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The Armor of God May 28, 2015

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Faith, Scripture.
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Onward Christian soldier, step forth into battle equipped as God wills:

Ephesians 6:11-17 AMP  Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.  (12)  For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.  (13)  Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].  (14)  Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, (15)  And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. [Isa. 52:7.]  (16)  Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].  (17)  And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.

Our armor, the battle-clothing of God, consists of:

The belt of truth:

Psa 119:160  The sum of Your word is truth [the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts]; and every one of Your righteous decrees endures forever.

Joh 17:17  Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.

Joh 1:17  For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ

The breastplate of righteousness:

Rom 1:17  For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith

Rom 4:13  For the promise to Abraham or his posterity, that he should inherit the world, did not come through [observing the commands of] the Law but through the righteousness of faith

Romans 4:20-22 AMP  No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God,  (21)  Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.  (22)  That is why his faith was credited to him as righteousness (right standing with God).

Php 1:11  May you abound in and be filled with the fruits of righteousness (of right standing with God and right doing) which come through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One), to the honor and praise of God [that His glory may be both manifested and recognized].

The shoes of readiness for the Gospel of peace:

Rom 15:13  May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.

Php 4:7  And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Col 1:20  and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross–whether things on earth or things in heaven

Colossians 3:15-17 HCSB  And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.  (16)  Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.  (17)  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

The shield of faith:

Pro 30:5  Every word of God is tried and purified; He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him

Psa 18:2  The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower

Psa 18:18  They confronted and came upon me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay and support.

Psa 25:2  O my God, I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in You. Let me not be put to shame or [my hope in You] be disappointed; let not my enemies triumph over me.

Rom 8:28  We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

The helmet of salvation:

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,

Galatians 4:4-7 AMP  But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law,  (5)  To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].  (6)  And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father!  (7)  Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but a son; and if a son, then [it follows that you are] an heir by the aid of God, through Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 AMP  But we, brethren beloved by the Lord, ought and are obligated [as those who are in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, because God chose you from the beginning as His firstfruits (first converts) for salvation through the sanctifying work of the [Holy] Spirit and [your] belief in (adherence to, trust in, and reliance on) the Truth.  (14)  [It was] to this end that He called you through our Gospel, so that you may obtain and share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

2Ti 1:9  [For it is He] Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness [to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness]; [He did it] not because of anything of merit that we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and grace (unmerited favor) which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began [eternal ages ago].

Acts 4:11-12 AMP  This [Jesus] is the Stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which has become the Head of the corner [the Cornerstone]. [Ps. 118:22.]  (12)  And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved.

Act 16:31  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”

The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God:

Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 Timothy 3:15-17   and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  (16)  All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,  (17)  so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Luk 11:28  But He said, Blessed (happy and to be envied) rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey and practice it!

Heb 4:12  For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

Col 3:16  Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts.

Heb 4:12  For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

Our battles are not those of muscle against muscle, of flesh against flesh, for such battles are temporary – of this world and not beyond.  Our battles are fought for eternal loss or gain and our armor prepares us sufficiently to face our unseen enemy, (2Co 10:4  For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds)

God’s Word tells us that we are equipped to attack, He tells us to strap on His armor and advance into the fray (Jeremiah 46:3-4 AMP  Put in order the buckler and shield, and advance for battle!  (4)  Harness the horses, and mount, you horsemen! Stand forth with your helmets! Polish the spears, put on the coats of mail!), we do not wait for our enemy to come to us, we gird ourselves and advance into that most gruesome of spiritual battles; confident that His armor is sufficient to deflect the slings and arrows of our enemy, keeping us well protected and able to stand in the face of the onslaught which we draw by our God-given audaciousness.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan writes:

But now in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that he had no armour for his back; and, therefore, thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage, with ease to pierce him with his darts. [‹1.83›] Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground; for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.

Christian knew that his best defense was a strong offense. For while the armor of God is fully sufficient to protect us from attacks, it provides no protection for our back – our armor covers our front alone; retreat in the face of peril is certainly not an option which God has provided for.

So face the enemy in faith and righteousness my brothers and sisters, stand before your foe holding the shield of faith in one hand and wielding the sword of His Word in the other (2Co 6:7  By [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend];).

Do not falter, do not turn, do not flee.  Stand strong and press onward in your battle for the Lord.

Sola x5 March 19, 2014

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Faith, Scripture.
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Five_Solas

Sola Scriputura – Scripture alone.

Authority for teaching and the message of salvation are found in the Scriptures alone.  It is the teaching of Scripture that the Scripture is sufficient for all spiritual matters (cf. 2 Pet. 1:2). The Scriptures alone are sufficient for salvation, sanctification and proclamation (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5).

Too many appeal to experience, extra-biblical revelations, mysticism, pragmatism, tradition or philosophy in-order to claim and know spiritual truth is an evident attack against the truth of Sola Scriptura. Many seem to embrace many of the above categories before consulting the Scriptures or even embrace them above and in place of the Scriptures. Such trends sweep through the church and distort the biblical doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. If we are going to know the truth about salvation and know the necessary spiritual truth for godliness we must know and protect this affirmation.

Sola Gratia – Grace alone.

Despite the effort of many people who try to obtain or maintain salvation by means of works, the words Sola Gratia destroy such a belief. They affirm that the only basis of salvation is the grace of God. The Scriptures are clear on this matter, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). If one is to have a right standing with God, it cannot be achieved or inherited. Instead, it must be given by grace (cf.Rom. 3:24). Justification or the righteousness of God is a gracious gift given by God and there is no basis, ground or merits in ourselves that makes us deserving of justification. What is grace? The term “grace” refers to God’s favor towards those who do not deserve it.

Sola Fide – Faith alone

Saving faith does not trust in or rely on one’s own achievements; instead, the object of trust and reliance is the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine saving faith is the recognition that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. Faith is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. Therefore, faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord. Saving faith is a gift from God (cf. Phil. 1:29 and 2 Pet. 1:1), and with this gift we cling to His Son.

Sola Christus – Christ alone

Faith must be placed in Christ alone for salvation. Without faith “toward the Lord Jesus” (Philemon 5) there is no hope of salvation because He alone is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). There is only one saving and sure object of salvation, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ – “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone be the glory

At the end of Romans chapter 11, Paul proclaimed, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). In this verse God is seen as the source (“from Him“), sustainer (“through Him“) and goal (“to Him“) of “all things“. This is why He deserves all the glory. This is the recognition of those in Heaven, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Our response to this ought to be as follows, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). All social activities, work activities, play, Bible study, relationships, eating, talking – every activity we participate in is to be done to the glory of God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism opens with the question, “What is the chief end of man?” and it answers by saying, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

I deserve it! February 12, 2014

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Scripture.
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The world today (TV shows, Movies, Commercials, print advertisements, etc.) pushes the idea that we deserve things – We work hard and do the right thing so we deserve to have a comfortable life, a nice car, nice home, vacations, good salaries, etc.

Our instincts tell us that we deserve respect for who we are (parents, bosses, and citizens) and that we deserve fairness, justice, equality, love because we offer those things to others.

In essence we have been convinced, through up-bringing, through media, and through the fabric of our society that we deserve our due – we’ve worked for it, we’ve earned it, it is owed to us and it is our right to have it: we deserve it.

I want to discuss the spiritual/biblical concept of what we deserve, and how that leads into the worldly/carnal consequences of demanding our due.

According to Scripture, we have all sinned (Rom 3:10-12, Rom 3:23) and as a result of that sin, we all deserve death (Rom 6:23) and eternal judgment in the lake of fire (Rev 20:12-15). If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be condemned for eternity. That we live at all is owed to God’s forbearance – an act of God’s mercy.

Not only are we undeserving recipients of God’s mercy, we are also recipients of His grace. We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything. Anything good that we experience is a result of the grace of God (Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).

Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor. God favors, or gives us good things that we do not deserve and could never earn. Rescued from judgment by God’s mercy, grace is anything and everything we receive beyond that mercy (Rom 3:24).

In Mark, chapter 10 James and John thought to ask Jesus for their ‘due’, for what they felt they deserved: And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Him and said to Him, Teacher, we desire You to do for us whatever we ask of You. And He replied to them, what do you desire Me to do for you? And they said to Him, Grant that we may sit, one at Your right hand and one at [Your] left hand, in Your glory (Your majesty and splendor).

Jesus’ answer to them was that their due was to live a life of service, a life of giving – not receiving: But Jesus called them to [Him] and said to them, You know that those who are recognized as governing and are supposed to rule the Gentiles (the nations) lord it over them [ruling with absolute power, holding them in subjection], and their great men exercise authority and dominion over them. But this is not to be so among you; instead, whoever desires to be great among you must be your servant, And whoever wishes to be most important and first in rank among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to have service rendered to Him, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for (instead of) many.

For the Christian, in the real world, our scriptural direction is to live a life as a servant to all. To give in all that we do and to understand that when we serve, when we give, it is not a means to an end or an act performed to get something back. We do not serve to be recompensed. We do not give to be compensated, intrinsically or extrinsically.  

When we offer respect to an individual we do not (should not) show that respect in expectation that we will in turn be respected. We do not offer compassion with the goal of having that compassion returned. We do not give with the expectation that we will receive – what should underlie all of our service (in any form: respecting, loving, giving, and offering compassion, mercy, and forgiveness) is the knowledge that we do so because God has done so for us, without expectation that such would be returned.

It is fitting, at this point, to examine the true meaning of the word deserve.  Webster defines it as such:

 de·serve

verb (used with object), de·served, de·serv·ing.

to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) 

because of actions, qualities, or situation.

verb (used without object), de·served, de·serv·ing.

to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward, 

punishment, recompense, etc.

If you look closely at how the word is constructed you see it as de – served, or de – serving. What does the prefix de- mean?

 de-

A prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin;

 also used to indicate privation, removal, negation, reversal

In essence deserve is a negation of ‘serve’, a separation from ‘service’.  It is essentially a diametric opposition to Christ’s example and dictate to serve.

From a psychological viewpoint we need to understand what expectation does to us. If we believe that we are owed something (“I’m the boss and I deserve their respect”, or “I’ve worked hard for this and I deserve it”) we are setting ourselves up for a whole plethora of negative thoughts and feelings when our expectations are not met. We become disappointed, we build resentment, anger, and envy.

Resentment can be sparked by perceived unfair treatment by another person. It could be an injustice, like not getting a deserved promotion, or it could be an insult. Either way, resentment stems from a love of the things of the world and a lack of faith in God and His plan. It is legitimate to recognize unfair treatment, and even to do something about it. But it is not helpful to wallow in feelings of self-righteous anger. The Bible is not concerned with the honor of human pride. An intense emotional response to an otherwise harmless insult may show a lack of spiritual maturity and a love of self – You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too.  (Mat 5:38-39)

As David fled Jerusalem, he faced the curses and insults of Shimei. Rather than respond with resentment towards Shimei—and instead of killing him, as was the king’s right (verse 9)—David chose the path of humility. His words are amazing: “If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”. David avoided feelings of resentment by viewing the situation as from the Lord.

Anger can become sinful when it is motivated by pride (James 1:20), when it is unproductive and thus distorts God’s purposes (1 Cor 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Eph 4:26-27). One obvious sign that anger has turned to sin is when, instead of attacking the problem at hand, we attack the wrongdoer. Ephesians 4:15 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Rom 6:13-14).

Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Prov 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake. Often, the consequences of out-of-control anger are irreparable. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside. This can cause depression and irritability over little things, which are often unrelated to the underlying problem.

But if you have bitter jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry, selfish ambition) in your hearts, do not pride yourselves on it and thus be in defiance of and false to the Truth. This [superficial] wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual (animal), even devilish (demoniacal). For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices.

When we crave what someone else has rather than being grateful for what God has given, we hurt ourselves. Instead of envying others, we are called to love them.

True love—God’s love—rejoices when others are blessed. There is no room for envy. Love does not seek to benefit itself and it is content with what it has, because its focus is on meeting the needs of the loved one.

The Gospel explained June 5, 2013

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Scripture.
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The Gospel in a nutshell:

 

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

(Glorious Day by Casting Crowns)

 

The Gospel expanded and explained:

The Gospel

  1. Christ is Lord (Rom. 10:9). Jesus Christ is truly God, and yet is a Person distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:1, 14, 5:18, 8:24; Mat. 28:19).
  2. All have sinned against God and fall short of His glory (Rom. 3:23). We are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1-3).
  3. God loves us while we are yet sinners (Jn. 3:16, Rom. 5:8).
  4. Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3, 1 Jn. 4:14). He assumed a human nature (Jn. 1:14, Rom. 8:3, Phil. 2:6-11) and lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 4:15, 5:9, 7:26, 1 Pet. 1:18-19, 1 Jn. 3:5). At the cross, He provided:a) Atonement (propitiation, reconciliation), a penal substitution, an offering of sacrifice, a price paid (Rom. 5:8-11). The atonement secured the application of:
    b) Redemption, the payment of a ransom (Mk. 10:45, Heb. 9:15), “buying back” from the bondage of sin (1 Cor. 6:20, 7:23, Gal. 1:4).
  5. Christ was raised on the third day (Rom. 6:4-7, 1 Cor. 15:4, 20-22), and ascended into heaven after forty days (Acts 1:2-3, 9-11, 2:33, 1 Tim. 3:16), and was enthroned at the right hand of God (Mk. 16:9, Eph. 1:20, Heb. 1:3) where He constantly makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 9:24, 1 Jn. 2:1) until He returns as Judge (Mat. 24:30-31, 25:31-32, Jn. 5:22, 27, Acts 10:42, 17:31).
  6. Regeneration, a new birth (Jn. 3:3, Tit. 3:5) that makes us new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) through the work of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:5-8).
  7. Faith (Rom. 3:25, 4:5, 10:9). Saving faith consists not merely of knowledge and belief (Mat. 13:20-21, Ja. 2:19-20) but of trust (2 Cor. 1:9-10), self-surrender (Lk. 9:23, Gal. 2:20), and obedience (Rom. 6:17, 16:25-26). Faith is not a result of our own endeavor, but is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation (Jn. 14:6, Acts 4:12).a) We are saved by grace, not by works: Faith alone (Rom. 3:28, 4:5 Gal. 2:16).
    b) Confess with the tongue Christ as Lord (Rom. 10:9).
  8. Repentance (Mat. 4:17, 10:7; Lk. 4:43, 24:46-47, 13:3, 5).True repentance represents a turning to God, a turning from evil, and an intent to serve God (1 Thess. 1:9). It involves the intellectual recognition of sin (Rom. 3:20), an emotional change of feeling for sin committed against a holy and just God (2 Cor. 7:9-10), and a willful turning away from sin (Acts 26:18, 20, 1 Pet. 3:11).
  9. Justification, a forensic (i.e. legal) declaration of acquittal that excludes all possibility of condemnation (Rom. 5:1, 19, 8:33-34), providing salvation from the wrath of God (Rom. 5:9). We are justified by grace through faith (Rom. 3:24-25). Justification is by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness: As our sins were reckoned to Christ, so Christ’s righteousness is reckoned to us (Phil. 3:9).
  10. Adoption into the family of God (Jn. 1:12, Gal 4:4-7, Eph. 1:13-14, Heb. 9:15), into a union with Christ (Rom. 6:5, 7:4) where we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and eternal life (Jn. 3:15).
  11. Sanctification [positional], to be set apart, to be made holy. A status conferred not by moral transformation but by the sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:10).
  12. Progressive sanctification, an ongoing process that conforms us to the image of Christ (Phil. 2:13, 2 Cor. 3:18, Heb. 12:14, 2 Pet. 3:18).
  13. Perseverance through divine preservation. God, through the Spirit, secures the final salvation of all true believers (Jn. 6:37-40, 10:28-29, Rom. 8:39-39, Phil. 1:6, 1 Pet. 1:5).
  14. Glorification, redemption of the physical body. (Rom. 8:23, 1 Cor. 15:53, 2 Cor. 3:18, Phil. 3:20-21). We will be like Christ (1 Jn. 3:2) and will dwell with Him (Rev. 21:3-4) for eternity (Mat. 25:46).

The balanced Christian life… May 3, 2013

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Faith, Scripture.
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Wheel

The Christian life is much like a wheel; with a hub and four spokes.  The hub, and each spoke, are essential foundations to maintain spiritual balance, allowing the faithful to travel the road to continual sanctification – the wheel functions smoothly only when all the spokes are present and in proper balance. The wheel is dynamic and represents a spiritual synergism (the sum of the parts is greater than the whole) that cannot be attained otherwise.

The Hub:

A wheel gets its driving force from the hub.  In the Christian life, Christ is the hub – the source of power and motivation for living a Christian life.  He lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit, whose expressed purpose is to glorify Christ.

John 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 15:4-5 Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.  (5)  I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

John 16:13-14 But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].  (14)  He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.

Making Christ central in your life; giving Him the place of true lordship is really a decision of your will. Lordship is totally voluntary, based on your own choices, and yet is completely necessary for continual sanctification.

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

The rim of the wheel represents you, the Christian, responding to Christ’s lordship through your wholehearted obedience to Him.  This obedience involves your faithfulness in basic principles of Christian living.

Rom 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

1Jn 2:3-6 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  (4)  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,  (5)  but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:  (6) whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The spokes of the wheel represent the means by which Christ’s power reaches our lives:

The Word:

When Christians have a vital, studious, personal intake of the Word of God, they are usually spiritually healthy and growing. In practice, this spoke is crucial to a balanced Christian life. As God speaks to you through His Word, you will be sensitized to important issues, see how to put His Word into practice, and recognize Christ as worthy of your love and allegiance.

Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Matthew 4:4 But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. [Deut. 8:3.] 1.  The vertical spokes concern our relationship to God through the Scriptures and prayer.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), (17) So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.

Prayer:

As you pray, and as others pray for you, God creates within you a desire to choose His way which expresses His lordship in our life.

John 15:7 If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

Ephesians 3:12 In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.  (7)  And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 4:16  Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Prayer is our communication channel with God. Through prayer we seek His will in our lives, share our hopes, fears, joys, needs, and seek His counsel; through prayer we open ourselves to the ministering of the Holy Spirit.  According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (11), which He reveals (10) and teaches (13) to those whom He indwells. This activity of the Holy Spirit is called illumination, and this illumination comes through prayerful mediation upon His Word.

 1 Corinthians 2:10-11  Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny].  (11)  For what person perceives (knows and understands) what passes through a man’s thoughts except the man’s own spirit within him? Just so no one discerns (comes to know and comprehend) the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

The Hub and these first two spokes (the Word and Prayer) represent our relationship to God. The other two spokes represent our relationships to other people, both believers and unbelievers, through fellowship and witnessing.  When you purposefully choose to walk in God’s way, it shows in your outward lifestyle. People can see that Jesus is in you. Although obeying God starts internally and has to do with attitudes, habits, motives, values and day to day thoughts, it will eventually surface in our relationships with other people. The proof of our love for God is our obedience to Him especially in relationships.

Fellowship:

The idea of fellowship has many nuances, many ‘definitions’, and comes in many forms. For the sake of time I will try to capture the ‘essence’ and leave the exposition for another time. In essence, fellowship is the idea of believers meeting together to commune, teaching, learn, worship together, share something with someone, and esteeming others higher than ourselves (accepting each other with our faults, problems and failures)

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor;  (10)  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Matthew 18:20 For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them. [Exod. 3:14.]

Hebrews 3:13 But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him].

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, (25) Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

If we look at the book of Acts we see an example for us today:

Act 2:44-47 And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common; (45) And they sold their possessions (both their landed property and their movable goods) and distributed the price among all, according as any had need.  (46)  And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord’s Supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, (47) Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].

(This is an excellent treatise on Fellowship by Cooper P Abrams III, please read. )

Witnessing:

The natural overflow of a rich and vibrant life in Christ should be sharing with others how they too can have this life. Effective sharing requires skills that can be learned and sharpened. God will use you in the lives of others as you gain experience and improve your skills in witnessing.

Matthew 4:19 And He said to them, Come after Me [as disciples–letting Me be your Guide], follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!

Romans 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,

1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. [Isa. 8:12, 13.]

When all is said and done, balanced wheel of the Christian life can be viewed in terms a healthy, vibrant, physical life: a strong heart at our center (the ‘hub’ of Christ Jesus), we must eat healthily (the Word), we must breath (Prayer), rest and restore (Fellowship) and we must exercise (Witnessing).

if I have all faith, but have not love, I am nothing. April 10, 2013

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Scripture.
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If I make use of the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am like sounding brass, or a loud-tongued bell. And if I have a prophet’s power, and have knowledge of all secret things; and if I have all faith, by which mountains may be moved from their place, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I give all my goods to the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it is of no profit to me. Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride; Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true; Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things. Though the prophet’s word may come to an end, tongues come to nothing, and knowledge have no more value, love has no end. For our knowledge is only in part, and the prophet’s word gives only a part of what is true: But when that which is complete is come, then that which is in part will be no longer necessary. When I was a child, I made use of a child’s language, I had a child’s feelings and a child’s thoughts: now that I am a man, I have put away the things of a child. For now we see things in a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now my knowledge is in part; then it will be complete, even as God’s knowledge of me. But now we still have faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
(1Co 13:1-13)

Nevertheless there was something more excellent than all gifts. They were the manifestations of the power of God and of the mysteries of His wisdom; love, that of His nature itself.
They might speak with all tongues; they might have prophecy, the knowledge of mysteries, the faith which can remove mountains; they might give all their possessions to feed the poor, and their bodies to be tortured: if they had not love, it was nothing. Love was conformity to the nature of God, the living expression of what He was, the manifestation of having been made partakers of His nature: it was the acting and feeling according to His likeness. This love is developed in reference to others; but others are not the motive, although they are the object. It has its source within; its strength is independent of the objects with which it is occupied. Thus it can act where circumstances might produce irritation or jealousy in the human heart. It acts according to its own nature in the circumstances; and by judging them according to that nature, they do not act upon the man who is full of love, except so far as they supply occasion for its activity, and direct its form. Love is its own motive. In us participation in the divine nature is its only source. Communion with God Himself alone sustains it through all the difficulties it has to surmount in its path. This love is the opposite of selfishness and of self-seeking, and shuts it out, seeking the good of others, even (as to its principle) as God has sought us in grace (see Eph_4:32; Eph_5:1-2). What a power to avoid evil in oneself, to forget all in order to do good!
It is worthy of note that the qualities of divine love are almost entirely of a passive character.
The first eight qualities pointed out by the Spirit are the expression of this renunciation of self. The three that follow, mark that joy in good which sets the heart free also from that readiness to suppose evil, which is so natural to human nature, on account of its own depth of evil, and that which it also experiences in the world. The last four shew its positive energy, which — the source of every kind thought — by the powerful spring of its divine nature, presumes good when it does not see it, and bears with evil when it sees it, covering it by longsuffering and patience; not bringing it to light, but burying it in its own depth — a depth which is unfathomable, because love never changes. One finds nothing but love where it is real; for circumstances are but an occasion for it to act and shew itself. Love is always itself, and it is love which is exercised and displayed. It is that which fills the mind: everything else is but a means of awakening the soul that dwells in love to its exercise. This is the divine character. No doubt the time of judgment will come; but our relationships with God are in grace. Love is His nature. It is now the time of its exercise. We represent Him on earth in testimony.
In that which is said of love in this Chapter we find the reproduction of the divine nature, except that what is said is but the negative of the selfishness of the flesh in us. Now the divine nature changes not and never ceases; love therefore abides ever. Communications from God; the means by which they are made; knowledge, as attained here below, according to which we apprehend the truth in part only, although the whole truth is revealed to us (for we apprehend it in detail, so that we have never the whole at once, the character of our knowledge being to lay hold of different truths singly); all that is characterised by being in part — passes away. Love will not pass away. A child learns; he rejoices too in things that amuse him; when he becomes a man, he requires things in accordance with his intelligence as a man. It was thus with tongues and the edification of the assembly. The time however was coming when they should know even as they were known, not by communications of truths to a capacity that apprehended the truth in its different parts, but they should understand it as a whole in its unity.
Now love subsists already; there are faith and hope also. Not only shall these pass away, but even now, here below, that which is of the nature of God is more excellent than that which is connected with the capacity of human nature, even though enlightened by God, and having for its object the revealed glory of God.
Believers therefore were to follow after and seek for love, while desiring gifts, especially that they might prophesy, because thus they would edify the assembly, and that was the thing to aim at; it was that which love desired and sought, it was that which intelligence required, the two marks of a man in Christ, of one to whom Christ is all.

John Darby

Phil 2:5-11 February 10, 2013

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Faith, Scripture.
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Revised Statement of Faith January 7, 2013

Posted by JP in Absolute Favorites, Bible Study, Discussion, Faith.
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The Scriptures

I believe the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, is God-breathed (written by men and uniquely, verbally, and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit) and that it was written without error (infallible) in the original manuscripts. It is the complete and final revelation of the will of God to man, and the Divine and final authority for Christian life and faith and is the sole basis for my beliefs.

  1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
  2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms, obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
  3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
  4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
  5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

 

The One True, Almighty God

There is but one living, and true, triune, God: He who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable immense, eternal, almighty, most holy, most free, most absolute, working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory.

He is perfect love; gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

He is perfect justice; terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty through their own efforts.

He is perfect wisdom; bridging the desires of perfect love and the satisfaction of perfect justice through the fully sufficient atoning work of Christ Jesus.

God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, not deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever is His pleasure.

In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all his commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding: the Son is eternally begotten of the Father: the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

~ God the Father

God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

~ God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Christ Jesus He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed, and did, the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion.

He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever-present Lord.

~ God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

 

Creation

I believe that Scripture is inerrant in its concept of unique and intentional creation of mankind. The evidences and proofs of science do not contradict the basic truths of the creation account in that God created the universe, created our world, created life on our world, and intentionally and separately created mankind in the unique image of Himself (self-awareness, spirit, intelligence, reason, and eternal spirit. While the creation account describes God’s work in methods understandable by early man, it does not, in its presented truth, deny the possibility of mechanisms used by God in that creation; mechanisms which science is beginning to understand although it does not understand its cause or purpose.

I do not hold to the literal interpretation of a “6 day” creation. God is infinite in His existence and our “day” is not measured as His (2 Pet 3:8).

 

Man (creation and sin)

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created us male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice.

By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race and the world. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, bringing corruption to God’s perfect creation and falling from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherits a nature of sin and corruption (Rom 5:12-21). Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God.

 

Salvation

Salvation is the gift of God, by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins; that this salvation is the possession of those who by faith accept Christ as their personal Savior. I believe that there is no other way of salvation

In its broadest sense salvation includes: justification, regeneration, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord allowed to us through His grace.

Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and *believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

*from the Greek “pisteuō” meaning:  to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace (Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith, a gift from God, is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.)

Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life. Sanctification is not a one-time event – it is a continual process throughout the life of the regenerate believer.

Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

 

The Christian Life

I believe that the Bible teaches that each believer can live, and is commanded to live, in separation from all worldly and sinful practices, being ‘in’ the world but not ‘of’ the world. While we cannot fully disengage ourselves from this world and the curse of the flesh while in this world, we should not willfully participate in those things which are not sanctified (or more realistically – things which we are admonished to avoid) by God through His Holy Inspired Word.

The Christian life can be (should be) viewed as a wheel with 4 spokes:  The hub (center) of the wheel is God, with 4 spokes representing Prayer, Bible Study, Fellowship, and Worship. The balance of the Christian life is maintained only when the hub is always centered and the spokes are continuously maintained.

 

The Believer’s Authority

The believer possesses great authority, through Christ, over the powers of spiritual darkness, which are led by Satan, the ruler of this world. We actively exercise this authority as we pray, walk by faith, exercise spiritual gifts, and progress towards spiritual maturity in Christ.

 

Election

God from eternity did, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men are predestined unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death. These men, thus predestined and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are predestined unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, had chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him to do so.

As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He fore-ordained the means to accomplish such. Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. No others are redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation

 

Baptism

Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. I do not believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation, but an outward declaration of an internal alteration.

 

Evangelism and Discipleship

The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us to testify the truth of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty and privilege of every child of God to seek constantly to demonstrate the glory of God’s grace by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.

Through our testimony He aims to open the eyes of the spiritually blind; he aims that they would then turn from the darkness of sin to the light of righteousness; he aims that they would turn from the power of Satan who can only hold them by lies, and come to God. He aims that all their sins be forgiven. And he aims that by faith, not legalistic burdens, they would join the saints in the pursuit of holiness.

It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others.

All those who abide in Christ are endowed with certain spiritual gifts and it is through employment of these gifts, as much as, if not more than, through words that effective evangelism and discipleship occurs.  A spiritual gift is an ability given by the Holy Spirit to express our faith effectively (in word or deed) for the strengthening of someone else’s faith.

Preach the Gospel constantly, and if necessary, use words.

 

The Church

The New Testament describes the church as the Body of Christ as well as the Bride of Christ. This includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. The Church exists to worship and glorify God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It also exists to serve him by faithfully doing his will in the earth. This involves a commitment to see the gospel preached and churches planted in the entire world for a testimony. The ultimate mission of the Church is the making of disciples through the preaching of the gospel.

In the context of the local church; a New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous congregation of born-again, baptized, believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ (to love your God with all your heart, body, mind, and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself), governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture (1 Tim 2:12).

Jesus was pro-woman to the max. But he did not choose women to be apostles. That wasn’t because he was enslaved to his times. It was because, in coherence with the rest of the Bible (Genesis 1-2, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 2), he believed that it would be healthy for the church and the family if men assumed the role of Christ-like, humble, caring, servant-leaders, and if the women came in alongside with their respective gifts to help carry his leadership through according to those gifts.

 

The Kingdom

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age. The Holy Spirit brings a present, though partial, reality of the Kingdom of God on earth as he acts in and through our lives with sovereign, supernatural power.

 

Christ’s Return

Jesus Christ will return to the earth physically to raise the dead, judge the world, consummate His glorious Kingdom, and bestow eternal blessing on those declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ – this is the hope of the Church. The wicked, rejecting Christ as Lord and Savior, will be fairly judged for their sins and will be banned from God’s presence forever, along with Satan and his angels.

I do not hold to a particular ‘tribulation’ theory (“post-trib”/”pre-trib”) for I do not feel that the end of these days should be, or is, of paramount importance to a Christian. We are assured of our eternal glory with Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and as such our focus should not be on when and how Jesus will come again, nor on what will or will not happen during that time.

Our focus should constantly be on the sharing of the Gospel of Christ and our obedience to Christ’s commandments given to us in Matthew 22:37-39 and John 15:12.

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