30 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 4a

Today we will begin a section on past, present, and future salvation.  But don’t be confused by these terms.  If you have, by faith, accepted Christ as your Savior, then you are saved.  These are just technical terms for the process of that salvation you’ve received.  All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture is mine.

D. Past, Present, & Future Salvation

1). Past Salvation=Justification–To justify is to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable (or righteous).  Justification is the act, process, or state of being justified by God; shown to be not guilty.  It is a divine act of God, based on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where a sinner is pronounced righteous, forgiven.  Justification involves two concepts: forgiveness of sins, and the gift of righteousness.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Only God can do this.  “And those whom he called he also justified …” (Rom. 8:30).  It is at this point where you are saved from damnation and have acquired eternal life!

2). Present Salvation=Sanctification–Sanctification has three parts too, and these are past, present, and future.

Past Sanctification is closely related to justification.  If you have been justified, then you have been sanctified.  “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).  Those who have received the Holy Spirit through faith have been declared holy by God.  To be holy means 1) that we are cleansed from all sin, and 2) that we are set apart to a sacred purpose, consecrated to the service of God.  We’re marked as holy, and are required to be morally “holy” (Lev. 11:44).  We are separated from sin and impurity, and dedicated to God’s will and use.  “Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.  21Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Tim 2:20,21).  We are able to do this and live the righteous life that God requires because of Christ’s saving action (John 17:19).  He did God’s will so that we could too.  “And by that will [God’s will of Jesus’ death] we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).  According to Heb. 10:14, we are “made perfect forever” by Christ’s sacrifice.  The author means “perfect” in regard to God’s will for our holiness, or the restoration of our lost holiness, rather than “perfect” as in a sinless life.

Present Sanctification refers to a current state of growing in divine grace, growing and continuing in holiness.  We’ve given ourselves completely to God and we will, if we are truly saved, continue to walk in a holy way.  “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).  “[L]et us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).  Here are a couple of questions we as Christians, and those who profess to be Christians, must ask of ourselves.  Are we letting God have His way with us?  Do you think we are?  Can people see God in our lives more and more each day?  In Philippians 3:10–12, Paul speaks of not having yet obtained (human) perfection, but that we are to continually strive for it, letting Christ be our example as we are commanded.  To perfect holiness is to be one with Christ, and to walk with Him daily.

Future Sanctification is where we are made perfect, and it takes place in two stages, the first being at death: “But you have come … to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:22,23).  The “assembly of the firstborn” refers to believers in general who make up the church.  They’re “spirits” because they are waiting for the resurrection of their bodies; righteous means they were declared righteous/holy by God.  Examples are Noah and Abraham––they were made perfect when they died, as all Christians will be.  The second stage is at resurrection: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed … .  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51,52).  “[W]hen [Christ] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b).  The italicized words indicate that we will finally be made truly perfect!

Sanctification is where we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, transformed to be like Christ, completed at death––it is a work of God’s grace combined with human responsibility.

Next time we will discuss “future salvation”!  I pray you have a wonderfully blessed day.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

28 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 3d, Condition 6

Good morning, Everyone! (It’s morning for me anyway).  Today we’ll discuss the 6th and last condition for salvation.  Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask a question!  All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture is mine.

C. How do you get Salvation?  What are the conditions?

6). Regeneration (new birth, a birth from above, a birth of the Spirit, being born again…however you want to say it).  I will refer to it as New Birth.  New Birth should occur following a person’s conversion (and it will, if that person is sincere).  New Birth is caused by a gracious and sovereign act of God, apart from man’s cooperation, in which the believer is spiritually awakened through the power of the Holy Spirit.  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13).  “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again…” (1 Pet. 1:3b).  God gives us membership into His family; with it, you now have openness and a relationship with God that you couldn’t get from your human, natural birth.  New Birth is the beginning step of an eternal walk with God; it allows you to have a relationship with God.  New Birth is absolutely essential to be a part of the kingdom of God––“Jesus answered [Nicodemus], ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3).

New Birth is described as a resurrection experience where new life is given to something dead.  “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:1,4-5).  “…he saved us…according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).  God gives us New Birth to save us from His wrath.

Ezekiel 18:31 says, “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!”  This verse has New Testament, or “new covenant,” terminology.  Yes, it is prior to Christ’s atoning sacrifice, but the point is that the person is responsible (in part) for repentance, and God is the one who will bring about the change.  What God requires, He provides…He requires a new heart and spirit, and He gives it, as long as the person is accepting.

New Birth signifies an entrance into a new life.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).  We become new, so we will not have the same mind set or desires.  We will elaborate on what it means to have New Birth, or to be born again, in a later post.

All of the conditions we have discussed are indeed necessary for salvation.  But we can never forget the one real and only reason and condition for salvation, the 4th reason in this study––Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  Without Christ’s willing sacrifice, not one of the other conditions would matter at all.  The only reason you are saved from an eternal life of facing God’s wrath in hell is because Christ died and His blood was shed!  Don’t ignore this gracious offer of salvation. 

Next time we’ll begin a section on past, present, and future salvation. 

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

26 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 3c, Condition 5

Today we will be discussing the 5th condition for salvation.  The last post was a little long, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  This one is a bit shorter for you ;-).  All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

C. How do you get Salvation? What are the conditions?: 

5). Conviction, Repentance, & Faith.  This is where “our choice” comes in.  We have nothing to do with the first four conditions of salvation, but with these three things we have some say.  Conviction is a work of the Holy Spirit, often through other people such as pastors or Christians sharing the gospel, but we have a choice as to how we react to that conviction.  The Holy Spirit stirs us, makes us realize our sinful nature and our severed relationship with God; it gives us a sense of guilt and shame, and it doesn’t just affect the mind, but the whole person.  Conviction is basically an eye opener for us.  It shows us how we are separated from God by sin and how we can correct it.  Conviction brings faith and leads to repentance.  We can ignore the conviction, or we can continue this salvation process on to repentance.

Upon conviction comes repentance.  Although we determine whether or not to repent, our repentance is initiated by God through His grace.  Webster’s gives a few good and quite biblical definitions of repentance: 1) to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.  2a) to feel regret or contrition (grief for sin).  2b) to change one’s mind.  “Dedicate” in the first definition means “to devote to the worship of God; to set apart to sacred uses, to commit to a way of life” (Webster’s).  “Amend” means “to change for the better, to put right.”  Not only is repentance committing to a different way of life, but committing to a better, right way of life…one in fellowship and obedience to God.  With repentance, you must, realizing your complete unworthiness, turn from self to God, and turn away from sin; it is like making a U–turn.  “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” (Acts 3:19 NIV).  Repentance is more than just feeling sorry for our sins.  First, it has to be a godly sorrow.  “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).  “…they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20).  You are not saved through works, but your works are a sign of the reality of sincere repentance.  Again, it is analogous to making a U–turn.  It is also called conversion, a definite and decisive action; you’re either converted or you’re not.  It is the start of our salvation.  As you turn to God, you must do so through Jesus Christ; you must believe in Jesus and place your faith in Him.  True repentance is always accompanied by faith.  It is impossible to have a saving faith and not sincere repentance, and vice versa.

Faith is a loyalty and a commitment to Christ; a confidence and trust in Christ over your life that is not substantiated by proof.  It is not a matter of the mind, but of the heart.  You must have faith to be saved.  “And without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).  And Acts 20:21 tells us that “they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”  “For by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Eph. 2:8a).  Faith is not simply believing facts about Jesus, for even Satan and his demons believe (James 2:19), rather, it’s putting your trust in Him and following in obedience to Him.

In who or what is your faith?  I pray that you put it in Christ Jesus.  Have a great day!  Please continue to pray for our friends.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

(FYI, I don’t use the word “whom,” I think it sounds rather dumb, haughty, & archaic :).

24 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 3b, Conditions for salvation cont’d

Hi everyone!!  I pray your day is just great so far.  Today we will be discussing the fourth condition for salvation.  It’s a great one, so open your hearts and minds.  All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

4. The Lamb of God – Jesus Christ: None of the first 3 conditions would matter without this one.  John tells us, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV).  Why is Christ called a Lamb?  On the 10th day of the 7th month, the Israelites celebrated the Day of Atonement in which lambs were sacrificed to atone for the sins of the priests and people.  The Israelites celebrated Passover on the 14th day of the 1st month to commemorate the final plague on Egypt where the Israelites smeared blood on their doorposts so their firstborn sons would be spared.  The animal to be killed for this blood was a lamb.  A perfect lamb.  “…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things…, 19but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).  The sacrifices of those Old Testament lambs were foreshadowers or representations of Christ, who was the ultimate and only effective sacrifice.  1 Cor. 5:7 says, “For Christ our Passover [lamb] also has been sacrificed.”

God cannot tolerate sin; the pureness of God’s eyes can’t look on sin with favor; God’s holiness, as we know, requires punishment for human sin.  So out of great love for us, He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to make substitutionary (not a real word :-) atonement for our sin–for believers’ sin.  He was a substitute for US!  Because the wages of sin is death, a ransom price had to be paid to God, and Christ’s blood was that price.  He died so we didn’t have to suffer God’s wrath and die for our own sins.  “He is the propitiation for our sins…” (1 John 2:2).  To propitiate means to mollify or reconcile with somebody or something.  That somebody was God, and Christ was the atoning sacrifice, the propitiation.  A fuller meaning of the original Greek in this verse (1 John 2:2) is this: “He is the one who turns aside God’s wrath, taking away our sins.”  Unless, of course, we reject Him, then we ourselves take on the full wrath of God in hell.  But if we accept Him into our hearts as our Savior, then God’s wrath is directed to Jesus instead of us, He saves us.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).  This passage sums up Jesus’ purpose––the cross––to bring salvation or eternal life, and the kingdom of God.  Through the cross, Jesus made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back to a right relationship with God, the intended relationship.  In John 17:19 Jesus prays for us, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (NASB).  Jesus set Himself apart to do God’s will, which was to die on the cross–to not only save us, but also to consecrate or devote us to God’s service.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).  Jesus loves us so much that he went to the Cross and suffered unimaginable pain so that you and I didn’t have to, He took our place.  There is nothing that we need more today in this world than to “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  We sometimes forget that Jesus died for our sin, that he suffered unutterable agony and anguish for us.  We need to behold, to focus our attention on, to love, adore and obediently serve Him who took the place of each and every Christian on the cross.

Although necessary, Christ’s death isn’t the only basis for our faith.  It’s His resurrection that sealed the deal.  He was crucified and indeed dead, buried, and in three days rose again. Luke 24:5-6 says, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  6He is not here; he has risen!” (NIV).  That empty tomb tells us at least four things: 1) Jesus really is the Son of God; He really was a man, but He also is God…God the Son came to earth as a babe, giving up, not His deity, but His glory; He was the God-man and everything He had said and done prior to His death now made sense.  2) It tells us that Christ’s death on the cross really did make atonement for our sins.  We can know that the death of Jesus Christ took care of the sin that separates our souls from God because of His resurrection.  Christ’s holy blood was the only blood that could bridge that gap between God and man and forgive sins.  Yes, many people were crucified, but only one rose again…He fulfilled what was prophesied in Scripture.  3) It tells us that we are promised a victory over death and the grave.  Jesus tells us in John 11:25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  By His resurrection, we are assured the reality of immorality; eternal life is real, whether or not you believe.  4) It tells me that I serve a living Lord.  That should give a new intensity to our worship, for we come together, not in memory of a dead Christ, but in fellowship with a living Lord!

For salvation, it is necessary to know and believe that Jesus is the only way.  The man who is God who suffered and died for us is the only one who can give us salvation and provide us a relationship with God.  Jesus said, “…I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  Luke writes in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation and to God; He represents God to humans and humans to God; He bridged that gap between God and humans by offering Himself.

I thank my heavenly Father so much for His giving of His Son.  Thank you Lord Jesus for your sacrifice for me in obedience to your Father.  I pray you all have a wonderfully blessed day. 

I have a couple prayer requests for you all: 1) A good friend’s son committed suicide Wednesday morning.  My friend’s name is Joe, please pray for him.  2) My mom’s friend, Dan, quite possibly has kidney cancer…that’s on top of the already diagnosed leukemia.  3) My husband’s dad, Harry, had surgery July 1st and still has much pain.  Thank you all for your prayers.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

22 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 3a

The past few posts have discussed “Why would you want salvation?”  Today we will begin the next part in the study.  All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless otherwise indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.  There are 6 conditions that we will discuss in this study.  Today we will go over conditions 1, 2, & 3.

C. How do you get Salvation? What are the conditions?:

1). God’s Love: Of course, most will know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV).  But we cannot overlook 1 John 4:8b–10 which reads, “…God is love.  (9)In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  (10)In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  And Romans 5:8, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Because God loves us so much, and because our sin needed a punishment, God sent His son for us, to suffer and die.  It was the only way.

2). God’s Grace & Mercy: We hear a lot about grace a mercy, but do we really know what they are as they pertain to God?  Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.  We don’t deserve grace, but God freely gives it.  Ephesians 2:8 helps to define grace, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God….”  “…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” (Rom. 3:24 NASB).  Mercy: compassion shown to an offender; a blessing.  Mercy is given to us when we deserve it the least.  “…He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…” (Titus 3:5 NASB).  “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet.1:3b).  Even though we were sinners and enemies of God, God gave us a redeemer.

3). God’s Calling: All Christians are first called by God. No one can come to God without His first calling them.  “[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling…” (2 Tim. 1:9).  “…just as you were called to one hope when you were called…” (Eph. 4:4 NIV).  God will call everyone at some point in their lives, for God wants all to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9).  God calls us by the sovereign Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin.  It is our choice as to what we do with this calling and conviction. Some people have hardened their hearts against God so much that they don’t want to hear the calling, and therefore will not.  Those whose hearts are receptive can say either “Here am I,” or they can say “No.”  God will never force us to follow Him.  But one thing is certain, we must be called.  Attempting to acquire “fire insurance” so as to not go to hell does not work, called or not.  The reason is the heart.  God looks at and knows the heart of man, “for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought…” (1 Chr. 28:9b).  If we take His calling and act on it with a sincere heart, He will save us, for “He who calls you is faithful…” (1 Thes. 5:24a).  What will you do with His calling?

There is so much more we could say about God’s great love, grace, and mercy!  Please post any comments or questions you may have.  Next time, we will discuss the third condition of salvation.  Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

20 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 2d

Today we will cover reason 7, the final reason in this study, for wanting salvation.  All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless otherwise indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

B. How do you get salvation?

g). For eternal life: What is eternal life?  Holman Bible Dictionary defines it as “Life at its best, having infinite duration characterized by abiding fellowship with God.”  Although this is correct, it’s not complete.

Eternal life is both a present and a future experience:

Present Eternal Life – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” (John 3:36).  “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).  Note the words in italics…“has” and “is.”  Eternal life is a life in living fellowship with God–both now and forever.

Future Eternal Life – A man asks Jesus, “…Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18).  The rich man views eternal life as a future inheritance, as he should.  For Jesus responds in v. 22 with things he must do, and upon doing these things, “you will have treasure in heaven.”  “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25), and “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8).  Fellowship in life eternal means fellowship with the triune God.

Eternal life refers to two aspects of life: Duration and Quality.  Duration is of course an unending life or a life to be entered into in the future.

In terms of quality, there are at least four characteristics of eternal life in the here and now:

i. Eternal life is a life given and conveyed (accompanied, lead) by God.  Jesus says, “I give them eternal life…” (John 10:28).  Eternal life is given to us, it is not earned.  As a Christian, your life should be lead by God.  Eternal life at the present is a life of walking with God, and God provides you the means.  “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:8).  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ ” (2 Cor. 12:9a).  Philippians 2:13 says, “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  God works in Christians through the Holy Spirit, He provides the will to obey, and then He helps them do the things that please Him.  He accompanies them through life.

ii. Eternal life is a transformation and renewal of life.  “…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Rom. 12:2).  This has to do with your thoughts and will in regards to morality.  Meaning, if you are truly a born again, Spirit–filled Christian, you will want to do what is right.  If this is not the case, then something is wrong.

iii. Eternal life is a life fully opened to God and centered on Him.  “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).  “Spiritual worship” is not just a ritual activity, as it was with Cain, but an involvement of heart, mind, and will.  “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Rom. 6:13).  “Present” here means to put yourself in the service of, or become a slave to.  It may also echo the language of sacrifice…be a living sacrifice as Romans 12:1 states.

iv. Eternal life is a life no longer living in sin; it’s a constant overcoming of sin.  “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning…” (1 John 5:18).  This by no means refers to sinless perfection, for that is impossible, but it does mean that you should no longer live a life characterized by sin.  If there is no change in you, whether it be in your heart or mind, or you’re living the same life you lived prior to “being saved,” then you are not saved.

This was the last reason, in this study, to want salvation.  To sum up what we’ve covered––there are 3 ideas involved with salvation, the 3 Rs: Rescue, Renewal, and Restoration.  Rescue from sin and death; Renewal of your spirit to lead a morally pleasing life; and Restoration of a relationship with God.

Next time we will continue with our salvation study with “How do you get salvation?  What are the conditions?”  Don’t miss it!  God bless!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ


18 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 2c

*All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless otherwise noted.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

Today we will be going over reason 6 of 7 for wanting salvation.

B. Why would you want Salvation?:

6). For the unending feelings of Joy, Hope, and Peace: Joy–Webster’s does not define “joy” in a manner equal to the joy or source of joy that Christians should experience. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matt. 13:44).  Jesus Christ is the treasure, and this man found it, realized its worth, and sold everything he had to get it.  All of his belongings cannot measure up to the worth of the kingdom of heaven.  When you’ve recognized it, you will be joyful, and you will want it.

In John 15:11, Jesus tells the disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  He had just finished explaining to them about the vine and the branches, that He will remain in them, whatever they ask will be given, and that He loves them and wants them to remain in His love by obeying His commands.  Jesus’ joy came from His obedience to God the Father—“…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2), and we can have that joy if we have the Holy Spirit and live in obedience to God.

Joy and happiness cannot be confused!  Happiness is due to external circumstances: financially secure, new baby, promotion, etc.  When things are going well, we’re happy, but as soon as circumstances change, our happiness disappears to become misery.  Joy is internal.  Joy comes from the Lord. “…[the jailer] was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God…” (Acts 16:34b).  Only Christians can truly experience joy, and we can have joy at all times.  Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to “rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”  This means we are to have joy no matter the circumstances, even when suffering.  Not because of them, but in them.  And we are able to do so because our joy comes from knowing God and having a relationship with Jesus Christ.  However, we can allow misery to push aside the joy.  We as Christians must always remember to look toward Jesus all the time, and especially when experiencing hard times.  By doing this, we can be content in all situations, as we should, since God is faithful and we receive our strength from Him, as well as our joy! And also, what better witness is it to show peace and contentment when going through difficult times?

Hope-a firm conviction, like faith, that is directed toward the future; a confidence that the purpose of our creation will be realized, which is the glory we had before the fall.  “…we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2).  1 Peter 1:3 says, “…he has caused us to be born again to a living hope…,” and verse 13, “…set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Hope as we know it is not as the world knows it.  The world may hope for a new car, better job, winning the lottery...things that are not definite.  But Christians’ hope is in something known.

Peace–complete security and well being; and inner tranquility based on peace with God.  “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).  Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you,” (John 14:27).  This peace He’s speaking of is an inner rest of the spirit, a true and tangible peace, whereas the world gives either a false sense of peace that is based on external circumstances, or simply a wish for peace.  And also, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peaceIn the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  Contrast “in me” with “in the world,” and “peace” with “tribulation.”  Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  The “peace of God is the peaceful state of those whose sins are forgiven; it is the opposite of anxiety, the tranquility you get when you give all your cares to God through prayer and stop worrying about them.  Don’t misunderstand the phrase “which surpasses all understanding.”  God’s love and care for us is not unknowable, it’s just so great that it cannot be completely known.

This next verse encompasses all we’ve discussed today:

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

The next post will be reason number 7, the last reason, in this study, for wanting salvation!  After that, we can go on to “How do you get salvation?”  I pray you have a wonderfully blessed day!  I am off to worship God with fellow Christians, I love it!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

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16 July 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 2b

Hi everyone! I hope your day is going well so far. 

*All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless otherwise noted.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

Today we will be going over reasons 3-5 of 7 for wanting salvation.

B. Why would you want Salvation?:

3). It is a gift, it’s absolutely free if only we accept it: Acts 5:31—“God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior that He might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”  In Acts 11:17, Peter says "God gave [the Gentiles] the same gift as he gave [the Jews].”  God gave the gift.  Going again to Romans 6:23 –“For the wages of sin is death,” like we mentioned before, but the rest of the verse states, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”  This verse portrays two types of servitude, or slavery, in which the person doesn't have the freedom to determine his own course of action: The first type earns you death, that’s your wage; the other is not earned and cannot be earned, it is a gift, it’s free for us, although it cost God everything.  The first type earns you an eternal life in hell, in the presence of God’s wrath; the other is a gift of eternity in heaven, in the presence of God.

4). The Bible tells us to: Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:17b, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near,” and in Mark 1:15b, “…the kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”  Peter tells us in Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.…”  I’m so glad that my heart is right to allow me to desire to do what God’s word says.

5). For Truth: One thing that I hate is lying (yes, I can hate it…God does).  I’m so sick of dealing with a world of lies or possibility of lies, or even a promise of no lies!  Not only from those in my house, but those all over the world, everywhere and anywhere, in any position, including the president.  I want the truth—the absolute truth and I realize I will never get it from man.  It can only be found with God. 

So what is truth?  Even Pontius Pilate wondered that, and the answer was right in front of him! (Luke 18:38).  Jesus is the truth: “…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  God’s word is the truth. Jesus is praying for his disciples in John 17:17, and he says to his Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” God’s word can be found in written form in the Bible, and it is reliable, for “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16a NIV).  God had an active involvement in the writing of Scripture. What Scripture says is what God said; but humans weren’t just recorders, they also actively spoke and wrote in their own styles, but what they said came from God. 

In John 8:31b-32, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth sets us free from the curse of sin—the punishment that we will surely receive if we never accept Christ—spiritual death, eternity in hell.  Those who haven’t accepted Christ as their Savior cannot really know truth, they simply reject it. Only Christians can understand and gratefully accept truth, for we are brought forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18a).

Next time we will be going over reason 6 for wanting salvation.  Reason 7 is pretty long, so that will be by itself.  Have a wonderfully blessed day, given to us by the Lord our Savior!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

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14 July 2010

"Salvation: There's More to it Than You Think" Part 2a

*All Scripture is taken from the ESV Bible unless otherwise noted.  All italics are mine.

This next section of our study, “Why would you want salvation,” is much longer, and will therefore be divided into subsections.  It is comprised of 7 subsections, and today we will cover 2 of those.  So let’s begin!

B. Why would you want Salvation?:

1). To have a relationship with God: We are separated from God by our sinful nature. Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Well, what does that mean? God created us in his image, in his likeness—let us not think this means we resemble or look like God physically, but rather that he created us having the capability to know him, to respond to him, and to have immediate fellowship with him—we were made to walk with God! Adam did. Unlike any other one of God’s creatures, we were made with a rational, moral, and spiritual nature in order to walk and talk with God and come to resemble him. What a life! Genesis 1 tells me that humans had it all.

But Genesis 3 tells a different story. Because of the selfishness and “disobedience of one man, all were made sinners” (Rom. 6:19). God is holy, everything he does, his laws, his decrees, everything. Do you think God, being holy, could spend eternity with anyone who isn’t the same? Absolutely not. God is loving, but he’s also just. He hates sin, and his holiness requires a punishment for it. Sin makes us enemies of God.

The Bible tells us that “…in Adam, all die,” for “sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and death entered through sin, and in this way, death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Physical death is a punishment for sin, as is spiritual death, or the second death, which is ultimate, eternal separation from God. “For if you live by the sinful nature, you will die” (Rom. 8:13), referring to spiritual death. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23), again, spiritual death. “Wages” implies an earning—the second death is earned, as a paycheck is earned in a job. That’s one wage I don’t want.

2). God wants us to: 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Peter 3:9 states, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” While humans stew impatiently for the destruction of the heavens and earth and the judgment of destruction of ungodly people (v7), God, who stands above time (time is purely relative with God) waits patiently so that many can be saved—He’s a long-suffering God. 1 John 4:9,14 says “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. …And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world” (NKJV). Note the last four words: “Savior of the world”— he died for all, that we might live, meaning we won’t die the second death.  Instead, we will spend eternity with God!  Although not all will, for not all will accept his sacrifice.  I thank God I did.

Next time we will go over 2 more reasons you would want salvation!  This is some good stuff, I love it, and I hope you do too.  Have a blessed day!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

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12 July 2010

"Salvation: There's More to it Than You Think" Part 1

*All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless otherwise noted.  This is not an exhaustive study on salvation.*

For Christians, followers of Christ who have given their hearts and lives to him, salvation is considered to be an elementary teaching according to Hebrews, and that it is milk for infants (6:1-2).

So why is it a topic? 1) Sometimes it is important, if not necessary to go back to the basics of our faith, to remind us. After all, is it not the reason we do what we do and live how we live? 2) We Christians are to be witnesses to Christ. Although it is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit that draws a person to salvation, we must be prepared to answer questions that come our way.  How are we to do that if we can’t tell them, or answer questions about, salvation adequately? 3) There is a lot involved in salvation, and knowing what’s involved and what it means to have it will help us be, or guide us in becoming, better disciples of Christ.

A. What is Salvation?:

a). It is a process (now don’t go acting all crazy on me, I’ll explain how it is indeed a process later in the series). It’s a process where God redeems us. “Redeem” means “to free from the consequences of sin.” So, salvation is…

b). It is deliverance from the power and effects of sin. We are saved from God’s wrath, for his holiness requires a punishment for sin.

c). It is available to everyone: Titus 2:11-“For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people” (italics mine).

d). It is eternal: Hebrews 5:9-“And being made perfect, [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation…” (italics mine).

e). It is past, present, & future-->Justification, Sanctification, Glorification. This will be discussed thoroughly later.

End Part 1_________________________________________________

Salvation is really so much more than what was just stated.  Salvation is a wonderful gift from God, given because of his love for us.  The only way we could ever have salvation is through the death and resurrection of his precious son, Jesus Christ, and only if we accept it and commit our lives to Christ.  

Next time, we will be looking at the reasons we would want salvation.  If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them.  I pray you have a wonderfully bless day.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

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10 July 2010

Introduction to "Salvation: There's More to it Than You Think"

Hi there! I will be starting the Salvation study in a couple days. Before I do, I want to put some info out to you.

First, I wrote this study on Salvation for a Sunday night discipleship class at my former church. Because I didn’t hand out anything written other than a list of Scripture references, I have absolutely no citations written down (of course I now wish I had written them down, but it’s far too late for that!). I did a lot of research for this study, and therefore got much information from my many sources. During this study, I will attempt to cite some of my references as I come across them if I can recognize them. I used authors such as Oswald Chambers, Wayne Grudem, Tim LaHaye, and others, as well as numerous Bible commentaries. Although most of these words in this study are my own, not all of them are. So please don’t quote the words in this study as being my own, for they very well may not be. I just wanted to let that be known, so if you see something that you feel sounds familiar, it just may come from a book you’ve read.

Second, this study is geared more toward the Christian, for that is who it was initially written for. It focuses on, not only what’s necessary for salvation, but also what is expected of the person who accepts that salvation. With that said, anyone is welcome to read it! However, if you, Christian or non-, have any questions at all regarding any topic or subtopic in this study, please do not hesitate to ask them. I do not want someone walking around confused or questioning because of something I wrote.

Third, this study is by no means exhaustive. It does not cover in its entirety the topic itself, salvation; nor does it encompass every aspect of salvation. Have you anything to add, please do so. Have you anything to correct me on, please do so! =).

Fourth, may God bless you as you go through this study with me. I pray that you open your mind and that God opens your eyes and speaks to your heart, as well as my own.

God Bless,

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

08 July 2010

My Testimony

A little about me while I’m typing up the Salvation post.  I must say that I don’t have one of those heart wrenching, soul jerking, incredibly emotional testimonies, but it’s mine.

I was raised in church.  My grandpa was the pastor of the Wesleyan Church in Bradford, PA where I lived, so I grew up in it.  We attended church every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening.  You can say, and bear with me for there will be an explanation later, that I “was saved” several times in my life.  Having grown up in church, I knew about Jesus, and I knew that people were supposed to accept him and “be saved.”  All of these times that I “was saved” (I know it seems excessive with the quotations, but it’s necessary), I would continue on with my life as though nothing happened.  Well, that is because nothing did!

Finally, while in the Army, in a little Baptist church in Hinesville, Georgia, I realized that I was not living as I should be.  I realized, for the first time, who Jesus really was, and I accepted him into my life as Savior.  As soon as I did that, the Holy Spirit, who is sovereign, entered my heart and made me new, and I was saved. That is when the change occurred.  It was at that moment that I no longer wanted to do the things I had been doing (no, they weren’t exceptionally “bad,” but they were indeed sinful and displeasing to God—swearing, drinking, smoking, etc.).  I didn’t feel like these were things I had to stop doing, it was that I had a desire to stop doing them because I knew that they were sinful in God’s eyes.  So, I quit.  Yeah, the smoking took a little longer, but, with God’s help, it happened.  Although the swearing stopped immediately, I sometimes slipped up, usually when I was angry…but even that diminished.  I had an insane desire to learn God’s word, so I read the Bible every morning and night, not being able to get enough of it (still can’t.  I wish I could remember ALL of it, but of course that’s impossible).

God is so good.  Even when I mess up, which seems to be often, if I ask, he forgives.  He continues to work in my life, blessing me and my family, leading us to wonderful people and experiences (although some I don’t really care for!!).  He does not expect anything from me that he won’t provide a way for.  Praise be to God.

06 July 2010

God created the heavens and the earth...

Hi everyone! Welcome to my blog. In my blog I will be discussing anything and everything, from ice cream to my incredible God.

I will soon be starting a series of blogs entitled "Salvation: There's More To It Than You Think." Aaah, you may be thinking something like, "What?! I heard salvation was easy" or "I didn't think you had to do anything for it" or other thoughts along those lines...well, don't worry, you're right. So stick around (OK, just keep returning instead) to see what I mean.

I am human. I am not a theologian. I study the Bible and will do everything I can, including pray and research, to ensure that I write nothing that is counter to God's precious, holy Word that was written down for us. If I write anything that seems questionable to you, ask me about it, please. I do not want to write something that may lead anyone in the wrong direction or lead them to question the truth. Also, if you just plain don't understand something, let me know; I will make every effort to explain it better. If I don't know it, I will research it and get others' views and opinions.

Your comments are much appreciated. Feel free to write about what you'd like, but any vulgar posts (including language and topic) are unwanted and will be deleted.

I don't consider myself to be a prayer warrior, but I certainly do speak to my heavenly Father and He listens. So if you have any pray requests, list them, I will most certainly pray about them.

I pray you have a most wonderfully blessed day.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ