The End of Days?

The doomsday clock is set at two minutes to midnight. Some scientists and politicians think that climate change will destroy the earth in less than 12 years unless we do something. Predictions about the end of the world abound. In January of 1989 my wife and I walked into a bookstore. A book caught my eye. It had to do with 88 reasons why Jesus would come back in 1988. It was 50% off. Men’s predictions of the end of the world are always foolish.

Jesus is coming again. There’s no doubt about it. We just don’t know when. What many fail to realize is that there are two future comings of the Lord. One day Jesus will come back to rule and reign on earth. This will happen immediately after “great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world” (Matt. 24:21). This is commonly referred to as the second coming.

But prior to this He is coming back for His church – all those who have trusted in Him as Savior. He will descend from heaven with a shout and “the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:15-17).  This is referred to as the rapture. And though the word is not in the Bible the concept is.

At the rapture the believers are removed from earth to meet the Lord in the air. Only unbelievers are left on the earth. Many of them come to faith in Christ after the rapture (Rev. 7:9-14). Then at the second coming, when Christ returns to earth, those who have come to faith in Christ and survived the tribulation remain on the earth to enter in Christ’s kingdom on earth. He then reigns for a thousand years. Those who have continued in unbelief are removed to judgment (Rev. 20: 6; Luke 17:37).

When Christ comes back in the air (the rapture) to remove the church, this is an imminent event. It can happen at any time. It could happen today or it may not happen for years. The Scripture teaches the believer to be “looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). This truth should comfort us; not make us fear (I Thes. 4:18). The Bible tells us about the future tribulation, but does not instruct believers to look for it or the coming antichrist.

The most important question is, are you ready to meet the Lord when He comes? You can learn more about how you can be ready at https://assuranceofheaven.com/assurance/.

Thank you for visiting assuranceofheaven.com. I invite you to follow as we explore God’s amazing grace and eternal security for all who have believed the gospel.

9 Things that won’t get you to Heaven

Christianity is confusing sometimes. The message is often convoluted or contradictory. One church says this. Another says that. It causes a lack of assurance in God and His word. It creates inner conflict about what is right.

I remember listening to a popular evangelist who invited people to come to Jesus just as you are. In the next breath, he would tell you that you must repent of all your sins and commit your life to Christ.

Another well-known preacher writes, “Salvation isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it’s the fruit of actions, not intentions”.

The message of commitment and repentance confused me. Do I come just as I am or do I have to clean up my life first? Am I living obediently? Am I serving enough? It made me question my relationship with God. Was I saved or not? It created fear rather than assurance.

Here are nine common things that people think will ‘help’ you get to heaven. Often churches outright or subtly teach such things.

  • You must be a good person (You’re not and neither am I in comparison to God who is holy! Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:12)
  • You must do good works. (Good works do not save and cannot take away the bad things that we do. Eph. 2:8, 9)
  • You must obey the ten commandments. (No one can obey perfectly and God demands perfection. James 2:10; Gal. 3:10)
  • You must repent of all your sins. (This is works of righteousness and we are not saved by our works. Titus 3:5; Rom. 3:10)
  • You must be baptized. (The blood of Jesus washes away our sin; water doesn’t. (I Cor. 1:14, 17, 18; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:22; I Peter 1:18, 19)
  • You must confess your sins. (One must simply admit to God that he or she is a helpless sinner. Rom. 3:23, 6:23)
  • You must commit your life to Christ. (This should come after one is saved. It’s called sanctification. It requires understanding which does not occur immediately and it’s not required to receive or keep everlasting life. (Rom. 12:1, 2; John 8:31, 32)
  • You must go to a certain church. (This doesn’t make one a Christian anymore than standing in the garage makes one a car. Gal. 3:26; Acts 20:28)
  • Any combination of the above. (There’s only one gospel. I Cor. 15:3, 4; Gal. 1:6)

According to the Bible there is only one thing a person can do to get to heaven – BELIEVE. Faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is all that is necessary to be delivered from the penalty of sin (John 3:16, 3:36, 6:47; Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:16; Eph. 2:8, 9). We can’t do anything to ‘help’ Jesus save us. And faith is not a work (Rom. 4:5).

It’s not about what you or I do. It’s all about what Jesus did. Forgiveness, perfect righteousness, and everlasting life all come from what Jesus Christ accomplished for us. They are simply received when a lost sinner trusts in Christ. Faith begins with the recognition and belief that I am what God says I am. I’m a lost and helpless sinner separated from my Creator in need of a Savior.

There is only one gospel of grace: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3, 4). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Any addition to this is another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).

Click here for assurance of heaven by faith alone in Christ alone.

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The Greatest Sacrifice of All

Throughout the year we remember those who have served and are serving our country—men and women who have sacrificed for the sake of future generations to keep our freedoms. How thankful we are for their service! How blessed we are to live in a country that had forefathers with the foresight to write the Declaration of Independence and have men and women who continue to fight to keep those freedoms. It’s with heartfelt gratitude that we thank those who have served our country in such a self-sacrificing way.

In the last fifty years however, our freedoms have been diminished because God is being more and more dismissed as our Creator. In the early 1960s, both prayer and Bible reading were removed from practice in public school openings. During that same time, church attendance began to dwindle more and more. As a result, less and less of our men and women have knowledge of the Christian faith and the Bible in general. Many have become unaware of God’s greatest sacrifice for all.

God’s story of sacrifice began with the creation of our very first parents, Adam and Eve. They lived with God in a beautiful garden. But when temptation came, they wanted to be like God, causing them to disobey God’s one command. Thus, because the Lord is holy (morally perfect), He expelled them from the garden. They no longer could walk with Him.

Disobeying what God commands is called sin. The consequence for sin is death—eternal separation from God forever in a place the Bible calls the Lake of Fire. Because of Adam’s disobedience, no one is good enough to enter into God’s presence because all of us are born spiritually dead, separated from Him. God is holy and just and He must judge the sinner who rejects Jesus Christ. “He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). That’s the BAD NEWS!

But since God loves us, He provided a way for us to be restored to fellowship with Him and to be delivered from the Lake of Fire. THAT’S GOOD NEWS! It would require a very important sacrifice. An innocent victim would have to die in man’s place to pay the penalty that we all deserve for our sin, so that our relationship with Him could be restored. That ultimate sacrifice would be the person, Jesus—the Son of God.

About two thousand years ago, Jesus was born. He lived a sinless life. As a human, He also claimed to be God. He was fully God and fully man. He voluntarily was put to death on a cross to die for the sins of the world. On the third day, He rose from the dead, conquering death and proving that His claims to be God were true.

The Scriptures are clear that you cannot work your way to heaven, nor can you be good enough. You can only get there by believing in what God did for you through the Savior Jesus Christ. He’s the only way to God the Father (John 14:6). His sacrifice paid the full price for our sins by His death on the cross! You can choose to trust your own works and perish, or you can choose to trust in Jesus Christ and His work alone and live with the Lord forever.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”(John 3:16).

His sacrifice was the greatest sacrifice of all!

This is a gospel tract that I wrote two years ago. Tracts are an easy way to share the gospel. Simply by sharing this on facebook, together we could share the gospel with hundreds this 4th of July.

Learn more about how you can have assurance of heaven.

Thanks for checking out assurance of heaven blog. I invite you to follow as we explore God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven for anyone who believes the gospel.

Are You Dressed for Success?

In my years in the church there have been numerous times that you could cut the tension with a knife.  And honestly most of the times the situations have not been about major doctrinal disagreements. Biblical truth is non-negotiable. But in most cases, it is a disagreement between groups or individuals who seek their own way in a matter.  This is not to say that one particular way or choice may be better than another, but often times Christians seem to have the inability to reconcile with one another.  Yet the truth is that we of all people should be the best at reconciliation.  We should be unsurpassed at resolving differences and promoting harmony.

How do we resolve differences and minister together harmoniously?  I believe the first step is to evaluate our motivations.  In his letter to the Philippians the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.” (2:3,4)  Is my attitude selfish?  Do I really care about the interest of others?  Is it my way or the highway? Is my attitude glorifying God?

 Secondly, how do we respond when offended?  Do we retaliate?  How do we approach our differences?  Everyone has opinions. How do we work with those in ministry when there are strong differences?  The apostle Paul instructed the Colossians to “put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you must do.” (3:12,13) Do I have a forgiving attitude?

“To put on” is the same word used for getting into clothes.  Getting physically dressed depends on what we are intending to do.  If it’s working outside in the yard, we dress appropriately.  If we are going to church we dress in another manner.  In the same way when we dress up our inside, our heart, are we putting on these characteristics – tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another and forgiving one another?   

And if that doesn’t cover our attitude, he tops it off with, “But above all things put on love which is the bond of perfection.” (Col 3:14)  One commentary stated that the bond of perfection also referred to an upper garment which completes and keeps together the rest, which, without it, would be loose and disconnected.  So ultimately Paul was using this picture of a garment as to how love among brethren is the necessary element to maintain unity in the body. It holds all the other things together.  

We must realize that there will be disagreements; there will be varying opinions as to how to outreach and minister in His church and our community.  They are unavoidable. But how we deal with our differences as individuals or as a church is clearly spelled out in Scripture. How are you doing in your relationships to your fellow believers?  Ultimately it is dependent on your ongoing relationship with Christ.  ARE YOU SPIRITUALLY DRESSED FOR BIBLICAL SUCCESS?

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

100% certain you are going to heaven? Read more about how you can be sure.

Words have Meaning and Context Matters

How would you respond if you were outside working and saw a man dressed in camouflage with a gun slung over his shoulder, heading in your direction? Today you likely would immediately head inside and call 911.

Several years ago my good friend got lost turkey hunting in a large public hunting land in central Pennsylvania. Heading toward a main road, he encountered a farmer in the valley working on a fence. He explained to the man he was lost and where he needed to go. The farmer gave him directions and after a mile detour he found his way back to camp; sweaty and tired.

The context of the situation dictates our understanding and reaction. With my friend, it was hunting season and not uncommon to see people in this area dressed in camo and carrying a gun. Not only that, but the farm boundary line adjoined the 17,000 acres of public hunting land. Had this happened in an urban area, then things would have been quite different.

Understanding the context in reading your Bible is equally important. It may be the most important concept for understanding Scripture.

To illustrate the principle, I will often joke and say that the Bible says, “There is no God”.  Usually I get a blank confused look. Then I quote Psalm 14 verse 1; ‘The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”’ Although it is an absurd example, it demonstrates the importance of understanding Biblical context.

Sometimes a lack of assurance of salvation results from a misunderstanding of a few verses that are taken out of context.

What are the nuts and bolts to understand words and context? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Who – Who wrote the book? Who is it written to? Who is speaking? Who is being spoken to?

2 . What – What is the purpose(s) for the letter or the word?

3. Words are defined by the words around them. What would you say if I asked you what the word ‘trunk’ means? Until I use it in a sentence in a particular situation you can’t be sure. But if I just came home from the grocery store and asked you to help me get the groceries out of the trunk, then you would understand what I meant.

4. Words carry a range of meanings. For example, the word ‘save’ can have up to 8 different meaning variations in the New Testament. But often we think of being saved from hell when we read that word. We have been conditioned to think this way. Again the context should define the meaning.

5. Understanding any passage must be in agreement with the broader context of the Bible. A word is in a sentence. A sentence is in paragraph. A paragraph is in a chapter. A chapter is in a book. And the book is in the Bible. The Bible does not contradict itself.

6. The Bible was written in a different time and culture. Learning about Jewish cultures and customs of the time can give you better insight into some passages.

7. Difficult verses must harmonize with the plain and main teaching of Scripture.

When it comes to assurance of salvation, do not allow yourself to be clouded by the many voices out there. The words of Jesus and the context is clear; “For God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Everlasting life lasts f-o-r-e-v-e-r! The moment one trusts in Him, understanding who He is and what He did, that individual has everlasting life. If it could be taken away it wouldn’t be everlasting. It would be temporary life. Words have meaning and context matters.

Learn more about Biblical Assurance

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Then What?

The older you get the faster life seems to go. Even if you live to be a hundred, that’s a blink in comparison to eternity. Years ago I listened to a preacher tell a story about a conversation he had with a high school student. He started by asking the young man what he was going to do after high school. He answered, “I’m going to college.”

“What are you going to do after college?” “Well”, he answered, “I guess I’ll find a job and go to work.”

“Then what will you do?” he asked. “I’ll probably get married and have a family.”

“Then what?” “I’ll probably have kids, take vacations and do family things.”

“Once you have raised your family, then what will you do?” “I guess I’ll retire. I’ll play golf, fish, hopefully have grandkids, and travel”.

“Then what?” the pastor asked.

Thinking for a couple seconds, he said “I guess I’ll die”.

“Then what?”…

Often we have long range goals. Usually we don’t have eternal goals starting out early in life. Long range goals may last 50, 60, or70 years. Eternal goals last forever. Jesus said “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for your selves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-20).

Getting into heaven is simply by trusting in Jesus as Savior. He died and rose again so that we could have life (spiritual). But how we live matters for now and for eternity. Where are you storing up your treasures? Life is short. Death is sure. Sin’s the cause. Christ’s the cure!

Check out new companion Assurance of Heaven Study Guide at https://assuranceofheaven.com/free-study-guide/. It can be downloaded for free for individual or group study.

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Thank you for visiting assuranceofheaven.com. You are invited to journey with me as we explore God’s amazing grace and eternal security to all who believe the gospel.

Four Things the O.T. Law Cannot Do

Have you ever seen a sign that said, “Wet Paint Don’t Touch”? What’s the first thing that comes across your mind? If you are honest, I would say that most people think about touching it. How about “Don’t Walk on the Grass!” Makes you want to walk on the grass. We call it human nature. We’re curious. But we’re also rebellious.

The Bible says that law arouses the sinful passions (Rom. 7:5). Any law will do that; even one as simple as, “Don’t Touch Wet Paint.” The difference is this little sign has no penalty other than the potential of a little bit of paint on the end of your finger.

The Old Testament Law was more than Ten Commandments

God gave the law to Israel (Lev. 27:34). It was an indivisible unit. In other words it was more than the Ten Commandments. It had ceremonial rules. It had civil rules. And it had moral rules. Some say there is a total of 613 commands. They were enforceable because there were penalties for breaking them.

Four things the Law cannot do

1. It cannot save you from the penalty of sin, eternal condemnation. The law given to Moses was never a way of salvation (Rom 3:20). One would have to obey the whole law perfectly. “For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

2. It cannot justify anyone; “…for by the works of the law, no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:16). Nobody can ever claim to have earned a righteous position by following the law.

3. It cannot make anyone perfect. “For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect…” (Heb. 7:19).

4. It cannot give life to the spiritual dead nor can it produce life in the believer; “for the letter (Law) kills, but the Spirit gives life” (II Cor. 3:6). The law only brings death. It’s referred to as the ministry of death (II Cor. 3:7).

The Problem

The problem is not with the law, because it is holy, just, and good (Rom. 7:12). The problem is us. We can’t keep the law perfectly. We are sinners by nature and by practice. The law shows us our problem and leads us to the only solution – the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24).  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).

To read more about what God did for you click here.

Are You Eating a Lot of Fast Food?

As we all know we live in a fast paced society.  Everything must be done fast which probably is the reason so many of us lack patience.  It seems that we are in a big hurry to get nowhere. And one of the fastest segments of our society is food.  Fast food wasn’t fast enough so they put in drive-thru lanes.  Now you don’t have to waste time getting out and going into the restaurant.  You can wait in an automobile line instead!  The point of all this is to say that our eating habits and customs have changed drastically in the last fifty years.

In Biblical times, preparing meals required time and effort.  To eat with someone was to be at peace with him.  It was fellowship. Isaac prepared a feast for Abimelech and his companions, establishing a good relationship between the two men who were previously at odds. (Gen 26:26-31) 

Jesus asks for a drink

In the New Testament Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well and asked her for a drink.  This was quite unusual and she recognized this when she responded, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” (John 4:9)  A simple drink of water would have suggested a friendly relationship existed between them. 

Jesus prepares a meal

But it was most significant that Jesus after His resurrection prepared a meal for His disciples.  He took bread and gave it to them and likewise the fish. (John 21:13)  And according to Luke, He ate in their presence. (Luke 24:43)  In our culture we miss the significance of this. When the religious leaders took Jesus into custody, “then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.” (Matt 26:57)  This was not long after Peter and all of the disciples said to Jesus, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.” (Matt 26:35)  So the meal certainly was an indication to them that they had been fully restored to fellowship with Him.  Can you imagine how they would have felt?

What about you?  Is there something you think that you have done that has disqualified your relationship with Him?  The disciples fled in fear and Peter denied Him three different times.  And yet they were restored to fellowship with Jesus.

Do you have the peace of God?

Once you are saved, you can never lose your relationship with the Lord. There’s nothing a believer can do to lose the peace you have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). But sinful living can affect the peace of God in my life. Ongoing disobedience will cause me to lack joy and the peace of God (I John 1:4, 6). When I am going down the wrong road, God has not moved away from me. I have moved away from Him.

Fellowship with Jesus

All one needs to do is to change your mind (repent) about the direction you are heading. Confess it to the Lord and seek His power and help to correct it. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:6, 7).

God doesn’t remove the consequences of our sin. But He’s always willing to restore the fellowship in the relationship so that you can experience the peace of God. “If anyone hears His voice and opens the door, I (Jesus) will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Now that’s fellowship, peace, and joy!

You can read more about this in Assurance of Heaven, chapter 9, Fellowship with God. Click here for more information about the book. Click here for a free study guide.

Thank you for visiting assuranceofheaven.com. You are invited to follow as we continue to explore God’s amazing grace and eternal security for all who have believed the gospel!

Memorial Day 2010

Early on Memorial Day 2010 I got one of those calls that we don’t want to get.  I was at work. My wife’s voice on the other end said, “I think your dad died.”  Well as the process of events unraveled over the next couple days you begin to hear the many stories of how he touched lives. Some were in a very good way and some not so good; like the time when he shot my grandfather in the posterior with a BB gun.  But you look back on his almost eighty-six years and see many blessings.

He was born on Flag day and died on Memorial Day. He came through WW II having fought at the battles of Normandy and Okinawa as a gunner on the Nevada, a naval battleship.  He made it through unharmed.  Would he say that the day the war was over was the best day of his life?  Or maybe he would say the day he married my mother, his wife of sixty-two years was the best day of his life.  What about the birth of his two sons? 

Though those are great days in all of our lives, I do not believe that any of those days come close to qualifying for the best day of his life.  I’m sure that my dad would tell you that Monday morning, Memorial Day of 2010, was the best day of his life.  Because he had received Christ as his Savior as a young man, Sunday night he went to sleep and on early Monday morning he awoke seeing the face of God – “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness”  (Psalm 17:15).

All of us have physical life.  To state the obvious we get it at conception.  But we do not receive spiritual life until we come to the Lord Jesus and receive Him by faith.  That’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 It is a spiritual birth. In Him (Jesus) was life and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4 He came – to give life – spiritual life;  “I have come that they may have life, …” John 10:10   

Our sin has separated us from the Lord. But Jesus gave His life, shedding His blood on the cross, and then three days later rose from the dead and offers forgiveness and eternal life to whosoever will come to Him by faith (John 3:16).

My father went into the very presence of God, not because the good things he did outweighed the bad things. No amount of good could ever remove the bad things. He is there because he recognized his sin problem. He had received God’s offer of salvation by faith.  There is no doubt in my mind that he would tell you, Memorial Day 2010, was the best day of his life. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” II Corinthians 9:15

For more about how to begin a relationship with God click here.

Thanks for stopping by. I invite you to follow as we explore God’s amazing grace and His promise of heaven to all who believe.

The Majesty of God’s Creation

This is my second blog in a series about God’s amazing creation. Thanks to a sister in the Lord for the ocean pictures and the amazing butterfly photo.

God’s creation is intended to impress us with His magnificence and eternal power (Rom. 1:20). Why do we get a sense of awe from seeing a mountain vista or a brilliant sunrise? It all points to His glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

The butterfly is a picture of transformation. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind“. (Romans 12:2) The Greek word for ‘transform’ is ‘metamorphoo’. It’s similar to the English, metamorphosis. The caterpillar changes into a beautiful butterfly. We change into something beautiful when we surrender by faith to the Spirit of God through the word of God, day by day, moment by moment.

Are you worried?

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25, 26)

You]visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water; You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth. (Ps. 65:9, 10)

Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (I Chr. 16:33, 34)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:19)

God’s creation evidences His love for humanity. Read more about His love for you here.

Thank you for stopping by. It’s my hope that God’s word will encourage you during this difficult time that we all are facing.