The Word For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
If there is any statement made by the apostle Paul in the New Testament that I would take issue with, it is found in his first letter to Timothy. He states first of all this truth: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” To this statement, all I can say is a resounding “Amen!”, but then Paul goes on to finish his statement by saying: “…of whom I am chief.” I have to be honest here and say that on more occasions than I dare openly admit, I would strongly challenge the apostle Paul for that title. This isn’t simply a flippant statement, but one I genuinely associate with, and that even after I have considered myself a believer for so many years now.
After listening to an excellent sermonat church on Sunday based upon Ephesians 1:12, we were exhorted to consider the subject of the assurance of our salvation. What was rightly pointed out in that message is that, even though the subject of the assurance of salvation plagues many Christians, it is helpful to identify where the real source of that concern lies. In short, most believers do not have a problem accepting that God is able to bring to eternal salvation a people for Himself, just as His Word has promised, even if they do not understand precisely how He will achieve it. And in a similar way, no matter how many arguments erupt within Christiandom concerning how God brings Christians to faith; most accept that even though it may be beyond our futile minds, He somehow manages to bring even the vilest sinner He has chosen to a sincere belief in His Son, Jesus Christ, without any meritorious help from the person being saved. The source of our anxiety then is not really that we question the ability of Christ to save sinners, but right now in this present day, often in our darkest, blackest hours of sin and doubt, how can we know that we are amongst those who will receive full salvation on the Final Day?
To those who would seek to cry “antinomian!” at what I write here, I am only too aware that all Christians are called into a life of keeping the commands of God for the glory of His Son, and is actually a sign of our love for Him (John 14:15). We are called to carry our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). Even in the New Testament writings, we are constantly exhorted to live a holy and blameless life before God and men, all for the glory of Christ alone. But which one of us actually achieve this standard on a consistent basis? And how much consistency in our service to Him must be lost before we should begin to ask the obvious question: “Am I really saved?” If I am painfully honest with myself and whoever reads this, based on my day to day thoughts, words and deeds (most only known to God and myself), I have zero reason to believe I am truly saved. So often, even though I may try to be a faithful servant, a stumble can lead to a fall headlong into old sinful ways. Sometimes to the point where I find it difficult to see the contrast between the new man I’m supposed to be (2 Cor 5:17), and the old one that is supposed to be dead and buried through baptism (Rom 6:6). So once again, where do I find my assurance of salvation that is not simply me burying my head in the sand?
Before I attempt an answer to this question, I would like to point out that I am not alone in this struggle. Apart from the many Christians who would openly admit their true condition also, and apart from the countless who fearfully hide their sinful deeds because of what that may imply concerning the sincerity of their justification, I have only to point to the one who penned the letter to the Roman church I mentioned previously. The same Paul who wrote that we are to consider the old man crucified with Christ in Rom 6:6, goes on to write this of himself in the following chapter:
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:15-25 (NKJV)
There are some who wrongly claim this is the apostle Paul talking of himself in the past tense, but this was him speaking very much about his present state as not only a Christian believer, but an apostle of God to the church. What we can come to understand when we accept that this text really is speaking about Paul’s present Christian struggle internally (and so ours also), is that this struggle in itself becomes one of the greatest indicators that our faith in Christ is actually sincere. After all, there is no such struggle in the unbeliever according to Scripture, rather they are described as dead in sin:
1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV)
If you are someone who is struggling not to doubt the genuineness of your salvation today, I ask you the question that needs to be asked above all else: “What say you of Christ?” Do you believe that He truly is God made flesh? Do you believe that He came to earth to live a sinless life, and then give Himself over to death on a cross as an atonement for sin? Do you believe that He rose from the dead on the third day, just as He said He would? Do you believe what the Scriptures say about you as a sinner, and Him as the only Saviour? Because regardless of what you may think of yourself, it is what you think of Him that matters above all else.
In the darkest hours of Jesus ministry many of those who had followed along deserted Him because of unbelief, leaving only a handful of worn and weary disciples with no other option open to them than to cling to Him. If this describes you today, hear the same words of comfort from Christ, and maintain the same attitude as they when asked if they want to leave Him too:
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:60-69 (NKJV)
Yesterday evening my wife and I were watching an episode of “Pacific” together, which is a series of films that follows the lives of some American soldiers in Japan during World War II. As we were watching, we talked briefly about what it must be like to be in a situation where every day you wake up, it could very well be your last. Which in turn reminded us that is in fact true, whether we realise it or not.
This morning after sending the kids off to school, I read through some of the latest articles in my feed reader, only to come across this excellent and uplifting post. As I read it, I couldn’t help but feel conviction as to why at times I feel that my joy in the Lord is robbed, and it is for the very reason that my eager expectation of the return [Continue reading...]
For many years I have been largely ignorant of reformed theology due to a lack of doctrinally sound teaching throughout much of the charismatic church, which has been my background for most of my Christian life. Since the Lord woke me up to this fact however, I have been utterly fascinated and amazed how much the Bible clearly teaches us concerning the mysterious ways of the Lord, as He works in the lives of believers for their salvation. Whereas once I groped around in the dark to figure out the mysteries of God, as though this were some noble act of faith. Instead now I have the Light of His Word, and can see clearly, and without being strongly affected by my own personal opinions, what God declares to be the truth on such matters regarding our eternal salvation.
One of the key weaknesses I can personally testify that exists within the charismatic type churches, is an abundant lack of assurance of salvation amongst the congregation. This would rarely be admitted to be so, but I am sure I am not alone in feeling this to be true. Probably one of the greatest things that cements this in my mind, is the utter ignorance, and mostly willing ignorance, with regards to the wrath of God against sin.
It is not my desire to enter into argument concerning the merits of charismatic doctrine here, but rather to highlight clearly what the Bible has to say about the salvation of sinners by the grace of God. For the true nature of salvation is far removed from the idea of salvation spoken to me when I first came to the Lord, and that which I have heard spoken to others during the years since. In general, the thing that has been glossed over in the majority of my Christian life, is that rather than being a simple one off point in history, true salvation is a life long process, that is initiated and completed by the Lord, and the Lord alone. The part of the believer being a total and willing submission to His will and purpose, every part of their life being willingly transferred to the ownership of Christ, and for His glory alone.
In this first article I would like to begin to highlight this process for anyone who is willing to earnestly consider this for themselves, and in so doing, reap the true assurance of faith that comes through total submission to the truth proclaimed in Scripture.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins Ephesians 2:1
The incomprehensive aspect of grace is the object of its affection. The holy One who transcends all things and who upholds all things is, has been, and forever will be perfect light and life in His person. The Lord’s natural and just response to anything unholy is to eliminate it as pollution. The essence of sin is cosmic treason against the Creator and its due penalty is death. Sin is as an odious plague in God’s universe which justice demands must be quarantined and utterly annihilated, like a lethal virus in the body, and the sons of Adam are sinners by nature putting them in a perilous position before their Creator, “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:3). The Hebrew sacrificial system highlighted God’s perfect life in contract to the state of death found in sinners. No sacrifice that had a defect was a permissible offering as it was symbolic of a life short of divine perfection, thus leading to death. Similarly no diseased person was permitted in the camp—near the presence of the Lord—for the same reason. Per the Law pious Hebrews would not touch or approach a dead body and avoided the sick so as not to become ritually unclean. To head off any possibility of boasting in the flesh the Apostle reminds his readers of their natural state of hopelessness and helplessness, nothing meritorious being found in them. They, as with the rest, were three times dead: dead in their bodies through observable decay eventually leading to the grave; dead in their minds through the outward workings of the corrupt desires of their thinking, their wills, and emotions; dead in their spirits being destitute, cut off, totally blind, and deaf to God. Their lives were marked as insurrectionists and an utter abomination before the Lord.
Anyone with half a brain and a heartbeat will know how busy this world is, and how easy it is to get sucked into the “busyness” of daily life. Throw a couple of hungry kids into the equation, money worries, concerns about your job being safe, health worries, and worries about what’s happening in the world news, and it can all become more than a little unbearable.
Regardless of what some false teachers might say, sadly these pressures of daily life do not go away when you confess Christ as Lord and trust in Him for your eternal salvation. In fact, it’s more accurate to say that in many cases these pressures may increase rather than decrease, because to face tribulation and persecution for His namesake is more of a promise than a faint possibility.
They bring their bodies to the house of prayer but not their souls. They worship with their mouths but not in spirit and in truth. They are sticklers for immersion or early morning communion but they take no thought about keeping their hearts with all diligence. They boast of their orthodoxy but disregard the precepts of Christ. Multitudes of professing Christians abstain from external acts of violence yet hesitate not to rob their neighbors of a good name by spreading evil reports against them. They contribute regularly to the pastors salary but shrink not from misrepresenting their goods and cheating their customers persuading themselves that business is business. They have more regard for the laws of man than those of God for His fear is not before their eyes.
Originally posted 2009-07-24 07:13:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
In my previous post entitled “All Christians Are Hypocrites”, my intention was to make three points clear. Firstly was that all of us, whether considered Christian or not, are sinners that are deserving of God’s wrath against sin. Secondly was that only those having perfect righteousness before God shall stand in the Day of Judgement. And the final point being, unless we are certain we possess that righteousness that we may stand before Him, then we shall surely perish for eternity. What the Psalmist wrote in ancient times is as true today as it was then:
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Psalm 1:5 (NKJV)
Just as in fact many people do, including those who are labelled Christians, we can either accept the Word of God as the truth that it is, or we can seek [Continue reading...]
This beautiful song by Jill Phillips says so much in so few words.
It is a place we all get to at some stage sometimes even more than once, during a single day. Praise our Lord that we can rest in Him – when our minds and bodies are so weary from the sojourning we must endure while going through the regeneration of God, as He slowly forms Christ in us. Where would we be without this rest? He is our only constant, He is very wise. He is always near and He is our peace that surpasses all understanding.
God bless you
(As soon as I can work out how to move the actual song from my computer onto this site, I will post it for you to listen to.)
If you are not presently in a storm you have just come out of one or will soon enter one. The absence of storms in life is an illusion, trusting in the LORD amidst the tempest is wisdom. “When the whirlwind passes the wicked is no more; but the righteous has an everlasting foundation” (Prov. 10:25). Genuine faith is verified, refined, and cured in fire of the LORD. The impostor will be known as will the righteous in the day of trouble, for each will be recognized by their fruit. Pursue Wisdom in the day of calm so that in the storm you will not be swept away. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt. 7:24).
Originally posted 2012-02-27 09:00:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
As silly as it might sound to some there really is much danger in exploring Christianity. But think about it for a moment, if the Gospel is really what it claims to be in that it is the only thing that can rescue sinners from eternal hell, is it any surprise that the devil will prevent as many as possible from believing it?
Let’s face it, if we are sick we seek the advice of a doctor, right? And if we have a flood in the kitchen, we seek help from a plumber. So it stands to reason, if we suddenly become aware of our woeful spiritual condition in the sight of God, we seek the advice of those claiming to speak in His name don’t we? Well therein lies the problem, because what the Bible clearly tells those who are willing to receive its truth, is that [Continue reading...]