What Does it Mean to be “Saved?”

July 19, 2018 at 11:24 am | Posted in Salvation | Leave a comment
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I have noticed that many people have incorrect ideas and general confusion about the term “saved.” To be “saved” in the Biblical sense means to be saved from God’s wrath. God’s wrath is what we deserve because of our sins against Him. To be “saved” is to be “rescued,” or “delivered” from a punishment against which we are helpless. We are saved by God’s grace, meaning that it is a free gift that we do not deserve. We are saved through faith, meaning that it happens when we believe the Truth about Jesus Christ and His Gospel and place all our trust in Him alone. We can add nothing whatsoever to this salvation. It comes to us through Christ, according to His Word, and for God’s glory. For several years I have been asking people if they are “saved” and these are the most common responses:

1. “Yes, I go to church.” But going to church does not mean that you are saved.

2. “Yes, I have been baptized.” But being baptized does not mean that you are saved. Being baptized is something we are commanded to do AFTER we are saved. Baptism is an illustration of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It does not wash away anyone’s sins.

3. “Yes, I have been saved many times.” But this is impossible. Salvation is a one-time-only event for each person who experiences it. Upon salvation you receive eternal life, and “eternal” life, by definition, cannot be lost or taken away.

4. “Yes, I pray to God every day.” Being saved may occur during a prayer, but the act of praying itself is not the same as being saved.

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The Laver as Baptistry?

July 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: Does the washing and purification of the priests in the laver of the Old Testament Tabernacle have any significance for the New Testament ordinance of baptism?

Answer: The Tabernacle laver (made of bronze) is first mentioned in Exodus 30:18. The priests were required to use it to wash both their hands and feet every time they went from the courtyard into the Most Holy Place – upon penalty of death. Its primary function was practical: sanitary hygiene. Many of the priests handled raw meat and bloody flesh. Although “germs” weren’t common knowledge in those days, God certainly knew about their relation to disease, and many of His laws protected the people from things like Hepatitis A (which is easily spread by the failure to wash hands when dealing with shared food preparation) without their knowledge. However, the laver also had a symbolic function. Most people know the expression “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” While this expression is not precisely from the Bible, it does express the idea that holiness is associated with purity. The idea that people would approach the presence of the holy God with dirty hands and feet would be offensive as a reminder of how wrong it would be for sinful people to approach a pure and righteous God. When gentiles would convert to Judaism in the Old Testament, they would be baptized as a symbol of washing away their sin and “uncleanliness.” New Testament baptism is different, though. For Christians, our sin was borne and expiated by Jesus on the Cross, and our baptism, which should be subsequent to conversion, symbolizes our identification with Christ in His death (going down into the water), burial (being under the water), and Resurrection (coming up out of the water).

Faith in God

July 11, 2018 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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In Christian ministry we try to balance correction with encouragement. We definitely want to make sure that, as Christians, we are not provoking God to anger by the hardness of our hearts, which is Bible terminology for a willful and obstinate refusal to obey Him. On the flip side, we should be jumping at opportunities to please God in any way we can, after all He has done for us. Well, if you are someone has trouble with the concept of faith, there is no real nice way to say this: If we want to please God, there is absolutely no way to do it without faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Mark 11:22

It is one thing to believe that God exists. It’s a whole other thing to believe that He will do what He says He will do. Christians must believe that He is real; that He can do what He says; and that He will keep the promises He gives to those who obey Him.

In everyday English, if I say, “I really believe in my wife,” you would not take me to mean only that I believe that there is an existential entity named Laura Hampton. No, you would take me to mean that I have faith in her character. I believe she is going to do what she ought to do in a given situation.

Jesus knew God better than anyone knows God. When He told the Disciples, “Have faith in God,” He was telling them that God can and will do what He has said He will do. Vance Havner used to talk about the seemingly contradictory, but actually miraculous, power of faith, by saying that real faith believes the incredible, sees the invisible, and does the impossible. The miraculous is only the miraculous from our point of view. From God’s point of view there is no “miraculous,” because He can do all things (Mark 10:27). From God’s point of view nothing is invisible, because He sees everything (Matthew 6:4). From God’s point of view nothing that He says is “incredible,” because, as the only One Who can not lie, He is completely credible (Hebrews 6:18). As Christians, we must learn to “believe in God.”

The Greatest Miracle

July 9, 2018 at 11:45 am | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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John the Baptist received from his disciples some news about Jesus’s ministry.

And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.

Luke 7:18

John’s disciples considered themselves REformers (as opposed to the Pharisees who thought of themselves as CONformers, and Jesus’s disciples who were TRANSformers). John was doubting Jesus because he wasn’t seeing any reformation.

And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

Luke 7:19

Doubting can be a sign of unbelief, but not always. You can still have faith in God but be perplexed over what He is doing. As Oswald Chambers once said, “Doubting is not always a sign of unbelief; sometimes it’s a sign that a man is thinking.”

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Luke 7:22-23

The Greek word translated as “offended” in Luke 7:23 is skandalizo, from which we get the English word “scandalized.” It was originally the word for the bait in a trap – the enticement to fall into peril. The Person and ministry of Jesus should cause us to stop and think – but not to stumble and turn away. Jesus stressed the miracles He was doing so that John’s disciples could see the “transformation” which happens to individuals rather than the “reformation” which happens to governments.

I think sometimes we do a disservice in making converts believe that they are joining a club rather than entering into a personal relationship with the Savior. Healing the centurion’s servant was a great miracle. Raising the widow’s son from the dead was a great miracle. But Jesus was about to do an even greater miracle. He was about to save a sinner. That’s the greatest miracle because it meets the greatest need: forgiveness. It accomplishes the greatest result: eternal life. It cost the greatest price: the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross.

The Lord’s Day

July 5, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment
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Among the many sins for which God was allowing the destruction of Jerusalem was the failure of His people to keep the Sabbath.

But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

Jeremiah 17:27

One of the chief differences between God’s people and the pagans was that God’s people did not do “business” one day out of every week. On the Sabbath day they were not supposed to try to make money or earn a profit. One day out of every seven was set aside as a day of rest to remind them that they were different, and that, despite their labor on the other six days, they really depended upon God for all the blessings of life. Their failure to keep the Sabbath revealed that they did not believe God, did not obey God, and, therefore, did not arrange their lives as if He were real.

For New Testament Christians, observing the Lord’s Day (Sunday, the first day of the week) is the proper way to observe this principle. Sunday worship for Christians is not an optional thing, and don’t fool yourself into thinking that you really believe Him if you don’t arrange your weekly schedule to reflect that He is your Owner and your Lord.

Battling for Glory

July 2, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Posted in I Peter | Leave a comment
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As Christians, our journey on the road to glory begins with our spiritual birth. As we move from glory to glory with our minds “hinged” (not unhinged), and with our eyes fixed on Jesus, Who is both the Author and the Finisher of our journey, we remember that we are sojourners and pilgrims, not homeless wanderers. All through this journey, we are being prepared for glory as we go, and we are moving toward the fullness of glory, even as we make conquests along the way. We are bringing our thoughts into captivity and getting victories over our enemies, but how well the devil knows this tendency of ours to think of the victories as “ours!”

Here is where we have to be in the Word and filled with the Spirit. A victory along the way is not winning the whole war.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

The war is the whole campaign, not an individual battle.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. and I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:17-18

Peter would be very displeased with the idea (proffered by many people) that he is the rock upon which the church is built, and the false idea that his successors get revelations from God not found in His Holy Word.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 3:11

Flesh and blood don’t reveal to us that Jesus is the Son of God. We become children of God by grace through faith. Likewise, we don’t fight spiritual battles by flesh and blood. We fight by submitting to God’s Spirit, and we do this by faith.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

II Corinthians 10:3

This is a paradox. We win battles by surrendering. We do fight battles, but we don’t win these battles by fighting them in the worldly way. Beware of the temptation of Satan. Victory in battle can easily give place to lawlessness, but an attitude of submission does not allow for lawlessness or rebellion.

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

I Peter 2:12

Our submission to God will be a witness to unbelievers.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

I Peter 1:13

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

I Peter 1:15

Having a good testimony in the presence of unbelievers is not the way to bring ourselves glory. It is a way to bring glory to God, and to present a favorable impression of Him in the eyes of the lost for the “day of visitation.”

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omnipresence (Part 2)

June 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | Leave a comment
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The presence of God, though invisible in its true essence, is inescapable throughout all of creation.

3.God’s presence is infinite.

God is not limited to any “place” – to any location or “point” of existence. He is truly everywhere all the time. Not only that, but “all of Him” is always present at every point all the time. We could say that He “fills up” the entire universe, but, being finite ourselves, such a concept is difficult to grasp. It might be more useful to think of everything in all of existence existing “within Him.”

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Acts 17:24-28, emphasis added

4. God’s presence is invigorating.

The revelation that God is everywhere should prove to be a great comfort and a great motivation to His people. He does not stand aloof from His creation, and there is no possibility of an opposing regime or faction ultimately establishing itself anywhere within the realm of existence, because He not only supervises each molecule, but reigns absolutely supreme and victorious.

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

Isaiah 66:1

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:24

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 1:22-23

Pastor John Wilkerson: Don’t S.W.I.M. with Alcohol

June 7, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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People that drink alcohol to drown their sorrow need to understand that sorrow knows how to swim. Don’t drink alcohol. Jesus can take our sorrow.

Pastor John Wilkerson

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Proverbs 20:1

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

Proverbs 23:29-35

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I Peter 5:7

The Sending of the Holy Spirit

June 1, 2018 at 10:39 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: If the Holy Spirit was already in the world in Old Testament times, why did Jesus say that if He (Jesus) didn’t go, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t come, in John 16:7?

Answer: The Holy Spirit (Who is also God) operated differently under the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant, He would come upon specific individuals for specific reasons at specific times. You can see some examples in the lives of Moses, Samson, Saul, and David. That is what happened to John the Baptist and to Jesus, because they were still under the Old Covenant before Jesus’s Crucifixion. The Holy Spirit did not take up permanent residence inside human beings then. This changed when Jesus instituted the New Covenant. When He ascended into Heaven after His Resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit to all who put their trust in Jesus and were regenerated (born again). If you believe the truth about Jesus and put all your trust in Him, the Holy Spirit will live in you, too.

Jeremiah and the Blackhearts

May 30, 2018 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It is almost as if the Lord turns introspective in Jeremiah Chapter 8. He was clearly both angry and sad (grieved) by the people’s refusal to understand (or accept) the basic concepts of being blessed for loyalty, and being punished for treason.

Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.

Jeremiah 8:5

Some backsliding was to be expected, perhaps, for fallen sinners, but they had become “perpetual” – permanent, continual, unrepentant – backsliders who WOULD NOT turn. They had let go of the Lord so easily, but they held onto to obvious lies like drowning men clinging to a floating log. Such nimble “turners-away” seemed to be so dead-set against “turning back.”

As Christians, we must be careful of that same problem. We may assume that we can always come back to the Lord, or come back to church, or come back to what we once knew was right, but self-deceit has a way of sinking its hooks into us and brainwashing us.

It’s much easier to get out of church than to get back in, but it’s easier to STAY in church than to get back in, too. Set your anchor in God’s Word and in His body. Don’t experiment with the world. Don’t try to prove your will power or your false maturity by “proving” that you can handle what God says you can’t.

I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Jeremiah 8:6

It’s an uphill battle to get back on the right track, obeying God, but our sin nature will charge into sin and evil like a horse charging into battle.

Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.

Jeremiah 8:7

Even birds follow their instincts to go where their Creator programmed them to go. How could God’s “greatest,” “wisest” creatures defy the law He has given to them?

How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.

Jeremiah 8:8

This is the first mention of “scribes” in the Bible. These were men who should have been faithfully recording and teaching God’s law, but instead were adding silly legalistic rules to it, in order to cover up its true spirit.

The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?

Jeremiah 8:9

The canon of Scripture wasn’t closed in those days. God was still speaking through prophets like Jeremiah and Hosea and Malachi, but the priests and scribes and kings and false prophets were too “wise” to listen to God’s Word. They used the Law as a covering for their sin instead of using it as a mirror to point them straight to the Law-Giver and His Savior.

Jeremiah’s feelings mirrored God’s feelings:

When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.

Jeremiah 8:18

Every time he considered the people’s hearts it affected his own heart. Their behavior should have been hurting their own hearts, but it was hurting Jeremiah’s instead.

Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the Lord in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities? The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

Jeremiah 8:19-20

This was a proverb for the years when the wheat harvest would fail, only to have the fig, olive, and grape harvests fail, too. It meant that there would be no food that winter, and that people would starve.

For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.

Jeremiah 8:21

Jeremiah had worse than a case of the “blues.” He had a case of the “blacks!”

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