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Galatians 6:15b : A New Creature

SIH TOTT ICON

 

INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:

 

 

In this devotional we will be looking at the glorious message found in Gals 6:14-15…

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.   For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.”  (Galatians 6:14-15 KJV)

Our devotionals will be looking at:

  1. Glorying In The Cross (Gal 6:14a)
  2. The Dual Crucifixion (Gal 6:14b)
  3. Circumcision To No Avail (Gal 6:15a)
  4. A New Creature (Gal 6:15b)

In each of these devotionals our prevailing topic will be the sufficiency of Christ and the insufficiency of man to bring about the transformation of an individual’s life.

 

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL:

Galatians 6:15  “… But a new creature”

In the context of this phrase the Bible is comparing the reason why we are to glory only in the cross of Christ for our salvation.  We are told in the preceding phrase that circumcision (representative of human lineage and good works) will not secure salvation for us.  What is key to our attaining salvation and a new life in Christ? …

 

But a new creature

Salvation comes to us as we are made into a new creation through the intervention of Christ.   If a person has not become a new creation, they are not saved.  There are no exceptions to this.

In what way(s) are we made new?  In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are told that…

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The  Christian is made new in EVERY way.  But how can this be?  The key to understanding this passage is to understand the change of heart (love and desires) that takes place at our salvation.   When a Christian is saved they are giving a heart of love for their Lord and a desire to put Him first in EVERY aspect of their life.  This changes everything for the Christian.

When we love the Lord above all others, our attitudes about sin, loving and helping others, the importance of Scripture, our quality of work at the workplace, leading our families all change…  the list is endless.

When we begin to put the Lord first in every aspect of our life it changes us in every area of our existence.  We manifest our love for our Lord in our thinking, motivations, and actions.   We truly become new creatures in Him as every aspect of our life changes.

 

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”    (Ephesians 4:22-24)

This does not mean that we never sin, it simply means that when we sin, we regret it, abhor it, repent of it and seek to rid it from our lives, instead of enjoying it and not caring about retaining it in our lives.

 

Summary Of Our Study

So when we recognize the great change that has taken place within us, why do we glory in the cross of Christ instead of glorying in our physical lineage or works?   It is because that great change has ONLY taken place through the gracious intercession of the Lord Jesus into our lives.

When we didn’t want Him, He lovingly brought us to Himself.

When we didn’t see our great need, He mercifully opened our eyes to the horrible condition we were in.

When we couldn’t repent nor believe in Him, He graciously gave us these wondrous gifts.

Even now following our salvation, any good thing that we do for Him is only due to the enabling of His Spirit which He has placed in each one of us.

This is why we can only boast in Christ for the great change that has taken place in our lives!

 

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A New Year… A New Beginning

SIH STSTA ICON“The Former Things Are Passed Away… I Make All Things New”

 

 

 

A new beginning.  For many of us, this is one of the greatest desires in our lives.  We look back and see mistakes that were made; sins that were committed; and hurt, pain, and loss that cannot be undone. Our only hope is for a new beginning.

But for many of us, apart from Christ, there is no real hope for a new beginning.  We understand that the effects things we have done, and things that were done to us, will continue to affect us as long as we are alive. And then, once our life comes to an end, there is absolutely no reason to believe that our condition will improve in anyway.

If we believe the record of the Bible, those without Christ can only expect a much worse experience after death than what was experienced here on earth.   Ephesians 2:12 summarizes their condition in a very concise way when it says that a person without Christ is “having no hope, and without God in the world”.

But the story does not end there, all who have Christ, have the hope of a new beginning.  A new beginning while yet on the earth, and a new beginning that will begin, and last, throughout eternity. What a wonderful blessing that the Lord has given to each one of us… the ability to have a totally new beginning that will remake us, lead us from the error of our ways, and erase all our regrets and sufferings for an eternity!

 

THE SCRIPTURES:

2 Corinthians 5:17 & Revelation 21:3-5

 

THE STUDY:

In the following texts, we can see the promise of a new beginning given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our first text addresses a new beginning that can be had while yet on the earth.  In our second text, we can see a new beginning that will be received, and will last, throughout eternity.  In both of these texts one principle is constant, the presence of Christ in the life of the recipient… 

 

 

2Co 5:17 KJV

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, we are told that “if any man be IN CHRIST”…. he has a new beginning: he HAS BECOME A NEW CREATURE while yet on earth…. 

In other words, a man has Christ is given a new existence while yet on earth.  He is given spiritual life and renewal, a new source of strength, a new set of desires, and a new heart of love for His Lord and others around him.

Although he will still feel the past effects of sin in his life, now he has One upon which he can lean, One upon which he can receive guidance, and One by which he can be comforted.  He truly has become a new creature in Christ, eternally loved by his Heavenly Father, forgiven through the shed blood of Christ, possessing a life revolutionized by the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Rev 21:3-5 KJV

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

In Revelation 21:3-5, we are told that the people of God… they have a new beginning: they WILL POSSESS A NEW EXISTENCE throughout eternity. 

In other words, those who have Christ experience a new type of existence that far surpasses anything they have experienced on this sinful world.  They will enjoy the physical presence of their Lord, they will have all causes of sorrow, pain, suffering, and death taken away, they will enjoy a new heavens and new earth that has not been touched by sin, nor corrupted by the workings of Satan.

 

 

THE SUMMARY: 

As the Old Year passes away and the New Year begins, may it be a reminder of the new beginning that is promised to those who are in Christ.  Just as the Old Year is gone, never to be revisited… so too, the portion of our life that has been lived never to be changed.  Just as the New Year has arrived, awaiting us with open arms … so too, we have received an invitation to begin a new life in Christ.

By forsaking our past sins, failures, and rebellion and turning to Christ accepting Him as Lord and Savior by faith, accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, any one of us can receive a new beginning now, and throughout eternity.  This is the key to living a life that is filled with joy and glory now, and throughout eternity!

 

1Pe 1:3-8 KJV –
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:”

 

 

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

 

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May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Christ Knew No Sin So That He Might Be The Sinless Substitute For His People!

 

“For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

(2 Corinthians 5:21)

To Love As Jesus Loved: Summary Of Our Study

SIH TOTT ICON“And though I bestow all my goods to feed [the poor], and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away…  

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.

(1 Corinthians 13:3-8, 13)

 

We have come to an end of our devotional series “To Love As Jesus Loved”. During this series, we have seen an incredible display of love in the life of Christ. Christ’s love for His Father, and for those who were given to Him by His Father, was put on display for all of us to recognize, learn of and imitate.

Keep in mind, the outstanding characteristic of Godly love is a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the beloved. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this basic principle in Galatians 2:19-20…

 

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

Through the testimony of the law, the lost individual sees their need of a Savior. As the lost one comes to Christ, he is made dead to the law (no longer under the penalty of the law) and given a new life of service to God.

 

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:

The newly saved individual has been transformed. They have been made dead to the old way of living under the domination of their fleshly desires.

They now are alive to Christ, living a new lifestyle of obedience to Christ. The new believer has been given a new standing before God, a new set of desires, new responsibilities and a new eternal home in the presence of God. This is what is meant by the believer being made “a new creature” in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Paul reminds us that another aspect of our new lifestyle is the empowerment we receive through the sanctifying power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  It is only by Christ’s grace shown to us through the indwelling Spirit that we can live transformed lifestyles of service to Him.

 

and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Paul, now emphasizes that living obediently is trusting the Lord day by day. The faith that believers exercise on a daily basis is a gift that comes from Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The same Lord that gave us a new lifestyle and enabled us to serve is the same Lord that loved us and exhibited that love for us by giving His life for us.

 

 

Our Lesson To Be Learned:

May we all follow His great example of love by giving of ourselves for Him and those who are around us. be willing to give of ourselves for our Lord and those around us, motivated by the love of Christ in our hearts. In doing so, we will be living lives that are pleasing and acceptable to God…

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)

 

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“He Died For Us That We Might Live For Him”

SIH STSTA ICON“Why did Christ die for us?” is a very simple 6 word question that yields many Scriptural answers for us…
1.  To Become Sin For Us (2 Cor 5:21)
2.  To Please His Heavenly Father (Isa 53:10)
3.  To Show The Father’s Love For Us (1 John 5:8)
4.  To Set The Perfect Example of Self Sacrifice (1 Peter 2:21)
5.  To Give Us Eternal Spiritual Life (Jon 20:31)
6.  To Show His Love For Us (Eph 5:2)
7.  To Liberate Us From Our Sin (Rom 6:22-23)
8.  To Give Us Peace With God (Rom 5:1-2)
9.  To Bring Us To God (1 Pet 3:18)
10.  To Fulfill The OT Law (Matt 5:17)

… the  list goes on and on

In this study, we will be looking at another reason why the Lord died for us…. so that we might live for Him…

THE SCRIPTURES:

2 Corinthians 5:14-17

THE STUDY:

14) For the love of Christ constraineth us;
The sacrificial love that compelled Christ to give His life for us, now works in our life as a controlling force that surrounds and restrains us.

because we thus judge, 
Why does Christ’s love affect us in such ways?  We examine His love thoroughly and make judgments based upon it:

that if one died for all, then were all dead:
Judgment #1
If Christ died for all His people, that is proof that all His people were fallen, sinful, spiritually dead individuals.  His death on the cross establishes that those for whom He died were spiritually dead and in need of a substitutionary sacrifice to escape the wrath of God.  If we were not all dead in sins, then it would have been unnecessary for Him to die for us.   Surely, choosing to die such a heinous death for His people proves their lost condition and desperate need of a Savior.

15) And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Judgment #2
If Christ died for all His people, His people are then indebted to give their lives for Him.  Instead of continuing on the path of selfish living that characterized their life prior to salvation, those for whom He died are to live their lives as “living sacrifices” for His glory.  It only makes sense, if He gave His life for us, do we not owe Him our lives in return?

One aspect of His death and resurrection is the visual example that He set for us.  He pictured our change of lifestyle by His death, which pictured our selfish rebellious life being put to death, while His resurrection pictured our new life of sacrificial service for Him.

16) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we [him] no more.
Judgment #3
After recognizing our need to give our all for Christ, we now can make our final determination… No longer can we look at other men dwelling on earth as our final, ultimate authority to obey.  Christ now comes first and our obedience to other earthly authorities must take a back seat to Christ’s will for our lives.

As Paul says this he recognizes that in the past, Christ dwelled on the earth in His flesh, however, He no longer does so.  This does not affect our need to place Him first in our lives.  His departure from the earth does not minimize our need to obey Him, instead it now emphasizes it for us, because He is now at the right hand of God the Father, ruling over all.

17) Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Based upon our recognition that:
1.  Christ died for us when we were in desperate need of a Savior.
2.  Since Christ died for us, we are indebted to be living sacrifices for Him.
3.  Although He is no longer with us on earth, we are to place Him first in our lives, He is reigning over all at the right hand of God in heaven.

…we are driven to the conclusion, that if we are the recipients of His gracious salvation and united with Christ by faith, we have become freshly created by Him (given a new nature).   The new nature that God’s people receive causes their old lifestyle of sin and rebellion to be neglected and relinquished; while a new lifestyle is developed that is now characterized by righteousness.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Why did the Lord die for us?  So that we might recognize our desperate condition, our indebtedness to Him, His position over us as our Lord and Savior, and our receipt of a new nature, which allows us to joyfully choose to live a new lifestyle in Him.

May we all take time to consider all that He has done for us, and choose to publically declare we are new creatures in Him through a lifestyle of submission to His will for our lives.

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.

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Spirits Among Us – Do Ghosts Exist?

SIH STSTA ICONThe belief in the existence of ghosts is on the rise, and no wonder… in today’s world the subject of ghosts has flooded the TV screen. A few of the TV shows that have ghosts as a central theme are: “Ghost Whisperer”, “Ghost Hunters”, “Ghost Stories”, “Ghosts Lab”, “American Paranormal”, “A Haunting”, “Celebrity Ghost Stories”, “Being Human” the list goes on and on.  One list I found said there are 50 shows currently on TV centering on ghosts.  If you would like to see the list just click here: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110628172308AA4hkzC

With the existence of ghosts a major subject in today’s entertainment world I thought it would be good to look at the truth about ghosts.  The Word of God is the final authority on all issues of life here on earth and in the spirit world.  Let’s take some time to examine the truth about ghosts.

THE SCRIPTURES:

Acts 7:58-60; Luke 23:39-43; 2 Cor 5:1-9; Phil 1:23-26; Psa 88:9-12; Eccl 9:10;

Heb 9:27-28; Luke 16:19-31; Luke 8:51-56;

THE STUDY:

To begin our study, it is very important to define what we mean by a “ghost”.  “ A ghost”, for this study, refers to the disembodied spirit of a dead person that dwells among the living on earth.  This is the definition we will be using for this study.

The Bible teaches us that once a person dies they immediately depart from this world: 

(Act 7:58-60) And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.   And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.   And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

(Luk 23:39-43) And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

(2Co 5:1-9)   For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:  If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.   For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.  Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.  Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.  Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

(Php 1:23-26)  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;  That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

This is why the Word makes it plain that once we are dead we can no longer praise the Lord or serve Him on earth…

(Psa 88:9-12) Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.  Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.  Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?  Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

 (Ecc 9:10) Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Also, the writer of Hebrews understands that, once we die there is no longer any opportunity to receive forgiveness of our sins…. We are given this warning to motivate us to be sure we have received forgiveness in this lifetime…

(Heb 9:27-28) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The account of the rich man and Lazarus gives us a clear understanding of what takes place following the death of both God’s people and those who have never been forgiven of their sins…

(Luk 16:19-31) There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.  But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Notice in this account several interesting points:

  1.  Immediately upon death both saved and unsaved leave earth and enter the eternal state (saved into “Abraham’s bosom” – another name for God’s presence; unsaved into “hell” another name for eternal torment – or “prison” in 1Pet 3:19)
  2. They are recipients of the justice of God based upon their deeds on earth during their lifetime.  “he is comforted, and thou art tormented”
  3. Their eternal state cannot be changed.  There is a division between the two that cannot be spanned. “there is a great gulf fixed, so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
  4. When there is a suggestion of sending one from the dead back to earth, it is assumed there would be a resurrection from the dead.  There is no other option even discussed…  “though one rose from the dead”.  When Christ resurrected someone from the dead, their spirit re-entered their physical body, and then walked among men on earth…

(Luk 8:51-56) – And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.  And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.  And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.  And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.  And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.

After studying all the above verses, it is quite obvious that the spirits of those who have died DO NOT return to the earth as disembodied spirits. 

If this is the case, does this mean that the only living beings on earth are human embodied beings?  Absolutely not!

In our next blog posting, we will examine what spirit beings exist among us and how they affect our lives…

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who have trusted in Christ.

Let’s be careful to not get “caught up” with the modern day “ghost fever” running rampant around us.  Let’s always keep in mind, the final authority on the spirit world is our Lord and His Word.  Keeping in mind that departed loved ones will not return to the earth as a spirit, helps us to understand the tremendous responsibility to be a witness to those around us before it is eternally too late. (Matt 9:36-38)

For those who have never trusted in Christ.

The Lord, the Creator of all things (including the spirits of men) has clearly told us in His Word that the dead do not return to earth and dwell among us as spirit beings.  Knowing this should motivate us to seek the Lord while we yet have our physical life.  Once, we are dead, we no longer have the opportunity to come to Christ, nor can we avoid eternal punishment by simply returning to the earth as spirits and dwelling among the living.  (Jer 8:20)

If you have any questions concerning the way of salvation please feel free to visit or call a Bible teaching church in your area.  They will be happy to speak to you about the Lord Jesus and the salvation He graciously gives.

Or, if you would rather, feel welcome to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.  I’ll be more than happy to answer any question you may have.

Also, if you look at my blog page “How To Have A Relationship With God”.  On this page you will find several blog entries explaining the way of salvation.

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May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Biblical Soberness

SIH STSTA ICONAlcohol abuse affects approximately 14 million Americans.  This represents approximately 5% of our population.    The effects of alcohol abuse in our country is clearly on display… 20 % of suicide victims are alcoholic, alcoholism is the third leading cause of preventable death in the US, over 2 million people drive under the influence in the US per year.  These and many other statistics can be found at http://www.alcoholics-info.com/Statistics_on_Alcoholics.html.

After getting  just a glimpse of the effects of alcohol on theUSpopulation, it becomes easy to understand while there is a consistent, steady call for “soberness” in our society.  In today’s society the idea of “soberness” involves abstinence from intoxication, or in many cases, the complete abstinence from alcohol. “Soberness” is almost always used in the context of alcohol usage and abuse.

However, in the Word of God, the idea of “soberness” carries with it a slightly different meaning.  In the New Testament to be “sober” is not used exclusively in relation to alcohol but it is used in many aspects of our lives.  Also, the original language of the New Testament (Greek) being “sober” carries with it a variety of ideas:

  1. One of the Greek words for sober is a word that carries with it the ideas of “self control”  and “moderation.”
  2. The other Greek word translated “sober” means “to be sensible”, “to be aware”, and “to be watchful”

Let’s see how the idea of being sober is explained to us in the Word of God.

THE SCRIPTURES:

2Cor 5:12-13; 1Thess 5:6-10; Titus 2:2-6; 1Pet 1:10-16; 1Pet 5:8-9

THE STUDY:

Being sober is referred to in five different texts in the New Testament.

In the first text, 2 Cor 5:12-13, we find this idea, “sober” is referring to a sound, self-controlled mind…

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to [answer] them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

Here, we find that Paul and the other ministers of the gospel did not try to defend themselves by explaining their sincerity and motives to the Church at Corinth.  Instead, they chose to allow their life and message to speak for itself.  Paul and the others allowed the church to decide on their own about the motives of Paul’s ministry.

For whether we be beside ourselves, [it is] to God: or whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause.

Paul then continued, if the ministers of Christ were accused of being out of their mind (“besides themselves” – Acts 26:24), they put up with this false accusation for God’s glory.  Or, of people recognized that they were really of sound, controlled mind (sober) they were ministering out of a heart of concern and love for the church’s wellbeing

In this second text, 1 Thess 5:6-10, we find “sober” referring to the need for Christians to be watchful and alert.

Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

In the context, the Lord’s second coming is in view (1 Thess 5:1-5) Here we are told of the Christians need to be watchful (alert) against the sin and darkness of this world and to be watchful (alert) for the coming of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul uses two examples of being unprepared and unsuspecting, sleep and drunkenness.  In both cases, you have individuals who do not have keen senses, nor are they in full control of their actions, thoughts, and speech.

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

How does a Christian accomplish this responsibility of watchfulness and alertness?  By putting on the spiritual armor of God that enables us to remain faithful to the Lord while in the midst of a sin darkened world.  It is this same armor that gives us the ability to be consistently watching for Him to come at the second coming.  What is the driving motive for our watchfulness?  Christ’s death on the cross for us and His promise of an eternity with Him.

In Titus 2:2-6, we find that to be sober presents the need to be sensible or serious.

The idea of being sensible and serious about our lives touches every age group and gender…

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Old men are to be keenly aware of their influence on the lives of others.  As older men, who are held up as the wisest in society, they were to be to sensible about their outward testimony and take it very seriously.

Note all the other aspects of their testimony being described is outward in nature…

Grave – honest

Temperate – self-controlled

Sound in faith – doctrinally sound in teachings and beliefs

Charity – self-sacrifice for others, servant spirit

Patience – willing to suffer long for the sake of another

The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach

Just as older men must sensibly take their testimony seriously; so too, aged women are to do likewise.  Also, their outward actions are being emphasized in Paul’s instructions:

Becometh holiness – to be attractive based upon morality and separate from sin

False accusers – not to deceitfully defame others

Not give to much wine – No alcohol abuse leading to uncontrolled behavior, no drunkenness

Teachers of good things – Instructors of things pleasing to the Lord.

The older women were to teach the young women through their actions and words…

the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.  

The younger women were to take their testimony seriously as well.  They may not be as influential in general society due to their lack of maturity; however, they are extremely influential in the lives of their families (husband and children).  This is why they are to…

Love husbands/children – be willing to sacrifice themselves for their husbands and children.

Discreet – self controlled in mind and actions

Chaste – modest

Keepers at home – to guard, watch over, rule home

Good – morally upright and pleasing to God

Obedient to husband –  to recognize and submit to husband’s authority/responsibility to God.

By doing all of these, the young woman isn’t the cause of the Word being spoken against or defamed

Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

After listing several times, the basic issues involved with being sensible and serious minded about our testimonies; the younger men are now instructed to follow the same basic principles that we have seen in the preceding teachings.

In our fourth text, 1 Pet 1:13-16, we find watchfulness and preparedness being a key aspect to being sober.

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

In the previous context, the person and work of Christ was clearly revealed in Old Testament prophesies.  Based upon these miraculous OT revelations of Christ, the Christian responsibility is two fold:

Firstly, we are to serve Him in the midst of this sinful world.  To do this we are to strengthen our weak and vulnerable areas and be watchful and alert to the temptations and workings of Satan  in our lives.

Secondly, we are to be alert and watchful, as well as retain our confidence about the future promises He has given to us.

As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

By being watchful and prepared for service and His second coming we are children that are pleasing to Him.  Also  we are separating ourselves from this sinful world for His use.  By doing this we can follow His example and strive for consistent holiness in all areas of our lives.

Finally, in 1Pet 5:8-9 we find being sober is referring to being sensible and controlled.

Be sober, be vigilant;

Here, the responsibility handed to the Christian involves being”

Sober – sensible, serious and self controlled

Vigilant – to be on guard and expectant

As Christians, we are to be sensible, serious, controlled and on guard because…

because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Satan is “out to get us” and destroy our testimony and service to the Lord. He is searching with care and deception trying to bring us to ruin.

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

This is why we must solidly stand against him.  We are to realize we are not alone in this fight, but Christians everywhere are being tempted and opposed in their service as well.

 

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved …

In our study we have seen the importance of living sober lives, which involves:

  1. Living controlled lives of moderation by…
    1. Keeping our minds and desires under control as we serve Him.
    2. Be serious and sensible about our testimonies for Him.  We can do this by taking care to live Godly lives which include, but is not limited to, no drunkenness; it also includes honesty, love, patience, doctrinal soundness, modesty, and spiritual alertness, among others.
    3. Taking the threat of Satan and His workings seriously.  He is out to destroy us we are to recognize His workings and affects in our lives and the lives of others.
  2. Living watchful, and alert lives that are…
    1. Against the sin and temptation of this world through the use of spiritual armor given to us by the Lord.
    2. Focused on and confident of the second coming of Christ.

Are you living a sober life of service to our Lord?

For those who have yet to be saved…

As you can see from our study, the only way to live a spiritually sober life is through the divine intervention of Christ alone.  Without His presence in your life and His intervention through the indwelling Holy Spirit, none of us can lead a spiritually sober life.  Do you desire His presence and intervention?  Realize you have failed Him, and your sin is a great offense against Him, turn from your sin and turn to Him in faith, believing He will save you from your sins and submit to His Lordship for your life…

Matt 11:28-30 (KJV)

28) Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30) For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Halloween Part #2 – The Death Symbols

SIH STSTA ICONWith the Halloween holiday just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take time to study the history and characters surrounding the holiday.

As Christians, we have the responsibility to…

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22)

So with this as our motive and the desire of our hearts, let’s look at part 2 of our series on Halloween:

  1. A Study of The Halloween Celebration (All Hallows Eve)
  2. A Study of The Death Symbols – Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein Vampires, and Bats
  3. A Study of The Sorcery Symbols – Witches, Black Cats, Spiders, Werewolves, and Full Moons
  4. A Study of The Necromancy Symbols – Séances and Ouija Boards
  5. A Summary of Our Study On Halloween

May the Lord be glorified in our study….

THE SCRIPTURE:

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2Co 5:1-11)

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecc 12:7)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (Php 1:20-24)

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luk 23:42-43)

THE STUDY:

The History of Skeletons, Ghosts, Jack O’ Lanterns, Frankenstein, Vampires, and Bats:

Skeletons & Ghosts – Both were reminders of the death and the afterlife.  Keep in mind, the central theme of the Samhain eve festival was to honor and pacify the souls of the dead who walked upon the earth.  (Please refer to Halloween Part #1 – The Celebration)   The skeleton and the idea of ghosts were the ideal symbols for death.  The skeleton refers to a dead body; while a ghost refers to the spirit after its departure from the body at the time of death.

Jack O Lantern – Based on a legend about Jack, a lazy drunken farmer, who had trapped Satan with the use of a cross.  In exchange for his release Satan agrees to never take Jack’s soul.  At his death, Jack, who couldn’t enter heaven due to his sinfulness, nor could he enter hell due to his agreement with Satan, is trapped forever wandering the earth looking for a resting place.  He uses a hollowed out turnip with a burning coal in it to light his way.  This turnip that gave forth light was gradually changed to a pumpkin over time.

In some societies, the lighted pumpkin face was symbolic of the god of the darkness, Samhain, who would turn away other weaker evil spirits.  The people would place these pumpkins on display to ward off the evil spirits.

For more information about the history of Jack O Lanterns please refer to:  http://www.history.com/topics/jack-olantern-history

Frankenstein – The story of the Frankenstein monster was presented in a book by Mary Shelley, “The Modern Prometheus” or “Frankenstein”.  The tale of “Frankenstein,” revolves around Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s attempt to assemble a human body from parts derived from various dead bodies that were obtained from a graveyard.  Once assembled, Frankenstein then successfully brings the body to life. Over time, the monster demands to have a mate created by the Doctor.  After a failed attempt to create the mate, the monster rebels against the doctor. Dr. Frankenstein is forced to destroy his own creation.

The basic idea of this book was derived from a dream of Mrs. Shelley in 1815. In this dream, Mary saw her dead daughter suspended over a fire, warmed, and then brought back to life.

It is plain to see how easily the Frankenstein monster fits into the Halloween scheme.  Once again, we have the story of one who was once dead, possessing life and walking upon the earth.

http://www.thingsinthebasement.com/index.php/site/comments/the_history_of_the_frankenstein_monster/

http://www.phobos-deimos.com/History/Frankenstein/Frankenstein%20History.htm

Bats & Vampires – According to legend the Vampires, also know as “the living dead”, came out at night to feed upon the blood of their victims.  They soon became associated with bats due to the vampire bat of South America that came out at night, drank blood of animals to survive.

Most historians believe that both of these then became associated with Halloween due to their nighttime activity and their association with evil and death.

Vampires were ideal characters for Halloween due to their status as the living dead.

Bats, became associated with Halloween from their activity in ancient times. The druids would build fires to offer sacrifices and worship their false gods.  These fires would attract insects, who in turn would attract bats who feed off of them.  With the bats flying and congregating over the fires, they soon became associated with the spirits of the dead who were seeking a resting place.

http://www.hauntedbay.com/history/bat.shtml

All four of these groups of Halloween symbols share a common thread… death and restless spirits wandering on the earth.

What does the Bible say about the spirits of dead men walking the earth?

In our texts, the Bible makes it plain, that once a spirit departs from it’s earthly house (human body), the spirit goes into it’s eternal state:

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:”

“To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Note: this was spoken by Christ to the thief on the cross moments before His death.

This is one of the greatest of all Christian desires… that once we are done being used of God on earth, He will take us to our eternal home….

“For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:”

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope,”

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ;”

For those who are not saved, physical death and the accompanying entrance into the afterlife is a dreaded event.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;”

There is not a shred of Scripture that indicates that once a spirit leaves a body the spirit continues on in the earth, not entering it’s eternal state.  This teaching is made to order for Satan to mislead the lost into thinking that there is a way to escape eternal punishment for sins.   And yet, the Bible is clear…. All lost mankind will be punished eternally for the sins they have committed.

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” (Col 3:24-25)

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”(Rev 20:12-15)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian….

Can we honestly say that we “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1Th 5:21-22) when we participate in the Halloween festival?  Please prayerfully, consider this question.

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Remember, the Bible is plain…. After death we all must face a final judgment, answering for what we have done in our lives.  There is no escaping this.  If you realize you have committed sin and desire for to live your life for Him, then turn to Him realizing you can do nothing to save yourself.

The Lord gives us clear teaching on the way of salvation:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (Joh 14:6)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Act 4:10-12)

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1Pe 3:18)

 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:1-2)

Turn from your sins and come before the Lord, and trust only in Him for your salvation.

If you would like further information about salvation please refer to the page on my blog entitled “How to have a relationship with God”.

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To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at  http://www.youtube.com/settledinheaven

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog http://alivewithchristart.blogspot.com

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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Change We Can Believe In… It’s Not Just An Election Slogan!

SIH STSTA ICONIn 2008, during the presidential campaign, the slogan “Change We Can Believe In” was brought to our attention… over, and over, and over, and over again!   It was the slogan chosen for the Obama presidential campaign in an attempt to capture the desires of the electorate.   Apparently, based upon the result of the campaign, the slogan had hit a nerve with the people.

The desire for genuine change applies to many, many people, cutting across all age, gender and race barriers.  Talk to almost anyone in today’s time… they are unsatisfied, and wanting change to take place in all aspects of their lives.  The problem comes when we impatiently demand change, any change, without considering its end results.  Many times this type of change leaves us worse off than we were prior to the change.

The Lord helps us to recognize the most important, beneficial change that a person can experience in their life.  Let’s see what type of change will always lead to our benefit and satisfaction…

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,…  (2Co 5:17-18)

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mar 1:14-15)

THE STUDY:

In 2 Cor 5:17-18 – we read about the greatest change a person can experience in their life… this change is brought about by God in the heart of man:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature”  –  In other words, just as God created us at our conception by giving us our physical life; so too, He can also recreate us, giving us our spiritual life through the work of Christ.

“old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” – This change results in a transformation in our lifestyle and way of living.  What we used to love we now hate (sin and rebellion to God) what we hated we now love (Obedience to Him based on His word).

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” – Finally, our first text reveals the creator of this great change… it is God (“all things are of God”). It is through His will and workings in our life that we experience this wonderful change.  He changes us and brings us to Himself (“reconciles us”), through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  When Christ died on the cross, He was paying the penalty of the sins of His Father’s people (John 17:9-13).  This payment results in the forgiveness of our sins and adoption into the family of God.

In our second text, Mark 1:14-15 teaches about our response to the Lord’s working in our heart…

“preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:” – This message of Christ was spoken to prepare mankind for His death and resurrection  and the reception of a new life in Christ.   This message was good news (“gospel”) of Christ.

“repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mar 1:14-15) –  Here, our response to His intervention is described as belief and repentance.   Remember how we said that we become a new creature when God intervenes in our life?  We said that this change brought us a change of lifestyle and way of living.

The terms “believe” and “repent” reflect this change in our life as well:

“To repent” – means to change, especially to change our minds, to think differently about things.

“To believe” – has the idea of accepting something as absolute truth and relying on it.

Why are repentance and belief necessary responses to the Lord’s workings in our life?….

To become a new creature in Christ many of our old attitudes about sin, death, the Bible, and even the Lord Himself must change and we must come to believe a new set of truths.  This is what becoming a new creature is all about… it is a life changing experience that revolutionizes the way we look at many different spiritual issues.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those of us who are saved, as “new creatures in Christ”, we should constantly review and reinforce the truths we have come to accept.  By doing this, we are constantly reminding ourselves of the true nature of this world, our Lord, His Word, and eternity to come. (Roms 12:2).

For those who have never come to a saving knowledge of Christ, it is necessary to act upon the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…  “repent ye and believe the Gospel”.

In other words.…

“Change your mind about your sin…. See your sin as harmful and an act of disobedience to the Almighty God, recognize your need to hate it and rid it from your life.”

“Change your mind about The Lord… See Him as your only hope of salvation, recognize He is the ultimate authority holder, who loves you and desires your worship.   Look to Him as your only source of spiritual life.”

“Change your mind about your eternal status before God…. See that without Him you have committed sin and the guilt of your sin remains upon you.  You deserve eternal punishment and, without Him, you cannot escape that judgment.  But, through His intervention in your life, you can escape that punishment and know that someday you will enter eternity with Him”

“Change you mind about His Word, accept the fact that His Word is true, it can be relied upon, look into its message and see the way of salvation clearly revealed to you.  Understand that His Word is a vital part of your daily walk of life and contains “His revealed will” to man in its entirety.”

And finally….

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, rely on His death on the cross to pay the entire sin debt you have built up in your life.  Realize He suffered for you so you could escape the eternal suffering of hell.  Place your entire being at His mercy and accept that you can do nothing to save yourself… all you can do is rely on Him for your soul’s salvation.”  (John 3:14-18)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

I’m Saved! In Church I Walked Down The Aisle and Said A Prayer…

SIH STSTA ICONAs a Pastor of 15 years, I used to ask the question, “Have you ever been saved from your sins?”.  I have received many different responses to this question.  Here are a few of them…

“Of course, I was baptized as a baby in (church name)”;

“Yes, I am saved, I am a member of (church name)”;

“Yes, I have kept all the sacraments of my church”;

“Yes, I was born into a Christian family, we’ve been Christians for at least four generations”;

“Why yes, thank you for asking, I walked down the aisle of (church name) and said the sinners prayer back in September of 2001”;

and many, many more.

It has broken my heart to hear responses like this coming from those for whom I care.  If you notice, in every case, the above responses imply that our salvation is based on something we have done.  The Bible makes it plain that our salvation does not lie in what we have done, but what the Lord has done in us.  (John 6:44-45, 6:63-66, Eph 2:8-10, Php 2:12-13, Col 1:25-29, Titus 3:4-5)

So where did we get the idea that salvation is based on something that we have done?  Sad to say, in many cases, the churches of today must take responsibility for fostering this false belief.  Since I am a Baptist pastor, I will use Baptist churches for my example… my heart aches when I see other Baptist pastors, at the close of the service, beg and plead for people to “come down the aisle and be saved” or “repeat the sinners prayer after me and be saved”.

In many cases, this is done by well-meaning pastors who are trying to encourage those in attendance to make a commitment to Christ.   But, instead of bringing about commitment, they are encouraging others to trust in a work for their salvation.

Please remember, a person can be saved just as easily standing in the pew, or sitting in a chair, or lying in a bed etc etc.  The Lord can work in the heart at anytime and any place, not just at the altar in the front of the church.  Likewise, salvation comes through Christ creating faith into the heart of the faithless, not by us saying any prayer.

Whenever the gospel message is given out in the Bible, it is never accompanied with the instructions to walk an aisle, or say a “sinner’s prayer” (the same can be said for baptism, church membership, keeping the sacraments, or being born into a Christian family).   The gospel message, when given in the Bible, is accompanied with the instructions to trust in Christ and His work. (Acts 16:30-31, John 3:15-16 etc etc)

The only way we can be certain we are saved is by knowing the Lord has worked in our lives.  How can we know this for sure?  The Bible makes it plain….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. … For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:17-21)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  (Jas 2:14-26)

THE STUDY:

In the Bible, a true salvation experience brings about change in the life of the believer.  When God intervenes in the life of a sinner and brings him to salvation, the newly saved person becomes a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17-21)  This “new creation” involves a new attitude about the Lord and sin.  (Eph  4:22-24)  The newly saved now sees Christ as their Lord and despises the sin in their life.  This new attitude then motivates the Christian to begin a life of service to their Lord and Savior.  This service is described as fruit bearing. (John 15:1-5, Gals 5:19-26)  This changed life is one of the reasons why God has saved us (Eph 2:8-10).

Also, this changed life is what gives us the ultimate assurance that the Lord has worked a work of saving grace in our lives. James clearly presented this principle in James chapter 2.  In verses 14-26, James refers to “dead” faith as opposed to a Godly saving faith.  How can we tell the difference?  James tells us the works that we perform will reveal the true nature of the faith we have within us.   The lack of a changed life shows us that the faith we possess is not of God but simply a work that we performed in and of ourselves (a dead faith).  A changed life brought about by our faith, shows us that our faith is a work of God in our heart. (Please read James 2:14-26 in it’s entirety to come to a full understanding of James’ teachings.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

So let me rephrase my original question, “Have you ever exercised faith in Christ?  If so, has this faith produced a changed life within you?  Do you now love the Lord and seek to please Him with your life.  Do you now hate sin and strive to rid it from your life?”  These questions get to the heart of our spiritual condition.

If you can say, “yes” to all three, you can be assured that you have been forgiven of your sins and are a part of God’s family.  If you must say “no” to any, or all, of these then you must come to the realization you are yet in your sins.  If you are yet in your sins, please follow the dictates of God’s Word….

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”(1Jn 5:11-13)

If you would like more information about salvation, please refer to my blog page entitled “forgiveness”.

Also, if you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”