25 August 2010

Let Me Know What You Want

Hi everyone. 

Please give me any suggestions for studies that you’d like to see!  Anything will be appreciated and seriously considered.  I want to post what you want to see, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Some future topics I’d like to discuss are suffering, what Bible is right for you, love, our resurrection/glorification, the beatitudes, and attributes of God.  I would also like to discuss evolution/creationism, old/young earth, and other issues that arise between the Bible and “science.”  Things such as school issues, government issues regarding Christianity/religion, and persecution are things I’d like do too.  I hope to get another post on one of these topics within a week, so don’t tune out! :).

May God bless you as He’s blessed me.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

23 August 2010

Armored with Christ

Let’s take a detailed look at Ephesians 6:10-18: The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (ESV).

These verses express a call to arms. They are the “external counterpart of [Paul’s] emphasis on the inward growth and edification of the church” that he spoke of in Ephesians 4:12, 16[1]. We’ll explain this passage of Scripture verse by verse.

Verse 10: We get all we need from Christ. Every piece of armor described in the following verses speaks of Christ—we basically put on Christ, for He is truth (Jn. 14:6), righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30), the peace giver (Jn. 14:27), who we put our faith in (Rom. 10:9, 10), salvation (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:24), and the Word (Jn. 1:1, 14). Without Christ you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). You cannot rely on Christ’s power if you are not in union with Him. If you are in union with Christ, we are strongest when we are weak, for Christ’s power is perfected in us in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9, 10).

Verse 11: “[W]hole armor” refers to the Roman infantryman, or hoplite. Paul was in prison at the time of this writing, and was probably using a Roman guard as a model for the armor. The Greek word for “stand” is a military term for holding a position. The point is that you can attack only when you are able to hold your own ground. From a Christian’s perspective, it shows that we are to withstand and stand against Satan’s continuous attacks. Christians are not to flee—they will not be protected, for the armor is covering the front only.

Verse 12: Humans are not our enemies; what drives them to do evil is. Satan and his demons wage war on God. Fortunately, God has already won that battle with the death and resurrection of Christ. In spite of this, Satan fights against all things good in a feeble attempt to overcome almighty God. Satan may win some people to himself, but the war will end with Christ’s coming and ultimate banishment of Satan and his followers into the abyss.

Verse 13: Because the enemies are spiritual, we are again admonished to use spiritual armor, God’s panoply (a complete set of armor), which He provides (and wears Himself. See Isa. 11:5; 59:17) that we must take up. Repetition means to pay attention to what is being said (note the number of times “stand” is used in all verses). When Christians “take up” the panoply of God, we are to never put it down; we are to wear it and use it our entire lives until we either die or are taken up to be with Christ—and we will, if we are truly His. “[S]tand firm”-if we take up the armor, then we will not yield even an inch to the evil one.

Verse 14: This and the following verses explain the armor in the order it would be put on. A tight “belt” showed that a soldier was ready for battle. The belt held the tunic up for easier movement, held the breastplate in place, and also held the scabbard. A Christian’s belt is comprised of “truth.” God’s Word and Christ are Truth; truth is light; light dispels darkness. Without truth, you cannot win against the evil of this world. The “breastplate” covered the neck to the thighs and was usually made of bronze. It was also known as a “heart-protector.”[2] Christ is our “righteousness.” Because Christ is in us, we are fully protected from defilement by Satan; Christ is our heart-protector.

Verse 15: Having good “shoes” gives an army a great advantage over the enemy, for they are able to travel faster over even rough terrain. A Roman soldier’s shoes were studded with nails to give them a better grip. Christians’ shoes, being comprised of the “gospel” of Jesus Christ that reconciles sinners to God and gives “peace” and a solid foundation on which to stand, will keep us rooted in place.

Verse 16: “In all circumstances” demonstrates the necessity and extreme importance of the next several pieces of armor, especially the shield. A Roman’s “shield” consisted of two layers of wood glued together and covered with linen and hide, bound with iron,[3] and sometimes soaked in water. This piece of armor was the most effective. Hundreds of “darts,” or arrows, dipped in pitch and ignited could be stopped and quenched with a single shield. In effect, it was like a door, covering the entire soldier’s body giving them a feeling of security. Our shield as Christians is our “faith.” Without faith, you have no salvation; you have no shield/protection from evil—you are Satan’s. But with faith, you win, you will stand, you are secure. Christ is our door (Jn. 10:9). By having faith, you put God in front of you, showing dependence on Him…what better protection could you get?!

Verse 17: The “helmet” was made of bronze with leather attachments. This and the following sword would be handed to the soldier, whereas all previous items would have been picked up. Our helmet is of “salvation,” which is given to us by God. It may refer to our hope of our future salvation (glorification), or it could suggest present salvation (sanctification), working out our salvation (Php. 2:12). A spear is the standard weapon of a hoplite, but because Paul was most likely in prison and using his Roman guards as models, a spear wouldn’t have been need being indoors. Paul uses the word “gladius,” a short, dual-edged “sword.” This is our only offensive weapon. Being “of the Spirit” could mean as supplied by the Spirit or used by the Spirit, or both simultaneously. The “word of God” is the spoken word by God; it is all powerful and effective. Jesus knew the power of God’s word (Mt. 4:1-10) and He will use it when He returns (Rev. 19:15). We must use God’s words to drive away Satan. For the sword to be useful, it must be removed from its scabbard; do not leave the Bible unopened; it is useful only if we know it and apply it.

Verse 18: We must always be “praying.” The wording suggests that prayer itself is not included as a weapon. We should “at all times” be in prayer, no matter the circumstances (1 Thes. 5:17). But because we are never to remove our armor and admonished to never stop praying, I feel that prayer is not only a weapon, but it is one of the best offensive weapons we as Christians have. “[I]n the Spirit” means to pray with the aid of and in the power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:26). We are also to pray with “supplication,” praying for specific needs for the saints. We must pray for all Christians, the Church. Christians should always be in alliance with one another, fighting side-by-side, against their common enemy as a unified army, not against each other. We must always be on the “alert” for Satan and his schemes, and always “persevere” in the fight.

I believe these verses remind us that we must be pure and holy to prevail against evil, using God’s strength rather than our own. If you are a child of God, you are an enemy of the world (Jms. 4:4). We fight spiritual forces and are therefore called to stand against those under the influence of those forces. You must take a stand in this world against the things that are in opposition to God’s word, whether it be homosexuality, abortion, child abuse, animal abuse, etc. Your silence signifies acceptance. Don’t be silent; take up God’s armor and stand.

God Bless, Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒwhole-armor-of-god

[1] Wood, A. Skevington, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981) 85.

[2] Ibid., 87.

[3] Ibid., 88.

20 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s More …” Assurance Part 6c

Today we’ll be wrapping up this study on salvation :(.  I’m not sure where we’ll go next, but I pray we’ll figure it out and get into a groove eventually.  All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture is mine.

F. Assurance of the believer

With the promise of assurance/security throughout the Bible are also warnings for believers to live lives consistent to Christian living. The ideal example of the biblical view of assurance is probably the doctrine of perseverance. The Christian is expected to—and will—persevere to the end. That is why I like this doctrine of assurance termed by yet another one of its names…the “perseverance of the saints.” This is a more accurate name for it. “The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again” (source?). This definition tells us two things: First, to recap what we just discussed, assurance is given to those truly born again because they are reminded that God will protect them and they will go to heaven when they die. Second, it is clear that continuing in the Christian life is one evidence of new birth.

Jesus said, “If you abide |remain| in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31,32a). If you continue in His Word, His teaching, if you believe what He says and live a life of obedience to His commands and persevere, that is evidence of genuine faith. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mk. 13:13b).

Those who eventually “fall away” (I use this saying for lack of a better one) may have given many external signs of conversion and salvation (I’ve done it myself!), but they were never truly saved, they never possessed a saving faith. Let’s take Judas Iscariot as a prime example. Here was a man that Jesus calls a devil (Jn. 6:70), and that Jesus knew had absolutely no saving faith and would betray Him (John 6:64). But the disciples did not know. Judas, for three years, was with Jesus; he must have acted like the other 11 apostles. In fact, his act was so convincing that when Jesus declared to the disciples that one of them would betray Him, the disciples didn’t all turn to Judas pointing their fingers and yelling, “How could you do this, you monster?!” No, they all asked, “Is it I?” They didn’t have a clue.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ ” (Mt. 7:21-23). There are many people who work for Jesus—maybe they put in long hours or even years of work at church, go on missions, profess His name, or even share the gospel with others—but they really aren’t walking with Christ, just like Judas. Living in a cookie jar doesn’t make a mouse a cookie. If these people continue on without putting their trust in Jesus, Jesus will tell them, “I never knew you.” He doesn’t say, “I knew you once, but not anymore,” or “I knew you until you fell away, strayed, or backslid.” No, He says never, “I never knew you.” They were never genuine believers. As these verses show, there is more to salvation than just believing the facts about Jesus; we must trust Him, obey Him and persevere.

“When we are born from above, the dominating spirit in us is the Spirit of God; the mind of the flesh or self realization is the other. The first thing that happens in a believer’s conscious, spiritual life is a divorce between the two” (source?). Truly being born again results in a co-crucifixion as in Romans 6:6, “old self crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with” (NIV). The initial experience is a conflict on the inside, but God wins. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. …” (Gal. 2:20). “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 Jn. 3:9). You have God’s seed in you when you’re born again! You cannot be unborn.  You will be changed if you’re born again, and your life will reflect that change.

If people are taught a watered down version of the truth of assurance, they are being cruelly deceived into thinking they would go to heaven if they died right now, when in fact they would be eternally separated from God and tormented by God’s wrath in hell because they never experienced regeneration. This doctrine, perseverance of the saints/assurance of salvation, should cause worry in those living sinful lives, who are “backsliding,” because the Bible shows that only those who persevere and do God’s will to the end have been truly born

again. But for those who have received the Holy Spirit, who walk holy and godly lives that God requires, for us who are truly saved, be joyful. I have the assurance that I am saved and that God can and will protect me, so I can serve Christ freely, in anything He wants me to do, without fear. That’s salvation.

There is so much more, but I will end it here for it’s getting long…again. Thanks for joining me on this study. Feel free to comment or question. I pray you have a wonderfully blessed day!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

18 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s More …” Assurance Part 6b

Last time we introduced the doctrine of the assurance of the believer, also called by several other names. Today we’ll discuss the controversy surrounding this precious doctrine. All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated. All italics within Scripture is mine.

F. Assurance of the believer

There is much disagreement with this doctrine, as there are with others. Many in the Wesleyan, or Arminian, tradition hold that it is possible for someone who is truly saved to lose his salvation; the Reformed Christian view (that of Baptists for example) is that it is impossible for the truly saved to lose his salvation. The latter view is what is taught in the Bible. However, I do understand why (if I do not consider the biblical teaching of course) the former group has a problem with this doctrine. There are thousands or more people out there who profess to be Christians, but then are living like the Devil! So this former group will assume those people have lost their salvation somewhere along the way; the latter group will just say that they’ve “backslid” or something crazy like that. Both views are very wrong. The truth is, those people were never saved to begin with, because they would not live lives of sin. It’s almost better to believe they’ve lost their salvation than to believe they are saved and are just backsliding and may eventually come back to God! Why? Because those people aren’t saved, and if they’re being told (by the church…) that they are saved simply because they said a prayer, or walked down the aisle, or did any other act, then they’re living a lie and will go to hell because of it. It’s better for them to know they aren’t saved even if they supposedly lost it, than to be told they are saved and lose their souls to hell. You MUST be born again; if you are, then you will be CHANGED, you WILL persevere, and you will NOT live a life characteristic of sin. If you’ve supposedly been saved, whether as a young child or even as an adult, but are living a sinful, immoral, reprehensible life, then you are not persevering, and you. are. not. saved. Dramatic? Yes. But it’s vital that you know that so you can take the necessary steps to change it.

One tragic misconception of the doctrine of the assurance of the believer is that since they now have their “fire insurance,” they can live as they please, that it is a license to sin—this is the view of many who think or say they are Christians but are not. But it’s simply not true. Evil ways of life are inconsistent with the Christian transformation, with new birth. True Christians are admonished even to stay away from those who profess to know Christ but don’t live the life (1 Cor. 5:11). Calling yourself a Christian while continuing to live an immoral life is reprehensible and degrading, and gives a false testimony to Christ. Christians are expected to resist temptation and they are certainly expected to flee from ungodly activity, and in this verse are told to not associate with people who call themselves Christians but live ungodly lives—if Christians are to have close intimate associations with these people, the non-Christian world will assume that the church approves such immoral, ungodly living, and therefore Christ’s name would be dishonored; the true Christian’s character could be questioned. The church today is already dishonoring Christ’s name with its acceptance of homosexuality, not to mention the dastardly deeds “holy” people in the church perform these days (such as priests molesting children), so it’s even more important for true Christians to not do anything that would further degrade Christ’s name.

Although I was hoping to end the study today, this very important section is quite long and I was unable to chop it up enough to put it in one post.  So I will end here for this time and there there will be one more day of this study.  Have a great day!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

16 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s more …” Assurance Part 6a

Today we are discussing the blessed assurance we have as Christians. All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated. All italics within Scripture are mine.

F. Assurance of the Believer

It is important to know what this means and to realize that if you are truly saved, you remain that way. Humans are insecure the world over, so that huge gap between the infinite, unseen God and finite, fallible humanity requires some assurance. We get that assurance by a doctrine of many monikers: eternal security, eternal security of the believer, assurance of the believer, assurance of salvation, and of course the controversial phrase “once saved always saved.” Regardless of what you call it, it teaches that God protects Christians for the completion of their salvation. God initiates salvation, and He also provides the necessary assurance to bring His work to completion. God protects and keeps Christians. The biblical view of assurance or security is rooted in the fact that God gives us the Holy Spirit as support, Comforter, Counselor, and Teacher.

We can be assured of our salvation by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Having the Holy Spirit is not only evidence of present salvation (sanctification), but also a pledge of our future salvation (glorification). “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved …” (Rom. 8:23,24a). God guarantees us of our salvation by putting the Holy Spirit in our hearts and putting His seal on us (2 Cor. 1:21,22). Noting can break the seal of God. Because of that, we can stand firm and be sure of our future in heaven. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory”(Eph. 1:13,14). What a great promise. How wonderful it is to know that I am a co-heir with Christ!  If you possess the Holy Spirit, than you should be assured of your salvation'; if you’re not assured, you may want to go over the salvation process.

Because you are filled with the Spirit and have experienced new birth, God is able to protect you. Jesus tells us, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (Jn. 6:39). Not one person who accepts Christ will be lost to Satan. Jesus also tells us that no one at all is able to snatch true Christians from His and the Father’s hands, and we, being born again, will know His voice and follow Him (Jn. 10:27-29). It’s not a possibility or a ‘what-if,’ it’s a surety. God is able and He will protect you from the clutches of Satan if you have truly turned to Him and are following in obedience to Him (Jude 24). “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” (Ps. 37:23,24). We are “being guarded through faith” by God’s power! (1 Pt. 1:4). Nothing can stand in the way of that.

This is a great topic, but it’s also an incredibly controversial one.  Next time, we will be discussing the basis for that controversy, as well as wrapping up this study (I think…there may be just one more after that).  Any comments and questions are quite welcome!  Have a wonderfully blessed day.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ


14 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s More …” Evidences part 5e

HI! Today we’re discussing evidence number 5 of 5.  All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture is mine.

E. What takes place after/because of salvation? What are the evidences of salvation?

5). Witness. Romans 10 tells us that people can’t call on Christ if they don’t believe, and they can’t believe if they haven’t heard about Him, and they can’t hear about Him if there is no one there to preach the gospel, for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (verses 14,17). Christians are to be the vehicle of God’s Word and the Gospel. “ ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’ ” (Acts 1:8). We have been commanded of this, the Great Commission, by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20. It says to teach and baptize, and we do not have to be afraid, for God is with us. People need to be told the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now. There is no second chance, for we die only one time and then face judgment (Heb. 9:27).

You also need to be a witness with your life in the way you live, and it starts in your home. “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tm. 4:16). Only God saves, but Christians are God’s instruments to proclaim the news of Jesus, the only way to salvation. God doesn’t need us, but He chooses to use us to further His kingdom with our witness of Him. People notice how you live. If you are exhibiting characteristics of Christ as you should and enduring hardships with joy and without complaint, they will wonder what is different about you, and they may want it. You should make sure to study and apply the Word so you can answer their questions accurately and share the Gospel. You must be prepared in any situation to speak the Word, to defend it, and to correct others (2 Tm. 4:2). Paul went further than that when he said, “… I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). They were weak, he became weak; those who didn’t have the law, he became like one who didn’t have the law. Paul accommodated himself to the cultures of those he witnessed to (Jews and Gentiles) without compromising his allegiance or obedience to Christ (for example, he wouldn’t eat the meat of a sacrifice, even though he was free to do so as a Christian). He did it all to save or lead to salvation maybe just one. When only one is saved the angels rejoice.

I love Jude 22-23: “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” You need to convince the doubters of the truth, and you must attempt to rescue them from the verge of destruction. That should be a goal and a desire. You are to show mercy mixed with fear. Why fear? Because even while showing mercy, you can be trapped with the allurement of sin, so it is also important that you continue to pray, for God is always with you and will not allow any temptation bigger than what you can bear. You as individuals, and you as the body of Christ, must do everything you can to bring salvation to people. You have to be witnesses in as well as out of church. Remember, there are unsaved of all ages in the church building, so you as Christians, even if you aren’t actual teachers, must teach and you must teach the Word of God, the truth…with your words and actions.

It is imperative, it is literally a matter of life or death, that we Christians live a Christian life and share the gospel of Christ and save as many people from hell as we can. Charles Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” We have to do all we can and never give up. We can’t stop teaching about Jesus; we can’t stop warning about the Devil. Satan is real! And he sure is alive and well in this ever increasingly tolerant world. We need to stand and be strong! Teach the word. Share the gospel.

Next time we’ll begin the last section in this study (already!), “Assurance of the Believer.” I love this part! Have a great day.

Niki  Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

12 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s More …” Evidences Part 5d

Good morning. It’s another beautiful day brought to us by our Lord, so let us rejoice and be glad in it! Today we will be discussing 4 of 5 evidences of, or things that should occur after, salvation. If you’re just joining us, we’re in the middle of a study on salvation. Just check out the previous posts to read it all. All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

E. What takes place after/because of salvation? What are the evidences of salvation?

4). Pray. Prayer is essential for a solid personal relationship with God, and a child of God will desire that communication with Him. Our understanding of prayer will correspond to our understanding of God. Once we realize that God has a desire to bless us and that God is sovereignly free to respond to us, then our prayers will be seen as dialogue to God. Jesus inspires prayer with His own example and teachings. Jesus would often go to secluded areas and pray (Lk. 5:16), He once spent a whole night praying prior to His choosing the apostles (Lk. 6:12), and He told a parable to show the disciples that they should always pray and not give up (Lk. 18:1-5).

We should pray to resist Satan and his minions, and even our own fleshy desires. “[P]raying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. …” (Eph. 6:18). This verse is part of the armor of God. Our battle is spiritual, and we have to fight it with God’s strength by depending on the Word and on God through prayer. Our prayers are weak and lack discernment, so we need the Spirit to intercede for us, since the Spirit knows our hearts and how to effectively communicate with God. “God is faithful, and he will … provide the way of escape” from temptation so that we can stand (1 Cor. 10:13).

Prayer can give us peace. “[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Php. 4:6,7). Prayer is an antidote to worry—it’s very hard to fret about things when we’re focused on our omniscient and omnipotent heavenly Father—and we are to pray with thanksgiving in our hearts. No matter what the circumstances, we should be thankful, not for them, but in them. It shows a spirit of humble submissiveness, meaning you accept the hard times. And although God doesn’t promise to answer your prayers the way you want, He does promise peace, an inner tranquility that, although not unknowable, cannot be completely known or understood because of its greatness and source.

Prayer should be a constant. We are to devote ourselves to prayer, pray all the time, on any occasion (Col. 4:2). We spend too much time complaining or just simply talking to people around us when what we really need is to use prayer first to vent and communicate vertically. Jesus never went to man first; He went to His Father, as should we.  Romans 12:12 tells us to be “faithful in prayer.” We should always pray, maintain communion with God at all times. Practice God’s presence all the time. Use breath prayers throughout the day…prayers that are just a breath long, even if it is just, “Thank you Lord for this day,” or “Hi, God, I know you’re there and I thank you for it.” You will find that you’ll start to pray more without even thinking about it, and you will see that prayer will lead to a greater communion with God and a greater understanding of His will. Prayer is getting closer to God, and we can touch others most when we most touch God.

I pray that your day is blessed.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

Flickr Tags: ,,

10 August 2010

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

Good morning!  Sorry this post took a little longer in coming than the others.  This section was very, very long, so I had to chop a lot out and tweak it a bit!  We have been discussing the evidences of salvation, and today we will go over number 3 of 5.  All Scripture if from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.  Please remember that I did a lot of research for this study, but did not write down any citations because it was an oral study and I didn’t think I’d need them (I so wish I would have cited!).  So please don’t quote anything as mine, for it may not be.  Any questions or comments are welcome :).

E. What takes place after/because of salvation? What are the evidences of salvation?

3). Live the life. We will now elaborate on new birth, or regeneration. Remember that you are a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). This new life refers to the righteous life that God requires of those who are saved—those who have received the Holy Spirit and are now indwelt by the Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian’s old, sinful self died with Christ, so they should not do now (being saved) the sinful things they did then (before being saved). It’s not that you can’t sin, it’s that you don’t want to sin-the overwhelming power in you is the Spirit of God!  We are now going to discuss a few characteristics, or proofs, of new birth. Not all of these characteristics are as evident in each child of God as they can be or as they should be, but they should be there to some degree. These are in no particular order.

a) You will have a new attitude toward sin. Your new nature, if you are truly saved, will have an aversion for sin. You should not want to sin, and you actually should hate sin. “O you who love the Lord, hate evil! …” (Ps. 97:10), and “… Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom. 12:9).  Sin should shame you.  You will not want to be surrounded by evil (sinful) people or the sin of others; therefore you will find yourself seeking different friends, breaking off some friendships, limiting others. It’s a must for a Christian to have Christian friends. “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another” (Prv. 27:17). This means that those you surround yourself with influence you and shape your character. You must beware of what you let into your mind, heart, eyes, and ears…it will eventually control or persuade you. 

b) You will not live in sin, because you despise sin. “No one who abides in [Christ] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.  No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 Jn. 3:6-9). We gain victory over sin through the strength of the Holy Spirit.  As a Christian, you will regularly stay away from evil, you will not live in sin, you will not live a life characteristic of sin—that is being saved, that is having accepted, fully and from the heart, Jesus Christ and having received the Holy Spirit. If nothing in your life has changed, whether it be your heart, your mind, or your actions in regard to sin, then you’re not saved. 

c) You will live a holy and godly life. This is what Christians are called to do. We should be eager to do what is good and to worship God.  God calls and commands us to be holy (1 Pt. 1:15-17).  God wouldn’t be a good God if He required a holy and godly life and put a desire and willingness in our hearts for it, but didn’t provide the resources or strength to do it. It is only because of Jesus’ death that we are able to live holy and godly lives—through the power of the Holy Spirit. “… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, …” (1 Cor. 6:19). We can live in purity by keeping God’s Word and living in obedience to it (Ps. 119:9). We know that we know God if we obey His commandments (1 Jn. 2:3). But “[i]f we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 Jn. 1:6). Many people are working for Jesus and professing His name, but they are not really walking with Him; it’s the world that is in their hearts, not the Holy Spirit. They’re not saved…they have a false sense of salvation. If you think you can walk in holiness without living in fellowship or having a relationship with Jesus, you are dead wrong.

d) You will have an insatiable appetite for righteousness.  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt. 5:6). This includes more than wanting to live a righteousness life, it’s about desiring all that is good, including the Word of God. We should have a regular home Bible study time, attend a Bible study/Sunday School, have regular worship habits, and be open-minded to truth. If you have absolutely no desire or hunger for God or for the things of God, you’re spiritually dead. The psalmist’s soul “pants” and “thirsts” for God in Psalm 42:1. Soul here refers to his very self as a living, conscious, personal being. The deer’s life relies on water—this psalmist says he cannot live without God. We should always thirst for God in one way or another.    

e) You will have a whole new attitude towards God, His will, and His people. We should love God. The greatest commandment is to love Him with everything that you have and everything that you are, and the second is to love all those around you (Mk. 12:30,31). You must give your all to God. If you love God, you will read His Word. The more you read the Bible, the more you’ll love its author. Love for God’s creation, His people, is an essential component of love for God. By showing contempt towards your neighbors, you show contempt towards God, because He made them in His image. The Bible tells us to do unto others as we would have them do to us, build each other up, help others, forgive others—love them. No, not everyone is likable, but you should be able to love them through God.

I pray you have a wonderfully blessed day!

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

Flickr Tags: ,,,

06 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s More …” Evidences, Part 5b

Hi!  Last time we discussed baptism, one thing that a new Christian should do.  Today we will be discussing 2 of 5 evidences of salvation.  All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

E. What takes place after/because of salvation? What are the evidences of salvation?

2). Be an active church member.  There are two definitions of “church.”  a) “a building of public and especially Christian worship”, and b) “any assembly—either local bodies of believers, or the universal body of all believers; children of God and the body of Christ.”  The Church was started with Jesus.  He tells Peter, “… on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18).  He just told Peter that he was, in Greek, petros, meaning “a piece of rock,” or “detached stone,” loose, and that He Himself was to build His Church on petra, “a mass of rock”, “bedrock,” solid=Christ.  “And [God] put all things under [Christ’s] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22,23), and read Eph 5:23-27.  Christ is the head of the church; the church is His body; we make up the church, the body of Christ.  The human body metaphor of Corinthian 12:11-27 verses emphasizes a unity of the believers in Christ; it demonstrates the different roles and gifts of Christians given us by the Holy Spirit.  Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us to never stop meeting with each other.  That shows the importance of the gathering of believers to worship God.

Be careful in choosing a church.  Things to look for include:

  • Ensure they are a Bible believing and preaching church.  Make sure they preach the truth and uphold it.
  • Ensure they preach Christ and Him crucified, that He is the only way to God and salvation (Acts 4:12), through faith by grace (Eph. 2:8,9).
  • Make sure they worship only God and do so in an orderly manner; teach only God’s Word; and evangelize.  God should be the focus in church, not pleasure or anything else.  All classes and services should be teaching God’s word, not playing games (that stuff should be done at other times, like during game night, not during the regular “worship” services!).  Granted, the grade school class will be taught differently than the youth or adult class, but they should still be “taught.”  Again, ensure the focus is on GOD, not fun or pleasure!  I cannot emphasize that enough, my friends.  After attending a church for some time that focused only on fun, especially for the youth and children, I can’t say enough times to make sure your church has its focus right.  The kids should not be playing, their being kids is irrelevant...church is not a playground, it’s a place to worship and learn about God and should be utilized as such.  Activities can be scheduled outside of regular worship hours, but those hours that your church has set up for worship should be used for worship and teaching, edifying the church, kids and adults alike.  Make sure of it…your kids’ (and your) spiritual lives depend on it. 
  • Look for signs of “worldliness” in the church you visit.  These can be tangible things (such as signs below), or what is being preached/taught.  Do all the Sunday School classes teach, or do they use that time as social hour or playtime?  What does the church do prior to the service start?  What is involved in the service?  Does the pastor preach the Word, the “good news” and “bad”?  Or does he water it down, tickle ears, and try not to step on toes, or does he disregard the blood of Christ, hell, or the love of God?  Does the church conform to the “tolerance” of today, of evil, by not acknowledging certain things to be sin (such as homosexuality) and basically saying that it is OK to lead a sinful life as long as you believe in Jesus (or not!)?  None of these is good!  It’s vital for a church to teach the word of God…make sure they’re doing it by getting into your Bible and knowing it yourself!!!  Test everything the pastor and teachers say, look it up.  This list is not all inclusive, you must use discernment in finding a church.  You will not find a perfect church, for they all are full of imperfect people.  However, the church you attend should be in accordance with God’s word…do not sacrifice the truth.

Sign 1 Sign 2 Sign 3

This “church” is incredibly worldly.  They have an opportunity to show Christ’s love for us, display His sacrifice for us, and numerous other godly things, yet they put this junk on their sign!  Prior to seeing their sign(s), my family visited this place and, unfortunately, the world was inside as well.  It’s easy for some people to get pulled into churches like this.  To not to, pray for discernment and for God’s guidance and strength through the Holy Spirit to lead you to a “good” church.

I pray that you have a glorious day, filled with the love of God.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

04 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 5a, Evidences

Hi there, everyone!  Today we’re starting a section on “What takes place after and because of salvation, and what are the evidences of salvation.”  We’ll be discussing 1 of 5 today.  All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture is mine.

E. What takes place after/because of salvation? What are the evidences of salvation?

1). Be baptized, this is one thing you should do following salvation.  In order to better understand it, we’re going to look at the “what,” “why,” and “who” of baptism.

What is baptism?  The Greek word used for baptism is baptizō (pronounced bap-tid-zoh).  This word means “to make overwhelmed, fully wet, or to cover over completely, submerge.”  Not sprinkle, spray, splash––immerse!  Mark 1:5 says that “they were being baptized by [John the Baptist] in the Jordan River.” Not by, beside, near, across from, but in.  And the Greek actually reads “were being immersed.”   When Jesus was baptized, both Matthew 3:16 and Mark 1:10 say Jesus came “up” out of the water––not “away from it,” as would be if they were simply at the edge of the water, for example.  And, John tells us that John the Baptist baptized where “there was much water” (John 3:23 NASB).  It would not take “much water” to baptize people by sprinkling, but it would take a lot to immerse people.  Many people went to John to be baptized.  It would have been much easier for John to just throw some water on them as they passed him...but he didn’t.  He took them into much water and overwhelmed them––immersed them.  That’s what baptism is.

Baptism is a symbol.  The new Christian is buried in a watery grave and raised up as a symbol of his trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the atonement of sins.  Only immersion adequately pictures a burial and resurrection.  “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3,4).

Why should one get baptized?  There are several reasons to be baptized.  1) It is commanded.  Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).  And Jesus tells us in Mark 16:16 that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved … .”  He tells us to get baptized.  2) We need to follow Jesus’ example.  Jesus started His ministry with baptism in Matthew 3:13-15.  3) We need to publicly confess Jesus through baptism.  Although baptism does not save us, it is an outward confession of an inward faith.  The eunuch was baptized following his faith in Jesus (Acts 8:36-38); the jailer and his family were taught the word of the Lord, believed, and were then baptized (Acts 16:30-33).  Baptism follows repentance and faith.  4) Baptism shows a spiritual unity with the church.  Peter says in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized every one of you …,” and then in verse 41 it tells us that “those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” were added to the church.  Baptism connects you with the universal Church of Christ—all Christians all over the world.

Who should get baptized?  The pattern shown in the New Testament is one where only those people who give a believable profession of faith are baptized.  And these are the only ones who should be baptized.  This view is often called “believers’ baptism” because it holds that only those who themselves accept Jesus Christ as their Savior should be baptized.  The reason for this is that baptism, in the New Testament/God’s Word, is portrayed as a symbol of the beginning of a Christian life, so should accordingly be given only to those who have begun a new life in Christ.  No infant or young child can do this.  This view is clearly illustrated in the New Testament, but argued against vehemently.  Following are Scripture passages that support believers’ baptism.  “Repent and be baptized …”  (Acts 2:38)—infants cannot repent.  “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41)—the people received the gospel, they accepted it.  Acceptance takes the ability to reason to conclude that something is good or worth accepting.  Infants cannot reason.  “But when they believed …, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12)—believed.  Infants don’t believe anything.  Also, notice who or what were baptized—men and women, not infants.  “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (…, the answer of a good conscience toward God), …”  (1 Pet. 3:21 NKJV)—the person baptized is stating that he has repented and put his trust in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  Infants and young children simply do not have the mental capacity to understand what any of that means.

So, baptism is immersion, a command, and is done by “knowing” believers in Christ.  We must realize that baptism does not make us saved or complete our salvation, nor is it necessary for salvation.  It is something that Christians should want to do to follow Christ’s example and command.

Next time we’ll discuss evidence 2 of 5!  I pray you enjoy a wonderfully blessed day today.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ

Flickr Tags: ,,

01 August 2010

“Salvation: There’s More…” Part 4b Future Salvation

Good morning, all!  I pray you have a wonderful Lord’s Day.  Today we will discuss Future Salvation to wrap up our section on Past, Present, and Future Salvation.  All Scripture is from the ESV Bible unless indicated.  All italics within Scripture are mine.

D. Past, Present, & Future Salvation

3. Future Salvation=Glorification: “[A]nd those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30b).  Glorification is an elevation to celestial glory where believers are made complete in both body and soul at the resurrection.  Romans 8:23 tells us it is what we so eagerly wait for, the redemption of our bodies.  Glorification is the final stage of our adoption, and it can only happen because of Christ’s sacrifice.  “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20).  Christ was raised first; those who have given their lives to Christ will be raised when He comes again.  His resurrection is a promise of our future resurrection, the basis for our faith in eternal life.  “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body …” (Php. 3:20,21).  We will have a glorified, supernatural body like Jesus; we will be like Him!  Can you imagine?!  I can hardly wait for that glorification…to see Christ as He really is and to be like Him.  What will that magnificent body be like?  1 Cor. 15:42b-44 says that our bodies will be raised “imperishable,” “in glory,” “in power,” and “as supernatural.”  We will no longer have a body like the first Adam: from dust; a natural body that grew weak, old, tired; one that decayed and was subject to death due to sin.  We will have a body like Christ, the last Adam: a spiritual, glorified body!  How absolutely wonderful.

I cannot wait for that day to come.  Can you!?  Make sure you’re right with God.

Next time we will start a section on “What takes place after/because of salvation & what are the evidences of salvation?  God Bless and have a great day.

Niki Ƹ>Ï<Ʒ