Who Was It Who Went Ahead?

Jesus and the disciples finally headed toward Jerusalem. His time had come. In anticipation, Gethsemane showed how excruciating an experience the cross would be. Jesus knew what He was about to endure. Yet, we read,

He took the lead as He went up to Jerusalem. (Lk. 19:28 CCNT/P)

It was not one of the disciples—not even hasty, impulsive Peter; it was the Lord Himself for took the lead as they headed for the cross! He did not hesitate to do what He had come to do: die for guilty sinners who could be forgiven only by faith in His substitutionary, sacrificial act. He come to lead many sons to glory!

How like the Lord! We do not (indeed, could not) take the initiative: He must do so—even today when the application of His work on Calvary is applied to us by faith! We do not choose Him; He chose us! Even the faith by which we receive His gift of eternal life is a “gift” (Eph. 2:8,9).

We were dead in trespasses and sins; He gave us life to believe.

Because eternal life is a free gift, and not a payment for effort on our part, you can become one of those who receives it. Repent of your sin and trust in Christ as the One Who died for you, paying the penalty for your sin, and you will receive the gift! Reach out your hand of faith and He will immediately place the gift in it!

What Does It Mean to be Saved?

In the deep South, in most churches, people talk about being “saved.” But, when you ask them what they mean by that, the answers vary—sometimes quite radically. Some groups say you must be baptized by them and join their church to be saved. Others claim that you must walk down an aisle. Still others say things like “take Jesus into your heart and He will save you.” What is it to be saved, and how does the Bible say that you can be?

The biblical usage of the word translated “saved” is precisely the same as ours. A newspaper headline that reads “Child Saved From Drowning,” means he was rescued. To be saved is to be rescued—rescued from sin and its consequences. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (that’s what Romans 3:23 has to say about everyone, including you). When God saves someone He rescues him from the penalty of sin, which is eternal punishment in hell. He also gradually rescues him from the power of sin in this life. And, ultimately, He rescues him from the very presence of sin by taking him to heaven. That is what it means to be saved.

But, it is of the greatest importance to know how to be saved. About this matter, as I have already indicated, there is no unanimity. What does the Bible say?

In Acts 16:31, in response to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved and your house.” Salvation is received by faith. When Scripture says that you must believe “on” (or “in,” or “upon”) Jesus Christ, it is talking about something more than mere assent. The Bible is clearly saying that you must depend upon Jesus Christ. But, what does that mean? It means that you must entrust your entire life, here and hereafter, to Him. It means that you must depend wholly upon what He has done, to be saved.

But what has He done in order to save? Jesus Christ died on the cross, bearing the punishment that was due to all who throughout the ages will believe on Him. He rose from the dead, giving evidence that God accepted His penal, vicarious sacrifice. The wrath of God fell on Him instead of them. All who trust Him as Savior have their sins forgiven. This is the “good news” that the apostles proclaimed around the Mediterranean world and that you are now learning in this blog. If you depend upon the saving work of Christ on the cross you will be saved.

Notice, the “gospel” is good news to be believed; not good deeds to be done. News has to do with something that has already happened; not with something yet to be done. You cannot be saved by depending upon your good works, on ceremonies like baptism, or church membership. Nothing you have done or ever could do will save you. You must look away from yourself and others and look in faith to Christ alone. It is depending on the Lord Jesus Christ alone that saves. You cannot be saved by some vague invitation to “come forward,” or to “let Jesus come into your heart.” There must be an understanding of the good news that Christ died on the cross for guilty, condemned sinners like you, and a willingness to depend on His death and resurrection to save you from your sin.

And, in trusting Christ as Savior, you must be willing to admit that you are a sinner. When the Bible says that you “have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” it means that, apart from God’s forgiveness, there is no way in which you can have eternal life. He will not allow unforgiven sinners to live in His perfect heaven. You must change your mind about yourself (apart from Christ you are unacceptable to God), about God (He is not a Santa Claus who accepts all into heaven) and about Christ (He isn’t just a great man; He is God come into the human race to save sinners).

Is God at work, convicting you of your sin and the need for a Savior? Then repent, change your mind; submit yourself to Jesus Christ and He will make you a new person and change the direction of your life. Trust Christ today.

OBE?

Today you read much about the possibility of OBEs (out of body experiences). Is this something for Christians to be concerned about? Is it possible for someone to have such a near death/death experience and still live? Could his spirit leave his body momentarily and then return?

If you are wondering—read again 2 Cor. 12:2 where Paul, speaking in the third person of himself, contemplates such a possibility.

But the genuine possibility of an OBE isn’t the important thing. What is interesting is that he speaks as well of going to paradise (the third heaven) during the experience (whatever kind it was: in or out of the body). That is where Jesus told the believing thief on the cross he would be together with him at death—that very day.

So, the real question is: if you were to die today, where would your spirit be: in paradise or in gehenna (the place of punishment)? Upon death all go to hades (hades means the “unseen world” in which both places exist). But only those who have been saved enter paradise .

What Will You Do?

That’s the question that God asks. And it is one He calls upon you to consider before you answer. Here are His words:

The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own authority. My people love it like this, but what will you do at the end of it?       (HCSB, Jeremiah 5:30)

It was a day of lawlessness. The people has ignored God and His prophets as He graciously offered them peace and prosperity {everyone sitting beneath his vine and fig tree) for their love and obedience. But they knew better! Or so they thought. And things seemed to be going quite well—for the time.

They loved it like that: a society in which each one could set his own boundaries with no Word from God saying yes or no to them. It was a time much like ours—don’t you think?

But God will put up with rebellion for just so long. Then He will act. The devastation that would come is prophesied throughout the book of Jeremiah-it might be well for you to read it! And when it came over one million people were killed or exiled as the Babylonians descended upon them. For 70 years those who were exiled would not see their homeland, and in the meanwhile, they would be subject to a foreign nation, no longer free to do their own thing!

“What can I do,” you ask? You can become one of those who turns in repentance and faith to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. And you can begin to live in a way pleasing to Him. You can then help others do the same by warning them as well.

If you do not know how to be saved and change your life to conform to God’s will, read our articles on salvation in the archives. Can you afford to wait until it’s too late? What we need is a great turning to God at this time beginning with you—don’t you think?

 

The Fool

The Fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”      (Psalm 14:1).

How do we know that he is a fool?

Simple. A fool speaks as if he has the answer to a question to which he cannot have an answer. No man knows enough to make that statement. You would have to be everywhere at the same time to reach that conclusion. Otherwise, God might be just one jump ahead of him.

But to be everywhere at once is to be God! And the strangest part of it is that he isn’t just boasting, showing off or something. He believes it—partially, at least—and is trying to fully convince himself that it is really true.

Say, fool—will you come to your senses? When you do, it is time to find out about the Salvation that is in Christ Jesus. If you need help, let us know.

Knowledge

Paul’s desire for his people, the Jews, was that they might have knowledge. Not just knowledge in general, but knowledge of the Gospel which (if believed) would save them.

He says, in Romans 10:2, that “they have a zeal for God, but not according to that knowledge.”

There are people today (not only unsaved Jews) who have a zeal for God—trying to save themselves by their good works—who are also w/o the saving knowledge that Christ died for guilty sinners, bearing their punishment, so that through faith they would obtain eternal life.

Knowledge of the saving sort is found only in the Bible, or in the writings, sermons, and witness of those who learned it from the Bible.

He says, in the next verse, that they attempted to establish their own righteousness rather than be counted righteousness by God through faith in Jesus Christ. In what are you trusting for salvation? Is your knowledge of salvation sure and clear? That’s probably the most important question for you to settle right now—if you haven’t already.

It Works Both Ways

cisternJeremiah records God’s words saying,

For My people have committed a double evil:
They have abandoned Me, the Fountain of living water, And . . .
Dug cisterns for themselves—cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.     Jeremiah 2: 11

If only those who are thirsty because they can’t find any water in their dry cisterns would recognize the reason for their dilemma, they might turn in repentance and drink freely of God’s living water! The trouble is that whenever you reject God, you always turn to an inadequate substitute. But too often this is not recognized so people try to get water from a cracked cistern!

Are you dying of thirst spiritually? Don’t know why? Consider the Lord’s words through Jeremiah, His prophet.  It’s likely that they will apply and explain your problem. I urge you to consider the possibility.

How to return?

By recognizing your problem, confessing your sin off substituting another way for God’s, and turning to Jesus Christ as Savior.

How do you turn to Him?

By trusting Him as the One Who died for the sins of all those who put their faith in  Him.  He is the risen One Who will someday raise all who do to live with Him in the heavenly city that He plans to bring down to earth—a city in which you will never thirst again!

Saints

Internet articles tell us that the new pope, who says he didn’t want to be pope, is thinking of beatifying (making saints) out of many martyrs.

Interesting.

The fact is that God has already made saints out of millions of believers throughout the ages.  And He’s still in the business of doing so today!

You see, the church doesn’t canonize anyone as a saint—that is an unbiblical Roman Catholic idea.  According to such foolery people become saints only after death, having performed miracles and declared such by the RCs.

Actually, the Bible calls every true believer a saint—while he is still alive!

It is God who makes people saints by regeneration and faith. Even the Corinthians were designated “saints” by saint Paul (1 Corinthians 1: 2).  As you read that epistle, you find that many in this church were anything but “saintly,” (as we often think of people who are exceptionally righteous). Indeed, just about every problem imaginable was occurring in that church, and yet, these Christians were called “saints.”

Well, then, what is a saint?  He (she) is a saved person—a genuine Christian—regardless of his (her) state of righteousness.

How come?

You see, the word saint simply means “one who has been set apart from others.”

Saints, as God speaks of them in the Bible, are those He has set apart for himself.  They come in all stages of holiness—and are in the process of being set apart more and more to God in everyday living, becoming increasingly what they are in their status before him as His own.

Here and There

You guide me with Your counsel, And afterwards, you will take me up in glory.   Psalm 72:10

What a way to live life! Here and hereafter to live with God’s counsel and His Person.

Do you know Christ as your Savior? If not, whose counsel do you follow here; where will you go hereafter?

I urge you to think about that counsel now—it is found only in the Scriptures. But it leads to eternal life hereafter with God in glory. Glory is the splendor that surrounds Him and all that belongs to Him. Don’t you want to be a part of that glorious place where there is no sin or its ill effects? Where there is no sickness, misery of any kind or death?

If you don’t know how to be saved, check out some of our earlier blogs that explain the way of salvation and believe!

Men Who Are Like Animals

A man with valuable possessions but without understanding
Is like the animals that perish   (Psalm 4:11)

The understanding spoken of here has to do with the understanding of God and His ways set forth in the Bible.

Have you such understanding? If not, you first need to understand the way of salvation. Without that understanding it is impossible to understand the rest of God’s ways.

You ask, “How, then, can I be saved?”

By faith in the Gospel (good news) that Jesus Christ died and rose again in the place of guilty sinners who would believe that fact. Have you ever done do? If you need more information, see your pastor. If he can’t help, please write for more information.