Christianity 201

November 28, 2018

The Life We’ve Been Given

We’re returning to a writer we introduced to you six months ago at one of our Sunday Worship columns. John R. Shuman writes at Truth Fully Spoken. This was part of a post for the U.S. Thanksgiving, so we’ve modified the introduction, but if you prefer, click the (revised non-seasonal) title below to read this article in full at the original site.

I Am Thankful for Life

Everyday IS A Gift

Nothing is ever promised, we are never guaranteed anything beyond this moment…

The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:31-32

31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

And James 4:13-14 says:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

We are nothing more than a “mist”, something that hangs around for a moment and then disappears.  And we are not promised anything beyond this moment.  Today is a day to reflect on the gift we were given, the gift of life.

Life IS A Gift

Every breath we have is a gift.  Every heartbeat (as stated in the song, thank you Randy) is a gift from God.  And Jesus tells us that in John 10:7-10

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Jesus came to us to save us, yes, but more than that, he came to Give us LIFE, more life than we ever knew existed, more life than we deserve, more life than we can handle on our own.  And the life we get is freely given by Jesus because….

Jesus IS Life

John 1:1-5 talks about Jesus in this way…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Jesus is (according to this passage)

  1. The word (vs 1)
  2. God (vs 1)
  3. Eternal (vs 2)
  4. Creator (vs 3)
  5. ESSENTIAL (vs 3)
  6. Life (vs 4)
  7. Light (vs 4)
  8. Not understood by those not in the light.  (vs 5)

And those things are important to living.  Everyone of those things are needed for us to live.  we must…

  1. read God’s word- we can not know God without knowing His word.
  2. accept God into our life- we can not accept God before we Know His word.
  3. Follow God for eternity- life does not cease here, we are told that we have an eternity beyond this lifespan.
  4. create a new lifestyle. Once we follow God we must be dead to our old life and be born again a new creation.
  5. We must BE Essential, we must be a shining example for all to see so that others will see God in us.
  6. We MUST LIVE- we can not hide away once we follow God, laws do not stop just because we follow God.  So we still need to work, and live a life here.
  7. We must shine for the world, we NEED to be the light of man.  we need to be the flame that draws moths in.
  8. We must PROVIDE understanding to the world, so that they will no longer be in darkness.

Jesus is our life, and we must give that life to the world just as Jesus gave us life.  John 3:16-17 (my favorite verses) tells us

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

God freely gives us this life, life EVERLASTING, and He gave it to us so that we might spend eternity WITH HIM.  He does not want us to perish, he does not want us to walk in the darkness, he does not want us to die without knowing Him.  What God wants is for us to HAVE LIFE, and have life MORE ABUNDANTLY!

Give Thanks

So, I am thankful for LIFE, because this moment is more than I was promised, this moment is a gift from God, and this moment is a time to celebrate.  The life I have is not mine, it is God’s, and I am thankful for that.  This life was given to me by God, and I am thankful for that.  The people around me (family and friends) get to share in this life with me, and I am thankful for that.  My job is an extension of my life, part of who I am, and I am thankful for that.  My life is full of mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, and compassion… Not mine but God’s, and I am thankful for that.

So, if you ask me “What are you thankful for?” And I reply “Life!” you now know that there is more to life than meets the eye.  I am overflowing with thanksgiving, and to limit that thankfulness to people or things does an injustice to the very life I have that makes it so I can enjoy those other things.

Prayer Time

God, THANK YOU for this life, thank you for giving me more life than I knew existed, thank you for giving ME anything at all, but especially this life.  Thank you, Jesus, for providing me the life needed to spread you light throughout the world, I pray that the moths are drawn to this flame so that they might gather the understanding of the light and they too can spread it wherever they may go.  Lord, I know that this is not always a time of celebration, but in some lives a time of sadness, I pray that you provide comfort to us that grieve now be with us as we go on through life.  Sadness is fleeting, pain heals, emotions will change, and emptiness will be filled, but these do take time, Lord be with those people that need it and let them know you are there for the ENTIRE time.  I lift up your children, Lord, for we are always in need of reminders of your love, grant us your love and mercy every moment of every day and help us to remember that you are there and that you are freely giving us all we need.  THANK YOU GOD FOR GIVING ME THIS ABUNDANT LIFE!

 

 

January 8, 2017

A Variety of Rewards in God’s Eternal Kingdom

by Russell Young

It is the believer’s greatest hope that he or she will be able to enjoy eternity in God’s presence.  Modern teaching often leaves the perception that all “believers” will enjoy uniform rewards and pleasure in the kingdom to come, but is this so?  The concept of God’s heavenly kingdom has been simplified to the point that its truth has been lost. A careful consideration of the scriptures can shed some light on the nature of his heavenly kingdom.

1. Rewards will not be the same for all.  Although it probably makes sense when carefully considered, the one who has given his life in service to the Lord will reap different rewards than those who have confessed Christ’s lordship, but who have enjoyed the pleasures of the world.

Jesus taught that rewards would be person specific. “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Mt 16:27 NIV) “And, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Rev 22:12 NIV) Paul taught similarly: “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labour.” (1 Cor 3:14 NIV) And, “If what he has built survives [his ministry for Christ], he will receive his reward.” (1 Cor 3:14 NIV) It is the Lord’s expressed revelation that every person will eventually be rewarded according to their believing (continuous) in him and according to their degree of service. Rewards in the heavenly kingdom will be varied. The Lord prophesied through Malachi, “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve (labour for) God and those who do not.” (Malachi 3:18 NIV)

2. Daniel has revealed that some of those raised at the return of the Lord will awaken to “everlasting life,” while others will awaken to “shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan 12:2 NIV)

These “rewards” or “inheritances” apply to those who will be resurrected following the Great Tribulation and before the Millennium; consequently, they apply to the children of God, or to those who are of the first resurrection, those whose names are written in the book of life. It should be noted that “shame and everlasting contempt” do not belong to those sentenced to the “lake of burning sulphur.” Contempt does not originate from those of like mind but from those who have recognized and committed to higher standards, and shame is what is felt by those who have been made to recognize failure due to their own lack of commitment. The shame and contempt will belong to those who have pledged Christ’s lordship but who have not lived it.

3.Reason would suggest that not all would be assigned the same responsibilities within God’s heavenly kingdom.

For instance, not all can be rulers.  If some are rulers, there must be some who are being ruled. Thought needs to be given to this reality.  Although some might debate this observation, once the New Jerusalem descends to earth, it will be the seat of God’s government. Outside are “the nations.”  (See Rev 2:26, 21:24) The Lord cautioned the church in Thyatira that he would repay people according to their deeds and that those who “overcome” by doing his will to the end will be given authority over the nations. (Rev 2:26) Outside are those who love to live the lie. (Rev 22:15) They have pledged Christ’s lordship, but haven’t lived it.” (Rom 10:9─10; 1 Jn 1:6)

Jesus also stated, “I say to you many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast (wedding) with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 8:11─12 NIV) God’s kingdom will have both rulers and subjects.  The rulers will be inside the walls of the New Jerusalem while the subjects will dwell outside where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Many envision the Heavenly Kingdom as being somewhere in space.  Revelation 21 suggests that it will be on earth but will be heaven-like. “Heavenly” does not necessarily mean “in heaven” but ‘like heaven.’ The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary states that -ly means “like in appearance, manner or nature; having the characteristics of” Those in it will be holy and will walk righteously with their God.  The Word does not speak of people dwelling in the heavens above, but reveals God’s kingdom as being present on earth. A great deal of fantasy has been allowed to exist concerning the nature of heaven.

It is very possible that some of those in the eternal kingdom will never enjoy rest.  Paul stated that “And so all Israel will be saved.” (Rom 11:26 NIV) On the other hand the Lord told Moses, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.” (Num 14:20─23)

The nature of God’s eternal kingdom needs to be understood. There is room for a variety of honors and positions of responsibility and for the place of shame.  Within God’s kingdom some will enjoy his presence, while others will be separated (2 Thess 1:8─9) from him eternally and be banished to outer darkness. (Mt 8:12, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30) Only those “worthy” will dwell with God. (Lk 20:35)

August 26, 2013

Thoughts on “Once Saved, Always Saved”

This is from Jeremy Myers at the blog Till He Comes; you’re encouraged to read at source.

Eternal Security

I sometimes get asked if I believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved.” One reader recently sent in this question:

Can a Christian lose their salvation?

The old saying is once saved, always saved.

I have two ways of answering this question, both of which are stated below.

1. Why I do NOT Believe “Once Saved, Always Saved”

The reason there is so much debate over this statement is because of the word “saved.” As I have written about on numerous times previously, the word “saved” (and other related words such as “save” and “salvation”) are used in a variety of ways in the Bible. When you do a study of the ways these words are used, it quickly becomes obvious that the vast majority of them have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything related to gaining or keeping eternal life.

So, for example, the word “saved” might refer to being delivered from one’s enemies, or getting healed from a sickness, or being rescued from drowning at sea. Obviously, these words are not related to gaining or keeping eternal life. I would guess that the majority of times the word “saved” (or save, salvation, etc), are used in Scripture, they are used in this way (e.g., Matt 8:25; Acts 27:31).

Another percentage of words refers to various ideas that are related to eternal life, but are not eternal life themselves. Often, the words in these contexts refer to some aspect of sanctification, or maybe getting rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ, or some other related idea (cf. 1 Cor 3:15).

Finally, there is a tiny fraction (I would say less than 1%) of uses where the term probably does refer to receiving eternal life, though even in these contexts, the actual meaning of the word is debatable.

In Acts 16:30-31, for example, the Philippian jailer asks Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” On the one hand, it seems that the jailer might have been asking about how to receive eternal life. But frankly, at this time, that may not have been the primary question on his mind. At that time, if a jailer let prisoners escape, the jailer would be tortured and killed. Maybe the jailer was not asking how to get eternal life, but how to be delivered (saved) from being killed by the authorities. This reading is possible. I am not sure how the jailer meant his question, and so don’t mind reading it either way. Besides, whatever he meant by it, Paul and Silas answer the most important question, which is how to receive eternal life: believe in Jesus for it.

There are a few other examples of places where the word “saved” could be understood as eternal life, or could be understood as referring to something else (Eph 2:1-10 is one), but these examples are less than 1% of the uses in the Bible.

But here is what happens. Most church-going people assume that the word “saved” almost always means “get forgiveness of sins so you can go to heaven when you die” even though it rarely means that. So when they come across a passage like 1 Corinthians 15:2 where Paul says the Corinthians will be saved only if they hold fast to the word that was preached to them. And people say, “See? If you don’t hold fast, then you aren’t saved? See? Once saved, always saved is false!”

Right. But what does the word “saved” mean in this context? Is Paul really talking about the concept of “forgiveness of sins, escaping hell, going to heaven when you die?” No, he is not. Paul is using the word “saved” in the same way he uses it in 1 Corinthians 3:15. The word “saved” in 1 Corinthians refers to reward and honor at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is something Christians can lose.

So the question, “Do you believe in ‘Once Saved, Always Saved?’ is a trick question. There are numerous verses in the Bible which indicate that there is some things in our Christian life which can be lost, and these texts use the word “saved” to talk about how to be saved from losing these things.

So do I believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved?” No. I do not. This slogan is unclear, imprecise, and does not fit with many Scriptures which indicate that there are many spiritual blessings in the Christian life that can be lost.

2. Why I believe “Once Saved, Always Saved”

Of course, after saying what I have said above about “Once Saved, Always Saved” I always try to then answer the question that people are really asking. When people ask if I believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved” what they are really asking is if I believe that eternal life can be lost. That is, do I believe in eternal security?

And the answer to that is a resounding Yes!

Once you see the difference in Scripture between the word “saved” and the terms “eternal life” or “everlasting life” or even something like “justification” you being to see that while there are numerous verses which talk about saving something that can  be lost, there is not a single verse in the Bible which talks about losing eternal life, losing everlasting life, or losing our justification. All of these gifts of God, once given, are never revoked or taken back.

There is no place in the Bible that talks about getting unjustified, unsealed, unregenerated, unindwelled, unbaptized by the Spirit, or any such thing.

If everlasting life can be lost, it has the wrong name.

Yes, I know there are difficult verses in the Bible, and troubling passages (Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 for example), but with a basic framework understanding of what Jesus teaches about eternal life being given freely to everyone and anyone who believes in Him for it, and that since Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners there is no sin that can take away the benefits of His death from us, and dozens of other Scriptures which talk about God’s infinite, unmerited, outrageous, scandalous grace, the clear teaching of Scripture seems to be that once God gives eternal life to someone, they have it eternally.

Yes, yes, there are people who might abuse this idea. Yes, there are people who think they have eternal life, but don’t. Yes, there are lots of false ideas out there about what eternal life is and how to get it. I am not talking about any of that. All I am saying is that according to Scripture, if a person has eternal life, then they have eternal life eternally. They shall never perish!

So do I believe in Once Saved, Always Saved? You tell me! What are your thoughts about the saying, “Once Saved, Always Saved”?

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