Catechism Question 22

May 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, John | 1 Comment
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Question 21: When did God forgive you for your sins and give you eternal life?
Answer: When I believed on Jesus and called on Him to save me.
Prove it.
Romans 10:13

Question 22: How will you live for Jesus?
Answer: By loving Him and doing what He says.
Prove it.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

A person who has not trusted Christ unto salvation may perform acts of kindness, exercise some manner of admirable restraint, exhibit a life that speaks of comparative morality, and even accomplish what appear to be acts of self-sacrifice. However, underneath the visible exterior, no one is able to accomplish true righteousness in his or her own power, and, apart from the grace of God, every non-Christian’s deeds are tainted by self-interest and sullied by the fact that they are not done with a pure motivation of giving God glory.

One of the many varied blessings of receiving the salvation of the Lord in Christ is the creation of a new heart which is capable of responding to God’s love, and of being able to love Him back in true obedience. Our children, and we ourselves, must all remember that true conversion is not the permission to lapse into spiritual inactivity. Instead, it is the beginning of our call to serve our Master, King, Lord, Older Brother, and Best Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Other verses to consider:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:8

What Can I Do for God?

February 18, 2015 at 11:48 am | Posted in Matthew | 4 Comments
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Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

The point of doing “good works” is not to impress other people with how “good” we are. Nor is the point to impress God, in the sense of gaining or earning His favor. However, the Bible does say to live your life before the eyes of God (I Kings 15:5; I Samuel 26:24). Many years ago, when I first started actively serving as a member of a local church, I was not sure what I would be able to do. The church had a gym, and it was in need of painting, so, as part of a big group project, I was assigned to paint a large section of the walls. I had done plenty of painting growing up, but this was special. In my mind, I wasn’t doing this for the church, or for the approval of the pastor or other church members. I was doing it for the Lord. I don’t think I’ve ever painted with such care and effort. I wanted to do a good job for my Lord.

If you are a father and you’ve ever taken a small child to a public playground, you have probably experienced this: There will almost always be young boys there with their mothers or some other female caregiver. They are happy playing by themselves until they see you (the only grown man) there. Almost immediately, they will begin showing off, vying for your attention, hanging upside down from the monkey bars, jumping off the highest part of the slide, turning a back-flip off a swing. “Hey, hey, look at me – look what I can do!” There is something inherent in boys that makes them want to please their fathers (or in the absence of their fathers) some male authority figure. It’s not exactly the same thing with God and His children, but there is a sense in which we should be striving to please our Heavenly Father.

On the other hand, though, we must be careful not to make an idol of our accomplishments when they appear noteworthy. We have a tendency to feel content as Christians when we accomplish all our spiritual “chores:” when we have read our Bibles, said our prayers, witnessed faithfully, advanced in our sanctification. When we have a day like this, we might secretly, perhaps even subconsciously, believe that God loves us “more” than on the days when we lose the battle to temptation, fall into sin, shirk our spiritual duties, and regress into the flesh. I call that type of of thinking “idolatrous” because, when that happens, we have become the source of our own “blessedness” – our own peace and contentment.

There is a difference between striving to fulfill every rule of law and living to please God – of being motivated by His greatness and goodness on one hand, versus being motivated by the false belief that I am somehow adding something to Him, on the other hand.

We like to think that God has no other hands than our hands, no other feet than our feet, no way of speaking but by our mouths, but this is not true. God is not dependent upon His children, and there would be no place for us in the Kingdom of Heaven if it was a place only for those with great faith, tireless devotion, and unfailing, continual, never-sliding-back progress in sanctification.

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

The idea that God doesn’t need us might make some folks mad, but it makes me very, very happy. God can raise up a rock to do anything I can do – and do it better than me! It’s not the world’s version of the “great ones” who rule with the King in the Kingdom of Heaven.

But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Matthew 19:30

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17

Yes, we shall reign in life, but not by our own righteousness. It shall be by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Grace vs. Works

May 5, 2014 at 9:29 am | Posted in Galatians | 2 Comments
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Galatians is a book which addresses the issue of grace versus works.

Grace = Liberty
Works = Bondage

Grace = Cooperation
Works = Competition

Grace = God gets the glory
Works = Man gets the glory

Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Galatians 1:1-5

This is an exceptionally terse greeting for Paul, in the form of a short doxology, but it is very important – especially Verse 5: “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” That is not a “throwaway line,” because God’s glory is key to the true Gospel.

Of all the major world religions, Christianity stands alone as the only one that acknowledges the truth that sinners can not merit God’s favor through good works. True Christians are going to Heaven, but not on their own own merit. They are going to Heaven on the merits of another: Jesus Christ the Righteous.

The enemies of the Gospel in Galatia were the Judaizers. They opposed the Gospel and Paul by: perverting, reverting, and deserting. They were trying to pervert the true Gospel by mixing in works-based requirements along with grace and faith. They were trying to revert back to what they believed was the Old Covenant system. They were deserting Christ Himself in favor of false teachers. Judaism and Christianity can’t be mixed. Grace and works can’t be mixed. Liberty and legalism can’t be mixed.

The Apostle Paul distinguished himself from the false teachers as he sought to please Christ, not men.

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Galatians 1:13-14

Paul’s conversion teaches us these truths:

1. God saves egregious sinners.
2. Salvation happens instantly.
3. Salvation results in a real change.
4. There will be an outward change, but it is always the result of an inward change.
5. Salvation is for a purpose:
a. The purpose of glorifying God
b. The purpose of helping others

And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not…

Jeremiah 45:5

What motivates you to serve God? Your own good? Or God’s glory?

A House Built for a King

February 17, 2010 at 10:37 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments
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We may never know for sure until we get to Heaven, but it seems plausible that, in the councils of eternity, God the Father decreed that Christ the Son, during His time on earth, would have the sort of occupation which would remind Him of what He had been at the foundation of the world.

Jesus, during the time leading up to his public ministry, was a carpenter (Mark 6:3). In Bible times, a carpenter was chiefly a builder. We know from Scripture that Christ built the heavens and the earth (Hebrews 11:3; John 1:1 and 1:14; Psalm 104).

It may surprise some, but Jesus Christ is still building today. What is He building? He is building His Church (Matthew 16:18). What material is He using? His materials are born-again believers, who have received Him as Savior by faith (I Peter 2:5).

If you have been saved by grace through faith – and that is the only way TO BE saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) – then there are some pre-ordained good works for you – as hand-fashioned material in the hands of the Master Builder – to get busy doing. Christians are not saved BY good works; they are saved UNTO good works, and the best work for a Christian to be involved in is the building of his Lord’s Church.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

Get Over Yourself, because You Can’t Get Over on God

December 30, 2009 at 10:29 am | Posted in Eternity | 9 Comments
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Pride is a dangerous thing. If I were to begin to proclaim that I had done enough good things for God, so that He owed me a place in Heaven, I should be quickly rebuked and shown the error of my ways. My home in Heaven is made secure by God’s grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and I have no justification for bragging about it (Ephesians 2:8-9).

My own merits, whatever they may or may not have been, were completely tainted and stained by my sinful nature prior to salvation (Isaiah 64:6). So I will not be going to Heaven on my own merits, but on the merits of the One Who was perfect in my place, and who bore the weight of, and suffered the force of, God’s wrath in my stead: Jesus Christ the Righteous (I John 2:1-3).

Therefore, it must be understood and proclaimed that our own self-worth, our own self-righteousness, and our own “good” works are completely insufficient to earn God’s eternal approval. This is true even of our own belief and faith. Even the strongest Christian is often weak in his/her belief and unsteady in his/her faith. Are you not grateful beyond measure that when our own belief falters, or falls beneath God’s standards, that His unchanging faith, and not our own, secures our salvation?

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

II Timothy 2:13

Perfect Unbreakable Love

November 20, 2009 at 10:52 am | Posted in Eternity | 5 Comments
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True Christianity is so difficult for the unregenerate person to comprehend. People are born with an innate understanding that there is a God, and that, because of the hidden wickedness of their own hearts, they are not righteous before this God. So far, so good. But here is where the problem appears. Unregenerate sinners are blind to spiritual truth. Therefore, they grope about in the dark, and come up with this plan: “I will do enough good things to make up for my bad things, and God will be pleased.”

This flies right in the face of God’s revealed truth, which is found in the pages of the Holy Bible (Ephesians 2:9), but it makes a certain type of worldly, humanistic sense. After all, are not people supposed to do good things? The answer is that people are supposed to do good things, but not as a way to make God our debtor. Instead, God, in His grace and mercy, and for Christ’s sake (Ephesians 4:32), forgives us our sins when we trust in Him, and that motivates and empowers us to do good things.

Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

Colossians 3:13

Notice what comes first in that verse. Christ forgives me first, then I am able to forgive others. Not the other way around: I do not earn Christ’s forgiveness by first forgiving others. The following verses shed even more light:

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Colossians 3:14

Charity (self-sacrificing, giving, Christian love) is first the act of God. And it is the bond of perfectness. We are to love others because Christ loved us first, and gave Himself for us (Ephesians 5:2). Christ’s love is so perfect and its bond is so unbreakable that the natural result is for me to want to emulate it after I have experienced it. However, even when my love fails, Christ’s love is still effectual. For Christ to reject the regenerate would make His love less than perfect, and His bond weak and breakable. These things simply cannot be.

Falling Out Before Men? Or Falling Down Before God?

November 10, 2009 at 11:11 am | Posted in Luke, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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The sinful mixing of a little good with something bad to corrupt the truth of God is not something that is new. In the days in which the Holy Spirit was inspiring the Words which make up the New Testament, an “antichrist” spirit was at work spreading falsehoods (I John 4:3).

For example, “good works” are, Scripturally, good things (Ephesians 2:10), but they do not save souls (Ephesians 2:8-9). Angels are worthy of respect (Jude v. 8), but they are not to be worshiped (Colossians 2:18). Likewise, it is a good thing to be a “saint” (Philippians 4:21-22), but we should never pray to them (I Timothy 2:5).

The devil, throughout history, has found fertile ground in subtly substituting man-based theories of righteousness for the God-centered Truth of Scripture. Even today, there are those who stand on proclamations of faith while invoking praises to themselves among their followers. These are those who shake out their coats, causing audience-members to swoon and faint as if overcome with the power of God. Some call down “healing” on the same followers week after week for the amusement of the crowds. Among such, the ability to raise the dead is thought to be proof of the highest level of faith.

Certainly Christ Himself has this power. However, the true measurement of faith is not an ability to impress men with spiritual gifts. It is the realization of our sin, compared to God’s holiness, while somehow yet receiving by faith the fact that He loves His true children unconditionally. The following passage of Scripture shows the attitude of the apostle Peter when he encountered Jesus Christ:

And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Luke 5:5-8

And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Luke 5:11


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