Archive for the 'God’s Saving Grace' 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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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 12 2009

Because He Lives…so too can we! Happy Easter!

April 12th  Today…Easter…is a day of joyous celebration…on which our entire faith is truly based…that Jesus Christ is risen!

That God the Father stamped His approval on the finished work of His only Son, Jesus Christ…as He died on the cross ‘in our place’… and ‘became our sin’ before God…and paid the entire and eternal penalty to a holy and righteous God for our sins…

And that God the Father raised Him from the grave…and He lives!!

Thereby the mystery and miracle of God’s salvation for us in that…’Jesus Christ became the bridge for each of us for eternal redemption… reconciliation… restoration…and glorification in Him with God the Father!’

His free gift to each of us who will but accept His Son as Savior and Lord! (for there is NO SIN that God’s grace cannot forgive — except the ‘rejection of His Son’) Praise His holy name! Continue Reading »

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Feb 15 2009

How I am affected by God’s glory in Christ…

“To Him be glory both now and forever.” 2 Peter 3:18

Just below, I have included more of today’s Scripture referenced from the Bible — but have used the New American Standard Bible translation.
 
2 Peter 3:7-18
7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,
15 and regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
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,
18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.  
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. 

Heaven will be full of the ceaseless praises of Jesus. Continue Reading »

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Oct 20 2008

Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, “I am safe,” without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fullness which is to be found in Him.

Should we be satisfied to believe in Christ, and to say, “I am safe,” without wishing to know in our own experience more of the fullness which is to be found in Him.

“Grow up into Him in all things.” Ephesians 4:15

Today’s above Scripture reference (from the KJV) expanded for context and taken from the New American Standard Translation for contrast:

(This was speaking of the gifts of God to us… and how all are gifted in some manner… some more than others or for different purposes… but all are gifted)…

Eph 4:11-16
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  Continue Reading »

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Aug 17 2008

A ‘Triple Portion’ of God’s Mercy and Love

Today… something I’ve never done… but three of Charles Spurgeon’s devotionals have struck this chord in me… so…I’d love to share with you these thoughts…and see how they impact or stimulate yours…by tying them all together in one…thus… “A Special Triple Portion of God’s Mercy and Love”…
 
First in this… it all ‘begins and continues in Christ’… (because it ‘never ends in Him’)… He is God! and eternal…without beginning and without end… and I believe that God the Father loves us to lift His Son up to Him in prayer and worship as a ‘sweet incense’…what more could a father desire than for his son to be loved so by all…
 
Rev 1:7-8
7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Rev 21:5-6
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
6 And He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.
Rev 22:12-13
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

So too…let us then ‘focus on Him first’… and always…
“Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work.” Psalm 92:4
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May 25 2008

“Forsake me not” — Grace, Grace, Merciful Grace…Greater Than Our Sin…

“Forsake me not, O Lord.” –Psalm 38:21

And now… I am sharing with you another devotional by a man of God — Charles Spurgeon — who wrote this devotional over 115 years ago in England …but his illumination of the Scriptures are still so relevant even today…as God’s word never changes…and this only shows again that His Holy Spirit…who has illuminated His word to saints preceding us…is also faithful to do so for us…if we will but search His word diligently…

Frequently we pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation, but we too much forget that we have need to use this prayer at all times.
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May 17 2008

Does God’s ‘grace to us’ in Christ… then give us a ‘license to sin’

Does God’s ‘grace to us’ in Christ…

by our ‘receiving salvation in and through Christ’…

then give us a ‘license to sin’…

This is so detailed… and thus… so long… it is ‘only for those very serious about their Bible study’… and who may also encounter those with this same concern… (How is that for me to put in a ‘psychological hook’… to try to get you to read my stuff)… ;>)

This one you may want to print off and save to study at your leisure…

Seriously… I hear so much discussion… even argument… even division on this… and I am NOT saying I am right… but I am saying… this is my perspective of this from my own study of God’s word… and how it speaks to me…and… I have ‘used this flamboyant question’ to ‘gain your attention’ … and then… in this study… I’ll use it for illustration too…

And the one thing I always try to keep in perspective… is which makes ‘God’ a ‘Bigger God’… (not that me or anyone could)… but which ‘makes God bigger’… which makes Him a ‘more loving God’… which makes the greater demonstration of His love…

His merciful grace towards us in Christ… Or His judgment of us for our sin…

And since as God… He must have judgment of all sin and rebellion against Himself… then… how does He provide our salvation ‘after we sin against Him’… without demanding our personal payment for the eternal penalty for our sins… without compromising His holiness and righteousness… which He also cannot do… He cannot compromise Himself…

Thus… His grace towards us in Christ… wherein He took our place on the cross through His Son… and He paid our price… and then… gave it to us as a ‘free gift’… and the fact that there is “NO SIN” His grace cannot overcome or forgive… makes Him a ‘bigger God’…

And yes… He has placed ‘a condition upon that gift’… and that is each recipient must acknowledge their sin… and lost condition… and their need for a Savior… and accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord… and even a child can understand that…

Thus…this may be very controversial to some… but is not my intent… my intent is to encourage and to stimulate… because the content I feel is of such importance…our ‘assurance of our salvation’… versus our works… our service… our conduct… or yes… our sins…we need to know ‘beyond a shadow of doubt’… and have a ‘basis for understanding that no one can shake or threaten’…and for that… I hope I have provided some answers that give you peace and comfort…and assurance…

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May 07 2008

God’s Grace to Us in Christ!

This one is long… but it is so ‘on my heart’… that I wanted to share it with you…because ‘of myself’… I cannot grasp ‘why God loves me’… and … if I do NOT cling to this understanding of what I read in His Word… about His merciful grace… then… by my own performance and conduct in life…I would be lost…
Grace… Merciful Grace… God’s Grace to Us in Christ!

Why Grace? Why am I always writing about God’s merciful grace to us in Christ? (And so much less about ‘works’)… and a ‘simplified definition’ of God’s grace is ‘unmerited favor’…

***Note: I AM NOT ‘discounting’ works… or ‘good deeds’… I AM NOT making them ‘unimportant’… rather, to me they are ‘the results of’… our receiving God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ… works are outward manifestations of our faith in Him…stimulated from within by His love of us… expressed outwards…

But it is ‘by Grace’ that we are saved… NOT BY WORKS… so God’s grace to us in Christ is ‘our salvation’…

Also… keep in mind… I cannot ‘reduce God to the box of my finite understanding’… no matter how hard I try…

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Oct 26 2003

The Truth About “Grace”

First, let me digress from the stated theme of this devotional and preface it with something I feel is so very important, and has helped me to “understand” or “realize” more of this unique relationship with Him that He has provided.

To me, “logos”, the revealed word of God, is of Him revealing Himself, and dealing with His creation (not as some seem to think, about how man deals with or seeks God, which we do not do without the mystery of His selection or provision). We are so fortunate in that we have the completed revelations to study and use as our authoritative guide, “All scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness–“. As God revealed Himself, His very name revealed His substance and essence, and was so significant to that very situation, provisionally. I’m not saying we have “homogenized” His person, and in any way diluted His substance and essence (we cannot add to or take away from Him, for He is God!), but in translation, it seems we have maybe “not kept” some real personal insight into Him—that He wanted revealed—that is important. I hope when you approach His throne of grace and mercy in prayer, to worship Him, that these more intimate revelations of His name will allow you a more intimate personal relationship with Him, and are edifying to you.

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