Archive for the 'Confrontational and Controversial' Category

Sep 07 2010

Do you believe that once saved you can then lose your salvation in Christ?

This is NOT written as a condemnation of this denomination… but to point out the ‘doctrinal differences’ between ‘what they believe’… and ‘what I believe’… and the Scriptural basis for my understanding…

written to stimulate your hearts and minds to study His Word for His truth…

because ‘our salvation in Christ’ is totally what our faith is all about…

and in my opinion… for it to truly be divine and validated by our Creator… our Father God… to me… then ‘the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross’ is complete… and it is ‘all about Him and His shed blood’ and that God the Father raised Him from the dead the third day…

And “ANYTHING” that tries to ‘add to His finished work on the cross’ or somehow ‘makes each of us responsible for the maintenance of His gift to us’… seems to then say, “His work was insufficient”… and “not complete”…

***and in this…I AM NOT saying one’s works for Christ are not important…they are… and certainly I believe they will also be tied to ‘rewards in Heaven’… but these works are NOT significant to the miracle of our receiving God’s salvation in Christ… they are the result (the fruit) following our conversion… but only God will judge them and validate them… NOT MANKIND…

Last Sunday… 9-5-2010…

I attended an adult Sunday school class at a Church of Christ… because we were waiting on someone we needed to pick up there…who was in the children’s Sunday school class…

And they believe that a person can ‘come to Christ’… and be saved… but then too… ‘can also lose their salvation’… which I do NOT believe!

(In this I write… I believe once-saved, always saved… so my position is adversarial… thus if you are a member of the Church of Christ…you may want to defend it… or even be offended… but I would hope you’d at least read my paper… and then… pray about it… and then… study the Scriptures on this… and TRY to NOT be influenced by the years of indoctrination of your denomination)  

and I tried to keep my mouth zipped as I listened to their study of 2nd Peter 3… 

(listening to ‘what I considered’ their ‘prideful perception that they are righteous living saints’… ‘based upon their own performance and works’)..

and yet…as the one teaching the lesson said, they also  ‘always ask God to forgive any sin they commit’… EVEN THE ONES THEY FORGET OR DO NOT REALIZE

which to me really disproves the above… how could one ‘be so righteous’ and ‘still sin’… and even more…somehow forget a sin… or do NOT realize they sinned…

this just does NOT equate… if one is ‘so righteous by their own ability or performance’…certainly too…they would ‘be so tuned to God’ that they would NEVER sin and NOT know it… or forget it until they pray in repentance…

So this certainly too dilutes their perception of righteousness (that they have sins they forgot or did not realize)… and thus too by that theory even possibly considering that ‘if they have an unconfessed sin’… EVEN THE ONES THEY FORGET OR DO NOT REALIZE… then their salvation…by their own doctrine of loss of salvation… is also threatened…

so I listened quietly …clear until verse 17…

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness,

When finally I asked if this means… ‘they believed one could lose their salvation’… they said…”YES”…

and I said, “Prove it”… meaning by Scripture…

Wow…it is ‘like an alien or the enemy was in their midst’… as they all started giving me Scripture references… the three I have used in this ‘they also read to me’…

I answered them…that I would study their Scriptural references on this… as we are taught in the Bible… (I never ‘accept’ an isolated Scripture used to prove something contrary to what I have learned in my own Biblical study)…

Acts 17:11

11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

And my very first method is to ‘be sure they are in proper context’ and not just ‘framed to prove their own views’… as we see so often today in organized religion…

And ‘does their interpretation fail to consider’ the ‘preponderance of Scripture on the same topic of once saved eternally saved’… which ‘loss of salvation does fail to consider!’

Once saved… we can ‘fall out of relationship’ in ‘our rebellion and sin’ (because we all still sin…everyone does)… but NEVER do we lose our salvation! Once ‘reborn in Christ’… we ‘are His forever!’ (Btw these verses cover just this situation: 1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.)

And for those of you so interested…I have some really detailed devotionals on ‘once saved, eternally saved’… (with a preponderance of Scripture)… because I personally feel it is so important!

And I also stated to them… I am saved by God’s grace in Christ… and NOT BY MY PERFORMANCE… rather by Christ’s performance on Calvary’s cross…

and there is nothing I can add to it… nor take from it… and that ‘once-saved, always saved’…

That Christ’s work on the cross is full and complete…  we cannot earn it nor can we manipulate it or do anything to maintain it… it is His free gift to those of us who ‘believe in Him’…

and yes…we can ‘lose relationship’…but once in the ‘family of God’ He never kicks us out… as illustrated even by the ‘prodigal son’… and so many other verses… with some key ones here:

John 6:37  “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

2 Cor 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Eph 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation —  having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,  who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

1 Peter 1:23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.

Needless to say…not ‘one single man there’ was ‘hospitable or exhibited any friendliness to me as I left’… though a few of their wives did try to still be kind…

Church of Christ Scriptures used to ‘prove one could lose their salvation’…

First Scripture they used to ‘prove this to me’.. 1 Cor 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Below is an expansion of Scripture for contextual purposes…

1 Cor 10:1-14

10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3 and all ate the same spiritual food;

4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

6 Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved.

7 And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ” The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.”

8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.

9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.

10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

My comments… Their using Israel to ‘prove loss of Christ’s salvation’ can be difficult or misunderstood…and thus misinterpreted…

Israel’s Covenants with God were so conditional… God said “HE would do this… IF THEY did this”…

(even-though I believe they too were saved by His merciful grace)… theirs was NOT the economy of Christ risen…

However the ‘example used above’ is one of His punishment for their rebellious sin… they ‘fell into punishment’… however extreme… but ‘as believers today’ we are under a different economy… we are under the ‘Grace of God in the shed blood of the risen Christ’… which is the ‘eternal sacrifice’… given by God’s merciful grace… NOT BY WORKS…

And we too are disciplined by God for our sins while here on earth…even when we are saved… but ‘we DO NOT LOSE OUR SALVATION!’

Next verse used: Gal 5:4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Expanded for context…

Gal 5:1-6

5 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.

3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.

4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

My comments: Again…this is comparing Judaic law to Christ’s gift of salvation by grace… and points out that the law was a fierce taskmaster … and did NOT save… being under the law… was condemnation by that law…

Legalism requires men to keep the whole law! Legalism makes Christ of no value! The Judaizers insisted on the necessity of Gentile believers being circumcised for salvation! To thus depend… as Paul points out…makes Christ of no benefit… either our salvation is ‘in Christ’ or we are NOT saved!

The Lord Jesus is a COMPLETE SAVIOR! And also AN EXCLUSIVE ONE… Paul is NOT referring to these verses to any who may have been circumcised in the past, but only to those who might undergo this ritual as a necessity to complete justification, to those who assert the obligations of law-keeping for their acceptance with God!

Gal 5:4 shows: Legalism mean’s the abandonment of Christ as one’s ONLY HOPE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS! Some use this verse to illustrate ‘falling into sin’… and therefore to ‘fall from grace and be forever lost’…

I believe it to be ‘unsound’… First the verse DOES NOT DESCRIBE SAVED PERSONS…who fall into sin! In fact there is no mention of ‘falling into sin’… rather, the verse speaks of those who are living moral, respectable, upright lives and hope to be saved thereby… Thus the passage acts as a boomerang on those who use it to support ‘the falling away doctrine’… they teach that a Christian must keep the law, live a perfect life and otherwise refrain from sinning in order to remain saved…

However…this Scripture insists that all who seek to be justified by works of law or self-effort have fallen from grace…

Secondly…this interpretation contradicts the overall, consistent testimony of the NT to the effect that every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternally saved!…that NO SHEEP OF CHRIST will ever perish! And that salvation depends ENTIRELY on the FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST OUR SAVIOR, and NOT man’s feeble efforts (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:46, 47; 10:27-30)

John 3:16-18  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.  “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 5:24  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”

John 6:46-47 “Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

Nothing of ‘works’ in these words of our Lord… only belief in Him through faith… and then His promise to us ‘once we are His’…

John 10:27-30 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.”

Next…  another interpretation of the verse they used is that it refers to those who were originally saved by faith in the Lord Jesus, but who subsequently put themselves under the law to retain their salvation or to achieve holiness. In other words…they were saved by grace…but now seek to be kept by the law. Thus to turn away from God’s way of perfecting His saints by the work of the Holy Spirit in them… and to seek that end through the observance of external rites and ceremonies, which men of the flesh can observe as well as Saints of God…

This view is unscriptural, first because the verse does NOT describe Christians who seek holiness or sanctification, but rather unsaved persons who seek justification by law-keeping…. Note the wording… you who are seeking to be justified by law;

Also it implies the possibility of people being subsequently severed from Christ, and that is inconsistent with the right views of the grace of God… and in Christ’s own words…

Finally…another interpretation is that Paul is speaking of people who might profess to be Christians but who are not truly saved….they are seeking to be justified by keeping the law. The apostle is telling them that they cannot have two Saviors! They must choose between Christ or the law! If they choose the law…then they are severed from Christ (to whom they have never truly accepted as Savior) as their only possible hope of righteousness….

As Hoag and Vine write: Christ must be everything…or nothing to a man! No limited trust or divided allegiance is acceptable to Him! The man who is justified by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is a Christian…the man who seeks to be justified by the works of the law is not!

NEXT SCRIPTURE THEY USED: Heb 12:15  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

Expanded for context: Heb 12:14-17 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

My comments: Again the ‘context’ is so important…Hebrews 12: 15 and 16 seem to present four distinct sins to avoid… But there is a ‘strong suggestion’ in the context that this is another warning against the single sin of apostasy and that these four sins are related to it…

First of all APOSTASY IS A FAILURE TO OBTAIN THE GRACE OF GOD! The person looks like a Christian… talks like a Christian…. professes to be a Christian…but he has NEVER BEEN BORN AGAIN! He has come so near the Savior but has NEVER received Him; so near, yet so far…

Apostasy is NOT a root of bitterness. The person turns sour against the Lord and repudiates his Christian faith. His defection is contagious. Others are defiled by his complaints, doubts, denials…

Finally Apostasy is a form of irreligion…illustrated by Esau. He had NO REAL APPRECIATION for the birthright…he willingly bartered it for the momentary gratification of his appetite… His later remorse was for ‘his loss’ and for the ‘older son’s double portion of inheritance’…but he was too late…his father could NOT reverse the blessing…

So it is with an apostate… he has no real regard for spiritual values. He willingly renounces Christ in order to escape reproach, suffering, or martyrdom. He cannot be ‘renewed to repentance’…There may be ‘remorse’ but no godly repentance…

Thus… again… my belief is NOT shaken… nor  amended… and I believe so many ‘denominations’ have ‘fallen into such a narrow view of God’… one so ‘limiting’… and ‘so punitive’…so controlling…that they so often miss the ‘heart of God’… and become so ‘legalistic’… just as the Pharisees were in the time of Christ…

Another ‘personal test I apply’… which ‘interpretation makes God bigger’ and ‘more loving’… the same love that while we were still enemies to Him that still caused Him to send His only begotten Son to ‘become our sin’ and ‘take our place’ on the cross… and to die for us…

Then this doctrine of ‘loss of salvation’ seems to represent that HE has done it all for us through His Son, Jesus Christ… or that somehow He allows us to ‘accept Christ’.. . but then… there is some ‘maintenance imposed’ that we ‘must supply’… which if that is true… makes ‘the finished work of Christ on the cross INSUFFICIENT!’ Or that there is some way or some sin so grievous that He then ‘kicks us out of the family of God’…

An interpretation that is ‘by interpretation’ so condemning…yet so vague… and has ‘so much implied loss’… I mean…don’t you think a loving God… would want us to BE SURE OF OUR STATUS WITH HIM… especially as to our salvation in Christ!!

He would NOT want us to wonder if we have ‘broken some rule’ that ‘disqualifies us’ or forces us back to square one… or that ‘kicks us out of His family’…

Remember…Paul turned a ‘saved but an unrepentant sinner – caught in a sin he would not correct or let go of’ over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh…to preserve his soul… even this sinner was NOT kicked out of the family of God…

1 Cor 5:5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. ***underlining mine for emphasis…

I always want to ask these groups… ‘how much or how many good works is enough’ for our salvation to be complete…

or if we ‘can lose our salvation’… which sin is it that is the one that ‘black balls us’… gets us kicked out of the family of God…

or can we live our lives so perfect that in spite of that being written in Scripture to be impossible…that somehow we ‘earn justification’…

and conversely… can we live this life…and then…lose our status with God for one short period of rebellion or sin… or ignorance… or a sin we failed to confess…

And too… but so important… WHO MAKES THESE JUDGMENTS… the Church of Christ… or whatever church has set this standard for their members (and that could certainly be political or skewed with bias)…

My judge is God the Father… but my Advocate before Him is His Son, Jesus Christ… and the Bible says…

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

Pride is a great seducer… and those who think ‘their salvation’ is ‘anything but Christ’… to me… are somehow declaring ‘their own prideful worthiness’ to God the Father… and thus diluting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross…

As for me… I am in Him… a sinner still…saved by the merciful grace of God through Christ…He is worthy… I appear as justified by His shed blood… NOT by my own actions or performance… by His…

Rom 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

Written by Bill Watts… meant only to stimulate your heart and mind to study God’s Word for His truth…

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Sep 06 2010

Hell is real! So is Heaven or Hell our default Destination?

This has been placed upon my heart to send… as there are so many ‘spouting things’ … often filtered by their own disguise… claiming them as Scriptural or words of God… that my prayer to the Father…is to help me NOT become confused or to listen to these ‘agents of Satan who would pervert the Word of God’…

Too often these are people in authority in some church… often too these are those ‘who have created a HIGHER AUTHORITY than the Bible’… or a ‘person or office’ who ‘speaks for God’ that also ‘has a higher authority than Scripture’…

2 Tim 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Father GodHelp me ‘stay close to Scripture’ and ‘examine and compare everything to it’…

 

 

Hell is real!

So….

Is Heaven our ‘Default Destination’

Or…

Is Hell?

Written Dec. 31, 2005…

 

This may be a bit long, and certainly is intense…….but then, since, according to Scripture, everyone’s final destination is either Heaven or Hell, and, they are ‘eternal destinations,’ (that there is no ‘state of complete annihilation’ as we are ‘eternal beings’)……shouldn’t we know more about each?

 

Today… we even see ‘those who call themselves followers of Christ’ who say…’there is NO HELL’… that God the Father would NOT ‘eternally punish anyone’ in such a place… that it is ‘symbolic’ or ‘some short term punishment’… that HELL is ‘really only an eternal separation from God the Father’… and other such ‘fantasies’ that would have a ‘hard time’ being supported by Scripture’

 

In fact, some of these even say…there is really ‘NO MENTION OF HELL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT’…that it was only referenced ‘before Christ’…

 

But these are Christ’s own words: Mark 9:43-48  “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] “And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] “And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Matt 8:11-12 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Rev 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. 

In his book, Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, he quotes Ivor Powell, “At the age of 83 I asked myself what I knew about the home of God, and I was truly shocked to admit I knew very little….Increasing age and the fact that I shall soon be making my own pilgrimage, have begotten within my soul an intense desire to explore this fascinating subject.”

Again, please realize that no matter how impassioned I write, or ‘how authoritatively’…………I am fallible, and am not your pastor, or a person of ‘authority’……and certainly not your Holy Spirit………rather one who is ‘saved by the merciful grace of God, through Jesus Christ’…….and is so thankful that I spend time trying to have a better relationship with Him through the reading of His Word………and this is my ‘illumination’ of what I read………and is meant to be a ‘stimulus’ for you to study the Word yourself, to decide what you feel it says to you………..

 

 

Hell is real!

So….

Is Heaven our ‘Default Destination’

Or…

Is Hell?

 

CS Lewis wrote: “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one….the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

GK Chesterton wrote: “Hell is God’s great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice.”

Dante, in the Inferno, envisioned this sign chiseled above Hell’s gate: “Abandon every hope, you who enter.”

Novelist Dorothy Sayers wrote: “There seems to be some kind of conspiracy to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. The doctrine of Hell is not ‘medieval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin………We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.”

Randy Alcorn writes (and his book, Heaven, also supplied the motivation and many of the thoughts): God and Satan are not equal opposites. Likewise, Hell is not Heaven’s equal opposite. Just as God has no equals as a person, Heaven has no equal as a place.

CS Lewis wrote: “There have been times when I think we do not desire Heaven but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else.”

And he also wrote: “All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the final grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach, and you have lost it forever.”

Of course, Hell being real is based upon the Word of God revealing it, just as it also reveals Heaven, and our way to Heaven through our faith in Jesus Christ, and His redeeming act of dying on the cross for us, and that He is risen—-and lives forever, and is ‘preparing a place’ for us ‘with Him’ forever. They are ‘all interdependent’ on God’s truth—thus each one of them is dependent upon the other.

(And, I believe that whether a person ‘believes it or not’ God’s truth is absolute.)

Is it ‘unloving to speak of Hell?’ If you were giving some friends directions to Oklahoma City, and you knew one road, maybe even more narrow, less traveled, and required a bit more time, or was longer led you there;—-but a second road, a wider road, more traveled, more modern, even shorter, that required less ‘course correction’ but ended at a sharp cliff on a hill by a river because the ‘bridge had been washed away’ in a flood—that is ‘even now’ raging, and there ‘were few warnings or lights illuminating this danger,’ and people were crashing off it to their death—-would you only talk about ‘the safe road?’ In fact as Randy Alcorn points out in his book, Heaven, it would be terribly ‘unloving’ not to warn them about that ‘second road.’

The basic truth is that there are only two possible destinations after death: Heaven and Hell. Each is just as real, and just as eternal as the other. The most loving thing we can do for our family and friends, and those we may meet, is to warn them about the road that leads to destruction and tell them about the road that leads to life—-share the ‘good news’ of the Gospel of Christ.

What ‘mankind says’—-‘in regard to this’ is not the final yardstick by which to measure, we need to look at what God says in His Word because that’s what counts………

 

Christ’s words: The Narrow and Wide Gates: Matt 7:12-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Mark 8:36-38 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” 

We do not know how long we will live here on earth, we may die at any time: James 4:14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

It is of paramount importance to make sure you are going to Heaven, not Hell, The voice that whispers, “There is no hurry, you can always think about it later,” is not the voice of God. He says: 2 Cor 6:2 for He says, “AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” —  

Choose for yourself who you will serve: Josh 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

What would keep us out of Heaven is universal: Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

The ‘status’ of all ‘mankind’ (without Christ) as revealed by God: Rom 3:9-12 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”

Rom 3:18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

Again speaking of: The Folly and Wickedness of Men:  Ps 14:1-3 The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.

The eternal consequence for man’s actions and choices: Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  ***Note: sin is singular and NOT plural…just one sin condemns…

God is so holy that He cannot allow sin into His presence: Hab 1:13a Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor.

Because we are sinners, we are not entitled to enter God’s presence. We cannot enter Heaven ‘as we are.’

So Heaven is NOT our default destination. No one ‘goes there automatically.’ ***Note: There will be NO GOOD PEOPLE in Heaven… there will only be those FORGIVEN! Forgiven by God in Christ!

 

Unless our sin problem is resolved, the only place we go is our true default destination……Hell.

 

Hell is the single greatest tragedy in the universe.

 

We each ‘have a choice’ because God, in His merciful grace has made ‘provision for us’ in His Son: Rom 5:6-11 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

How can we be saved? : Acts 16:30-31 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

What is this ‘being born again? It is the miraculous moment we ‘accept Christ’ and ‘become a child of God’: John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

It is ‘realizing you are lost in sin’ and ‘need a Savior’—-and that Savior is Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God—and then, believe God’s promise: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

And NEVER READ THIS WONDERFUL SCRIPTURE WITHOUT READING THAT FOLLOWING WHICH SO EMPHASIZES IT…THAT IT IS ONLY BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST: John 3:17-18

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  ***underlining by me for emphasis…

Realizing He is ‘the only Way’: John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Either you believe Him or you ‘call Him a liar!’: 1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

We must obey God rather than man: Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.

Realize the fact that you can be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus: Rom 10:9-13 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

2 Cor 5:15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Rev 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

Then, if one’s heart is convicted, and they ‘repent’ and want to ‘come to Jesus,’ a person might pray this simple prayer: “Heavenly Father, I am a sinner. I want forgiveness for my sins—-my past sins,—–my present sins,—-my future sins. I believe Jesus Christ died on the Cross for me, and rose again—-that He lives! Father, I give You my life to do with as You will. I want Jesus to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask in Jesus’ name—–Amen!”

It is ‘between you and God.’

Since we have established there is a Hell, lets look at some things that might give us a better ‘picture of it.’ Nothing is ‘more powerful and impacting’ than a ‘word picture.’

 

If you read in the OT about the different Gates into and out of Jerusalem, you will find the ‘Prison Gate’ where all the trash and garbage collected in Jerusalem was carried out of into the Valley of Hinnom, or Ghenna, and burned.

Here is what Nelson’s Bible Dictionary says: HINNOM, VALLEY OF [HEN nahm] — a deep, narrow ravine south of Jerusalem. At the HIGH PLACES of Baal in the Valley of Hinnom, parents sacrificed their children as a burnt offering to the pagan god Molech (2 Kings 23:10). Ahaz and Manasseh, kings of Judah, were both guilty of this awful wickedness (2 Chron 28:3; 33:6). But good King Josiah destroyed the pagan altars to remove this temptation from the Hebrew people.

The prophet Jeremiah foretold that God would judge this awful abomination of human sacrifice and would cause such a destruction that “the Valley of the Son of Hinnom” would become known as “the Valley of Slaughter” (Jer 7:31-32; 19:2,6; 32:35). The place was also called “Tophet.”

Apparently, the Valley of Hinnom was used as the garbage dump for the city of Jerusalem. Refuse, waste materials, and dead animals were burned here. Fires continually smoldered, and smoke from the burning debris rose day and night. Hinnom thus became a graphic symbol of woe and judgment and of the place of eternal punishment called HELL.

Translated into Greek, the Hebrew “Valley of Hinnom” becomes gehenna, which is used 12 times in the New Testament (11 times by Jesus and once by James), each time translated in the NKJV as “hell” (Matt 5:22; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6).

(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says: HINNOM, VALLEY OF (hin’om). Otherwise called “the valley of the son of Hinnom,” or “the valley of Benhinnom”; a deep and narrow ravine with steep, rocky sides to the S and W of Jerusalem, separating Mt. Zion to the N from the “Hill of Evil Counsel,” and the sloping rocky plateau of the “valley of Rephaim” to the S. The earliest mention of the valley of Hinnom is in Josh 15:8; 18:16, where the boundary line between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin is described as passing along the bed of the ravine. On the southern brow, overlooking the valley at its eastern extremity, Solomon erected high places for Molech (1 Kings 11:7), whose horrid rites were revived from time to time in the same vicinity by the later idolatrous kings. Ahaz and Manasseh made their children “pass through the fire” in this valley (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6), and the fiendish custom of infant sacrifice to the fire-gods seems to have been kept up in Topheth at its southeast extremity for a considerable period (Jer 7:31; 2 Kings 23:10). To put an end to these abominations the place was polluted by Josiah, who rendered it ceremonially unclean by spreading over it human bones and other corruptions (2 Kings 23:10,13-14; 2 Chron 34:3-5). From that time it appears to have become the common cesspool of the city, into which its sewage was conducted to be carried off by the waters of the Kidron, as well as a laystall, where all its solid filth was collected. From its ceremonial defilement and from the detested and abominable fire of Molech, if not from the supposed everburning funeral piles, the later Jews applied the name of this valley Ge Hinnom, “Gehenna,” to denote the place of eternal torment. The name by which it is now known is Wadi Jehennam, or Wadi er Rubeb. See Gehenna; Hell.

(From The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

Here are scriptural references to Hell that in simple, but dramatic words show this to be a ‘real place’—-totally separated from God, in total darkness, and eternal torment: Christ’s own words…Mark 9:43-48 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.] “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, [where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.]  “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.

Matt 8:11-12 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Rev 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Prepared for Satan and his angels (but Satan will not be master of it, he will be imprisoned there.) Matt 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

Matt 25:46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Man’s choice to reject Christ—thus to be separated from God forever: Luke 19:14 “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.’

Rev 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

The saved will be able to look down from Heaven and see this: Isa 66:23-24 “And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD. “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”    

Matt 18:8-9 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

Powerful picture of Hell—-the condemned sinner in hell still has his senses, feelings, desires, a body, etc., it is a ‘living hell’: Luke 16:19-31 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. “And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ “But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ “And he said, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house —  for I have five brothers — in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ “But he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ “But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'” 

The way and gate to Heaven is narrow, whereas the road to hell is wide, and requires ‘no course correction’—the ‘auto-pilot’ in us from birth will take us straight to Hell, unless we ‘accept the free gift’ of salvation provided for us by Jesus Christ: Matt 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Speaking of the ‘wisdom of the world’: Prov 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. And repeated: Prov 16:25 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Devine election does not dull human responsibility, but once saved, no longer condemned: John 3:18-20 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

There is ‘no neutral ground’—-you either believe God, or declare Him a liar!:

1 John 5:10-12 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

The way to Heaven: John 14:5-6 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

We will exist forever—-either with Christ—or separated from Him—forever! If a loving God spared not His chosen people, Sodom and Gomorrah, nor His only begotten Son in relation to His righteous and holy justice in regard to sin—how can anyone think He will spare them if they reject His salvation purchased with so dear a price by His only Son’s persecution and crucifixion and death on a Roman Cross at Calvary?!

How can He do this? We have this Bible—which reveals 6,000 years of His relationship to us—that we have ‘chosen’ to sin, and are thus condemned, by our own choices and actions—but He has provided us a ‘way out’ of our sentence, our penalty—through Jesus Christ. And, if then, we reject Him, we reject God Himself, and take the position of Luke 19: 14 “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.’

And instead, rely upon the two Proverbs repeated above: Prov. 14:12; 16:25.

Rather than God’s way, John 14:5-6 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. And: John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And that person ‘makes God a liar’ and condemns themselves to Hell!

 

Praise Him, and His patience, in that He sent His Holy Spirit to convict me as a young child, and even when I turned my back on Him for years ‘in rebellion,’ He remained faithful, and in ‘His timing’ called me back into ‘fellowship and relationship’ with Him! His merciful grace is so awesome, my heart is broken before Him when I consider His love and sacrifice so that I may live forever with Him in Heaven. Jesus lives, and I live in Him.

 

Bill Watts

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Jul 23 2010

Is Baptism required for one to be saved, and my understanding of it…

This is an in-depth study of baptism… and some questions about it… explained from my understanding…

Baptism…beginning with the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist

7-23-10

This deals much with the ‘baptism of Christ’ by John the Baptist…

However, recently I have been ‘challenged concerning baptism’… and ‘from the stance’ that ‘without being baptized’ one is ‘not saved’… that ‘baptism’ is an integral and vital part of ‘being saved’…

My following thoughts here are only intended to stimulate — and challenge yours… as I am NOT your pastor… or anyone’s pastor… and I am totally fallible…just a man ‘saved by God’s merciful grace in Christ Jesus’ sharing my understanding..

My position is: Yes… baptism is very important… certainly the result of our conversion… and may even be our very first work as a result of our conversion and being reborn in Christ…

(I also believe it should be by full immersion… Just as our Savior’s was by John the Baptist)…

However…I DO NOT believe that baptism is the ‘act of salvation!’  

***And below what I write about the baptism of Christ… I will place the things I would present to explain my own understanding of this… thus… this is a ‘more in-depth study’…

I believe it is ‘our act or work following our salvation’…that ‘symbolizes our being saved’… thus ‘being crucified with Christ… buried with Christ, and raised from the grave in newness of Christ!’

I believe the moment of salvation… is a mysterious and miraculous and supernatural moment spiritually between each of us and God in Christ… as called, convicted and lead by God’s Holy Spirit…who indwells us immediately upon our repentance of our sins… or professing our need for a Savior, and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! I believe it is totally ‘by faith’ in Christ…just as our Lord Himself so stated in John 3: 16

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.  “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

I believe all of that is done by God’s Holy Spirit… and that ‘no man or woman or ritual’ is so entrusted with this highest redemption and eternal reconciliation between God and us… just as He did NOT entrust our salvation to any ‘man’… or ritual… but He personally and completely fully performed and accomplished that bridge through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ!

Matt 3:1-17

1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!'”
4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan;
6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 “Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;
9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,’ We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
10 “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  
11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

***Notes from William McDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary (page 1211)… John explained that there was a significant difference with his ministry and that of the Messiah who would soon arrive. John baptized with water unto repentance; the water was ceremonial and had no cleansing power; the repentance, though real, did not bring a person to full salvation. John viewed his ministry as preparatory and partial. The Messiah would completely overshadow John. He would be mightier, He ould be more worthy, His work would reach farther, for He would baptize…with the Holy Spirit and fire…

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is distinct from the baptism with fire. The former is a baptism of blessing, the latter of judgment. The former took place at Pentecost, the latter is still future…

The former is enjoyed by all true believers in the Lord Jesus, the latter will be the fate of all unbelievers. The former would be for those Israelites whose baptism was an outward sign of inward repentance, the latter would be for the Pharisees, Sadducees, and all who showed no evidence of true repentance.

Some teach that the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the baptism with fire are the same event, i.e., could not the baptism with fire refer to the tongues of fire that appeared when the Spirit was given at Pentecost? In light of verse 12 which equates fire with judgment, it probably does not.

12 “And His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.

***Notes from William McDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary (page 1211-1212) Jesus walked approximately sixty miles from Galilee to the lower Jordan River to be baptized by John. This indicates the importance which He attached to this ceremony and it should indicate the significance of baptism for His followers today.

14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.

***Notes from William McDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary (page 1212)…Realizing that Jesus had no sins of which to repent, John protested against baptizing Him. It was a true instinct that led him to suggest that the proper order would be for Jesus to baptize him. Jesus did not deny this; He simply repeated His request for baptism as a fitting way in which to fulfill all righteousness. He felt it appropriate that in baptism He identify Himself with those godly Israelites who were coming to be baptized unto repentance…

But there was an even deeper meaning. Baptism for Him was a ritual symbolizing the way in which He would fulfill all the righteous claims of God against man’s sin. His immersion typified His baptism in the waters of God’s judgment at Calvary. His emergence from  the water foreshadowed His resurrection. By death, burial, and resurrection, He would satisfy the demands of divine justice and provide a righteous basis by which sinners could be justified… (***My note: we are justified by His shed blood…His finished work at Calvary…not by our works.)

16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him,
17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Mark 1:4-11

4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  ***(John was ‘the messenger’ as prophesied in both Mal. 3:1 and Is. 40:3)

Mal 3:1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.

Isa 40:3 A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

***Notes from William McDonald’s Believer’s Bible Commentary (page 1319)… His (John the Baptist’s) message was that people should repent (change their minds and forsake their sins) in order to receive the remission of sins. Otherwise they would be in no position to receive the Lord. Only holy people are able to appreciate the Holy Son of God.

When his hearers did repent, John baptized them as an outward expression of their about-face. Baptism separated them publicly from the mass of the nation of Israel who had forsaken the Lord. It united them with a remnant who were ready to receive the Christ. It might seem from verse 5 that the response to John’s preaching was universal. This was not the case. There may have been an initial burst of enthusiasm, with the multitudes surging out to the desert to hear the fiery preacher, but the majority did not genuinely confess and forsake their sins. This will be seen as you read this in full…

6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.
7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.
8 “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
10 And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him;
11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22

21 Now it came about when all the people were baptized, that Jesus also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened,
22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.”

John 1:23-37

23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” 24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
25 And they asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.
27 “It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ 31 “And I did not recognize Him, but in order that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.”

32 And John bore witness saying, “I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.
33 “And I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’
34 “And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples,
36 and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

Now… as referenced at the beginning… here is what I present to explain my understanding of ‘our being baptized’ when ‘we receive our salvation from God in Christ through the Holy Spirit’…

I fully support baptism… and believe every believer should be baptized… BUT I DO NOT BELIEVE BAPTISM IS THE MIRACULOUS AND MYSTERIOUS AND SUPERNATURAL SALVATION EVENT… you are ‘already saved when baptized!’

****A point I would like to make… that I feel is very important is: Salvation in Christ (to me) is truly three major elements…(and I’ll expand upon them later if you desire) 

but this is often the very hardest to grasp … some never get it… and some it takes them years to get it…but ‘getting it’… can truly open Scriptures so much more…

  1. the instantaneous and mysterious miracle of our being saved – and receiving God’s Holy Spirit to indwell us!

 

And we are IMMEDIATELY ADOPTED INTO THE FAMILY OF GOD IN CHRIST! And our names written in the Book of Life…

And that is the strongest bond…ONE THAT CAN NEVER BE BROKEN! Eternal! Because it is done by and through Christ! I do NOT believe one can lose their salvation in Christ once receiving it… someone could question whether or not they are really saved… but that is between them and God!

  1. Then ‘begins our relationship with God’…because ‘until we were saved…we had NO personal relationship with Him’…

 

and that is the weakest link… because when we sin…we ‘break relationship with Him’…

just like in your own family when you rebelled against your mother or father…thus ‘fellowship was broken’… until reconciliation… yet you were still a part of that family…

then too…in the family of God… once we have received Christ…we are from then on…always still in the family…but we can have times of ‘broken fellowship’… because all sin is a rebellion against God…

thus we have been given the way ‘to restore that relationship’: 1 John 1:8-10 — 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
NASB

However…if we sin… are rebellious against Him… HE DOES NOT KICK US OUT OF HIS FAMILY! (The story of the prodigal son is a great example of this)…

Our relationship with God in Christ is not a ‘moment’ rather a ‘process’… once saved… we are ‘in process by God’…from that moment on…forever!

And 3. Will be ‘our glorification in and by Him in Heaven!’

Thus…understanding this… when you ‘read of salvation’… it will better help you to decipher which element of it He is addressing…

Now… Christ always ‘encourages us’ to ‘do live the right way…and set the example for us’…thus…it is a ‘process’…

EVEN THOUGH HE KNOWS NO ONE COULD LIVE IT PERFECTLY…NO ONE… because if even 1 person could…then a ‘human standard’ would have been set…and Christ need never have come to earth to die for our sins… because it would have been ‘humanly possible to achieve God’s righteousness and holiness of ourselves’… so…even those He told to ‘go and sin no more’… He knew they ‘would still sin’…because ‘they are still human!

I’ve also noticed what can cause one person ‘to stumble’ may be completely different than for another…

FIRST OF ALL NO SCRIPTURE WILL EVER OVER-RIDE CHRIST’S OWN WORDS… so if we (or some teacher) tries to ‘make that case’ then…they are ‘twisting the Word of God for their own agenda!’

So…lets go to the key to this the most well known New Testament Scripture – which I believe is the foundational statement about our salvation in God through Christ:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
NASB

It is our ‘belief in Him’… which is ‘by faith alone’…Lets note here too…there is NO OTHER REQUIREMENT! NONE…NADA!

Yes…there are those things that count for us…in Heaven for our rewards… but NOT for our salvation…

that was all done ‘by and through Christ’…via God’s Holy Spirit’s presentation of Christ to us…and it is ‘a finished work’… total and complete… all done ‘by and through God the Father… in Christ Jesus and expedited by God’s Holy Spirit’…

to add anything to it…or deduct anything from it makes this work ‘insufficient’ to the eyes of that person…and thus…denigrates what Christ did for us!

That is why ‘salvation by Christ’ is so simple a child can understand it…(yet the total of it so complex even the greatest Biblical scholars cannot fathom the total of it)…

And really what I am emphasizing here… is that Christ’s own words declared the basis of our salvation in Him…

So…when we then read ‘other Scripture’ that and interpret them as to ‘their seemingly adding to that’… in my opinion, our ‘interpretation then is on shaky ground’…

(yes… certainly all Scripture is important… but we …mankind… often take God’s Word… and ‘build layers upon it ourselves’… to prove our own agenda)… all I am saying is… Christ is the foundation… and what He said… so things ‘layered over it’… DO NOT CHANGE WHAT HE SAID… or add to it…

Salvation in Christ is a mysterious and miraculous moment when we…realizing we are lost…and that we need a Savior…and ‘our repenting of our sins against God’… ask Christ into our hearts as Savior and Lord!!

And ‘at that moment’ we are ‘indwelled by God’s Holy Spirit’… forever! (not at some later time with a second baptism or miracle)

Yes… the Bible also ‘addresses our life’…or our ‘walk with Christ’… and encourages us to live ‘like Christ’… (which NO ONE CAN DO… NO ONE EVER HAS)… but, over time, we can strive to be more like Christ… and maybe we will be better in certain areas than in others…

if anyone could or had…then there would be a “STANDARD” set by mankind for holiness and righteousness achieved by man… and God would NOT have had to send His Son to die for us on a Roman Cross!

And I continue:

First…lets note in preceding verses: John 3:14-15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.”
NASB
Recall this refers to: Num 21:5-9
5 And the people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.”
6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
7 So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.
8 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live.”
9 And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

*** here I am using red highlight to emphasize my point… 
 

The point being…if any man bitten merely looked upon the bronze serpenthe lived!

It did NOT make anything else part of the requirement!

It was ‘literal’it was simple to understand!

Just as John 3:16 is literal…and does NOT add these numerous things so many ‘claiming to be scholars or in authority try to add’… it says: that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
And lets then take verses following: John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
NASB

Thus…to me…and unequivocally… Belief in Christ is ENOUGH!

(No… I am NOT discouraging baptism… or living for Christ… or doing good works…but as ‘to salvation’… that is ‘all by and through Christ’…and that was the ‘finished work on the cross!’)

That is the Gospel…

yes…one must ‘first know they are lost’… and that they sin against God…and THEY NEED A SAVIOR…that is the position of the one lost being ‘brought to Christ’… and the entity of the Trinity doing ‘all of this’…is THE HOLY SPIRIT…HE DOES THE CALLING …THE CONVICTING…AND THEN THE INDWELLING! Then…their ‘accepting Christ as Savior and Lord in their heart and mind’ accomplishes this wonderful miracle…this eternal blessing!

Everything else is ‘ancillary to this’ (and by saying ‘ancillary’ I am NOT doing so in a condescending way nor am I ranking Scripture)… because without ‘belief’ in Christ as Savior and Lord…NOTHING ELSE MATTERS OR WILL GIVE YOU SALVATION…

And over and over God’s Word says salvation is ‘BY GRACE’…NOT by our works!

Thus NO ONE can achieve it… only God could…THUS THE JUST BECAME THE JUSTIFIER

Rom 3:21-25

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

Rom 3:26

26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. ***red my emphasis

Rom 11:6
6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

In this…to me… grace means ‘unmerited favor’… I ‘do NOT deserve His free gift’… I have NOT earned it… He gave it to me!
Eph 2:4-6
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,

***(NOTE HERE IT IS “PAST TENSE” to all who believe — we are already seated there…so if you are already seated in Heaven…then…’how can you lose your salvation)

Eph 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
NASB
 

2 Tim 1:9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
NASB

I also fully believe that God’s grace does NOT absolve mankind from their own personal responsibility for their choices while here on earth… ie… we ‘reap what we sow’… so that when we sin… though FORGIVEN FOR OUR SINS IN CHRIST — the eternal penalty of them (if we have accepted Him in our hearts)… while here on earth…we suffer the consequences of our sins… just as David did in relation to his sin with Bathsheba!

But David DID NOT LOSE HIS SALVATION… and Psalm 51 is so beautiful as he wrote of this…

Again…I NEVER SAID BAPTISM WAS NOT IMPORTANT!!

I said…baptism does NOT save you!

It is your public profession of your faith… but it does NOT save you… if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord…YOU ARE ALREADY SAVED at that miraculous and mysterious and supernatural moment!!!!

Some people do NOT get baptized at that moment… for some it is at a later date… some never get baptized… still they are saved!

Again… a preponderance of Scripture:

Now to Baptism — because that too is referenced in Acts : Acts 2:38
38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
NASB

At first glance this verse seems to teach salvation by baptism…and ‘many people’ insist that this is precisely what it does mean.

Such an interpretation is impossible for the following reasons:

    1 In dozens of NT passages, salvation is said to ‘be by faith’ in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12; 3:16,36; 6:47; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9, for example) NO VERSE OR TWO could conceivably contradict such overwhelming testimony!

I’ve already listed John 3:16 and 36…but here are these:

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

Acts 16:29-31 And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”

Rom 10:9-11 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

    2. The thief on the cross had the assurance of salvation apart from baptism (Luke 23:43). (some even then say… that ‘Christian baptism’ began after Christ’s death and resurrection… as symbolized by our ‘dying with Him’ and also resurrecting with Him from beneath the baptismal water… interesting…Christ was baptized by John the Baptist while alive before He began His earthly ministry)…

    3. The Savior is NOT stated to have baptized ANYONE… a strange omission if baptism is essential to salvation!

(This DOES NOT DENIGRATE IT OR MAKE IT UNIMPORTANT…rather shows that the act of baptism is NOT salvation!)

    4. The apostle Paul was thankful that he baptized only a few of the Corinthians — a strange cause for thankfulness if baptism has saving merit (1 Cor. 1:14-16).

I think baptism is very important as ‘our public declaration of our faith’…and symbolizes our ‘new birth in Christ’…but I do NOT believe it is ‘required’ for us to be saved by Christ!

Interesting… (maybe I should have said…up to this point — in Acts) only Jews were ever told to be baptized for the ‘forgiveness of sins’ (see Acts 22:16). In this fact…we believe is the secret to understanding of this passage. The nation of Israel had crucified the Lord of glory. The Jewish people had cried out, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25). The guilt of the Messiah’s death was thus claimed by the people of Israel.

Baptism became the ‘outward sign’ that their sin in connection with the rejection of Christ (as well as all their sins) had been washed away. It took them off Jewish ground and place them on Christian ground. But baptism could NOT save them. Only faith in Christ could do that. To teach otherwise is to teach ‘another gospel’…and thus those consequences…

In fact… even in Galatians we read where Paul confronted Peter about ‘taking the Gospel to the Gentiles’… so there was even strife and contention between the disciples as to the Gentiles even being preached the Gospel… much less being baptized…

Gal 2:1-21
2 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.
2 And it was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
3 But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
4 But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.
5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
6 But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) —  well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.
7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised
8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 
9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.
10 They only asked us to remember the poor —  the very thing I also was eager to do.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
15 “We are Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles;
16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.
17 “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!
18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God.
20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.
21 “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
NASB

Again…NOTHING HERE ABOUT BAPTISM!! Not that baptism is not important…it is…because there is also so much Scripture indicating God’s desire for us to be baptized… but it is NOT salvation… it is an act (or work) we do as a result of our ‘being saved’…

The book of Hebrews speaks of those trying to influence Jewish Christians to return to Judaic Law…and Paul in that book shows ‘the excellence of Christ’… it is all about Christ… NOT RITUAL….NOT WORKS!

I believe baptism is a command…not ‘an option’…but an ‘obligation’…thus to ‘not be baptized if at all possible…(realizing too… it may not be possible right at the time of one’s public confession of their faith) is rebellion – and thus…a sin…

An alternative interpretation of baptism for remission of sins is given by a top Biblical commentator… by Ryrie:

This does not mean in order that sins might be remitted, for everywhere in the NT sins are forgiven as a result of faith in Christ, not as a result of baptism (which would also be categorized as a work). It means be baptized because of the remission of sins! The Greek preposition eis, for, has this meaning “because of” not only here but also in such passages as Matt. 12:41 where the meaning can only be “they repented because of (not in order to) the preaching of Jonah.” Repentance brought remission of sin for this Pentecostal crowd, and because of the remission of sins they were baptized.”
Realize… I also included this important aspect in my email to you… about ‘justification’… because that is the ‘issue’ or ‘being justified’ in God’s sight…

Back to part of the book of James: The section might actually be entitled “Justification by Works,” because there is a sense in which we are justified by works. In fact, in order to grasp the full truth of justification, we should clearly understand that there are six aspects of justification.

1.       We are justified by grace (Rom. 3:24). This simply means that we do not deserve to be justified; in fact we deserve the very opposite.

2.       We are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1). Faith is the human response to God’s grace. By faith, we accept the free gift. Faith is that which appropriates what God has done for us.

3.       We are justified by blood (Rom. 5:9). Here blood is the price which had to be paid in order to procure our justification. The debt of sin was met by the precious blood of Christ, and now God can justify ungodly sinners because a righteous satisfaction has been made.

4.       We are justified by God (Rom. 8:33). The truth here is that God is the Person who justifies.

5.       We are justified by power (Rom. 4:25). Our justification is linked to the power that raised Christ from the dead. His resurrection proves that God is satisfied.

6.       And we are justified by works (James 2:24). Works are the outward proof of the reality of our faith. They give outward expression to what would otherwise be invisible. From this we see that the person is justified by grace, by faith, by blood, by God, by power, and by works. Yet there is no contradiction at all. These statements simply present different aspects of the same truth. Grace is the principle upon which God justifies; faith is the means by which man receives it; blood is the price which the Savior had to pay; God is the active Agent in justification; power is the proof; and works are the result.

Then this question was raised:

So, how does the bible say we are saved?  First of all, Hebrews 9 and 10 talks about the old covenant, before Christ died.  ***Paul here was showing the ‘difference between the two covenants’… and the difference between the blood of bulls and goats and Christ’s blood! There is nothing anyone could do before Christ died to be saved. ***NOT ‘by the Law’… the Law NEVER saved anyone… but even in the Old Testament… salvation by God was through ‘faith in God’ and ‘by grace’ because NO ONE could live the Law perfectly to obtain holiness and righteousness.

However we have a clear ‘shadow’ of how God ‘handled their sins’ in Exodus in the ‘Night of the Passover’ in Egypt where he killed the first born in each Egyptian’s family and ‘passed over the homes of Israel with the blood on the door‘… that ‘symbolized’ that God placed them in a ‘special dispensation’ whereby He passed over their sins until Christ could deal with them at the Cross…where ‘all sin was dealt with!’ And then later their sins were addressed by ‘animal sacrifice’ as He prepared them for the fact that sin required life’s blood… but again…theirs were given a special dispensation until the cross…

And at the same time… in the ‘rituals he gave them’… he prepared them for the fact that the blood of animals did NOT absolve them fully… That is why when John the Baptist ‘baptized Christ’ the Jewish religious leaders were so angry when John said:

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

And what ‘so offended them’… was John’s calling Christ…the Lamb of God… (thus making the millions of lambs sacrificed no longer sanctifying or vital)…

and also that he said ‘who takes away the sin of the world’… and the Jews thought the Messiah was just for Israel!! (and we even see the disciples themselves had a huge confrontation over this… as Paul took the Gospel to the Gentiles – then confronted Peter about it in Jerusalem…and Peter agreed Paul was right)…

btw… in the Old Testament: When God tested Abraham… and had him take Isaac and sacrifice him… and Isaac asked his father: Gen 22:7 And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham’s answer was this: Gen 22:8
8 And Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.
NASB

This was ‘fulfilled here in the New Testament with Christ’… because the ‘ram found in the thicket to replace Isaac was NOT a lamb’…

Gen 22:13
13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.
NASB

thus… the ‘lamb provided by God was not fulfilled until Christ!’ So… Isaac’s question was NOT answered until Christ…

So…these comments backed by Scripture are ‘what I believe’… based upon my own study… and I hope can give you ‘food for thought’…

I am no expert… but I love the Lord…and His Word…

I decry all the ‘splintering’ of the ‘body’… here on earth…with each denomination having so much pride…they each think they are right…and all the rest are some form of second class Christians…if even that…

And often they are just ‘splitting hairs’ over ritual… and thus losing the heart of God in the process…

Bill

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Apr 29 2010

How does this affect us: “All the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.”

How does this affect us: “All the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.”

 

This is a devotional I ‘broadcasted today to a special email group’…that ‘when I write something like this…(which is when I feel God puts it on my heart)…I send it to them…

I am NOT trying to invade your privacy… nor am I trying to convince anyone of anything…rather stimulate your heart to consider these things…

If you would like to be ‘added to my email broadcast list’ for spiritual things I may write or forward…let me know…if not…I’ll not send you this type of devotional…

I was reading this devotional (that I am sharing with you)…written so many years ago by Charles Spurgeon…and it struck my heart …pierced it to the very core… two major ways…

    1. Israel…God’s chosen people… and how they are still being treated today…(they have been abused more than any race or nation… over-and-over genocide has been attempted on them… to eradicate them from this earth)… 

and I fear now…even by the US government behind the scenes of our state department and by our President…takes actions not ‘in Israel’s best interest’…in fact…very dangerous to Israel’s very existence…as they seem to side with those against Israel in the Middle East…all under the political agenda of ‘for the better good’…

    2. And certainly ‘my own heart’…how ‘hardened it becomes’…

how ‘rebellion’ (which any sin against our Holy and Righteous God is)…

how rebellion so easily creeps in…invades me…until my flesh so easily succumbs…

and at first when I willfully sin against Him… the Holy Spirit in me (as He dwells in the heart of every believer)… pricks my heart…

but then…as I continue in rebellion (instead of immediately prostrating myself before God and in full remorse…repent and ask His forgiveness)… as I continue in my sin…my calloused and hardened heart can ignore the Holy Spirit’s warnings…

and I feel less and less guilt before God… and my prayers become ‘a forgive me of my sins’…instead of me taking each one of them before Him ‘individually’…(as certainly I sinned them individually)… and asking His forgiveness…

Yes…I am covered by the shed blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ… and I am forgiven…and forever saved… Yes… my salvation here is NOT the issue!

Rather it is ‘my daily walk’…my ‘fellowship with God in Christ’…that is what is broken when I sin…

That is why He gave us these wonderful verses:

1 John 1:8-10
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Spurgeon’s reference verse:

“All the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.”
Ezekiel 3:7

Just below, I have included more of today’s Scripture referenced from the Bible — but have used the New American Standard Bible translation. ***red highlighting mine for emphasis

Ezek 3:4-11
4 Then He said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them.
5 “For you are not being sent to a people of unintelligible speech or difficult language, but to the house of Israel,
6 nor to many peoples of unintelligible speech or difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. But I have sent you to them who should listen to you;
7 yet the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, since they are not willing to listen to Me. Surely the whole house of Israel is stubborn and obstinate.
8 “Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads.
9 “Like emery harder than flint I have made your forehead. Do not be afraid of them or be dismayed before them, though they are a rebellious house.”
10 Moreover, He said to me, “Son of man, take into your heart all My words which I shall speak to you, and listen closely.
11 “And go to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them and tell them, whether they listen or not, ‘Thus says the Lord God.'”
NASB

Another powerful and empowering devotional to stimulate our hearts and minds in Christ The author is Charles Spurgeon (1834-92) — you can tell by the way he uses language, it is from much earlier times — but also timeless — and also, again reveals that the Holy Spirit has illuminated the revelations of God to the saints preceding us……and is faithful to illuminate God’s Word for us. 

Are there no exceptions?

No, not one.

Even the favoured race are thus described.

Are the best so bad?–then what must the worst be?

Come, my heart, consider how far thou hast a share in this universal accusation, and while considering, be ready to take shame unto thyself herein thou mayst have been guilty.

The first charge is impudence, or hardness of forehead, a want of holy shame, an unhallowed boldness in evil.

Before my conversion, I could sin and feel no compunction, hear of my guilt and yet remain unhumbled, and even confess my iniquity and manifest no inward humiliation on account of it.

For a sinner to go to God’s house and pretend to pray to Him and praise Him argues a brazen-facedness of the worst kind!

Alas! since the day of my new birth I have doubted my Lord to His face, murmured unblushingly in His presence, worshipped before Him in a slovenly manner, and sinned without bewailing myself concerning it.

If my forehead were not as an adamant, harder than flint, I should have far more holy fear, and a far deeper contrition of spirit.

Woe is me, I am one of the impudent house of Israel.

The second charge is hardheartedness, and I must not venture to plead innocent here.

Once I had nothing but a heart of stone, and although through grace I now have a new and fleshy heart, much of my former obduracy remains.

I am not affected by the death of Jesus as I ought to be; neither am I moved by the ruin of my fellow men, the wickedness of the times, the chastisement of my heavenly Father, and my own failures, as I should be.

O that my heart would melt at the recital of my Saviour’s sufferings and death. Would to God I were rid of this nether millstone within me, this hateful body of death.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, the disease is not incurable, the Saviour’s precious blood is the universal solvent, and me, even me, it will effectually soften, till my heart melts as wax before the fire.

First my dear friends…NEVER THINK GOD HAS ABANDONED ISRAEL!

Rom 11:25-33
25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in;
26 and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
27 “And this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”
28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;
29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience,
31 so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy.
32 For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
NASB

Let’s go back to the Old Testament…and God’s promises to Israel…(and though ‘the world’ may change…God’s Word NEVER changes! And His promises are kept.) God deals with His chosen people…but NO MAN — or nation is ever supposed to curse them…

Gen 12:2-3
2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;
3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Num 22:12
12 And God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people; for they are blessed.”

Num 23:7-8
7 And he took up his discourse and said, “From Aram Balak has brought me, Moab’s king from the mountains of the East, ‘Come curse Jacob for me, And come, denounce Israel!’
8 “How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? And how can I denounce, whom the Lord has not denounced?

Throughout the OT this message is revealed…only God can deal with Israel…for they are ‘His chosen people’… and through them…in Christ… He deals with us… for in Christ was our salvation perfected in His merciful grace…

As I look back on each nation that has cursed…or tried to annihilate Israel… or mistreated them because of their race and faith… each of these nations has ‘been dealt with by God…

look at Egypt in the OT…when God said… they would never be powerful again… look at the Roman empire…its gone… look at Nazi Germany… even look at Russia in recent times…

more even look at England…the most powerful nation on earth prior to WWII…and they first supported Israel ‘re-establishing their homeland’… but then…due to Arabic pressures…they ‘reversed themselves’…and instead ‘blocked Israel from immigrating back’…(even fought…jailed and killed them)… and the fortunes of England…ever since have declined…

Thus… I fear for our nation now… and the events that seemingly show us no longer being trustworthy as allies with them…maybe even becoming ‘like England’… more politically allied with the Arabic states in the Middle East against Israel…certainly we try to ‘restrain them’…

This speaks to us…(we are the Gentiles)…

Rom 5:8-11
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
NASB

Eph 4:17-20
17 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
20 But you did not learn Christ in this way,
NASB

And the theme of Spurgeon’s devotional… here in strikes directly at my own heart… My Lord and Savior paid such a ‘dear price for me’… as ‘He took my place’ on that cross in judgment for ‘my sins’ (and yours)…to pay the supreme price to a holy and righteous God for my sins…because He knows I cannot ‘measure up’ to ‘achieve redemption by my own performance’…

Rom 11:6
6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Eph 2:1-22
2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, 
7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
11 Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands — 
12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near;
18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,
20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;
22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Again…repeating…it is ALL BY HIM AND OF HIM!

Eph 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

I have ‘no merit’… I am NOT worthy… it is all based upon Christ’s performance on the cross…as He suffered all judgment and punishment for my (our) sins there…

But it is ‘conditional’…in order to ‘be covered by His shed blood’…ie… FORGIVEN… we must ‘accept Him as Savior and Lord…

John 3:14-18
14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Praise Him…He has done it all for us… there is no requirement (nor can we) add one single thing to it…or take one single thing away from it… IT IS SUFFICIENT! It is complete…

and I am His…forever…

sinner that I am… my heart is broken ‘when I grieve His Spirit in me’ and willfully sin against Him…

Bill Watts.. .

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Mar 25 2009

Question — how does this strike you — Tulsa — Zoning for (49 ft. tall) Buddhist statue OK’d

Question — how does this strike you — Tulsa — Zoning for (49 ft. tall) Buddhist statue OK’d — Tulsa World story below these comments of mine…

 

 

If we ‘truly believe the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God’… and is ‘infallible’… (God’s word is true…though often the ‘exceptions’ are for our interpretation of it)… so personally…I feel every bit of the Bible has meaning for us…and reveals the heart of God to us…
 
2 Tim 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
NASB
But in it too … we read so much of Israel’s Old Testament history…of their ‘turning their back on God’… and always in that…was ‘their embracing of idols’…and ‘idol worship’…
 
and ‘spiritually’… as in this first Scripture reference…Egypt is always ‘associated with darkness’ and an ‘enemy of Israel…and of God’… and God calls their ‘abomination’ their idols… Continue Reading »

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Dec 12 2008

Social Comment — New Movie: Milk

My opinion: Just read about a new movie being released to ‘already critical acclaim’… Milk with Sean Penn playing the lead… about a gay activist named Harvey Milk…

Now I personally do NOT believe homosexuality is any worse sin than adultery or fornication or theft… other ‘acts of choice’ with which it is grouped in the NT… even though in the OT it was certainly emphasized in the record of Sodom and Gomorrah…

(and btw, I am guilty of the sins of adultery and fornication in my life… so I am not casting this rock from any safe house…or that I am holier than thou)…

But it ‘does seem to me’… as this (homosexuality) becomes ‘more accepted — even glamorized’ in ‘any society or culture’… Continue Reading »

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Jun 09 2006

Concerning Heavenly Gifts

So often I hear portions of these verses quoted, and integrated, and used to ‘declare’ special vested powers today, or even heavenly gifts today to ‘bind or loose’ in heaven—–which can be then transported to mean ‘to heal’ or even ‘to declare sins forgiven or a person condemned.’ Personally, I do not agree with that. (I do believe we ‘can petition’ or ‘supplicate’ the Lord in prayer, and He hears our prayer as long as it is ‘in His will’ as revealed Scripturally—–but, I do not believe we—-either individually or as a body—-can ‘control Him, or manipulate Him,’ no matter ‘how well-meaning’ our effort seems, nor can we ‘impose our will on Him,’ or declare events with ourselves as the authority.)  Personally, I believe the disciples were given ‘special powers’ here on earth during their establishing the ‘body of Christ’—–the early church. And I do believe some today are given special gifts, but not as broad or as powerful as those given to the original disciples, and in this, I include Paul.

But as I always state, this is to stimulate ‘your own heart and mind’ to search the Scriptures for the truth.

Continue Reading »

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Apr 17 2006

Binding and Loosing

Matt 16:19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

A dear person, a long time follower of Christ sent me this verse and to me, used it to denote that ‘we today’ have this ‘power and authority’ to ‘loose and bind’ in heaven in order to do ‘kingdom work.’

There is much controversy over these passages, beginning with Matt. 16:17,18 and His blessing of Peter, and whether or not in verse 18 Peter was ‘ordained’ as ‘the head of the church’ or if it was ‘the truth of Peter’s answer of Christ’s question in verse 13 – Matt 16:13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

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Feb 11 2006

The Family Order – ‘Headship’ in the Home

Tough Issues that are rarely discussed in Church, even ignored except for an often ‘sugar coated’ mutually appeasing presentation — an issue that is ‘really tough’ to approach, and one ‘in which I believe our society and culture has completely tried to hi-jack, dilute, reject, or even reverse’ —-with the consequences of our rebelling against God’s Word, as to the ‘headship’ or ‘authority’ of the man (father) in the home and family.

(And in this, it would also speak of the man ‘not assuming that responsibility of headship.’ Thus, we have two opposing events tearing the fabric of our families and our culture: the abdication by action and understanding as to the spiritual responsibility by men of assuming and being the leader in the home – patriarchal role; and the overtaking of that role by women – partly to fill that void men have allowed, and partly for more control – as in the ‘feminist movement,’ in which the more extreme it is, often openly rejects the concept of a patriarch – male head of the family — and is ‘pro-choice’ on abortion, even in some cases goes so far as to attempt to replace ‘God’ with ‘Goddess,’ and even the condoning of lesbian relationships.)

As ‘with all things’ God will ‘sort them out.’ But it is good for us to go to His Word to read and learn His revealed will for us.

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Feb 07 2006

Doctrine of Inclusion

September 8, 2002

To: A brother-in-the-Lord in regards to his request,

Re: Concerning “the gospel of inclusion.” (As espoused by Carlton Pearson, which you sent me.) To briefly outline this: Wherein, since as he (Carlton Pearson, and others of this ilk and persuasion) states, Christ died for ‘all sin’ – past, present, and future – (with which I totally agree is the Gospel of Christ) – but then in ‘his gospel of inclusion’ (with which I totally disagree) he claims ‘everyone is already saved and will go to Heaven’ – even without a conscious realization that they ‘are lost in sin’ and ‘need a Savior’ and they ‘confess’ Jesus Christ as their Savior.’ (Its like everyone has been infected with terminal cancer, and there is a miraculous and supernatural cure – and it is mysteriously ‘injected’ into everyone to ‘cure them’ without them ever knowing it, or for that matter, even knowing they were terminally ill.)

Well first let me say this has troubled my heart.

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