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Eternal Redemption

Wednesday, 31 Aug 2016 Leave a comment

A new teaching has been uploaded to the Writings page called Eternal Redemption.

Many of us perceive our relationship with God as having an ebb and flow that mirrors the ups and downs of our daily life. In the extreme, some even believe that every sin causes a loss of salvation until it is noticed and repented of. Aside from being unhealthy, the Bible teaches that this is patently incorrect.  In today’s message, we look at a teaching in the Bible called eternal redemption – eternal forgiveness of your sins.

Progressive Revelation

Saturday, 6 Aug 2016 Leave a comment

A new teaching has been uploaded to the Writings page called Progressive Revelation.

In today’s message we look at how man’s knowledge of God has changed over time and how understanding this can answer some difficult questions about the Bible.

The Sabbath Rest

Friday, 29 Jul 2016 Leave a comment

A new teaching has been uploaded to the Writings page called The Sabbath Rest.

The Sabbath is one of the most misunderstood observances in the Bible. The legalism adopted by the Jews over the Sabbath has bled forcefully into the parts of the Christian church that take the Sabbath seriously. Most other Christians appear to be just as ignorant about the true meaning of the Sabbath, but in a disinterested sense. In this message we will see how to recover God’s full intent for us in the Sabbath. We will find that it is a state of continual rest in the provision of God for us in Christ through faith in the Gospel.

How God Perfects or Completes You

Tuesday, 1 Jul 2014 Leave a comment

Often an idea or concept related to our relationship with God is changed from what it should be. I am not sure how this happens. Perhaps we remember that the Bible says something about the idea but rather than being careful to see exactly what the Bible says we just carelessly apply it to whatever situation we are dealing with.

A perfect example of this (pun intended) is the idea of God perfecting us. Specifically, some people will say that God uses sickness to perfect us. Not only is this incorrect, it is disturbing since it calls evil good (Isaiah 5:20) and attributes evil to God (the Message translates part of James 1:13 as God “puts evil in no one’s way”).

The verses that convey the idea of God perfecting us come from the book of II Timothy. If we would like to understand the means by which God helps us to be perfect, read what the Bible says. It is His Word to us that tells us about His nature, His means, and His covenant with us.

16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
(II Timothy 3:16-17)

First let’s make sure we understand what the word “perfect” means. It doesn’t really quite mean “without flaw or imperfection” as we typically use the word today. In Old English it more has the sense of being complete. The Amplified Bible translates the Greek word artios as “complete and proficient” and the HCSB and ASV as “complete.”

So, how does God make us perfect or complete? The word “that” at the beginning of verse 17 indicates verse 17 contains the result or consequence of verse 16. The result is that a Christian will be complete. What is this is the consequence of? Scripture. The Bible. The Word.

God uses His Word to perfect or complete you. It is given for you to learn about the nature of God and His ways and His covenant with you (doctrine). It is given for you to learn what mistakes you are making in your life that hurt yourself or others or leave you open to attack from the enemy (reproof and correction). It is given for you to know who you are in Christ (you are righteous in the eyes of God).

Never view an evil circumstance as sent by the Lord to perfect you. That is a lie. And, if you have a specific area in which you desire the Lord to complete or perfect you, turn to the Word. It has the answer for you. Whether its sickness, depression, a struggle with a particular sin, or difficulty loving, God will complete you with the Word.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

Healing and Miracles Did Not End with the Apostles

Friday, 20 Jun 2014 Leave a comment

With the Healing in Every Book of the Bible series hitting its stride in the Gospels and Acts, this is a perfect time to explain why the pattern seen in the book of Acts is supposed to be continuing today.

Consider first the following scripture from the book of James.

14Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
(James 5:14-15)

Please stop and think carefully about the question posed by James. The simple fact that he asked this question – Is any sick among you? – means that there should not be any sick people in the church. Let that sink in. God wants you well. It is very simple. And, if you are not well, then a prayer of faith will heal (save – Greek sozo) you. Prayer leading to healing sounds like a miracle to me! Healing and miracles are for today. It is very simple.

As stated in the post on Healing in Acts, at the end of the book of Mark, Jesus told us that healing of the sick would be one of the signs that would follow those that believe (Mark 16:15-20).  This is exactly what we see occurring in the book of Acts, and it is what we should see occurring today.

But a problem sometimes occurs when we get to I Corinthians.

8Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
(I Corinthians 13:8-10)

Some have argued that this passage says that prophecy and speaking in tongues passed away when the last apostle died. This is because they interpret “that which is perfect” to be the Bible and the last apostle to die was John – the author of the last book to be written for the New Testament, the book of Revelation. It has been said that once the Bible was complete, prophecy and speaking in tongues ceased, and just for good measure so did all other kinds of miracles, healing, and the gifts of the Spirit.

If you think this is what the passage says, take a second look. It also says that when that which is perfect has come, knowledge will pass away. So when the Bible was completed, knowledge passed away with miracles and the like. Really?! Seems like I know at least a few things, so I really don’t think that knowledge has passed away. Isn’t it now obvious that there is a problem with this interpretation?

“That which is perfect” actually refers to Christ. When Christ returns, prophecy, speaking in tongues, and (human) knowledge will pass away because they will no longer be needed. These were all partial, imperfect provisions to help us until Christ returns. Verse 12 talks of seeing “face to face” and knowing even as also I am known. These are references to Christ – His face and knowing as He knows me. This interpretation makes much more sense.

So, rest easy. The gifts of the Spirit have not ceased. God is healing today through His presence in His children. He is the same yesterday (in the Gospels and the book of Acts), today, and forever. He is in you as a Christian, touching you this very moment, wanting to heal you or heal through you just as He did to and through those in the Gospels and the book of Acts.

To further see that God wants to work through ordinary Christians like you and me, consider Acts 8:5-8. Philip was a table waiter. He was not an apostle, but an everyday Christian. But, God healed others through him. The book of Acts shows us how things should work in the New Covenant. It has no ending, and we should see works like this one continuing into our day.

Finally, consider Acts 10:38.

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)

The word “for” at the end of the verse means “because” or “due to the fact that”. The following phrase therefore gives the reason or means by which Jesus was healing all that were oppressed of the devil. The reason was because God was with Him. But, God is with you too. Doesn’t Colossians 1:27 say that Christ (God) is in you? Therefore, you satisfy the prerequisite for God to heal other people through you – simply that He is with you.

God always works through people. If we do not follow in the miracle-working steps of those in the book of Acts, people in our generation will not be able to have God work miracles and healing in their lives when they are unable to receive on their own.

For additional teaching and a more complete treatment of God’s healing nature, read the teaching resource Acts Chapter 29 (Miracles and Healing Still Happen).

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

How to Have Assurance of Salvation

Monday, 18 Jun 2012 Leave a comment

One important aspect of our salvation is how we continue to view our salvation after we are initially saved. This is often called “assurance of salvation” or “eternal security.” Peter discusses this topic at the beginning of his second letter.

3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:  (II Peter 1:3-10)

The verse to start with is at the end, verse 10, where Peter exhorts us to make our calling and election sure (to be assured of our salvation). This verse is a perfect example of the dangers of reading a scripture out of context. Taken on its own, our human nature easily focuses on the fact that we are told to “make your calling and election sure.” If your relationship with God is contaminated with legalism and religion, then your mind will immediately begin trying to figure out what you must diligently do to be sure of your salvation. Often this takes the form of striving (in your own strength) to lead a “good, moral, Christian life” with the thought that success in doing this is what assures you of your salvation.

This is simply wrong. This is a works-based, legalistic, religious approach to Christianity, which is supposed to be a relationship, not a religion. The context of this verse illustrates this exact point. If we fail to understand the context of verse 10, we easily fall into our own human perceptions of life which are so often contaminated or plainly wrong.

Peter says in verse 10 that you will never fall away if you “do these things.” What are these things? Working backwards, verse 9 ends the explanation: do not forget that you have been purged from your sins.

A person who is not assured of their salvation has some level of guilt, shame, or condemnation in their life. These things create doubt concerning your relationship with God. They are poison. You are in a state of sin consciousness. But, Hebrews 10:2 is emphatic that once a perfect sacrifice has been offered, a worshiper should have no more conscience of sin. A perfect sacrifice has been offered for you – Christ, the Lamb of God. Therefore, you should never have to think about or worry about sin ever again; you should no longer feel guilty or condemned – all of your sin has been paid for.

This is what Peter says you must not forget. You must not forget that you have been purged of your sins. (Peter says “old sins” but I John 2:2 and Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 make it clear that all sin has been dealt with past, present, and future.) If you understand this, you will not have guilt, shame, or condemnation; and, you will therefore be assured of your salvation.

The other “things” Peter mentions besides knowing your sins are forgiven are also related to an understanding of your salvation. Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and charity are largely part of another familiar list – Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit. Once you are born again, your spirit nature is changed. Your spirit is now the same as Christ’s – the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:17). You have all of the fruits of the Spirit on the inside of you in your born-again spirit. The challenge is to renew your mind to your new nature and these will be released into your soul and body. This is what Peter says in verse 3 – we have already been given all things that we need for life and godliness. Knowing your sins are purged is related to fully understanding your salvation. Understanding your salvation, not self-effort, leads to all of the things listed in verses 5-7. They are realized in your life by knowing who you are in Christ.

So, to summarize, assurance of salvation comes from not being sin conscious, from knowing who you are in Christ, and from renewing your mind to know what (and who!) lives on the inside of you. It is not something you must work for or work at. It comes from knowledge and rest (see Hebrews 4 where we are told to labor to enter rest).

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing

God Loves You Unconditionally

Saturday, 16 Jun 2012 Leave a comment

Need a simple proof that God has paid for all of your sins, that your actions do not affect His attitude and love for you?

God is love (I John 4:8 and I John 4:16). This is an equivalence. Where we see the word “love” (meaning agape in the Greek), we should be able to replace “love” with “God.”

Love keeps no record of wrongs (I Corinthians 13:5, more clearly stated in Amplified, YLT,  NASB, NIV, etc. than in King James).

Therefore, God is keeping no record of wrongs.

Simple isn’t it? How is God able to do this? God remembers your sin no more (Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17, prophesied in Isaiah 43:25) because Jesus paid for all of your sins past, present, and future (I John 2:2). No matter who you are or whether you have a relationship with God, this is the truth. But, the Bible is also clear that you must believe and accept what Jesus has done for you (Romans 10:9-10).  We are to receive God’s grace (the payment for all of our sins) through faith (belief, trust, and acceptance of what has been done) – Ephesians 2:8. It is this simple. And, nothing changes once we become a Christian. As we received Christ is the same way we should walk with Him each day (Colossians 2:6) – by grace through faith.

– Be loved and blessed to be love and a blessing