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Justification Through Faith March 11, 2016

Posted by JP in Discussion, Faith, Scripture.
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[I went on to say] Although we ourselves (you and I) are Jews by birth and not Gentile (heathen) sinners, Yet we know that a man is justified or reckoned righteous and in right standing with God not by works of the Law, but [only] through faith and [absolute] reliance on and adherence to and trust in Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). [Therefore] even we [ourselves] have believed on Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law [for we cannot be justified by any observance of the ritual of the Law given by Moses], because by keeping legal rituals and by works no human being can ever be justified (declared righteous and put in right standing with God). [Ps. 143:2.] But if, in our desire and endeavor to be justified in Christ [to be declared righteous and put in right standing with God wholly and solely through Christ], we have shown ourselves sinners also and convicted of sin, does that make Christ a minister (a party and contributor) to our sin? Banish the thought! [Of course not!] For if I [or any others who have taught that the observance of the Law of Moses is not essential to being justified by God should now by word or practice teach or intimate that it is essential to] build up again what I tore down, I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the Law [under the operation of the curse of the Law] have [in Christ’s death for me] myself died to the Law and all the Law’s demands upon me, so that I may [henceforth] live to and for God. 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. [Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]
(Gal 2:15-21)

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that [the murmurs and excuses of] every mouth may be hushed and all the world may be held accountable to God. For no person will be justified (made righteous, acquitted, and judged acceptable) in His sight by observing the works prescribed by the Law. For [the real function of] the Law is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin [not mere perception, but an acquaintance with sin which works toward repentance, faith, and holy character]. But now the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the Law, although actually it is attested by the Law and the Prophets, Namely, the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [And it is meant] for all who believe. For there is no distinction, Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives. [All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment. It was to demonstrate and prove at the present time (in the now season) that He Himself is righteous and that He justifies and accepts as righteous him who has [true] faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of [our] pride and [our] boasting? It is excluded (banished, ruled out entirely). On what principle? [On the principle] of doing good deeds? No, but on the principle of faith. For we hold that a man is justified and made upright by faith independent of and distinctly apart from good deeds (works of the Law). [The observance of the Law has nothing to do with justification.] Or is God merely [the God] of Jews? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, Since it is one and the same God Who will justify the circumcised by faith [which germinated from Abraham] and the uncircumcised through their [newly acquired] faith. [For it is the same trusting faith in both cases, a firmly relying faith in Jesus Christ]. Do we then by [this] faith make the Law of no effect, overthrow it or make it a dead letter? Certainly not! On the contrary, we confirm and establish and uphold the Law.
(Rom 3:19-31)

The Armor of God May 28, 2015

Posted by JP in Bible Study, Discussion, Faith, Scripture.
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armor_of_god_by_crashjensen-d30kfr0

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.

A few favorite songs… March 25, 2015

Posted by JP in Faith, songs.
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Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

 

When you’re up against a struggle, that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fear
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in seem to disappear
Praise the Lord, He will work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you, that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him
Now, Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think
That we are paupers, when he knows himself we’re children of the King
So lift up the mighty shield of faith for the battle must be won
We know that Jesus Christ has risen and the work’s already done
Praise the Lord, He will work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you, that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him
Praise the Lord, He will work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God abides in our praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seem to bind you
Serve only to remind you, that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him
When you praise Him
When you praise Him
When you praise
When you praise, you praise the Lord
Praise the Lord

 

In Christ alone will I glory
Though I could pride myself in battles won
For I’ve been blessed beyond measure
And by His strength alone I overcome
Oh, I could stop and count successes
Like diamonds in my hand
But those trophies could not equal
To the grace by which I stand

In Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope
Is Christ alone

In Christ alone will I glory
For only by His grace Am I redeemed
Only His tender mercy
Could reach beyond my weakness to my need
Now I seek no greater honor
Than just to know Him more
And to count my gains but losses
To the glory of my lord

In Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope
Is Christ alone I place my trust
And find my glory in the power of the cross
In every victory let it be said of me
My source of strength, my source of hope
Is Christ alone

My source of strength, my source of hope
Is Christ alone

 

Gay Marriage February 11, 2015

Posted by JP in Discussion, Faith, Scripture, Uncategorized, Venting.
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You may be gay, you may have been born that way. However God did NOT make you that way.

God’s original creation was one of beauty, and delight. One way in which Adam’s body did mirror God’s is that it was created in perfect health, sinless and not subject to death. It was the sin of Adam and Eve which corrupted that creation. With the fall of mankind because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, that aspect of our likeness to God ended. Sin entered the world and along with it, sickness, disease and death. It is the primary result of sin that human nature has been corrupted (Rom 5:12). Every part of man—his mind, will, emotions, and body—is affected (Rom 3:9-18). Our nature is now bent toward sin, so that man’s unregenerate heart is “deceitful … and desperately sick” (Jer 17:9)

‘Nature’ is a pleasant way of stating that our world operates in a corrupted version of God’s creation. Subsequently, God did not create homosexuality, disease, death, envy, malice, strife, hatred, mental illness, etc. All that is not right in the eyes of God has come about through the corruption of His creation.

I don’t care if you are gay or not.

I wasn’t put on this earth to make judgments on anyone’s state of being. It doesn’t matter to me if you are gay, straight, tall, short, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, addiction prone, insufferable, or marvelously happy all the time. As a Christian I have been commanded to love everyone as Christ has loved me: “I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].” (Joh 13:34-35)

It is however, my place to make judgments (discernment) on the sins of other believers (not the guy downtown whom I don’t know):

Christians are often accused of “judging” whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, “Do not judge.” There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment (John 7:24). When Jesus told us not to judge (Mat 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. Matthew declares, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others.

In Matthew, Jesus warns against judging someone else for his sin when you yourself are sinning even worse. That is the kind of judging Jesus commanded us not to do. If a believer sees another believer sinning, it is his Christian duty to lovingly and respectfully confront the person with his sin (Mat 18:15-17) This is not judging, but rather pointing out the truth in hope—and with the ultimate goal—of bringing repentance in the other person (James 5:20) and restoration to the fellowship. We are to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We are to proclaim what God’s Word says about sin. 2 Tim 4:2 instructs us, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.” We are to “judge” sin, but always with the goal of presenting the solution for sin and its consequences—the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Being homosexual is not a sin, but engaging in homosexual activity (sex) is.

This is a sticky point among religious folk. Many look to the words of the scriptures, specifically the King James Version, and take it at face value, building a belief on the words rather than the intent and meaning of the words. But I will clue you in to a scriptural truth and my thinking about that truth, beginning with 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:9-10)

The phrase “men who have sex with men” (translated “homosexuals” in the NASB) is a translation of the Greek word arsenokoitai. Those who object to this translation say that arsenokoitai does not refer to all homosexual relationships but only to those involving abuse, coercion, or unfaithfulness. They say the word does not refer to “loving, faithful” same-sex relationships.

Arsenokoitai is a compound word: arsenois the word for “a male,” and koitaiis the word for “mat” or “bed.” Put the two halves together, and the word means “a male bed”—that is, a person who makes use of a “male-only bed” or a “bed for males.” And, truthfully, that’s all the information we need to understand the intent of 1 Cor 6:9.

The word meaning “bed” carries a sexual connotation in this context—the Greek koitaiis the source of our English word coitus (“sexual intercourse”). The conclusion is that the word arsenokoitaiis referring to homosexuals—men who are in bed with other men, engaging in same-gender sexual activity.

The notion that some homosexual relationships are accepted is not even hinted at in this passage. The men’s commitment level or the presence of “love” is not addressed. The idea that the condemned same-sex activity is linked to economic exploitation or abuse is also a forced reading with no textual basis.

If we look at the whole of what Paul is telling us in the passage we see a list of activities which are ‘sinful’, or rather ‘separate from the righteousness of God’. Adultery is listed here, and anyone who knows anything about the teachings of scripture understands that adultery in all its forms is sinful (Mat 19:18, 1Th 4:3, Eph 5:3, et al)

So let me clue you in to something: Homosexual activity, at its core, is adultery. It is sexual activity committed outside the bond and covenant of marriage as established by God in His creation of Eve and His giving of her to Adam (Gen 2:22).

Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage, Gen 2:24, describes it as a man leaving his parents and being united to his wife. In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Cor 7:2-16  and Eph 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family.

Then you ask: since the courts and the laws of the land have now started making same-sex marriage legal, doesn’t that bring homosexual activity in a ‘marriage’ into the realm of God’s righteousness?

No.

It should come as no surprise that the world desires to change what God has instituted. “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Rom 8:7). Though the world is attempting to provide their own definitions for what they call “marriage,” the Bible still stands. The clear definition of marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life.

However, while we are admonished to submit to the government, and the government is now ‘endorsing’ same-sex marriage, we must also recognize that our beliefs and the dictates of scripture cannot be superseded by the whims of the government, particularly when those whims contradict God’s Word.

Gay marriage/same-sex marriage is a perversion of the institution of marriage and an offense to the God who created marriage. As Christians, we are not to condone or ignore sin. Rather, we are to share the love of God and the forgiveness of sins that is available to all, including homosexuals, through Jesus Christ. We are to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) and contend for truth with “gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15). As Christians, when we make a stand for truth and the result is personal attacks, insults, and persecution, we should remember the words of Jesus: “This is what I command you: that you love one another. If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you.  (Joh 15:17-19)

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.”

February 7, 2014

Posted by JP in Faith.
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But He gives more grace. Therefore He says, God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners; and purify your hearts, double-minded ones. Be afflicted, and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness. Be humbled before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
(Jas 4:6-10)

 

 

Forgiven – Even after nailing Him to the cross February 7, 2014

Posted by JP in Absolute Favorites, Faith, Uncategorized.
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Psalm 5 July 12, 2013

Posted by JP in Absolute Favorites, Faith, songs.
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 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee. But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
(Psa 5:1-12)

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).

Push Against The Rock… February 15, 2013

Posted by JP in Faith.
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A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.

This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing it with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Noticing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, the adversary decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man’s weary mind. “You have been pushing against this rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These troubling thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. “Why kill myself over this?” I’ll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough.

And that is what he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his thoughts to the Lord. “Lord” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even been able to budge that rock. What is wrong? Why am I failing?”

The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, When I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so?”

“Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.”

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is simple obedience and Faith in Him…

Exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves them.

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