Monday, June 24, 2013

Do You Know Christ Today?

I was especially thankful this morning during a special time of prayer at the end of our church service. I was specifically thankful to be in a church that really lays TRUTH on the line rather than to muddy up the Word of God with false but popular thinking of our day.

Recently my reading has been in the Old Testament from ... “In the beginning” ... to the Book of Deuteronomy. After this refresher course, here's something I can tell you for sure. GOD takes sin very, very, very seriously. God takes sin a whole lot more seriously than YOU or I do! God won't be mocked.

Please read this article below by John MacArthur. When it was first penned more than 20 years ago it was extremely controversial. In fact, many said he was adding to the message of the gospel. I want you to read this and consider where you are spiritually because I believe YOUR and MY eternal destination depends on our understanding of what it means to really follow Christ.

Let me say that I DO understand that all believers do not grow in Christ at the same pace. I DO understand that the elderly or more mature believer may be more focused on progress than many a teenager.

But as your Friend ... I cannot let you think that praying a prayer at some point in your life without a pattern of change will ever get you to heaven. Scripture tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). I am afraid that America knows very little about that as we have become a nation that prayed a prayer … so we think that’s all she wrote!

In conversations, this is where people like to throw the thief on the cross in your face and say it worked for him. That situation was very different but it truly involved life changing faith. So I am not saying there isn't a death bed salvation experience on occasions.

My concern for you and me is based what is normal in life. If you prayed a prayer and the pattern of your life after years and years has been to go on living as you please without regard to what being a follower of Christ should be doing in and through you ... then it is to you that I make this appeal. Please think! God won't be mocked. You aren't going to be able to say, "Remember I prayed a prayer?" To whom is it that Jesus says, “Depart from me, I didn’t know you”.

I want to know ALL of you throughout eternity. I want YOU to know the power of His resurrection. I want YOU to experience the joy and peace that is in Christ even when your world has come apart. Do you know Him today?

NikonSniper Steve

The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus' message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God's righteousness. Our Lord's words about eternal life were invariably accompanied by warnings to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following Him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He said many who call him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 7:13-23).

Present-day evangelicalism, by and large, ignores these warnings. The prevailing view of what constitutes saving faith continues to grow broader and shallower, while the portrayal of Christ in preaching and witnessing becomes fuzzy. Anyone who claims to be a Christian can find evangelicals willing to accept a profession of faith, whether or not the person's behavior shows any evidence of commitment to Christ. In this way, faith has become merely an intellectual exercise. Instead of calling men and women to surrender to Christ, modern evangelism asks them only to accept some basic facts about Him.

This shallow understanding of salvation and the gospel, known as "easy-believism," stands in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. To put it simply, the gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ's authority. This, in a nutshell, is what is commonly referred to as lordship salvation.

There are many articles of faith that are fundamental to all evangelical teaching. For example, there is agreement among all believers on the following truths: (1) Christ's death purchased eternal salvation; (2) the saved are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone; (3) sinners cannot earn divine favor; (4) God requires no preparatory works or pre-salvation reformation; (5) eternal life is a gift of God; (6) believers are saved before their faith ever produces any righteous works; and (7) Christians can and do sin, sometimes horribly.

What, then, are the distinctives of lordship salvation? What does Scripture teach that is embraced by those who affirm lordship salvation but rejected by proponents of "easy-believism"? The following are nine distinctives of a biblical understanding of salvation and the gospel.

First, Scripture teaches that the gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19; Luke 24:47) that consists not of a human work but of a divinely bestowed grace (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). It is a change of heart, but genuine repentance will effect a change of behavior as well (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18-20). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that repentance is simply a synonym for faith and that no turning from sin is required for salvation.

Second, Scripture teaches that salvation is all God's work. Those who believe are saved utterly apart from any effort on their own (Titus 3:5). Even faith is a gift of God, not a work of man (Eph. 2:1-5, 8). Real faith therefore cannot be defective or short-lived but endures forever (Phil. 1:6; cf. Heb. 11). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that faith might not last and that a true Christian can completely cease believing.

Third, Scripture teaches that the object of faith is Christ Himself, not a creed or a promise (John 3:16). Faith therefore involves personal commitment to Christ (2 Cor. 5:15). In other words, all true believers follow Jesus (John 10:27-28). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that saving faith is simply being convinced or giving credence to the truth of the gospel and does not include a personal commitment to the person of Christ.

Fourth, Scripture teaches that real faith inevitably produces a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person (Gal. 2:20). The nature of the Christian is new and different (Rom. 6:6). The unbroken pattern of sin and enmity with God will not continue when a person is born again (1 John 3:9-10). Those with genuine faith follow Christ (John 10:27), love their brothers (1 John 3:14), obey God's commandments (1 John 2:3; John 15:14), do the will of God (Matt. 12:50), abide in God's Word (John 8:31), keep God's Word (John 17:6), do good works (Eph. 2:10), and continue in the faith (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:14). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that although some spiritual fruit is inevitable, that fruit might not be visible to others and Christians can even lapse into a state of permanent spiritual barrenness.

Fifth, Scripture teaches that God's gift of eternal life includes all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 8:32), not just a ticket to heaven. In contrast, according to easy-believism, only the judicial aspects of salvation (e.g., justification, adoption, and positional sanctification) are guaranteed for believers in this life; practical sanctification and growth in grace require a post-conversion act of dedication.

Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender (Rom. 6:17-18; 10:9-10). In other words, Christ does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him (James 4:6). Surrender to Jesus' lordship is not an addendum to the biblical terms of salvation; the summons to submission is at the heart of the gospel invitation throughout Scripture. In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ's supreme authority is not germane to the saving transaction.

Seventh, Scripture teaches that those who truly believe will love Christ (1 Pet. 1:8-9; Rom. 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 16:22). They will therefore long to obey Him (John 14:15, 23). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that Christians may fall into a state of lifelong carnality.

Eighth, Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one's faith is real (1 John 2:3). On the other hand, the person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith (1 John 2:4). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that disobedience and prolonged sin are no reason to doubt the reality of one's faith.

Ninth, Scripture teaches that genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Cor. 1:8). Those who later turn completely away from the Lord show that they were never truly born again (1 John 2:19). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that a true believer may utterly forsake Christ and come to the point of not believing.

Most Christians recognize that these nine distinctives are not new or radical ideas. The preponderance of Bible-believing Christians over the centuries has held these to be basic tenets of orthodoxy. In fact, no major orthodox movement in the history of Christianity has ever taught that sinners can spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior.

This issue is not a trivial one. In fact, how could any issue be more important? The gospel that is presented to unbelievers has eternal ramifications. If it is the true gospel, it can direct men and women into the everlasting kingdom. If it is a corrupted message, it can give unsaved people false hope while consigning them to eternal damnation. This is not merely a matter for theologians to discuss and debate and speculate about. This is an issue that every single pastor and lay person must understand in order that the gospel may be rightly proclaimed to all the nations.

16 comments:

Cathy said...

A thought provoking post. I've only ever seen your photographic and patriotic posts and didn't realise you were so spiritual. I agree that words without action are empty. Going to church and praying every Sunday doesn't make you a true follower of Christ, but likewise, a follower/believer may perhaps not be a church goer. I think faith (as you mentioned) is a personal journey.

Judy said...

What I struggle with myself is endeavoring to let go of doing good to avoid punishment or earn a reward and instead do good for its own sake, because it is good, and because I am God's child, I am good, through Jesus Christ my Savior's Atonement.

Child of God said...

O this is good! I sure do wish you had a tweet button!! This needs to be passed on.
I agree that salvation is more that just a prayer said but a life changed around into the direction of Jesus.

Good message!
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feather light said...

I enjoy ALL of your posts and this one in particular caused me to think deeper. I presently am attempting my BS in Religion through Liberty On-line. At over age 50, I have a different perspective of school.

My most recent assignment was to delve in to Galatians 5:16-18. and to find some theology there.

at first it was so confusing to me, but after prayer and study and searching, a different perspective came through.

Once we accept the Holy Spirits moving in our lives we become changed, are are in the process of changing, because the spirit and the flesh can not find harmony, either we submit (walk) in the flesh or submit to the Spirit, we can't do both. Yes, we will sin as did all of the Biblical characters, but they repented and craved God's will in their lives and he continued to work through them in spite of their sinful nature.

Yes, I agree, it isn't just about accepting, it is a work in progress that we must daily submit to, asking for the Spirit and following his leading.

madcobug said...

Very good entry Steve. Helen

ShEiLa said...

I know that prayer alone or my belief will not save me... coming to know Christ and following him is a lifelong process. I am very grateful for repentance and the ability to see my imperfections.

Thank you for sharing your message.

ToOdLeS.

Arty said...

Wonderful Thank you.

Christine said...

Steve,

Thank you for this post. Thank you for standing up for truth, right and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

~ Christine

man with desire said...

Have you ever thought about eternal life? Have you realized that you can go to Heaven and not to Hell? Have you realized that you can have a perfect and wonderful life in Heaven with God, without sorrow or pain, and that all of this can be received as a gift? If you have not given this much thought, it is worth your while to think about it now in the light of the next verses. They show the reality of this new life and the way you can receive it. They describe how all things will be made new and we can freely drink from the fountain of the water of life. The only condition is that we want it and are thirsty:

- (Rev 21:3-6) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.

http://www.jariiivanainen.net/howcanbesaved.html

cropalot said...

Well done good and faithful servant.

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

I've read the Pentateuch many, many times but one time, on a long, solo road trip, I spent my driving time LISTENING to it and came away with a completely new perspective of it. The theme is holiness. God is holy, separate, different and he wants us to be so also. As you said, he takes sin very, very, very seriously. I don't hear too many Christians talking about that these days. The idea that so many people have, that all they need to do is pray "the sinner's prayer," is a dangerous fallacy that needs to be more exposed. I love the way you do that in your post and with the following you have, hopefully many have been convicted to take sin more seriously.

Thank you for sharing the article by John MacArthur. I like his nine distinctives. Good reading!

Vivian said...

Amen!

New Every Morning said...

Thank you for standing boldly for the Lord. You have used your talents to glorify Him. Rejoicing with you!

Judy said...

It's two years later. I read my comment of 2 years ago, and I've grown in the Gospel. This time reading through, my first thought was "Amen." Then I examined where I am now. Every day, my struggle is to seek God, to align myself with God, to surrender myself to God, to rededicate myself to God. Jesus is my Savior and my Mentor. I am God's, which gives me hope and courage, and I endeavor to never take for granted. Thanks for the encouragement to stay the course.

Stephen Baird said...

that's awesome judy! the path to follow Christ has many bunny trails. if you see me on a bad day it may look like I am really off kilter ... but the believer in Christ will be pulled by His mercy in grace back on track over period of time. in my life, I have experienced discipline and pain when I stray too long. the older I get the quicker I am to return. I think its awesome that you see some of that over time in your life too! thanks judy for being one of the ones that have made doing this a rewarding experience. may God cover you with showers of blessing.
nikonsniper steve

Debbie Haughland Chan said...

I'm smiling with pleasure at the two of you, Judy and Stephen. God is so good, isn't he?