Category: Getting SAVED


Saved from the consequences of our sin

When we are saved, we are saved from the consequences of our sin, we are not saved from our sin nature.
 
We’d like to think we are, but in order to believe that, we’d have to also have a pathological capacity for self-deception.
According to Scripture, it means that, "it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Romans 7:17-18)
Salvation frees us from the consequences of sin, but only death frees us from the propensity for it.
 
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:24-25)
 
The fact is that salvation was designed for sinners. The Bible makes it clear that all men have sinned, and that sin is part of our earthly existence. We are to avoid sin, but when we fall, we are to turn to Jesus and allow Him to pick us back up.
 
That is the essence of the Gospel. That Jesus loves us so much that, while we were yet enemies of God, He died for us.
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The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift – Jack Kinsella – Omega Letter Editor – www.omegaletter.com
 
"For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9) There is a lot a information packed into this single verse. To begin with, it says ‘for by grace you are saved THROUGH FAITH’ – let’s stop there for a second.
 
‘Grace’ (Gk charis) means benefit, favor or gift. It is from the word ‘grace’ that we get the word ‘gratitude’ or the sense of being grateful.
 
Note that grace alone does NOT save. Grace is both the extension of the gift and the gratitude of its recipient. To be grateful, one must first receive. While grace is extended to all mankind, not all mankind accepts it.
 
Not all mankind is grateful. Grace is extended to all, but salvation comes by faith. A simple concept, but many miss the big picture.
 
Let’s look at the next section of the verse, ‘And that not of yourselves’. What is not of ourselves? Grace? If it refers to grace, then the Lord has wasted words unnecessarily. Of course we can’t extend grace to ourselves! It is not only impossible, such an extension of grace would be meaningless. We haven’t the authority to save ourselves.
 
Read the verse again. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Since we already KNOW that grace ‘is not of ourselves’ that only leaves one other element that can be the ‘gift of God’ and that is saving faith.
 
So the Scriptures say that even the faith that saves us is a gift from God, and not something we conjure up as a result of our own works, ‘lest anyone should boast.’ This verse is the great equalizer of Christians.
 
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
 
We all come to the Cross the same way; recipients of God’s extension of grace, which we receive by a faith which is God-given. None of us has any reason to feel superior. If we are saved, it is because we were drawn of the Father to the Son.
 
“It is written in the Prophets, "And they shall all be taught of God." Therefore everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me.” (John 6:45) Allow that to sink in.
 
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 20:16)
 
And again; “For many are called, but few chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)
 
And again; “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)
 
“Among whom are ye also the CALLED of Jesus Christ:” (Romans 1:6)
 
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the CALLED according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
 
The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners encourages others to hope in His grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out.
 
It is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by His power. It was His purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of His will, and His Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our perseverance to holiness.
 
‘Holiness’ (Gk hagiasmos) means ‘purification’ which is a PROCESS, also accomplished by God through Jesus.
 
“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:” (Phillipians 1:6)
 
There are no Christians more deserving than others. Because you have not yet achieved the state of holiness others have does not mean you are less favored. We all come to the Cross equally lost, and we all came away equally saved.
 
Salvation is an eternal state for which each of us were chosen before the world began.
 
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” Paul writes to Timothy, (2 Timothy 1:9)
 
"In hope of eternal life, which God, that CANNOT LIE, PROMISED before the world began. . ." (Titus 1:2)
 
We are eternally secure, because we are eternally saved, which was accomplished in the Mind of God when each of us was called — BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN!
 
Let’s bring it together. Nobody can come to Christ unless they are drawn by the Father, who provides us with both the extension of the offer of salvation and the faith necessary to receive it, a calling that was sealed in heaven before the world began, according to His purpose and grace.
 
Our salvation is immediate and eternal, but our purification is a process, which, having been begun in us at the moment of salvation, will be perform in us BY CHRIST until the day we stand before Him. Lest anyone should boast.
 
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Romans 3:10-12)
 
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" (Romans 3:23-24)
 
"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21)
 
Legalism runs counter to the clear teaching of Scripture. This is a very difficult doctrine to both teach and understand. It sounds like a license to sin. It is not.
 
It is an understanding that our relationship to Christ is unique — that God knows our hearts, and has already judged us accordingly. So that sin cannot reign supreme in our mortal body and thereby render us useless to our calling.
 
The most effective weapon we have in our war with the enemy is the knowledge that he cannot take away our salvation. There is never a time when we are unworthy to tell others of Jesus Christ.
 
Paul tells us, "Finally, my brethren, be strong IN THE LORD, and in the power of HIS might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Ephesians 6:11-12)
 
Paul says we put on the ‘armor of God’ in a specific order. The certainty of the truth of Scripture, the breastplace of righteousness (imputed by Christ) the knowledge of the Gospel and the shield of faith. Our heads are protected by the ‘helmet of salvation’ – the certainty of our eternal salvation. These are all DEFENSIVE weapons.
 
Having secured our defense, we then take up our only offensive weapon, the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
 
If the enemy can convince us of our own personal unrighteousness (of which each of us is acutely aware) or cause us to doubt the truth of Scripture or of our faith (which is a gift from God, lest anyone should boast) or cause us to doubt our own salvation, then we will not be able to effectively wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
 
God chose each of us, and His plan is to use us to seek out those similarly chosen and introduce them to their Savior. That is our assignment on this earth. THAT is our ‘calling.’ To spread the Gospel.
 
That isn’t Calvinism — Calvinism teaches that because the Church was predestinated, we are under no obligation to lead people to Christ — God has already chosen them so He’ll sort it out.
 
There is a joke about the Calvinist who fell down the stairs, and remarked, "Thank God that’s over."
 
Instead, the Scriptures teach that God foreknew who would be saved, therefore it is predestined. But God also knew who He selected to carry the Word to that person. And the enemy will work overtime to thwart God’s will by convincing us we are not worthy to carry it.
 
As Christians, we have an awesome responsibility before God. We have been assigned to seek out the lost and offer them the Gospel. To accomplish our mission, we need to be fully equipped for the task.
 
That is what eternal security is all about. Not a license to sin, but rather a certain knowledge that our sin is forgiven.
 
Jesus said of His sheep (the Church) "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
 
"Give" (Gk didōmi) means ‘to bestow’. It is a present-tense verb. The Scripture does NOT say, "I WILL give them eternal life," it says it has already been bestowed upon us.
 
Jesus said that no man can pluck His sheep from His Hand. I am a man. If I can sin my way out of His gift of eternal life, it is neither eternal, nor is it a gift. It then becomes wages, dependent upon my works.
 
But the Scriptures say; "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
 
And since I, a man, can, by my works, undo His Word, it means His Word is not true.
 
Our works are the ‘fruits’ of our labor for Christ. Our labor is to lead others to Christ.
 
"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon." (1 Corinthians 3:10)
 
Our foundation is our salvation, but our obligation is to build upon that foundation by leading others to the Cornerstone of Life. But our individual salvation is already an accomplished fact.
 
When we stand before the Bema Seat of Christ, "Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)
 
The mission of the Omega Letter is to provide each one of us with the information necessary to equip us for the work of one on one evangelism.
 
Henry Ford once said, "I’d rather have one percent of the work of a hundred men, than 100% of the work of one man." Ford was the father of mass production. In the time it takes for one man to build a single car, a hundred men can build a thousand cars.
 
Don’t let the enemy render you powerless. You ARE worthy, not because you are you, but because of Him Who made you worthy according to His will and by His own Hand.
 
"Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest." (Luke 10:2)
 

What Do We Say

What Do We Say – Ron Graham – twotug@embarqmail.com
 
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18.
 
A friend’s mother passed away recently, and the lady was a devout Jehovah’s Witness. She might have lived but she refused a blood transfusion. Another friend of ours mentioned “Well, at least she’s in a better place” to which my wife gently responded, “I don’t think so”.
 
Should we lie to people and tell them that their loved ones are in Heaven even though they were devoted to following a cult built on lies? “I think God will take into consideration that she was a good person and went to church every week”. Oh, really? Not according to my Bible. I guess because the JW’s have re-written the bible to say what they want it to say, they’re okay salvation wise. As my wife so appropriately states, “I don’t think so”.
 
So, how do we contend with people who, as they are grieving, make statements such as “at least they’re in a better place”, when we know that the deceased did not believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Where do we draw the line when it comes to being sympathetic? Considering that it’s too late for the dearly departed to change their minds about their faith in Jesus Christ, will it do any good to be honest when addressing the loved ones left here and grieving? I believe it will. 
 
Those of us who are left here after our loved ones pass away must still contend with our choice in regards to eternity. Our loved ones who have passed on are gone for good. There are no further choices for them to make. They either believed the truth of the Gospel or they believed a lie, of which there are many. Either way they can’t change their minds and choose to believe the truth after they’re dead and gone. Those loved ones who remain can still make the correct choice when lovingly confronted with the truth.
 
Many of those who are left here grieving are just as lost as the ones that traversed the dimension of death. And these lost people comfort themselves with the thought that their dearly departed are in a better place. Whether they believe that place to be Heaven or some made up after life existence, they are comforted by a false assumption; they believe everyone who did good in their lives goes to that “better place”. They know they’ve done plenty of good things themselves in this life and so they find solace in the belief that they will someday be reunited with their loved ones in that mythical afterlife they’ve invented.
 
There are believers who will not go to funerals of people they know had rejected Jesus Christ for their entire lives. They say it’s just too hard to sit there and listen to a pastor make claims of how good that person was in their life, and even though they weren’t saved “Surly they are with God”. Some will say “Who really knows how God saw that person? After all, who are we to judge a person’s salvation status?” They may have believed in God and even trusted in God to supply their needs and to heal their ills; they just couldn’t get around the idea of God dying for them on a cross.” And there’s the rub. They didn’t believe Jesus Christ was and is the Savior of the world; thus, according to the word of God they weren’t justified (saved) in God’s eyes. They’ve condemned themselves “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. John 3:18b.
 
We can know God’s will regarding salvation. All we need to do is pick up a Bible (His word) and read it. But we must read God’s word not, man’s made up words. Think about it. Does God pull any punches in His word? I would say no. In the Gospel of John we read “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6. This is Jesus Christ speaking. Jesus Christ is God and as such He has the authority to make the statement in the verse above. He did this so everyone who follows a lie, a false gospel, a Christian cult, or any religion that teaches another way to the Father, would have no excuse when they die in their sins.
 
Why is it deemed cold hearted to tell someone the truth? Why should we remain silent? The one who died is gone and there’s nothing more we can do for them. But those who still remain must be told the truth so they can make an informed decision and hopefully one that would keep them from following a lost loved one to that same horrible eternal existence.
 
How do we know? How can we say for certain when a person passes on, if they passed on to Heaven or Hades? We aren’t God. We don’t make that decision, that’s God’s domain. A person might have had a change of mind within the last few seconds of their life, and just before they expired they might have said yes to Jesus Christ. Perhaps never verbally speaking the words out loud so family and friends would know they made that decision. Well certainly if they lived a life as a Christ rejecter and in those last few seconds silently changed their mind, only God would know that. But when a person lives their life as a devout member of a cult, and throughout that life they continually rejected the deity of Jesus Christ, then more than likely when they breathed their last breath they did so in that same frame of mind. 
 
Either way the truth needs to be promoted. The loved ones who knew their dearly departed family member was never a follower of Jesus Christ wouldn’t know if they silently made a confession to God just before death and so they would need to be told that if they don’t want to suffer the same end as their loved one they must make a decision for Christ while they are still breathing.
 
If we tell people, or even agree with people, that their loved ones have gone to Heaven because they were a good person, even though we know they were devout in their cultic faith, or had no faith in Christ at all, we are leading them astray. We might just as well be telling them that there are many roads that lead to Heaven. In a way we are denying Christ by not speaking the truth. He gave His life to give us the only way to Heaven, but if we tell others that a “good person” who dies goes to Heaven even though they had not accepted Christ, we deny His sacrifice.
 
“…whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33. When we keep silent we deny Him, when we agree with a falsehood such as many paths lead to Heaven, we deny His payment for our sins. Either way we’ve mislead the loved ones who remain.
 
So what do we do when we have loved ones who are thoroughly immersed in a cult or some other false religion? Do we keep peace in the family by remaining silent about the truth of the Gospel? How will remaining silent or even condoning a cult or a false religion help to bring a loved one out of that false, and very damning, teaching? If we love them we must tell them the truth. Even attending a religious function with loved ones who are in a cult at their place of worship should be avoided at all costs. Those who belong to a cult might perceive a nonexistent softening towards their false religion or worse, a condoning of their practices by those who join them even as spectators of their rituals. 
 
Should “In Christ” believers bend over backwards to keep civility and peace in the family, a family which is separated by those who have turned away from the truth of Jesus Christ and embraced a lie? After all, they’re condemned to Hell. How does keeping the peace with these folks show our love for them, especially when we keep silent about the truth? The truth of the Gospel is the only truth with regards to salvation. Love means telling people the truth about Jesus so they will not follow all the Christ rejecters who went to Hades before them.
 
Let’s see what Jesus says about keeping peace in the family. “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” Luke 12:51-53. Clearly Jesus knew that following Him would cause division even in the sanctity of our own families. But should we be deterred by this division? Absolutely not. We must continually and without hesitation remain faithful to Christ by contending for the faith.
 
Most would probably consider it common courtesy to avoid the subject about Heaven or Hell altogether at a nonbeliever’s funeral. After all, as long as we are saved that’s what matters, right? As born again believers we should all have a tremendous burden on our hearts concerning the lost. The lost who have passed on have reached a finality believers in Christ can do nothing about, but nothing is final when it comes to the lost loved ones who remain. 
 
It is simple to stand on God’s truth. But if you don’t know where to find the answers to rebuttals and outright disparagements which will undoubtedly come from the lost, then you will probably just go along with their self affirmations of everyone goes to Heaven when they die. Jesus said “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14. Here again Jesus makes it clear that there is only one way to Heaven and that is through Him and Him alone. He refers to Himself as the narrow way and few will find that way. And even fewer will find it if we keep silent.
 
“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.” Luke 10:27. We’re commanded to love one another. If you love your neighbor as yourself you won’t just let them live a lie without explaining the truth to them.
 
Funerals are tough on the ones left here, but not on the one who departs. For the nonbeliever or cult follower who’s funeral we’ve just witnessed, Hell is their next destination and that’s the truth whether we want to admit it to the lost loved ones remaining at the funeral or not.
 
On the other hand, those lost folks who are left here in mourning, even though they are fully condemned to Hell, can still hear the truth from a believer and perhaps they will make a decision to accept Christ and avoid Hell. There’s no grey area when it comes to salvation, Heaven is only available to those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no other option, there is no other way, “…for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. 
 
God bless you all,
 
Ron Graham
twotug@embarqmail.com
All scripture is from the KJV

Repent And Be Saved! I Said, REPENT!!!

Repent And Be Saved! I Said, REPENT!!! – Jack Kinsella – Omega Letter Editor – www.omegaletter.com
 
I believe that the Bible calls us to be witnesses of Christ, and that there is no more perfect expression of God’s will in the life of a Christian than when he works to lead others to Christ,
 
That said, what does one do, as one of our readers related recently in one of our forums, when somebody is clearly not interested in hearing the Gospel?
 
The forum comment describes an experience we’ve all shared in some variation. You strike up a conversation, and somehow, Jesus comes up in the discussion.
 
Your conversation suddenly stalls, and when you try to revive it, you meet a wall of stony silence.
 
Eventually, you come to recognize the signals and past experience tells you its time to say something cheery and take your leave.
 
But then it bothers you all the way home. . . "why didn’t I press the issue? Am I a coward for Christ? Jesus endured the collective hatred of the human race. Am I so weak I can’t bear a little rejection?"
 
You are convinced you failed Him. You had a chance to share the Gospel, and you blew it.
 
Maybe if you had tried a little harder, they might have listened. But no, you were too chicken!
 
It isn’t like you don’t know what is at stake — especially if you have been an OL member for any length of time at all.
 
You know that every person you meet is destined to spend eternity somewhere. You already know that they will either spend eternity in the joyful presence of Christ.
 
Or they will spend a Christ less eternity alone, tormented by the punishments of hell and their memory of rejecting their chance to escape it.
 
You know it because I remind you of it every chance that I get to do so. The redemption of a single sinner is worth the whole world, the Scriptures say. When one sinner repents, the angels rejoice.
 
Nothing in our walk though this world is of greater eternal value than leading a lost sinner to Christ.
 
But instead of pressing the issue, you walked away.
 
Knowing all that you know, you gave up without a fight. What kind of soldier are you?
 
If that is your story, or you have one like it, then the answer is, a smart one. A smart soldier would not press a battle against the odds — just so he could say he was in the fight.
 
Once you’ve use up all your resources in an unwise and ill-prepared assault, then those resources are no longer available to be deployed elsewhere where they can be of greater tactical value.
 
You offered Jesus, the offer was rejected. But in making the offer, you planted a seed. What you do next will affect the probability that your seed will take root.
 
You can continue to pour water on it until it drowns. Or you can plant it, give it as much water as conditions demand, give it a chance to germinate, and let nature take its course.
 
Planting the Gospel is sometimes like that. You plant it by sharing the Gospel, but sometimes, like planting in saturated ground, you can overwater and drown the seed.
 
Sometimes, just planting the seed is all that is necessary, and then its time to let the Holy Spirit take care of the nurturing.
 
Instead of drowning the seed in your eagerness to get it to take root, sometimes its better to let it germinate, even if it means somebody else will get to reap the harvest.
 
If your concern is for the health of the seed rather than your profit from the harvest, then it is not such a big deal if somebody else gets to harvest it.
 
Should you have pressed that person who clearly didn’t want to be pressed?
 
Ask yourself how you react when a salesman keeps pestering you after you tell him you’ll think about it.
 
Not only won’t you buy from that salesman, odds are that you won’t buy that brand, either, even though the salesman had nothing to do with the quality of the product.
 
Jesus knows whether or not you’ve done the job He sent you to do. How does He tell us to handle rejection? Does He tell us to press the issue until it comes to blows?
 
No. He says: "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)
 
"And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them." (Luke 9:5)
 
"He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me." (Luke 10:16)
 
When Paul and Barnabas attempted to preach the Gospel, "the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts."
 
Paul and Barnabas did their best. They preached the Word, the offered the salvation of Christ, and the Word was rejected. What did they do next?
 
"[T]hey shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium." (Acts 13:50-51)
 
"And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ."
 
Notice that Paul and Timothy were moved by the Holy Spirit to witness to the Macedonians. Notice also what happened when the Macedonians didn’t want to hear it.
 
"And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles." (Acts 18:6)
 
This was the Apostle Paul, and the Bible says it was the Holy Spirit moved him to preach. But the Macedonians were free to choose.
 
Paul and Timothy didn’t browbeat them, but rather, Paul said, "I’ve done what the Lord sent me to do. From here on out, it is up to you."
 
Paul was not a bad Christian. He wasn’t weak, he wasn’t wishy-washy, he wasn’t uncaring. Paul was God’s chosen evangelist to the Gentiles.
 
But Paul understood that the seeds he planted would grow unto the Lord, or they would NOT grow unto the Lord.
 
There is an old saying to the effect that "you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink."
 
And if you try, you’ll probably drown the horse.
 
It wasn’t up to Paul to do more than the task that God put before him. Neither is it up to you.
 
It is our duty and our solemn responsibility to make sure everyone we meet has a chance to choose whom they will serve in this life and where they will spend eternity.
 
But it is not up to them to make the choice for them. Or to feel responsible when they choose badly. It’s not we that we failed Him.
 
The seed we plant may not germinate for decades, but that’s up to God, not us. That’s where the ‘trust’ part takes over.
 
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13)
 
Don’t beat yourself up. Your job is to take the stand as a witness. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to obtain a conviction.
 
"Faithful is He that calleth you, Who also will do it." (1st Thessalonians 5:24)
 
There are times when its our job to plant the seeds, then get out of the way and let Him take it from there.
 

Are There Many Roads to God?

Are There Many Roads to God? – One way or many? – by Dr. David R. Reagan – www.lamblion.com
 
"What will happen to those who have never heard the Gospel?" This is one of the most frequent questions I receive. People believe that God is just, and they cannot reconcile that belief with the idea that He might consign a person to Hell who never was given an opportunity to hear the Gospel.
 
Therefore, increasingly, many Christians are concluding that there must be many roads to God and that sincere Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and others will make it to Heaven.
 
Crucial Questions
 
What does the Bible have to say about this important issue? Are those who live and die without hearing the Gospel condemned to an eternity in Hell? And what about those who have put their faith in the god of some religion other than Christianity and who strive to live righteous lives? Are they also condemned to Hell? Is it possible that God has revealed Himself in different ways to different peoples, and therefore there are many different roads to God? Could the sign be true that I saw in a Sunday School class at a church that read: "Our God is too big to be confined to one religion"?
 
What Jesus Had to Say
 
Let’s begin our search for an answer to these questions by taking a look at what Jesus had to say —
 
Speaking to the Apostle Thomas, Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." — John 14:6
 
After appointing His twelve Apostles, Jesus said to them: "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." — Matthew 10:32-33
 
Speaking to 70 disciples being sent forth to proclaim the kingdom of God, Jesus said: "The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." — Luke 10:16
 
Early in His ministry, while in Jerusalem, Jesus delivered a sermon on His relationship with God the Father, and in it He said: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." — John 5:24
 
At His last supper with the Apostles, Jesus prayed: "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." — John 17:3
 
And then, of course, there is Jesus’ most famous statement about the issue of salvation — the words He spoke to Nicodemus, a Jewish spiritual leader who was a member of the Sanhedrin Council: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." — John 3:16
 
What conclusion can we draw from these statements? I would propose the following:
 
1.Jesus is the one and only way to God.
2.Those who put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved.
3.Those who reject Jesus will be condemned, for those who reject Jesus are guilty of rejecting God.
4.The essence of salvation is a personal relationship with Jesus.
 
What the Apostles Had to Say
 
These conclusions are affirmed in the writings of the Apostles, as you can see from the following statements —
 
In the first Gospel sermon ever preached, Peter made a bold assertion: "Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him [Jesus] both Lord and Christ [Messiah] — this Jesus whom you crucified." Peter then commanded his audience to "repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:36-38).
 
Not long after this, Peter was arrested and hauled before the Sanhedrin Council — the very group of Jewish leaders who had condemned Jesus to death. In his statement to them, he said: "Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12).
 
The Apostle Paul affirmed Peter’s point in a letter he wrote to Timothy: "God our Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all…" (1 Timothy 2:3-6).
 
In like manner, the Apostle John confirmed that Jesus is the only hope of salvation when he wrote: "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ [Messiah]? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also" (1 John 2:22-23). John repeated this principle when he added: "…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (1 John 5:11-12).
 
Again, the conclusions that can be drawn from these statements are self-evident:
 
1.Jesus was the Messiah — the Savior — promised by God.
2.There is salvation in no other person except Jesus.
3.Those who reject Jesus are guilty of rejecting the Father.
 
Confirmation of these conclusions can be found in a sermon delivered by John the Baptist in which he proclaimed: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). John’s statement makes it clear that God must deal with sin for He is a just God (Psalm 37:28 and Isaiah 61:8). He deals with sin in one of two ways, either grace or wrath. Whether or not a person is under grace or wrath depends upon whether he or she has put their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Those who have done so, have the promise of eternal life. Those who refuse to do so will experience God’s wrath.
 
God’s Desire Pertaining to Salvation
 
But didn’t Paul say in 1 Timothy 2:3 that God "desires all men to be saved"? Yes, he did say that, and Peter repeated it in 2 Peter 3:9 where he asserted that "God does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
 
There is no doubt that it is God’s perfect will that all should be saved. But in His permissive will, God allows people to reject His Son and thus be lost. In other words, God does not force anyone to be saved. And because of the depraved nature of Mankind, the vast majority of those who have ever lived will be lost and consigned to Hell as their eternal destiny.
 
Jesus Himself emphasized this truth in His sermon delivered on the Hill of the Beatitudes in Galilee. Jesus stated point blank: "…The gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it…Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:13-14 & 21).
 
The Nature of Man
 
Again, the Bible emphasizes that the fundamental nature of Man is evil because we are born with a sin nature that puts us in rebellion against the holiness of God. As the prophet Jeremiah put it: "There is nothing more deceitful than the human heart" (Jeremiah 17:9). Likewise, King David wrote: "There is no one who does good…they have all turned aside…there is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:1-3). The Apostle Paul affirmed this truth in his letter to the Romans when he quoted David’s statement in detail (Romans 3:10-18).
 
The biblical message is adamant that because of our natural depravity, we have no hope apart from faith in a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. Isaiah summed it up this way in a prophecy about the promised Messiah: "All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him [the Messiah]" (Isaiah 53:6).
 
The message of the Scriptures is clear. There is only one road to God and that is through Jesus of Nazareth. There is no hope in the modern day false religions of Rabbinical Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any of the multitude of natural religions like Animism. Here’s how the great Southern Gospel quartet, The Imperials, expressed this concept in their unique song, "Old Buddha," composed by Mark Farrow —
 
Well, old Buddha was a man
And I’m sure that he did well,
But I pray for his disciples
Lest they end up in hell,
And I’m sure that old Mohammed
Was sure he knew the way,
But it won’t be Hari Krishna
We stand before on judgment day.
 
Chorus:
No, it won’t be old Buddha
That’s sitting on the throne,
And it won’t be old Mohammed
That’s calling me home,
And it won’t be Hari Krishna
That plays that trumpet tune,
And we’re going to see the Son,
Not Reverend Moon!
 
Well, I don’t hate anybody,
So please don’t take me wrong,
But there really is a message
In this simple song,
See, there’s only one way — Jesus,
If eternal life’s your goal,
And meditation of the mind,
It won’t save your soul.
 
An Important Question
 
This brings us to a crucial question: Are there any exceptions to the rule that you must place your faith in Jesus in order to be saved?
 
The answer is yes. Most Christian theologians would agree that there are three groups of people who have been saved without placing their faith in Jesus.
 
The first group is composed of those children who have died before the age of accountability. The Bible does not specifically state this truth. It is arrived at through deduction from biblical statements.
 
First, there is the example of King David’s child that was born of Bathsheba. When the child died seven days after it was born, David proclaimed by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that although the child could not come back to him, one day he would go to be with the child (2 Samuel 12:23). The idea that those who die before the age of accountability will be saved is reinforced in the New Testament in the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:13-14 —
 
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’"
 
This principle of not holding children accountable for their sins before they know the difference between right and wrong is also reflected in a story in the book of Deuteronomy. When the Israelites balked at entering the Promised Land because they were afraid they would be defeated by the Canaanites, God punished them for not trusting Him by making them wander in the wilderness until the rebellious generation had died off (see Numbers 13 & 14).
 
The Lord proclaimed that only two people of the current generation would be allowed to enter the land — namely, Caleb and Joshua, the two spies out of twelve who brought back a positive report stating they believed the Lord would defeat their enemies (Deuteronomy 1:34-38). But then, another exception was made: "Moreover, your little ones…who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there [the Promised Land], and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it" (Deuteronomy 1:39).
 
Another argument in behalf of the salvation of children who die before the age of accountability is the justice of God. The Bible asserts over and over that our Creator is a God of justice (Zephaniah 3:5). He has an overwhelming passion for justice (Micah 6:8). And He promises repeatedly that justice will be one of the characteristics of His Son’s millennial reign (Isaiah 42:1-4). How could a God of perfect justice condemn to Hell children who never knew the difference in right and wrong?
 
Those who die before the age of accountability will not be eligible to receive special rewards for faithfully serving the Lord, but it appears that they will be granted eternal life. However, this can happen only by having the blood of Jesus applied to them (Hebrews 9:22).
 
This same exception would apply to the mentally handicapped who reach adulthood. Since they are incapable of determining right from wrong and are also incapable of repenting and putting their faith in Jesus, it is only reasonable to conclude that a just God would not hold them accountable and would apply the blood of Jesus to their sins.
 
I have a step-grandson named Jason who falls into this category. At about the age of three a genetic defect was activated that caused his immune system to attack his brain. The effect was a frontal lobotomy that rendered him vegetative. I have since dedicated two books to him. He is a constant reminder to me of the fact that we live in a fallen world. I have no doubt that one day, either at death or at the Rapture, his mind will be set right, and I will be able to enjoy his fellowship eternally.
 
Another Exception
 
The third group that has been saved apart from faith in Jesus are those people who lived and died before the birth and revelation of Jesus as God’s Son, but who placed their faith in their Creator. Hebrews 11 tells us that people like Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham were justified by their faith in God. They had no Scriptures nor any knowledge of Jesus, yet because they related to their Creator in faith, they were saved. Specifically, Genesis 15:6 says that because Abraham believed the Lord, "it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
 
Still, each of these people, and many others like them, were dependent upon the sacrifice of Jesus for their salvation to be sealed. Their faith covered their sins, but the forgiveness of their sins depended upon the sacrifice of a perfect person who did not deserve to die. Only the blood of such a person could produce forgiveness of their sins.
 
That’s why Old Testament saints did not go directly to Heaven when they died. They went, instead, to a place called Sheol (Hades in the New Testament), and their souls resided in a compartment called "Abraham’s bosom" or "Paradise." They could not be ushered into the presence of a Holy God until their sins were forgiven.
 
After Jesus’ death on the Cross, He descended into Hades and made a proclamation (1 Peter 3:19). We are not told specifically what He said, but most likely it was, "The blood has been shed!" I’m sure those words must have produced a chorus of "Hallelujahs!" We are also told that when Jesus ascended into Heaven, He took a "host of captives" with Him (Ephesians 4:8). In other words, He emptied Hades of those who were saved. Paradise was moved from Hades to Heaven, a reality that Paul later affirmed when he said that he was taken up to "the third heaven," which he identified as Paradise (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).
 
Another Exception?
 
This brings us back to one of the questions we began with: What about those today who live and die without ever hearing the Gospel? Are they destined to Hell?
 
I personally believe the same principle applies to them that applied to people living in Old Testament times before the First Advent of Jesus. Their fate will depend upon whether or not they ever responded to God in faith.
 
The Bible says that all people have an instinctive knowledge that God exists (Romans 2:14-15). Further, the Bible says that we can realize the existence of God by observing the complexity and beauty of the creation (Psalm 19:1-6).
 
Because God is a just God (Psalm 89:14), I believe He will hold us responsible for what we knew. Those exposed to the Gospel and reject it will be lost. Those who have only the testimony of instinct and the creation who reject that testimony will also be lost. But those who hear the Gospel and put their faith in Jesus will be saved. And those who respond to the testimony of instinct and the creation by putting their faith in their Creator will also be saved. However, this latter group will be saved only by having the blood of Jesus applied to them as was the case with Old Testament saints.
 
A Controversial Statement
 
I believe this is what Billy Graham had in mind in May of 1997 when he made a very controversial statement during an interview of him that was being conducted by Robert Schuller.1 He said that he believed that God is "calling people out of the world for His name" — including the Muslim world, the Buddhist world, the Christian world and the non-believing world. He added, "They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in Heaven."
 
Schuller responded by asking, "What I hear you saying is that it is possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they’ve been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you’re saying?"
 
Graham’s reply was, "Yes, it is…I’ve met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they’ve believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they’ve tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived."
 
These comments by Graham produced a flood of condemnation of him. People accused him of believing in many different roads to God. It is certainly easy to see how his comments could have been misconstrued, but I believe that is exactly what happened.
 
Billy Graham has never taught that there are many roads to God. On his website (www.billygraham.org) there are two very specific articles about salvation in which Graham affirms his often stated belief that Jesus is the only way to God.2 In his controversial statement, which was much too briefly phrased, I think he was only saying that people are going to be judged on the basis of what they knew about God and how they responded to that knowledge, just as was the case in Old Testament times.3
 
Some might respond by saying, "If those who live and die without ever hearing of Jesus might still be saved by their faith in God, whereas those who hear the Gospel and reject it will be lost, then perhaps we should stop proclaiming the Gospel!"
 
But this statement is based on the faulty assumption that the Gospel is just a fire insurance policy. The truth is that it is much more than that, for the person who receives Jesus as Lord and Savior is blessed with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, receiving supernatural power to live triumphantly in a world of heartache and suffering. The person is also enabled to know God personally in this life — an absolutely invaluable blessing.
 
Further, I believe that any person who would respond to God in faith based on instinct and the witness of the creation is one who would accept the Gospel if exposed to it.
 
All Professing Christians?
 
This brings us to another group of people — those professing Christians who have never been born again. What I have in mind are what I prefer to call "Cultural Christians." These are people who claim to be Christians because they profess to believe in Jesus, but they have no personal relationship with Him. Many of these are people who attend church regularly. Some are elders, deacons, teachers, and even pastors. Can they get to Heaven through church membership or by participating in Christian rites like baptism or communion?
 
The answer of the Bible is a clear "No!" Jesus Himself said that no man can see the kingdom of God unless he be "born again" (John 3:3). That means a person must put his faith in Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. It is not sufficient to simply believe that Jesus lived. The Bible says that even "the demons believe and shudder" (James 2:19). But they have rejected Jesus as their Lord.
 
Going to church or participating in Christian rituals is not another road to Heaven. Our churches are filled with unsaved people who are trusting in their works to get them to Heaven. But the Bible says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith…not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
 
In an interview I conducted recently with Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, he pointed out that two words sum up one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and all other religions in the world. Those words are "do" and "done." Regarding access to Heaven, all the false religions of the world say, "DO!" Christianity, in stark contrast, proclaims "DONE!"4 In other words, Christianity declares that Jesus did everything necessary for our salvation through His death on the cross. There is nothing we can add to that.
 
False expressions of Christianity require you to earn your salvation by doing works that they require. True Christianity says there is nothing you can do to earn your salvation because it is a free gift of God through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. In this sense, true Christianity is really not a religion; rather, it is a relationship. Jesus made this clear at the last supper with His disciples when He prayed to God, saying, "…this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3).
 
In this regard I feel compelled to state, respectfully, that this is an area where Billy Graham seems to have strayed from the Gospel. I say this because he has made it very clear in his writings and his public statements that he believes the Catholic Church is a true expression of Christianity.5
 
This is unfortunate because his endorsement of Catholicism has made many Catholics feel comfortable and safe in their faith. And although I am sure there are some Catholics who have truly placed their faith in Jesus, the vast majority have not because the Catholic Church has always taught salvation by works — which makes the religion of Catholicism a false form of Christianity.6
 
The Bottom Line
 
From a biblical, Christian perspective, there is no way to escape the conclusion that Jesus is the only way to God, either through direct faith in Him, or by having the blood of Jesus applied to a person who has responded to God in faith through the testimony of instinct and nature.
 
To argue that there are other roads to God, as some apostate Christian leaders are doing today, is to deny that the sacrifice of Jesus was necessary for the forgiveness of sins. If there really are other roads to God, then Jesus came to earth to die a horrible death for no purpose. His sacrifice was all in vain. Either we are saved by the blood of Jesus, or we are not.
 
A Glorious Promise Concerning the Future
 
One thing we know for sure is that every person on earth who is alive at the end of the Tribulation will hear the Gospel before the Second Coming of Jesus. We know this because Jesus said it would happen (Matthew 24:14). That prophecy is being partially fulfilled today through the use of modern technology. Computers are being utilized to produce rapid translations of the Bible. Satellites are being used to transmit Gospel sermons worldwide.
 
But the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy will occur near the end of the Great Tribulation when God will send forth an angel who will circumnavigate the globe and proclaim the Gospel to every person left alive at that time (Revelation 14:6-7). What glorious grace!
 
Notes:
 
1) Television interview of Billy Graham by Robert Schuller, May 31, 1997, On Doctrine at http://www.ondoctrine.com/10grahab.htm.
 
2) See, for example, Billy Graham’s article, "Why do Christians believe Jesus is the only way of salvation?" (www.billygraham.org/MyAnswer_Article.asp?ArticleIDH22). See also, "The Only Way?" (www.billygraham.org/News_Article.asp?ArticleID54).
 
3) Graham’s consistency in clearly preaching that Jesus is the only way to Heaven is clearly demonstrated in a video clip that can be found on YouTube. The clip, which runs 7 minutes, shows excerpts from 7 sermons delivered between 1957 and the present in which he affirms over and over again that Jesus is the only way to God. The video clip can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWv1jiWC4b0. As of March 5, 2010, the video was mislabeled, "Billy Graham denies Jesus…" It should be labeled, "Billy Graham affirms Jesus as the only way to God."
 
4) Two video interviews with Dr. Jeffress have been published as a video album by Lamb & Lion Ministries. The album is titled, "Absolute Truth" and can be ordered from our online resource center or by calling 1-800-705-8316.
 
5) John Ashbrook, "Billy Graham’s Catholic Connection,"
cnview.com/on_line_resources/billy_graham_catholic_connection.htm. This is just one of many examinations on the Internet of Graham’s endorsement of Catholicism. There are also video interviews of him endorsing the Catholic faith.
 
6) Graham takes this position because he says "Catholics believe in Jesus." But, again, do they simply believe he existed (as do Muslims), or do they believe in the sense of trusting Him, and Him alone, for their salvation? If their trust is truly in Jesus, then why are they instructed to pray to Mary? A great source for unbiblical Catholic beliefs is pro-gospel.org/x2.

Three Step Process

Three Step Process – Ron Graham – twotug@embarqmail.com
 
 “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. There is a three step process which all believers in Christ will ultimately traverse; two of those steps come after salvation. Many believe salvation is all there is, but not so, in all actuality salvation only begins the process. 
 
Justification or salvation – is the act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him. When we first believe we become justified in God’s sight. Believing in the selfless act of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who died for the sin of the world. Jesus is the propitiation for our sins.
 
The Bible teaches that only by the death of a perfect man, God Himself, could man ever hope to be justified. God had to place Himself in the role of Kinsmen Redeemer, as such He became the propitiation for mans rebellion. For this reason Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, became a human with flesh and bones, to be the perfect sacrifice for sin and make atonement or “propitiation” for the entire world.
 
When we place our faith and our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, in the blink of an eye we are born again, which means we are justified. It’s not difficult, or painful, or even costly. And God wants all to come to this realization, to believe, and by doing so to become His children (sons of God).
 
When we first believe we go through what is commonly known as a change of mind. This new mindset leads us away from our past reprobate life. The question that many ask is: “Is a person completely saved at the point when they first believe?” My answer is this, if that person truly believed in Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross and humbly confessed to God that they recognize that they are a sinner, then yes they are completely saved at the point when they first believed. “…no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” 1 Corinthians 12:3b. It’s the Holy Spirit which always points to Jesus Christ and convicts the lost of their need for a savior. When we confess that Jesus is Lord it’s only by the Holy Spirit that that confession is possible.
 
Reading the account in Matthew 13 concerning the parable of the sower gives us an answer to the question above. The first soil that Jesus speaks of refers to those who hear the word of truth but don’t understand it. Those who fall into that category, or soil, make no commitment to Christ and have no revelation that they are sinners, they make no profession of faith in Christ, they do not refer to Jesus Christ as Lord, consequently there’s no repentance of sin. They’re not saved. This, by the way, is a weekly occurrence in our Christian Churches today. Many hear the message but never respond.
 
Once we become born again it’s not difficult to see a part of ourselves represented in all four soils (which should actually be the parable of the grounds). All believers spend a little time in all four soils.
 
Like the wayside, sometimes even believers allow the word no room in our lives. Studying God’s word becomes a chore and ultimately is relegated to an insignificant position in the believer’s life. Neglect Bible study and face a lack of understanding which can lead a Christian into defeatism.
 
Like the stony places, we sometimes have "hot flashes" of enthusiasm in receiving the word but which is quickly extinguished. The enemy takes away our joy and before long we can become apathetic even lethargic towards our faith.
 
Like the soil among thorns, the world is constantly threatening to choke out God’s word and our fruitfulness. The cares of living in the world becomes so burdensome that believers begin to get discouraged, or disillusioned. Our positive Christ-like attitude becomes diminished. God’s word takes another negative hit.
 
Like the good ground, the word becomes very important and we begin to bear fruit. Finally we get it. This new revelation leads to an aggressive pursuit of God’s will for our lives, and Bible study becomes a pleasure as God opens up more and more of its meanings to us.
 
Truly a believers security can be found in the following verse “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,” Ephesians 1:13. God has just made us a promise that none of us can deny. Once we believe and trust in Jesus Christ we are sealed with His Holy Spirit, which is a God sealed promise that cannot be removed, ever, by anyone or anything. Justification is complete.
 
Sanctification – looking at each one of the soils in Jesus’ parable as I’ve just pointed out indicates God’s participation in the three step process. This Godly involvement is referred to as sanctification. Believers go through all sorts of ups and downs and occasionally we might fall down some rather slippery slopes. But God is always there to lift us back up and give us His assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us. This is the ongoing process of sanctification, God initiated, God fulfilling, lifelong work of God in every believers life.
 
When I first accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior and was baptized I felt nothing had changed in my life. Oh sure I went around bragging that I had been baptized all the while thinking that that experience was the pinnacle of my salvation and that I was now a member of some elite group. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized I had actually been re-born, and knew precisely what that meant. I was a new creation “In Christ”. When that realization hit me, like a ton of bricks, I knew I was saved, (justified in God’s eyes). Before that I continually had doubts. And prior to coming to that understanding of my eternal security I made little or no effort to live my life differently than before I made my confession of faith, or at least I thought I hadn’t. But looking back I see God was and is totally involved in every aspect of my then, as well as now, new life in Christ.
 
What I’m saying is God takes control once we become new creations in Christ. Our eternal security is God’s responsibility. His hand is what moves us from the very beginning of our new life in Christ through that process of changing us into the exact image of His Son. We actually progress in our walk with Christ, through God’s intervention, right up to the point in time when we leave planet earth for our heavenly home.
 
There are, on occasion, times when we will look at another person with wonderment as to their position in that three step process. We may not see any fruit in another’s life. We can’t really see what God is doing in that person’s life, can we? Remember, God is in control of the sanctification process, not us. Each person is different and each person comes to an awareness of the undeniable importance of salvation (justification) at different levels of that sanctification. Eventually the fruit that comes after being saved will appear in every true born again believer’s life. If they are not really born again the fruit will never materialize, at least not until they make that true profession of faith.
 
If a person tells me they are born again, that they believe Jesus Christ is Lord, that they believe His Gospel, then that is good enough for me. Like I’ve already mentioned, the Apostle Paul tells us that it’s only through the Holy Spirit that we are able even to confess such a belief. Each believer is in God’s hands, as such, He is responsible for keeping each one saved, not me or my perception of another’s salvation.
 
Many people get confused when it comes to these two concepts, born again and fellowship with God. Two entirely different perceptions but they go hand in hand. We all want to be in fellowship with God but each time we sin we are removed from that fellowship until we repent. There are many very adept Bible teachers who are still confused in this regard. Being born again is not an on again off again state in a person’s life. Sin is an on again off again part of every born again believer’s life. Fellowship with God, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, is an on again off again relationship because of sin. 
 
Justification – done deal once we become born from above, from God. Sanctification – ongoing for the remainder of our lives, this is God’s exclusive domain.
 
Glorification – this is the last part of this three part process. Glorification occurs at the moment a believer in Christ dies. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17. We are called joint heirs of the Kingdom of God with Christ. Suffering is a part of being children of God. Even though our flesh may not want anything to do with any type of suffering, sooner or later suffering for Christ will become apparent.
 
Suffering for Christ is only a natural progression of things, like death and taxes. This will become even more evident as we get even closer to Christ’s return. For many around this planet suffering for Christ is nothing new. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” James 5:10. It’s important to remember we will be glorified with Christ at our immediate release of these earthly vessels. If we must endure a little suffering along that journey, then rejoice knowing you suffer for Christ.  
 
Glorification, being the final stage coming just after death, should be looked forward to with a high degree of anticipation. While we’re alive, we go about our Fathers business, witnessing, and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but we are also eagerly but patiently anticipating our Savior’s imamate return.
 
There’s even a crown righteousness tied to that anticipation. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8. This crown of righteousness is given to all who love the idea of Jesus’ soon arrival.
 
When we go home to be with the Lord, at some point just after that homecoming we will receive our glorified bodies. And like Jesus after His resurrection, we too will have the ability to traverse all the different dimensions without hindrances.
 
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8. It won’t be long now. Keep looking up.
 
God bless your all,
 
Ron Graham
twotug@embarqmail.com
All scripture is from the KJV

Saved, and I Know it

Saved, and I Know it – Ron Graham – twotug@embarqmail.com
 
How? How do I know I’m saved? That’s a question I receive from time to time and which is almost always followed with the statement “I want to know for sure I’m saved”. Every believer wants to be assured of their eternal salvation. Even those who believe in another god apart from the God of the Bible. Hey, even atheists want to be sure of what they’ve placed their faith in. All believers in Christ should know that there is no other God than the God of the Bible. And as far as atheists are concerned, well, they’ve placed their faith in man. Of course, beliefs in other gods or no God at all are both huge errors that by witnessing we hope to rectify.
 
Let’s take a look at how God looks at His salvation plan which is available to everyone. When did God first start dealing with you? “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:” Ephesians 1:4. God chose us “the elect” before the foundation of the world. That’s when God began dealing with each and every one of us. Believers are God’s “elect”. “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” John 15:16. God has moved us into the position of a believer. How did He do that? Keep reading.
 
God’s offer of salvation is given to everyone (John 3:16, 3:36, 5:24, Romans 10:9, 13.), but the lost “choose” to remain lost. I want to make that statement as plain as I can. It’s a choice of ours to either believe or not. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14.
 
God draws us to hear the Gospel, “he called you by our gospel”. If when we hear it we believe “the truth”, this moves us into the position of being God’s “elect”. On the other hand, many of those who God draws to hear His Gospel (and He draws everyone) refuse to believe, they are lost because they refused to believe His truth. Either way God chose us to come and hear His word. How do you know you have been “elected” by God to Salvation? By your response to His Gospel that He drew you to hear. Did you all get that? God is the initiator of our being drawn. He does the drawing. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” 1 Peter 1:2, only means you heard the truth of the Gospel and you believed. We either respond in the affirmative or the negative but everyone is drawn to hear. The “elect” hear and believe. It’s a simple yes answer.
 
I’m not actually attempting to get into arguments with the Calvinists here. I don’t believe there’s any reason for those who diligently study their Bibles to come away with such a huge misunderstanding when it comes to foreknowledge, predestination, and the elect. So as far as I’m concerned, there should be no debate of whether or not some of us are predestined to be saved and others aren’t. Yes there are those who are God’s elect, and there are many who are not God’s elect. Why? God has made it abundantly clear that everyone is invited into his family (John 3:16). It’s just that some choose to turn down his invitation, and God knows who they are and He knew them, and their choice, before the foundation of the world. Yes there are many arrogant and foolish people who after receiving the truth, “their invitation”, refuse to say “Yes, I believe”. Some of these foolish people actually become so belligerent with God that they begin to blaspheme Him and spew hateful words at Him as they willfully return His invitation. In other words their refusal often times contains more than just a no thank you God. Hence these foolish, arrogant, belligerent people remain in their sins, thus they are not His elect, but they are perishing.
 
But what of those who’ve said yes to God? Those who’ve heard His Gospel message and believed. Those are who God calls His “elect”. What is it that gives them their sense of security? It’s simple. All those who’ve heard the Gospel and believed are immediately sealed with the Holy Spirit, and that’s a promise from God. Those of us who are sealed with God’s Holy Spirit are no longer under the power of the enemy.
 
So we learn that all believers fall under the banner of the “elect” of God. But all believers don’t feel the same way about their salvation. Some bask in the assurance of God’s gift of salvation and go about their lives seemingly fearless, almost as though they can’t be bothered about any attack from the enemy. These folks fully grasp the truth. When they are attacked their faith is so strong that they’ve learned how to overcome the enemy. These people know God will fight the battle.
 
Others, once justified, don’t give their salvation much thought at all. After their conversion there’s nothing else that brings out any signs that they were ever justified. Thus the enemy doesn’t see much reason in attacking them. After all, they probably aren’t doing any witnessing and they show little to no concern in producing and living a fruit filled Christian life.
 
Then there are the worry warts; those who think they’ve lost their salvation for some sin they committed after becoming a believer. These are the folks who listen to the false teachings of those who contradict God and teach that you can lose your salvation. Until they learn to listen to God instead of the naysayers they’ll be miserable. Many live a useless Christian life unable to break away from the condemnation of the enemy. Condemnation is laid on believers by Satan and his followers and sometimes by the brethren who’ve misinterpreted their Bibles, but never by the Holy Spirit.
 
This next group are the born again believers who cannot seem to grasp the fact that even though they feel they’re born again, there’s a nagging suspicion which tugs at their heart telling them they aren’t really saved at all. “Yes, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for my sins, and that He arose three days later and sits at the right hand of God. I’ve repented of my sins and asked Him to rule and reign in my heart. And I believe that with all my heart. But, I still have doubts now and then about my salvation. Why?” That “but” is a security killer.
 
All believers go through ups and downs in their walk with the Lord. Doubting one’s salvation from time to time can eventually strip a believer of his/her joy, In some believers lives doubt seems to be a frequent, sometimes habitual occurrence. In some cases it’s a quick downer and the believer is back up and walking in fellowship with the Lord. With others the downer last through their entire Christian walk because they’ve never learned how to overcome the enemy’s attacks. (Read Ephesians 6 for your allotment of armor).
 
Here’s what I see happening to these folks. They are allowing Satan to plant in their mind, a pattern of guilt and fear. Through his prodding he’s convinced them to question their salvation. It’s amazing to me just how many believers write and tell me they doubt their salvation. Satan is very good at stealing the joy we have in Christ. By placing doubt in our mind he’s gotten us to doubt even our own beliefs, our own faith, and our security in Christ.
 
Everyone reading this commentary must understand at least this one part. When we neglect God’s word we become most vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. But when we take on a daily routine of Bible reading and study we remain much more secure and avoid those horrible darts of self defeat. Just a few paragraphs each day will do wonders in fighting off those enemy darts. Read more if you can of course, but even a page or two a day will help. Always pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit before you begin your Bible reading. Do this in the morning and you have put on the armor of God to help you through the entire day.
 
Believers have the Holy Spirit sealed within them. If we weren’t sealed with God’s Holy Spirit we would have plenty to worry about. This seal gives us the ability to rest in the knowledge that we are completely secure in God’s hands and that we have no reason to doubt our salvation, or fear our eternal destination. “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32. Remember my brethren, God delights in keeping His promises, and He promises to keep you in His hands.
 
If we continue to allow the enemy to place doubt in our minds we will, sooner or later, feel we’ve lost our salvation, or at the least live a miserable Christian life. This is the enemy’s purpose when it comes to believers, and he’s perfected his craft to nth degree. Understand, Satan can’t do anything to those who believe. He has no power over us unless we allow him that power. Why? Because we belong to Christ. We are living in Christ. We are God’s “elect”. We are completely secure when it comes to our salvation. All the elect will go to Heaven either in the Rapture of the Church or by passing from this life through death.
 
If you are worried about whether or not you’ve lost your salvation, or that you might lose it, you’ll be of no effect as a witness for God. That’s where Satan hopes you’ll end up, and that’s the purpose for the doubt, the condemnation, the guilt he bombards us with every day hoping to catch at least some of us in his snare. The emails I receive indicate that he’s been very successful. Think about it, if we don’t or won’t witness to others about the good news of Jesus the Messiah, Satan will keep those souls in his camp. Oh sure you’re still saved but what about the person who gets overlooked when it comes to being witnessed to, all because of your fear and preoccupation with losing your salvation?
 
Don’t fall for the enemy’s lies. That’s all they are. Satan is the father of all lies. And all those who tell you a born again believer can lose their salvation, for whatever reason, are doing Satan’s work for him, whether they know it or not. Don’t listen to them. Just keep reading your Bibles and studying. Allow the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in your mind and teach you God’s word. He’s a much better teacher than those who only want to bring you under condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1.
 
Saved! And I know it! If you’re born again claim your security and stop allowing the enemy a foothold. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
 
God bless you all,
 
Ron Graham
twotug@embarqmail.com
All scripture is from the KJV
 
 

We Shall Be Member’s Of God’s Family

We Shall Be Member’s Of God’s Family – By Mike Taylor – www.raptureready.com
 
Have you ever considered how small an amount of time or distance can change the outcome of a whole host of different events? Let’s take for example a runner in a 100 yard dash. The winner of the race can come in first by only a fraction of a second. I’ve seen winners made for less than one hundredth of a second. I remember watching Michael Phelps win his swimming race for just that amount. The guy who came in second, touched that wall one-one hundredth of a second behind him.
 
What about when a person takes a plane trip? If you are flying from the midwest, say St. Louis and going to New York and flying nonstop and the pilot decides to put the plane on autopilot, do you realize that if he makes an error on the flight path of just one degree, which is a small amount, very small, that you could end up in Philadelphia which is a distance of 100 miles from your intended destination.
 
These two simple illustrations make a point that a “Christian” has to monitor their position in their walk with Christ at all times in relation to their final destination. What happens if a person is headed for the wrong destination? Can a person think they are headed in the right direction be deceived? Can he lose his way? Or is the path he is following the right path at all. Is He really a Christian? We can learn a lot from the passage concerning the sheep and the goat judgment given by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 25. 
 
But first let us examine the life of God’s servant, Abraham. Abraham was looking for a city that was and has a builder not made with hands, but of God. (Hebrews 11:8-11) What would have happened, if Abraham had been wrong? Thank the Lord God he wasn’t wrong, because we follow in his footsteps as we are heirs to the covenant Abraham made with God, if we be His children. So we should know where we are going.
 
The point of all this, is that we should know where we are going and our final destination and that has everything to do with what we do in the here and now as men and women of free will. Although, God has a built in safety net, as we don’t rely on our works to save us, as we live by faith, not by works, lest any man should boast. Yet we don’t want to abuse God’s grace. We want to make every effort to be going in the right direction. If we have the right direction and destination, it makes all the difference in monitoring our spiritual condition, so that we arrive safely at our destination.
 
But what is our destination? For that we have to begin at the beginning, hopefully in an abbreviated version.
 
“God said, let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him: male and female, created He them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
 
Right from the get go, man is in an exalted position. He is greatest on the recently God created earth. He’s stronger than the animals, the birds, or anything in all creation. The strong implication here is the man was created after the “God Kind” in shape and in form. All through the Bible, you can find many, many scriptures that point to one future event when Jesus Christ returns and we are changed, both the dead and the living, back into what we sprang from….God!!
 
A second implication is found in this verse, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) What makes man different and unique in all of creation is that man has MIND, not instinct, as do the animals. He clearly has the ability to reason, to gather information and to make decisions. Nowhere in all of creation did God take such a personal involvement with His creation, as He did with creating man. God imparted to man a spirit, a power of mind and no other aspect of creation has this distinction.
 
As a result of man having a mind, ability to reason, possessing a spirit, man also has spirituality. He has personality. He is capable of holiness, of love, of dominion, and of responsibility. We are not born with these traits. A little baby does not possess these qualities at birth. They are developed and acquired, but they are not given.
 
The implication of this line of reasoning is made more evident in the following passage:
 
“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1) This chapter begins with our justification, which occurs when Jesus Christ comes into our hearts to change us into a new creature. Reading on:
 
“Through whom (by Jesus) also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulation knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:2-3)
 
Notice the process of growth in man. Tribulation, the sufferings of this present life, the trials, the pressures of being in an evil world, produces perseverance. Reading on:
 
“Perseverance, (produces) character; and character (produces) hope. Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.” (Romans 5:4-5) So it leaves one with the thought that this process is acquired and sets character in the mind. So from the beginning, when God breathed the breath of life into man, He gave him a spirit, he gave him a mind, and the power to gain characteristics such as love, dominion, and responsibility.
 
Let’s make a third implication. With the character that is developed will be due to man’s choice of who he wants to most like. The world gives choices of being conformed to this world and the lusts thereof. But for a true Christian, it is conforming to the mind and characteristics of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
All through the Old Testament there are scriptures that prove that man was made in the image of God, but beginning with the New Testament, the image of God makes a very decided shift. Jesus the second Adam, the man from Heaven, (as the Bible calls Him) or as John said “the eternal Word, is in the image of God in the flesh. Not mankind in general.
 
Now get this, for lack of a better word, Jesus was a prototype. A full, functioning form of a NEW type. This is what I mean by a shift in emphasis of what man is to become. Jesus was the first, the example of becoming the image of God. Jesus the prototype, the goal of our redemption, our salvation. The final goal of born again man.
 
“And have put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (meaning us, man). (Colossians 3:10)
 
This points to that man in not just in the image of God, or just a general picture of God, as man was formed to look like, but specifically to be formed into the image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He, Jesus, becomes the goal of the redeemed man, unto salvation.
 
Now putting on the characteristics of this evil world requires no special skill. Just blend in, do what is popular, or go along with the crowd, and you’ll take on the characteristics of this lost and dying world. It is virtually effortless. But to put on Christ requires diligence, work, prayer, communion with God, and power from His Holy Spirit. We can’t do it alone. Satan would have us for lunch.
 
As we are being brought to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are seen in the New Testament as the created work of God. It is stated in a number of different ways, as those in Christ are a new creation. “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)
 
God has a desire for the work of His hands. Scripture says that we are His workmanship; He is the potter, we are the clay. We are being renewed in the spirit of our mind. We are being created in Christ Jesus unto righteousness and true holiness. “Therefore leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go onto perfection: not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, but of faith toward God.’ (Hebrews 6:1)
 
The implication is that sanctification after being justified by the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a creative process of character building. A process which begins with repentance and being baptized, and ends with our glorification at His return for His saints at His second coming and beyond. It is a process of completion, a process of perfection. It is a process of being sanctified unto good works according to His commandment. It is a process of character building. Each of these are synonymous with each other.
 
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:10-11)
 
Moving down, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same: that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14) Therefore in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation (atonement) for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)
 
Now the key for you and me in this passage is the word “author” in verse 10. In the KJV, it is translated as “captain”. It’s the word “Achegos” from Greek. It is translated variously as captain, pioneer, trailblazer, or founder. The ultimate meaning of various translations of this one word is that something is begun by someone, so that others may enter into it. Christ is our “achegos”. He is the trailblazer, pioneer, founder, and captain of our ship.
 
Now let’s look at the exciting part. He was the trailblazer, the pioneer and the founder who began a work and blazed a trail that we might enter into His salvation. He set the pattern that we might enter in. He entered into a family once again that we might also enter that family by following Him. In this He was perfected. He was made complete by completing His work here on earth, that He could fulfill the role as our Savior and our High Priest. He was fully able to pioneer the road that leads to our salvation. Now the whole reason for all of this, why He became a man, taking on human traits, and fully sharing in our humanity was for Him to able to bring many sons and daughters into glory by following His trail.
 
Now taking all the scriptures that we just quoted, is not the implication here that since we are able to enter into which He began and share that with Him, that we are going to enter into the same kind of glory that He Himself also has? Praise God! Are you shouting yet?
 
Back to a key word in Hebrews 2:11. The word is “sanctified”. It’s the stage that all Christians are dealing with right now. You are familiar with the word justified? That’s when we accepted the Lord’s sacrifice and confessed our sins. The next step is sanctification leading to our ultimate goal of glorification. Sanctification bridges the gap between set right with God through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, and entering into glory to share all eternity with Jesus Christ, and God our Father. Sanctified means to be set apart or to become holy, as He is holy. To sum this part up, Jesus was the focus of our justification. We are living and enduring sanctification through life’s experiences. He is the author, the trailblazer, the pioneer, and the founder of our salvation. He has already passed this way and will lead us to glory. We are saved by the result of the work of our High Priest. We are saved by His life. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)
 
Now let’s turn to the crux of this lesson. Let’s discuss our final destination. Let’s discuss our glorification. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (I Corinthians 15:20) “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (I Corinthians 15:23) Let’s ask ourselves a question. What kind of fruits do peach trees bear? Or apples, or pears, or maybe plums? Apples don’t produce pears on their trees, or peaches bear plums. No, as it is so, Jesus is the first fruit and He will produce Sons and Daughters to glory after His Kind. The God kind. Another illustration. When a women is to give birth to her baby, she doesn’t give birth to a dog, cat, or anything else, but a human baby. Evolutionist will argue about this, but the fact is, no one that is human has given birth to anything but a human baby. It is exactly that same with us. When God, so to speak, impregnates us with His Holy Spirit and we are in the womb of the Heavenly Jerusalem, when we are glorified or raised from the dead at His coming we will be like He is, not something else. WE will be exactly what we have sprung from, and that was God.
 
God gives us natural illustration of this natural world to make His point clear so that we can understand what He is doing. He is reproducing Himself and we will be members of the God kind, the family of God. “But some men will say, How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Foolish ones (Paul chides) what you sow, is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, bet mere grain, perhaps wheat, or some other grain.”(I Corinthians 15:35-37) Think of the line of reasoning here. You put a dead seed into the ground and when it becomes a full plant producing its own kind, but with a very different body. And so it will be with our glorification, a body that has continuity with the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
 
 “But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” (I Corinthians 15:38-44)
 
The principle here that God has given each of us a body suitable for it’s part in His creation. It is only logical that God will give us suitable body for our resurrection life as Sons and Daughters of God. It will be glorified. It will be like God our Father’s and like our redeemer, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
 
Finally, from the scriptures we will be like Christ in every detail that relates to character, composition, and family. As to personality, He will be Himself, our Lord, King and Savior. He is our creator, by John 1:1-3. He will always have preeminence over us because of the His character and being our King and Lord. But we will have ours! Even as He is God, so will we be part of the God family. The God Kind. That just blows my mind and should yours. 
 
Final scripture in closing: “ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God., which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2) If no one has a spiritual goal then they will be conformed to this lost and dying world. It is all around us and we can absorb it like a sponge. The only right goal is be fully encourage the right preparation. Being not conformed to this world, but being conformed to Jesus Christ and consciously, consciously choosing to be like Him!
 
When we were born, we didn’t have a choice of who our parents were, our surroundings, or our inherited traits. We were a slave born into bondage to Satan the devil. But when God intervened and His Holy Spirit called each one of us to repentance, then God began to reveal Himself to us. He freed us from that bondage to Satan, so that we could consciously choose to be transformed into the image of His Son and we leave this world and its pleasures behind.
 
If you’re reading this and have a background within the greater Church of God, then what I’ve written will be well known by you, but the reason for this study and the person I’m reaching out to, is the person with the clean slate concerning their relationship with Jesus Christ and God our Father. Meaning they’ve had none and are searching. Maybe you’re that person now reading this article and the Holy Spirit is using these words to put a need, a hunger, a conviction about the way your life has been up to this point. Do you feel like you’re on a dead end road? Does life seem to be without joy or purpose. What I’m going to do is ask you to answer some simple questions right now, in your heart and be honest with yourself.
 
Have you left the pleasures of this world and made a commitment to Christ? Are you looking for that blessed Hope that will soon be returning. Is your life full of disappointment and pain? Call upon the name of Jesus. Believe what the Bible says, that Jesus died for your sins, my sins, the sins of this entire world. He was nailed to a cruel wooden instrument of Roman death, He was buried for three days and nights, and rose on the third day, which was the sign of Him being the Messiah. He sits now at the right hand of the Father making intercession for you and for me during our prayers. And He’s coming again….soon. His Holy Spirit will guide you into a deeper, more satisfying relationship with the King of the Universe, than you ever received from an empty relationship with the god of this world, Satan the devil. Do it now, while it is still available. Repeat this simple prayer right now believing in your heart and a contrite spirit.
 
Jesus, I call upon you, and ask that you free me of this world and it’s evil. I ask you to come into my heart. Forgive me of the sins I have committed. Make me a new creature to be conformed to your image. I believe that you died and rose again for the salvation of the world, and for me. I confess my sins and believe in the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is sitting at your right hand on your throne. I believe He is coming back soon, and I want to make a commitment to purify myself, just a He is pure. Amen.
 
“Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure.” (1John 3:3)
 
If you made that prayer honestly, earnestly, then believe now that Christ came into your heart. Let each one of us purify him/her self so that we may be glorified to be sons and daughters of God within His God Family. For we shall be as God is.
 

Two Roads, Two Gates, One Goal

Two Roads, Two Gates, One Goal – This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley – www.gracethrufaith.com
 
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14)
 
This passage is often quoted in reference to the different roads traveled by unbelievers as opposed to believers. Unbelievers are said to be on a broad road with many fellow travelers, all on the way to their destruction. Believers on the other hand are a small segment of humanity and are on a narrow road to salvation. This difference is further defined by some as pertaining to our behavior. The unbeliever’s gate is wide and his road is broad, supposedly indicating that there’s room for all kinds of sinful behavior, while for the believer it’s a small gate and a narrow road suggesting that there’s very little latitude for misbehaving. A careless step or two and you may find yourself being rerouted onto the broad road.
 
If you look at these 2 verses alone it’s easy to understand why so many see them this way. But in the context of the chapter a different picture emerges.
 
In Matthew 7 the people in focus all claim to be believers, and the emphasis is on their fruit. The Lord began by admonishing us against judging others,
 
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2)
 
Verses 3-5 have to do with judgment within the community of believers.
 
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
 
We’re all sinners and hypocrites who have a tendency to pounce all over even the “minor” sins of others while ignoring our own massive list of transgressions. Why is it that those who test the Lord’s patience to the max are often the most acrimonious in their accusations of others?
 
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? (Romans 2:1-3)
 
Intolerant, judgmental believers are convinced they’re defending the faith and that they’ll receive the commendation due them from the Lord. But these verses indicate quite the opposite.
 
As much as we ignore the warnings in verses 3-5, our disregard for verse 6 is even more glaring. It has to do with our attitude toward unbelievers.
 
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
 
Expecting the unbelieving world to conform to our moral standards is ridiculous. And yet to the world the church is known primarily for its holier-than-thou hypocrisy in doing just that. Like the Pharisees of old we demand that others live up to behavioral standards we ourselves don’t keep. For example studies show that our divorce and abortion rates are no different from theirs. And it’s a known fact that we indulge in more than our share of adultery, theft, gluttony, avarice, greed, and so on, as well.
 
It’s like we have forgotten all about the Lord’s advice that the best way to convert the world is for the Church to become what it was meant to be, an agent of His love (John 13:34-35). Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Romans 2:4) It’s God’s kindness and mercy that bring people to Him, not threats of condemnation.
 
Some think it’s persecution when unbelievers pass laws that contradict our beliefs and restrict our freedoms while promoting the freedom of others. But maybe it’s just them turning on us for the way we’ve pushed our beliefs on them, like the Lord said they would.
 
In Matt. 7:7-12 the way to salvation is explained to us. It’s summarized in verse 8. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. If you ask for it, you’ll receive it. It’s this message of hope that’s needed for our time, not judgment and condemnation.
 
I don’t think it’s an accident that in verse 10 the Lord asked, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” The comparison of bread with a stone takes us back to the Wilderness Temptation when Satan challenged Him to turn stones into bread. He replied, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4) God’s Word is life, and Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35). Stones are dead. If we ask for life will the Lord give us death instead?
 
But the comparison of a fish to a serpent symbolizes the central thought of the entire chapter.   The fish stands for Jesus and became the symbol of His followers. The serpent stands for Satan. Jesus called the leaders of His day’s organized religion children of the devil (John 8:44), who with their insistence on a mindless obedience to their laws (Isaiah 29:13) rather than faith in a coming Redeemer, made their converts twice the sons of hell as they were (Matt. 23:15). They had turned God’s love into a tool of the devil, and sadly there are many in the church still doing the same thing today.
 
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.(Matt 7:12) The phrase Law and Prophets was a Jewish idiom for their Scriptures, the Old Testament. While we think of the Golden Rule as a New Testament idea, Jesus said it summarized the Old Testament as well. If you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge. If you don’t want to be condemned, don’t condemn. If you want mercy, be merciful. If you want to be forgiven, forgive. If you want to receive, give. (Luke 6:36-38)
 
There’s a reason why verses 13-14 are in the middle of the chapter and not the beginning or the end. Up till now we’ve been looking at misdirected believers who think they’re defending the faith but instead will find themselves defending fruitless lives at judgment time. Now we’ll see examples of those who claim to be in the Church, but will actually be left behind when the Rapture comes.
 
Matt. 7:15-23 warns us against following false prophets, saying, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt. 7:22-23)
 
Appearing to perform miracles in the Lord’s name does not make someone His follower, so we shouldn’t blindly accept them as such, but should inspect their doctrine. Remember Satan will appear to perform miracles and will deceive many. (2 Thes. 2:9-10) Only those who do His father’s will can claim the Son, regardless of what else they say or do. And what is the father’s will? Here’s the Lord’s answer.   “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)
 
Nowhere is the Father’s will as it regards our salvation stated more clearly.   Anyone who adds any requirement or qualification to this declaration (or takes anything from it) is a false prophet even if they perform miracles in the Lord’s name.
 
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
 
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt. 7:24-27)
 
Here is the Lord’s summary statement complete with one final comparison, this one aimed at the liberals. In Matt. 16: 16-18 Jesus called Peter’s confession that He was the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God, the rock on which He would build the Church. Paul wrote that the rock Moses struck to provide water for the Israelites represented Christ. For they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (1 Cor. 10:4)   From ancient times, the priest would call God’s people to worship saying, “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1) And today we sing, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
 
A doctrine of salvation that’s built upon anything other than the personal relationship with Jesus that comes from being born again rests precariously on sinking sand. (John 3:3) He alone is the foundation of our faith, and unless our salvation is built exclusively upon this Rock, it will be of no avail to us when we stand before Him on that Day.
 
From the context of the chapter, we can see that the Lord’s topic was salvation. We don’t deserve ours so we shouldn’t judge others when it looks to us like they don’t deserve theirs. We have no right to think of ourselves as being better than unbelievers, so we shouldn’t try to impose our values on them.    We received our salvation simply because we asked for it in faith. There was no merit or worthiness involved, nothing to commend us. But we should be very wary of those who would propose alternatives to salvation by grace through faith alone, whether by adding to or subtracting from it, even if they perform miracles.
 
Now let’s go back to verses 13-14.   Each of the two roads is thought by its travelers to be the way to salvation. But the name engraved above the wide gate is Works and multitudes who call themselves Christians are striving to get there. They run the gamut from extreme legalism to extreme liberalism, but have in common a belief that it’s their behavior that saves them.
 
The legalist proudly proclaims, “Jesus may have begun my salvation, but I finished it. I have kept the commandments and no longer sin. I have earned the right to call others to account for their behavior. How else will they learn?”
 
The false prophet says, “I’m a miracle worker, just like the Lord was. Who can doubt that I’m His.”
 
The artificially modest liberal says “I’m a good person and I’ve tried to live a good life. There are many roads to salvation and as long as we’re sincere in what we believe, the Lord will understand and accept us.”
 
None of them realizes the road he’s on leads to destruction.
 
But at the end of the narrow road stands a small gate on which the word Faith is inscribed. As we come alongside the few travelers on this road we can hear them softly singing,
 
“Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
 
This is the road to Life.
 
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Selah.

Where will you spend eternity

When the time comes and you die and your eternal destiny is sealed forever, where will you spend that eternity?

According to God’s Word and our Lord Jesus Christ, only those who have received Christ can go to heave. That sounds so narrow and bigoted, but the Scripture says there is no name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved [Acts 4:12]. Jesus put it this way. ‘I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me’ [John 14:6].

Now that is the most presumptuous, arrogant statement anyone could ever make—unless it’s true. He is God. Of all the religious leaders of the centuries, there is no one with His credentials. Not only did He live the most holy life ever lived, teach as no man has ever taught, perform miracles such as no one has ever performed, but He died on the cross for our sins in fulfillment of what the prophets of the Old Testament said. Then, miracle of miracles of miracles, on the third day He was raised from the dead and now is available to live within every believer. We invite Him to come into our lives by faith, and when we do, the miracle of new birth takes place.

Please don’t put off making that choice. If you believe, take action on that belief.

"You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Are you concerned about your salvation? If you died today, are you sure you would go to heaven? If you are not sure, consider these questions: Do you believe God sent His Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world? Do you believe Jesus died on a cross, was buried and rose again on the third day? If so, pray this prayer:

Heavenly Father, I need You! I believe You sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world. I receive Him as my Savior and Lord. Come into my life; forgive me of all my sins. Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me and for rising on the third day. As you gave Your life for me, I now give my life to You. Thank you for becoming my Lord and Savior and show me how to live for You. Amen.

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