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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Salvation and Grace

Salvation Is for Everyone

The path is narrow to eternal life, but that NEVER means we all cannot have it. A great post here on Salvation by Desiray. Comments closed here, so head over and share your thoughts. Blessings and enjoy!

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Titus 3:5 says” He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

The word “Salvation” appears in the King James bible 164 times, that’s a lot of times. What is salvation and why are some people afraid of it? I am not one to argue over God’s word and so I am not going to start today. Some of you might disagree and you are entitled to your opinion. Let’s go to scripture and see that the word of God says, shall we?

Read the rest here: Salvation Is for Everyone

Throwback Thursday-‘Left Behind:’ Will There Be a Rapture?

From October 2014

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I read the article below earlier and it really started me thinking about some things. I hope readers are not disappointed, as we really are not going to cover any debate on whether there will or will not be a rapture. One might call this a bait and switch article. The article that got me thinking was written by Jim Denison, a columnist for Christianpost.com

The Left Behind series is a publishing phenomenon, with 16 books and $65 million in sales. Three movies have been based on the series; today’s Left Behind makes the fourth. In it, Nicolas Cage plays a pilot who attempts to calm his surviving passengers high above the Atlantic after the believers have been raptured. Other well-known actors include Lea Thompson, Jordin Sparks, and Nicky Whelan.

The movie is based on the doctrine of the “rapture” (from the Latin rapturo, to take out). There are various versions of the rapture, but they have in common the belief that Christians will be removed from the world by God during the “end times

via ‘Left Behind:’ Will There Be a Rapture?.

As I said, reading the above article really made me think. The writer made some great points, and I want to expand on them here. There are many views on the timing and particulars of the return of Jesus Christ. I happen to believe the Doctrinal Statement of the American Baptist Association represents Biblical truth; however even within that there is room for debate on the timing of the Rapture.  We all believe the Rapture will take place, but not all agree whether it will be before, in the middle of or at the end of the Tribulation.

The truth is, not all believe the same things concerning the Rapture, the Tribulation or the Millenium. There are many compelling arguments to support different viewpoints on the subject. We can believe differently on these issues without anybody being branded as a heretic. The one thing that remains true, and must remain true if we are to be considered correctly believing Christians:

Jesus is coming back!

I need to say up front, there is nothing wrong with scholarly study of the Bible. In fact, Scripture is crystal clear that we are to study and meditate on the inspired writings it contains. The study of Scripture, however, is not the end goal; it is simply a tool we use in order to reach the real objective. If our lives are full of study with no application, then it has been wasted time. Scripture is to change us, not just make us smarter and more knowledgeable about it. James taught us this idea clearly in James 1:23,24. If we look into the mirror of God’s Word and do nothing, it is like a man looking in a mirror and seeing what needs to be fixed but walking away without fixing it.

Jesus took one last opportunity to teach His disciples on the Mount of Olives shortly before His ascension; He was asked by them if The Kingdom would be set up at that time.  His answer? “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.”

It was shortly thereafter that Jesus ascended into Heaven. Even then, the disciples simply stood there staring until two angels appeared and reminded them that they had work to do, and also that Jesus would return just as He had left.  Read the whole story here.

Now on to the actual point of this article. This quote from the original article I read simply captured me and provided the jump off point for this article.

“Here’s what matters: Jesus is coming back. No one knows when. We have only today to be ready. Whether he raptures the church before (or during, or after) a Great Tribulation, or returns to begin the millennium, or simply returns to end history and begin eternity, is not the practical question. You and I have no say in the matter. We are on the preparation committee, not the planning committee. Our job is to be ready when he comes, however he comes.”

What, then, are we to be preparing for?

  • We have a wedding to prepare for. Revelation 19:7-10 describes John’s vision of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It is here that The Lamb(Christ) will marry His bride, the Bride of Christ. We aren’t going to discuss here who is and is not the bride, as it’s really not important to this discussion. Verse 7, however does say “His wife hath made herself ready.” How are we to be making ourselves ready? These verses give us some clues.
  • We have a judgment to face. We all know the judgment of God will pass onto all unbelievers for their unbelief. Believers will be judged also. We will not be judged to determine our final destination; that determination is made only while we are still living. We will be judged to give an account of our lives and how we lived them for Jesus.
  • We have a world to evangelize. God has not left us here simply to enjoy ourselves. He wants us restored to him and that is why He patiently waits until His chosen time. See 2 Peter 3:9 for Peter’s teaching on this idea. Back in Acts 1, right after all of the questions on His return, Jesus had told them their mission was to “be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

There is a commonly quoted saying, “Some people are so Heavenly minded that they are no Earthly good.” Is that true for us? Are we so busy debating and considering the times, places and events surrounding the return of Jesus Christ that we have forgotten what the real issue is? He is returning, that is simply not debatable. The question is: Are we ready?

  • Are you lost? If you are not saved, you are not ready. Repent today; turn from your sin. Accept Jesus’ payment for your sin and His role as Savior and Lord of your life.
  • Are you saved? Remember what is coming. Are you preparing to be a good Bride? Will you be told “Well done, good and faithful servant” when you face Jesus? Are you reaching out to a lost and dying world with the Gospel?

Is Security of the Believer a License to Sin?

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I think anybody who reads here knows that I believe in the Eternal Security of the believer, Once save always saved, or Perseverance of the Saints. I believe God’s Word clearly teaches that the salvation of a truly saved person will never be revoked, nor can it be taken from us.

This is problematic for some, as many consider this doctrine to be nothing more than the granting of a license to run out and sin all they want. Sadly, many who oppose the Doctrine of Eternal Security are made to feel this way by the conduct and lifestyles of those professing to believe. Sadly, some do actually believe that salvation is no more than getting their ticket to heaven punched, and that they can in fact do as they wish with no repurcussions

On a side note, stolen from Adrian Rogers. I do, in fact, sin all I want to. I just don’t want to like I used to.

The Apostle Paul answered the question about Eternal Security being a permit to sin very directly in Romans 6:15-23. This question is far from a new one.

Romans 6:15-23 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Clearly, salvation is not a permit to sin at will. God said that in His Word. Also, clearly, God has expectations of us once we are saved.

Not only does The Bible teach that grace and security are not a permit to sin, but Christians should keep in mind that we all face a judgment one day.  Understand clearly that a truly saved person will never face judgment for their sins; the issue of Heaven and Hell is decided only in this life. Believers will, however, be judged at some point in time for how they lived their lives for Jesus Christ while they were alive. The ultimate goal of every believer at the Judgment should be to hear the same words the  good steward heard in the Parable of the Talents which Jesus told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Let’s take a look at this judgement believers face. We learn in Romans 14:10-12 as Paul wrote to the Roman believers, that we will all stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and account for how we lived our lives for him. Since we aren’t going to be judged for our sins what then is the purpose of this judgment? The judgment believers face is to determine our rewards we will receive for the things we have done for Jesus while living. One of the best descriptions of what will happen can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

What we receive are crowns for various services we have rendered on behalf of Jesus Christ during our lives. Descriptions of these can be found in several places in Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10.

Not only do saved believers face a judgment later for their works, but we also need to understand that we do not necessarily escaped unscathed in this life for the things we do wrong. We escape the eternal punishment for our sins due to our salvation, but not the earthly consequences for them. The things we do on this Earth affect our lives on this Earth.

God Himself may discipline us. Notice the difference between punishment and discipline. We are free from the eternal punishment for our sins: past, present and future. Like a good parent, however, God will chastise and discipline us in order to bring us back in line with His desire for our lives.

Hebrews 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.   If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

God disciplines us as His children; if fact, if He does not discipline us then we are not actually His!

Sin has earthly consequences which are not necessarily handed out by God, but just the natural outflow of our actions. King David is one of the finest examples of actions and consequences we can find anywhere in the Bible. Only a very few people would even try to make a case for David being unsaved; there is almost universal agreement that as we speak, David is in Heaven with The Lord. Yet, we all also know the truly terrible sins David committed at one point in his life. We all know the story of his adultery with Bathsheeba and his murder of her husband Uriah. David certainly was forgiven by God for those sins, but if one reads the full story of his Kingdom it is easy to see that the consequences of what David did set the stage for many things.

  • The rape of his daughter Tamar by her half brother Amnon and Amnons subsequent murder by Absalom. 2 Samuel 13
  • Absalom’s banishment from the house of David and partial restoration. 2 Samuel 14
  • Absalom’s later rebellion against David. 2 Samuel 15-19

Just a casual reading of this story and it is easy to draw the conclusion that David’s failure as both a father and husband led ultimately to some very serious consequences. One might even say that his other son Solomon behaved in some of the ways he did due to the example set by his father David.

To sum up the above, eternal security in our salvation is not a license to run out and sin all we want to. I heard a preacher say once, “Since I got saved I sin all I want to;” the audience grew silent and he then stated, “but I don’t want to.” Let’s recap quickly.

  • True saving faith and salvation will produce works, or fruit
  • We will all be judged for the quality of our works.
  • God will discipline and chastise us for our actions
  • We still face earthly consequences for the things we do

The whole idea that the Doctrine of Eternal Security is no more than a license to sin is probably the single biggest argument that is used to counter the doctrine. As we can see, the argument is simply not a valid one.

The Appointment We Cannot Escape

What will you choose? Great thoughts here from Pastor Neal Pollard. Blessings and enjoy!

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William T. Turner was captain of the Lusitania when it was torpedoed by a german U-boat in May, 1915. He was one of the few officers saved (Montreal Gazette, 6/24/33, obituary). The Atlantic writes in an article that Turner was “relieving captain” of the SS Ivernia when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat on New Year’s Day, 1917, and he once again survived (James Gould, 5/7/15). Turner was a man renowned for heroics and not a coward, which makes a captain surviving the sinking of two ships all the more incredible. But in 1933, after three, bed-ridden months, Turner succumbed to intestinal cancer (Gazette).

A few years ago, I wrote about Roy Sullivan, the park ranger who had survived seven lightning strikes (Preacher Pollard Blog). What an incredible tale of survival, but Sullivan insured his own mortality when he committed suicide in 1983 (ibid.). The man was incredible, but not invincible.

Jeanne Louise Calment is thought to be the world’s longest living person in modern times. She was born in 1875 in France, met Vincent Van Gogh as a young teenager, but eventually died in a nursing home in 1997, 122 years old! She took up fencing at 85, rode a bicycle until she was 100, ate two pounds of chocolate each week and quit smoking at 119 (http://anson.ucdavis.edu/~wang/calment.html). Back in the antediluvian period, in a purer world closer to creation, several lived over 900 years. But in each case, scripture punctuates their earthly existence by saying, “…and he died” (Gen. 5:5)….read the rest of the post here: The Appointment We Cannot Escape

Throwback Thursday-Jesus Paid It All and His Blood Is the Only Payment Accepted

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It’s our Throwback Thursday continuation of this previously published series Jesus Paid it All. Blessings and enjoy!

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

That, of course, is John 14:6.  Those were the words of Jesus Himself and sum up His thoughts about how a person comes to a relationship with God.  It seems like a fairly straight forward statement, really. Jesus did not say He was one of the ways, or one truth  or that there was any life other than Him.  He stated unequivocally that the only access to God the Father was through Him, God the Son.  Nonetheless, we live in a time where truth is considered relative, any belief is okay as long as it is sincere; to say there is only one way is considered hateful and exclusionary.

Most people with any spiritual inclination whatsoever would tend to put some credence to words spoken by Jesus. Of course, an atheist would not, but this article is not really for them. This is really to address those who hold the idea that many paths lead to God. We can’t really say that Jesus was just a good man, good teacher and one of many ways to Heaven. If He was outright lying in that Scripture and knew He was not the only way to God, then we should never follow a man such as that. If He genuinely believed what He said, but was just monumentally wrong, then we should never follow a man such as that. In either of those two cases, Jesus was certainly not a good man, or good teacher or any path to Heaven whatsoever. The only real alternatives are to totally disbelieve or completely believe the words He said in that verse. That is simply C.S Lewis’ famous Liar, Lunatic or Lord argument and it remains a valid one.

We hopefully agree at this point that payment is due. See this article for discussion on that subject:

Jesus Paid it All- Part 1- Your Really DON’T Want To Pay Your Own Way

I hope we also agree that we have no ability to do anything whatsoever to pay the price for our sin, other than the Biblically prescribed one of death. A review of that subject can be found here:

Jesus Paid it All – Part 2 – Your Payment’s No Good Here

Belief in God, sincerely held, is also not enough. After all, James taught us that even the demons believe. (James 2:19). Not only do they believe, but they tremble in fear! Sincerity does not accomplish a thing. Jesus said in our verse above, that He is the Truth.  Sincerely held belief in an untruth does not make it true, no matter how sincere the belief.  Some examples follow.  One can sincerely disbelieve in the Law of Gravity, but if that person steps off a building, he or she will soon discover they were wrong.  The laws of physics trump sincerely held belief. One can sincerely believe auto theft is okay, but a Judge will quickly show that person the error of their ways. The laws of the land trump sincerely held belief.  We could follow examples until the end of time.  The bottom line is, law trumps sincerely help belief every time.

God is the Supreme lawgiver. His law is just and perfect. We fail to meet His standard, making us law breakers. The penalty for transgressions of God’s law is death. Death is both physical and spiritual. Spiritual death is separation from God eternally in a place of torment called Hell.

The reason Jesus is the only way to God is because only Jesus could pay the needed price. He was able to pay it because He was fully human. Humans broke the law and a human had to pay. He was able to pay it because He was sinless and perfect; Jesus never transgressed The Law. Only because He had nto penalty of His own to pay could He pay mine. He was able to pay it because He is God. Only God could pay the infinite penalty required on behalf of every person who had lived, was living in His day, is living now and will live into the future.

Just a quick counter to those who claim that Christianity’s statement that Jesus is the only way is exclusionary follows next. Jesus payment on the Cross for sin is not exclusionary; it is available to anybody. No one is denied access to it. Read the following for an explanation:

Jesus Paid It All – Part 3 – The Payment Was Enough For Everyone

The payment Jesus made for us is not exclusionary, but it is extremely exclusive. Matthew 7:13,14 teaches us that the path to destruction is wide but the path to salvation is narrow. No one is excluded, but many will decline the offer.

How does one accept? Understand how you have failed before a Holy God. Agree with Him that your sin is wrong and and an offense to Him and deserving of punishment. Believe that Jesus paid the price you could never pay and accept Him as your Savior and Lord.  Repentance toward God and belief in Jesus Christ, it’s that simple.

Throwback Thursday-Jesus Paid It All and the Payment Was Enough for Everyone

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Time for another Throwback Thursday edition of my Jesus Paid It All Series

Allow me to preface this with the statement that I understand not all agree with this position on this topic. The truth is, several thoughts on this seem to be quite well supported Biblically, and we simply have to conclude that no one can lay claim to their position being proven absolutely by God’s Word. It does, however, represent what I believe to be true based on my reading and hopefully correct illumination by the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus paid it all, He paid it for all of us. Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to cover the sin of every human past, present and future.  Before readers get alarmed, please understand I am not saying that everyone from the past was saved, nor am I saying that all will be saved now or in the future.  In fact, the majority of people from the past, people now and those who live in the future will not be saved and enter Heaven. The sad truth is the majority of humankind will spend eternity separated from God in a place of torment called Hell.  So, please do not misunderstand; I am not espousing some form of Universalism, where everybody ends up in Heaven.

What am I saying then? I am simply saying that the quality of Jesus’ sacrifice and payment on the Cross  was enough for all humanity to escape the penalty of their sins. Jesus’ payment was not just for an elect group of people whom God the Father has preselected in eternity past to be eternally with Him in Heaven. Not everyone will agree with that statement, of course, but this is what the Bible teaches.

God’s gift of salvation through the death of His Son Jesus Christ is available to all, but not all will accept it.  Even though it is a free gift, there are terms under which we must accept. What are the terms? Repentance toward God for our sin and belief in His Son Jesus Christ. We must agree with God that our sin is wrong; we have to understand what we deserved as punishment for those sins. That covers repentance toward God. Then we must believe that God, in the form of the man Jesus Christ, came to Earth to pay on our behalf. Not only that He died, but He rose after three days dead thereby conquering sin and death. If we do that and call on the name of the Lord, we will be saved as we clearly learn in Romans 10:13.

How can we know that this salvation is available to all, and that our failure to have it is not because God denied it to us but because we refused it?

To understand this, we have to start at the very beginning. Because of the rebellion of Adam and Eve, we are all sinners by nature and choice. It is never a question of if we sin, but only a question of when. The Calvinists have it right on this point, really; we are so totally depraved that we are not even capable on our own of wanting to be saved from our sin. The sinful state we are born into is made clear in Romans 5:12 and 5:13, which teach us that sin and death entered into the world by one man, Adam.

We do not want to be saved, as we love our sin more. Left to our own devices, we would never seek God. Romans 3:10 and 13 tell us that not only is no one righteous, but none of us seek God. Romans 8:7 is yet more dire, teaching us that not only are we the enemies of God, but we are not even capable of accepting the things of God. In John 6:44, Jesus taught that no one would come to Him unless the Father drew them.

So even though we are not desiring or capable of seeking God, God has made provisions for us in order that we may overcome our inability.  In Matthew Chapter 19 after the rich young ruler left disappointed, Jesus pointed out to His disciples how difficult it was for a man to be saved.  When asked who could be saved, Jesus replied that with men it is not possible, but with “God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25,26) So, we see that we would only respond to God if He draws us. The good news is that we hear Jesus say  in John 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” God also draws all men unto Himself through the light of Jesus Christ; John 1:9 teaches us this light lights all men.

Atonement is not limited. It is available to all men. Scholars get around this clear teaching of Scripture by spinning what the Bible says when it says “all.” Of course any word can have more than one meaning including that one. But nothing in the context of any of the verses below suggest that “all” is limited in any way.

Hebrews 2:9, Jesus did “taste death for every man”
Hebrews 10:10 teaches Jesus body was offered “for all.”
John 12:47, Jesus came to save the World
Romans 5:8, Jesus died for sinners
Romans 5:18, Jesus free gift is offered to “all men”
Romans 8:32, Jesus was delivered up for “us all”
Isaiah 53:6, he bore the iniquities of “all”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Jesus died for “all”
2 Peter 2:1, Jesus even died for false teachers and liars doomed for Hell.

So, there you have it. It’s available to everyone. No one is denied it. Repentance toward God and belief in The Lord Jesus Christ and it’s yours.

Once Saved Always Saved?

My yesterday post from Church Set Free

This is a rerun of a rerun of a rerun. I have run it on my own blog and others, and now am posting it here on Church Set Free. I will probably run it more in the future. It’s a longish post, but this subject deserves a thorough treatment in order to be fully understood.

The question is often asked: Can a person, once saved, ever lose their salvation? The short answer is: NO. The Bible clearly and unequivocally teaches that a person who was truly saved and converted is eternally secure in that salvation and will never lose it. This is referred to as the Eternal Security of the Believer, Perseverance of the Saints or “Once saved always saved.”

We are going to discuss a lot of material here, so this will be a longish post. We will look at the key passages that support this doctrine; we will look at how Security of the Believer flows naturally from other things we know about Salvation; we will look at at some arguments made against the doctrine and finally we will look at why proper understanding of our security in Jesus Christ matters so much.

First, let’s look at some Scriptures which teach us about the Eternal Security of the Believer.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 10:27-30 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Simply tossing around Bible verses does not necessarily prove anything; out of the proper context, any verse can be used for most any proof. We always have to make sure we quote verses in the full context in which they appear. That would include the context of their chapter as well as the overall story of the Bible. They must be placed in the proper linguistic, historical and cultural context to be fully understood. Simply placing the above verses in the context of things we learn elsewhere in the Bible, it is clear that they teach that one’s salvation can never be lost.

If we look at the security of the believer in terms of why we needed to be saved in the first place, it simply makes no sense to propose we could lose our salvation once it is ours. Remember, we do not need to just be saved from our big sins, or our really heinous sins; we need salvation for all of them big or small. God is perfect and Holy, we are imperfect and sinful. Because God is perfect, any imperfection separates us from Him. We owe a penalty for our sin, big or small, which we can only pay by our death. Read the post on that subject here.  If we could lose our salvation for some sin, then the question immediately comes up: for exactly WHAT sin or sins could we lose it? The obvious answer is easy to come up with. Any sin separated us from God in the first place. If we could lose our salvation for some sin, then likewise any sin would take it from us.

Remember Romans 6:23? “The wages of sin is death .” That statement is not graded on a curve. It is all inclusive for all sin. The payment is due from each of us. And it’s not paid on the installment plan. This penalty is either paid, or it’s not. If one has not accepted Jesus’ payment for it, then it is not paid. However, of one has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, then it is paid.

We also understand that our salvation is by Grace and not by works. We know that we do not make even the smallest contribution to the obtaining of our salvation. We discussed that quite fully in this post.

If our salvation is 100 percent obtained by grace, then it is also 100 percent maintained by grace. If no works of any sort help us attain salvation, then conversely and obviously, “bad” works, lack of works or substandard works could not possibly cost us that salvation, right? If we don’t work to get it, then why would we have to work to keep it? There are substantial numbers of people who would agree that initially, salvation is by grace but that we must then maintain it by our works.

If Salvation did have to be maintained by works, then the immediate question is:  Exactly WHAT are the works requirements that must be met  in order to keep it? It is the same problem as determining exactly what sin could cost us our salvation. There is simply no list of rules given anywhere is Scripture. Actually, there is a list and it is quite simple. Any sin separates us from God, and no works restore us. Anything else is just what we, humans, have added. We are going to dive into that topic later in this post.

The Apostle Paul addressed that very mindset in Galatians 3:3 “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”  Paul informed us in that verse, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that it is simply foolishness to think that we were saved by Grace but needed to maintain it by works.

Perhaps the biggest argument against the Doctrine of Eternal Security is that it somehow becomes “a license to sin.” In other words, one can become saved and then go out in the world and do whatever one chooses with no consequence. After all, one’s sins past, present and future are all forgiven.  Technically, that is a true statement. Technically a truly saved person, no matter how far they might backslide, is still forgiven and heaven bound.

Sadly and to the discredit of churches today, we do much to foster this skepticism about the Doctrine of Eternal Security. We have pews full of people who only darken the doors of a church for an hour on Sunday morning, then barrel back to the outside world and conduct themselves just like, or worse than, the rest of the world.  This same group of people justifies their behavior by resting on some claim that they are saved, so..”I’m all good, I’m saved and heaven bound. Jesus has forgiven me so it’s cool.” This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.  Salvation is not about getting a ticket to heaven punched. God truly, deeply loves us and offers us the gift of salvation, but salvation is not about us!  Read my post on just who worship is for and why we are saved here.

A quick summary is in order here. God was not sitting around in Heaven lonely one day and decided to create humanity to alleviate His loneliness. God is self existent and self sufficient and has no need for us whatsoever. God does not save us so that He can fill some empty void in His existence. We were only created for His honor and glory in the first place. In fact, the entire plan of redemption formed before the beginning of time was simply to declare God’s glory to the universe.

The point of this is God does not save us “for” us. He saves us for a purpose and a reason, and the reason is not us.  The most notable Bible passage on salvation based on grace not works is of course Ephesians 2:8,9. Where people go wrong, however, is they stop there.  Because right after God makes it clear through the Apostle Paul that works don’t save us, He goes on to tell they whys of our salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

That’s just a start. There are numerous passages that teach us the a true saving faith will produce fruit(works). These are merely a few.

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:22.23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

1 John 3:6-9 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

The Apostle Paul answered the question about Eternal Security being a permit to sin very directly in Romans 6:15-23. This question is far from a new one.

Romans 6:15-23 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Clearly, salvation is not a permit to sin at will. God said that in His Word. Also, clearly, God has expectations of us once we are saved.

Not only does The Bible teach that grace and security are not a permit to sin, but Christians should keep in mind that we all face a judgment one day.  Understand clearly that a truly saved person will never face judgment for their sins; the issue of Heaven and Hell is decided only in this life. Believers will, however, be judged at some point in time for how they lived their lives for Jesus Christ while they were alive. The ultimate goal of every believer at the Judgment should be to hear the same words the  good steward heard in the Parable of the Talents which Jesus told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Let’s take a look at this judgement believers face. We learn in Romans 14:10-12 as Paul wrote to the Roman believers, that we will all stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and account for how we lived our lives for him. Since we aren’t going to be judged for our sins what then is the purpose of this judgment? The judgment believers face is to determine our rewards we will receive for the things we have done for Jesus while living. One of the best descriptions of what will happen can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

What we receive are crowns for various services we have rendered on behalf of Jesus Christ during our lives. Descriptions of these can be found in several places in Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10.

Not only do saved believers face a judgment later for their works, but we also need to understand that we do not necessarily escaped unscathed in this life for the things we do wrong. We escape the eternal punishment for our sins due to our salvation, but not the earthly consequences for them. The things we do on this Earth affect our lives on this Earth.

God Himself may discipline us. Notice the difference between punishment and discipline. We are free from the eternal punishment for our sins: past, present and future. Like a good parent, however, God will chastise and discipline us in order to bring us back in line with His desire for our lives.

Hebrews 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.   If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

God disciplines us as His children; if fact, if He does not discipline us then we are not actually His!

Sin has earthly consequences which are not necessarily handed out by God, but just the natural outflow of our actions. King David is one of the finest examples of actions and consequences we can find anywhere in the Bible. Only a very few people would even try to make a case for David being unsaved; there is almost universal agreement that as we speak, David is in Heaven with The Lord. Yet, we all also know the truly terrible sins David committed at one point in his life. We all know the story of his adultery with Bathsheeba and his murder of her husband Uriah. David certainly was forgiven by God for those sins, but if one reads the full story of his Kingdom it is easy to see that the consequences of what David did set the stage for many things.

  • The rape of his daughter Tamar by her half brother Amnon and Amnons subsequent murder by Absalom. 2 Samuel 13
  • Absalom’s banishment from the house of David and partial restoration. 2 Samuel 14
  • Absalom’s later rebellion against David. 2 Samuel 15-19

Just a casual reading of this story and it is easy to draw the conclusion that David’s failure as both a father and husband led ultimately to some very serious consequences. One might even say that his other son Solomon behaved in some of the ways he did due to the example set by his father David.

To sum up the above, eternal security in our salvation is not a license to run out and sin all we want to. I heard a preacher say once, “Since I got saved I sin all I want to;” the audience grew silent and he then stated, “but I don’t want to.” Let’s recap quickly.

  • True saving faith and salvation will produce works, or fruit
  • We will all be judged for the quality of our works.
  • God will discipline and chastise us for our actions
  • We still face earthly consequences for the things we do

The whole idea that the Doctrine of Eternal Security is no more than a license to sin in probably the single biggest argument that is used to counter the doctrine. As we can see, the argument is simply not a valid one. Other than that, there are numerous Scripture verses used as “proof texts” to support the idea that we can lose our salvation. Several years ago, a family member had an interesting conversation with a person who believed one could lose their salvation. When challenged by the family member for some proof, the person in question quoted Job 1:21, saying “The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away!”  That may be the single most absurd argument for being able to lose salvation that has ever been spoken. Not all of these arguments are that absurd, however; some seem to make sense on the surface. Let’s look at a few. It will only be a few, as there are many.

Some scriptures that speak of earthly chastening are used to teach believers can lose their salvation.

1 Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

Romans 13:2  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 

The word damnation in those verses is not referring to “anathema”, or death in Hell, but “krima”, referring to earthly judgment

There are those passages that refer to a believer being called home by God because of committing the sin unto death. This, in context, refers to physical and not spiritual death.  1 John 5:16 and 1 Corinthians 3:17 both refer to this.  The fornicator in 1 Corinthians 5 was in danger of committing it and the believers in Corinth participating in the Lord’s Supper unworthily and Annanais and Sapphira all committed it. Nothing in context suggest these were unsaved people, but people being called home by physical death so as not to ruin their testimonies.

Some verses dealing with evidence or proof of salvation are used to illustrate a person losing their salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Colossians 1:22,23 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

1 John 2:3-5 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

James, in particular, is used to support this idea. But in the context of the overall concept of salvation not being by works, it is made clear that the above verses are referring only to the evidence of salvation.

Some verses used to show the possible loss of salvation simply refer to someone who never had it in the first place.

Matthew 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Some say that not those who say “Lord, Lord” enter heaven but only those who “doeth the will of my Father” enter heaven. In other words, works are needed to stay saved. Just note, however, what Jesus said. He said, “I never knew you.” To understand the full context of the above passage, it is necessary to read the entire passage in question. Read Matthew 7:15-23.  The overall context in the passage is referring to false prophets and teachers who ran around claiming to belong to Jesus, but in fact never had.

The above passages are but a few that seem, on the surface, to support the idea that a person can lose their salvation. Like all of our Bible interpretation efforts, we have to perform this one correctly. Context, language, history and culture all have to be considered when assuming a position or interpretati0n.  All of these things taken together, along with Scriptures supporting Eternal Security, clearly show that the Doctrine of Eternal Security of the Believer is, in fact, completely Biblical. Now, the only question remains is: Why is it so important?

The Doctrine of conditional salvation, or that one can lose their salvation, is a product of Satan himself. I am not saying that those who believe it are of Satan; I am saying the thought is from him. Why would I say such a thing? Allow me to briefly explain. First, let’s take a look at the following passage:

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

In that passage, Paul was speaking to saved believers. What he was passing along from God was that we are to put on our helmet, and that helmet is the helmet of Salvation. He simply meant that Satan desperately wants us to be in a constant state of doubting our salvation. Paul was teaching us not to be distracted by those doubts, but to live secure in the assurance of our status as reconciled children of God.

Why does Satan care? The basic reason is that if we rest assured that our salvation is secure, then we can move along to the work God really wants us to do.  If we spend our entire lives in a mad scramble to stay saved, then that is all we can do. I hate to sound repetitive, but it’s not about us! It is about our works done to honor and glorify God and not our efforts either to get saved or to stay saved.

As with works based salvation, works maintained salvation becomes about men rather than God. God has laid out the conditions that must be met for salvation: repentance toward God and faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Any other rules are not God’s rules, they are man’s rules. Who makes any such list of rules and conditions necessary to maintain salvation? Some person, of course. When we follow rules set by man, we begin to abandon God’s guidelines as revealed in His Word. When we do that, we begin to follow men rather than God; worse, we begin to follow ourselves. And that is what got us into trouble in the first place way back in Genesis Chapter 3

Are you saved? If you are, rest assured that your salvation is secure for all eternity. Quit worrying about what you have to do to keep it, and get busy doing the works God has actually called you to do.

Are you lost? Understand that this security can belong to you as well. Admit you are a sinner. Agree with God that He is right and you are wrong. Turn from your sin. Believe that Jesus paid your due penalty on the cross, and accept Him as your Savior and Lord today. Then, pick up your cross and follow Him.

Read the original post here on Church Set Free

How a 35 Year Old Jewish Lawyer Finds Jesus

This post was first published almost a year ago. I was honored to be able to share this story and for some reason feel led to share it yet again.

Melissa

A….35 year old…..Jewish…lawyer…finds Jesus. If the emphasis on those three things seems a bit much, allow me to explain. We all know that the older one is, the more resistant one tends to be to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people, if not converted by 35 will not be. I have nothing against lawyers, but the facts are that overall, with their emphasis on proofs and logic, attorneys might not seem prime candidates to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Last, but not least; we have Jewish. As a whole, the Jewish people have rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and conversions are not that common. So, what we have here is a 35 year old Jewish Lawyer who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Meet Melissa Zellniker Presser. Melissa is one of my online friends and dear Sister in Christ.  With that introduction behind us; I will allow Melissa to tell her own story. I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspired me.

 


Melissa’s Story

I am a Jew. I am a Jewish wife. I am a Jewish mother. I am a Jewish lawyer. And I love Jesus. And what does that make me? Complete.

How can I love Jesus, you ask? It’s easy. He’s easy to love. He’s easier for a Jew to love because he is our messiah, given to us, his chosen people by God. But we missed him. And I missed him. That was until I turned 35.

I grew up a conservative Jew. I went to temple and Hebrew school. I celebrated Rosh Hashanah and fasted on Yom Kippur. I lit the candles on Hanukkah. I would sing to God in shul. But I was empty. My parents would drop me off on Saturdays so that I could attend temple. I would chant and read and chant some more. It was static and monochromatic and I felt trapped. Where is God, where is He? I was following the tradition of my ancestors by attending shul and felt holy while I was there. Holy and empty. But how can that be? I was so busy trying to follow all of God’s commandments I never realized God even existed. What’s that you say? You were an atheist? Yes, you could call me that. For God was a concept and not a person to me. I was following along with the script that was being read to me. I never felt God. Never even questioned or thought about why I didn’t. I just accepted the fact that this is who I was and this is what was and that was that.

It wasn’t until my grandfather died that I started to have revelation. While sitting shiva, I was told by the Rabbi that I could not pray for my grandfather. That only men could pray and chant the prayers for the dead. “Thank you very much”, I said. “Well, you have two choices Rabbi. Either you let me pray or I can let you leave.” I said it with ease. It was a poignant moment for me. An innate feeling bigger than me that told me that this God that I knew would not turn me away from praying and mourning for my deceased grandfather. Why would the God who I worshipped and gave every Saturday to turn away from me? Why would He reject me? There’s no way, I thought to myself that this is God’s will. So when the Rabbi turned to answer me, I was already on my knees, chanting the mourner’s kaddish. He also joined me on His knees, but he was silent.

The more I chased after God, the further I fell. I started to turn away from anything that seemed remotely religious or connected to God. As a young Jewish girl, I felt God had put me on the marked for death hit list. That He didn’t love me. That it truly didn’t matter what I did for him or how much time I spent in his house. For I saw the so called righteous religious people pay $1,000 a seat for Yom Kippur service while I got turned away for not having money to pay for my seat. Where was the “God” in that?

I chose to leave God, and my road led to well, nowhere. It seemed to be a metaphor for a trip I took later on in my life. My husband and I went to Hawaii for our one year wedding anniversary. Being the adventurous spirits that we are, we planned a day trip on the Road to Hanna. This Road is known for the scenery along the way. Essentially it is known for the journey. My husband and I believed that at the end to this Road we would encounter paradise. So we went along on the Road to Hanna. Initially, we remarked on how beautiful it was, but eventually we grew tired of it. As the hours passed we became more anxious to arrive. We had had enough of this long winding road.

And so several hours later, tired, hungry and thirsty we saw ahead of us the end. “There it is!” we shouted. We had finally reached the end. We parked the car and began walking towards the end of this road. We both got quiet and then started laughing. This is it? There’s nothing here! Where was this beautiful paradise? It was nowhere to be found. And we named it the Road to Nada. A long and treacherous road to travel, with a disappointing ending.

This was the story of my life. I was always seeking and searching. Always trying to find the answer at the end. But every road I took lead to disappointment. Every road led to nothing.

It wasn’t until I hit the pinnacle of brokenness that I found Jesus. He was waiting for me, this I know. Had I known now that he was waiting for me on the other side, I wouldn’t have walked but would have sprinted towards him. And I would have endured every pain and then some to run into His loving arms all over again.

My life was never easy. In fact I believed I was destined to die. On the outside I had everything but on the inside I had nothing. I was the straight A Honors student. The popular one. The cheerleader. Bat mitzvah. Graduated college. Went on to law school. Became a successful attorney. Married my bsheret. Was blessed with three children. This was what the world saw. Because the world looks at the outside. God looks at our heart.

On the inside I was broken. I had been sexually abused and never told anyone. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I hated myself. I was rejected by the one place that I thought would accept me- the temple. I tried to find my satisfaction in many broken relationships- whether a boyfriend or a friend. I lived my life for others. Because if they saw the pain inside of me, surely they would not accept me. I would be an outcast. But in my mind and heart I already was. And most days I counted down the days until God would take me from this earth. And then was the moment that truly took me away from God, the day my beloved grandmother died.

There were too many things wrong and nothing that was right. I could have cared less about my law degree and in fact would have been much happier cleaning floors somewhere in the background where nobody could see me. But something kept me alive. Something deep inside me told me I was special. And that something was the quiet whispers of God calling me back to him.

You see, I am a stubborn Jewish girl. Aggressive and bold. Defensive. I married a stubborn Israeli Jewish boy. Aggressive and bold. Defensive. And you can see where that might have led us.

I have only known two true loves in my life before I had my children. The love I had for my grandmother and the love I have for my husband. God took the first one away and not long after that almost took the other. Five years after I lost my grandmother, I almost lost my marriage. How could God do this to me? Even when I renounced his name, he kept coming back for more. I slipped away from the world without the world knowing it. I tried to run away from God. It’s no use, I thought, nothing matters anymore. That was until I heard a still small voice inside of me. It was clear and resounding and would not leave me alone.

A week before Mother’s day, I heard that still small voice again. It told me to reach out to a friend’s mother and ask for help. I asked her if she went to church and she told me yes, and that I had a divine appointment that next day. I remember thinking in that moment I wanted to end it all. I started devising a way that I could end my life. And in that moment I lifted my chin up to see the faces of my three beautiful children.

The next day I walked into the church and met my mother from the Lord. She knew immediately something was wrong. She started to pray over me in a way I had never heard- with such conviction and passion. I didn’t care that I was in a church and that she was praying in the name of Jesus. In that moment, all I could do was think of the horrible emotional pain I was in and how I would survive past this day.

The sermon moved me. I was gripped. And the name of Jesus rolled easier off my tongue. I stopped caring about what the world thought and started concentrating on my three children. I don’t remember exactly what I said when I cried out to God that night but I am pretty sure it went something like this, “God I just can’t do life anymore. I cannot and will not leave these kids without a mother. But the emptiness and pain I feel in my heart is so overwhelming that I cannot live another day on this earth with it. I feel like I am going to die. If Jesus really is the answer Lord I accept him. Please take away this pain in my heart, it consumes me. Jesus heal me and let me live for the children I am a mother to.” I remember nothing else after that until the next morning.

I woke up and looked over at my husband. I clutched my chest. Where was the pain? Where had it gone? I kept touching my chest looking to find it. But it was not there. As I clutched my chest, I looked over at my husband who was sleeping next to me. All of a sudden my body started to fill with life. I could feel my heart beating and from my feet to my head, my soul started to fill with love. In my mind God showed me a picture of a pitcher filling up a tall glass with water. He had taken away the pain and replaced it with love. It was real. I was different. I was restored. It was then that I knew that He was real.

The next week I brought my husband back to church. The Lord was calling me, it was clear. At the end of the sermon when the Pastor asked for those to step forward who would accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior I knew it was my appointed time. It was Mother’s Day. And I came to accept God’s son as my personal Lord and Savior. And I was baptized in his name.

My life will never be the same. The only regret I have is that I did not accept Jesus sooner. My husband has since accepted Christ and our marriage is stronger than ever. We are more in love today than we were when we were first dating. My children have come to know and love Jesus and it shows. It shows in their kindness and their respect and their spirit of giving. It shows when they speak to Him in prayer and know that they are truly loved by God. My sisters in Christ accepted me with open arms, no questions asked. In fact, they told me of how they were all broken people at one time looking for a savior. That they were all imperfect. Welcome to the club for imperfect people.

My children know where they came from. We teach them about the Jewish holidays and festivals and show them the meaning of each one. We tell them about how we are complete now in our Messiah. It’s quite the eye opener. That I had no idea who I was before Jesus came into my life and in Him I know exactly who I am.

Every day with Him just gets better and better. My husband and I enjoy praying together, sharing the Word of God and serving a loving and merciful God who chose us as his children. Every morning I wake up in tears, overjoyed and just so thankful to be alive.

How could I not want to talk about what saved me from certain death both physically and spiritually? He is real and I am real. My family is real. And we are complete Jews in Jesus Christ. The Son of God.

Just a Thought

jesus saves
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The Plan of Salvation has never changed; it has ALWAYS been about Jesus. It has always been about the promise of His coming, or the fact that He did.

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