Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Is One Saved by Faith ONLY?

I have never met a religious person who would argue that we are not saved by faith. I believe completely that we are saved by faith. However, there is a real problem when people claim that we are saved by faith “only.” When you think about it, doesn’t it sound strange when some say that we are saved wholly by grace and then contradict themselves by saying that we are saved by faith only? That would beg the question “which way is it?” Well, the truth of the matter is that neither is true. The TRUTH is that we are saved both by God’s grace and by our faith which is fully demonstrated by our obedience to God’s Holy commands.

Our faith must not be a dead faith or a faith that is incomplete. God’s word says “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:20, 24). Some men teach that we are saved by faith only but God says we are not saved by faith only. Who will one believe — God or man?

It is also admitted that Naaman was saved from his leprosy by faith through obedience when he dipped seven times in the Jordan River. Naaman had faith and as a result of that faith he carried out the command to dip seven times in the water to be cleansed from his leprosy. Therefore, why not “by faith” obey the command of God to be baptized to be saved from our sins? Jesus said “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). In Acts 2:38 we are commanded by God to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” Have you “by faith” obeyed Jesus for remission of your sins? He is your Savior only IF you obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).

Yes, based on God’s word, faith without works is dead. This is so because God said so! Only a living faith that causes us to obey God will save us. The Poudre Valley church of Christ in Fort Collins, CO believes God and teaches that one must have faith which leads them to obey all of what God has said.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What Does God Want of Us in This Life?

As we struggle with the challenges of life and death, the most challenging question of all is this: What does God want of us in this life? God answers that question in the Bible. He has made it clear from the beginning until now that He wants our love, trust, and obedience.

Adam and Eve were commanded to care for the Garden of Eden, to enjoy its fruit, but not to eat “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”--a tree which drew the boundary between good and evil. When they ate of that tree, they were driven in shame from the Garden and suffered the ravages of death (Genesis 2-3). Later, God commended Abraham as one who “will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment” (Genesis 18:19). That is what God wants of all men.

The Bible is full of passages summarizing what God wants of us. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Our love, trust, and respect for God are shown by obeying His Word. Though God commands formal worship, He also teaches us to translate our worship into daily action. At all times and in all situations, we are to “hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate....let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:15, 24).

When God taught the Jews to bring animal sacrifices for sin, He made it clear that “thousands of rams” were no substitute for sincere, daily submission to His will. “He hath showed 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 6:6-8). Life is brief and uncertain, filled with “labor and sorrow.” Knowing our time is short, our prayer should be, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalms 90:10-12). We find God’s wisdom in God’s Word.

Jesus summed it all up in these words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). All the commandments of God teach us the true meaning of love for God and for our fellowmen. To violate God’s Word is to violate that love.

Knowing we have sinned and yet wanting us to be saved, God desires all men to hear, believe, and obey the gospel of Christ. Christ died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. On the basis of that faith, we must repent of all sin, confess Christ as God's Son, and be immersed in water to receive pardon through his atoning blood.  Truly, God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:38; 8:37-38).

When we obey these first steps of the gospel, God adds us to the church of Christ and then teaches us how to worship Him and how to live for Him each day. Thus, He redeems us from the destiny of hell and leads us to an eternal home in heaven. Ultimately, that is what God wants--for us to spend eternity with Him in heaven!

Written by: Ron Halbrook 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Wrath of God

The apostle Paul writes that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). We know from this passage of scripture that God’s wrath will be manifested because it is revealed from heaven. It is not manifested now because He has appointed a day in which this will happen. God is waiting for all men to repent and turn to Him. “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:4-5). God’s wrath will be manifested in the judgment.

The Recipients of God’s Wrath
Individuals who do not believe in Jesus Christ will certainly suffer the wrath of God. In John 3:36 we find these words, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” In the opening text of scripture we learn that the unrighteous, ungodly and those who hinder the truth will suffer God’s wrath. Ephesians 5:5-6 tells us that the unclean, fornicators, and the covetous will suffer the wrath of God. In addition to these things, we also know that those who have evil desires will experience the wrath of God (Colossians 3:5-6).

How Can We Escape God’s Wrath?
We know that it is only through Jesus Christ that we will be able to escape the terrible wrath of God. It says in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” We have to be justified before God in able to stand before Him (Romans 5:9; Revelation 6:17). When we believe in Christ, repent of our sins, confess Him as being the Son of God, and are baptized into Christ then we can begin our walk in His righteousness. We must then dedicate ourselves to His service, being faithful to Him everyday that we live, making sure that we flee from the wrath to come (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 3:7).

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Deception

Deception is defined as: the act of making someone believe something that is not true; the act of deceiving someone; an act or statement intended to make people believe something that is not true. There are various ways in which an individual can be deceived.

Lies: making up information or giving information that is the opposite or very different from the truth.

Equivocations: making an indirect, ambiguous, or contradictory statement.

Exaggerations: overstatement or stretching the truth to a degree.

Understatements: minimization or downplaying aspects of the truth.

Concealments: omitting information that is important or relevant to the given context, or engaging in behavior that helps hide relevant information.

In the Bible, we can read where the authors of deception are said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9), evil men (2 Timothy 3:13) and false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13). We know that individuals who practice deception are not pleasing to God and will give an account for their actions at the judgment day (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Who Is Deceived? There are several occurrences in the Bible that show us who it is that is deceived. We know that the one who hears the word but does not do it, deceives himself (James 1:22). The one who does not bridle his tongue deceives himself (James 1:26). If one thinks too highly of himself, he deceives himself (Galatians 6:3). If one says they have no sin, he deceives himself (1 John 1:8). And, if one expects to reap what he did not sow, he deceives himself (Galatians 6:7).

How Are People Deceived? There are many different ways in which an individual can be deceived. Most often it is the result of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Deception can also come from riches (Matthew 13:22), smooth words (Romans 16:18), false promises (2 Peter 2:18-19), empty words, (Ephesians 5:6), and even by our own selves (1 Corinthians 3:18).

We do not have to be deceived. In fact the Bible says “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:16). We must be determined to know the truth and practice the truth so that we will not be deceived. Let us not forget that we are to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Fear of God

When the apostle Peter went to the household of Cornelius he stated, “.....In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Peter points out that the only ones that will be accepted by God are those who “fear Him” and “work righteousness.” We must understand that each and every one of us “....must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We further learn that in James 4:4 the Word of God says, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” These inspired Bible passages teach us that in order for us to go to heaven we must do what God tells us to do. We cannot compromise, nor can we tolerate anything that will keep us from being in the proper fellowship with God. Friends are good to have, but we must choose our friends wisely. A true friend is one who will look out for our best interests also. A friend will not want us to do anything that will compromise our values or jeopardize us from being with our Lord eternally. In Proverbs 1:7 it says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The Christian that does “fear God” will increase in knowledge so as to ensure an eternity with Him. Are the things we are doing in our body (the things we say, the things we wear, the things we do) pleasing to God? Let’s make sure they are so that we can look forward to our eternal home with Him!


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Praying to God

An active prayer life is something that every Christian should have. The Hebrew writer wrote, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Prayer is an effort on our part to reach and commune with our God in heaven. When we read the Bible we are letting God speak to us. When we pray to God we are speaking to Him. When we engage ourselves in an active prayer life we become closer to God. Our families will have a stronger, deeper relationship with one another when we communicate effectively with one another. As parents, we need to talk to our children and our children need to talk to us on a regular basis. That is the way it needs to be between every Christian and our Father in heaven. The more we communicate with Him, then the closer we will be with Him. We have so many things in our life to be thankful for and we need to express our thankfulness to our Father. He needs to hear it from us just like we need to hear words of thankfulness from our own children.

Besides letting God know how thankful we are for all the blessings that He has given us, we should also pray for guidance. We have an example of the apostles seeking guidance from God when they were ready to select the apostle to replace Judas. The text says, And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1:24). We too should petition God in prayer to help us make good decisions in our day to day life. One of the best ways that we can get closer to God and increase our faith is to talk to Him often. How is your prayer life?

 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Make No Provision for the Flesh

Most of us probably have several Bible verses that have been among our favorites for many years. I can recall as a teenager one particular verse that helped me make good decisions in my life and service to Jesus. The verse for me was and continues to be Romans 13:14. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Once I put on Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:27), this verse helped me tremendously in making the right choices as a young Christian. I was determined to remove myself from any situation that may cause me to succumb to sin. This verse should help every Christian in so many ways to do the same. If we don’t want to be a slave to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc., then we will not take that first drink, smoke that first cigarette, or begin using any illegal or dangerous drugs. We will not have to be concerned with fulfilling our lusts if we do not make any provision for those things in the first place.

In the 12th verse of the 13th chapter of Romans Paul begins the verse by saying “Let us walk properly, as in the day….” When we are walking properly, in the footsteps of Christ, then we will strive to not let anything cause us to fulfill our lusts and cause us to sin. Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 1:21). What would Jesus do? That is THE question that should be in our head constantly. When we are determined to follow in His steps, allowing Him to be our priority in life, then we will have peace of mind and a good conscience toward God, knowing that we are truly doing His will (Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). I encourage you to let your light shine brightly for Christ, making no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts!