What is GRACE pt1: it’s a GIFT of God

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

(Eph 2:8)

There should be no doubt that Grace is a GIFT. Unfortunately, there is so much misunderstanding and confusion about Grace. Not because the scriptures are confusing (1Cor 14:33), but because there are so many opinions about it.

GRACE is a wonderful thing and ought to be understood by the faithful to fully appreciate it and to motivate us for better service to God.

This and the next four articles will be dedicated to some aspect of GRACE so we can “grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 3:18)

This first article examines Grace as the GIFT of God as it is called in the passage above.

“…it is the GIFT of God.”

A gift has 2 parties, a Giver and a receiver. Grace is a Gift Given by God & Christ to the world (Titus 2:11). It is also given without merit on the part of the receiver. There is nothing redeeming about man that generated the gift, it was out of the love of God. “But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him” (Heb 2:6; cf. Job 7:17; Ps 8:4; 144:3)?

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:11).

This Gift of Grace is pertaining to Salvation for mankind. “For by Grace you are saved through faith…” Another way of saying this is that the opportunity to be saved, the method, the plan, has been given as a Gift to undeserving people (Rom 5:8-10). As we shall see in the following points, NOT EVERYONE WILL PARTICIPATE IN, NOR ACCEPT THE GIFT OF GRACE. 

The Gift of Grace needs to be received (accepted), and it is possible to receive it IN VAIN (which is to try and apply grace on your own terms, without repentance).

We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain” (2Cor 6:1).

Many are confused and deceived because it is taught that the Gift of Grace is given and applied universally. (Universalism is an error that teaches everyone will go to heaven even if it’s against their will, if they’re in unrepentant sins, or even an atheist). While Grace is a Gift for the whole world, not everyone will receive it, or worse, they receive it IN VAIN. To receive it IN VAIN is to make it of none effect.

It must also be noted that the GIFT of Grace may be received, but later one can FALL FROM GRACE.

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). And you can make it void; “I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought” (Gal 2:21; ASV)

So you see, while GRACE is a GIFT for all, not everyone will receive (accept) it, nor will everyone remain in it.

Finally, it is THROUGH HIS GRACE & THROUGH OUR FAITH that saves.

But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:11).

Critics will claim that if there is something a person must do to be saved, even a command from God, then it is no longer a GIFT. What they fail to realize is that God’s Gift of Grace is working THROUGH our faith (trusting belief) in God’s plan, and His Son. To obey God is not earning salvation, it’s trusting in His working THROUGH His Grace.

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 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” (Col 2:11-12) [emph mine seb].

We see that the Gift of Grace is the opportunity, and the availability of salvation, but it must be received (accepted) in truth, faith, and obedience to God who is giving it and working through it. To believe is to obey as Paul wrote in Romans 10 (often ignored by the faith only crowd). “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report” (Rom 10:16)? Do you see how “obeyed” and “believed” are used inseparably?

The Ephesians were taught about Grace, and they were taught how to receive it, by being baptized into Christ (Acts 19:1-5). Paul would later write to them and say; “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7). Baptism is a part of God’s Grace in saving mankind, beginning with the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ (cf. Rom 6:3-4).

Jesus Gives the Gift of Grace through His sacrifice, making a way for all of mankind to be saved if they will believe it and obey it. “For by grace we are saved, it is the Gift of God.”

Spencer is an evangelist for the church of Christ at Franklin & Juniper in Borger, Texas.

8 People to be GRATEFUL

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

(1Thess 5:18)

In a previous article I listed some things for which I am grateful. (v8 #45 Nov 6, 2022). Today I’d like to make a list of the People to which I am grateful.

Many people claim that they are self-made and in need of help from no one. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The scripture says, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.” Everything we have in life will come through or because of others.

We need people. We’re not going to be able to grow all our own food, refine our own gas, nor sow our own clothing. Our needs in life lie at the root of all economies.

Therefore, it is of great necessity that we are grateful to others. Have you taken the time to thank them personally? Do you recognize who they are? Let’s consider who it is that deserves our gratitude.

Certainly, first on our list is GOD. “…He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 5:45b). “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). Every good gift comes from above, ought not we give thanks?

Some of the most important people in our lives are often the worst treated of all people, and these are our RELATIVES. We certainly need to show them gratitude. Our parents birthed us and provided for us. Our children bring us a sense of purpose. Our extended families bring us comfort and belonging. Spouses aid one another both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While this is the ideal, it may have it rough spots. Nevertheless, let us be grateful to those we love the most. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:1-4).

Another group of people to add to the gratitude list are the AGED. These are those who have been through what we have yet to experience. These can be a source of good knowledge on how to live good lives. Not because they always did it right, but that they sometimes did it wrong and learned from their mistakes. “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:2-5).

I’m also grateful for those who have educated themselves with those highly TECHNICAL skills that makes civilized life possible. This would include doctors, surgeons, and engineers, but it must also include those with TECHNICAL skills in the blue-collar fields; ie., mechanics, plumbers, and electricians to name just a few. How would life be without these TALENTED people? “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (1Tim 5:18; cf., Le 19:13; De 24:14-15; 25:4).

Let us also be grateful for those service EMPLOYEES who are often overlooked or looked down upon. These folks prepare our food, make our clothes, and also make civilized life possible. “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Eph 6:9; cf., Rom 2:11; 1Co 7:22; Col 3:25-4:1).

While we’re making this list of people let us never forget our FRIENDS & Co-Workers. It’s self-evident that we desire FRIENDS. These are people we choose to make a part of our lives because of common values and interests.  “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov 17:17). “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Prov 18:24). Are these not worthy of our gratitude?

An odd one that I put on my list are those that are UNFRIENDLY. We can be grateful even for these. Our savior told us that He loved us while we were enemies, and commands us to love our enemies (Rom 5:8-9; Luke 6:27), but can we also be grateful? I think so. Consider what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1Cor 11:19). The unfriendly, the unkind, the unruly, and the other “uns” become a contrast to help us recognize what is good. I know it sounds weird, but that’s the only way I can understand this verse.

Lastly, would be our LEADERS. It is a direct command to pray for them, and it is clear that God rules in the kingdoms of men, therefore let us give thanks. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim 2:1-4; cf., Dan 4:17).

One more thing; The above is a general list of the groups of people to whom we could show thanks. I urge you to take it a bit further and to specifically identify individuals in each of these categories that you could recognize with thanksgiving. I began making a list, years ago, of people who have made an impact in my life. Names are constantly being added to it. Then I make a point to thank them in person, or with a note, and I certainly give thanks to God for them.

If you do this, you will be amazed at how much people change when we begin to be grateful for them and show it to them.

Spencer

They Did Not KNOW

THEY DID NOT KNOW

That phrase stands out to me as I evangelize to a world that knows what isn’t so. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and KNOWEST NOT that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev 3:17; emph mine seb).

While reading Ezekiel recently I was struck by the frequency of another phrase. “Then SHALL THEY KNOW that I am the LORD their God” (emph seb). Seventy-Six times throughout Ezekiel, God makes this statement at the heals of impending judgment, restoration, or prophetic statements about Christ. It’s spoken to people who have rejected, ignored, or otherwise “DO NOT KNOW,” but ought to have known, God.

The problem remains today. Many do not know, but think they know. What they know aint so. That’s why we preach. Here are just a few things we should KNOW.

We need to Know that Christ is KING and is reigning now. “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1Tim 6:15; cf Acts 2:34-36).

We need to Know NOT to love the world. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God” (Jas 4:4)?

We need to Know to OBEY His commandments. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:46-49)? “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thess 1:8).

We need to Know how to WALK as Jesus WALKED. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1John 2:6).

Knowledge is power, but the right knowledge is the Power of God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Spencer

Does it MATTER what one Believes?

Does it MATTER what we Believe? part one.

Toward the end of nearly every discussion about the divisive state of the religious world, one will usually say something like this…

“You can’t tell me my sweet grandma (could be neighbor, friend or relative), who never went to church (or did go to a denomination ‘religiously’), who was kind to people and animals, who never said a bad word or did a bad thing, who helped anyone that asked, is lost. She was so very sincere in what she believed.”

Instead of approaching the idea of whether sincerity saves, let’s ask the question:

Does it MATTER what one believes?

Usually in these discussions we can agree that certain very wicked people are lost (the Hitlers and the pedophiles of the world). Are the kind and the sincere who didn’t follow the bible totally saved because of their sincerity and goodness?

We’ll set aside the fact that those who say this are suggesting a ‘works based’ salvation, which they would normally condemn. We will just look at the Bible and ask, does it MATTER?

Does it MATTER what we believe?

Most would agree that we ought to obey GOD rather than MAN. (Acts 5:29). Jesus was critical of those that created doctrines contrary to the doctrine of God.

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:7-8a)

Usually, they will agree with this point that you have to believe in God, in Christ and in the Bible. But when it comes to saying that the non-Christian religious people are lost, they stop short saying; “I’m not the judge.” This is the fallacy of equivocation. We’re not judging their hearts, we’re making righteous judgment with the Word of God. (cf. Mat 7:1-2)

Paul had ‘judged’ that the Jews of his day were not saved; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” (Rom 10:1-2). He had discerned from the Truth of God’s word that they had not obeyed the gospel and therefore were not saved.

Which brings us to our next point about “does it MATTER,” does your belief AGREE with the Doctrine of Christ?

In both Old and the New Testaments, one had to have a ‘thus saith the Lord’ for their beliefs and actions. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17) When King David desired to build a Permanent Temple for God, he was prohibited because he didn’t have a command from God, there was no scriptural command to do this good thing. Therefore, it was a wrong thing. (2Sam 7:1-7)

Here’s the point, God’s word is Objective Truth. It is transparent, researchable, universal to all, for the thinking person, and it is heavenly (cf. James 3:17). Compare the objective Word of God to the subjective, shifting sand of a person’s heart. (Mat 7:24-29) “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Eph 4:14)

David appealed to the subjective standard of his feelings. He was pointed toward the OBJECTIVE, fixed standard of God’s Word. We’re told not to go beyond what is written (2Cor 4:13), speak as the oracles of God (1Pet 4:11), the commandments of the Lord (1Cor 14:37), the inspired Scriptures (2Tim 3:16-17), using the words chosen by the Holy Spirit (1Cor 2:9-13), and not to add to nor take away from the Word (Rev 22:18-19).

Then, in this 3rd point, when we have an objective standard, called the TRUTH (John 17:17), we have an ability to search the scripture to find out if what we feel is true (Acts 17:11).

Did you know it’s possible to feel secure and not know the Lord has departed from you? (Judges 16:20) Did you know it’s possible to believe a lie? (1Kings 13:18; cf. 2Thess 2:9-12)

By reading & studying God’s word, we can Know the truth and be set free from the bondage of lies, sin, and the corruption of this life. (John 8:32; 12:48; cf. James 1:25; 2:12)

7 Titles of Jesus in John 1 pt2

Image result for titles of jesus

 

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

A Survey of the Bible

SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD to stop to take in the entire landscape. This is what we are doing with our Wednesday study of the Old Testament.

One of the primary reasons many people haven’t made the effort to get to know the Bible is that they feel it is intimidating and confusing. Without a basic understanding of how the Bible is written this can often be the case. To help develop an overall picture of the Bible, turn to the Table of Contents. You will notice that the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books that are divided into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Let’s notice how the Old Testament can be outlined.   

The Old Testament is made up of 39 books. Here is how they can be grouped and categorized:

Genesis to Esther: History books (of the Jewish people), Mostly chronological, starts at beginning of time and goes to about 400 BC.

Job to The Song of Solomon: Poetry books, not chronological, all written sometime during the History section, designed to teach lessons about everyday life kinds of things: Job – trials, Psalms – worship/prayer, Proverbs – wisdom, Ecclesiastes – philosophy, Song of Solomon – love.

Isaiah to Malachi: Prophecy books, not chronological, all written sometime during the History section, basically they were preachers inspired by God to warn the people of judgment and foretell certain future events. 

The New Testament is made up of 27 books. Here is how they can be grouped and categorized:

Matthew to Acts: History books, not chronological, Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John are all self-contained histories of Jesus’ life. Acts is the history of the early church (or followers) of Jesus.

Romans to Jude: Letters to churches or individual Christians, not chronological, many written during the time frame of Acts’ history, designed to teach lessons about everyday life kinds of things: worship, morality, love, relationships, trials, philosophy, wisdom, etc.

Revelation: Prophecy book, written to correct and warn early Christians.

Recognizing these things will be extremely helpful in your reading of the Bible. Simply understanding the context of what you’re reading will make the Bible less confusing. Knowing the above should give you confidence in your ability to understand God’s Word.

The Outline of the Bible:

overview

Study the chart above. Notice that the three periods of time are divided by how God delivered His laws to mankind. The first was through patriarchs or heads of families. Second was through Moses and the prophets. And finally He delivered His will to man through Jesus.

The Patriarchal Age. This period starts in Genesis 1 at the creation of the world. Adam & Eve disobey God and are made to leave the Garden of Eden. After many years the earth is full of evil and God decides to send a flood to destroy all that will not repent. Noah and 7 of his family are the only ones who are saved. Over 400 years later a man named Abram (later Abraham) is chosen by God to become the father of the Israelite nation (Gen. 12).

From this time on the Bible specifically traces the History of that one nation. Abraham has Isaac, Isaac has Jacob, and after Jacob’s name is changed to Israel he starts the family. The Israelites (also called Hebrews or Jews) begin to grow as a family after Jacob has 12 sons who later become 12 tribes. At the end of Genesis they are a still a small family who have moved to Egypt. They are taken into captivity for a couple hundred years and grow to be a large nation.

The Mosaic Age. God chooses a man named Moses to deliver the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Moses leads the people out of Egypt to a mountain called Horeb (later Sanai). Here God delivers his law for the Israelites.

After the Israelites wander for 40 years in the wilderness, they go into “the Promised Land” (Canaan) under Joshua’s command. Once they settle the land God leads the people by appointing a series of Judges (who were basically military leaders) for around 350 years. After this the people want to be lead by a king like the nations around them. God warns them it’s a bad idea but grants their request by giving them Saul, David, and then Solomon. After Solomon’s reign (925 BC), the nation divides into two groups – Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  The northern kingdom of Israel grows increasingly evil and at God’s decree is taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721 BC never to return again. Later, the southern kingdom of Judah is punished by being taken into captivity by the Babylonians. After 70 years they returned to their homeland and rebuilt their nation. It is their descendants who are the Jews of today and through whom Christ came.

During the time of these two kingdoms, the Prophets wrote their books. Almost all of them spoke of the coming of a Savior or Messiah. Most of them also spoke of a new covenant that would be enacted when this Savior came.

The Christian Age. This is the final way that God has revealed His will to mankind. We are now living in this age. The Bible teaches that once the Messiah came, so did the new covenant.

According to the Bible people today are to follow the New Testament. This is one reason why there are so many churches today doing so many different things yet all claiming to follow the Bible. There are many religious groups who say they follow the Bible but for some reason have missed this important Bible teaching. Can you think of any religious practices you’ve seen before which are only found in the Old Testament?

Jesus Has All Authority:

The Bible teaches us 4 things that are NOT our authority for religious practice. 1) The Old Testament, 2) Our own initiative to change something God commanded (like Nadab & Abihu), 3) Emotion or good motives (like David & Uzzah), 4) The traditions of men. If none of these can accurately define for us what God wants from us, where must we look?

6 things you can do for YOU today

Last week, I detailed 5 things that you can do for the church. In other words, what you can do for each other. As I pondered that article, I came to the realization that in order to help others, sometimes you need to prepare yourself.

Regardless of our situations, whether we need support or not, we can still provide help and encouragement to one another, but sometimes we need to help ourselves.

When I studied to become a Firefighter / EMT, so many years ago, I learned that in order to be of service to others, I needed to prepare myself. We spent much time in training for scenarios, practicing what we might do during an emergency. This article looks at 6 things you can be doing for yourself in preparation for the “emergencies” of life.

The inspiration for this list is Eph 6:10-18, where Paul gives instructions to the Christian about how to be strong in the Lord and how to stand against the wiles of the devil. This is the passage where Paul tells us to put on the “Whole Armor of God.” Let’s examine these things that we can do for ourselves today…..

  • Put on Truth – We need to spend more time in the Word of God, which is truth. [John 17:17] We accomplish this by diligently studying God’s word. In it we find the truth on life and godliness, the truth on relationships, work, joy and best of all, how to be saved. 

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

  • Breastplate of Righteousness – We can be good. Our parents had the same warning for us whenever we went out, “be good.” Being good as a Christian is more than just being nice, it’s doing God’s will. Paul wrote that we were created for “good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” [Eph 2:10] We can change our attitudes, help our sorrows if we get busy. Idle hands is the devils playground? [2Th 3:11; 1Th 4:11; 1Ti 5:13]  

1Jo 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

  • Preparation of the Gospel – Remind yourself that you are a child of God, saved by Jesus the Christ and you are not your own. [1Cor 6:19] Let the peace of God, [Rom 5:1] comfort you. If we remember the “Rock” upon which our faith is built, [Mt 16:18], the confession that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, then the peace which surpasses understanding shall keep our hearts. 

Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  • Shield of faith – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” [Hebrews 11:1] and without faith it’s impossible to please Him vs6. In another passage, the disciples asked to have their faith increased, [Luke 17:5]. We can and should increase our faith. Faith is being fully convinced. Polls show that Americans are not fully convinced about God, Jesus, heaven or hell. Let’s increase our faith by looking at creation which “declares His handiwork.” [Ps 19:1] Let’s examine the evidence, both inside the scriptures and without. He’s given us plenty of evidence to know that He exists. [Rom 1:19-20] 

Joh 20:31 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.

  • Helmet of Salvation –This is a reminder to us that we need to be saved and are saved by obeying the gospel [2Thess 1:8], through the putting on of Christ through Baptism. [Ga 3:27] As Christians, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to repent. Unless we repent, we cannot expect salvation. [Luke 13:3] As we live a penitent life, we can lift our heads in confidence knowing that Jesus blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. [1John 1:9] 

Ac 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

  • Pray – You can pray for yourself. Not just in the wishing form that is normally associated with the praying for ourselves, rather, let us pray asking God for things that make us better equipped to handle life’s troubles. Below are just a few things we should be asking God to supply……

Jas 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,

Ac 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Life is hard at best and downright sorrowful at worst. I have no idea how folks make it through life without God. He has provided a prescription for Christians to follow, a cure that heals the pain of this life and rescues us from death, providing eternal life. Would you try it, His prescription, after all He is the Great Physician. [Mr 2:17]

Spencer Blackwelder, Evangelist in Borger, TX 

Whatever happened to sin?

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! [Isaiah 5:20] 

For the past few years it seems that our culture has been calling sin good by renaming it. What do I mean? Here are just a few ways that today’s society and mainstream media are elevating evil….

Abortion is called “the right to choose”. It’s legal, free and promoted through oxymoronically named organizations like Planned Parenthood. [95% of the women served by Planned Parenthood have an abortion]
*The source of this statistic is Planned Parenthood’s own annual report. If you take the number of services listed in the report, excluding the ones that don’t apply to women who aren’t pregnant.

Drunkenness and getting high has now become medicinal. Often the news cites studies extoling the virtue of drinking, while hiding the fact that

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” [Proverbs 23:32]

We must now accept the alternate lifestyle which has been normalized by TV and many music artists. The popular phrase after the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage was “Love Wins”.

Profanity has been called “freedom of speech.” Stealing has become “situation ethics” and lying is “your perception of the truth.”

The scariest of them all; Preaching is currently being redefined as “hate speech.”

There are other sinister ways that the culture normalizes sin. I believe that Satan is behind them all.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” [1Peter 5:8]

They Popularize Sin. The old phrase, “Everybody’s doing it”. That didn’t work when I was a kid and it won’t work with God. What becomes popular soon becomes normal.

Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:” [1Peter 4:4]

They Legalize Sin. They say that drug use is too difficult to stop so they must legalize it. “At least we’ll be able to tax it.” Then, if you oppose sin, if you speak out against the legalization of it, you are called a bigot, a racist and all kinds of names. It’s ironic that a culture that is on a campaign to eliminate bullying in our schools, uses the very same bullying tactics in our culture to silence the voice of opposition and reason.

And it’s working. Christians are afraid to speak out about sin. Our jobs are jeopardized. We’re afraid our cars will be vandalized for displaying an “abortion stops a beating heart” bumper sticker, because it will be. And lastly, I fear, we shall be jailed for speaking the truth.

But we still have hope. Our Lord and Savior warned us about these things.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”[John 15:18] 

            Take comfort, brothers and sisters, knowing that we’re in good company and that company is the greatest of all and the only opinion that matters.

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”  [John 15:15]

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” [Revelation 2:10]

By Spencer Blackwelder

When did Jesus’ church begin?

In Mt 16:18, Jesus said that He would build His church, but when was it built, when did it begin?

The Old Testament predicted a kingdom that God would set up. In Daniel 2, we read of it beginning during the Roman Empire.

John the Baptist said, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Mt 3:2]

All of these passages are looking forward to the church coming, and as we read the Gospels, we know that the church did not exist during the lifetime of Jesus.

When we turn our attention to the end of the New Testament, we see that the church was certainly in existence. Revelation chapter 2 includes letters from the risen Savior to “the church”. James 5:14 speaks of elders in the church. Paul wrote letters teaching men how they “ought to behave” in the church. [1Tim 3:15] He also wrote in Col 1:13 that he and other Christians were removed from darkness and placed in the kingdom of God’s son.

Acts – A book about the early church

In the book of Acts, which is a record of the history of the early church, we find near the end that the church, which was “purchased with His own blood”, is in place. As we move through the book toward the beginning, we can find the existence of the church in Acts 18:22; 15:22; 14:23; 8:1; 5:11.

The beginning of the book of Acts has the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, but a careful reading of the Gospels shows that the church did not exist during the lifetime of Jesus. So, the church must have begun sometime between His ascension and the early events in Acts shortly after.

Let us turn to Acts chapter 2. Peter stands up during a Jewish feast day called Pentecost and preached about Jesus, the one who had recently died. In this sermon he told those listening to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” [v38]. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” [v41].

Then in vs 47, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The church had begun!! Just as promised, the Lord has built His church.

Do you want to be added to the church? You can, by simply doing what every member of the church has done since that first day; Repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

What would prevent you from being baptized just like the Eunich asked in Acts 8:36? Nothing, if you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. [v37]

Why is there evil in the world?

While sitting in my office here in Borger Texas, I was pondering this very question. So of course, being the tech savvy person that I am, I went to ask Google. That’s where I found this little video.


Of course Ravi is just a man. What we should really do is consult the word of God, over that of google.

The reason there’s evil in the world is because God gave us the right to choose. In Genesis, God had created man and gave him free will, which is the basis for the ability to choose.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” –Ge 2:16

As we know from the rest of the story, that man chose to disobey God. We see this same thing throughout all of history and today. Mankind has the ability to choose. Sometimes that make bad choices. Sometimes they make good ones. When they make bad choices, usually through selfish ambitions, evil soon follows.

We choose to eat poorly, we get sick. We choose to get drunk, someone may die. We choose to brag and boast, someone’s feelings get hurt. We choose to have power over others……..

The list is endless. But as Ravi reasoned, in order to consider something evil, you have to have a sense of what is good. This assumes a moral law to differentiate between the two. If there is a moral law, you must posit a moral law giver, and we call Him God. I believe this moral law giver to be the God of the Bible. Based on the overwhelming evidence, both internal and external, I believe.

I hope you will too.

 

spencer