The extreme goodness of God towards us —…

The extreme goodness of God towards us — he gives us “an unshakeable kingdom” — must not make us overlook his greatness and his holiness. To forget it would be to lose contact with him.

—Albert Vanhoy, A Different Priest: The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2011, 397

#god, #hebrews, #holiness, #reverence

Counter-cultural Christians

Some won’t like my FMag article today, since I name names—something I do rarely. This is happening near us, so we’ve taken care to warn the faithful. Names are not the big issue, truth is. But Jesus did not separate the fruit from the wolves. On the contrary, by what they do and say, you will know who they are.

• Remember that the most dangerous threats to the saints appear as the most benign and attractive friends. This is true in morals and doctrine.

• On the road, I saw gas prices for $2.98 in N. Little Rock yesterday, on the other side of the highway from me. I bought it for $3.03. May it fall even more!

• Why are there not more alternatives for inexpensive housing? Even with housing prices in the tank, the dream of owning one’s own home seems even more distant. In the race for status and size, housing construction has become the most expensive item in the family budget.

• Christians avoid being swept along by social and cultural values. They are, ought to be, the ultimate adversaries to cultural currents that reflect materialism and other godless attitudes. They seek alternatives that glorify God, permit their full attention to his mission in the world, and allow them to express godliness in every movement.

• There is a point beyond which we can keep saying that Christians ought to do this or that while admitting that they don’t. If they don’t follow the Lord, they aren’t his followers. How long have we preached about the necessity of obedience? That translates beyond baptism into the daily cross-bearing of the disciple. And if they don’t? Discipline is the Lord’s solution. When was the last time your congregation disciplined someone? Someone once called it the forgotten commandment. Now, perhaps it might best be styled the snubbed commandment.

• TV commercial for Hebrew National hotdogs says, “O. M. G.” This from Jews who used to think God’s name so holy that they wouldn’t speak it on their lips? Let us be sure we speak the name of the Lord always with reverence.

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#church-discipline, #counter-culture, #godliness, #holiness

Satan Changes Our Focus

Satan has no interest in banishing Christianity. Read C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letters.”

Satan is perfectly content with having a form of religion around to lull people to sleep. However, he must make some changes until it is leading people down the road he has prepared (1 Peter 5:8).

Satan changes our language, re-defines our words and alters our focus from Christ to ourselves. We become more worldly when Satan tells us that the world can’t be converted by holy people.

Satan discredits Scripture and destroys God’s meanings for words such as grace, holiness, preaching, faith and repentance, replacing them with secular definitions.

Satan creates a faux Christianity without God that focuses on slick promotions, incense, clothes, hairstyles, poetry, emotion and entertainment. His religion is empty and shallow, appealing to a worldly view of “spirituality.” Satan would rather us connect with a tree than with God.

The Christian Chronicle published an article about a “Christian” movie called “Blue Like Jazz.”

Continue reading

#christianity, #holiness, #sanctification, #spirituality

Blind Doctrines

My April 3rd article at Forthright was entitled, Grace and Conversion as a follow-up to my March 27th article, Holy by Grace. In the Conversion article, I clearly established that we are saved by grace.

I wrote:

The death of Jesus was full of grace, being something that we have no right to be offered. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). His love, grace and mercy is solely responsible for the availability of salvation.

Later in the article I wrote:

Finally, we will be saved by works, indicating our allegiance and commitment (Revelation 20:11-15). Yet, when our lives are over, no matter how obedient we have been, we will still need grace to be saved (Luke 17:5-10).

A reader commented and focused on the first sentence and overlooked the second. I established without any doubt that we cannot save ourselves. While obedience is a necessary part of salvation, we will still enter heaven solely by grace. However, the reader demanded to know how I could say we were saved by works.

It is always troubling when someone’s doctrinal mindset is beset by blindness. If we have to ignore entire passages of Scripture in order to reconcile our own beliefs, we have serious problems.

Simply put, either the same Holy Spirit wrote both Ephesians 2:8-9 and Revelation 20:11-15 or they didn’t. Either they are both inspired or neither are (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We can either accept both as true and keep studying until we figure out how they work together or we simply dismiss one or both of them. However, ignoring Scripture puts us at great peril (John 12:48).

Revelation 20:11-15 is Scripture and inspired. Therefore, it is true. God said:

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

We study and obey or we dismiss it and call God a liar.

In Romans 5, the text says we are “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1) and we are “justified by His blood” (Romans 5:9). Just like before, we can either accept both or pick and choose whichever one best suits us.

I prefer to keep studying and reconcile them since I believe Scripture is inspired by God.

We are justified by the blood of Christ so that we can approach God for salvation (Romans 5:6-11). When we stand before God, we are justified because we have the blood of Christ on our souls. However, we are also justified by faith.

Our faith and our works show our allegiance and commitment to God (James 2:20-26). We remain with Christ because we are serving Him. However, these works do not ultimately save us because that can only happen by grace and the blood of Christ (Luke 17:5-10).

It is simple and complicated at the same time. The reader needs to see the larger picture rather than blindly focusing in one thing and ignoring everything else.

#doctrines, #grace, #holiness, #salvation

How Do We Know Jesus is Coming Again? (Intro)

As is the case in dealing with Biblical matters, we want to have authority for what we believe and teach we must look for a “thus says the Lord.” We must not rely on tradition, opinions, church history and the like as a basis for believing in and eating the Word of God.

We read in Psalm 119:89 “Your eternal Word stands firm in Heaven.” (NLT) It must be our aim to be like the “Bereans” in Acts 17 who were commended because “they searched the Scriptures…” So, what is the authority we have in God’s Word that Jesus is coming again?

Should Christians be looking for the return of the Lord Jesus? Can we know when He will return for His Church? The answer to the first question is a resounding yes. On the second question posed, the Bible says we cannot know the time He will return.

There have always been those in the history of the Church who have tried to pinpoint the time of the Lord’s return. Those who have done so have brought reproach and ridicule upon the Lord’s Church by their actions.

In light of the fact that we cannot know the timing , what should be our attitude be in regards to the fact He is coming again as He promised? The Bible is full of many promises of the return of Jesus for His own.

We have the testimony of Jesus Himself, the testimony of the holy angels, and the testimony of the writers of the Epistles to validate this promise; He is coming again! Just one verse and one instance of testimony should and would be enough for a faithful Christian, but the fact that there are numerous accounts in the New Testament of this hope, reality, and promise should reinforce our faith in the Word of God.

#blessed-hope, #christian-living, #holiness, #second-coming

Lift Up Your Eyes For Hope!

Jesus IS Coming Again! This is not just a “hope” as the world defines hope. It is not just “wishful thinking.” It is not a far-fetched fantasy for faithful believers. We don’t know when the Lord Jesus is coming back for His Church, but we do know for a fact that He is coming again!” I want to talk about the following 2 points:

  • How do we know that Jesus is coming again? (Authority)
  • How are we to ‘live’ while we are waiting for His coming? (Application)

If someone were to ask you: “How do you know that Jesus is coming again?” how would you answer? What do we mean when we say that His coming is “imminent?” We mean that it could happen at any time. Critics will point out 2 Peter 3:4: “They will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

When we say that we believe in the “soon or imminent” coming of the Lord Jesus, what we mean is that He can come back at anytime, even right now. Are your ready!

We will be dividing this article into several parts.

The  next articles will be titled “How Do We Know He is Coming Again?”

#christian-living, #holiness, #second-coming

Are We IN Christ?

Today I begin a series of articles examining what it means to be in Christ. We need to talk about this more often because it clarifies so many doctrines. Being in Christ means that we are a partaker of  “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

My article begins:

“The concept of being in Christ is one of the most powerful in all of Scripture. It will answer many questions about salvation, sanctification and unity. We will have a greater, more complete understanding of God’s plan of salvation if we understand what it means to be in Christ.”

What does being “In Christ” mean to you?

#church, #grace, #holiness, #sanctification

Which divine quality is most challenging to imitate?

Which divine quality is most difficult to imitate?
Holiness! I am challenged to withstand the attacks of the devil and temptations of the world and the weakness of the flesh. I want to do good and remain pure, but fail and fail and fail. Thank God for Jesus Christ.

#holiness

Weekend Nudge: life without Christ

A personal question, perhaps a bit more sensitive than others: where would you be without Christ? What kind of a life would you have without the Lord leading you? This hypothetical question is designed to help us appreciate our salvation by his grace and make us aware of how his Spirit restrains the impulse of selfishness and the urges of sin.

We tend to think more in the moral sense, when such a question is put forth, but I mean it more broadly than that.

Even if you choose not to answer it on TFR, give it just a moment’s thought and say a prayer of thanksgiving for the Lord’s transformation of your life. Which I know you do daily, as his redeemed people.

#holiness, #life-without-god, #nudge

A Holy People

If someone were to say to you, “are you a holy person; are you a saint? How would you answer them?  Would you say, “no, I am neither.” Or would you say, “I sure  am!” Would one of the answers right? Or would both be wrong or would the right answer be a combination of the two?

The answer we give depends on how much we understand how the Bible uses these terms.  If we take the definitions of the world we are holy or a saint. But if we. Use scriptural definitions then we qualify on both counts. But we must note that neither description is true if we try to fulfill their requirements on our own merit.

The Word of God says, “be holy for I am Holy.” The only away that Christians can be holy is that Christ imputed His righteousness to us. We can be “holy” if we seek to be “conformed to the image of the Son of God.” We can be “holy” if we live for him and obey and keep His Word and show forth the love of the Lord in our lives and help others find their way out of  the “kingdom of darkness” and help them find the marvelous light of the Gospel (1 Peter 2:9).

The question was “are you a saint?”. We are not in the way many in the world and many in some realms of Christendom view that  word.  According to the Bible “saints” are living Christians, in fact, all Christians are “saints” in the scriptural application of the word.

The word simply means ones who are sanctified, ones that are called out. Christians have been called out of serving Satan and now are “in Christ.”.

Paul refers to Christians as saints both in Eph. 1:1 and in Phil. 1:1.  So, all Christians are saints. Now if we live up to the word that is another question.  We must put our faith into action. Jesus said, “if you love Me you will keep my commandments.” Are you doing that, my fellow believer?  Are you living daily for  Him who died for you?  If so, praise the Lord!  Continue to build yourselves up in the most holy faith, living your life for Jesus, knowing that you can impact a lost world with the Gospel and help strengthen the saved by your ministry and work for our Lord.

If you are not seeking daily to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus,” then you need to repent of your sin of not following Jesus completely.  Our Lord has prom is His people if they will look to Him for guidance He will give it. He will equip you for service.

He will give you the resources you need to live holy lives.  We are saints, let’s live up to what that word means biblically and “let our light shine for Him” so that we may bring “glory to our Heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

#christian-living, #holiness

Walking on a New Path

When we become a Christian, sanctified and holy, we no longer live as we once did. Our focus in a sanctified kingdom is completely changed from our old lives.  Will we make the journey down the Highway of Holiness?

#forthright, #holiness, #sanctification

Reclaim Biblical Words

The word most often used of God’s people between Acts and Revelation is saints. Yet, we have allowed the world to redefine Biblical words so that we do not use saints and holy anymore.  We must reclaim them! I begin a series of articles today called, Life in a Sanctified Kingdom (1).

#holiness, #saints, #sanctification

The Sanctified Kingdom

I am involved in a study of sanctification. My article today examines the sanctified kingdom. As I persevere in this study, I can see how a better understanding of these concepts can give us a healthier perspective on several doctrines and concepts in the church. I hope you will share your thoughts on my article today. They will help me in my studies. Thank you in advance.

#forthright, #holiness, #sanctification

A Study of Holiness

I am studying holiness, sanctification and our separation from the world. These are complex subjects that some touch on, but we do not see many in-depth studies of them. The Calvinists write about them quite extensively, as I am finding. But, who among us?

We do a great job in the brotherhood of studying the major issues that divide us and in the areas where we are commonly attacked by those in the broader religious world. However, when we come to deep, foundation topics, we tend to shy away from them. I’m not sure why.

We talk about salvation all the time. But, when I planned my first book, The Most Important Question, I realized the paucity of books that existed on the simple plan of salvation. We talk about baptism, but do we dig deeper into Scripture and see its roots in the Old Testament? Do we pursue all of the permutations of salvation and what it truly means?

Will we dig deeper? Will we challenge ourselves?

What thoughts do you have on holiness, sanctification and spiritual growth? Your input and any resources that you know personally, will be appreciated.

I am drawn to these subjects very strongly. As I continue in my studies, especially in reference to Ephesians, may God be praised (Ephesians 3:20-21).

#ephesians, #holiness, #sanctification, #spiritual-growth