Precious Faith

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2Peter 1:1

When Peter wrote his second letter to the brethren, he reminded them of their ‘like precious faith.’ This begs the question, why is it so precious? While there are several reasons why faith is precious, we will consider just one, that there is ONLY ONE FAITH.

To begin, we must go to the end, the end of Jesus’ earthly life. He prayed that we all would be one through THE WORD OF GOD.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;” John 17:8

He also sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles, into all truth. They wrote these things down and when we read we may understand their knowledge in the mystery of Christ. [John 16:13; Eph 3:3-4]

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

We obtain this faith through reading, understanding and obeying the revealed written word. [Eph 1:13; Rom 1:5; 16:26]

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” John 17:20

What is remarkable about our Lord’s prayer in the garden is how He connects the Word, Faith (belief) and unity. The Apostles wrote of unity; Paul urged unity in speech, thought & judgement [1Cor 1:10]. John wrote about unity in obedience to God’s commandments and the unity in the word [1John 5:1-9].

YET DENOMINATIONS SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT

There are some who would try to upset us by describing multiple faiths (beliefs about salvation, sin, worship and the Bible). One man told me, “the Holy Spirit led you to your church and He led me to mine.” How does this even make any sense?

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1Corinthians 14:33

Denominations are broken into thousands of different faiths and cannot be the “like precious faith” of Peter’s letter. The claim today is that they are all one faith, united in Christ, but how can this be with so many different beliefs and practices? They can all be unified in error, but they cannot be unified in truth. How can we know? We can know by God’s word.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17

God hates division. Another word for division is denomination. The prayer in the garden is a proof of this. Unity can only be derived through the revealed word of God. We can have faith, we can believe through the WRITTEN WORD.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” John 20:31

Some claim that the Holy Spirit directly guides them, separate and apart from the written word. Then they say, “and it will agree with the written word.” However, the problem still exists in that there are many thousands of “Holy Spirit” led denominations and THEY DON’T ALL AGREE!!

Can anyone claim that there is only ONE FAITH and differ on names, differ about salvation, differ about the essential nature of baptism and countless other practices found nowhere in scripture? That can’t be a “like precious faith.”

Besides all this, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” He then made this list…[4:1-6]

ONE body, and

ONE Spirit, even as ye are called in

ONE hope of your calling;

ONE Lord,

ONE faith,

ONE baptism,

ONE God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Denominationalism can never stand against these words.

In Jude’s short letter, he wrote to those sanctified by God about their common salvation and “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Notice that he penned ‘the’ as in one. He then added ‘once’ as in already delivered. Some would trouble you into thinking that there is more and continuing revelation. Not according to inspired Jude.

My friends, the faith is so very precious. One of the things that makes it so is that there is only ONE. This ought to exponentially increase its value in our hearts. Let us, as Jude wrote;

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3

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REBELLION

(Editor’s Note: Ricky was raised in the pews of the church of Christ. His parents were Godly people and worked hard to raise their children in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord [Eph 6:4] Ricky himself obeying the gospel as a young man and participated in the Lord’s church. However, Ricky fell into sin and found himself on death row at the Texas State Prison in Huntsville, Texas.

After eleven years on death row, Ricky was executed. He took responsibility for his actions and asked God for forgiveness. He wrote an open letter about his rebellion and subsequent repentance. This is that letter.)

Dear brothers and sisters,

I hope I may have a moment of your time. I am writing to you from prison, yes prison. In a way I hope to reach out in the way that Paul did while he was in prison, by letters. But I have a different reason for my letter, yet it is for the same purpose that Paul had, to help you live according to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

First, stop and think what it is that may or may not cause one of us to end up in prison. It is the same thing that can cause us to end up in HELL. What is that? SIN !!!

And one of the sins I want to speak about here today is: “REBELLION

Rebellion is what most of us don’t think about very much. Like not listening to our parents when they tell us something. Like not listening to God when He tells us something. Like not listening to Governing authorities. And one of the greatest and easiest things that cause this rebellion is your friends. Yes, your friends will try to get you to do something, and if you say “no’, often they will say; “come on, are you scared?”, or they’ll call you “chicken”. Then most people will jump right in and do whatever it is, for most people don’t like to be looked at like that by their friends. Or, you may only be running around with a crowd, and they do things that are not right. But consider this, if people see what they are like, and know that you run around with them, whether you partake of the things they do or not, people will think you are just as bad as they are. some say; “birds of a feather flock together”. If you don’t pick your friends, like some pick tomatoes, you may pick a bad one. And take it from me, someone who has been there, that can cost you more than I think you are willing to pay. I know what I am talking about, for all I have said so far, landed me on death row.

ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME ?????

Wild women, drugs, and fast living, was the road I took and look where it got me. Don’t think it cannot happen to you, for if you find yourself on any of these roads, you will sooner or later run into a situation that may hurt not only you, but your loved ones as well. And when you say, “Oh, I know what I am doing,” believe me, I said the very same thing, and see where I am.

I obeyed the gospel many many years ago and fell away, and now I have come home to the Lord again. I feel the Lord allowed me to end up here to wake me up from the sinful life I was living, for who knows, had I not ended up in here, I might still be living that fast life. When I obeyed the gospel, I was told through God’s word what to do, and I fell away. Jonah was told what to do also, but he didn’t do it, and ended up in the belly of a whale. If you have heard or read the story you know that he repented, and God had the whale spit him out on the beach. Now, I am not saying I will be spit out of this cement whale I call it, or that I will be digested in it, or will I live out my life to old age in here. But, PLEASE HEAR ME, clean up your life if you are in the wrong way of life. In the back of your mind you know who you are and the life you live. And if you say to yourself, like I said many times; “I know what I am doing”, the TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, better known as TDC; has a number for you. Mine is 000893. I am only one of 340 some odd people on death row here in Texas. And if you run with the wrong people YOU could get the death penalty. For example; say you are riding around with a friend, and you pull into a gas station. Your friend goes in to pay for the gas and robs and kills the gas station attendant. You are only sitting in the car, but under Texas Law, a District Attorney can get a jury to give YOU a death sentence as well as the guy that did the killing. And Texas will execute people like that as if they were the one who did the crime. There is a man down here who was hitchhiking and got into the car with a guy that had just killed someone and stole their car. When he was caught, the hitchhiker was not only arrested, but got the death penalty also, because the killer did not tell them he was only a hitchhiker. So, he may die for something he did not do. Do you think you can say; “I know what I am doing” NOW???

It is my prayer that you will stop and think about your life, young and old, for we are all under a law, God’s law. If we obey the Lord, then we can have eternal life, even if life on earth throws us a curve, like it did me. But I was able to repent of my sins, but I also could have been dead before I had a chance to repent, and I know without a doubt, had I done so I would be bound for Hell. But I did repent, and have the chance to meet you in Heaven come Judgment Day. So please, let’s work for the goal together, OK?

Your brother in Christ Jesus,

 

Ricky Don Blackmon

FOLLOWING JESUS

There is no argument, just about everyone I speak with about the gospel agrees that people are to FOLLOW JESUS. When I ask them what this means, they will often say something like, “you’ve got to ask Jesus into your heart.”

Setting aside that this statement is never found anywhere in scripture, it never answers the question, “how you FOLLOW Jesus?” This is a legitimate question. Jesus said to the rich ruler in Mark 10;

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

[Mark 10:21]

Jesus said it at other times as well….

If any man serve me, let him follow me. [John 12:26]

So, how are we to follow Jesus? For us to Follow Jesus, we must find out where He walked. A serious reading of the gospels shows us the life of Jesus and how He walked and where His walk ended.

Jesus came into a world full of sin and darkness. John says about Him, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” [John 1:5]. Jesus said about Himself, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” [John 8:12].

Three times in Marks Gospel does Jesus predict where He would finish His walk in this dark world. “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem…And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” [Mark 10:33,32]. He, of course, was talking about His crucifixion where He would become the perfect sacrifice for sin.

After His death, they took down His body and placed it inside a tomb and rolled a stone over the opening. Then, on the 3rd day, He rose again.

FOLLOWING JESUS

That was a very difficult path…. the path to the cross. How are we to follow that? Paul explains it to us in Romans 6:3-4…We are in sin, our sinful self must die (which is why repentance is so hard), then we must be buried which is baptism (you never bury living people) and then God raises us up to a new life.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

All of this means that for us to follow Jesus, we must take the path that He took. For us to Live for Jesus requires us to die for Him first.

OBEYING THE GOSPEL

This imagery fits perfectly with obeying the Gospel [2Thess 1:8-9]. The Gospel is the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]. We obey the Gospel when we die to sin, are buried in Baptism and are raised up as a new creature. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” [Colossians 2:12].

To follow Jesus, to obey the Gospel, to be saved…we must Believe, Repent, Confess & be Baptized for the remission of sins. [Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16]. Then we can continue to follow Him in the way that He lived.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me

[Galatians 2:20].