Secure In Christ

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An ancient German Crucifix.

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” – John 5:24

“…. since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;” –  I Peter 1:23

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out..” – Acts 3:19

The great chasm or divide between God and man has been bridged by Jesus. As children of God we are forever secure in Jesus Christ. We have no need to strive, work, or in any way seek to earn acceptance with God.  Every human being is born with a sin nature which has caused us to be alienated from God. We have a debt that could only be paid by Jesus, the sinless Son of God, and he gladly paid it. The only thing left for us to do is repent and believe. It sounds too good to be true but it isn’t, because we are born again by the word of God. In our spiritual DNA is the desire to live a godly life and that seed (the word of God) produces good fruit in our lives. Even thought the process of spiritual growth is slow – the desire to live a godly life is in our hearts.

Sadly, some no longer preach repentance from sin. But real faith and repentance go together – they can’t be separated. Some Biblical scholars that I admire teach that a genuine believer can apostasize (renounce and fall away from the faith eternally). And that may be so, but what I see in the Scripture is both the incredible keeping power of God, as well as the warnings not to fall away.  (Read Hebrews chapter 6).

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that a the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:35 – 40

We find true satisfaction in the Son of God, as we taste and see the Lord is good (Psalm 43:8). Tasting and seeing are experiential in nature. His promise and power to keep us eternally secure is one of the most amazing things about God.  When I hear well-meaning Christians talk about losing the free gift of eternal life offered to them, it puzzles me. Even those Arminian scholars that I admire don’t believe you can lose your salvation like a coin, and then find it again. The apostasy they’re refereeing to is the slow process of falling away that results in a complete rejection of the faith.

This gift of eternal life in the presence of God is free to us, but it cost Jesus his life.  If you have turn from your old way of life and are looking to Jesus and believing Him for eternal life, you are secure. But, if you claim to know God and reject the clear teaching of Scripture about sin – you can have no real assurance of salvation.

Many have a head knowledge about Jesus but those who have a heart knowledge of him, seek to live a life of repentance. They hate what He hates (unrighteousness) and they love what he loves (righteousness). Eternal security is not just a doctrine: it’s found in knowing and trusting in the person of Jesus, not some impersonal force or theory. Knowing and treasuring Jesus above all else comes through regeneration, which is a gift from God. If you’re not in God’s family yet, ask him to help you to turn from your sin, and to follow Jesus. If you don’t have faith, ask Him for it. This gift of salvation is available to all who will trust in and obey the call to follow Him.

“What is it to believe in Him? It is not merely to say, “He is God and Savior,” but to trust Him wholly and entirely and take Him for all your salvation from this time forth and forever as your Lord, your Master, your all. If you will have Jesus, He has you already. If you believe in Him, I tell you that you cannot go to hell, for then Christ’s death would be in vain. A sacrifice cannot be made and then withheld from the one for whom it was given. If the believing soul could be condemned, then why a sacrifice? If Jesus died in my stead, why should I die, also?” ( Charles Spurgen, All of Grace, page 41)

 

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The Radiance Of Jesus

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Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. – (Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)

Jesus Christ is not an angel, avatar, or some guru who obtained enlightenment. He is the only true God-man who has ever lived. Everyone has an opinion about him. All major religions have something to say about Jesus of Nazareth. His brief time on earth changed the world forever. Ancient historians wrote about him, which was unheard of since he was not born into earthly royalty.

Historians of that time didn’t record the exploits of ordinary people. Yet accounts outside of the Bible as far away as Rome mentioned this miracle worker from the tiny nation of Israel. Many historians agree that the Jews would be the last people on earth to worship a man. They expected a Messiah, a political leader, but not God in the flesh. The fact is, something extraordinary and clearly supernatural happened for Christianity to grow so fast and spread so rapidly.

The Apostle Paul gave up everything to follow Jesus, and he had a lot to give up! In fact all his early disciples  sacrificed everything to follow this humble carpenter. What was it about this Jesus that so many were willing to even die for? They saw the radiance of his Glory and in him they beheld the very nature of God. These early converts from Judaism experienced His transforming power, his Divine embrace, and the forgiveness of sins.  It was a life altering, worldview shattering, encounter with the One through whom the whole world was created.  And this same experience is available to all that seek Him today.

Grieving God And The Culture Wars

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“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” –  (Ephesians 4:30 ESV)

Some say that most of the violence in American is caused by guns, others blame it on prayer being taken out of public schools. This is all part of the current culture war being fought in America. A war of words, thoughts, and ideologies. I believe when people become arrogant and refuse to acknowledge their Creator – spiritual darkness and violence increase. The United States is experiencing an evil spiritual invasion which has sought to desensitize  both young and old alike through exposure to images of violence and all sorts of perversions. God is grieved by so much evil.

During the 1960’s the U.S. experienced a spiritual invasion from the east. We are all ‘gods’  is what the eastern mystics told us. That view of spirituality combined with self-centered western materialism make for a really bad combination. The new ‘priest’ of our society are psychologist,  university professors, the news media, and those from the entertainment industry. Many of their ideas form the minds of the American public. And science seems to have the final word on everything in the western world. A Christian worldview doesn’t reject all science, because God gives knowledge to the world through many different sources. But followers of Jesus understand that the supernatural cannot be explained scientifically.

Holding to a strict scientific, naturalistic, anti-supernatural worldview grieves the heart of God. We saw the results or the fruit of this atheistic worldview from the communist regimes of the twentieth century. Education, counseling, and passing better laws can be helpful, but until the human heart is changed we are only putting a band-aide on a terminal wound. Religion without the love of Christ doesn’t work either, that is why Jesus told Nicodemus “you must be born again.” When Jesus returns to the earth  to set up his kingdom those that follow him will experience the Utopia that so many long for. But until then we must share the life transforming truth that only Jesus Christ can give.

Happy Reformation Day!

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A bust of Martin Luther. I took this picture in Worms, Germany.

 

Martin Luther was just a humble monk who rediscovered the truth that justification before God was by faith alone. He spoke out against the abuses of the Church of his day. But, he himself was an flawed man. God still uses sinful broken people today.  Here a two quotes from Luther to think about today:

“From the beginning of my Reformation I have asked God to send me neither dreams, nor visions, nor angels, but to give me the right understanding of His Word, the Holy Scriptures; for as long as I have God’s Word, I know that I am walking in His way and that I shall not fall into any error or delusion.”

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason-I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other-my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.”

What are we standing for?

Stand Up For Truth

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This is a picture of a Reformation Church I visited in Germany.

 

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” – Romans 3:21-31

We should never, ever surrender the truth of the Gospel for the sake of political correctness. Nor, for the sake of some false sense of unity with those who reject the supremacy of Christ. Jesus Christ alone is the source of eternal life.

Before the death and resurrection of Jesus all humanity was alienated from God the Father. God sent his Son to reconcile those who would believe back to himself.  While the Jews had a sacrificial system, none of those sacrifices could permanently atone for their sins.  True reconciliation with God was accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus paid the sin debt of a rebellious and broken humanity with his blood. All previous sacrifices pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. After Christ ascended back to the Father he sent the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts.

True believers are filled with the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of this truth, to a hostile and unbelieving world. We’re filled to live a life empowered by the Spirit, which produces holiness in our lives. The Father sets us apart for himself,  so that we can bear witness to the truth of his Son.

At the point of new birth we were justified by faith in Christ alone. Our justification is not progressive, it’s instantaneous. Sanctification is the progressive part that the Holy Spirit does along with our cooperation, that changes us into His image.

We must not lose the truth of our Justification by faith alone, or we will go back to the works-based religion of medieval times. If the devil can keep us doubting our right standing with God, we will live in fear of hell all of our lives. We cannot afford to lose what Martin Luther and the reformers rediscovered. Without the rediscovery of the truth of justification by faith alone, there would not have been a reformation in the church, and millions would still be in spiritual darkness. God justifies sinners like myself and I will never have to work for his approval,  Jesus took care of that on the cross. We must be willing to stand up for the truth of the Gospel at all cost.

Contemplate And Reflect: 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

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“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV)

We cannot contemplate on what or who we do not know. Truth is a Person(Jesus).  Not some vague cosmic impersonal  force or power. Jesus said; “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).”  He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother (Pr.18:24). This friendship is maintained by a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ words and life show us what the the Father is like, and the Holy Spirit reveals the Son to us. God was meant to be experienced, not just studied. Those that leave the path of discipleship to Jesus, have never lived a life of sustained contemplation and reflection on the Trinitarian God.

While mental assent may be a starting place – a fuller revelation of His eternal being is our goal. The abiding life with God is maintained through prayer and contemplation of the beauty of God. God’s beauty and his sufficiency is revealed, when the veil over our hearts has been removed. I’ve heard people say that I’ve tried Christianity and it didn’t work. But, in reality they never learned the art of contemplation and deep reflection of God. Until our one goal is to pursue and know the living God, and to experience his presence, our life with God won’t be fulfilling.

Convergence: A Revival Of Word and Spirit

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I took this picture at a Church alter in Germany.

 

( I posted this back in 2010 on my old blog. I felt I needed to post it again – with a few minor changes.)

I believe most Christians would agree that prayer is a major key to seeing a genuine revival in this country. Some would say that a move of the Spirit through signs and wonders is needed – I would agree with that. We live in a “Christian culture” full of  Christian self-help books, Bibles of every shape, size, and various translations.  But, most Americans are suffering none-the-less from a famine of the hearing of the Word of God. We are dying spiritually in the mist of the information age.

The average American Christian does not know his or her Bible. We read the Scripture but know very little of the original context it was written in. We formulate doctrines based on our own personal experience, often taking verses out of their context. But, I have hope. God is raising up ministers in this Nation that are committed to the exposition of the Scriptures. I am encouraged by the clear teaching I’m hearing on the sovereignty of God, the substitutionary atonement, the feeding of the poor, missions, and the majestic splendor of King Jesus. My heart is to see Christ Church embrace the present day ministry and power of the Holy Spirit. A fresh empowerment or filling of the Holy Spirit is the need of the hour. To reject the spiritual gifts God has given to his Church – is to reject his grace.

God is building something of great theological depth in those that will “study to show themselves approved” and will pour His Spirit out on those who will seek him. I’m certainly not the first to see the connection between the Word and the Spirit. But, the need for this convergence, cannot be overemphasized. Come Holy Spirit!

Avoiding The Spiritual Cliff and A Quote From Ravi Zacharias

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But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 
(2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV) 

The U.S. and the whole western world is slowly moving to the edge of a spiritual cliff – the love of many seems to be growing cold (Matt.24:12.) We have become lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. The sins (and yes I said sins) of pride, materialism, and self-indulgence  have made deep inroads in our nation as well as the Church.  Paganism has become the main philosophy by which much of the media and our entertainers live by. They have become the voice of our culture, replacing the Church. And, it seems that much of organized or politically motivated religion is presently losing the moral high-ground.

There seems to be no end to the loss of innocent lives through terrorist acts, abortion, and families are under relentless attack by dark spiritual forces. Many of us have felt like giving up on our society, but change is not impossible. So, how do we avoid the spiritual cliff? It’s really simple; those of us that consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus  need to seek intimacy with Him. One person, family, and Church at a time can radically transform the culture by living surrendered  lives – through the power of the Holy Spirit. And we must focus on making disciples, not just “church-goers.”

I have hope for a better future. God has raised up young (and some old) pastors in the land who are not afraid to proclaim the truth of the Gospel. While some in the apostate church are casting doubt about the reality of  hell and the value of Christ’ death on the cross and his resurrection,  others are faithfully proclaiming these truths. They are not condemning people for living ungodly lives, but are offering Christ as the answer to the spiritual bondage that so many struggle with. (You don’t have to be a ordained preacher to proclaim the Good News.) Pray that we in the west would turn back to God and avoid the spiritual cliff.

” We all remember the old story of the frog that is gradually boiled to death. When placed in a cauldron of cold water that is gradually heated to boiling, the frog continues to swim in comfort, oblivious to what is happening. If, on the other hand, the same frog is dropped into boiling water, it immediately leaps out for its safety. The gradual change went unnoticed, accommodated beyond reason, while the drastic change met with self-preserving common sense. Undeniably, being part of a culture brings about a level of comfort with the ways and means by which people live. But that familiarity does not guarantee sensitivity or objectivity. Proximity is not synonymous with understanding. Indeed, the very nearness we experience through modern technology may make us more vulnerable to distortion and victimization. The ideas and personalities the media thrust upon our imaginations subtly condition our consciousness in ways that even political totalitarianism cannot accomplish. We are unavoidably beguiled, in this so-called postmodern world, to an unprecedented degree. The constant bombardment of images shapes the perceptions of a whole generation and results in altered beliefs and lifestyles that make even the aberrant seem normal. The double-edged tragedy is not only that we are in such an environment but any warning that we are being molded possibly for the worse is contemptuously mocked as insane.”

Zacharias, Ravi. Deliver Us From Evil (pp. 19-20). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Bathing Prayer and A Quote by J.P. Moreland

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A prayer candle I lit in a church in Oppenheim, Germany.

 

I feel a sense of urgency to grow in my prayer life. Praying on a consistent basis has always been a struggle for me. But, when I break through the resistance that I often feel when I pray, God’s presence is worth the effort.  My goal is to grow stronger each day in my inner man, so that I can pray more effectively for others. Recently my pastor has called our fellowship to a season of focused prayer.  God is looking for those who will labor with him in prayer. We must learn the art of “bathing prayer.” I have been encouraged by the quote below by J. P. Moreland.

“Petitionary prayer is a form co-laboring with God in which I invite God’s attention and direct his power on a problem and work on it with God in the very act of prayer itself. You may think of this as a form of bathing prayer: You bathe the issue in prayer; you soak it with the power and presence of God while you pray. In this sense, prayer becomes a form of spiritual labor with God, and the longer you can stay with God, and the longer you can stay with something, the more you work on it by way of interactive conversation with God himself. This means that continuous, repeated prayer is at the very heart of working something over and constantly or repeatedly directing God’s power toward the problem. Here the issue is not to tell God what you want as much as it is speaking together about the issue. And, as one who stands in the place of God’s kingdom, directing the power of God onto something.” –  J.P. Moreland, The God Question, page 223.

The Deceptive Heart

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“When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.” – Psalm 119:52 (ESV)

 “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies; 
 I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments.” – Psalm 119:59-60 (ESV)

 

King David didn’t trust his own heart and neither should we. David refused to rely on his own ability to understand the teaching of Scripture and he was acutely aware of his inability to know the condition of his own heart. He ask God for help. Just like David we need the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. How is that accomplished? The same way David did it, by meditating on the age-old instruction of the Lord and pondering the way we are living. David said, “Keep me from lying to myself… for you expand my understanding.” Psalm 119:29,32 (NLT)

The bottom line is I can’t trust myself and we all need God’s instruction (an open Bible in front of us) because it has stood the test of time. The Scriptures are “God breathed” therefore they are the language of the Holy Spirit. One of the greatest and most biblical prayers we can pray is… help, Lord. That prayer of humility will bring enlightenment and discernment by the Holy Spirit, into our present circumstances. We live in a time when “spirituality” is popular. My greatest concern for this generation is that we’ve made a “god” in our own image. And he’s not the God of the Bible. Unless we turn back to Scripture we will live a life of perpetual deception. I’m banking my very life on the truth of Scripture.