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Friday, June 26, 2015, 7:21 PM
Jesus’ disciples asked Him what they might do that they might work the works of God. Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent." (John 6:28-29) Did Jesus not give them the whole truth? Did the Bible misquote Jesus? But count, just in the book of John, and just in the words of Christ how many times He said we must believe unto salvation or eternal life without any other stipulations. Sure, the reader will find some verses in the Bible that say more along with believe. But note how many say believe with nothing else added. Then can we say, "There is more to it than that"?
When Paul said, "… you shall be saved …", he did not say, "… you could be saved if you do not lose your salvation before you die." God sees the end from the beginning. God knows one’s whole life at the time He gives him the gift of salvation. Is He going to give you a gift knowing that a year, or six years from now the believer is going to lose such a precious gift He has given?
"All flesh is like the grass that withers in the wind. There is no one who is truly righteous; no, not even one. There is no one that fully understands— no one who does truly good. All man's righteousness is like filthy rags compared to God's." No man is able to gain salvation by his own righteousness. Since we all fall into traps of temptation, no man who receives God's free gift is able to secure his own salvation by staying righteous. As Paul said, "We may know that the law of God is good and right, but we still fall to the earthly pulls of this fleshly body." As Jesus pointed out to His disciples, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
Hebrews 6:4-6 says that it is impossible for those who received the Heavenly gift that, if they shall fall away, they may be renewed because Christ would have to be crucified again for them. If a person were to lose those gifts, it would be impossible for him to get them back. Christ died once to save man from his sins. If a person could lose his salvation and needed to be saved again, Christ would have to go to the cross again. This is why Paul taught that in Christ we are free from the law. This fleshly body may die, but death has no victory over those God has saved. Once a person is saved, he is saved forever. If he could lose it, he could not get it back because Christ is not going back to the cross again.
Does not the Bible teach that no one can snatch a believer from the Father's hand? Does not the Bible teach that not even the depths can separate one from the Father's LOVE? Does not the Bible teach that the same Spirit that has begun a work in you is able to complete that which He has started? As long as God can see your entire life from beginning to end, why would the Holy Spirit begin a work in you if He saw that you would not last?
Those who say that Paul was wrong, and that there is supposed to be more to it than that are saying that we have to do more works than the work of believing that Jesus taught. They are saying that John 3:16 is not enough. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is "not of yourselves" and "not of works, lest any man should boast." Salvation is so simple for two reasons: (1) so that no man would have any reason to boast; and (2) even the most simple minded person can understand and believe. God loves even the most simple minded people, and salvation does not require complicated theological explanation.
Prideful men with complicated minds want to study and analyze the process of salvation and want to make steps and levels for people to go through so that educated preachers can have more to teach and more counseling for people to go through to have and hold on to the gift that God freely gives to simple minded people who only believe. People who realize how greatly in need of God they are, and that Christ shed His precious blood for them, generally have a natural desire to serve the Lord.
Friday, June 26, 2015, 8:27 AM
"For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord."
It is God's grace because of His love for sinful man that allows us to be saved. It is our faith in this grace that allows us to be accepted by Him. This faith that leads to our salvation is not of ourselves but a gift from Him when we recognize our condition before Him and acknowledge our need for Him, and then call upon Him believing. Eternal life is the gift given to us along with the gift of grace faith that brings us salvation. Since this grace and faith is not of ourselves nor of our works, no man has anything to boast about.
Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed in the Lord and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness. The Bible is a faithful recorder that Abraham had shortcomings. Though Abraham tried to live to please God, he still fell short of living up to God's ideals. It was not because he tried to live to please God that he was counted as righteous. That he tried to live to please God showed that he believed; because he believed, his shortcomings were overlooked that he might be reckoned as righteous.
Genesis 4:26 tells us that in the time of Enos men began to call upon the name of the Lord. Romans 10:12-13 says, "... the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Of course the Bible says that not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord," will enter into His kingdom. Is this a contradiction? Certainly not, because not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord," truly believes that He is really there. If you "call upon" someone you do not believe in, then you are not truly calling, but mocking. To truly call upon someone you must believe in the one you are calling upon and seeking an audience with that someone.
In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, "And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart." Compare this with Hebrews 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." From beginning to end the Bible emphasizes believe, call upon, and seek the Lord. Herein we see the impetus that motivated Abraham's life. As it is recorded for anyone who wishes to please God, "... the just shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)
Some people stumble at the simplicity of salvation. In pride, people want to think that they can do something to make their salvation a reality. Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved …" I heard a church leader say, "There is a lot more to it than that." If there is more for man to do than that, then did Paul lie? Is the Bible trying to mislead people here? I know the Bible teaches confessing, repenting, baptizing, and many other things that are a part of the Christian life. Though these are a part of the Bible's teaching of the way to perfection, they are only a part of the Christian experience, not necessarily a part of the Christian's salvation.
True, a person has to recognize his sinful condition, and this recognition of his need for God's salvation is the confession that, when added to his belief and his call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, results in God's gift of faith and eternal life. If a man could not confess that he was a sinner, then why would he see any need for calling upon the Lord? But the salvation is a gift of God through the gift of faith, not through the works of confessing, repenting, and baptizing.
Paul did not say, "Believe, and do this, and that, and whatever else and God will save you, as long as you do not lose your righteousness by falling back into sin." Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." No stipulations. No ifs, ands, or buts. If I said that there had to be more to it than that, then I would have to go through the Bible and pick and choose what I believed, and what parts had to have more added to it than what was said. Paul said that all who called on the name of the Lord would be saved, and I am not going to call Paul a liar.
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 5:50 PM
Who am I to accuse or point a finger at anyone else? I freely admit that I am so very far from being all that I should be. That is why my constant prayer is, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Isaiah 29: 13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men;
Ezekiel 33: 31 And they come unto Me as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.
People can have a head full of knowledge of the Lord, but if they do not have God’s LOVE in their heart, they are as “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal”. (1st Corinthians 13: 1) How can you see if the LOVE is there? Anyone with a head full of the knowledge of the Lord should be able to tell you. Love is kind, patient, longsuffering, forgiving, not boastful. How difficult is it to tell if one’s love does not win out in the long run? Though we are all sinners; so very often that love may be hidden from others. But if love is there, it will show itself in its time.
Gossip, rumors, and people telling other people’s stories: who do they impress? They think to show themselves as good by pointing out others’ faults. Boasting: how good do we really think we are? We all like to talk and try to make ourselves look good to others, but two important things to consider:
Anytime we think ourselves so good as to put someone else down with our tongues by gossip or rumors, or we think ourselves so good as to boast, how easy to forget that it was our miserable estate of sin that caused Christ to come to die for us. Should we ever think ourselves good enough to boast? But I think, we all do to some extent. We should be careful not to be consumed by our own boasting. The Bible teaches that in the last days men would be lovers of their own selves. If we try to promote ourselves (whether by gossip to make us look better than someone we put down, or by boasting, or any other way), is that not a symptom of self love?
The New Testament teaches that even in the early church, the anti-Christ was already among them, seeking to deceive them. Who is the anti-Christ? Literally it is anyone who works against the works of Jesus Christ. What are the works of Christ? God is LOVE. God’s law is built on LOVE. If a person has LOVE in their hearts and show that LOVE openly, then it leads people to do the works of LOVE which are the works of Christ. Remember that God loved the world so much (in spite of the fact that the world was so full of sin, and so far from God’s law of LOVE) that Jesus Christ came and died so that sinners (like me) could find God’s Kingdom. If God loved the world so much, how could anyone say they love God if they cannot love a sinner like me?
Did I say that the anti-Christ is already in the church seeking to deceive the church membership? That is what the New Testament teaches. Satan is a liar and the father of lies, so deceit is his weapon of choice. Satan does not mind church members believing they are Christian, as long as they don’t comprehend what being a Christian means. Being a Christian means having Christ in your heart which automatically means having God’s law of LOVE in your heart. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you no longer sin, but you are sorrowful for being a sinner, and eternally grateful to a God who can love you so much, in spite of the fact that you’re a sinner. With God’s law of LOVE in your heart, you can’t help but love other sinners as Christ loved you.
People often don’t stop and think that love truly hurts. It hurts God to see a world that has turned against Him. It hurts Christians to love a world knowing that God’s LOVE is so freely given, but so few will accept it. Think about it. If you truly love someone, then how does it make you feel to see them hurt? If you have Christ’s LOVE in your heart, then how does it make you feel to see the fast approaching Judgment Day coming, and knowing that so many have not found the LOVE that God so freely offers? Do we really feel God’s LOVE in our hearts?
A lot of people may be accused of being Christian by going around with their heads up and being what the Wizard in Oz called “good deed doers”. Jesus said His followers would be known by their LOVE. How many people would be accused of being truly loving people?
When Jesus came to Bethlehem, He came to a society with Pharisees and Sadducees. If He came today to the US heartland, He would come to a society with Republicans and Democrats. How much real difference would He find?
Thursday, June 25, 2015, 6:16 AM
When Jesus came in Mary’s womb, He came into a people who were full of the “Knowledge of God”. Many of the people who claimed to be “God’s People” went to the Synagogues and the Temple to study and pray. There were many who became experts in the Laws of God, having their heads full of this knowledge. This could have been good except for one thing. God required that it be as much, if not more in their hearts as in their heads. The base matter of the heart was missed because they failed to understand that all of God’s Law is based in LOVE, and love without the heart is empty, meaningless, and worthless.
Jesus tried to teach and demonstrate to the experts, but because they considered Him to be uneducated, they did not listen or see. Because Jesus’ heart was God’s Own LOVE, He attracted the ones who were most desperately crying out for that LOVE, the outcasts and downtrodden. Many were attracted to the show and the hope, but few became truly infused with God’s genuine LOVE that reaches out to all, even the most unworthy and undeserving.
When Jesus comes again, it won’t be to teach, but to judge. But just for the sake of theorizing, let us suppose that Jesus came again, this time to the heartland of the United States, to teach and to reach out. What would He really find?
There are many evangelists who are experts in God’s Law. There are many whose heads are filled with a knowledge of God’s law. There are many who will only have the “right” kind of “righteous” friends. They shun and disdain those who live in a way that is inconsistent with their “known” understanding of God’s Word. But who is truly attracting the outcasts and downtrodden?
They may say, “I enjoy my private time with God in prayer and Bible study and church.” (I know God is taking notice of how good I am.) They may say, “I only spend my time with people who are known for their fine character.” (I’m sure God didn’t expect me to love those sinful people over there.)
Christian really means “Christ-like”. Jesus loved, cared for, prayed for, and died for people, like me, who spat on Him, beat Him, and nailed Him to a tree. If Jesus walked around teaching in the United States today, how many truly Christ-like people would He find? How many church pew sitters would be out loving the “unlovable”? How many church pew sitters proudly pray to God that they don’t associate with that sort of people? One song that used to be very popular went, “What the world needs now is love sweet love.” That verse is very true. But who shows the world the real Source of that Love sweet Love?
The Lord wants people to have His Word in their heads, but that Word also teaches that it is most important to have that LOVE in the heart. The Old Testament taught that it was good that God’s people had His Word in their heads, but what was most desired was the mercy, patience, longsuffering, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness in the heart. The New Testament teaches that the Law (in the head) is very good, right, and true, but that law has been broken by every human being that has ever lived (except Jesus). That is why the heart being filled with God’s Law of LOVE (with the mercy, compassion, patience, longsuffering, and forgiveness) is more important.
It is one thing for church pew sitters to go around telling the world to Love God. It is one thing for church pew sitters to go around saying, “I love you.” It is one thing for church pew sitters to go around showing that love and demonstrating it for other church pew sitters. It is quite another for church pew sitters to go around showing and demonstrating that love to the outcasts, downtrodden, and others in this world. Christian means “Christ-like”. How many church pew sitters would Jesus find who were willing to love and forgive even people who were spitting on them, beating them, or nailing them to a tree?
Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 5:27 PM
Consider four communities: one predominantly rich Baptists with a minority of poor Pentecostals; another predominantly poor Baptists with a minority of rich Pentecostals; another predominantly rich Pentecostals with a minority of poor Baptists; and the last predominantly poor Pentecostals with a minority of rich Baptists. Here we have kids going to school together with different faiths, some in the majority, some in the minority, some rich, some poor.
Now the Baptist kids will still all get the same Baptist teachings, and the Pentecostal kids will still get the same Pentecostal teachings. Even though they may agree on many things the Bible teaches, each faith will still disagree on certain fundamental issues. Moreover, the Baptist kids in each community may still look at the world a little differently from the Baptist kids in the others; and the Pentecostal kids in each community will look at the world a little differently from the way Pentecostal kids in the others might see it.
In either faith in any community, the richer group is likely to emphasize the teaching about how prosperous serving the Lord can be! The poorer group will probably spend more time reminding people that the love of money is the root of all evil; and it is better to be poor and serve the Lord than rich and serve the Devil. In each community the group in the minority population will likely have an affinity to the verse that refers to the straight and narrow path which few will be on as opposed to the broad way leading to destruction.
Now consider a fifth community. One third of the population is Baptist and one third Pentecostal, each with about equal and better off financial footing. The other third are non-church-goers and non-Bible-readers and they are poor. Consider that all the kids go to the same school. It would seem that the church going kids should certainly hang around with and be a ‘good influence’ on the non-church going kids. So the Baptist kids go to a revival and feel the need to "preach" to the non-church going kids. The non-church kids were brought up without the church or the Bible. What are they going to think? "Those kids think they are better and smarter than we are." So they will not want to hang around with the Baptist kids. Can we blame them? Then the Baptist kids feel that they need to "teach" the Pentecostal kids a better way and end up chasing them away. Then the Pentecostal kids go to a revival, and the cycle starts over. In the end everyone thinks, "Well, they just think they are better and smarter than we are, so maybe we had just better hang around our own kind. After all, we KNOW we are right; we have TRUTH on our side."
We ‘BELIEVE’. We ‘KNOW’. We have ‘TRUTH’. What is ‘TRUTH’? We may all think or believe we know. But what do we really believe or know? Do we ask ourselves why we believe what we believe? I often ask myself this question. I can only depend on my understanding of God's Word and how I believe the Holy Spirit reveals to me what the real interpretation is. There will always be people more educated than I who also feel led by the Spirit and who will see a different view from mine and from others.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God showed us His great love in that while we were dying in our sins, Christ died for us. Beloved if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." How should these kids from different backgrounds deal with each other? The same way we all should. The same way God deals with all of us— in LOVE.
The truth is always right, but sometimes all the truth does not need to be told. Sometimes things in the past are best left in the past because the past can be put behind and new starts made. Sometimes the truth in the present can be taken with a grain of salt when considering that all people are frail and temptations can be strong. However, sometimes it can be difficult to determine to what extent rationalization may override good reason.