Ephesians Pt27 Praying for Boldness

Ephesians 6:18-20(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Romans 12:12-13(ESV)12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Paul is writing to the church at Rome to encourage them and explain to them the characteristics of a true Christian. One of the characteristics that is recurring through most of his letters is prayer. Prayer is communication with the Father. If we do not pray how will we every communicate with Him?

If we live with our spouse and only communicate when we need something from them how great of a relationship we would have?

How come most of the time when we pray it is because we are someone we know is in a bind?

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 

This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words.

Ever had an awkward moment where a fellow Christian asks you to pray for him and you’re not sure that what he wants you to pray is a good idea? Here’s something that’s never out of place to pray in those situations—that God would be glorified in the matter.

In John 14:13(ESV) Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In every circumstance, it’s appropriate to pray “that the Father may be glorified” in it.

Let’s “pray for one another,” and pray biblically.

Prayer for one another is a Christian responsibility.

Believers are commanded in James 5:16(ESV)16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. From verse 13-16 it is a paragraph about praying in faith for those who are sick.

The rest of the New Testament makes it clear that the responsibility for Christians to pray for one another isn’t limited to prayers for the sick. Repeatedly, the Apostle Paul pleads, in 1 Thessalonians 5:25(ESV)“Brothers, pray for us” 2 Thessalonians 3:1(ESV) Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

One of the four chief characteristics of the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost was that “they devoted themselves to … the prayers” (Acts 2:42(ESV)42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Can anyone doubt that these corporate prayers included much prayer for each other?

While intercession for others may have become more common among believers after Pentecost, it wasn’t unusual in the Old Testament period. For instance, the prophet Samuel assured his fellow Israelites: 1 Samuel 12:23(ESV) “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you”

The main point is Paul is asking for prayer for boldness to speak the mysteries of the gospel. Ephesians 6:19-20(ESV) 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

John Calvin in his Institutes of Christian Religion states “Since then he arms and equips us by his power, adorns us with splendour and magnificence, enriches us with wealth, we here find most abundant cause of glorying, and also are inspired with boldness, so that we can contend intrepidly with the devil, sin, and death. In fine, clothed with his righteousness, we can bravely surmount all the insults of the world: and as he replenishes us liberally with his gifts, so we can in our turn bring forth fruit unto his glory.”Such boldness springs only from confidence in the divine favor and salvation. 

The single term that best describes the way God wants his gospel given is boldness. And because it’s translated various ways, even faithful students of Scripture might overlook its frequency. Boldness (parrhesia) is used forty-two times in the New Testament. It is translated “openly,” “freely,” “plainly,” “with confidence” but most commonly some form of the word “bold.” A bold witness is not a pushy witness. A bold witness is not a loud witness, unless it needs to be. Boldness is not obnoxiousness. It’s not rude or demanding. Boldness is the furthest thing from some wild-eyed preacher screeching in the streets, “You’re going to hell!” Boldness is clear, direct communication in the face of potential opposition, nothing more or less. According to Proverbs 28:1(ESV), it is a characteristic of the God’s children: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Are you bold for Christ?

Acts 4:23-31(ESV)23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

We live in a lukewarm society at best. It’s filled with “feel-good” churches and false teachers. Satan tells us these problems are small and shouldn’t matter to us. Satan tells us, “As long as they believe in Jesus, it doesn’t matter what else they do.” It’s not true. We can open the word of God and see there is a proper way for everything, whether it’s how we worship in church or how we live our every day lives.

The fact is, not every church is doing right. We have so many different denominations in today’s time. Obviously not everyone can be right if our beliefs are so different. The need for boldness is real. This world needs truth straight from the Bible, and boldness is required to teach this. Sometimes as Christians we are made to feel like the minority. In situations like this, it’s tough to stand against the crowd, but God will reward us for defending the truth.

1 Corinthians 9:16-18(ESV)16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

The simple fact is we should never be ashamed of our beliefs if they are correct. These beliefs come from God himself. God wants us to boldly stand up for the truth. Don’t beat around the bush and make light of your beliefs. Be bold! Show scriptures to show answers, and leave it at that. In a world filled with so many lies and so much evil, God needs bold Christians to stand up and fight for His truth. God makes the rules, not us, so it’s not up to us to change or pervert them. We can bring others to Christ if we are bold and show the truth.

To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus, confront sinners with their guilt and the danger of judgment, and offer God’s grace to those who repent.

  1. To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus.
  1. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST DEFLECT ANY GLORY AWAY FROM OURSELVES.

B. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST TELL PEOPLE WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE.

2. To proclaim the gospel, we must confront sinners with their guilt and warn them of impending judgment.

3. To proclaim the gospel, we must tell of God’s grace to the repentant.

So whenever you get an opportunity to talk to someone about spiritual matters, seek to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. The sinner needs to know who Jesus is and what He did. Don’t hesitate, out of fear of giving offense, to confront the sinner and warn him of impending judgment. He needs to feel his guilt so that he realizes his need for a Savior. And, don’t fail to offer God’s grace and forgiveness to everyone who will repent.

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Ephesians Pt22 Shoes of Peace

Ephesians 6:10-15(ESV)10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

The gospel of peace is the message that Jesus gave to those who trust in Him.
John 14:27(ESV)27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Romans 10:11-15(ESV)11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  

This passage outlines clearly what is the gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:1–6(ESV)Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

Any other message is a false gospel.

Jesus was sent to proclaim the good news (Luke 4:18). At the core of his earthly ministry was the proclamation of God’s reign. The Gospel of Mark provides a concise summary of Jesus’ message: “At last the time has come! The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!” (Mark 1:15). Notice that Jesus’ own preaching was not primarily about himself, but about the coming of the long-awaited kingdom of God, that which the prophets had promised and for which the Jewish people prayed every day.

Like Jesus, we have been sent to proclaim the good news. In addition to telling his disciples to wait for the Spirit to empower them, Jesus explained what the Spirit’s power would accomplish:

To be consistent with Reformed theology we must say that if a person is one of the elect, he will come to faith and repentance. It is divinely predestined that this will happen and it is impossible for it not to happen. But God has not shared with us two vital pieces of information. He has not told us just who the elect are and how they will be brought to repentance. He has decreed that we are to share the message with everyone, in every way possible (within the bounds He sets in His Word). Charles Spurgeon once said “if all the elect had a white stripe on their backs I would quit preaching and begin lifting shirt tails” (or something to that effect). God has not put a visible mark on the elect, so we are to treat all men as if they are among the elect, and are to share the Gospel far and wide. We need to share it with a sense of urgency.

We like to believe this doctrine of salvation that Romans speaks of Romans 10:13(HCSB)13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But who will tell them?

Romans 10:14-15(HCSB)14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

The whole idea of missionaries is to infiltrate a culture, learn the culture and preach the gospel to that culture. Only in America do we create a different culture and tell people to stay away from different cultures.

Here in America is the only “mission field” that we scold people for being like the culture. Every other country in the world we send missionaries to learn the culture of the people and preach the gospel to those people. We need to learn what it is to meet people where they are and say “Come up Here”!!

We don’t simply need evangelistic churches, but rather ‘missional’ churches.

The true Church is concerned with meeting the needs of others and discipling the lost. Most churches now are nothing more than fancy buildings for people who talk the same, act the same, like the same music and movies to have a place to gather and make themselves feel good about themselves.

Acts 1:8(HCSB)8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8 is personal “the Holy Spirit comes upon YOU AND YOU will be my witnesses,Jesus said be fishers of men and if you read it backwards it says

If your not fishing for men you are not following Jesus Christ.

We sit back and let cults come in to our neighborhoods and peddle their theology that is sending people straight to Hell.

What we have done as “The Christian Church” is made the people we are supposed to be evangelizing, our enemies. We would rather stay away from the dark than shine a light in it. But they still need the word too the gospel should be heard too. Romans 1:16-17(HCSB)16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.We claim we are not ashamed but yet we still haven’t evangelized our own neighborhoods. We in our Christian bubble while our brothers and sisters overseas are getting locked and chopped up for the sake of the gospel. See American’s ain’t Christian we just practicing a ritual.

Thats why we should be missional. Because what most churches peddle is nothing more than humanistic self-help repackaged with a sprinkle of Jesus on top. The culture around us doesn’t want any part of that. They are hungry for real, authentic Christianity. We build up walls and create Christian bubbles to protect ourselves from THEM. We have christian movies, music, coffee shops, clothing, restaurants, books,tv stations, cartoons,vernacular,etc. We created a closed off Christian culture that is very hard for the average non believer to come to Christ and learn. Because we were never to do that!!! We were always made to GO, GO and Make disciples.
Matthew 28:18-19(HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”I know you read the Great Commission let me just remind ya’ll Make Disciples of the Nation teach them to obey the Lord Hate to never lead someone to Christ before I see the Lord.The Great Commission says make Disciples of all nation. Have we even made em in our own nation?

We are to preach the gospel and live life worthy of being called a Christian, this does not mean that we will not mess up. This means that we have something worth telling the wold about. Do you even care that the world around you is lost and on their way to hell? It is not our responsibility on how the world will react to the gospel. That is the Father’s responsibility, the Holy Spirit will work on the hearts of the men to repent and turn to Him.

John 16:8-11(HCSB)8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

All of salvation is grace.  It is grace that God chose to save the ungodly; it is grace that Christ came to earth to secure the salvation of His treasured possession through His own blood; and it is grace that exchanges a man’s heart of stone for a heart of flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This work of the Holy Spirit in the salvation of men is known as regeneration.  Before man is able to respond to the Gospel message, he must be given ears to hear.  Because man is born dead in sin, he must be made alive in order to respond positively to the call to repentance (just think about a corpse’s ability to respond to anything). Without this work of the Holy Spirit, man would remain condemned and dead in his sins.

Jeremiah 17:9(ESV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Deuteronomy 30:6(ESV) And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Ezekiel 36:26(ESV) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Luke 8:15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

Acts 16:14(ESV) One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

2 Corinthians 5:17(ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

So why evangelize? Because God chose the method of men preaching the gospel  to turn the hearts of men from stone into flesh. Then what? It is our job to disciple them. We think  that evangelism is the hardest part but it is not, discipleship is.

Jesus sent his inner core of disciples into the world for the purpose of making more disciples. These new followers of Jesus would not only believe in him, but also would obey all the commands Jesus gave to his first disciples. The second generation of disciples were to make more disciples, who would make more disciples, who would make more disciples, and so forth until all nations are filled with disciples of Jesus. But, whereas the first disciples were to minister only among their fellow Jews while Jesus was on earth, after the resurrection they – and we – are sent out to all nations. Jesus explained this sending quite succinctly:

John 20:21(ESV) 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”We who follow Jesus are a sent people, even as Jesus was sent into the world by his Heavenly Father. We are a community sent on a mission together: to keep on doing the ministry of Jesus so that all people and all creation might experience the reconciliation of God. God has designed the church of Jesus Christ to be a “missional” fellowship. The word “mission” comes from the Latin word missio, which means “having been sent.” Since we have been sent to do God’s work, we are a “missional” community together.

We should have a clear understanding of the gospel of peace if we are to appreciate the material of which these shoes are made. By now the saint is dressed with a belt made of truth and a breastplate made of righteousness.

Before we focus on the word “readiness” and its place in the armor of God, we have to learn about the gospel of peace. The gospel that we have for the world—for our lost mom,dad,brother,sister,neighbor or unreached people group—the gospel that we have is the good news that God purchased peace by the death of his Son and offers it to sinners who believe in Jesus. We have the good news that God’s omnipotent wrath against sinners has been taken away through the death of Jesus for sin. And everyone who believes is reconciled to him freely by grace. And in the place of hostility and war comes peace. And there is nothing sweeter in all the world than to be at peace with God.

Ephesians 2:13-18(ESV)13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

The good news of peace is that when Christ died and shed his blood for sin, two kinds of hostility or animosity were overcome. The war between God and repentant sinners was brought to an end. And the war between races and factions in Christ was brought to an end. So Christ became our peace. That is the gospel of peace. Shoes made from the preparation of the gospel of peace are our third piece of vital armor. The gospel of peace is good news. God forgives and then He gives. What could be greater? The gospel takes a hopeless being and fills him or her with an eternity of glory.

Imagine a fully armed soldier. He has his sword, his shield, his helmet, his breastplate and his belt…but his feet are completely bare. The picture probably seems strange, and it should! Just by thinking about it, we can tell something is missing. But the problem goes beyond just looking odd. A shoeless soldier could run into real trouble in the heat of battle. Unless he is fighting on carpet, he is going to encounter some debris. It may be nothing more than twigs and pebbles, but to a bare foot that can cause serious pain—and one of the last things you want to deal with in the middle of a fight is worrying about where you step. Parents you know what I mean…. lego…. ever stepped on a lego barefoot? Shoes allow us to step freely and without fear while we turn our full attention to the battle at hand.

The sandals of the Roman soldier “often were fitted with nails, or armed with spikes, to make the hold firm in the ground” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible). God’s good news and our mission—our marching orders—to preach it serve as our firm foundation. When we truly allow ourselves to take comfort in the good news promised by God, there is nothing from outside ourselves that can trouble our hearts or give us reason to be afraid. Christ has overcome the world and so we have nothing to fear from it. John 16:33(ESV)33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Just as shoes allow us to walk on otherwise painful terrain without fear, so the preparation of the gospel of peace allows us to travel across the otherwise painful trials and tribulations of life without fear, knowing that what awaits is greater than anything we could possibly suffer in this world.
Romans 8:18(ESV)18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

How long can anyone walk a hard and stony road without a decent pair of shoes? Not far if the right shoes are not on. Many have gone into battle without a proper preparation. This kind of preparation comes only from the gospel. Again, just like we saw with the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness, there are two aspects to the shoes we wear. The soles that keep us going over hard ground, and the soles which equip us with something to offer to the needy souls along the way.

The word readiness indicates we must be constantly awake and aware. A victorious soldier had to be prepared for battle. He had to have studied his enemy’s strategy, be confident in his own strategy, and have his feet firmly planted so that he could hold his ground when the attacks came. A soldier’s battle shoes were studded with nails or spikes, like cleats, to help him keep his balance in combat. He knew that, if he lost his footing and went down, it wouldn’t matter how great the rest of his armor was; the enemy had him. When we are ready with the gospel of peace, we live with the understanding that we are continually under attack from Satan.

All life is war from the cradle to the grave, life is war. Your soul, your mind, your body, your family, your career, are all fields of conflict. Until Satan is finally thrown into the lake of fire, our peace with God will have to be a vigilant peace. Because Satan will certainly give us no peace if we are at peace with God.

The “peace shoes” that God supplies His soldiers have two purposes: defensive and offensive. In order to defend ourselves against the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16), we must have confidence of our position in Christ. We must stand firm in the truth of God’s Word, regardless of how terrifying the circumstances may be. We must understand grace without abusing it (Romans 6:1–6), remember that our position in Christ is not based on our own abilities or worthiness Titus 3:5(ESV)5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,, and keep our belt of truth and breastplate of righteousness securely fastened.

The foot is to the body what the will is to the spirit. We go wherever our will takes us. Preparation, the Christian’s spiritual readiness, is our feet laced up with the gospel of peace. The gospel sets the will of the Christian. It gives us a purpose and a focus. It presents us with a message and a task. It gives meaning to life and nothing else seems to matter. There is no calling without the gospel. There is no sacrifice without an understanding. A barefooted man shrinks when his feet touch the hot sand and shrieks when he stumbles on a sharp stone. But when the will and heart are prepared and ready to serve the Lord, the Christian feet is prepared and equipped to face any trouble he must go through to complete the task ahead.

In addition to standing our ground, shoes are also for moving. God expects us to go on the offensive and take the gospel of peace to others. Sharing our faith is one of the best ways to maintain our own sure footing. God knows that, when we are active in speaking about Him to others, we not only charge into Satan’s territory, but we dig our shoes more deeply into truth and will be much harder to dislodge. When we have the truth, we are ready to stand firm in the gospel of peace no matter what the enemy brings against us.

We need to remind ourselves the reason for the battle we are engaged in. Christ has brought you out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:13-14(ESV)13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

1 Peter 2:9(ESV)9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. He has put His spirit in you that you might work the works of GOD. Satan hates a witness for Christ, therefore is the reason for the battle. We should never forget the message, the gospel, we are to proclaim. What is the gospel? Make sure you understand the message we are to take to the world. Whether you are a singer, writer or teacher it makes no difference. We all have one message and focus, and that is to spread the love of Christ. Here is something you have to do. Prepare your self.

The Gospel is laid out plainly in;

Romans 5:6-11(ESV)6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

The gospel gives us a message. Let your life radiate this message. If satan can get you from being a testimony in word, works and deed he has taken away a great weapon. No matter our callings or gifting the purpose is always the same. To make Christ known. God intends us all to be walking vessels of his goodness. Spreading the love of Christ to others. As we get more familiar with the gospel we will discover a message worth living for. Prepare yourself to follow the Lord no matter what.

It’s almost certain that Paul has in mind here the words of Isaiah 52:7(ESV)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Here we have a picture of the feet of people who are running to bring good news, and the good news is good news of peace. Surely this is where Paul got his imagery. And if so, then the “readiness of the gospel of peace” is surely a readiness to move with the gospel, a readiness to tell the good news,to publish peace and say “God reigns!”

In 1 Peter 3:15(ESV) the very word “prepared” is used in the same kind of exhortation. 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, A ready offense is an essential part of a successful defense. Giving the gospel away is one of the best ways of experiencing its power in your own life. The best way to taste the power of God for your own soul is to venture something on it. It’s the great old truth of the Lord himself when he said, “He who loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” The more ready we are to move with the gospel, the more life and power and joy and security we will know in the gospel.

Ephesians Pt 20 Belt of Truth

Ephesians 6:10-10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest,15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.

This is a description of the spiritual armor God gives us. We are to stand firm with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and by praying in the Spirit. What do these pieces of spiritual armor represent in spiritual warfare? We are to know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth. We are to rest in the fact that we are declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We are to proclaim the gospel no matter how much resistance we face. We are not to waver in our faith, trusting God’s promises no matter how strongly we are attacked. Our ultimate defense is the assurance we have of our salvation, an assurance that no spiritual force can take away. Our offensive weapon is the Word of God, not our own opinions and feelings.

This text teaches some crucial truths: we can only stand strong in the Lord’s power, it is God’s armor that protects us, and our battle is ultimately against spiritual forces of evil in the world. Some suggest all we need to do is bind Satan-and just say, “Satan, I bind you,” and he is caught. There is no magic phrase or mantra we can say that will bind Satan, but God has not left us without a divine strategy for dealing with him. God’s strategy centers on objective truth, not subjective experience. It begins with sound doctrine, not mystical technique. Yet ironically, those who talk most about warfare against Satan often minimize the importance of doctrine.

Matthew 16:19(ESV) “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In this verse, Jesus is speaking directly to the apostle Peter and indirectly to the other apostles. Jesus’ words meant that Peter would have the right to enter the kingdom himself, that he would have general authority symbolized by the possession of the keys, and that preaching the gospel would be the means of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers and shutting it against unbelievers. The book of Acts shows us this process at work. By his sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), Peter opened the door of the kingdom for the first time. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed.

Jesus taught that the apostles had a special task on earth. Their words of authority, as recorded in the New Testament epistles, reflect God’s will for the church. When Paul declared an anathema on those who pervert the gospel, then we know that anathema was already declared in heaven. Galatians 1:8–9(ESV)8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, the Jews rejected him. Jesus opened up salvation for the whole world.

John 3:16-20(ESV)16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

So when he is telling peter that he is giving him the keys to heaven and what he allows on earth is the gospel message to be spread amongst all men.

Acts 13:44-52(ESV)44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews[d] saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,  that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

You live differently in times of war than in times of peace. You are more alert, more intentional, you don’t play as many games. You have to know that there is a real enemy out there and his intention is to kill you, destroy you and your family, your loved ones, your sons and daughters. As a Christian we are enlisted into the Army of the Lord the minute we become saved. Our duties as a recruit is to please the recruiter.
2 Timothy 2:3-4(ESV)3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
To often Christians get entangled with the temporal(temporary) things of this world and they are not getting involved in the eternal things of the Father’s Kingdom. We have bought into a christianity where you can have your life and sprinkle some Jesus on top and totally ignore the warfare. We are not on a cruise ship, we are on a battleship, we cannot trade in our weapons of warfare for sipping drinks with little umbrellas in it by the pool. Truth is far more than facts. It’s not just something we act upon. It acts upon us. We can’t change the truth, but the truth can change us. It sanctifies (sets us apart) from the falsehoods woven into our sin natures. As Christ the living Word is truth, so his written word is truth. Though heaven and earth will pass away, God’s truth never will.

The first part of the armor is the belt of truth. God never intended His people to worship Him apart from the use of their minds. Real spirituality begins with a precise understanding of truth. Yet much of contemporary Christianity is heading down the paths of mystical experience and fantasy. We don’t battle Satan with magic words and imaginary forces; we rely on the power of His truth as it brings even our thoughts captive to our Lord. That is genuine and ultimate victory over satanic forces. No matter how Satan attacks, the solution is the same. We stand in the truth. We don’t need to learn hidden strategies to fight Satan. God’s truth is the supreme weapon against the father of lies. John 8:44(HCSB)You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Only when we know the truth and commit ourselves to obey it will we stand strong.

The belt—known as the cingulum or balteus—held the Roman soldier’s breastplate to his body, and also held his scabbard which encased his sword. The belt provided a place to house the sword and carry it into battle effectively. The spiritual sword is the Bible, the Word of God.

The belt holds together all other pieces of our armor, and therefore is first mentioned. Similarly, without truth holding us, a Christian is unprepared. It was the belt that held the scabbard, without which there would be no place to put a sword. Imagine an overzealous soldier, fired up and charging out into battle—but without his belt, and consequently without a weapon!

In battle they would take the four corners of the tunic, and fold it up underneath the belt to keep their legs free and to keep from getting tangled.

Paul, by phrasing the first piece of spiritual armor in this way, is referring to that practice of getting the robe up out of your way. Which was important in battle.

In biblical times men wore tunics which was like a robe, they still do this in countries in the Middle East where men wear robes instead of pants. When these men needed to run, or to do some sort of manual labor, they would bend over, take the back edge of their robe, and fold it up into the front of their belt. It was a quick and convenient way to turn a robe into a pair of shorts. The point was that it got the robe up out of the way, so that the person could run faster or work better without having the robe get in the way. So with this in mind, we can see why Paul, although talking about a belt which is worn around the waste, tells us to gird up the loins. He has in mind both the belt, and getting the robe out of the way for movement.

The belt also had other purposes beyond just girding up the loins. It also kept the breastplate tight and secure around the soldier, and kept it from banging against his chest when in battle, and the belt also held a sheath for his sword or dagger.

So if a soldier got rid of his belt, his breastplate wouldn’t be secure, his tunic would trip him up, his sword would drop to the ground. In short, he wouldn’t be much good in battle.

Because of all of these things, the belt was one of the most important pieces of the soldier’s armor. To stand strong in this battle, we must know the truth, and live by the truth. Only in this way will the rest of our armor stay on, and only in this way will we be protected in this battle. This is because the belt of the truth keeps the breastplate tight, it keeps the tunic up and out of your way so you don’t get tripped up or slowed down. It provides you with a place to keep your sword. Without truth, we are easily tripped up by Satan’s lies. Lies, no matter how big or how small, are the things that destroy lives and relationships and futures. One little lie was what Satan used in the garden of Eden to destroy the future of all mankind. You cannot afford to have areas of deception in your life, just as, with a belt, you cannot afford to have a broken belt, or a belt with weaknesses. Truth, like a belt, to be effective, must be able to completely surround you—front, back, right and left, and must be strong enough to hold everything together.

If the belt was not in place you would always be in danger of tripping over your own clothing.  So if the truth is not in place then your in danger danger of tripping over your own opinions, And, for a soldier, if the belt was not in place, you also would not be able to get ready for battle. The belt needs to be trustworthy otherwise the rest of the armor is useless. That is the significance of the belt in a literal sense. But let’s remember what Paul is doing here. This is not a commentary on military fashion items. Ephesians 6:14a is talking about a belt which has spiritual significance. When it comes to understanding the spiritual significance of this piece of equipment we see that trustworthiness and dependability is the key.

Spiritual warfare starts with knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Without this you have nothing to hold the rest of the armor together as the belt held all the armor together.

The belt of truth sets us apart from people who don’t follow God. Jesus prayed that God would sanctify us by the truth John 17:17(ESV)17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  To sanctify means to set apart for a special purpose and to purify.  The truth helps us stay on mission for God and avoid falling back into sin’s corruption.

Truth provides guidance. The Holy Spirit uses the truth to guide us in whatever circumstances we’re in. John wrote John 16:13 (ESV)13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. Just as communications are crucial on the physical battlefield, so is the Holy Spirit’s guidance via truth on the spiritual battlefield.

Truth helps us with Intelligence & Discernment, Intelligence data and its interpretation (i.e. discernment) can play a critical role in the outcome of military conflicts.  God’s word reveals truth that helps us decisively recognize the devil’s lies in spiritual conflicts. Armed with the truth of the word, we’ll recognize the devil’s lies for what they are.
Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Truth secures everything together. Belts were used in Bible times to secure loose garments so that a person could run and/or fight effectively.
1 Kings 18:46(ESV)46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
2 Kings 4:29(ESV)29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.”
The belts also provided a place to attach weapons. When the enemy attacks us we may have to move quickly and use our spiritual weapons (Praise, Prayer, Sword of the Spirit, etc.).  The belt of truth enables us to move quickly and confidently without tripping into lies or losing our weapons

John 8:31-32(ESV)31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

True disciples of Jesus believe that He speaks the truth about God and the Scriptures. They also know that He is who He claims to be.

Verse 32 begins with, “Then you will know the truth.” “You” refers to those who are true disciples of Jesus. True disciples will know the truth. More than that, their eyes are opened to a greater understanding of the truth.

Jesus is the Truth John 14:6(ESV)6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Knowing the Truth will set one at liberty—free from sin, free from condemnation, and free from death.
Romans 6:22(ESV)22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 

Romans 8:1–2(ESV)1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 

John 17:17(ESV)Sanctify them in the truth;Your word is truth.

Jesus, praying to the Father, gives a clear and straightforward definition of truth: God’s Word. The Holy Bible (Scripture—the word of truth) was given by inspiration of God.

2 Timothy 3:16(ESV)16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
The Greek expression translated “inspiration of God” literally means “God-breathed”! He actively and fully inspired the Bible to reveal His truth to us. His promises, His commands, His word—they are all truth, plain and simple.

A belt encompasses the waist. Does our conviction to the truth encompass us? As the above scripture notes, truth must be bound around us and written on our hearts—our conviction must reach beyond an outward show.

The belt used in Roman armor, as we have learned, provided a place for the soldier’s sword. Our sword—the sword of the Spirit—likewise needs a sheath. Truth is vital because, like a Roman soldier’s belt, it allows us to carry the sword of the Spirit and use it effectively.

The world we live in teaches that truth is what we make it—that good and bad are relative and that there are no absolutes, only equally valid opinions. But the Bible teaches that truth is God’s Word—that good and bad are defined by Him and that there are eternal and unchangeable absolutes, uninfluenced by opinions.

Paul wrote to the Romans in Chapter 12 telling them to “not be conformed to this world.” Part of that means not buying into a system of belief that says absolute truth is a myth. As Christians, we know both that there is truth and that it is absolute.

2 Timothy 2:15(ESV)15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Imagine a belt with a piece missing. No matter how tiny the part that isn’t there, the belt is still useless. To do its job, it must be one continuous, unbroken piece.Now imagine living a way of life you don’t completely agree with. Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal—after all, what are a couple minor points that you’re not sure about?

They are everything. To try to live God’s way without total belief in its validity is like trying to hold your sword up with a belt that isn’t continuous. Neither will work. Our trust in God and His Word must be solid, without break, or else we will quickly find ourselves without a weapon. No matter how effective the rest of our armor is, we are useless without our sword. We need to be rightly dividing the word of truth—knowing what we believe, why and be able to give a defense.
1 Peter 3:15(ESV)15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Putting on the belt of truth is putting on the truth of the Bible. Getting it close by. Understanding what it says. Knowing what it teaches. The reason many Christians today are ineffective in their Christian life and in spiritual warfare is because they have not committed themselves fully to the Word of God, which alone is sufficient to prepare them for every situation in life. The content of God’s truth is absolutely essential for the believer in his battle against the schemes of Satan.

The Christian’s belt is truth. The primary thing about Christianity is not that we feel better from routine religion but that the message is true. If it isn’t true it is meaningless. Christianity isn’t true because it works for me. Because Christianity is true it works mightily to change lives. It tells us what life is all about, who God is, what the good life is, and what lies after death. It gives rational answers to ultimate question. We must never stop telling people that the Christian faith is true. Its truthfulness is the belt which holds together everything else. It tempers the zeal and fuels the fire. It is the foundation for our joy and peace; it tells us what our response should be and motivates us in all our activities. If you know little about what the Scripture teaches you are extremely vulnerable. A soldier cannot fight properly with his armor and underclothes swinging in the wind or his pants falling to his ankles. He’d be dead before he could swing a single blow.

In the spiritual battle God needs soldiers who are properly equipped to fight the battle. Which raises a very significant question. How trustworthy and dependable are you as you seek to be a soldier for God? It is a significant question, but it isn’t always a comfortable question,And we should be people who read and study the Word of God. But if all we are doing is gathering knowledge without also being willing to be engaged in the spiritual battle, then we are not really acting as trustworthy and dependable soldiers.

We are being asked to examine our commitment to kingdom work. And that raises the question:- How trustworthy and dependable are you as a soldier for God?

Ephesians Pt2 Wisdom and Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-19(HCSB)15 This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

Whenever we read Scripture, we should attempt to determine as much as possible about the original context and purpose of the particular passage of study. This is called hermeneutics, this practice gives us a guide to interpretation and keeps us from going off into false interpretations or from reading our own opinions into the text(Eisegete).  Most of the time, it is easy to determine the purpose of each of the New Testament letters because the Paul refers to specific problems in the congregation. For example, Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians is clear—to expose the false gospel preached by the Judaizers and unfold the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Galatians 1:6–10(HCSB)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 2:11–21(HCSB)15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Ephesians, however, presents us with some difficulty because Paul does not mention any specific problems troubling the church at the time he wrote. Yet since the letter covers a whole host of basic Christian doctrinal and ethical principles, we can surmise that the pressing need of the believers in Ephesus and the surrounding regions was instruction in doctrine and living so that they might mature in the faith.“a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.

God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5(HCSB)If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. God blesses us with wisdom in order for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him.

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV)“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

John Calvin writes, “Till the Lord opens them, the eyes of our heart are blind. Till the Spirit has become our instructor, all that we know is folly and ignorance. Till the Spirit of God has made it known to us by a secret revelation, the knowledge of our divine calling exceeds the capacity of our own minds.” At regeneration, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see who God is and who we are for the very first time. But after conversion, He continues to work to give us insight into His revealed Word and to deepen our personal relationship with Him.

The “spirit of wisdom and of revelation” is not some extra gift or special blessing received after conversion. Instead, it refers to the work of the Spirit to help all the people of God understand the things of God. If you are a Christian, you possess this Spirit, and He works in the corporate body of Christ to confirm the truth of Scripture, help us understand its meaning, reveal our sin, drive us to Christ, and so much more.

The word revelation simply means a revealing of something or someone. It is to reveal what was before hidden. It’s like opening a curtain or a door and seeing what is behind it. Long ago, God revealed Himself to Abram (later changed to Abraham) (Genesis 12) and then to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) so for Abram and Moses, there was a revelation from God and that was their first ever revelation of God and it changed the course of human history. Through Abraham came the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book where God gradually reveals Himself more and more until finally, Jesus Christ arrives and we see the God-Man live a sinless life and die for the redemption of those who would trust in Him. Jesus Christ is God revealed and through Jesus’ atoning death, He brings us to a knowledge of God the Father as well as God the Holy Spirit so Jesus is able to reveal to us Who the Father and the Spirit are.

There are two types of revelation, General revelation and special revelation. They are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4(ESV) declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator.

General revelation is also taught in Romans 1:20(ESV) “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like Psalm 19, this passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” Even in the most remote areas there are people who acknowledge the existence of a higher being, a creator as the Native Americans called Him.

Special revelation is how God has chosen to reveal Himself through miraculous means. Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ. The Bible records God appearing in physical form many times (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, Exodus 34:5-7), and the Bible records God speaking to people through dreams (Genesis 28:12, Genesis 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) and visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7).

One of the most important ways in the revealing God is His Word, the Bible, which is also a form of special revelation. God miraculously guided the authors of Scripture to correctly record His message to mankind, while still using their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God determined to have the truth regarding Him recorded in written form because He knew the inaccuracy and unreliability of oral tradition. He also understood that the dreams and visions of man can be misinterpreted. God decided to reveal everything that humanity needs to know about Him, what He expects, and what He has done for us in the Bible.

The ultimate form of special revelation is the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, John 1:14(HCSB)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..

The author of Hebrews summarizes it best Hebrews 1:1-3(HCSB) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to identify with us, to set an example for us, to teach us, to reveal Himself to us, and, most importantly, to provide salvation for us by humbling Himself in death on the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8(HCSB)who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Jesus Christ is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

Assurance of Salvation/Memorial Service

Today we gathered to celebrate the life of Mr. Ernest Blanchard a man that knew where he was going to be for eternity.

Luke 9:57-62 (HCSB)57 As they were traveling on the road someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go!”58 Jesus told him,“Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” “Lord,” he said, “first let me go bury my father.”60 But He told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.”61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Today we are not here as dead people burying our dead, but people who were once dead  celebrating the life of someone who knew his eternal destiny. You may ask how’d he know? Glad you asked. It begins in Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:1-5(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

1 Thessalonians 4:13(HCSB)13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. Paul expects Christians to view death differently than the rest. Christians, he tells us, will grieve, but they will grieve in hope. The rest have no hope. What is that hope? What is it that makes the difference?

My privilege on this occasion, is to share with you how you can grieve with hope. My joy and delight is to share with you how you can exchange the fear of death for the faith of David. In the next few moments, I want to offer to you the hope which David experienced, and which he expressed in Psalm 23. The source of this hope is to be found in the texts of two passages. Let me make a few comments about the hope which God offers to all those who face death, a hope which exchanges fear for faith.

Psalm 23:1(HCSB)The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. 2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. 4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff —they comfort me.5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

This psalm is a favorite among people, especially when one brought fact to face with the reality of death. It describes, in poetic terms, the peace and confidence which David has, in the face of adversity and opposition from his enemies, and even death. There is another passage, not nearly as familiar, which informs us that David’s sense of peace and security is not natural, but supernatural.

Hebrews 2:14-15(HCSB)14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. This passage puts Psalm 23 into perspective. It tells us that death normally produces fear, and not faith. It tells us that the fear of death hinders and haunts men all of their lives. It tells us that David’s faith, as expressed in Psalm 23 is not natural, but supernatural. As we come to honor the life and memory of Mr. Ernest, we come also to face the reality of death. We come, knowing that we, too, shall experience death. If we are honest with ourselves, some must admit that facing death today is a fearful experience, just as Hebrews informs us. Others can truly identify with David, and the peace and security which he knew and cherished.

David did not fear. He did not fear what his enemies would do to him. He did not fear death. His fear was replaced by faith. The basis of David’s faith is expressed in Psalm 23.

First, David’s faith rested in God. Second, David’s faith rested in the fact that God was His shepherd. Third, David’s faith replaced his fear of his enemies, and even of death. Fourth, David’s fear of death was gone because he was assured of God’s presence. Fifth, David’s faith rested in the fact that God was present with him, in life, in death, and throughout all eternity.

John 1:29(HCSB)29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

David could rejoice because the Lord, his Shepherd, was with Him. We can now see that the Good Shepherd became a sheep (like David). The Lamb of God died for us, and triumphed over death by His resurrection. Not only did Jesus Christ come as the Lamb of God, to die for those who would be His sheep. Jesus rose from the dead, triumphant over death. And thus, those who trust in Him need no longer fear death. Death was defeated by the Lamb who was slain, and who rose again.

This is the faith of which David is writing, in Psalm 23. This is the good news of the gospel, of which the writer to the Hebrews is speaking. Man’s fear of death is accepted. Death is the penalty for sin, and we are all sinners, worthy of death. But the Good Shepherd became a sheep, so to speak. He took on human flesh and lived among men. The Lord Jesus Christ then died for our sins, and suffered the penalty, our penalty, of death. God raised Him from the dead. All those who trust in Him lose their fear of death and find the faith, peace, and hope of which David writes. It is with faith that we can grieve today, but we will grieve with hope, if the Lord is our Shepherd, because He became the Lamb of God in our place.

John 10:11(HCSB) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 6:44(HCSB)44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 

John 8:12(HCSB) Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

John 14:6(HCSB) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The basis for our comfort and joy in the face of death is found in these words, spoken by Simeon when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple:

Luke 2:25-32(HCSB)25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking forward to Israel’s consolation, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he saw the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, he entered the temple complex. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform for Him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took Him up in his arms, praised God, and said: 29  Now, Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, as You promised. 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation. 31 You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples—32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.

The occasion is the presentation of our Lord by Mary and Joseph as their firstborn son in the temple. Mary and Joseph were there to present their son and to offer a sacrifice as the Law of Moses prescribed. Nearly everyone assumes that Simeon is elderly. He may very well have been old. I think we must reason that it is because Simeon’s age was not important to Luke. What is important is what Luke does clearly communicate. Luke tells us that Simeon was ready to die, now that he has seen Jesus. Simeon had been waiting to see the Savior. God’s Spirit had informed him that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. As soon as Simeon sees Jesus, he says that he is ready to die.

Luke wants his readers to know that Simeon is ready to die, not because he is old, but because he has seen the Savior. Being ready to die is not a matter of one’s age, but is rather a matter of one’s relationship to Jesus Christ, by faith.

Those who knew our friend know that he was ready to die. He was not ready to die because he was old, and his health was failing; he was ready to die because he had come to know Jesus Christ by faith. In this sense, our friend’s age has no more to do with his faith than Simeon’s age had to do with his faith. Our friend, like Simeon, was ready to die because he had seen the Lord Jesus as his Savior, by faith.

How can this be? How can trusting in Jesus Christ cause one to welcome death, rather than to dread it? The answer to this question is found in the Bible. When God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in the Garden of Eden. God warned Adam that they must not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that if they did eat of it they would certainly die (Genesis 2:16-17). Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and the result was both physical and spiritual death.

But God in His grace promised them that He would provide a cure. For her role in the fall of mankind God pronounced a curse upon Eve. She (and all women after her) would bring forth children in pain (Genesis 3:16). But through the curse of pain in childbirth Eve would bring forth a child who would save men from their sins and the curse of death. One of Eve’s offspring would be the cure for the curse of death. This coming One would strike a fatal blow to Satan, while Satan would only bruise the Savior’s heel (Genesis 3:15). This coming “seed of the woman” is the Savior for whom every Old Testament saint expectantly waited. This coming Savior was the Messiah whom Simeon longed to see. This coming Savior was Jesus Christ.

God provided a remedy for the curse of death by making death the cure, as well as a curse. The coming Savior was the perfect, sinless, Son of God. He had no sin of His own, yet He took our sins upon Himself on the cross. He died in the sinner’s place, bearing the penalty for sin, the curse of death. But God also raised Jesus from the dead. He is now in heaven, sitting at the Father’s right hand. All those who trust in Jesus as their Savior have the forgiveness of sins, and the assurance of eternal life. They no longer need to fear death:

Hebrews 2:14-15(HCSB)14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

All those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior no longer fear death, as we see in many different biblical texts:

Romans 8:31-39(HCSB)31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died,but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. 37 No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, 39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

2 Corinthians 5:1-10(HCSB)For we know that if our temporary, earthly dwelling is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands. 2 Indeed, we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven, 3 since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 And the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 6 So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight, 8 and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the tribunal of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or worthless.

It was his faith in Jesus Christ which assured our friend of his salvation, so that he was able to welcome his own death. It is not old age, or sickness, which enables one to live joyfully and be confident of eternal life; it is trusting in Jesus Christ as the One who bore the curse of death, in order to provide the cure for the dread of death as the penalty for our sins. That is why we can rejoice in our friend’s death, because we know he has gone to be with our Lord.

As you consider your own death, do you do so with fear, or in faith? If death causes you to fear, I urge you, like Simeon and our friend, to place your trust in Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins, and the assurance of eternal life. Just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, He will also raise us to eternal life. Death need no longer be viewed as something we dread, but rather can be welcomed as our deliverance. May you experience the calm assurance of Simeon, of all the saints, and of our friend this very day. To God be the Glory!

1 Corinthians 15:50-57(HCSB)50 Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep,but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Death, where is your victory?Death, where is your sting?56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Philippians Pt 7 Simul Justus Et Peccator

Philippians 3:12-21(HCSB) 12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. 17 Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is in their shame. They are focused on earthly things, 20 but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.

It is also quite possible that the Judaizers, the Jewish teachers who were plaguing the Philippian church, were telling the Philippians that spiritual perfection was available if they would be circumcised and keep the law.  It is also true that there were heretics floating around at that time who believed you could reach a certain level of knowledge in which you attained perfection.  So, to answer the Gnostics who thought they had reached that level, to answer the Judaizers who thought they had reached that level through circumcision and law-keeping, and to answer anybody else who might assume that because he had the knowledge, the righteousness, the power, the fellowship, and the glory of Christ he was therefore perfect, he quickly in verse 12 launches into a passage which is a total disclaimer of any spiritual perfection.  That’s his intent in this passage.  He wants us to know that he is not perfect.  He has not reached moral perfection. He has not reached spiritual perfection, even though he is a new creation; even though he has a new heart and a new disposition which desires strongly holy things; even though he has union with Jesus Christ and a new mind – the mind of Christ – even though he has new standing before God and is accepted by God and entitled to heaven and has the righteousness of Christ covering him; even though he has the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the power of God; even though he has promised future glory and indwelling glory in that Spirit, he has not arrived – he is not perfect.  He is still temptable.  He is still the possessor of his unredeemed flesh.  He is still a sinner. The very heart of the gospel is in Martin Luther’s latin phrase, “Simul Justus et Peccator.” This means that a Christian is at the same time both righteous and a sinner. Human beings are justified by grace alone, but at the same time they will always remain sinners, even after salvation and baptism. The doctrine of “simul justus” is not an excuse for lawlessness, or a license for continued sinful conduct; rather, properly understood, it comforts the person who truly wishes to be free from sin and is aware of the inner struggle within him.  Romans 7:15-25(ESV) For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

 

Thus, any thought of perfection must be set aside in favor of pursuing the perfection that every believer must recognize he doesn’t have.  That’s the point.  He had already been placed in Christ, already accepted by God, already gifted with all of these tremendous things, and yet he was not perfect.  He had not arrived.

 

Peter understood it when Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:18(HCSB)18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.  He was saying the same thing Paul is saying here.  There’s a growing process.  When you’re saved, yes, you receive the knowledge of Christ; yes, you receive the righteousness of Christ, positionally, imputed to your account; yes, you receive the power of Christ in your life; yes, you receive the fellowship of Christ in communion with Him; yes, you receive the glory of Christ but not in perfection. And so there must be growth.  There must be the pursuit of the goal.  There must be the running of the race.  That’s his point.  The pressing toward the mark.

But why do all this if we are already guaranteed Heaven? First of all, it glorifies God.  And that’s what a Christian is supposed to do with his life is bring glory to God.  Secondly, it verifies regeneration.  It makes demonstrable the fact that you are truly changed because you’re in the progress of making it visible that your life is being changed.  Thirdly, it adorns the truth.  It lets you literally wear the truth of God so others can see it.  Fourthly, it grants you assurance.  When there is spiritual progress in your life there is the sense that you belong to God, because you can see His work and your calling and election become sure.  Not only that, it preserves you from the sorrows and the tragedies of spiritual weakness, which are not enjoyable to any believer any time.

The apostle Paul is trying to show the readers in Philippi that because he is a Christian does not mean he has attained perfection.  But beyond that, I believe he is trying to teach all of us and all generations that perfection in this life is a goal, not an achievement.  It is something you pursue but never reach.

Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree that bears no fruit in Luke 13:6:9(ESV)6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Fig trees were planted in vineyards and taken care of by gardeners who worked for the owners of the vineyard.

The fig trees represents us/ the church, the owner represents God and the gardener is Jesus interceding for us. God is basically saying all these trees (Church goers) are bearing fruit but this one is not, so cut it down and remove it, then Jesus intercedes and says 1 more year let me dig around it and put manure, then if it still does not bear fruit then remove it.

Healthy Fig trees that are fruit producing are pruned very little. The thinning stimulates new growth and it increases fruit size. Fig trees that do not produce fruit are thinned out meaning the diseased, weak and dead limbs during the dormant season, the following season if it doesn’t produce fruit they are chopped down and burned.

In the parable Jesus is pleading the case with the creator God to have mercy on the people who look like the other Christians but bear no fruit. He is saying let me prune them and put manure on them and if that doesn’t work then cut em down and burn them. Pruning is a good thing alot of times we think we are going through stuff, we think the whole world is against us God is far from us, our cat has an attitude but it is a pruning to produce fruit and it could possibly the last pruning. The manure we sometimes endure is healthy for us to produce fruit later on. Manure is used a fertilizer. We need discernment to recognize what is going on. People, jobs, things, places etc are pruned from our lives and we think it is so horrible but in all actuality it’s a pruning. Those things were the diseased, dead and weak limbs keeping us from bearing fruit.

Hebrews 13:17(ESV)17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

We are spirit , soul and body. When we are Justified our spirit is instantly saved, but our soul(mind,will and emotions) are in a constant state of being saved(sanctified). Then our body will be saved when we die(Glorified).

The one of the main jobs of the pastor is to help you along with the middle part. Sanctification, people especially in America do not like being told what to do, they lash out, call names, try to justify their sins, do everything they can except to obey the Word and repent. Dont believe me? want to check my messages?

Spiritual living, the Christian life, is a process of pursuing Christlikeness.  The Christian life is a process of pursuing Christlikeness, that in simple terms is the direction of the whole matter of sanctification.  We must become more and more like Jesus Christ.  Simply stated, that is the Christian life to be more like Jesus and less like our old selves. Obedience to Jesus Christ is the Highest Form Of Worship Love is a choice. You have to choose to Love Jesus Christ enough to Obey Him. John 14:15(ESV)“If you love me, obey my commandments.

 

Being Obedient to the Word of God means putting your faith hope and love for Jesus Christ in action.  Jesus Christ Himself is the living Word of God and He is God.Obedience has always been the Highest form of Worship. That is why it was the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden that brought sin and death into the world. Christians have to practice what Jesus Christ preached. Reading The Bible, Prayer and Giving are the three basic elements that we as Christians should be doing on a daily and weekly basis.
Matthew 7:21-24(HCSB)21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.

You remember when Jesus came and called His disciples, He said, “Follow Me.”  And that particular command has not been replaced or improved upon.  The whole matter of the Christian life and Christianity is this matter of following Christ to become more and more like Him.  The apostle John said that if you belong to Christ, if you abide in Christ, then you ought to walk as Christ walked.  The apostle Paul, writing to the Galatians, said, “I have pain until Christ is fully formed in you.”  And writing to the Corinthians he said a couple of times, “Be followers of me, as I am of Christ.”

John 14: 23-24(HCSB)23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

 

But most significant, perhaps to us, is the word of God the Father.  Romans 8:5-11(HCSB)5 For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. Christ called us to be like Him. God’s purpose in the beginning, that we be made like Jesus Christ. Now, the goal then of every Christian’s life is to be like Christ.  That is the goal.  That is the thing which we pursue. That is the purpose of our time here, and that is the pursuit of our sanctification.  It then becomes the life-long objective of every Christian to become more and more and more like Jesus Christ.  That is as basic as it can be stated.

The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. Which simply means that life in the refiner’s fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.

1 Peter 4:12(NLT)12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort.

God is more concerned with your holiness than He is with your happiness.

God is more concerned with you as a person than He is with your possessions.

God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Godly character is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, i.e. made holy.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his/her life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5(NLT) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

To have Godly character we must kill the flesh and feed the spirit.

Galatians 5:17(NLT) The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

The closest thing to a biblical definition of the flesh is Romans 8:7-8,(ESV)“The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

So the flesh is the old “me” who used to rebel against God. In the flesh I was hostile and insubordinate. I hated the thought of admitting I was dead with sin. I defied the idea that my greatest need was God to make me alive. In the flesh I trusted my wisdom not God’s. So nothing I did in the flesh could please God, because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). And the flesh does nothing from faith.

So “the flesh” is the old self-reliant, faithless me. This is what died when God saved me. God clamped the arteries on my old unbelieving heart of stone. And when it died He took it out and gave me a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).

‘What’s the difference between this new heart that lives and the old one that died? Galatians 2:20(ESV)20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. The old heart that died trusted in itself; the new heart banks on Christ every day.

How do dead people do battle with sin? They do battle with sin by trusting the Son of God. They are dead to Satan’s lie, which goes like this: ‘You will be happier if you trust your own ideas about how to be happy instead of trusting the counsel and the promises of Christ.” Christians have died to that deceit. So the way they fight Satan is by trusting that the paths and promises of Christ are better than Satan’s.

Philippians Pt6 Count it all as Lost

Philippians 3-11(HCSB) Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write to you again about this is no trouble for me and is a protection for you. 2 Watch out for “dogs,” watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh— 4 although I once also had confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; 6 regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless. 7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.

Paul speaking of his religiously self-righteous way of life before meeting Jesus, says, Philippians 3:8(NET)8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ,. That little word “Skubala” has been the source of big controversy. Various English translations use words such as “rubbish,” “garbage,” “filth,” “dung,” “refuse,” “worthless trash,” and “dog dung.” Making the entire issue more difficult is that the word is a hapax legomenon, which means it appears only once in the entire New Testament.

Greek scholar and expert Daniel B. Wallace has studied this word in great detail, and he explains: “In Philippians 3:8, the best translation of skuvbala seems clearly to be from the first group of definitions [that is, meaning (human) excrement]. The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between ‘crap’ and ’s**t.’”

This is what it means to be a Christian. It is not advanced discipleship; it is basic Christianity. This is confirmed in Jesus’s words, Luke 14:33(ESV)33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Renouncing all we have is the same as “counting everything as loss.” This is what happens in conversion. You can’t be a disciple without it. Jesus said this. Renouncing all (counting all as loss) means that, if we must choose between Christ and anything else, we will choose Christ. For most people Christ is just an addition to their already jacked up lives. and if there isn’t anything better then they will do the “Christian” thing. They come to church when it is convenient, they worship when it is convenient, there is no separation between them and the world or them and their old ways.

Jesus describes this conversion in a parable: Matthew 13:44 (ESV)“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”. Selling all you have with joy, in order to have the treasure of the kingdom, is a parable-way of saying: count everything as loss in order to gain Christ.

So, to become a Christian is to awaken from the blindness of spiritual death and find Jesus so all-sufficient and all-satisfying that 1) we count everything as loss, 2) we renounce all our possessions, and, in parable-language, 3) we sell all we have to possess the treasure of Christ.

If you ask people “what is Christianity, you will probably get whole lot of different answers.  It seems to me that there is widespread confusion with regard to those who present themselves as the vendors of Christianity and its benefits.  Just exactly what do you think people assume Christianity offers?  Health, wealth, success, peace of mind, a certain level of tranquility, perhaps the promise of a better job, a better career, the fulfillment of your dreams and ambitions and desires, perhaps even everything you can think of and articulate, that would be a fairly common presentation of Christianity.

But I think the overall general sense of Christianity is that it offers you whatever you want.  Whatever it is that makes you happy, whatever it is that satisfies you, whatever it is that fulfills your ambitions, your desires and your dreams, that’s what Christianity offers you.  Christianity offers to make you everything you really want to be.

That is a very confusing message and a very unbiblical one. It also lays out a complex answer to what should be a very simple answer. In a word, what Christianity offers you is Christ, Jesus Christ, that’s what Christianity offers. That is a very simple, straightforward, one word answer to what has become a very complicated issue. We offer Christ in offering the gospel.  The surpassing theme of the Scripture, the surpassing theme of the New Testament, in particular, is Jesus Christ.  And in not having Christ, you have nothing.  And in having Christ, you have everything.

Christianity is very simple, it is very pure, it is about having Christ, knowing Christ.  Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  He says in Philippians 3:8  that when he saw the glory of Christ, everything else became (Skubala)manure.  And so he says, Philippians 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus What is that?  What is the prize when we’re called up?  It is to be like Christ.  Paul says, “One day I will be like Christ.  Until then, my goal is to pursue that Christlikeness.”

We have only one message, and that is Christ.  We tell sinners they can have a relationship with Christ and in that relationship with Him, they will receive everything they need, all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies.  And yet in the name of Christianity, in the name of the gospel, in the name of the church, in the name of evangelism, people are told all kinds of things, promised all kinds of things, sold all kinds of things and in the middle somewhere is, if recognizable, a significantly diminished little Christ.  Anything that diminishes Jesus Christ is a perverted presentation, it is another gospel, a false gospel.

Christ is Christianity and He is all there is to offer because He is all that we need. When you ask…what is a Christian?  It is one for whom to live is Christ.  Christ is our life.  We have no other life.  We have nothing but Christ and we have everything in Christ. Christ is not an addendum, an additive to your life, He is not something you add to it. Church is not something you go to when you have nothing else better to do. Christians not gathering together often was unheard of in the New Testament. Living for Christ wholeheartedly was and is the only way. Every other way is a false way, every other way is crap, it is idolatry.

Apparently the Philippians had been told that there was something more needed than just Jesus Christ.  Something beyond Christ was necessary.  There was some insufficiency in Christ that prompts the Apostle Paul to write these words.  The insufficiencies in Christ can be made up by philosophy, human traditions, doctrines of man, external gifts, etc.. Christ is not enough.

If church history teaches us anything, it is that legalism — the belief that we must add something to grace to make us acceptable in God’s sight — is a never ending threat to the church. The catholic church, for example, made the system of penance a precondition of divine forgiveness. More recently, some traditions identify true Christians as those who do not drink, dance, or smoke nor chew and don’t run with those who do.

There have always been those who are unwilling to accept the idea of God’s salvation being offered freely to those who believe. They reason that such a grand gift as forgiveness from such a holy God must require some kind of payment from us. We thank God for His grace, but we understand that He expects us to somehow earn that grace—in other words, there must be something that we can do to pay off the debt we owe to God. In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judiazers.” The word Judaizer comes from a Greek verb meaning “to live according to Jewish customs.” The word appears in Galatians 2:14(NLT)14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? Here Paul describes how he confronted Peter for forcing Gentile Christians to “Judaize.”

The first legalists in church history were the Judaizers described in the New Testament. These false teachers asserted that Gentile converts must believe in Jesus and do works of the Law, such as circumcision, to be declared righteous before God. Even the Philippian church needed to be warned about the Judaizers, and we find this warning in today’s passage.

Using the word dogs, Paul ironically contrasts the Judaizers’ false gospel with the true Apostolic gospel. The ancient Jews did not keep dogs as pets because the dogs living in ancient Israel were wild, unclean scavengers. In turn, the Jews often applied the word dogs to Gentiles, for they regarded non-Jews as unclean. In calling members of the Judaizing party “dogs,” Paul warns the Philippians that these Judaizers are actually filthy, even if ] Judaizers believe they are cleansing Gentile converts by circumcision.

Paul continues, calling the Judaizers “evildoers … those who mutilate the flesh”. God instituted circumcision as an old covenant sacrament (Genesis 17:1–14), but its new covenant fulfillment is baptism. Colossians 2:11–12(NLT) 11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

True circumcision is heart circumcision, the baptism into (union with) Jesus by faith. Romans 6:3–4(HCSB)3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. This sets us apart as holy, which is why all who trust in Christ alone are “the circumcision,” the true worshippers of God.

A Judiazer taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Mosaic Law. Circumcision, especially, was promoted as necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then they could come to Christ. Paul is saying watch out for those dogs, those religious ones who tell you to mutilate the flesh in order to serve Christ.

To add anything to the work that Christ did for salvation is to negate God’s grace. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, not by returning to the Law. Galatians 2:21(NLT)21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

We see dogs/judaizers being corrected in the New Testament. Paul admonished the Judaizers in Galatia, who thought they were holy because they were circumcised a bit, to go all out and cut the whole thing off. This literally would have meant that these dogs would no longer be accepted as Jews, and not only cut off physically but also cut off spiritually from temple worship. Paul says:

Galatians 5:11–14(HCSB)11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated! 13 For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

People love to prooftext verses, and they don’t read the context. The guy (Paul)who said “love one another” prefaced it by saying “cut your penis off.” How curious it is that sheep and the religious alike are prone to quote the latter half of this section of God’s Word and argue that we should be loving, as Jesus taught, while conveniently ignoring the part about cutting ones manhood off. Indeed, when the Bible says we need to be loving, we need to read the verses around those words to see how the Bible also exemplifies how to be loving to God, sheep, lost people, and religious people. Apparently, in some cases telling religious judaizers to castrate themselves is loving.

Though this is a long time ago, nothing has really changed.  There are people today who tell us that Christ is not enough, we need more than Christ, more than all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Him.  We need Christ plus philosophy, human traditions, man made doctrines, external gifts, baptism,etc.

Pentecostal (UPC)– Oneness churches, generally teach the following as the foundation of Christian conversion: repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. The Oneness Pentecostal movements generally teach that to receive and maintain salvation, a person must adhere to four essential requirements.

1. Faith in Jesus Only

Oneness teachers would agree that salvation requires putting one’s full faith in the Jesus of Oneness doctrine, that is the Jesus who is the totality of the Godhead, who died on the cross as an atonement for sin, and who rose again from the dead. They do not believe in the trinity. God has revealed Himself as Father (in parental relationship to humanity), in the Son (in human flesh), and as the Holy Spirit (in spiritual action).  The one God existed as Father, Word, and Spirit before His incarnation as Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and while Jesus walked on earth as God Himself incarnate, the Spirit of God continued to be omnipresent.

2. Repentance and Baptism in the “Name of Jesus”

Acts 2:38 is used as evidence that the early church baptized only in the name of Jesus. They maintain that baptism in the trinitarian formula is invalid since it implies belief in three gods. They claim Matthew 28:19 is not to be taken as a command to baptize in that formula. Oneness believers believe that for water baptism to be valid, one must be baptized in the name of Jesus, rather than the mainstream baptismal formula in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

3. Speaking in Tongues

Like most traditional Pentecostals and charismatics, Oneness Pentecostals teach that speaking in tongues is a gift to be exercised today. However, unlike most traditionalists, the Oneness movements maintain that speaking in tongues is not just a post-conversion indicator of the filling or baptism of the Holy Spirit, but an essential ingredient in the salvation experience itself.

4. Adherence to Holiness Standards

Most Oneness Pentecostals teach that once salvation is gained initially by the preceding ingredients, it must be maintained by daily adherence to legalistic codes of personal behavior. Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited. Women are not allowed to cut their hair, wear short dresses or slacks, use make-up, or wear jewelry. Men are expected to dress conservatively (white shirts and dark slacks), be clean shaven, and have short haircuts. Violations of these codes may result in a loss of salvation and exclusion from church fellowship.

Oneness Pentecostals have an anti-trinitarian view of God, an unbiblical doctrine of Jesus Christ, and unbiblical requirements for salvation (speaking in tongues, water baptism in “Jesus’ name,” and a legalistic moral code). Thus, those churches adhering to its basic doctrines cannot be regarded as authentically Christian. Any group or church that claims to be Christian yet deviates at any point from historical Christian faith is, by definition, a cult. Oneness Pentecostal churches are, therefore, cultic in nature and outside the theological parameters of historic Christianity.

Catholicism – Salvation, in Roman Catholicism, is a process with many steps: To begin, God grants actual grace to a person which enables him to believe in Christ (CCC 2000) and also believe in the truth of the Catholic Church (CCC 1814).  After belief, the person must be baptized, which is necessary for salvation (CCC 1257).  This baptism erases original sin (CCC 405), unites the person with Christ (CCC 977), infuses grace into the person (CCC 1999), and grants justification (CCC 1992, 2020).  After baptism, he is saved.  But, to maintain his salvation, it is necessary for him to perform good works (CCC 2010, 2068, 2080) and participate in the sacraments (CCC 1129) which provide grace that is “proper to each sacrament” (CCC 1129, 2003).  This is necessary in order to maintain infused grace (CCC 987, 1468).  However, grace can be lessened by venial sins or completely lost by mortal sins.  Venial sins (CCC 1862) remove part of the infused grace but not the saving grace known as sanctifying grace (CCC 1863). To remedy the problem of venial sins, the Catholic is to take the Eucharist which the Church teaches forgives venial sins (CCC 1416).  He must also perform various penance which must be done in concert with perfect contrition (CCC 1452). But there is a problem.  Sins require punishment.  Even though sins are absolved by a priest (CCC 1463, 1495) the punishment due to a person because of his sin can remain.  To deal with that remaining punishment, indulgences are administered to deal with the punishment due to the guilt of the sins already forgiven (CCC 1471, 1498).  These indulgences draw upon the “good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary” (CCC 1477) and “of Christ and the saints” so as to obtain “the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins” (CCC 1478).  Furthermore, the indulgences can be applied to themselves or the dead (CCC 1471) who are in purgatory (CCC 1498).  Now, in case the Catholic has committed a mortal sin, then all his infused grace is lost.  To regain this grace, he must partake of special penance (CCC 980) since it helps restore grace that was lost (CCC 1468, 1496).  To conclude, the Roman Catholic must have faith, participate in the sacraments, take the Eucharist, keep the commandments, perform penance, and do indulgences in order to attain, maintain, and regain his salvation as well as reduce the punishment due to him for the sins of which he has already forgiven.

Colossians 2:8-15(NLT) 8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. 11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

In verses 13 and 14, not only a complete salvation but a complete forgiveness.  “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us…that’s the record of all our sins which was, of course, hostile to us…and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

I want you to notice something.  Verse 9, “In Christ.”  Verse 10, “with Christ”  Verse 11, “Ito Christ”  Verse 12, “Buried with Christ.  Raised with Him.”  Verse 13, “God made you alive with Christ”  It is about being in Him, in Him, with Him, with Him.  And because we have Christ, we have complete salvation and complete forgiveness…so complete that He has literally blotted out our transgressions, canceled out, erased, wiped off our sins. In verse 15, “On our behalf He disarmed the rulers and authorities, the host of hell, the demons, Satan.”  He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them.  Again, through Him.  When He disarmed the rulers and authorities, we triumphed over them through Him.  Because we have Christ, we have complete salvation.  Because we have Christ, we have complete forgiveness.  Because we have Christ, we have complete victory over all the hosts of hell.  Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines adds nothing whatsoever to that.  What we offer in offering the gospel is what this text presents.  We are offering a transformation through faith in Jesus Christ from death to life.  We are offering the forgiveness of all our sins for Jesus paid in full the penalty for those sins, the list of our sins literally was nailed to His cross.  We are offering in the gospel true, total, complete, triumph over Satan and demons.  Philosophy, Human Traditions and doctrines can do nothing to embellish that.

So what does it take?

Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior is the only “step” to salvation. The message of the Bible is abundantly clear. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23). Because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally separated from God (Romans 6:23). Because of His love for us (John 3:16), God took on human form and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven to all who receive, by grace through faith, Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31).

Salvation is not about certain steps we must follow to earn salvation. Yes, Christians should be baptized. Yes, Christians should publicly confess Christ as Savior. Yes, Christians should turn from sin. Yes, Christians should commit their lives to obeying God. However, these are not steps to salvation. They are results of salvation. Because of our sin, we cannot in any sense earn salvation. We could follow 1000 steps, and it would not be enough. That is why Jesus had to die in our place. We are absolutely incapable of paying our sin debt to God or cleansing ourselves from sin. Only God could accomplish our salvation, and so He did. God Himself completed the “steps” and thereby offers salvation to anyone who will receive it from Him.