“Saved” as a Term of Art

August 1, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Salvation | 2 Comments
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“Saved” has, for the last several decades, been the common Baptist and evangelical term for someone who has believed the Gospel and trusted Christ to forgive his/her sins, and called upon Him to give him/her eternal life. Because it has the “ed” on the end, it sounds better grammatically as a past-tense word: “Have you BEEN saved?” But it is has become so common that we see it frequently used to describe a present-tense condition: “ARE you saved?” It can be synonymous with the terms: “born again;” “redeemed;” “converted;” “Christian;” “regenerated;” and “believer.” And, while one of its faults may lie in the fact that Christians who use it commonly can forget that non-Christians don’t really know what we mean when we use it, it IS a Bible term:

And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

Mark 10:26

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

Luke 13:23

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:17

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:21

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 2:47

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Acts 16:31

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:9

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it unto us which is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 2:8

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

…. and many, many other verses. It is not very likely that someone these days will come up to you out of the blue and ask if you are saved, but, if someone does, AND IF YOU IN FACT ARE, then you should treasure that opportunity to affirm the great undeserved gift that Christ has given you in rescuing you from paying the price for your sins for all eternity.

No More Wondering, Working, and Waiting

November 21, 2016 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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I. When you think of God’s holiness and your own sinfulness, do you ever wonder how God could love you?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Ephesians 2:4-5

It is simply in His marvelous nature to show forth His great love by His wonderful grace.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

I John 4:8

It is understandable that you might wonder HOW God could love you, but, if you have been born again into the family of God, justified through faith alone, and adopted as His Own child, then you ought never to question IF God loves you.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

II. When you understand that God’s holiness and justice require your absolute moral perfection and obedience, do you doubt that you have you worked hard enough to earn God’s approval, favor, or blessing?

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Romans 4:4

You can stop asking that question. There is no doubt that you can never do enough good things to make God your debtor. HOWEVER:

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 4:5

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

You could never work your way to Heaven, but if you have trusted Christ unto salvation, then your disobedience, sin, and lack of good works have been washed away by the mercy of God in the blood of Jesus.

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

III. Do you hope that one day God will forgive you, or decide to be kindly disposed toward you in spite of your rebellion and shame? Are you longing for a day when you will find yourself forgiven and accepted?

(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

II Corinthians 6:2

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Luke 4:18-21

The sovereign Lord and Ruler of this universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the all-powerful, majestic, and holy King above all kings, will answer your call this very moment.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

John 1:12

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

If you have repented and believed His Gospel, He loves you with an everlasting love, and nothing in this world or beyond will ever separate you from it.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

If you have been regenerated, justified, and adopted by the Lord Jesus Christ, then you do not have to wonder at, work for, or wait upon God’s love.

Christian Lifeguards

August 17, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 9 Comments
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In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

If God cannot lie, and the Holy Scriptures are inspired by God, then how much of the Scriptures are true?

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

II Timothy 3:16 (emphasis added)

But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

Titus 1:3

God chose to manifest His Word through preaching.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.

Titus 1:9-14

If God places so much importance on the preaching of His Word, He certainly expects us to deal with false teachers and vain babblers. The first step in doing this is to hold fast to sound doctrine and to try to convince them of the truth. A lifeguard at a swimming pool has three duties: He must warn of danger. He must enforce rules. And he must try to rescue those who are in trouble. Those appointed by God to the ministry of the Word of Life must also warn, enforce, and try to rescue. They must be sound in their doctrine and sound in their behavior.

The duties of the older men:

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Titus 2:1-2

The duties of the older women:

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Titus 2:3-5

The duties of the younger men:

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.

Titus 2:6-8

The duties of servants or employees:

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Titus 2:9-10

How we behave as Christians matters – it’s important.

And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

II Timothy 2:5

God wants us to excel at what He has called us to do, but we must do it “lawfully.”

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:7-8

Those whom God has saved are called to be separate, set apart, holy, maintaining good works.

Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them. And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Titus 3:13-14

The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Ghost, knew that maintaining good works was even more important than talking to his lawyer!

The Redeemer Is Prophesied

June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 24 Comments
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I am now getting near the end of a long series of posts on the Book of Genesis. Since Genesis is the first book of the Bible, it has been fun to point out several things, ideas, or words, which occur for the first time in Genesis. We have seen the first plants and animals, the first man and woman, the first marriage, the first sin, the first murder, the first song, the first tears, the first rain, and the first interpreter.

Now we will look at the first time a very special Bible word is used in Scripture: “redeemed.”

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Genesis 48:16

The Hebrew word is ga’al, and it means “to buy back,” or “to pay the price to set someone free from slavery.” When a sinner trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is set free from the slavery of sin.

The concept of redemption is a key to understanding God’s plan of salvation, and it is a concept about which the Lord has much to say in the Bible. Below is a brief study guide on the Biblical concept of redemption:

Q. What was the price of redemption?
A. The precious blood of Christ. (I Peter 1:19)

Q. Can it be paid for with something else of value?
A. No, silver and gold are corruptible (I Peter 1:18), but the blood of Christ is incorruptible.

Q. To what were we enslaved?
A. Sin – such as serving divers lusts, hating one another, living in envy, living for self (Titus 3:3), and to vain conversation or empty living. (I Peter 1:18)

Q. What are we set free to do?
A. To serve the Lord diligently, not to be slothful or lazy. (Romans 12:11)

Q. Who is the Redeemer?
A. Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Q. How did the Redeemer first appear?
A. As a young child. (Luke 2:25-40)

Q. How does the Redeemer continue to work?
A. As a Mediator. (Hebrews 9:14-15 and Job 9:32-33)

Q. How long does redemption last?
A. Redemption is eternal. (Hebrews 9:11-12)

Q. How long will the Redeemer last?
A. He always has been, always is, and always will be: “He lives” (perpetual present tense). (Job 19:25)

Q. Redemption sets our bodies free from the slavery of sin, but what about our souls?
A. The price has been paid for our eternal souls to be set free. (Psalm 34:22)

Q. How should being redeemed make us feel?
A. Our lips and souls should sing and rejoice. (Psalm 71:23)

Q. Do we deserve redemption?
A. No, God’s mercy allowed our redemption. (Psalm 44:26)

Q. Can anyone other than Jesus be powerful, influential, or wealthy enough to redeem me?
A. No, true redemption is through Christ alone. (Psalm 49:6-9)

Q. How much time is there before it is too late to be redeemed?
A. The offer of redemption is for a limited time only – you must by faith receive Jesus, and trust in the price He paid, before you die and before He comes back. (Hebrews 9:27 and Luke 21:27-28)

Q. Should we keep quiet about our redemption?
A. No, the redeemed of the Lord should say so. (Psalm 107:2)

Q. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in redemption?
A. He seals us unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

The Bridegroom Cleans His Bride’s Wedding Gown

March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Eternity | 15 Comments
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The custom of modern weddings is for the bride to wear white. White symbolizes her purity. This is a good and fitting tradition. But it is not always completely accurate. These days few and far between are brides who have kept themselves totally pure up until their wedding day.

The bride of Christ is His church – the body of believers to whom He has granted eternal life. Christ is a pure and holy Bridegroom. He is coming to claim a pure and holy bride.

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:27

In fact, there will one day be a great feast or “marriage supper” for Christ and His bride.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Revelation 19:7

Just as there are few brides who have remained completely pure until their wedding day, there are few (maybe none) Christians who have been completely sinless since the day of their salvation. Yet, we see that Christ’s bride will indeed wear white:

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 19:8-9

It has not fully been revealed to us exactly how the impure members of Christ’s church will be transformed into His holy, unblemished bride. It may well be that our impurities will be purged away before the judgment seat of Christ. But, it is certain that the fine white linen of righteousness we will wear will be our Lord’s imputed righteousness, and not our own self-generated good works (Titus 3:5).

Eternal life is neither earned, nor kept, nor enhanced by our own power or goodness. The invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is an invitation to come receive a free gift.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17

We sometimes use the word “freely” to mean “having the quality of unlimited access.” If someone invites us to freely enjoy the buffet, we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths until we are stuffed. There is a connotation of easy access to God’s great riches in this verse, but the primary import of the Greek word dorean is something that is given without cost, something received even though it is undeserved. God will make His bride pure; that is His gift. He has not left it up to us to purify ourselves or keep ourselves pure in our own power.

In this site’s category called “Eternity” the past several postings have focused on the doctrine of eternal security. Starting with I Corinthians, I have taken at least one verse from every subsequent book of the Bible, except Jude, and shown that, when God grants you eternal life, He makes you His child. You receive a new ontological “heart.” You are a new creation. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and God will not take His salvation away. You can not “lose” it, and you can not “reject” it. No man will make God a liar by causing Him to break His promises.

This is not an excuse to presume upon God’s grace and willingly or carelessly practice sin. If you find that you love sin more than Jesus Christ, regardless of what religious experience you may have had, or what you have been told, you need to make sure you have actually trusted in Jesus Christ personally unto salvation, and not merely your own “decision” or a special unscriptural formula.

Here are the previous lessons on eternal security:

Delivery and Birth (I Corinthians)
The Deposit on Your Soul (II Corinthians)
It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is (Galatians)
All in the Past (Ephesians)
Who “KEEPS” Me Saved? (Philippians)
Perfect Unbreakable Love (Colossians)
Learning to Like Eternal Life (I Thessalonians)
Eternal Destruction (II Thessalonians)
Temporarily Saved Is Not Really Saved at All (I Timothy)
Get Over Yourself, because You Can’t Get Over on God (II Timothy)
Eternally Paid in Full (Philemon)

The Author of the Story that Never Ends (Titus, Hebrews)
Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date (I Peter)
The Legend of the Unsaved Christian (II Peter)
The Everlasting Anointing (I John)
The Things that Will Last (II John)
Eternal Infamy vs. Eternal Honor (III John)

Big Words of the Christian Life: Regeneration (Part 1)

February 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life, John | 67 Comments
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Justification is not how you get into God’s family. It is what God declares about you once you become part of His family: that you are righteous before Him because of having put your trust in Christ.

Adoption is not how you get into God’s family. It is how you enjoy your place in God’s family: God gives you the “standing” of an adult child.

Regeneration is how you get into God’s family.

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28

There is a sense in which all of creation will one day be regenerated. It will be returned to the pristine condition in which it was originally created by God. So, even though this type of regeneration is not precisely the same thing we’re talking about in the salvation of men, it does teach us that regeneration deals not only with re-creation – a new birth – a new start – but with a new start that is specifically directed to be “unto God.” The soteriological implication of regeneration is not just a re-creation for a blank slate of experimentation. It is a re-creation pre-ordained to set things right – with God Himself as the focus of all life.

The basis for our definition of regeneration in the salvific sense can be found in Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

We were not justified by our own works or merit. We are not adopted because of our own works or merit. We are specifically told that our very salvation in every aspect is completely of God. It is according to His mercy, which flows from Him.

The word “regeneration” means “born again.” When a person is “born” the reason that you know he has been born is because of one over-arching feature about him or her: Life. People have been born once in sin, and the experience of being “born” spiritually is a second birth. We call it – just as Jesus called it – being “born again.”

If we received only a physical form of life at our first birth, we must receive some “new” type of life at our second birth. Here is a fuller definition of Regeneration: It is the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Over and above just having a definition, I want describe three main things about regeneration from Jesus’s most overt teaching about it: John 3:1-9.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:1

Nicodemus would have been very religious. He would have sacrificed and prayed in keeping with the Old Testament law. He would have been outwardly moral, and would have been in the habit of giving generously to the poor.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:2

Maybe Nicodemus came to Jesus at night out of shame, or maybe just out of a desire to have a private conversation with Him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Nicodemus struggled with this idea, but not because he wasn’t sharp enough to grasp it, and not because the concept was too obtuse. No, he couldn’t see the point because he was lost and, therefore, spiritually blind.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

John 3:4

People did this with Jesus’s teachings throughout the New Testament. There was once a lady at a well who wanted to know how Jesus could give her water when He didn’t have a dipper, even though He was talking about the Living Water of eternal life (John 4:6-14). When Jesus talked about eating His Body and drinking His blood, meaning fellowshipping with Him in the Life-giving blessings of His crucifixion, some may have accused Him of cannibalism (John 6:47-66). Many of the people that Jesus encountered were spiritually, albeit willfully, blind – just like lost folks today.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:5-7

Regeneration is intelligible. It’s understandable. It is basic. The meaning of it is simple (even though I don’t like the expression, “It’s simple to be saved,” because it minimizes the great and mighty work of salvation that the Lord accomplished in the plan of redemption).

In a natural biological birth two parents are involved. In the Spiritual birth there are also two Parents involved: The Word of God…

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

James 1:18

… and the Spirit of God (John 3:5).

In natural biological birth the baby’s effort does not play a part. In the Spiritual birth Christians are born by God’s will, not our own.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

There is a simplicity to regeneration. There is a mystery to it, too, but everyone is familiar with having a baby, and with the truth that a baby is a brand new life. Christians are brand new creatures in Christ Jesus from the moment of salvation, with a new kind of life: eternal life, God’s life.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
Next time we will see that:
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

Porcine Predilection Predates Powerful Prevailing Pardon, Prompting Personal Purity

November 11, 2009 at 9:30 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Salvation | 22 Comments
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I am not one of those people who think that the entire New Testament after the Book of Acts is just one long test to determine whether a person who has called upon the Lord by faith to save him, has in fact really been saved. I believe the vast majority of the writing in the New Testament epistles is directed toward believers so that they can glorify and serve God as they understand more about their salvation, and so that they can get the victory over more and more of their unredeemed flesh as they grow in Christ-likeness by the power of God.

However, it is true that a person who has been truly regenerated by God’s Spirit does in fact have a new “heart:” a new “nature,” a new ontological “self.”

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Although regenerated Christians will still sin, they should have a new relationship with sin. Before my “new birth” (my spiritual birth into the family of God), I was a slave to sin.

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Romans 6:20

And there was much about sin that I enjoyed. However, when Christ Jesus saved me from the power of sin, He set me free, and, while I did not become sinless, my love for sin was no longer greater than my love for God and His righteousness.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Romans 6:22

If you have had some experience which you believe counts as being “born again,” but you still have no hatred for sin, and no real love for God, it is imperative that you examine yourself according the Scriptures.

Charles Spurgeon gave us a helpful illustration. He described a pig which was faced with a gourmet meal on one side, and a rotten pile of filth and garbage on the other side. The pig raced for the garbage, and disregarded the gourmet meal, because that is what pigs do.

pig slop

The “nature” of a pig is to root and wallow and indulge in filth. Suddenly God miraculously transformed the pig into a man. The man was disgusted to find himself wallowing in, and consuming, filth. He was also extremely embarrassed. He immediately scrambled out of the garbage pile, and started cleaning himself off. The next day, the man (who used to be a pig) was faced with the same two dining alternatives, and he went happily to the gourmet meal, and spurned the garbage. This happened almost every day, but once in while, the man (who had been a pig for a very long time before his transformation) forgot he was now a man, and compulsively immersed himself in the filthy heap of garbage. The difference now, though, was that when this happened, the man began to gag, and to vomit out the garbage, and he remembered he was now a man, and no longer a pig, and he once again felt embarrassed and dirty, and quickly left the garbage pile.

I hope that we see a picture of ourselves in this illustration. The salvation which God grants believers in Christ Jesus not only secures their home in Heaven, but it breaks the power of sin.

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Ephesians 4:21-22

Who “KEEPS” Me Saved?

November 4, 2009 at 10:18 am | Posted in Eternity | 8 Comments
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Some people have heard that they have to be righteous to go to Heaven. Therefore, they try hard to do “good deeds,” and to say “good words,” and to think “good thoughts,” and to be “good people.” When the idea that people can achieve “self-righteousness” is exposed to Scripture, however, only the most stubborn still hold onto the false belief that they can “save” themselves.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:10

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Isaiah 64:6

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

Hopefully, upon learning of the futility of attempted self-righteous salvation, the unbeliever will repent and call upon Christ the Savior. There is rejoicing even in the presence of the angels in Heaven when this happens (Luke 15:10)! However, there is a strange thought circulating about, by which it is sometimes said that the salvation of the Lord, which comes by His grace through faith, can be lost, stolen, or rejected. In response to this strange thought, there is probably a nicer word than “heresy,” but I can’t think of it.

Let those of us who are born again, the elect of God according to His grace and mercy, remember that we did not save ourselves, and we are utterly incapable of “keeping ourselves saved.” Many modern translations of the Bible get a key phrase in Philippians 3:9 wrong. They say that righteousness is “through faith ‘in’ Christ.” The King James (not the New King James) Version hits the nail right on the head when it says that, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Emphasis added.)

Today, as I type this, I am found in Jesus Christ. I am righteous in the sight of God only because the righteousness of His dear Son has been imputed to me. The eternal continuance of this gift of righteousness is not because of my great faith. It is because of the wondrous, magnificent, awe-inspiring, unchanging, never-ending faithfulness of Christ Himself.

Quarterback Commandment No. 7

May 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 1 Comment
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This is a continuation of the series of Quarterback Commandments given by Bill Parcells to Tony Romo, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.

Quarterback Commandment No. 7: Throwing the ball away is a good play. Sacks, interceptions, and fumbles are bad plays. Protect against those.

For those whose football parlance is somewhat lacking:

“Throwing the ball away” is when the quarterback intentionally throws a pass that no one can catch. This ends the play, and the next play starts where the previous one started, without any loss of yardage. The reason for doing this is that, among the possible outcomes of a pass play – sack (the quarterback is tackled before throwing the ball); interception (the pass is caught by someone on the other team); and incomplete pass (described above) – the incomplete pass is the least harmful.

A “fumble” is when someone carrying the football during a play drops the ball. Fumbles often occur during sacks, and often result in the other team grabbing the loose ball, which is disastrous.

The gist of Parcells’s commandment is: Rather than trying to force the best result out of every play, quarterbacks, when faced with a possible disaster, have to learn when to settle for a less-than-stellar result, so their team can have another chance on the next play.

Spiritual application: Christian ministers must learn to avoid strife over non-essential issues which will ultimately hurt the cause of Christ.

As you minister for Christ Jesus you will find yourself opposed. You will also find yourself having to decide where to draw the line as far as with whom you will minister and fellowship. A Christian minister often finds himself in the position of encountering opposition, much the same way a quarterback faces defenders who want to keep him from moving the ball downfield.

Thus, like a quarterback, a Christian minister must learn that there are times when it is better to salvage what he can from a bad situation, than to try and make a bad situation into a good one. “Live to fight another day” is the military slogan.

The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, instructed Timothy to be a very aggressive Christian quarterback:

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 2:1

But He also let him know that it’s good, once in a while, to throw the ball into the first row of spectators:

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

II Timothy 2:23

Titus got similar instructions: Play hard, and keep trying to win the game until the final whistle blows:

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:8

But do not get bogged down by forcing the issue when the game is not on the line:

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

Titus 3:9

So, as a Christian quarterback, I would like for everyone to use the King James Version of the Bible, but if you want me to go with you to visit your lost cousin in the hospital, and you insist on taking along your New King James, or even your NIV, I’m not going to refuse to go.

I believe that Jesus Christ is going to rapture His Church out of this world before the Tribulation starts, but if you don’t believe that’s precisely the order of the end-times events, I still want you to faithfully attend my Sunday School class.

When R.G. Lee, one of the best preachers of all time, pastored the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, he was allowed to go, once a week, and speak on the campus of Tulane University. He would answer questions from students, many of whom were skeptical about the truth of the Bible. On a particular occasion, a young lady raised her hand and asked, “Well, if what it says in Genesis is the literal truth, would you mind telling me just where Cain got his wife?”

Dr. Lee, not taken aback at all, responded, “Ma’am, I don’t know and I don’t care. If she was good enough for Cain, she’s good enough for me.”

Clearly, this was a good example of avoiding foolish contention, strife, and unlearned questions.

If I’m playing quarterback, and it’s fourth and long with no time left on the clock, with my team trailing by six points, I’m going to stand in the pocket, ignore the rushing linemen, and do my best to throw the ball to my receiver in the end zone even if he’s surrounded by defenders, because giving up on that play is not an option. In the same way, you and I are not going to be able to minister together if you do not believe that men are saved by grace through faith, and not of works, or if you believe that the Bible is errant and fallible, or if you believe that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t really the Son of God. Again, in military language, although it is good to live to fight again another day, the slogan, “there are some hills worth dying on,” is also true.

It is against a good quarterback’s nature to slack up, to give up on a play, or to admit that he can not improvise his way out of a bad situation. In other words, quarterbacks are not, by nature, meek. However, Parcells must believe that, to be successful, a quarterback’s natural boldness must be tempered by meekness in some situations, as part of the overall effort to win a game.

Did not Jesus Himself give us a similar example for the Christian life? Never giving up in accomplishing His ultimate objective, He nevertheless knew when to walk away from strife and contention:

He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

Matthew 12:19

During His boldest pronouncements, He sometimes invited peaceful submission rather than forcing His will upon His enemies:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:29

He even taught His disciples that sometimes it was better to throw an incompletion than to take a sack, give up an interception, or fumble the ball:

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Matthew 10:14

Acting Like We’ve Been There

May 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 5 Comments
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Christians have a great deal to be excited and joyous about. Our Father is the Creator and Owner of this world. Our eternal inheritance includes riches beyond comprehension (Ephesians 3:8). Our Big Brother is the strongest, most loyal, and faithful Friend in Whom we could ever hope (Romans 8:29; Revelation 1:5).

However, Christians must be careful about giving in to frustration, since the world we are passing through does not share our views. Knowing our privileged standing before the Almighty (even though we do not deserve it), there may be a tendency to be combative with those who oppose us on behalf of the ungodly system of this world.

The Bible is clear about the Christian’s behavioral duties toward those who are lost:

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.

Titus 3:2

What will help me control my temper when confronted with the evil of worldly unbelievers? The memory that I was once like them:

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Titus 3:3

Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is strength which is brought under control.

Lately, I’ve been posting an ongoing dialogue between a Christian and a Professing Atheist. For some reason, the number of views I get on this site skyrockets when I mention professing atheists. I always use the term “professing atheist,” because there’s no such thing as a “real atheist.” An “atheist” would be someone who truly believes that there is no God. Everyone knows deep down that God is real. Professing atheists just choose to try to hide from, run from, fight against, hold down, willfully ignore, or rebel against, this truth.

I meet quite a few professing atheists in real life, but most of the unsaved people I meet claim to believe in God – they just don’t live like it. It’s a different story in internet-land. Most professing atheists on the internet claim all kinds of morality and kindness and good deeds and love for fellow man, but refuse to give glory to God.

Maybe I get so many “views” because I use the tag “atheism debate.” I like to get the views and comments, but the reality is, when I encounter a professing atheist, I’m not debating. I’m proclaiming Truth. They can debate all they want. (I have a number of theories about why so many professing atheists enjoy “debating,” but I’ll save that for another time.)

Just remember, the Holy Spirit caused the Apostle Paul to say:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…

Romans 1:16

The inference is that there is a tendency to be ashamed that needs to be overcome. Thankfully, the Bible goes on to tell us the reason for not being ashamed:

…for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…

Romans 1:16

Telling the truth can seem so cruel, unloving, and fanatical, but it is really the most loving thing you can do for someone who is perishing.

I once heard a very gifted preacher tell a story about sitting on a plane next to a professing atheist. The professing atheist had a number of pretentious excuses for his “unbelief,” and the preacher, who was skilled in Christian apologetics, demolished every excuse, and clearly won the debate. The professing atheist got off the plane frustrated and angry. Afterward, the preacher’s ministry partner, who had been observing the whole affair, said to the preacher privately, “Well, you won the debate… but you didn’t win the man.”

The Christian’s responsibility is to proclaim the Truth in love, not to win a debate.


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