Once a Child; Always a Child?

I often misunderstood the Bible when I failed to distinguish between ‘relationship and fellowship. This can lead to some huge misunderstandings which result in the way you live. If you are a Christian and live in the fear of God’s punishment, you may be making the same error.

A relationship with God is established the moment you believe that Christ died for your sins and rose again. Immediately you are born into the family of God and have everlasting life. You are now a child of God (Gal. 3:26; John 1:12) He made you accepted in the Beloved [Jesus] (Eph. 1:6). You can never lose your relationship, but you can lose fellowship.

Children Aren’t Perfect

However, like human children, as God’s children sometimes we go down the wrong road. When my kids did, they lost fellowship with mom and dad. When they ‘fessed’ up, fellowship was restored. In other words, when they were living outside our rules, they were disciplined and needed to restore the fellowship by admitting their failure and changing their ways. Relationally, they couldn’t cease to be my child.  The same is true of our relationship and fellowship with God.

Once a Child Always a Child

Once you enter into a relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ, you can never cease to be His child. You cannot lose your relationship with God!

  1. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28). You can never go to hell.
  2. You have everlasting life. If it could be taken away, it wouldn’t be everlasting. It would be temporary. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47).
  3. Everlasting life is received immediately when one believes in Christ. The believer passes from (spiritual) death to (spiritual) life. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
  4. You are born again. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Like natural birth, spiritually you are born once. You can’t be ‘unborn’.
  5. You are declared righteous by faith. God imputes to you the perfect righteousness of Christ. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). This is not earned.
  6. You are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Sealing indicates security and permanency.  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).
  7. We are saved by the grace of God through faith; not by any righteous thing that we have done or continue to do. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8, 9). If you could help God save you, then you could brag about your part.
  8. He promises His children, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Even as a disobedient child, He will not leave you.

But you can live in a way that causes you to lose fellowship (close personal intimacy). The Bible cautions Christians to help them concerning their fellowship with the Lord.  We will explore that in the next article.

I invite you to follow me as I continue to explore God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven for anyone who believes the gospel.

The Battle of Two Natures

When anyone is restored to the relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, his or her old sinful nature remains (Rom. 7:18). But God gives every believer a new nature. The two natures are contrary to one another and creates great conflict in the life of every believer (Gal. 5:17). The chart belows distinguishes the differences between the two.

Chart taken from the Book, Assurance of Heaven, chapter 8

Every believer in Christ is sealed by the Spirit of God until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). A seal indicates safety and security. All believers are secure in Christ from the moment of faith because the Holy Spirit keeps them safe and secure.

However, every believer is still capable of living sinfully due to the fact that the old nature still exists. Do you still get angry? Do you still lusts for things? Do you have hate in you heart? Do you ever lie? Are you envious? Those things come from the old sinful nature that we are born with, also referred to as the flesh (Rom. 7:18; Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-23).

Many church leaders down play the power and/or deny the existence of the old nature in the life of a Christian. But most of the New Testament is written to believers to instruct them not to live like the unbelieving world. These instructions wouldn’t be unnecessary if believers no longer could be controlled by the old nature. Why would the apostle Paul command the Ephesian church to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11)? Why would he command believers to put off the old man and to put on the new man (Eph. 4:21 -24)?

When walking in the flesh (the old nature) I sin. It’s not possible to please God when walking in the flesh. However, as I walk in the Spirit it is impossible to sin (I John 3:9). The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22, 23).

If you have understood and believed the gospel; that Jesus, the God/Man, died for our sins and rose again, then you have been delivered from the penalty of sin. You are born again. You will never perish (John 3:16). Now learning how to walk by faith should result.

Walking by faith is a moment by moment choice. This is learning to develop my relational skill with God through His word (the Bible) to respond to the situations of life His way, not my way. This takes time. No one does it perfectly. And no one arrives to perfection on this side of eternity.

Growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” is the pathway to obedience and to spiritual growth (II Peter 3:18). Real spiritual growth will never happen by denying the power and/or existence of the sin nature in the child of God.

I invite you to follow me as we explore together God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven for anyone who has believed the gospel.

Repentance; It doesn’t Mean What You Think

I was heading down the highway one day when I passed and old beat up pick-up truck with a camper. It was loaded down and had Bible verses written all over it. On the top of the cab there was a one word sign, “REPENT”. I wondered if the occupants knew what that meant. I know what it implies. It sends the message that you must stop the bad things that you are doing or God’s going to zap you. It’s the word that often makes Christians appear self-righteous when used incorrectly.

Two Words for Repent

There are basically two words used in the New Testament for repent. The first one, ‘metamelomai’ carries the meaning of regret. It’s similar to our English definition. It’s used six times in the New Testament. Judas was remorseful after he betrayed Jesus (Matt. 27:3).

The second word, ‘metanoeo’ is used more often. It has the main meaning of changing your mind. John the Baptist preached a message of repentance to the people of Israel. He said that they should believe on the One who would come after him, that is, on Jesus Christ (Acts 19:4).  It would require the Jewish people to change their minds about believing they had favor with God simply because of their ethnicity; because they were His chosen people. Each individual Jewish person needed to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. That required a significant change in their thinking; in their belief.

Do You Have to Repent of your Sins?

Many folks use the phrase, ‘repent of your sins’, even though that phrase is not in the Bible. It makes an unbeliever think that they have to stop some bad behavior (sin) in order for God to accept them. Stopping bad behavior is simply reformation. It may be a good thing to do, but it cannot save you from the penalty of sin.

A Change of Mind

Repenting when it comes to being saved from the penalty of sin is a change of mind. As a helpless sinner one must transfer his/her trust from themselves to the person and work of Christ. As a sinner I stop thinking that I am a good person; or that my religious activity can gain favor with God; or that my good behavior will make God accept me. Then I believe (place my confidence) in Jesus as the only way to God. His death on the cross paid my sin debt. His resurrection proves He has the power over sin and death.

In the end, it’s not good people who go to heaven; it’s bad people (sinners). It’s those who have repented (changed their mind from trusting in themselves, their personal goodness, and/or religion) to trusting in Jesus Christ alone to save them from their sins.

Chapter 6, Front Loading the Gospel, in Assurance of Heaven discusses repentance in more detail. You can read more at: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/page/assuranceofheaven.com/319

True Wisdom

Self-help books abound. People want to be successful. But what is needed to be successful is to live according to God’s wisdom. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom” (Prov. 4:7). God’s wisdom is opposite of the world’s wisdom. It’s not about fame, riches, power, and control.

Godly wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (Prov. 9:10). This is more than reverential respect. It’s an attitude that’s open, eager, and anxious to serve and obey the Lord. It’s a proper understanding that God is the infinite holy Creator and we are finite sinful creatures. That’s where true wisdom begins. “For wisdom is better than rubies, and all things one may desire cannot be compared with her” (Prov. 8:11).

God’s wisdom shows how to live from His perspective; by His principals; and by His power.

1. His Perspective – God sees us as fallen creatures separated from Him. He provided the only way back to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. Seeing God’s perspective requires humility. It requires acknowledging that we are helpless sinners unable to save ourselves from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. I see myself as He sees me. Apart from Him I can do nothing of spiritual value (John 15:5).

2. His Principals – He has given us His word to show us how to live life His way. Only then can we become the functional and fruitful children He intended for us to be. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). “Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path” (Prov. 2:9).

3. His Power – But we need His strength to do things His way. He has given the believer the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enable us to live out His principals – “The fruit  of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22). When we depend on the Spirit of God through the word of God, we will live successfully because we are depending on His wisdom; not on human wisdom. We will be “filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:11).

True wisdom is Godly wisdom. “For whoever finds me (wisdom) finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 8:35).

You can listen more about Godly wisdom at: http://calvarybaptistirwin.org/sermon-archive—the-book-of-proverbs.html

A New Year’s Resolution

God loves you and accepts you the very moment you trust in Jesus to save you from the penalty of sin. But sometimes we don’t want to accept the fact that we are accepted. Here are ten truths of many that happen immediately when you believe in Jesus as Savior:

1. You have everlasting life at the very moment you believe. Jesus said He who believes in Me has everlasting life (John 6:47).

2. You have all your sins forgiven. “In Him you have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:6).

3. You become a child of God. “For you are all children of God by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:26).

4. You have perfect righteousness credited to you. “For He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

5.  You are accepted by God. “…He has made us accepted in the Beloved [Jesus]” (Eph. 1:6).

6. You are no longer enemies of God. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

7. Nothing can separate you from God. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any created thing, can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39).

9. You can know you are going to heaven. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (I John 5:12).

10. You will never be eternally condemned. “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

If you are looking for a New Year’s resolution, believe what God says about you as one who has been completely forgiven and restored. Any real spiritual growth only occurs when one understands that God accepts us in Christ. All believers are secure in Him. When I begin to understand my position, I can begin to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (I Peter 3:18) . Understanding my position in Christ will then impact my condition (the way one lives). All one must do is to simply take God at His word!

I invite you to follow me as we explore together God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven for anyone who has believed the gospel.

The Reason for Christmas

To understand the purpose of Christmas, one must understand the predicament of man. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and on the sixth day He made man in His image. Male and female He made them. Would they trust their Creator? There was only one test – do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For in the day that you do, you will surely die.

The Temptation and Fall

Tempted by the devil, who had already rebelled against God, they ate. Immediately they knew they were naked and hid, sewing fig leaves together to cover themselves. Their disobedience (sin) separated them from their Creator. But God in His infinite mercy and grace came looking for them.

The Promise of God

Man now had a fallen nature (unfavorable disposition toward God), separated from God. The Lord promised to deliver them. He said that the Seed of a woman would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3 15). That Seed would have to be perfect.  Only a perfect infinite Person could take the place of imperfect humanity. That Seed would be the Lord Jesus Christ. He couldn’t be the seed of a man. The sinful nature would be passed down to every succeeding generation through the male (Rom. 5:12). If He had come from the seed of a man, He would have had a fallen sin nature.   

The Neccessity of a Miracle Birth

The seed of the woman would have to be a supernatural seed and it would. An angel appearing to Joseph, the husband of Mary, told him, “and she shall bring forth a Son and call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). It would be a miracle birth brought about by the Holy Spirit. The One that would be born to her would be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). He would be the God/Man – fully Man and fully God. Because He is infinite and without sin, He could die in our place for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus fulfilled a 700 year old prophecy. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised a sign to Israel, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14).

The Result

Because of the virgin birth, Jesus was uniquely qualified to be the perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). For this reason we can be restored to the relationship with God that was lost in the beginning. That’s the real reason to celebrate Christmas. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17).

Merry Christmas!

Is Anything Really Free?

A gift is supposed to be free. But it does cost something to the giver although to the recipient it is free. If there are stipulations to what is given, it is no longer a gift. For example, if someone gives you a new computer, but expects you to facetime with them or they’ll want it back; that’s not a gift. It’s an exchange. You get a new computer if you meet their expectation of how to use it.

Salvation is a Gift; not an Exchange

There are some who communicate the wonderful grace of God as an exchange. They say if you do not put your faith into action, either you never had it, or God will take it away from you. If that is the case, then it isn’t a gift. It’s an exchange. You get to keep everlasting life by being faithful. So now it becomes dependent on you.

But the Bible says it’s a gift. The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:23). If He removed it from you because of something bad that you did, then it wouldn’t be a gift. It would be an exchange. You could only get eternal life by continued obedience to God or He would take it away.

The Greatest Gift

Two thousand years ago God brought His plan to fruition. It was THE GREATEST GIFT mankind could ever receive. Jesus Christ was born; the promised Messiah.   “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman…” (Gal. 4:4). God said that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). 

Sin separated us from our Creator. We became helpless sinners. He lived a perfect life so He could be the perfect sacrifice in order to make the necessary payment for sin. His resurrection proved that He has the power over sin and death (John 2:22). And though it cost Him greatly, He offers us eternal life as a gift.

A Gift must be Accepted

The only requirement to receive the benefit of a gift is to accept it. In the case of salvation, you can reject it or you can accept it as His gift to you; no strings attached. The gift is simply received by believing the Lord Jesus died for you; in your place, and rose again. “But as many received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).  The gift of God is really free.

I invite you to follow me as I continue to explore God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven for anyone who has believed the gospel.

Who Lights up Your Life?

Have you ever been in complete darkness?  Most of us have experienced the loss of electricity due to a thunderstorm, but even then there is usually ambient light from outside sources.  Total darkness is a fearful experience. And that is what God brought upon the Egyptians.

Can You Feel Darkness?

There was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days (Ex 10:22).  But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings (v.23). In fact the Bible states that the darkness was so dark that it could be felt (v.21). The word ‘felt’ could also mean ‘grope’.  It would be like having your eyes fully covered and trying to find your way even around your own home. They had no light.  They had no idea how long the darkness would last.  One can only imagine the fear and panic they would have ‘felt’.

They Worshipped the Sun

The Egyptians had many gods. Ra, the sun god, was one of them.  He ruled over all. He was their spiritual light.  For this reason it is very clear that God was sending them a message that He was greater than their sun god.  But greater still, the darkness was not only literal; it was a picture of their spiritual condition.  They were in spiritual darkness while the Israelites were in light; because God gave them light and He was their Light.

<<<<< Jesus is the Light >>>>>

Jesus the Messiah (Christ) came into the world and “ the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light” (Matt 4:15).  He is the light of the world and whoever “follows Him shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).  For those who have trusted in the Messiah as Savior, you are no longer living in the darkness of Egypt.  For God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love…” (Col. 1:13). You have been brought out of darkness through the death and resurrection of the Light (Jesus), and transferred into the kingdom of light“For you were once darkness but now are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light  (Eph 5:8).

In the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to forget why we celebrate Christmas. Slow down and remember that LIGHT has come into a dark world. For believers, the Light (Jesus) is the true purpose of Christmas. Christmas is not a day. It’s a one time event that should affect the way you live every day. Jesus said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). Allow Jesus to light up your life!

Interview – Step into the Light

On Friday I was interviewed by Patti Shene, host of the podcast, Step into the Light. She describes her podcast as an interview format where guests can share the ways in which God’s love and grace has touched their lives. She believes that we all experience dark times at some point, and these testimonies will help listeners strengthen their faith and reach out toward the light that radiates from a God who cares, who heals and who loves us unconditionally.

I discuss some of the key concepts with her in my book that explore the question of whether or not we can look forward to Heaven as our eternal home. We discussed how you can have assurance as well as some of the things that cause us to lack assurance. You can listen to my interview with Patti Shene at:http://ow.ly/a44a30pWqar

I invite you to follow me as I continue to explore God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven for anyone who has believed the gospel.

Have You Thanked God Today?

When I worked full time, I passed a church sign that read something like this, ‘Have you thanked God today?’  The sign was really convicting and I drove by it often. I don’t know about you, but I complain way too much about things. You can’t be complaining and thankful at the same time.  

We’re not Thankful

We humans can be pretty unthankful.  Just think how often we complain about things on a daily basis.  The service is too slow at the local fast food restaurant.  The guy in front of me just cut me off.  I don’t get paid enough for what I do. The preacher preached too long. I am really sick of this weather – too cold – too hot – too much rain – too much snow – not enough sun etc. etc. When we get caught up in our complaining and our not so perfect life, it becomes pretty difficult to see God let alone thank Him.

He Provided Redemption for Us

Well there are some that might say, “Thank Him for what?” I would say because, “He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” Luke 6:35  The very people that would curse Him… those that would deny his existence, to them He is kind.  How amazing is that!  Yet even more amazing is that He continues to be kind to those that know Him and yet often times fail to offer up the thanks that He deserves. He “demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Where would we be without His Son and His plan of salvation in Him and Him alone?  That in and of itself should be enough for us to offer up our continual thankfulness and praise. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”(II Cor. 9:15)

He Gave Us Life

But we also have Him to thank for our very existence; the life that we have.  “Know that the Lord is God; It is He who made us and not we ourselves…Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100: 3-5

He Owns Everything

He created the universe and He owns it all.  He made it and has given us temporary stewardship over it. Once I heard a pastor exclaim, “How much of what you have will you have a hundred years from now?”  It is all His – house, property, cars, clothes, etc. 

We Need to Thank Him

Often I hear someone say that they are so thankful for something. Typically they never finish the sentence. I wonder, “Thankful to who?” Well I am going to make it my purpose to thank Him more often -for salvation; for life; for Him.  And maybe one day I will be able to give thanks in everything because that is His will for us (I Thess. 5:18). What about you?  Have you thanked God today?