What are you Doing about it?

We can all agree that Jesus the Christ did not sin. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” [1Pet 2:22]. The rest of us have “sinned and come short of the glory of God” [Rom 3:23].

We’re not alone. The great bible characters dealt with this realization:

Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter & Paul. Each of these faced the reality of their own sin, Paul saying; “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” [1Tim 1:15].

This fact is no authorization to continue in sin even as Christ came to save sinners. Paul also wrote; “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [Rom 6:1-2]

Through our obedience to the gospel we have found redemption through Christ Jesus, having our sins washed away in water baptism [Acts 22:16]. Although we’ve been washed, sin leaves a terrible mark on our psyche and scars on our bodies. What are we to do with this?

Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Phil 3:13-14]. However, in another place he reminded the church of their past sins, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” [1Cor 6:11]. What are we to do with that?

Putting these two passages together we come to this conclusion; Remember from where you’ve come and from what you’ve been saved, but close the door on your past so that you can move onward to do the work of God. There are THREE things about our past that need “forgetting” so we can please God today.

FIRST, we need to forget our past sins. Paul had plenty of sins in his past especially as it related to his persecution of the church. “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” [Acts 22:4]. Our past sins are forgiven, but unchangeable. They are what they are and we cannot undo them. Therefore, they are to be forgotten.

SECOND, we need to forget our past successes. Whatever good we may have done, however many people we may have helped in the gospel, we cannot rest on those successes. We must continue to press toward the goal. Nowhere is “once saved, always saved” taught in scripture. Not after faith, baptism or any good deed.

THIRD, we need to forget (in a figure) our past sorrows. We’ve all experienced loss & pain, but those sorrows should not prevent us from moving forward with God. Some let the pains and losses of their past to paralyze them from continued service in God’s kingdom.

Rather than let our past paralyze us, it ought to MOTIVATE us into more & abundant service to our King. Being reminded of the forgiveness we have through Christ; our past sins should MOVE us to continual repentance [Acts 8:22-24; 1John 1:7-9].

Our past wins should continue to MOVE us to do more service for our King. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” [Titus 2:14].

Lastly, the pains of our past should MOVE us to reach out to the lost with the gospel message so that nobody dies outside of Christ. You can feel Paul’s sense of urgency about this for the unconverted Jewish nation; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” [Romans 10:1, cf 9:2-4].

We have no control over our past selves and we have no control over our future selves except as it relates to our TODAY selves. Today is the largest amount of time within our ability and with that it is our only opportunity to serve God.

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts… Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” [Heb 3:7-14].

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

Defending Sin

 

RECENTLY, a fellow asked, “why do people trust the opinions of men rather than the wisdom of God?” What surprises me is our surprise when folks do this. As any serious bible student understands, the answer has been revealed to us by God.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;

[2Timothy 4:3]

You see, folks trust the opinions of men because those opinions are first chosen by the seeker and when you go looking to defend sin, you find the opinion that won’t require a change. God’s word requires us to change. It’s called repentance.

I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

[Luke 13:3]

Experts at defending sin use a more devious tactic, they resort to scripture abuse. It’s amazing, a person who seldom reads the scripture can quote certain passages in defense of their sin. Of course, it’s used out of context and often twisted to fit their desired meaning, but once again, no surprises. Peter, speaking about the inspired writings of Paul said,

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

[2Peter 3:16]

You see, the UNLEARNED and UNSTABLE do something with the scriptures to defend their sin. They WREST it, in other words, they TWIST them. In the original Greek, the word for WREST is the same word used for TORTURE. What an incredible description of what people are doing to the wonderful word of God to defend their own destruction.

Here are 6 verses used / abused to defend sin. Learn what they really mean so you can defend the truth.

2 Responses to every sermon Pt. 2

truth set you free

LAST WEEK, we began the discussion on the 2 responses to every sermon, WALKING OUT or WALKING FORWARD. We noted that these can be literal actions where a person really walks out of the building or comes to the front to confess sin, or it could be done mentally.

To recap WALKING OUT

We walk out on a sermon for a few reasons. We may be TIRED, we think it’s about SOMEONE ELSE or we just DISAGREE. Regardless the reason, we “check out” mentally or physically.

Now let’s look at…

Walking forward

It’s common for folks, when pricked in the heart by God’s message, to leave their pew and proceed to the front of the auditorium to confess the sin in their lives in a public way. This is good, it’s an accountability measure, especially for sin committed publicly. It’s not only good, it’s Godly for it is a confession of sin along with a vow of repentance. The Jews on Pentecost, upon hearing how they had been party to the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, the text says; “they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” [Acts 2:37] These folks recognized their sin, recognized their need for forgiveness and made an immediate, public response.

If we’re paying attention to the message, and studying the Word of God, eventually we come to some area of our lives in which we’ve failed. We’ve sinned. I know this is true for John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” [1John 1:8] At this point we must either reject the word of God, or accept it and submit to it. What makes this difficult is when someone else comes to us and points out our error. [Matt 18:15-17; 1Corinthians] It’s in those moments that we’re most resistant to repentance. Honest folks choose the latter, as did those on Pentecost and Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:1-19], they repent and “WALKED FORWARD.”

Whether the need is to make a public confession because of public sin, or a private confession which is a natural part of Christian growth, both require a Godly sorrow. When Paul wrote the 1st letter to the church at Corinth, he pointed out several problems, flaws and sins. His worry was that he had made them sorry in a worldly sense, but it turned out that it was a sorrow in a Godly manner [2Cor 7:9-10]. He wrote, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Did you catch it? “Godly sorrow” produces repentance and this repentance leads to SALVATION! Did you also see the other kind of sorrow, “sorrow of the world?” To fully appreciate what the Holy Spirit wants us to hear, let’s break this verse down.

For godly sorrow – A RESPECT for God’s word. A Godly sorrow is produced by faith in God which seeks to please God. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. [Romans 10:17]

WorkethRESULTS in the heart. ‘Worketh’ means to produce, or leads to; the word of God produces an effect on our heart which produces something. [Matthew 26:75]

repentance – the REVERSAL of a decision. The respect of God’s word, working on our heart produces a change, first in our heart and then in our activities. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. [Luke 13:3]

to salvationREDEMPTION. Godly respect of God’s word which produces the Godly sorrow and repentance gives us access to the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. [Ephesians 1:7]

not to be repented of – no REGRET. This kind of repentance brings about the joy of knowing you’ve been pleasing to God the creator. [Acts 8:39]

but the sorrow of the world – selfish REASONS that are carnal, and fleshly which elevates the concern for self over the concerns of God. [1Corinthians 3:1-4] For some, the only reason to change is a concern for how others perceive them. This is the wrong kind of sorrow. This is why some are ‘rebaptized.’ They recognized that the only reason they originally submitted to God’s will was to be pleasing to mom & dad or because that is what everyone else was doing. Folks, this kind of obedience to God will fail us in the judgment.

worketh deathRUIN. A sorrow of the world produces complete ruin of our eternal future. [Matthew 7:21-29] When we’re only worried about what others may thing about us, we’ve set our sights too low. We haven’t sought to be pleasing to God, instead we seek to be pleasing to man. [Luke 16:13]

Another way the Bible describes ‘godly sorrow’ is with the phrase, a broken and contrite heart [Psalms 34:18]. A broken & contrite heart is a heart of sadness and regret for failing to serve the Almighty King, the Loving Creator who gave Himself as a payment for our sin against Him. [Romans 5:8-10]

Are we sad when we sin against God? Does our heart break when we fail Him? If it does, it will lead us to find out how to have eternal life.

2 Responses to every sermon

I’ve found that there are two basic responses to every sermon. I’ve also spoken to other Gospel Preachers and they have come to a similar conclusion.

Walk out or Walk forward

These responses can be literally walking out of the auditorium or coming forward to the front to confess your sin in a public manner. They can also be done with your mind. So often folks, myself included, walk out or walk forward in our minds as we listen.

WALKING OUT

Walking out on a sermon, whether in your mind or physically getting up and leaving, happens for a variety of reasons…

You’re distracted – You’re sitting there, hot, tired and hungry thinking about lunch. Hoping the sermon is short, you begin taking steps to prevent yourself from falling asleep. If you’re someplace else in your mind, it matters very little whether the speaker is dynamic or boring. Sometimes you’re distracted by the goings on of other members shifting and squirming in their seats.

The remedy for this type of walking out is simple. Take notes. Engage your mind with the theme of the sermon. I have personally found this to be most effective.

Another tactic is to get some rest. So many of us stay up late and fail to plan for our Sunday morning worship. I’m guilty too. Saturday is a day off for most folks, and we just want to enjoy as much of our weekend as possible. I get it, I’ve been there. Eutychus in Acts 20 had the same trouble. If you’re going to stay up late, here’s a little tip that may help you feel more alert in the morning. Plan your sleep length in 90min cycles. 1.5, 3, 4.5 or 6 hours. Our bodies have up and down sleep cycles and we are at the top of the cycle [close to being awake] every 90 minutes. Do an internet search for sleep cycles and you’ll see what I mean.

Another reason we walk out is…

We think it’s about someone else – Yup, I’ve done this one too. While listening to a sermon you say to yourself, “self, I hope so-n-so is listening to this.” It reminds me of Nathan telling David about a man that had stolen a lamb in 2Sam 12:1-5. David became angry and demanded justice for the victim. However, look at what Nathan did in vs7, “You are the man!” Rather than trying to assign a lesson to another, we should be examining ourselves to see if it applies [1Co 11:28; 2Co 13:5].

Lastly, one reason we walk out is

We disagree – It’s ok to disagree, but be careful about HOW you disagree. Is your disagreement based on scriptures? Will you “try the spirits whether they are of God:” [1Jo 4:1]? Or, are you just disagreeing because you or a family member are committing the sin under consideration and don’t see anything wrong with it?

You might say to yourself, ‘that’s just his opinion’. Are we entitled to have an opinion on scriptural matters? Some people have said, “I know what it says, but I don’t like it.” When it comes to sin & doctrine, as enumerated in God’s word, we have no choice but to accept it and to obey it. Nothing in scripture is up for a personal interpretation that suits your opinion, [2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation].

If the speaker is wrong, then go to him about it privately. Perhaps he misspoke, or you misunderstood, but bring BCV [book chapter verse]. We can both be wrong, or one of us can be wrong and the other right, but we cannot BOTH BE RIGHT. I want to go to heaven and you would be a great friend if you show me where I was mistaken so that I could make correction.

It’s for this reason some folks church hop. They find the teaching to be contrary to their personal desires and go searching for a place of worship that suits their tastes. Or they stop worshiping altogether. This is not new, Paul warned that there are some whose ‘god is their belly’ [Philippians 3:19]. He also said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” [2Timothy 4:3].

There may be other reasons why folks “WALK OUT” on a sermon, but my desire is that we all “grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [2Peter 3:18].

Where is your mind when you “WALK OUT” on a sermon?

Next week we’ll examine ‘walk forward’.

Salvation by Faith ALONE?

If we’re saved by faith alone, as so many denominational pastors teach, then how do you explain all of these verses?

Christ’s words (John 6:63). “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
The Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Titus 3:5). …renewing of the Holy Spirit
Faith (Romans 10:10). For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Repentance (Luke 13:3; 2 Peter 3:9). “...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
Baptism (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Titus 3:5). “…baptism does also now save us.”
God (John 3:16; Titus 2:11). “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,”
Christ’s works (John 20:30–31).”And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 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.”
Calling on His name (Acts 2:21). “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.’ (cr. Acts 22:16)
Christ’s name (Acts 4:12). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Christ’s resurrection (Romans 4:25). “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
Christ’s death (Romans 5:6). “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
Hope (Romans 8:24). “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?”
Confession of faith (Romans 10:10). “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Hearing (Romans 10:15–17). “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Preaching (1 Corinthians 1:18). “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
The gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1–2). “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.”
Love (Galatians 5:6). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
Grace (Ephesians 2:8). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,”
Ourselves (Philippians 2:12). “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”
The love of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10). “and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
Christ (1 Timothy 1:15). “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
Heeding and continuing in the doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
God’s mercy (Titus 3:5). “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,”
Obedience (Hebrews 5:9). “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” (cr. 2Thess 1:8)
Christ’s blood (Hebrews 9:14). “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Works of faith (James 2:24). “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

The question is not, “which one saves”, rather, “why have they ignored so many verses?

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation? Hebrews 2:3

SHALL WE ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM GOD’S WORD?

Deut 4:2 “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deut 12:32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

Proverbs 30:6 Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

 

Evangelism Depression

“It must be really depressing to be an evangelist, for very few people really care about the word of God.” Daniel S.

My good friend, a new convert, spoke those words to me after spending the first year after his conversion trying to spread the good news. Yes, it is depressing. Paul was depressed after sending his letter to the Corinthian church.

2Co 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

He was filled with anguish because he was concerned for the church at Corinth. Would they repent, would they leave, would they take others with them in their disobedience. I can only imagine. But Paul did send the letter, and something great happened.

2Co 7:7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

You see, any of us who spread the message of the Gospel or seek to help a brother or sister in sin, whether we be paid laborers in the Gospel or Christians desiring to do the right thing, are often full of sorrow for those who reject God’s word. We often take it personally, but we need to remember, they haven’t rejected me, they’ve rejected God. 1Sam 8:7

That is why an evangelist, anyone really, needs to have their joy contained in another place other than people. For if we seek to just make other folks happy, then we’ve failed. Ga 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Mt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

My invitation to all of you who desire to be a part of an evangelistic church, be warned. It’s sad, difficult and full of pain. But then, someone responds to the Gospel. Our children, our friends or people we meet. We rejoice, not because of what we have done, no, we rejoice with the angels in heaven for one sinner that repents.

Lu 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

What if we could end sin?

SUPPOSE THAT we could convince everyone in the world to quit sinning.  What would we have accomplished?

It would appear at first glance that we would have made the world a much better place, but have we really done anything?

Let’s say we could convince all the world to quit drunkenness, yet they still don’t have Christ, we have done very little. Though repentance is a part of the gospel plan of salvation [Luke 13:3], it alone will not save you. Just as faith alone will never save you.

Pick a sin, whatever bothers you most, that you would end instantly. If folks repented of these sin on their own initiative, or through sound reasoning on your part, but they have not Christ you have done nothing.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” [1Corinthians 15:22]. We are made alive when we are “in Christ”, and according to the scriptures we get into Christ through obeying the gospel.

Galatians 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This is the only way a person can get into Christ. The preposition into indicates a change of relationship. You can search from the front to the back of your Bible, and you will find no other way to get into Christ except by being baptized into Christ. Also Romans 6:3 says the same thing, “Or do you not know, that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” So the only way we can get into Christ is to be baptized into Christ. Either a person has been baptized into Christ, or he is still outside of Christ. We are either in or we are out. Have you been baptized into Christ in order to be saved and have your sins forgiven?  If you haven’t been, then no amount of good works can save you. [Ephesians 2:8-9].

SEEK YE FIRST…

Nowhere in this article am I saying that a person can continue in sin. Paul, in his letter to the Romans said such, [Romans 6:1-3]. It is sin that has separated us from God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that he will not hear” [Isaiah 59:2]. What I am saying is that we need to approach evangelism from the top down.

All too often we find ourselves in discussions with the world about some particular sin. The discussion usually degrades into a debate, then into an argument until finally they will say, “We just have to agree to disagree.” If, on the other hand, you do convince them that a particular thing is wrong and they change, all you’ve really done is made them a better person, or a better Baptist or a better Lutheran, but you have NOT made them a Christian. If they repent of all of their sins, they still fall short of being “IN CHRIST” just as all who believe that “FAITH ONLY” is all that is necessary unto salvation.

TOP DOWN EVANGELISM

I’ve come to the realization that when a person is truly convicted in their heart that Jesus is the Christ, just as they were at Pentecost [Acts 2:37], then they will do whatever it takes to become a Christian. Until then, it’s nearly impossible to get a person to repent of anything, much less the popular sins of our culture.

It’s for this reason that I have in mind to divert every topic of conversation, with those outside of Christ, to the topic of the Authority of Christ and His plan of salvation. This is what Philip did with the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” [Acts 8:35, 36]. This is why the Eunuch asked, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me from being baptized?”

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”, Jesus said to them, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Matthew 22:36, 37]. This is a true statement, for our Lord said it. Before we can truly obey any command of God, we must first embrace and obey this one. If we can convince the whole world about this command, THEN we have truly done something.

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