, your past can be very harmful to your future. 
  2. Ignore the naysayers and those who criticize you. Listen only to what God says about you. 
  3. Replace all negative thoughts that come into your mind with good, positive & constructive thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)
  4. Your happiness & satisfaction are found in Christ alone, so, don’t seek them anywhere else. Examples: finances, relationships, social status, etc. He will give you those too…when it’s time. (Luke 9:23)
  5. Don’t expect everyone to understand the mission God assigned to you, and, be on guard against those who don’t want you to succeed—avoid them when possible. Rarely, but sometimes, you must act in order to be vindicated. (John 21:22)
  6. It’s your journey, but not yours alone: Jesus walks it with you. (Hebrews 13:5) 
  7. Encourage others who are on their journey with Christ, help them, walk beside them for a while. Offering your hand will strengthen both their walk of faith and your journey—be kind. (1 Thes. 5:11)
  8. It’s okay to not know everything—wise people always seek counsel and they ask many questions. (proverbs 15:22)
  9. Acknowledge your flaws, while working to overcome them in the strength God provides. Everyone is flawed, everyone has weaknesses. Nobody’s perfect except God. (Proverbs 16:18)
  10. Live one day at a time. “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) 
  11. Never compare yourself to anyone on earth. Compare and measure yourself only by Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:29) 
  12. Humility is difficult to maintain & requires supernatural assistance from the Holy Spirit, and yet it is a key to great spiritual power. Secretly performing kind acts of service is a good exercise for developing humility. (Matthew 6:1)
  13. Smile, and don’t be so critical of yourself, Jesus loved you long before you even knew His name. (Psalm 143:8)

 

You already know the Christian disciplines of daily prayer and bible study, fellowship often with other Christians, and all the rest of them. Say a prayer for me as I continue my journey, and I’d be pleased to pray for you as well. Blessings.

 

P.S. We love you too. crop graceme

 

Categories: Christian Living, Faith, Growing in Faith, Sanctification, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When An Unsaved Loved One Dies

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The Lord has whispered in my heart concerning you, and His spirit urges me to pray, and to speak His truth into your difficulties which in turn brings strength and peace. In times like these we can go to our well of hope and strength to bask in the Lord’s glory. Suddenly, our burdens lift under the light of God’s wisdom and loving providence. John Piper offers good perspective for difficult times of grief and loss. He writes, “What we must keep our focus on is that God is just, God is good, and God does not do anything that we will not ultimately approve someday.”

The Lord has affirmed this truth to me in a personal way during a time of deep grief and loss.

 

One day we will look back upon all that was painful in our lives and nod in agreement with God. We will understand that He allowed the right thing to transpire at precisely right time, every time. I am glad that God is so big and mysterious. If I were to understand everything He does and all that He allows to happen, He might not seem quite so big and all knowing.  His infinite immensity is more than our imaginations can fathom. As we focus our thoughts upon God’s love, being absolutely convinced of His faithfulness to always do or allow what is best and good, we cling to the knowledge that we belong to Him. Doing so has often helped me to reconcile difficulties in my mind. Like the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and obey,”—It rings from the hearts of those who can say along with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

 

Genesis 18:25 is like the voice of a clarion proclaiming the righteous faithfulness of our majestic Holy One, saying “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” We can rest in the understanding that God will always do precisely what is right and best for His children. He is the only one qualified to judge because He is holy and pure, and He makes judgements on our behalf that display the grandeur of His delectable mercy. But He also has the paternal passion for you and I that elicits tsunami sized waves of compassion and comfort. Let’s lift our voices to our Heavenly Daddy saying, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Go to Him, and rest in His loving arms while trusting that God knows all things and we do not. Trust Him.

 

When Christ returns and gathers you and I to be with Him forever, there will be no sorrow, pain, suffering or tears. This is His promise. How will He accomplish this? I don’t know—nobody does. But what we do know is that God is faithful to keep His word. He will keep all of His glorious promises to you. I know a lot of people, many of whom I do not believe to be saved. I love them, and my finite mind cannot reconcile how I will not be bothered in the least by the fact that they will be in hell while I am in bliss. But I trust God, and I know He can and will keep His promise to wipe every tear from our eyes. Never doubt His love. He has inscribed your name upon His palms. That’s what He said. Rest in the glorious warmth of God’s mighty love, He will comfort you.

In summary, the one thing that will salve our hurting hearts during times of grief and loss is faith in God. Personally, I can feel His love for you in my own heart as He confirms His words of promise that He’s given to us all. Hope is found in Christ Jesus and His love will comfort us.

 

Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Death of Unsaved, Faith, God's Faithfulness, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bible Origin Series

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The age in which we live is experiencing a full frontal onslaught against the authority and inerrancy of scripture, more than at any other time in history. God’s word is under constant assault with increasing intensity. How will our children answer when confronted with the objections of the world? Will they be prepared to answer the critics and make a strong defense of their faith? Will their faith weather the storms of horrendous negative peer pressure in college?

 

That is the reason why we’d like to provide you with some tools to help prepare you and your children, so that no matter what comes, your faith in the God of the Bible may stand firm. And so that you may:

 

“…Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: keeping a clear conscience, so that those who slander you will be put to shame by your good behavior in Christ.” 1st Peter 3:15 & 16 KJV & Study Bible

 

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In conjunction with the Bible Origin Series, and as a prelude to its exciting continuation, I was compelled to include some necessary truths. These are the very thoughts I’ve been wrestling with. The Spirit has laid them in my heart to study. So, after a tanker full of really good coffee, I went to work summarizing as briefly and concisely as possible, the issues that have been holding up the works, and I am presenting them in this post for your astute consideration.

 

Straight out of the starting gate I can tell you that in truest nerd fashion, science gets me all excited. I’ve made it a good habit to research everything that I am told, and put it under honest scrutiny, just as the Berean Christians did when Apostle Paul preached to them. It is wise to study the history surrounding not only events and documents of the past, but also the spiritual implications of things that have transpired long ago. Most interesting to me is when we can chart the formation of concepts, ideologies, and various religious practices, it provides insight that would have eluded us otherwise. I relate this not for the purpose of tooting my own horn, so to speak. Though, sometimes, I feel as if my head is swelling up with too much information or getting overheated, perhaps, until I think it’s going to burst. So let’s get to it.

 

On the subjects of providing scientific, archaeological, historic and other tangible proofs of God’s existence, and as for the Bible having Divine origins, we must consider the following before we continue.

 

  1. The existence of the God of the bible cannot be disproved by science.

Every such attempt has been dramatically debunked. The unbelieving world, under the influence of satanic deception, continues to perpetuate increasingly more fabrications (called theories) to explain away their own failures to disprove the existence of God.

  1. On the other hand, the existence of God cannot be proven to be true through science either.

I believe it should not even be attempted.  God has designed it that way for a purpose: That salvation may be by grace through faith. Scientific evidence can in no way bring a soul to saving faith in Christ Jesus. There are, however some very good organizations who have in  great detail scientifically disproven the claims asserted by atheistic and agnostic scientists. One that I can recommend is the Institute For Creation Research

Another I like is Cross Examined

Frank Turek is a wonderful Apologetics professor, besides he’s a funny guy and really cracks me up. You may want to check out some of his videos on Youtube.

I do give credit to and even applaud those Christians (apologists) who have made use of their scientific studies to help aid Christians whose faiths are faltering. Often, weakened faith results from un-surrendered pride of intellect, which was enervated via lies perpetuated by those who would have us believe they possess a superior intellect than we do. Or, perhaps the enemy has used a person’s circumstances to bring about their doubts. Superior intellect is the premise on which most anti-God scientists base their ludicrous theories. When Christian men of equal or greater (worldly) intellect disprove bogus scientific claims, the claimants of fallacious reasoning resort to name calling and attempts to demean or undermine the qualifications (intellect) of researchers who demonstrate truthful science, rather than using their own scientific method to attempt to disprove the science itself. That is a clear indication that they are already well aware of the inconsistencies of their own research and thinking.

The bible declares them to be “willfully ignorant” (Romans 2). NOTE: (We will see the bible’s meaning of “willfully ignorant” later in this post). Perhaps it is their innate sense of the ignorance they employ which drives these deceiving scientists to insist on their own intellectual superiority as a mask to cover their ineptness to disprove God?

 

As for Christians, nowhere in scriptures are we commanded to go forth and study the sciences to prove God’s existence. “For by grace you are saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8) It does not say that belief or faith comes through convincing scientific argument. Consider this next verse carefully.

For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom, knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1st Corinthians 1:21 KJV  (Emphasis mine)

 

If evidence beyond Creation, the bible, and that which the Holy Spirit of God has already provided is employed, belief is no longer by faith, but by extra evidence contrived by man. To demand more evidence is to have no faith. And yet faith is always rewarded with concrete factual assurances that our faith is not in vain. Where a soul employs saving faith, more evidence than anyone could ever need, or expect, is provided to that individual soul.

 

We are told by the Spirit of Christ that it is through the presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and preaching, and teaching of the bible, that souls are saved.  We cannot prove the resurrection of Jesus by reason. And the resurrection of Jesus is the central truth of the gospel. Without it, everything else of the Christian faith is worthless and powerless. No man knows Jesus rose from the dead unless that man has trusted Him in complete helplessness of soul. “If thou shalt confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9&10).

 

This “belief” is not an intellectual one. Intellectual belief can never produce moral and spiritual results. The devil has an intellectual belief in Christ as being Lord of creation, and belief in His resurrection.

 

“Belief with the intellect does not produce righteousness, belief with the heart does.”—G. Campbell Morgan.

 

This saving faith is ‘certainty of the heart’ and it brings clarity about pure morality, and it precedes regeneration of life (it saves us, qualifying us for grace). By mankind’s absolute helpless dependence upon God, casting ourselves by faith into Christ, is received the inner spiritual witness that causes the soul to know for certain. Faith produces certainty—a certainty born of evidence provided by the unseen inner spiritual witness of God Himself, indwelling those who believe.

 

The resurrection is a fact that can in no way be proven, nor explained by reasoning, but must be accepted in, not intellectual assent alone, but also in faith. That faith is then rewarded by assurance that “He ever lives to make intercession for us.” We not only know it, we do not merely believe it—we have experienced Him and know for certain it is true: He lives!

 

The biblical “ignorance” in the Greek is the same word as “agnostic”. The same word in Latin is “ignoramus.” They mean the same thing: “The man who does not know.” But we can be sympathetic with the man who “cannot know” for he is forever bound to walk in the darkness of not knowing anything whatsoever of the eternal and the spiritual. How can we have anything but sympathy for such a one? Their entire life is predicated upon uncertainty in all things, and will be manifested in frustration, dissatisfaction with life, and will lack true, lasting purpose.

 

One who is spiritually blind, groping about in the dark, is far worse off than a person who is physically blind, and yet has spiritual sight. Spiritual sight is afforded through faith in God. And yet we can respect such a person who is honest enough to say he does not know. There is still hope for him. Unless, that is,  he has made his agnosticism a harbor of refuge and impertinence. If this is the case then all hope for him is lost, and his agnosticism has become a prison. But if he’s not done so, He may yet have faith bloom within him at some future time, that he may know the truth concerning the resurrection of Christ Jesus, as so receive inner eyes to see, and be forever certain. For this we earnestly pray.

 

Now, I can finally get back to sharing some absolutely amazing and incredible things about the Holy Bible. I eagerly anticipate providing some absolutely resounding proofs that the bible is divine in origin, and completely infallible, and authoritative. Some of it is guaranteed to be jaw dropping. It’s going to be an enlightening and a fun ride, so buckle up and be sure to watch for our next post.

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God’s Matrimonial Marvels

unity

He was less than attractive to look at, but one might say he was cute, if, that is, they were fond of pugs. When hearing Earnest Farnsworth preach, it was impossible to miss the passion in his voice. Accentuating this auditory indicator was his body language, with movements akin to the conductor of some grand orchestra. Right down to the drool on his chin, Earnest’s messages poignantly manifested his love for people, and for God. Oh he was a beautiful soul. That turned up little nose of his, though repulsive to the casual observer, became a beloved feature to those more astute, who knew him well. Many came to adore this man, whom strangers called ugly.

Some Christians have attempted to conceptualize the physical appearance of the Apostle Paul. Tradition has it that he was a slight man, and unseemly to gaze upon. Austerity marked him as a stern person. Yet, on the inside, he was one of the most magnificent souls to have ever lived.  He was so loved by the churches, that upon hearing they may never see his face again they were deeply saddened. “What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.” Acts 20:38

What is it that resides on the insides, which can so negate these men’s deficiencies in physical aesthetics? What made them so appealing? Both were Christian men—men of God. But there are thousands of Christians who are ugly both inside and out. What makes the difference? Allow me to propose an answer: Perhaps the ugly souls are not really saved at all? My audacity in suggesting this is influenced by Jesus’ own words.

“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. 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!” Matthew 21-23


“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14 KJV

Allow me to make another bold and audacious statement, but before labeling me a heretic, please hear me out. Those who are extremely beautiful souls, who shine forth with the love of Christ, are God. What? That’s right, I said they are God.

Yes, Father, Son and Holy Spirit “alone” are God, the three in one, and that is no contradiction to what I said just previous. Allow me to present to you the doctrine of sanctification, and of God’s Holy Spirit. Please follow through to hear the conclusion, that you may understand my daring statements.

Back in Genesis, God ordained the institution of marriage. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 NIV

Though a man and a woman are two separate individuals, when joined in marriage, spiritually speaking they are now one flesh. Two become one. This is a spiritual union. We will come back to this in a moment.

Often I hear preachers and teachers of the word speak as if they were not in Christ, while at the same time preaching Christ. I’ve done it myself, many times, but this morning the Lord set something new into my mind. We ask, “What would Jesus do?” Or maybe, “What would Jesus say in this situation?” Really? We don’t already know?    If we are in Christ we should know what Jesus would do, or what He would say, because he lives within us. “…But we have the mind of Christ.” 1st Corinthians 2:16 Either we believe the bible or we do not. That tired old excuse about different ways of interpreting was worn out before it even began. It is nothing more than a rationalization to disobey God.

On this last verse phrase, I was amazed that all translations of scripture were identical, with the exception of a few using “Messiah” in place of “Christ”. We are a part of Him!

In the past I’ve talked a lot about our relationship with Christ, and this relationship is a sweet essence in our doctrine. But there’s a difference between having a relationship to Him, and a relationship with Him. I have a relationship to my desk. I sit before it, and it serves me well. I care for it, wiping off the muffin crumbs and cleaning off the coffee spills. Every so often, I actually tidy up the entire thing, though you may doubt that if you were to see it. It would be rather odd to say, “I have a relationship with my desk.” It is not personal. It has no personage.

We serve a personal God, who is intensely interested in every nanosecond of our lives. Paul speaks in relation to my audacious statements as being a former “mystery” that is now revealed. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. “ Colossians 1:27 NIV

Christ uniting Himself to us is the mystery that was not revealed until after Jesus’ ascension to the Father’s side. He is our righteousness, and He is creating holiness within us. This was and is the only way we could overcome our sinful nature. He empowers and enables us to obey God in all things. God did however give a few clues in the Old Testament era, as to how He would change us back into people who are fit to be in His presence. One of those clues is found in Jeremiah 31:31-33.

Here is a key verse when it comes to sanctification. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 NIV

If we are really saved and are true Christians, then Christ is in us. We are Christ’s church. We are the bride of Christ, but we are still in the engagement stage of this marriage to Him. When Jesus was on earth, a pledge to be married was a serious thing, not like today. It was a prenuptial contract. Our wedding shall take place in heaven, and we now are being made ready by becoming holy, as He is holy. Holiness is a qualification for entering the kingdom of God. We are washing our robes in the blood of Christ.

But we have been sanctified, set apart as a holy people, a royal priesthood unto God. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1st Peter 2:9 NIV

But we are also, currently being sanctified, as in the process of becoming holy. “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” 1st Peter 1:16. We are becoming holy (being sanctified). We are being conformed to the image of the Son of God. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” Romans 8:29a

We’ve been set apart and joined to God through Christ. More specifically, we are joined to Him through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Christ. If in marriage two become one, as God declares, then are we not one with Christ? “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” 1st Corinthians 6:17 There it is again, our spiritual union (marriage) with Christ. We become one with God.

Is Jesus God, or not?  I pray that you said, “Yes!” If so, and we have become one with Him, then we too, are, in a sense, God. But our union with Him has stipulations. We can only be godlike when we are in full surrender, submission, and obedience to Him. Our union with Christ is contingent upon our submission to His Spirit, who is constantly hoping to unite with our spirits, and have control over us. But he will not take control, we must give it, and surrender ourselves to the will of God. This is FAITH! Do we believe in God’s love or not? Do we believe that He is right in all that he says, and in every way that He leads us? This is what repentance means. We cannot be born of the Spirit until we have repented, agreeing with EVERYTHING God has said, says, or will say. It is a change of mind.

I agree that I am a sinner and in need of God’s grace. I need a Savior, and God has provided that Savior for me in His Son, Jesus Christ. I agree that Jesus is both God and man, that He was born of the Virgin Mary, that he lived and died a physical death on the cross. God placed all the sins of the world in Jesus, and then Christ died and carried our sins to the grave and buried them there. He arose on the 3rd day, was seen by many witnesses, and finally ascended to sit at the right hand of God’s throne in glory. Jesus, our Christ is alive forevermore! We must confess Him before witnesses, and be baptized into Him (Romans 6, 10:9-10) and in obedience to his commands. Yes, salvation is a free gift of God’s amazing grace. This is called justification. But if I am to dwell in His holy presence, I also need to be fully sanctified and made holy. The more I mature in my relationship, which is synonymous with, the more that I trust Him by submitting (obeying), then the more like Him I become. That’s where the beauty comes in.

Our hearts, our minds, and our souls are being fashioned into the most gorgeous creatures you could ever imagine. This is the beauty that made Earnest and Paul so attractive and lovable. It was their union with God, through their submission to God that made them so attractive on the inside. They shone with the glory of Christ, who dwelt within them.

A splendid truth concerning those who are saved and sanctified and being made holy, is that you are the elite, the elect, the chosen of God. You belong to an upper echelon and will one day even judge angels. There is no imagining how exalted your position is. Spiritually you are seated with Christ at the side of the Father. All enemies are being placed under His feet and you are a part of Him. But it is not by your own merits. Jesus has won all of this victory for us. We can accept no credit for simply doing our duty. But kudos anyway, for striving with every fiber of your being to become just like Jesus.

We too can blossom into stunningly winsome people, regardless of our external appearance. So what is your soul and spirit looking like today? Buff it up and make it shine by trusting Christ completely. When we say that we are trusting Him, it means we are obeying Him. We will make mistakes. But they better be mistakes and not deliberate sin! We do not consciously set out to disobey God. If so, then we are not united with Christ, we are still in our sins, and Jesus will say those horrible words we never want to hear. “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  If you still love that sin, then you do not love God with the type of proving love He commands. We love holiness, righteousness and all that is good, beautiful and glorious.

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26 KJV

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Becoming like children means that He is our Parent and we must be as a humble child and do as our loving Father directs us to do. When a saved soul sins, and they will sin, they will hate that sin just as God does. We won’t be able to stand ourselves until we confess that sin to God. This restores our fellowship with him. We must repent. In addition to the previous definition of repentance there is also this: “I hate my sin, and I never want to do it again!” This is true repentance and confession.

Sadly, we often hear only a partial gospel. “Get your free ticket to heaven.” Yes salvation is free. It is a gift from God. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Yet, this in no way eliminates our responsibility. The New Testament is replete with staunch warnings about our new lives in Christ and what the Lord expects of us. He saved us for a reason, for a divine purpose. One of those reasons is mentioned in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Make no mistake, the redeemed are God’s passionate project. He is working in the world through us, the church. He’s also busy recreating inside us, working to shape you and I into glorious creatures. Let’s rejoice over this next verse: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 NIV Did you catch that? Glory, in us! Praise God!

We are to be obedient, and sin not. But when we do sin, even though we do not want to sin, we have forgiveness. 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. The Lord is keeping us spotless, if we are truly in Him, united and joined to Him in the closest bond known to the human mind: marriage. We weep and mourn over our sin, forsake and confess it.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we can just take the free ticket to heaven and go on about our business without doing any changing. He will give us the power to make the changes that are requisite for our transformations. Come beautiful butterflies—let’s sing praises to God, who is still at work in you me, and who promises to bring that work to completion.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe in salvation by works. But I do not consider obedience a work. We must forsake our sin. How can one rationalize willful sin and explain away the following verses? “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8. NIV

This was written to Christians, saved souls, besides, it says “Whoever”.

I can’t wait to see your beauty unveiled in its entire splendor. We see only a small portion of that resplendent loveliness in this life; but it is enough to distinguish those who are truly being conformed to be like the one who is the most gorgeous of all: Jesus. He is the one who has made all of this possible. May Christ Jesus and God the Father be forever praised!

 

 

 

 

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Time To Rejoice

rejoice

 

There are nearly a dozen hot button topics that have come up over the past week that I had hoped to expound. It would have drawn a lot more readers. But life kept on happening, effectively robbing me of the time I needed to plant my butt in the seat and type. But then again…

Today I want to block out all those other things bouncing around in my thinker, to relate what the Lord spoke to my heart this morning, through His word. Hold onto something now, we are entering my brain.  ☺

We hear the verse often, and most every Christian is familiar with it. I think there’s a danger in over using popular verses. When we hear them, our minds believe we’ve already received the full impact of that particular passage of scripture in the past, and so we don’t really think much about it. Opening my bible this morning, I turned to one such verse.

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I can say with confidence, I’ve read that verse lots of times over the years, and have heard it quoted even more. But let’s dig in, and see if we can draw some deeper meaning than what appears on the surface.

First, let’s list the topics that this verse includes. Certainly it speaks of God’s sovereignty: God is in control. He can do as He pleases. I’m thankful He is a good and loving God, aren’t you?

This verse also proclaims that the Lord is the Creator of time.

Trusting God through whatever the day might bring is another grand principle we need to apply to our minds, which this verse implies.

God is working out His grand plan for mankind corporately. He also has individual, personalized plans for each one of our futures. (Jer. 29:11) He is aligning circumstances and events so that His plan for you will be brought to pass. This verse shouts the topic of Divine Providence.

We should rejoice.

When we can rejoice in the Lord, regardless of what is transpiring around us, or happening to us, God is very pleased. It reveals that we are trusting the Lord, and acknowledging His sovereignty. We are showing our understanding of His providence. We are acknowledging His provision of all we need, and we are joyful over His love. So here’s the thrust of the message I received today. God led me to the book of Job to make the connection.

“He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 2:10

You should already know the story of Job, so I won’t get into that, but suffice it to say that God allowed Job to suffer horrendous tragedies in his life

Yes, it is easy to trust God in the good times of plenty and health. But what about the days when my sciatica is raging, causing terrible pain in my back? What about the days a migraine headache forces me back into bed? Can I rejoice then?

Often, I think I know what needs to be done in order for me to continue growing in holiness. I have mapped out how to best serve the Lord, and what I need to accomplish in order to minister to others. I have my days all planned out. But sometimes God interrupts my plans, with His plan. He might say, “No, Sheldon, today you need a headache.” Will I trust Him still? Will I rejoice in the fact that God knows what he’s doing, and that it’s all for my own good? Can God show love to me by allowing me to have a splitting headache? Yes! I may not enjoy the pain, but I can rest assured that God’s love for me remains intact. I can rejoice because I trust in His wisdom, which eclipses my own.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people should shout, “Praise the Lord, I have cancer!” I’m not going to actually thank God for my pain. But I am going to thank Him that He is using my pain to shape me into the image of His holy Son, just as He has promised. I will praise Him for aligning events to coincide with, and bring about His perfect will, because His will is better than good.

Another popular verse states, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

If I am going to rejoice in the Lord at all times, even during a sciatica flare up or a blasting migraine, I will need to trust God. I must accept the bad along with the good, as did Job. I must believe that in His providence He is working all things together in a way that will bring about all that is good for me. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Perhaps I needed to be reminded today that God is in control, and that He loves me very much. Maybe I required a refresher course in remaining joyful over my relationship with Jesus. But then, maybe God simply wanted me to write all of this out so that you would be reminded of these things. Whatever the case, the Lord is working.

Not perceiving or acknowledging God’s loving control does not hinder His plans from progressing, not in the least. But it will harm us, and steal off with our joy. Let’s lift up the mighty name of our glorious God today and rejoice in Him! Because, as we all know, God is good, all the time!

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, we praise you that you are a holy God, and we praise you for your goodness and your sweet love. May your mighty name be forever exalted. We especially thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to pay for our sins and reconcile us unto Yourself. What an awesome plan of salvation! It is so wonderful that we have this precious relationship with you, and with Your Son, through Your Spirit within. We pray for your will to be done in each one of us, and across the earth. Teach us, oh God, to recognize your Lordship over all things, and to rejoice in the fact that you love us so much. Thank you for providing everything we need to grow in goodness and in godliness. We praise you for nurturing us along, as we become more and more like Jesus. We love you, Lord! We praise your mighty name, Hallelujah! In Jesus’ glorious name, Amen.

Categories: Growing in Faith, Ministry, Providence, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Unstressed Servant

unstress

As the multi-plenteous things I needed to accomplish today swirled in my head, and blood pressure began to rise, the Spirit spoke to me. You better spend some time in prayer and bible reading first. I was stressed with a capital “S”. There are just not enough hours in my days to accomplish all I hope to do. It’s possible that I have two hairs left which have not yet turned white.

Yesterday I finished my planned bible reading, and so this morning I realized that I’d failed to plan where to read next. I’ve been through the bible many times, yet it continues to teach me new things, as if it’s growing along with me. So, I did that thing that perhaps others have done at some point. Allowing my bible to fall open, I simply read whatever passage my eyes fell upon.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

That’s all it took to remind me that God is in control, and He has my situation well in hand.

As I began praising God, and thanking Him, another passage flashed through my memory. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)  

My thoughts were: Christ is the one doing the work, not me. I’m just a tool in His hand. My breathing slowed to become deeper inhalations, and I began to relax. The fact that the work I do is actually Jesus’ work took a considerable amount of pressure off of me. Nobody expects a tool to rise up all by itself and accomplish this or that each day. I must simply yield myself to Christ and be available to do as he directs. He’s the one controlling and empowering the tool (you and me).

Then I flipped the pages of my bible to another random scripture and looked down to read this: (May God) equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…” Hebrews 13 (Parts of 20 &21).

“Okay Lord, I get it. Forgive me for taking your job onto myself. I’m getting back behind you—help me to follow closely. Please use me for your purposes today, and lead me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

We can step into each day with confidence, knowing that as long as we are following Jesus everything is going to work out fine. There are still some projects I need to complete, but now I’m relaxed and confident in Christ. Whatever situation you find yourself in today, know that the Lord is with you. Make certain that you are following His lead, and remember, He never fails!

At this juncture in my day a second cup of coffee is calling my name. Mine is always fresh ground, but it would taste much better if you were here having a cup with me.

Faith, hope, love & peace to you today, and may God Bless You.

 

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