Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Conversation with Satan

Is Knowledge and Belief Enough?
What is Salvation?  What is Lordship?  Can one exist without the other?  There is a great misunderstanding among many today that all you have to do is believe in Jesus and you will be saved.  Unfortunately, too many people make confession without repentance and submission to Christs' Lordship.

Romans 10:9-10 states, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

Is this true?  Of course it is.  However, too often we focus on the belief part and forget what the confession is?  That Jesus is Lord.

In speaking of faith apart from works in James 2:17-19 he states, "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works."  Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe and shudder!"

A Conversation
Let's suppose that God had a conversation with Satan about his eternal destination. It might go something like this:

God:    Satan.  Do you believe that I am the only God, maker of heaven and earth?
Satan: Yes
God:    Do you believe that I sent Jesus to die on the cross, taking on the punishment for the sins of the                     world, satisfying my wrath toward their sins, and then raised him from the dead on the third day?
Satan: Yes
God:    Do you believe that in the last days I will raise the living and the dead to be judged either innocent or             guilty based on their belief in me, and their confession of and and submission to my Lordship?
Satan: Yes
God:    Satan, will you Submit to my Lordship and serve me faithfully, obeying all the commands I have                     given you?
Satan: NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And I am going to take every soul with me that you do not save.

This would, in fact, be the end result of that conversation.  Satan rebelled in heaven.  He tried to overthrow GOD!  He has no interest in submission to Christs' Lordship.  Thus, no matter how much he and the demons know or believe about God, they will be condemned to everlasting torment in the lake of fire(Revelation 20:10).  And his goal is to take as many with him as possible.  However, whether in this life or before the judgement seat of Christ, every knee, including Satan and his minions, shall bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father(Philippians 2:9-11, Romans 14:10-12, Revelation 20:11-15).

A Passionate Plea
Please don't be one of the casualties of Satan's war against God.  You see, knowledge about God, Jesus, and the bible is not enough.  Just saying you believe is not enough. Belief without change is nothing more than mere intellectual ascent. It does not matter if you simply go to church or are actively involved with your church.  If your whole life is not surrendered to the effort of repentance from sin and the pursuit of holiness, in every area of your life, then there is reason to question the relevance of your salvation.  If you prayed a prayer once, but there really is not much of your life that looks like the disciples of the bible, then there is reason to question the relevance of your salvation.  If you lack genuine interest in God's word, embrace the ways of the world, and perceive not problem with this then you are likely in open rebellion against God and, there is reason to question the relevance of your salvation

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and you truly believe with your heart, not just your mind, it will change you.  Your thoughts and behavior will not be the same.  You will not be perfect until heaven however, 2 Corinthians 5:15-17 states that "Christ died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but him, who for their sake died and was raised.  From now on, therefore regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passes away; behold, the new has come."

Examine yourselves!
God requires surrender of this life, that you may know life eternally with Him and in Him. Examine yourself and see if you are in the faith(2 Corinthians 13:5).  If you find yourself wanting of the characteristics of a true, biblical Christ-follower, and thus you find that it is likely you are not in the faith, that can change now.

If you are Lost
God can and will save you if you are willing to die to yourself and live for Christ.  Cry out to God to save you!  He will!  Then find a local, bible teaching church, get baptized as part of your public profession of your faith, and begin feeding on the word of God.  God has given, to those whom are believers, everything needed for life and godliness by His grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit, through the study of His word, prayer, and obedience(2 Peter 3-11).  All of this fosters relationship with God.

If you are Found
If you find that you are in the faith and desiring repentance and holiness, yet there are areas of your life in which this is lacking, know this.  God does not require anything of the believer that He does not enable them to do.  In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul instructs us, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling.   For it is God who works in you both to will and to work according to his good pleasure."

Even the Apostle Paul whom wrote much of the New Testament recognized that he could not do it on his own.  In 1 Corinthians 15:10 he states, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward  me was not in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I but the grace of God that is with me."

Without Christ we all will be like Satan, rebelling against God and headed for an eternity of hellish, conscious torment.  Don't be like Satan.  Pray that the God of all grace will pour that grace out on you without measure, empowering you to believe and submit, thus saving you through the blood of His Son, and empowering you to obey through the Holy Spirit, thus sanctifying you and making your calling and election sure.  Don't just know about the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, KNOW HIM! and be known by Him!  For there is no greater joy.

In Jesus name,


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Patriot Day, 9/11/2013

September 11, 2001, also know as Patriot Day.  Not to be confused with Patriot's Day.

Where were you?  What were you doing?  Regardless of it's impact on your life there is one thing that it did commonly for the whole nation; it turned there thoughts to God.  Everyone looks to church and God when something terrible happens.  However, unfortunately, the results were not permanent for the nation.  My question is, "Did it have any lasting effects for you as an individual?"  If you got back in to church and began thinking about God, was it a lasting change.  Was the change caused by a profound, faith driven realization of the urgent need for Jesus to become a reality in yourself and your neighbor or; was it driven by a fear of death and questions about eternity?  Last but not least, did it cause you to turn outward toward the physical and spiritual needs of those around you or did it cause you to merely look to your own needs? 

With those questions in mind I wanted to bring a different line of thought that you will not likely hear anywhere else on 9/11.  As I do, I would like to clarify that much of this will be a metaphorical parallel vs. actual spiritual judgement on any of the victims of 9/11.  Obviously I do not know what the state of their hearts were with God when they died.  While it is unlikely that they were all legitimate believers, it is certain that many were.  As you read you may wonder how the twist you read here could be pertinent on such a somber day.  I would submit according to Luke 13:1-5 that a proper perspective on such tragedies was a high priority for Jesus and it should be for us.  An understanding of our role and God's purposes is of utmost importance in all things.  Jesus saw tragedy on this scale as a call to repentance.  Maybe we should to.  I beg you to consider with me for just a few brief moments the eternal perspective of such a day as the one we remember today.

 As always there is story after story regarding the events of that day.  Stories of horror by the survivors.  Stories of heroism. Stories of bravery on the part of John Doe people in a building or on an airplane.  Stories of bravery among the many emergency and police personnel that day. Stories of heartbreak among loved ones.

I think of how many people in the twin towers were not aware of just how perilous their situation was.  That soon the buildings they were in would come collapsing down around them.  People milling around on the streets below having no idea of the danger they were in.  As the first plane was flown into the first tower and people began to run away, firefighters and policemen were running toward the danger, trying to warn and rescue as many people as possible.  Even after the first tower fell, having an inkling that the second tower could do the same, rescue workers continued to do their jobs with no thought for their own lives.  The brave souls on Flight 93 who, knowing that they would likely die, thought it important to make sure that they were the only ones who did.  Many lost their lives that day to save another.  I would like to think I would have done the same.....Would you?

As Christians, we have that opportunity.  We have the opportunity to die to ourselves.  We not only have  the opportunity, but the responsibility.  A  responsibility that we are shirking on a daily basis.  There is a spiritual 9/11 going on around us every day.  Satan is the spiritual terrorist, lurking, waiting for the moment when people are spiritually asleep to strike.  I think it's appropriate considering the metaphor that the bible uses in (Ephesians 2:2)calling him the prince of the air.  1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober-mined and watchful.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour."  Only, instead of a few thousand people dying, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions dying spiritual, eternal, death daily, around the world.  In our neighborhoods.  In our schools.  In third world countries that God holds us responsible for as if they lived next door.

These are people who do not know the truth.  They do not know that any minute their plane could crash into a building or the ground.  They do not know that any minute their building could come crashing down around them.  They do not know that at any moment, their spiritual world could burst into an eternal, unquenchable hell fire!  They do not know that this doesn't have to happen!  That God loves them.  That he sent his son Jesus to experience the hell of God's judgement on sin that we deserve so that we would not have to.

Who is going to tell them?  WE MUST!!!

IF you have true faith.  IF Jesus is truly LORD of your life, then you must tell the world.  You are the fireman, or police officer.  You are the spiritual rescue worker running into that spiritual hellhole of a building to tell all those souls that they are going to die for eternity without Jesus!!!

Can you imagine, what would have been said by people and media, if all of the rescuers had sat idly by and done nothing on 9/11; if they had not seemed to care at all or worse yet said, my life is more valuable than theirs and I am not going to sacrifice it on their behalf.?  They would have been eaten for breakfast by the media.  They would have lost their jobs and probably been shunned from their communities.  No one can imagine a firefighter sitting in his truck doing nothing beside a building in flames as families scream out the window for help.  That would be a travesty.

I would submit to you that if we sit by as supposed Christians and coldly watch the world around us die a spiritual death with no concern for their eternal destination, we are just like that firefighter.  He would be fired and possibly arrested for neglect.  I would suggest that if we lack concern for the lost and compassion for those in need, we are in danger of being eternally fired (condemned) as well.  Rather that this lack of conviction in these areas would be potential evidence that we were never eternally hired (saved) to begin with.  The fruit of a true Christian whose Savior is also Lord will have these qualities: concern for those who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord and compassion for those in need.  If we do not have these then we are lacking evidence of our true salvation.

I invite you to read several passages. In John 15:13 Jesus says, "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends"James 1:22-27 speaks of not just hearing the word but doing what it says.  He goes on to say that true religion involves taking care of widows and orphans and keeping oneself from being polluted by the world(James 2:14-24).  In this passage James speaks to the fact that saying you have faith is not enough.  Faith without works is dead.  You must have righteous works as evidence of that faith.  Works that are full of compassion for the lost and those in need.  Matthew 25:31-46, regards Jesus' separating of the sheep from the goats (saved from the unsaved) and he relates it to acts of compassion for those in need.  Matthew 7:15-27, speaks of good trees bearing good fruit and bad trees bearing bad fruit.  It also states that those who put God's word into practice are the ones who have evidence of a solid foundation in their salvation. And of course Matthew 28:18-20 which is known as the Great Commission from Jesus to the disciples. 

Does this mean that works earn us salvation?  Absolutely not!  Salvation is a free gift from God, by grace, through faith that we are incapable of attaining on our own(Ephesians 2:8-9).  All of those other verses clarify the fact that salvation is not simply fire insurance.  That we are not saved to simply sit around and continue enjoying the sinful nature.  We are not saved to a life that does not look any different than the life we were leading before we "prayed the prayer".  We are a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new(2 Corinthians 5:17).   If we are truly saved then, while our works do not save us, our Christian works will be an evidence of the overflow of Christ in us.  We will not do these things because we feel obligated to in order to be in right standing with God....that is impossible.  No, we will do these things because we love Jesus and our heart will be to do what pleases him.

What pleases God is that we whom He has saved recognize that we are are dead to our former selves.  We are born again.  And our new selves are commanded not to regard this body.  Not to fear death of this body, that will one day whither and fade away anyway, but to die to ourselves daily.  To take the examples of selfless compassion that were common amongst so many heroes that tragic September day and apply them to ourselves in the daily 9/11 of the lives of so many living among us and around the world.  Unfortunately heroism is not always driven by "saving, grace-driven, faith".  Sometimes, it is inspired by a common grace given to all men that some good may come of it.  If we are certain that unmerited salvation has been applied to our lives however, we must stop conceiving of salvation as a "one and done" for ourselves and realize that we were saved by a love and a grace that is made abundant in us so that it can be given away to others, in order that souls would be saved and God's name glorified.

If you are unsure of your salvation, yet you long to be sure, then get in the bible and cry out to God to save you.  The bible says that the Holy spirit will testify with your spirit that you are a child of God.  That you will not need to be afraid and that you will be able to overcome the sinful nature because you are now led by the Holy Spirit.(Romans 8:13-16).  If you are convinced that you are a Christian and you are not actively pursuing the clear will of God for your life that is in his word for every disciple then I implore you to get in the word and begin crying out to God to place his desires in your heart.  Then you will find yourself as one of the firemen who is running into the burning, collapsing building telling the people of their need to be saved, rather than the one sitting by doing nothing.  You will find yourself having a difficult time ignoring those in need as you become acutely aware of all that God has blessed you with.

In all this, know that God is not asking you to do this under your own power.  It is Christ who saves you and Christ who keeps you(Philippians 1:6).  It is Christ who empowers you unto growth and transformation.
As Philippians 2:12-13, says, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose".

If this day drives us to a greater passion for the gospel-driven mission of Jesus Christ, then these many tragic deaths will not have been in vain.  They will have accomplished a greater eternal purpose for the glory of God than any earthly, perishable fruit that will ever develop in this short life.  As we honor those who died and those who lost loved ones on this, the twelfth anniversary of this unforgettable, providential day; let us forever be changed in a way that not only impacts our spiritual and physical lives, but the spiritual and physical lives of those around us and around the world. 

In Jesus name,


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Are you Walkin or Talkin?

None of us is perfect.  We will all make mistakes.  However, we are not called to concede to that truth.  I have noticed, of late, a few people whom either have forgotten or stopped caring about the fact that our walk is supposed to exhibit our most sincere efforts to represent our talk.

Is that true of you?  Do you profess Jesus yet live a life that does not appear to represent His message?  Are you compromising or outright ignoring what scripture says about sin in your life.  Let's look at what scripture has to say about why this is important.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus says this, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven".

We are not to be or appear as callous having given ourselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.  We are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, putting on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and to holiness. (Ephesians 4:19-24)

In Philippians 1:27, the Apostle Paul charges us "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ"

In Colossians 1:9-14 the Apostle Paul writes out a prayer that he and Timothy are praying for their fellow brothers in Christ.  It goes like this, "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.  May you be  strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us form the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

You see, if in fact you are a child of God.  If you have indeed been "called out of darkness into His marvelous light"(1 Peter 2:9) then not only are you expected to walk out the gospel of Jesus Christ but you must remember that you have been empowered to walk it out as well.  Paul tells us to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in us both to will and to work according to His good pleasure"(Philippians 2:12-13)

The Apostle Peter tells us that as Christians, "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire."(2 Peter 1:3-4)

Peter goes on in 2 Peter 5:11 to instruct us to take action, working with great effort in applying holy and virtuous character qualities to the way we do life so as to make our calling and election sure.  That we may know we have entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As His children, God requires much of us.  As His children, God has made available to us all that we need to accomplish His purposes.  His grace is always working under the surface of our efforts.

So if you have made mistakes or experienced hurt that has drawn you away from your Savior and affected your submission to His Lordship.......COME BACK!  God loves you and has provided everything you need through the study of His word, prayerful communion with His Spirit, and fellowship with other believers that can help you understand and apply His word and help hold you accountable.

Repentance from sin and pursuit of holiness is a lifelong effort and as long as you are still breathing it is never too late to come back to your first love.  Look to the cross and trust your Savior.  He will carry you though.

If this message rings true to you.  If you feel convicted and desire to change, this is not of your own doing.  It is because Jesus has revealed himself and the Father to you(Matthew 11:27) and is either calling you to his side for the first time or is drawing you back to an obedient life of submission to His lordship. 

So lean on the one who's "yoke is easy and burden is light"(Matthew 11:28-30).  You don't have to do it alone however, if you are a child of the Most High, then obedience is not an option.  You will not do it because you have to, but because you are driven to it by the revelation of your Heavenly Father's love toward you and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus for you. 

If your life does not represent what you say you believe, the world notices and they talk about it.  I have heard it through the grapevine.  By God's grace I am what I am(1 Corinthians 15:10), there are many areas of my life that have improved greatly in representing my faith and many have come to me and told me that they can see it and respect it.  I am so grateful.  It is a continual reminder to me to watch my life and doctrine closely.
(1 Timothy 4:16)

Read the word! Pray Hard!  Live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ!  People are listening and watching! 

Don't just talk it, WALK IT!

In Jesus name,