Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Obedient Faith

Many denominations believe that we are saved by faith BEFORE we do the action in accordance with God’s command. No doubt you have seen those on television attending a huge denominational service that are invited to come forward at the conclusion of the service and to simply say that they believe in Jesus Christ. By admitting to this, they have “let Jesus come into their heart” and are saved at that point in their life. What we see then is that many denominations that are made by man will try to get us to believe that we are justified by faith BEFORE we obey God! But I ask “where in the Bible does it tell of any person that was saved by belief or faith only?” We know that salvation must depend on something more than belief in Christ only because in James 2:19 it says: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-- and tremble!” We see from this passage of scripture that long ago James wrote to those of his day and to all generations to follow that belief alone will not cut it. Everyone can believe in Jesus but only a few will allow their belief in Him to live through obedient works. The very next verse says: “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

Bible Examples of Obedient Faith
Men are justified in God’s sight ONLY when they are obedient to His Word. This has been proven throughout the Old Testament which we have for our learning (Romans 15:4), but is recorded in the New Testament showing that it is just as valid today. In each one of these Bible examples ask yourself this question: “At what point were these individuals justified in the sight of God, before or after their works?”

Abel: Hebrews 11:4 "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”

Noah: Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

Abraham: Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
Hebrews 11:17 “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.”

Walls of Jericho: Hebrews 11:30 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”

Obedience to the Faith
We know that each and every one of these individuals had a deep faith in God, a total belief in God, but they were justified in God’s sight ONLY after they DID the action in which they were asked to do by God. Paul wrote in Romans 16:26: “but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.” In closing let’s let James tie it all together for us: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:21,24,26). I encourage you to be determined to be justified by God’s law and not man’s (Acts 5:29)?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Seek the Lord

In Isaiah 55:6-7 it says to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” These are great words of advice from the prophet Isaiah because if we do not seek the Lord (Matthew 6:33) then we will have no hope of eternal salvation. If we seek the Lord, we will find Him, for the scripture says: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matthew 7:7). It is comforting to know that when we seek the Lord that we WILL find Him. God is no respecter of persons so everyone has the same opportunity to seek, find, and be accepted of God (Acts 10:34-35). 

But some who say they seek God are looking for Him in the wrong way (Proverbs 14:12), and in the wrong places (Exodus 20:34). We need to seek the Lord being determined to let Him guide our way (Jeremiah 10:23). We must be active, not passive in finding the Lord because God will only save us when we obey God. God’s pardon of sin consists in everlasting forgiveness if we obey Him (Matthew 7:21-23), and not the doctrines of men (2 John 9-11). Seek the Lord and obey Him, in order to receive eternal life!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Blood of Christ

Our greatest need is salvation because sin condemns us and only Christ can save us. God's law has always been that a sacrifice must be made for sin. This has been the way of God from the very beginning. Cain and Able, the sons of Adam and Eve, had to make sacrifice for sin. Under the law of Moses, the blood of animals served as a type of the blood of Christ which would later take away sins. The Hebrew writer says, "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15). But how can the blood cleanse us from sin? The apostle Paul answers that question in Romans 6:3: "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?" In baptism we are washed in the blood of the lamb. That's the reason that baptism (immersion) is essential -- there is no other cleansing but by the blood of Christ.

The apostle Peter told the Jews on Pentecost in Acts 2:38 that they needed to "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Remission of our sins does not take place until one is baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ. Salvation does not and will not take place until one is baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27; Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). Jesus pleads for us to "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). Truly, if we really do love Him, then we will do His will (John 14:15).

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Our Spiritual Needs

We were not born in sin, but men of accountable age do sin. We do not inherit our sins as we do the color of our hair. Yet, being sinners, our greatest need is salvation. Since we cannot save ourselves, we must have a Savior. God in His infinite love and grace has provided our salvation through Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Why did God send Jesus to die on the cross? Because He was not willing that we should perish, but instead, have eternal life. At great expense God fulfilled His promise to send Christ into the world as our Savior. Over 2,000 years ago, Christ died on the cross for our sins. We thank God for His love and mercy!

God makes two dispositions of sin: 1) If not forgiven, sin brings forth death to the sinner. This is justice. "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20) and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). 2) God can and does forgive sins. We cannot live above sin, and we cannot save ourselves, so we are entirely at the mercy of God for forgiveness. Christ died on the cross for our sins, and had He not done this, we would all be doomed to death, for no other person could have died for our sins. However, God has not provided salvation for any of us unconditionally. Salvation is conditional. Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Why is it important that we are baptized into Christ? "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).

We should be so very thankful to our heavenly Father that He sent His only Son to die for us so that we can be saved. God did His part, we must do our part. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

God's Word Spoken by Prophets

The prophets of God spoke the Word of God. In 2 Samuel 23:2 says, "The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue." This statement by David is verbal inspiration. Expressions such as this are found dozens of times the Bible. How could ordinary men know of events and persons about which they were writing (many times far into the future) unless they were truly guided by the Spirit? These men claimed no credit for their words of wisdom and salvation for themselves, but they always gave credit to the God of heaven whose mouthpiece they were. The apostle Paul stated, "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:13). The inspired writers always gave the credit to one higher than themselves. They never claimed the wisdom which their writings portrayed.

For thousands of years God had planned the salvation of man. In addition, He planned the church from the very beginning of time. He also planned to send His only begotten Son to earth to save man. Later, when Christ ascended to the right hand of God where He is now king of kings, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles to reveal the truth -- a message that up until that time had been hidden in the mind of God. Paul stated, "and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 3:9). Also in this third chapter of Ephesians he said that God had revealed to him the mystery and that he wrote it down for man's understanding. The point is that when God revealed it to Paul, and Paul wrote it for all mankind, then we would have the message that was and truly is "God's power to save."

We only have this life that we are living to make sure that we are obedient to God (Hebrews 5:9). In the end, we will be judged by Jesus and we will give an account for all that we have done, good or bad (John 12:48; 2 Corinthians 5:10). I want to strongly encourage us to listen to the prophets, listen to the apostles, and listen to Jesus. Our eternal destiny depends on it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Is the Bible Just a General Guide?

Is the Bible just a broad, general guide, or is it in fact the Word of God? Roman Catholicism believes in the authority of God, but they believe the revelation of God comes in two forms -- the scriptures and the unwritten or oral tradition. Their oral tradition runs alongside the scriptures in inspiration and authority.

Protestants believe in the authority of the scriptures, but most of them take the Bible as a very broad and general guide, and do not believe it to be a system of rules to be followed completely. They rely on their experiences which they have had (or think they have had), and thereby their feelings now become the authority. The modernists in religion think that an objective authority limits man's freedom and inhibits his search for truth. If this really is true, then the Universalists must be right in believing everyone is going to be saved.

The Bible is not just a broad, general guideline. It is in fact the inspired word of God! The apostle Peter said that his words came by the Spirit. The apostle Paul said the same thing. In Galatians 1:12 it says, "For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ." Many today believe that Mary Baker Eddy, or Joseph Smith, or even the Pope were or are inspired. I think it is wise to stick with just the Bible as being inspired by God. Jude wrote, "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." This means that all of God's revelation had been given long before the above mentioned men and women were born.

It is important that we respect and honor God and the wonderful, inspired words that He gave to us so that we can learn and know what we MUST do in order to gain eternal life with our Lord. Read the Bible and remember, this is God speaking to us. We please Him only by doing what He has stated for us to do, not what we think we should do. 


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Bible is the Inspired Word of God

All religious people should understand that God has ALL authority. The right to command belongs to God only. Unfortunately people say that God has all authority, yet they do not do all things that God has directed. It seems that most people only respect subjective authority. This means an authority that comes from within themselves. This subjective authority is expressed in such statements as: "I think I am saved," or "I think one religion is as good as another," or "I don't think the church saves anyone."

Of what importance is it, really, what you or I think? The Holy Bible is inspired which literally means God breathed. The apostle Paul stated, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In other words, the scriptures are "God breathed." That allows for no mistakes. You and I may think that one church is as good as another, but what does the scriptures say about that? Be honest and think about that. There really is NOT ONE scripture in all of the Bible that even implies that one church is as good as another. Can a church that originated by man really be as good as the one that was blood bought and built by Christ (Matthew 16:18)?

The problem is that men bend God and His Word to fit their own lives and selfish ideas and teaching. The Bible says, "For I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6). God is immutable and so is His inspired, God-breathed, Word. His divine will to man was given in the book that we call the Bible and regardless of the lives of men throughout the centuries, His word is still the same, and God's attitude toward men is the same.

When Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia he said, "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:11-12). We can see that man did NOT write the Bible in the real sense -- he only wrote what the Lord caused him to write. God's Word cannot be changed. When I sin, maybe I would want God t change His law to fit my particular case and allow me to do this thing, but no, He cannot change His will for me or any other man. We would not want to serve a changeable God ---- would we?

Examine the scriptures daily and make every effort to live for God and be the kind of Christian and example that He would be pleased with. Remember, it is God that will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).