Letter to a Friend 1of3

I have no idea who wrote this following letter (part 1 of 3 parts), but I found it very powerful and convicting. May it be of help to you in your personal work.

Dear Friend,

I pray that you and your family are all well.

I am sending this letter because I have been unable to see you in person to study with you concerning the church of our Lord. I do not believe this is a matter that can be put off indefinitely because of the importance of the issue and its affect upon the eternal destiny of your soul, and those of your household.

What is written in this letter is written because of the love that I have for you. Friend, I like you and want you to do what is right in the sight of God. It is difficult in writing to see the tear in the eye, and the tenderness and cry in the voice that portray the love in the heart. Words written tend to seem harsher than the same words spoken. However, be assured of the tenderness of my heart in presenting these words to you.

Please, consider all that is said. Take your Bible and check to see that those things that I have written are true. If they are not what the Scriptures teach, do not believe it! But, if it is what the Scriptures teach, believe it and obey it for the sake of your soul. If you think that I am wrong, please show me where, I do not want to be wrong.

The church in the New Testament does not refer to a building. The church is a people. The church can hear and talk (Matthew 18:17); the church can fear (Acts 5:11); the church can be persecuted (Acts 8:1); the church can pray (Acts 12:8). A people can do these things, but neither organization nor a building can.

The church of Christ in the New Testament was the people who were saved. They were those bought with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). They are those who upon their belief are baptized in order to obtain the remission of sins: “Now when they heard this, they wen pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… Then they that gladly received bis word were baptized: and the same day were added unto them about three thousand soul… And the Lord added unto the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:37,38,41,47; Mark 16:16). Being bought with a price they were God’s, and temples. (1Corinthians 6:19,20). They were redeemed, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest in these last times for you: (1Peter 1:18-20). The Lord adds the saved to His church.

The church is to be subject to Christ in all things (Ephesians 5:23,24). Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23), not any representative on earth. The church that belongs to Christ requires a “thus saith the Lord,” a scriptural reason for everything that it says and does (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 1Peter 4:11; 2 John 9; Revelation 22:18,19). The church cannot go beyond that which is written. If a man teaches something other than the truth he is to be cut off from the church (Galatians 1:6-10; 2 John 9-11). That means the church will do what Christ has authorized; no more, no less (Colossians 3:17; Acts 4:7). There must be a “thus saith the Lord” before the church can act. As the army of Christ, composed of soldiers of Christ, it cannot advance unless given the command of Christ.

The commands of Christ are found in the New Testament, Jesus took the Old Testament out of the way, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:12-14; Ephesians 2:14-17; Galatians 3:1-5, 17-29; 4:21-5:5; Hebrews 8:1-28; 12:18-29; 13:11-12; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18). We are not under the Old Testament, for Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).

The conditions for pardon and fellowship are given in the New Testament. Those who receive pardon and are accepted into the fellowship of the church are:

  • those who, having HEARD the word of God, have FAITH (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:1,6);
  • those whose faith causes them to REPENT (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30; 2Peter 3:9);
  • those who CONFESS their faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 8:36,37; Romans 10:9,10; Matthew 10:32,33);
  • those who are IMMERSED (baptized in water) in order to obtain the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:26,27; 1Peter 3:21);
  • those who REMAIN FAITHFUL IN OBEDIENCE, for those who walk disorderly are rejected (John 15:1-6; 2Peter 2:20-22; Revelation 3:15,16).

Any other conditions are commandments and doctrines of men. There is only one DOCTRINE of CHRIST and we are not to change it by adding to it or taking from it. (2John 9; Rev 22:18; De 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:6). Neither do we blend it with the Law of Moses. (Col 2:14)

What Must Happen BEFORE Baptism?

Because I have no ability to read a person’s heart, I’m very careful to ascertain what a person understands before baptizing them.

It would be a tragedy to baptize someone who doesn’t understand it properly and they go through life, and possibly death, without having truly obeyed the gospel.

We know that it is important from an account found in Acts 19. There were some disciples of John the baptizer who didn’t know about Jesus and needed to be ‘re-baptized.’ (there’s really no such thing as ‘re-baptized.’ You either were or you weren’t.)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” [19:5] 

We know that denominationalism practices baptism incorrectly; they utilize the wrong mode & often the wrong reason. Even when they do practice it by immersion, it’s usually NOT for the reason God commanded it. It’s a tragedy that some are walking around with a false hope of Salvation. It’s for this reason we ask the question…What happens BEFORE baptism?

Paul asks a few questions about obeying the gospel in Romans 10. He writes, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not BELIEVED?” [Romans 10:14a; cr. Acts 22:16 calling on the name of the Lord is connected to baptism]. Before anyone can obey the gospel, there must be BELIEF. This simple concept eliminates babies & young children from being eligible for baptism.  

He writes in the same verse about something that precedes belief, “and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? We see then that the candidate for true baptism must have EARS TO HEAR. [cf. Mr 7:16] This is describing understanding the word of God. Mockers accuse us of baptism only salvation. There’s nothing of the sort. A person must HEAR & BELIEVE, but are those the only requirements?

In the first gospel sermon at Pentecost, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” [Acts 2:38a]. “FOR the remission of sins must be understood that baptism is the moment our sins are washed away. Some would try to confuse you by saying, ‘you’re baptized BECAUSE your sins are remitted.’ This false doctrine is easily proven by the Apostle Paul’s own retelling of his conversion. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] Peter would later write about baptism, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of

the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” [1Peter 3:21]. The eligible candidate is baptized to remove their sins, ‘FOR the remission of sins.’

While we’re on this subject, what if you’re immersed when there’s no sin being imputed toward the person? Babies & young children are NOT being charged with sin by God [Mark 10:13-16]. Youth baptisms need to be done with great care. If God is NOT imputing sin toward them, then they are not being baptized FOR the remission of sin.

The eligible candidate must obey the gospel in its proper ORDER. As we’ve already seen, HEARING comes first, which brings about BELIEF about Jesus. Some would say that one is saved at the moment of belief, placing salvation in the wrong ORDER. Belief is essential, but salvation is NOT BY FAITH ALONE. [James 2:24] Being saved comes after baptism [Acts 2:40]

There are 4 essentials that precede true baptism. They are in order; HEARING, BELIEVING, REPENTING & CONFESSION. Jesus commanded, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:3]. Peter preached REPENTANCE at Pentecost [Acts 2:38]. Likewise, one must CONFESS that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. We see the Ethiopian confessing just prior to being baptized by Philip. [Acts 8:37-38; cf. Mat 10:32]

Lastly, some teach that you can never lose your salvation. This too is false. Therefore, the eligible candidate for true baptism must sit down and count the cost of being Christ’s disciple. [Luke 14:25-33]. The eligible candidate must know that Christ EXPECTS him to remain faithful until death, that he can so sin as to lose his salvation. [Rev 3:10; Jas 2:24; Luke 6:46]

6 MORE simple objections pt5; It doesn’t say, ‘and is not baptized.’

Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he ...

 

SIMPLE OBJECTION #5; It doesn’t say, ‘and is not baptized.’

The Objection goes like this: “If baptism was important, how come Jesus didn’t say, ‘and is NOT baptized’ in the second part of Mark 16:16. If both parts are not present in the second half, then the part omitted is unnecessary.”

This falls under the silly category, not just the simple. Yet, I was given this objection recently in an online discussion. NO, the second part of verse 16 doesn’t say, ‘and is not baptized,’ and it doesn’t need to. The second part is contingent upon the completion of the first part. Look at the following illustration.

OMISSION of the second part is completely logical without the presence of the first part. “He that has food & eats it shall be nourished. But he that does not have food will perish.” If you don’t have the 1st part, the second part avails you nothing.

When you TAKE AWAY any part you won’t be saved. The person without belief is condemned already. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:18] “Without faith it’s impossible to please God.” [Heb 11:6]

Objections pt5

Objection PNG and Objection Transparent Clipart Free Download ...

 

OBJECTIONS #8; Appeal to the Old Testament for doctrine.

This objection sounds like this; “David used a harp and wrote about it in Psalms.”

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Col 2:14

I met a person once that was starting a new denomination based on all the feast days in the Old Testament Law of Moses. This is just one example of many where people look to the Old Testament to find doctrine or practices today. It becomes a buffet of picking and choosing based on personal taste, or in this case, a BBQ buffet.

How come nobody ever goes back and brings forward stoning of the disobedient? (there was one guy that wrote a book about trying to live under the Law of Moses. He carried small pebbles around and flicked them at folks.) Yet, they’ll go back and grab any number of things from the Old Testament.

The easy answer is in Galatians chapter 5:1-4; “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

As you can see, the Law of Moses has been fulfilled and if you intend to appeal to any part of it then you’re obligated to keep the entirety of it. This drops you from Christ.

Here are a few more points about why we don’t appeal to the Old Testament for authority, doctrine or practices today.

First, the Old was, well… OLD. Hebrews 8:13 speaks about the better New covenant in Christ rendering the first old.

Next, the OT was given because of TRANSGRESSIONS, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” [Gal 3:19] Once the one promised came, fulfilling the Old Law, why would you go back and bring anything forward?

We should then note that the OT was LIMITED in that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. [Heb 10:4]. Christ’s sacrifice did what the Law of Moses only foreshadowed [Heb 9:12]. The New Testament writers also calls it, ‘faulty’ [Heb 8:7], and ‘weak’ [Gal 4:9].

Continuing on, we find the Law of Moses was ABOLISHED at the death of Christ. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” [Col 2:14]. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:15; “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”

Finally, the Holy Spirit says that the Law of Moses WAS A SHADOW of good things to come [Heb 10:1]. If there was something good coming, and the real thing is in life of Jesus, why would you want to go back to the shadow?

There are several places in the New Testament that explain the shadows from the Old Testament and their application to Christ;

  • 1COR 10:11 EXAMPLES.
  • Col 2:17 Which are a shadow of things to come;
  • Hagar, Ishmael, Sarah, Isaac; GAL 4:22-31.
  • Moses; Deut 18:15; Acts 3:22; Heb 3

We find our authority in Jesus. God said, “Hear ye Him.” [Mark 9:7]. The Hebrew writer opens the book with; “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” [Heb 1:1-2]

We find our authority from those who were given the revelation of the Lord’s will and wrote it for us in the New Testament writings. “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.)” [Eph 3:1-4]

 

–Spencer

What Think Ye of Christ?

 

“Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?” Matthew 22:42

 

What’s our ATTITUDE toward CHRIST?

For Some

  • My Lord & my God. John 20:28.
  • Fell down to worship Him. Mat 2:11 Wise men; Mat 8:2 leper; Mat 15:25 a woman of Canaan; John 9:38 the blind man; Luke 24:52 Men on road to Emmaus; Mark 5:6 Legion of demons; Mat 28:9 His disciples. Mat 14:33 after walking on water. Mat 9:18 a ruler.
  • He is POWERFUL. Mark 5:25-28; Mark 4:41 storm;
  • Marveled at His words. Luke 4:22; 7:9; 20:26
  • Saw Him as having authority, Mat 7:29; Mark 1:22
  • Thou art the Christ. Peter in Mat 16:16.
  • As a King. John 6:15; 12:13 Triumphal entry; John 18:37 Jesus said.

 

EVEN DEMONS said…

  • Holy One of God. Mark 1:24 I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Luke 4:34
  • You are the Christ, the Son of God. Luke 4:41; Mat 8:29
  • Thou art the Son of God. Mark 3:11 unclean spirits, Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28;
  • Demons believe & tremble. Jas 2:19
    • Acts 19:15 Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?

 

Others said

  • He has a devil. John 10:20; Mark 3:22;
  • He was a law breaker. John 5:18
  • He was mad. Mark 3:21 his Relatives;
  • He was a food pantry. John 6:25-26;
  • He was a blasphemer. John 10:33 Jews sought to stone Him. Luke 5:21 forgiving sins.
  • He was a court jester. Luke 23:8 Herod to see a miracle.
  • Some didn’t think much of Him at all. Luke 7:39 A Pharisee.
    • The Weeping Woman; v37-38. What did she think of Him?

7 Titles of Jesus in John 1 pt2

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The first chapter of John’s gospel is powerful in that it delivers 7 titles of Jesus. Last week we noted 4 of the 7 (THE WORD, GOD, LIFE, & LIGHT). This week we continue with three more titles of Jesus in John chapter 1.

7 Titles of Jesus in John chapter 1:

CHRIST: (v17)

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

This title, “the Christ,” carries great significance.

Stong’s definition; anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus:–Christ.

 

It is used over 300 times in the New Testament and means “the anointed one.”

Andrew, the brother of Peter, went to him telling him that he had found the MESSIAH. [v41]

By divine revelation Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ [Mat 16:16]. Prophets foretold of His coming as the Messiah.

From “Christ” comes the name Christian,” and “Christianity.” By calling ourselves Christ-ones we are seeking to do His will by keeping His commandments.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

What a sham it is when people call themselves ‘Christian’ without obeying & serving him.

 

LORD: (v23)

He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”

Lord is a name expressing His sovereignty. [cr. 1Tim 6:15] Is it any wonder then that Jesus asked; “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

I can’t tell exactly how Jesus is asking this. Is He saying it as if they’re acknowledging Him as King? Or, is He indicating that they’re calling on Him with much pleading for help? The context indicates the latter as He is discussing those lost in the final judgment. [cr. Matt 7:21-23].

In either case He is indicating how ridiculous it is to call on Him in your time of need after living a life rejecting His authority & position as the Son of God and the creator! [John 1:1]

 

LAMB OF GOD: (v29)

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

This last one drives home the point about who Jesus is to us.

He is the only worthy sacrifice, sent by God, to take away the sins of the world, you and I.

The Hebrew writer reminds us, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” [Heb 9:22].

He also reminds us that there are no worthy sacrifices found on the earth, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” [Heb 10:4]

Paul wrote that no human is worthy either, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” [Rom 3:10].

All of this being true, there was no hope for mankind because of their sin. What is impossible with men is possible with God.

And so, the only remedy for our disobedience is the LAMB of GOD.

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”       [Heb 9:12]

God’s love is so great for us that He gave Himself for us.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” [Rom 5:8-10]

TRULY AMAZING! Let us consider these Titles of Jesus and walk worthy of wearing His Glorious Name.

—Spencer

7 Titles of Jesus in John 1

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We know that the central theme throughout scripture is Christ Jesus. He can be seen on nearly every page. Some chapters stand out among the rest. The chapters of Isaiah 53 & Exodus 12 to name a few.

John one is remarkable for the titles it tells us that our Lord and savior wears. This article attempts to describe the meaning of those titles. For the sake of room, we will study the first 4 titles, then next week we’ll finish with the other 3.

7 Titles of Jesus in John chapter 1:

THE WORD: (v1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,”

Jesus is called the Word because His life, death, burial & resurrection will become the GOSPEL, the good news. It will be the message all must hear and obey. It is this word by which mankind can be saved.

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved,” [1Cor 15:1-2a]

———————

GOD: (v1) “…the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

This verse clearly states that Jesus is God. Some may deny it, but scripture supports it.

Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.:”

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” [Col 2:9]

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” [1Tim 3:16]

[Jno 5:18; cr. Col 1:15; Phil 2:6]

———————

LIFE: (v4) “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Jesus would go on to say later,

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

[John 14:6]

Eternal Life can only be found through Jesus.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” [Col 3:4]

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” [John 10:10]

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” [1John 5:11]

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23]

———————

LIGHT: (v7) “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.”

God is often described as light. So too His ways. The Light that is Christ is pure & holy. Several passages use light to describe God.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

[1John 1:5]

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” [Rev 21:23]

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” [John 3:19]

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” [John 12:46]

———————

Next week we’ll examine the next 3 titles of Jesus in John 1.

—Spencer

SWAG of God

 

“I’m so blessed.” Yes, but not all are saved!

You’ve heard your non-Christian friends and family say, “I’ve been so blessed.” The evidence seems to support it.

For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” [Psalm 73:3]

How can they be blessed…?

  • if they’re outside of Christ?
  • if they’ve not put on Christ in Baptism? (Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27)
  • if the prayers of sinners are an abomination? (Prov 28:9)

It can be confusing and raises some serious questions. Are their denominational beliefs being accepted by God? Is their unfaithfulness to God’s word being ignored by God? Is God saying to the wicked, “good job, keep doing what you’re doing.”

I knew of a doctor that told a somewhat healthy alcoholic, “whatever you are doing just keep on doing it.”

 

WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?

It may surprise you that they are being blessed, but not in the way you might think. There are BLESSINGS from God that every living person receives, regardless of their belief of Christ or their obedience to the Gospel. Even ATHEISTS receive these blessings.

If you’ve ever attended a trade show you know that the exhibitors give away promotional products called ‘SWAG’ (Stuff We All Get). It’s stuff everyone gets just for showing up.

God has given us His own version of SWAG, which are certain blessings that come from just having the privilege of being born.

The SWAG of God can be categorized into 4 areas:

FIRST, there are the SEASONS & natural blessings we all get.

for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the UNJUST.”

[Mat 5:45b] (emph mine seb)

There are all kinds of natural blessings that God created when He created the Earth. We enjoy gravity, scientific innovations and all kinds of medicinal properties in the natural world. Our discovery of these things has provided us “blessings” that ought to be attributed to God.

The inventor of the MRI (Raymond Damadian) is a 6-day creationist.

The mistake we make is presuming that God is personally blessing YOU or sinners.

SECOND, we all can enjoy WISDOM of God when we read and study His word. The Proverbs are a prime example. There are wisdom laws created by God that apply to all. Paul also wrote about the Law of Sowing & Reaping in Gal 6:7.

To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion” [Proverbs 1:4]

We’re mistaken if we believe that God is also SAVING us when we are following His moral code without having obeyed the gospel. Cornelius (Acts 10) is an example of a good, yet unsaved, person.

THIRDLY, God gives everyone ACCESS to know of Him. Not everyone will avail themselves of this knowledge, but it’s out there for all.

but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

[Jno. 20:30-31, cf. Acts 10:1; Eph 3:3-4; Jude 3]

Many are mistaken thinking that God is saving them upon faith alone. He certainly is not.

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:24]

FINALLY, The GOSPEL blessing is available for all. God is no respecter of persons.

Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” [Acts 10:34-35]

Although this blessing is available, not many will obey the gospel. [cf. 2Thess 1:8-9; Heb 5:8-9; Acts 2:38; Mat 7:14]

The GOSPEL blessing is in Christ Jesus, He is the only way, and any can obey the GOSPEL. [cf. John 14:6]

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” [Titus 2:11]

Just because it’s available to all doesn’t mean all will obey it. The mistake some make is that since this blessing is given to all then all are saved. That’s a grievous error.

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” [Romans 10:16]

 

WHY HAS GOD DONE THIS?

God wants everyone to be saved and to go to heaven.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2Peter 3:9]

Since this is true, He provided evidence to man of His existence.

Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” [Acts 14:17, cf. Rom 1:20]

Please, don’t miss out on the SPIRITUAL blessings, only available to TRUE CHRISTIANS, because you’ve mistaken the physical blessings as approval from God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” [Eph 1:3]

—Spencer

A New Year Examination

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Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

[2Corinthians 13:5]

It’s 2020, let the vision jokes, puns & metaphors begin. All joking aside, a new year is a threshold we cross that inspires many of us to examine how well we’re doing.

Paul wrote about self-examination. It’s a great practice, not just for the new year, but with each new day.

New years resolutions are self-examinations of how we’re doing regarding the outward man. Paul is urging self-examination of the inward.

What does a spiritual examination look like? How do we do it? What do we look for? Paul specifically states, “whether ye be in the faith.” Let’s look to the scriptures for God’s answer to this important question. Since we’re to ‘PROVE’ ourselves, there must then be things we (& others) can see regarding our faith.

5 Things to examine about our FAITH. This is just my list; you search the scriptures to find what else God says on the matter.

FIDELITY: How loyal are we toward God, His church, His doctrine [2John 9]? Do we believe in the ONE church as spoken of in Eph 4:4? Do we attend as we ought [Heb 10:25-26]? Are we giving with regularity and purpose in our hearts [1Cor 16:1-2; 2Cor 9:6]?

 

APTITUDE: How good are you at handling aright the word of God? Do we study as we ought [2Tim 2:15]? Are we able to teach it [Heb 5:12]? It’s called a sword; can we wield it properly & accurately with love [Eph 6:17; 4:15]?

Do you cry out for the study of God’s word as a newborn baby cries for her milk?

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” [Proverbs 2:3-5; 1Peter 2:2]

INFLUENCE: How well am I at leading others to good works?

in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,” [Titus 2:7] How well do I do at edification of the saints?

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

[Eph 4:12]

TELLING the Good News: Jesus told the man released of the legion to, “tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee,” how well are we doing? [Mark 5:19]

Are we looking at the field that is “white unto harvest?” [John 4:35] Are we looking for that honest, seeking heart?

And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” [Mark 4:20]

Do people see us as people of hope, in the midst of struggles, that want to ask us about that hope?

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15]

Or do they only hear about how bad people are, how bad life is and how bad we have it in life?

HOPE: Let’s examine our own hope of salvation. Are we living in fear & doubt? Are we uncertain of our salvation? Do we believe that we can be saved?

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” [1John 5:13]

Too many are doubting and this doubt leads to apathy and a negative influence on the rest of us. If we’re in doubt about our salvation then examining of self is in order. We can take the necessary steps of repentance. We have the assurance from God that He will forgive the Christian that will confess her sins. [1John 1:9]

Paul finishes by assuring us, “But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.” [vs6] May we each discover an ever-growing faith within us.

 

—Spencer

Why Did Jesus Appear to Saul

Why did Jesus appear personally to Saul (later called Paul) on the way to Damascus?

  • To tell him what to do to be SAVED? No
  • To PARDON him?

After His ascension, Jesus never appeared to anyone to pardon sins. Why? Because God has ordained a law of pardon [Mat 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38].

Jesus saves no one except through obedience to the gospel plan of salvation [Heb 5:8-9]. There is no scriptural evidence that He ever appeared and saved someone outside of gospel obedience. He did providentially bring sinners into contact with a gospel preacher who would tell them what to do to be saved.

Why did Jesus appear in person to Saul? The answer is to make him an Apostle [Acts 26:16-18].

The criteria to be an Apostle, a man must have seen the Lord Jesus Christ after He arose from the dead [Acts 1:22; 2Pet 1:16; 1John 1:1, 4:14]. Paul had not been a witness of the resurrection of Christ until the Lord appeared to him on the highway [1Cor 15:8].

  • Saul was a chosen vessel [Acts 9:15].
  • He was one ‘born out of due time’ [1Cor 15:8].

 

All of the Apostles were witnesses of the resurrection of Christ [John 20:19-31]. It was necessary for Paul to be made a witness also by this appearance of Christ to him on the Damascus highway. The purpose of the highway appearance was not to save him, but to make him a witness.

Ananias was instructed to go to Saul. He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” [Acts 22:14-16]. Note what he DIDN’T tell Paul…

  • To pray and ask Jesus into his heart.
  • To get religion.
  • To speak in tongues as a sign that Jesus accepted him.
  • That he was already saved.

 

He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Just as Christ had commanded [Mat 28:18-20; Mark 16:16]

What did Saul do to be saved? FIRST, we note that he believed. Jesus had appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Saul was on a mission of persecuting the church of Christ. Then the Lord appeared to him and told him that it was Jesus he was persecuting. Saul saw Him and heard His voice. Saul believed in the risen Jesus on that Damascus highway. [Acts 22:10; 26:14-18]

NEXT, he repented. Upon arriving to Damascus, he was blind and his attitude was changed [Acts 26:19]. He was ready and willing to do whatever the Lord would command despite his past [Acts 22:10]. He went to the house of Judas at the Lord’s command. He waited for 3 days in a penitent state [Acts 9:9].

THEN he was baptized. He was a penitent believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was but one thing left for him to do. He was already a believer, and had already repented. He needed to be BAPTIZED FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN [Acts 2:38; 22;16].

In his letter to the Romans, he tells us how & why he was baptized. “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.” [Rom 6:3-4]

Notice the pronouns ‘us’ and ‘we’ by which Paul is including himself along with these gentile brethren among those buried with Christ by baptism. When he took that step into baptism, he himself was putting on Christ. [Gal 3:27]

From Pharisee of Pharisees and Persecutor of the church of Christ to ALL IN PAUL for the spreading of the gospel. What a shining example of faith and duty.

 

—Spencer