Tag Archives: Salvation

Hold Your Confidence Steadfast

Hebrews 3:14-19

14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

There is a growing surge of those who think that once they kneel at an altar, confess their sins, and recognize Jesus as Lord, they cannot lose their salvation.  Once-save, always-saved is the usual way we say that.  They believe whatever they do after that moment at the altar does not matter.  Grace will cover any sin.  All I have to do is ask forgiveness again.  Jesus will forgive us over and over.  After all, He told the disciples they must forgive unendingly if someone sins against them!  Would not God do the same for us?  Of course, He would.

The passage here indicates the opposite though.  This passage tells us that if we do not believe, if we do not hold onto the confidence we have in Christ, we will not enter into His rest.  He will not taste the fruit of the promised land.  How many did that entail?  If we look at the sheer numbers, we find that the population of Israel was fairly constant in the wilderness.  There were only 1,820 less men of war who entered Canaan then who left Egypt.  That is astounding after a 40-year period.  But we also know that, because of unbelief, all the men of 20 years old and upward when they left Egypt, died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb (Moses died just before crossing Jordan). Why did they die?  Because of unbelief.  They had murmured against God enough.  Several times they wanted to return to Egypt because of the hardship of the desert.  Several times Moses interceded for the people and Gd spared them.  But when the spies came back from the promised land and brough a bad report, that was the last straw for God.  He had told them they would enter the land, and that the land was theirs.  Joshua and Caleb said they could take the land.  But the other ten put fear in their hearts, and they did not believe the two, or God.  This unbelief caused God to say all those 20 years old and upward would die in the wilderness.  This was right at the beginning of those 40 years.  If they had only listened to God they would have avoided those 40 years in the wilderness and the promise would be theirs.  How sad!

Today we loom back and see what happened to these Israelites, and we forget the lesson that is there.  Many go about ignoring God’s commands and living life the way they want to live it.  They don’t listen to the words of the preacher, but harden their hearts (see yesterdays lesson) and go about doing their own thing.  I would venture to say the most rampant sin in the church is unforgiveness.  Did not Jesus say that if we do not forgive our fellow man, God will not forgive us?  How often do I ignore that, holding grudges and saying awful things about those who wrong us? Then there are the words of Paul that we should not grumble or complain.  I hear these two things constantly from other Christians.  Paul tells us we should not allow corrupt communication proceed from our mouth, but our words should always minister grace to the person we are talking to.  How often do my words hurt others, even if spoken only to my wife?

We are all in the process of working out our salvation, and we should do so with fear and trembling.  Heaven is not a given, it is a gift.  A gift of God’s grace that we should not take lightly.  We are serving a holy God, and he asks us to be Holy like Him.  We deem that impossible, so we figure some sin won’t hurt us.  I know I do.  Maybe you do not.  I am far from perfect, and I do things that I should not do.  Paul even had that problem.  At one point he said he does the things he should not do, and does not do the things he should.  I can sure identify with that!  But he follows it up with thanks to Jesus for the gift He has given us in salvation.  Paul’s heart was always in the right place and he walked a walk similar to David’s, a walk of repentance.  He made sure he was always right with God by asking forgiveness every time he took a wrong turn. I need to stop taking God’s grace for granted.  We all must.  Our missions is to show others the light of Christ.  When I sin, my light dims a little and my witness is affected.  When I walk in integrity, I also walk with a confidence like I first had when I got saved.  This is the confidence God wants us to have.  The Ephesian church was scolded because the left their first love, the love of God.  We put aside God’s love when we take Him for granted.   We think He owes us forgiveness.  He does not owe us anything.  He already gave His all when he gave His son.  Now it is up to me to walk out the grace and mercy He has placed inside of me when I asked Him to be my Savior and Lord.  I must treat others the way He treats me.  That is what we do when we truly believe!  That is how we enter his rest.

Destroying the Power of Death

Hebrews 2:11-15

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

What a family we have in Jesus Christ.  A family of sanctified people.  Can you believe Jesus is not ashamed to call you His brethren?  I mean, look who I was.  I was a drunkard, a drug addict, a slovenly, bad-mouthed, long-haired hippie freak.  I was a very unlovable person.  Yet He loved me even then.  He found me right where I was and called to me.  He reached out to me when I did not even really know Him.  In that moment my life was changed.  I was transformed.  It took a while to take out the rough edges.  Well, who am I kidding?  He is still taking out the rough edges 45 years later.  I have yet to come to the perfection I would like to gain.  But he continues to work on me even though I disappoint Him so often.  He is still sanctifying me, yet I am sanctified in Him, And He calls me His brother and His friend, He says I am his and he is mine.  He pours His blessings into my life every day and gives me hope and strength.  He allows His peace to overcome my anxiety and His joy to defeat every sorrow.

Because of all this, and so much more, I will sing His praises to my brethren.  Many do not know Him yet.  Many are still struggling through life without the blessing of God.   Many are hurting, and suffering and sorrowful and have no peace.  Even in the church I need to sing His praises and lift His name up.  He has ordained me to preach the gospel and to share His message of love to all.  What am I waiting for?  I must trust Him to give me the words to say when asked about His love, or when asked about the joy that is within me.  I need to declare His praise more often.  There are those that God has given me to witness to and I do not want to let Him down. Lord, open my eyes to see the opportunities you have given me to share your word and your salvation.  Help me trust that you will give me the words to say when the time is right.

Because we are just flesh and blood.  We are susceptible to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  We fall prey to the enemy because in our flesh we are weak and desire the things which please his flesh and not you.  We taste of death daily while in this flesh.  This body, this shell, that we live in will pass away some day, and our spirit and soul will survive.  The question of life is where will we spend it after death?  Where will be our home for eternity?  Will it be with the devil and His minions in the lake of fire.  Will it be in suffering and torment all the days of our death?  Will it be where insects eat at our body all the day long and fire engulfs us yet we do not burn?  Will it be a horrendous ordeal?  This is the second death.  This is the fate of the unbeliever.

Bet Jesus came in the flesh., He became like us leaving His royal home and taking on the body of a man.  He was God, but became a man.  He gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins.  He defeated the works of the enemy by living a sinless life and showing us the way to His perfection.  We no longer have to live in sin.  We have been set free from bondage.  We have been set free from the power of death because He has destroyed the power of the one who brought death, the second death.  He rose from the grave to show us there is a heaven, a home for us away from the depths of hell.  When we trust in Him, the enemy has no more power to put us into bondage.  He has set us free.  We no longer have to fear the enemy and His wiles because we can call on Jesus and he will save us. Now we are free, and we need to walk in that freedom.  I need to make sure I don’t walk in the flesh, but in the spirit.  I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.  I cannot waiver, or move to the right or the left.  He leads me in a straight and narrow path.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.   There are times I am tempted to walk in the flesh and I need to make sure I do not give in to those temptations.  There are times I want to taste of the fruit of my enemy, but I must not even taste.  One taste can change my mind from following Him to giving in to my flesh.  One taste can change my direction. My desire is to stay true to the one who has destroyed the power of death over me and freed me from the bondage of sin.  What is your desire?

So Great A Salvation

Hebrews 2:1-4

2 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

“Give the more earnest heed.”  I sometimes wonder what I am giving the most attention to, do you?  After all, this world bombard us every day with images, news, music, and a myriad of other things to keep our mind occupied.  I can get distracted so easily!  I will be typing away on an email, or this blog, and suddenly another thought will come into my head and I’ll go do something else that I think is more important at the time, I often make out lists of things to do today only to work on something besides what is on the list.  I am straying from the things I should be giving the “most earnest heed” to.  Of course, I also often forget to put things on that list that should be priorities.  I need to work at making my lists better, I guess.  The point is that I often get distracted.

The time when I get the most distracted is when I pray.  There are so many things that should receive the “most earnest heed” when I am praying.  My own financial situation, for example, needs a lot of prayer.  I have a friend in ICU who has COVID.  He needs my prayer.  Another friend is building an army for the Lord and needs my prayer.  But I have a tendency to get busy and forget to pray as I should pray.  I have begun, this year, to keep a prayer journal, trying my prayers daily into a word document.  These are by no means all my prayers for the day as all day long I pray when I feel the Holy Spirit asking me to.  This journal is my morning prayers, and it has helped me to focus and make sure I devote the time I should to prayer.

But more important than all these things are that I give “the most earnest heed” to the words of Jesus – the red letters if you will.  The writer here acknowledges that many have come before and spoken about Messiah – the words of angels he calls it.  These would be the words of the prophets, the Psalms, Proverbs and the like that point to righteous living and a holy God.  They spoke of walking upright, and that our sins would surely receive an equal and devastating reward.  The Jews had been warned since the beginning of their nation that if they forsook the Lord, bad things would happen.  Just read Deuteronomy 28!  We can see some of these things creeping into our land even now because we have neglected the words.  The Jews knew the scriptures, and the writer here reminds them of the words that were spoken before, because they knew the wages of sin.  The knew their transgressions carried a just reward and it wasn’t a good one!

When Jesus the Son came everything took a step up.  Now the Son has come to share that His words bring life.  His sacrifice brings freedom from sin.  Following Him will give us joy unspeakable and full of glory.  He brought words of healing, of deliverance, of salvation to all.  He taught us how to live and move in God’s will.  Ho showed us by example the ways in which we could minister to others.  But most importantly, He died on a cross to take away our sins.  He told us this is why he had to die, and the apostles and disciples went out and told the people as well.  The told them how much they needed to accept Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins.  Then they confirmed their words with signs and wonders.  All through the book of acts we see things happen that are against the natural order.  These would be signs and wonders.  Ananias and Sa[hire dying, prison doors opening, lame man walking, dead rising to life, healing by merely being in a shadow.  All these things were God’s way of getting people’s attention.  The words of these men should not be neglected, especially the words of Jesus.

Over 80% of the world’s population reject these words of life!  Actually, it’s probably higher than that.  The latest figures I could find reflect that 25% of the people in the world are Christians.  This is going by their own admission, of course.  How many Christians do you know who do not adhere to the words of Jesus when it comes to salvation?  How many do not believe in the whole “born again” thing, or that you have to be saved?  I would guess if you really got down the nitty-gritty that maybe 10% are really Christians by the “born again” standard.  It’s probably less than that!  Even those who say they are Christian neglect this great salvation message.  Many think that they can just doe good, go to church, and put something in the offering and they will be fine.  But this gift of salvation has to be accepted.  Yes, it was freely given when Jesus died on the cross.  We must accept it by faith – it does not automatically become a part of my life while I do nothing.  John 3:3. Romans 10:9-10 and 1 John 1:9, among many other verses, all say this.

How about you today?  Have you been born again?  Have accepted this great salvation, or have you neglected the message that the New Testament is all about.  The greatest gift ever given is Jesus Christ crucified.  His sin free life made atonement for all my sins, and I can be washed from my sins simply by accepting this gift and then following in His ways.  My actions and good deeds will never get me to heaven.  Only the confession of my mouth can do that.  Why don’t you accept Him today and stop neglecting this great salvation you have been offered, Simply say this prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I have sinned and I ask you for forgiveness.  I will repent and turn from my sin, and from this day forward I will follow you.  Help me to be what you made me to be.  Thank you for my salvation!” Yes, it really is that simple.  Now, if you have prayed this prayer for the first time, please comment below and I will contact you.  Everyone needs someone else to help them on this journey.  Jesus had 12 men who followed Him everywhere.  We need people too, especially when the hard times come.  Jesus needed help carrying His cross the burden was sop heavy.  There are times you will need help carrying the things that will come into your life.  A Christian brother who can help you understand the word is good to have.  Don’t try to walk through this Christian life alone.

Some Things to Avoid

 

Titus 3:9-11 

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;

11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

I am hearing a lot of foolish questions lately.  Foolish to the point of what does that have to do with how we should live our lives today.  Isn’t today the important thing?  We are never promised tomorrow. Are we?  So why is there wo much emphasis these days about what is going to happen in the future?  Why is it so important to study The Revelation of John?  Why must we know every detail, every little thing that will happen in heaven?  Why do I need to know about the crowns, and the vials, and the trumpets sounding?  I see people spending so much time on this and so little time on what they should be doing right now for the Kingdom of God.  I know I mentioned this a few posts ago, but I truly believe the ones who are all caught up in future events have missed the point entirely.

Jesus taught a gospel of today.  Read the Sermon on the Mount if you want a snapshot of what you should be like here on this earth.  The beatitudes at the beginning is a great place to start and Jesus started here for a reason.  Be poor in spirit, be meek, be merciful, be a peacemaker, hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are things we must do now – we must practice now.  Not tomorrow or the next day, but now.  These are things that can grow in each one of us and that will minister to all those around us.  Jesus starts out with these for a reason.  If we do now have these down, the rest of the Sermon goes to waste.  We will never be able to accomplish the rest.  Forgiving one another, going to our brother when we have a problem between us, going the second mile, lending more than was asked, not judging.  These things are so needed today, If we would set our minds on keeping these truths today tomorrow will take care of itself.

One other thing Jesus said, in Matthew 6:33 and 34, was that we should first seek the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is here on this earth now.  It is living with in each one of us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  It is full of the fruits of the spirit and operates in the gifts of the spirit.  We need to seek that Spirit inside of us that would move us to good works and good words.  The Kingdom of Heaven is what is to come.  People are seeking that instead of the Kingdom of God.  I did a study about these two kingdoms years ago and it was astonishing to see how they are spoken of by Jesus.  If you have never studied that out, I recommend you do.  We are supposed to be seeking the Kingdom of God first, not the Kingdom of Heaven.  We have it backwards.  If we would just start seeking the Kingdom of God instead of the Kingdom of Heaven, the beatitudes would come alive in us and we could change the world.  We should avoid foolish questions about what is to come and concentrate on what is true today.

Avoiding genealogies is a different story, and I am not sure exactly what Paul meant by this.  If I had to guess, I would say this has more to do with whether you are Jew or Gentile.  Today, in our society, it would translate to who is black, Hispanic, oriental, or white.  It makes no difference – the same gospel applies to all of us.  We all need to be saved.  Our heritage has nothing to do with who we can be in Christ.  He has a plan and design for each life, and we need to be about our Father business when we come across any person of any genealogy or racial background.

Avoiding contention and striving about the law are Paul’s next admonishment to Titus.  We have to keep in mind that Titus was left in Crete to help a newly formed church mature. The main thing Paul wanted Titus to do was preach the Gospel – get people saved.  So many people want to bring the law into play when we ask them about their religious beliefs.  This doctrine or that doctrine are said to be the right ones.  The laws we have put in place, or the laws of the Bible, are used to separate us into fragments.  The church is weaker because of this.  We need to keep the main thing the main thing.  Get people saved and help them to follow Jesus.  Help them to see that her has a plan for their lives, even in the midst of their deepest tragedies.  God will bring it around for good. People need to know this, not be caught up in a bunch of doctrinal beliefs or laws that would hinder their growth. Jesus didn’t say we should just go out and get people saved.  He said we should make disciples.  This means that not only do we lead them to Christ, but we help them become disciplined in the ways of Christ.

I have an issue with verses 10 and 11 though.  I don’t think we should ever give up on anyone.  Paul says that if a man does not heed corrections after the second time, we should reject him.  I do see the point of telling someone to leave the church if they are doing things that would bring shame to the church or to Jesus.  That has happened to me and I totally agree with that pastor’s decision. But that Pastor continued to pray for me as I went to be disciplined, and now we are friends again and I am welcome in his church.  I don’t believe we should ever give up on anyone.  You never know what simple word might get into their spirit and change their lives. May we all run with patience the race that is set before us and allow God to work out His plan in us, so that we might be more effective in our ministry to others.

The Quick and the Dead

2 Timothy 4:1-2

 

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

So which are you?  Are you among the quick or the dead?  This is not a reference to how fast you can run!  This is a reference to the nature of your spirit!  Paul tells us that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will quicken your mortal body!  That word quicken means to make alive!  The Spirit of God, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit, brings life into our spirits when it enters in at the time of salvation.  It is a similar life giving as when God breathed life into Adam into garden.  He had formed the body out of the dust of the ground, but as of yet, there was no life, no part of God, in that body.  But when God breathed life into him, he became alive.  We need the breath of God in our lives as well. 

There is coming a day when God will judge us all.  The quick he will judge according to our works on this earth and we will gain our heavenly rewards.  The crowns are mentioned throughout the Bible, and we will receive those crowns we have worked for.  There are five crowns.  The Crown of life will be given to those who persevere under trials.  The. Imperishable Crown is given to those who demonstrate self-denial and persistence in their faith.  The Crown of Righteousness is given to those who everyone who is in an intimate relationship with God.  The Crown of Glory is given to those who shepherd others and lead a life that is a good example for others.  The Crown of Rejoicing goes to men and women who work as evangelists, or who wins souls to Christ.  These crowns are then cast down at Jesus feet in a sign of submission and worship in Heaven.

The dead will also be judged.  Those who do not have their name written in the Lambs Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire, along with the devil and his demons. This is the final judgment on mankind.  They will never have an opportunity to leave that burning lake of fire.  For all eternity they will feel the flames of torment that were never, meant for mankind.  All because they refused to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  This is the only way to get your name written down – a personal confession of faith in Jesus.  He said that no one goes to the father except through Him.  Please, if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, ask Him to forgive you today, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  He will hear your prayer and wrap His loving arms around you if you do!

Then comes the call to our hearts.  Paul declarers the mission Timothy has in dealing with the churches he has been assigned to.  But this mission can be passed to all of us.  It is a microcosm of how to bring people to Christ. and how to disciple those who come to Christ. If we follow this simple formula, we will see our churches grow, our friends saved, and disciples rising up to follow Jesus.  I fall short in utilizing these steps too often.  I must learn to incorporate these things in my daily living and conversation.  Let’s take a look at how this works out in our lives. 

Preach the word.  I think often we get intimidated by that word preach.  We think it means to be a great orator and to together a stirring sermon that will touch the heart of a person.  We think we have to study hard to get the message just right.  Our minds tell us we are not preachers – far from it. We are too imperfect to preach.  But our imperfection is the key to the whole message!  God loves us just as we are, and we can tell that truth with conviction, we are preaching.  Sharing what God has done for me is the best preaching anyone can do.  It does not have to be a long, studied out argument on the merits of being a Christian and all that it takes to become one.  Just a simple testimony of what He has done for me, for you!  Preach that message and the world will listen.

Be instant in season and out of season.  Here is where the study comes in.  This is really where the rubber meets the road, so to say.  If someone comes up to you and asks you why you are full of joy, or why you have such peace in the midst of turmoil, are you ready to give them an answer?  Are you a student of the word of God?  Can you defend your position with solid scripture?  You don’t have to know the address, although it is helpful to give validity to what you are saying.  But knowing the word is helpful what times are good or bad – in season or out of season.  Have a read through the Bible? Do you have the word of God somewhere in your brain?  If you do, then the Holy Spirit can bring the right word to your remembrance when you need it.  I can’t tell you how many times He has done that for me.  And he will give you the words to say when you are asked about your faith.  But they must be inside you in order for them to come to your remembrance.  Study to show yourself approved!

Reprove, rebuke and exhort.  These three things are essential ij discipling others in the way of Christ.  If we are not doing these, we are not properly leading people down the path to holiness in Christ Jesus.  I need to do these to myself as well.  But we must do them with two key elements always in mind.   The first is longsuffering, or patience.  It is easy for me to want someone to change their ways now, to take my rebuke or reproof now, to grow up and mature in Christ now.  But I must always remember that God was patient with me and I must exhibit the fruit of longsuffering with others.  The old saying says Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Well, neither was a mature Christian!  These things take time and we must bear with those who are trying to find their way.  The second element is with all doctrine.  I have a friend who loves to tell me what a particular preacher says.  I want to hear what God says in His word, not what some preacher says.  Sharing a message someone has given is OK, but give me the word of God if you are trying top build me up or correct me.  The word of God is what can change a life, not the word of some preacher.  Preachers can get it wrong, but God’s word is always truth and life.

To reprove is to show someone the error of their ways, or to correct them.  This has to be done with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  You should never just walk up to someone and say they are doing this or that wrong.  And it should never be done in front of anyone else.  This is a private matter, and you must use wisdom m and the word to show them the error of their ways.  Remember that if they have offended you for some reason, that reproof can only come after forgiveness is granted.  Forgiveness to them for the offense, forgive ness to you because you took offense.  You should never give reproof if there is an offense that has not been corrected properly.

The same is true for a rebuke.  A rebuke is more of a warning that going a certain direction can cause one harm.  I get caught up on certain things from time to time and if I don’t get them under control, that can cause me harm.  One example is chocolate!  Once I start eating chocolate, it is hard for me to stop.  But if I don’t stop, or at least use temperance, I will balloon in my weight, which I do not want.  So, I must rebuke myself and remind myself that this is bad for me to keep doing.  This is a simple example, but I think you can see what I mean.  The spiritual applications are many.  Perhaps someone is listening to bad doctrine, or they have fallen into a pattern of sin, or they had stopped attending church.  All of these can be cause for rebuke.  But remember the lovingkindness and doctrine part!

To exhort is to uplift or encourage someone.  This is a positive thing but still must be done with patience and doctrine.  Too much of this can instill the wrong kind of pride in a person, and that is dangerous.  Exhortation should be true and justified, not just pretty words flowing off our lips.  If you enjoy your pastors’ message, tell them and tell them why!  Often, we just say “Good message”, but we never tell them, how it affected us.  Exhorting explains why it is a good message.  Exhorting lifts a person spiritually, not in the flesh.  Exhortation should come sparingly, but it should always come.  This is a sure way to see someone grow in Christ. These two verses show us how we should conduct our everyday conversations with others.  I pray you will go out and keep these words in mind as you go about your day.  Find someone to peach the word to.  Be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you.  Have the right words to say to those around you, and use them sparingly and lovingly.  If you do thisl sopuls will come closer to Jesus Christ all around you.