Friday, October 31, 2014

LIKE SALVATION, PEACE IS A GIFT FROM GOD

Even though born again believers in Christ Jesus are trusting in the prophetic promises of God concerning our future, most of us are very troubled by news of what is going on in the world.  We have been so sheltered from what goes on every day in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America, and to think those things are now occurring in Australia and North America, causes great fear. 

Muslims are taking over cities in our nation, "home-grown terrorists" are murdering as many as they can before "dying for Allah," beheadings are occurring in Australia and here in our country. All the while, our government continues to allow millions of illegal aliens to enter our borders, not knowing how many are terrorists.  Our brilliant leaders have even brought Ebola patients "home" to our shores, foolishly guaranteeing that we have nothing to fear. 

I could go on and on about the economy, abortion, failure to support Israel, etc., but I think you have the picture of what is the "beginning of sorrows."  And yet, the same Bible that predicted these events, also contains wonderful promises for the Body of Christ.  When the worst happens, born again believers will be gone!  God has promised to keep us from His wrath soon to be poured out (Rom. 1:18; 2:8; 5:9; 13:4; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; 1 Th. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:9; Rev. 3:10; etc.).

God, to those who trust Him, has offered peace in the face of trials and tribulation, because that is His very character.  Here are a few verses to encourage His children: 

"Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen" (Rom. 15:33).

"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen" (Rom. 16:20).

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Phil. 4:8-9).

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it" (1 Th. 5:23-24).

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Heb. 13:20-21).

Peace is ours when we believe in the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6)!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

LUKE 24:13-32 - JESUS IS ALIVE!

RESURRECTION DAY
"That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus Himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing Him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and He was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed Him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified Him. We had hoped He was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said His body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, His body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering His glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if He were going on, but they begged Him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So He went home with them. As they sat down to eat, He took the bread and blessed it. Then He broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And at that moment He disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”


"Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
and they are they which testify of Me" (Jn. 5:39).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

PHARISAICAL CATHOLIC BASHING: REPENT!

Recently, there has been much criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, especially since Pope Francis became the spiritual leader of the billion plus Catholics.  Admittedly, his positions on gays, abortion, creation, evolution, etc., are far from Roman Catholic tradition.  He is even quoted as saying one does not have to believe in God, or His Christ, in order to go to heaven; atheists, as long as they obey their consciences, will be there too.  He is wrong!  His views do not match God's Word, nor do they harmonize with the teachings of the Roman church throughout its history.

That being said, Catholic-bashing seems to be all inclusive; it is aimed at ALL Catholics, and arrogantly declares they are ALL going to hell if they do not get saved.  My question is, how do they know no Catholics are born again?  A better question might be:  "How do you know YOU are saved?"  To me, here is the test.  Do you believe the following verses?

Romans 10:9-10 says, "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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

As a Catholic, I was taught that Jesus was to be my Lord, and I was taught that God, the Father, raised Him from the dead. I believed it then, as I do now.

Regardless of church doctrines that are inconsistent with the Word of God, the basic Gospel is there. Most Catholics believe that the Father raised their Lord Jesus from the grave; that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, including them; so then who has the right to say they are not saved?

All Christian denominations err! None have perfect knowledge of all that God has revealed. Does that mean all who worship with those various denominations are going to hell?

I believe there are far more saved Catholics than apparently most on Facebook do, and I also believe there are far fewer Baptists, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. members going to heaven than members of those churches do.

When I die, I will notice many missing from heaven that I thought would be there. I will also notice many there that I never dreamed would. And when I look into the face of Jesus, I am sure I will be shocked that I am there (1 Jn. 3:2)!  Here what Romans 10:13 says:



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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WE HEAR > WE BELIEVE > HE SEALS

Ephesians 1:1-14 (KJV)

"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God ... to the faithful in Christ Jesus:  grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:  having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved. 

In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:  that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:  in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:  that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."
 
Ephesians 1:1-14 (NLT)
 
"This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to (the) ... faithful followers of Christ Jesus.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 
 
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.
 
He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us His mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill His own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ - everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan.
 
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He
promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him."

Monday, October 27, 2014

WHOSE JOB IS IT TO TRANSFORM ME?

Shortly after discovering what a fool I was as an atheist and becoming a born again believer by faith in Jesus Christ, I found a Bible verse that impressed me so much, that I decided it was to be my "life verse."  It was Ezra 7:10, which says, "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments."  The reason I chose this verse, was because I saw it a goal for my life. 

It was not only a good plan, but I thought it would insure that my life would be without hypocrisy.  I believed, and still do, that the order of the verse should be the model for every believer.  One begins his or her walk with the Lord, by desiring to know His will.  Once one knows what God wants for his or her life, he or she should determine to do His will.  It is only then that the believer has the right to teach God's will to others.

It did not take long for me to discover that even when I knew His will, my human nature still had a will of its own.  Like the Apostle Paul, this "insignificant Paul" struggled to be obedient.  He summed it up quite nicely in Romans 7:15-25!  Born again believers will never completely overcome sin in our lives, as long as we still live in this flesh.

Years passed, and I came across a verse that, at least for me, was a more accurate description of my relationship with God.  1 John 3:2 says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."  I no longer "determined anything."  I no longer fell for Satan's lie that teachers of the Bible had to be perfectly sinless. 

Ezra 7:10 had been a verse that, had I been successful in following it, would have led to pride!  It was Me determining to please God so that I could feel good about myself.  Here, in 1 John 3:2, we find a verse that is not speaking of our works, but speaks of our hope and faith!  It goes along with the teaching of Philippians 1:6, which says, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."  It is not my foolish, prideful determination that transforms me, but His promise that He will do it in me!


Thank God my being Christ-like is His job - it will be done right!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

THE TRINITY IN THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

Yesterday, I said that believers are to proclaim the Gospel, the message from God (that has the power of God within it to save the lost) to every creature (Rom. 1:16; 10:17; Mk. 16:15).  Why?  Because "The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).  In other words, God desires all of mankind to believe the Gospel and be saved!

Matthew's Gospel basically says the same thing; he wrote:  "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Mt. 28:19-20).  I pointed out that, following a person's declaration of faith in the Gospel message that Jesus died for the sins of mankind, and the Father raised Him from the dead, he or she was to be baptized (1 Cor. 1:17).

There are some denominations which teach that baptism is necessary for salvation to occur.  While I believe born again believers should publicly declare their faith in Jesus Christ through baptism, I do not believe it is required for a person to be saved.  First of all, the verses above indicate that baptism follows salvation.  Secondly, by carefully reading Mark 16:16, we see that it is faith that saves, and not baptism.  Mark wrote:  "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."  Note that it is man's failure to believe that causes him to remain lost, not his failure to be baptized.

Another thing about which the Church is negligent in proclaiming, is the Trinity!  The Gospel specifically mentions two members of the Trinity:  Jesus, and His Father!  Paul wrote:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand ... how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

But Paul also clearly taught that it was God who raise up His Son Jesus (Rom. 4:24; 6:4; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:15; 2 Cor. 4:14; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12; 1 Th. 1:10; 2 Tim. 2:8; etc.)!  In addition, the Holy Spirit participated in Christ's Resurrection; Paul also wrote: 

"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Rom. 8:11)!  And, "We having the same Spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you" (2 Cor. 4:13-14)!


Willingness to be baptized in the names of the Trinity,
logically suggests one believes in the Trinity.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

WHY IS THE GOSPEL MESSAGE SO IMPORTANT?

* Jesus commanded His disciples preach the Gospel - Mk. 16:15 - "And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."

* The Lord called men to preach the Gospel - Acts 16:10 - "And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them."

* The Gospel has the power to save those who hear it - Rom. 1:16 - "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also.  For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ...is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

* Those who preach the Gospel are to be led by the Holy Spirit - Rom. 10:15 - "And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"

* The Gospel is to be preached to non-believers - Rom. 15:20 - "Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation."

* While the Lord wants believers to be baptized, in order to be saved, they need to hear the Gospel message and be saved before being baptized - 1 Cor. 1:17 - "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect."

* Gospel preachers are empowered by the Holy Spirit; the glory is His; and God forbid that a believer fail to share the Gospel when led to do so - 1 Cor. 9:16 - "For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of:  for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!"

The Gospel - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: 

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand....For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;  And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures!"