Posts Tagged With: Salvation

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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Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Becoming One With God: Salvation

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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: , , , , , | 8 Comments

How To Be Sure Of Heaven

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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

God’s Matrimonial Marvels

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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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Finding God in the Storm

This post stirred up a whole lot of discussion on my old blog, and yes, I’m recycling again. But trust me, I’m not simply being lazy. I’m busy with another ministry project and wanted to bless my new readers also with this post. To the faithful followers of my previous blog, as well as to my new followers, thank you. Blessings!

Finding God in the Storm

Some days my suffering felt as if I were sitting next to Job in sackcloth and sharing his ashes.

“Pass me that clamshell there Job, I need to scrape this boil.”

Also like Job, there were times when God was so close I could smell the sweetness of His breath on my shoulder. Up there on the spiritual mountain, where His presence is so real and loud, it’s easy to have faith. But the bulk of my growth, in a spiritual sense, didn’t take place there. It took place in the difficult valleys of hardship.

As anyone could imagine, I wasn’t enjoying those low points in life. I certainly wasn’t having any fun in the midst of those tough circumstances.

Suffering through a separation from my wife thirty-five years ago, I lost my means of employment as well. I became a pauper and a social outcast. Even my church family shunned me.

What happened? How did I go from the exhilaration of sharing glorious moments with the creator of the cosmos, to here? I was stuck in that dismal place, where jagged gray rocks of loneliness, emotional pain, hard toil and suffering were my clinging companions. I was quickly feeling rather disillusioned. Had God failed to follow through with His promises? Was He unfaithful to His word?

Once a person experiences the ecstasy and elation of close fellowship with Jesus, they forever seek to reproduce that experience. Nothing else can measure up to that wonder and joy. And I was having trouble finding my way back up that mountain to where I could feel those wonderful sensations again. I’d had a taste of spiritual heroin and I was instantly addicted to the Lord. His love is like no other.

“By night on my bed I sought him who my soul loveth: I sought him, but found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him but I found him not.” (Song of Solomon 3:1-2 KJV)

I had yet to unravel the splendid mystery of truth, which lie right there within me. Desperately I would try to manipulate circumstances, cramming them together in the shape I was certain would bring back that sensation of nearness to God. Heaven is perfect and so my circumstances must be perfect if I hoped to attain that paradise. Though I’d never actually assembled those words in my mind, that’s what I thought; my actions proved this to be my belief.

Fervently I prayed and fasted, pleading with God to ease my suffering. I was weak. But it would be through the weakness, and in the hardship, that I would come to discern His strength and comfort, because of those storms. You see, He had never left me. I just couldn’t feel Him. I’ve never seen God, but I’ve seen His omnipotence at work and felt Him most powerfully.

How did I eventually perceive His working in the bad times? How did I come to feel His powerful presence while beneath the black clouds of stormy circumstances? It was the same way that in spirit I stood face to face with God the very first time, up on that glorious mountain of elation. It was through faith, mixed with knowledge from His word.

Immediately upon coming to Christ and placing faith and trust in Him, grace is bestowed upon the believer. That first encounter will be forever cherished as a wonderful epiphany, the apex of elation and joy. It is upon that first moment of standing in close proximity with God, that because of our faith, God reveals Himself to us in all His loving character and divine virtues. Instantly all of the promises of God are ours; the promise of eternal life, the promise that He will never leave or forsake us, and the promise of peace that goes beyond all earthly comprehension. In a nanosecond the entire myriad of promises for supernatural benefits are delivered unto us, the fruit of the Spirit, the hope and joy and strength and comfort. The list goes on and on. It’s a package deal and all these things come along with salvation.

When I first purchased a new laptop, which had been preprogrammed with all sorts of software, I had no idea what to do with most of that stuff. I didn’t even know how to enter data onto a spreadsheet. But I owned it. All those programs were mine. I simply had to learn how to access and utilize them. I’d bought a package deal. And it was the same for all of those precious promises of God. He’d delivered them to me the very first moment I decided to believe and trust Christ as my Savior.

I’m now able to do a lot of things on my laptop, which previously I never dreamt possible. I have the power of those technologies at my fingertips. And I am now, finally, learning to access and benefit from all those promises I’ve received from God as well. I’m becoming adept at finding His presence within the storms of life—within the hardships. Sometimes, He even allows me to perceive some of His jaw dropping purposes in allowing those difficult circumstances to come upon me.

If I never knew how lifting weights would increase my strength, I certainly wouldn’t waste my time and wear myself out like. That work would be for naught. But I do know, and so I lift weights. That’s what my hardships are for too—only the difficulties are spiritual weights—to strengthen my faith in God and teach me how faithful, trustworthy and able He really is. And there are more reasons that only He knows. But we don’t need to know everything. It is enough to be convinced of God’s faithfulness. He is trustworthy. Life experiences through the eyes of faith, combined with the knowledge found in God’s word allows us to experience that closeness to God always. That elation and joy can be ours regardless of where we are or what we are going through.

God’s word equips us for every contingency in life. (See 2 Timothy 3:15-17) It is a part of the package deal of salvation, just as my computer came with an operator’s manual. When we begin a new life in Christ, it is necessary to learn and grow before we can benefit from all of the glorious benefits of God. Every Christian already has all they will ever need. It is merely a matter of learning to use it. Life experiences, whether times of elation, or hardship and suffering, are all a part of learning to wield our faith, trusting Christ in every circumstance.

“Have you seen the one my heart loves?” (Song of Solomon 3:3b NIV)

“His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
(Song of Solomon 5:16 KJV)

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Can Atheists Be Good People?

After one of our often spirited debates, a certain relative by marriage asked me to write an article on how someone can be a good person regardless of their faith, or lack thereof. As an agnostic with atheistic leanings I believe he, like many folks today, feel that they are good people. And by the world’s standard of what is good, he is correct.

As I pondered covering such a topic, I was rather loathe to do so, having had my own heart revealed to me in the light of God’s glory. I’m fully persuaded that every person on earth is quite flawed. However, after checking with the big boss upstairs, He’s disclosed the door to enlightenment which such a discussion can present.

As humans it would be quite offensive to say, “You are not a good person”. It goes against what we believe. And of course the prospect that we are not good people is repulsive. It just down right makes us feel bad. In fact if you tell a person they are not good, their response might reveal the truth of the statement.

I don’t like to see Christians acting unwisely and unkindly towards those who disagree with them. It is necessary for me to acknowledge that atheists and agnostics can be very nice people, charitable, and have a good sense of morality. There is no denying mankind’s capacity for doing good works separate from a belief and trust in God. That is a result of an innate awareness of good and evil (God consciousness), an inherent knowledge of good and evil which mankind received in the Garden of Eden. But to me that’s never really been an issue. By my fleshly perceptions atheists can be very good people.

Christians are not better than non-Christians based on their own merit. We understand that we are in need of God’s grace like all other people. But God views those who are saved differently than those who are not. Because the righteousness of Christ covers the redeemed. Note that it’s Jesus’ righteousness that makes me good in God’s eyes. Yet God loves all people regardless of their lack of faith. Christ died for my sins before I even committed them. Faith in and obedience to the Lord has to do with the restoration of mankind’s relationship with God, not His love for mankind. God loves you very much! But He must remain true to His nature of holiness and justice, because He is the epitome of good.

I do believe that a Christian’s motivation to do what is good becomes greater because of their love for God. They receive joy by pleasing Him. Their capacity for goodness is aided by the power of God sanctifying the individual. Therefore the Christian has a distinct advantage over the non-Christian for doing good, because they are following the one who is perfectly good. I do however, feel that when a non-believer comes to faith in Christ, that their capacity for love, and ability to perform good works becomes exponentially greater than before. They would then have the capability to be a better person than they ever thought possible. This, due to the enlightenment they’d receive by contrasting their goodness with that of the pure holiness they’d see in God. But mostly by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit who would then dwell within them. We must remember, it is God’s power at work within believers that makes them different. Therefore no Christian can boast of being good and doing good. It is God who does it.

However, let’s look at the difficulty with our perceptions of goodness from an earthly viewpoint.

Though I’m only five foot eight, God has blessed me with a great deal of physical strength. Pound for pound, I felt as though I was one of the strongest men around. Back then, my schedule allowed me to hit the gym in the middle of the day on weekdays. It was the time of day when the place was sparsely populated. Then I started coming in on Saturdays too, and the place would be packed. Making some friends, I found several guys who all weighed the same as me (within about five pounds). Was I ever in for an education!

A lot of them were stronger than me—most by just a little. But Jack was extraordinary. My eyes must have been bugging out of my head when I first witnessed his strength. After each three repetition set on the bench press, he jumped up and added two more forty-five pound plates, clanging the steel disks together. On his last set, he pressed five hundred fifty pounds for eight repetitions! Back then my one rep maximum was about 300 pounds.On every exercise, including dead lifts, squats and curls, he could lift twice the amount that I could lift. And do more repetitions.

Compared to Jack I was not very strong at all, and he was the same size as me. What amazed me even more was what he said.

“I’m not very strong compared to some other guys I know. They’re about the same size as us, and they can put me to shame!”

I went home a humbled man that day.

But this story as an analogy can’t hold a candle to the vast expanse between the goodness of homo-sapiens and the perfect paradigm of God’s goodness. The best person in the world pales in contrast with God’s purity and holiness.

It’s not all that difficult to be good enough for the world. The world’s standard is much lower than God’s standard. I think we’ve all heard, “Nobody’s perfect”. There’s lots of faithless humanitarians and do-gooders out there who spend themselves for the sake of others. And they accomplish countless good things. Only an idiot would say that you have to have faith to do good things and be considered a good person by the rest of the world. But that’s only the physical or natural world, which many times cannot even perceive its own corruption. Yes deeply egregious evils we recognize, but to God, the slightest flaw is egregious, because it introduces impurity.

Though housed in a physical body we are also spiritual beings, we do not cease to exist once fleshly life ends. God will hold us up in comparison to His righteousness. If there is the slightest flaw in us, then we are not fit to be in His holy presence. That’s why we need a Savior. As a Christian, I believe God when He says to trust in Christ Jesus alone to make me fit to be in His presence.

There is not a perfect person on earth. And if we are not perfect then we won’t make the cut. All the good works in the world won’t make a shred of difference in our admittance to eternal life in God’s loving presence. The kindest, the nicest and the most loving person on earth is not good enough. There is no way to earn salvation. The only escape from God’s wrath against sin is the way He has provided for us. It is by faith in the sacrifice He has made of His Son Jesus, to pay our fine for us.

God’s law states that the penalty for sin (being less than perfect) is death. But God can legally dismiss our case because He’s paid the penalty in our behalf.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Notice the severity of God’s judgment. Directly followed by His loving provision to negate the harshness of such judgment.

The escape from being judged by the standard of His perfection is a gift. It is received by accepting His gift in faith that God will honor His word. He then imputes the righteousness of His Son Jesus to us. In a sense, we borrow Christ’s perfection to gain acceptance. When our Savior returns He shall complete and perfect us so that we may dwell with Him forever.

By God’s standard none of us are good. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23) Yet, He wants to be with us, because He is a God not only of law and justice, but also of mercy and love.

The next verse (24) completes the sentence of Romans 3:23, and reveals the other side of God’s nature.

“(23) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

He has redeemed us from the death penalty that is upon all people. And because none are perfect by God’s standard, His love demanded He provide a way to save us. Then, when Christ returns, the redeemed will receive a new spiritual body, an eternal body which is no longer prone to sin and imperfection. We will be truly good as God created us in the first place, before disobedience, or sin entered the picture. Perfect and good—God’s kind of good.

By all means, to the best of your ability, continue to be good and to do what is good. Be a nice person and a kind, charitable and loving person. But don’t depend on your own goodness to save your soul from damnation. Accept the gift.

The more a person comes to discern spiritual truth the more they realize how far off the mark they actually are. Each year, God progressively reveals more things in me that need to change, as I strive for His standard of perfection.

I’d like to say I’m a good man. But I cannot do so in good conscience, because I know God.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

 

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