The Release of a Murderer

Following is adapted from an article written by C.I. Scofield

Barabbas sat in prison. He was notorious for rebellion and murder in the city of Jerusalem (Luke 23:25). He waited for the day of his crucifixion for his crimes. His sentence was just. The day had come. He would be nailed to a cross in the middle of two other crosses; prepared for two other law breakers.

It was the custom of the Roman authorities to release a prisoner at Passover to appease the Jews (Mark 15:6). Unbeknown to Barabbas, the Jewish leaders would request his freedom so that Jesus could take his place. Barabbas had committed murder and was under the righteous condemnation of the law (Mark 15:7).

Barabbas was guilty. Jesus was not. He had done nothing deserving of condemnation under the law (John 8:46; John 19:4). Jesus was tempted in all points as we are yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus was a true substitute for Barabbas. He actually would die in his place. Jesus, as an innocent person, would bear the very penalty which the law had justly pronounced on Barabbas. (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; I Peter 3:18)

Barabbas had done nothing to deserve his reprieve.  It was granted to him simply by grace. (Eph. 2:4-9; Rom. 4:4-5).

He knew that if Jesus would die, he would live. The only question before Pilate was whether Christ should die or Barabbas. When it was decided that Christ should die, Barabbas was set free. His assurance was complete the instant that his Substitute (Jesus) said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Rom. 5:19)

The same could be said of you or me. We are the same as Barabbas. Jesus took his place, but He also took our place. Like Barrabas we are condemned sinners helpless to change our situation. But God in His infinite love, mercy, and grace provided a Substitute to take our place. Jesus’ death paid our sin debt. We have no debt to pay He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). His resurrection proved that God was completely satisfied with His payment (Rom. 4:25).

Have you trusted in Him for the forgiveness of all your sins (past, present, and future)? Have you been restored to a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have trusted Christ, Easter time is a great opportunity to share the good news with others. With all that is going on in the world, people’s mortality has become real to them. You can share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ by sharing the following link:

Not a Christian; not sure? Click here for Good News!

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!

Pray

Many of the people I know are praying. One person’s prayer can have great impact. But it must be done in faith. “And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15). This does not mean that everyone will get healed. For all prayer is answered according to the will of God (I John 5:14, 15). But this doesn’t diminish the importance of prayer, which is an expression of our dependence on God.

The book of James gives an example of one who prayed and had great results, Elijah. He was a man just like us. “He prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit (James 5:17, 18). This is the example of how an “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

In verse 16 one Greek word translates the two English words, effective and fervent. Simply stated, the prayer of a righteous person is effective. Becasue of the circumstance, it led Elijah to pray earnestly (v. 17). Literally, ‘he prayed with prayer’. It was a Hebrew idiom to express intensity. He had no abilty to make this prayer happen. He couldn’t stop it from raining. He couldn’t make it rain. He was completely reliant on God for the outcome.

A righteous man is not a perfect man. But he is first of all in a right relationship with God by faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, he is one who is in a right relationship with others. Specifically, he is walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Gal. 5:17). That’s why there is an instruction for the elders to pray for the sick person. Not that all elders walk in the Spirit, but they should be walking in close fellowship with God or else they shouldn’t be elders.

Elijah’s prayer was not only God dependent, but it was also in the will of God (I John 5:15; I Kings 17:1, 18:1). The northern kingdom of Israel had severely departed from worshiping the Lord. Ahab was king. He had married Jezebel, a wicked servant of the false god, Baal. She influenced her husband and the whole nation to worship Baal rather than almighty God.

God would use the lack of rain as judgment on the nation for their evil. A lack of rain caused famine. Famine was one of God’s four severe judgments (Ez. 5:17; 14:21). The judgments were for the purpose of turning the nation back to God.

So Elijah prayed again according to God’s will and God eventually sent rain on the land (I Kings 18:1, 41, 45). That’s the result of one righteous man’s prayer, when prayed according to God’s will.

It’s not about how many people are praying. It’s really about the Lord’s will and the godly energized prayers of righteous men and women; those who are walking in a close relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Christians who love as brothers, are humble, and do not retaliate or revile; but rather bless, have the ear of God (I Peter 3:8, 9). For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” I Peter 3:12

Be a Christian who God hears for the welfare of others and for His glory!

Not a Christian? Not sure? Click here for assurance.

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!

What do You do When the Way is Difficult?

First of all, thank you to all who have signed up to follow this blog. It’s my hope that it will encourage you in your walk with the Lord as we travel this road of faith together.

So how have you been doing with the quarantines, the shortages, and the shutdown of businesses?  It is a scary time. I was in 7th grade when the teacher walked into the room and told us that President Kennedy had been shot. We didn’t believe him at first. Fear came upon me when I realized he was serious.

Most of you experienced the frightening moments of 9/11. My youngest son was in the middle of Marine Corp boot camp. That time was worrisome for us as it was for everyone.  What would happen next? Fear freezes us in place. We can’t function properly when we’re fearful. So what do we do?

The way I see it, when things are out of our control. we have only one option. Trust in the Lord. We can do that through prayer, meditating on His word, and seeking His strength. He gives us many words of encouragement. Here are some of my favorite ones in times of high anxieties:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Prov. 3:5, 6)

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,  casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (I Pet. 5:6, 7)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid.” (Ps. 27:1)

Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer, from the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I”. (Ps. 61:1, 2)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps 46:1)

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” (Ps. 145:17)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6, 7)

This time would be a good time to reach out to some one that may need an encouraging word by phone, email, facetime, etc. It may be an opportune time to share the gospel. God is still God. He is still in control. Hopefully this time of difficulty will convince many to seek Him. I am praying that God will protect you from the virus and that many will come to know Him through this crisis.

Check out the Assurance of Heaven Study Guide. It’s free for downloading and can be copied for group studies.

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!

Free Download – Assurance of Heaven Study Guide

Assurance of Heaven Study Guide is now available as a companion guide to the book, Assurance of Heaven. It can be downloaded for free at: https://assuranceofheaven.com/free-study-guide/. Copies can be made and distributed to individuals for group studies.

The study guide is good for personal study, for a Sunday school class, or for a home group gathering. It could also be used for one-on-one discipleship. Currently the book is being used at the Mahoning County Prison in Ohio.

It contains 12 chapters that address all 15 chapters of the book. It uses or refers to over 290 Bible verses so that the student should come away with a very good understanding of assurance of salvation. It will help you to think Biblically about salvation by faith alone in Christ alone.

The Study Guide will enhance your understanding of the Assurance of Heaven book. It will help you realize from the Bible that you can know you will go to heaven by believing the gospel. From studying these passages you will discover how amazing God’s grace really is. You can check it out here:https://assuranceofheaven.com/free-study-guide/

“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.” John 3:16

The Assurance of Heaven Book can be purchased at :

Amazon

Thank you visiting assuranceofheaven.com. You are invited to follow as we explore God’s amazing grace and assurance of heaven to anyone who has believed the gospel.

Water is Life!

Recently a friend of mine sent me a devotional. It told of a fellow who worked on a construction crew that built new houses. He connected the water lines to new homes. When they turned on the water, “a once quiet house suddenly seemed alive”. He said, “It amazed me that the house could transform so quickly just by someone turning on a valve”.

Jesus used a similar illustration. He went into Samaria where He met a woman at Jacob’s well. He asked her for a drink. And then He offered her a drink of living water. Living water represented the gift of everlasting life by faith in Him. Like water that promptly brings life to a house, Jesus offers living water (everlasting life) immediately to anyone who believes in Him.

Many fail to have the certainty of salvation because they fail to believe or to understand the simplicity of the gospel. They base their assurance on personal goodness or the lack of it. Often they are taught this. But Jesus guarantees it the moment a person trusts in Him. He likens it to taking a drink of water.

Salvation is a gift. It simply requires faith in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once you believe, you have everlasting life. There’s a number of examples in the Bible where people believed and immediately received the gift of everlasting life. They didn’t have to wait until they died to see if they made it! Following are several examples of those who believed and were immediately saved, receiving the gift of everlasting life:

1. On the Day of Pentecost…“Then those who gladly received the word were baptized and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:41).  

2. Result of the apostles’ preaching… “Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).

3. More results of the apostles’ preaching… “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Acts 5:14).

4. Both the Jews and Gentiles received the Holy Spirit when they believed. “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17)

5. Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved...” He did and his family did. “…He rejoiced, having believed in God with all his family” (Acts 16:31, 34).

6. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). Jesus didn’t say, might have or will have. He said you have it when you believe in Him for salvation.

Being saved from the penalty of sin (eternal separation from God) happens the moment a person believes in Jesus to save them. The Bible calls this justification. A lost person passes from spiritual death to spiritual life at that moment. Everlasting life is everlasting. It cannot be lost or taken away. If it could, it wouldn’t be everlasting. It would be temporary. It’s as simple as taking a drink of water. Have you taken that spiritual drink? Find out more at: https://assuranceofheaven.com/assurance/?frame-nonce=4671e1b181

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!

Bad Apples

Anyone managing people knows that it’s not an easy thing to do well. I had the blessing of managing for 27 years of my life, although I did not always see it as a blessing at times. God taught me much over those years about myself and about others. Most of the people did their job. Typically a small percentage caused the problem. Left unchecked a few bad apples can spoil the whole bushel.

The Lord used Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. They had an eleven day journey to enter the Promised Land. They sent twelve spies to scout out the land. The scouts reported that it had an abundance of food. There was only one problem. Giants lived there (Num. 13:33).  Ten of the scouts convinced over two million people to disobey God and they refused to enter into the land. 

Two Good Apples

Joshua and Caleb tried to convince the people to enter the Promised land. The congregation turned on them and wanted to put them to death. Why? They gave a good report and knew that the Lord was with them (Num. 14:9).  It’s not always easy to follow the Lord faithfully. A few bad apples convinced over two million to act unfaithfully. An eleven day journey turned into 40 years!

The Church is no Different

The Bibles says, “Do not be deceived, evil company corrupts bad habits” (I Cor. 15:33). False teaching had influenced the Corinthian church concerning the resurrection. A bad teacher convinced some of them that there was no resurrection (I Cor. 15:12). False teachers can be very deceptive and influential. They will lead you away from the truth and from obeying the Lord.

how should you protect yourself from such leaders and teaching?

            1. Realize that there will be false teachers in the church. The apostle Paul warned the church at Thessalonica, “…savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Their motivation is not to glorify God but themselves; “…among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30).

2. They get the gospel wrong. They teach that the performance of good works, the promise of good works, or the evidence of good works must accompany faith in Christ to prove that such faith has resulted in eternal life. For them it is Jesus plus something equals salvation.

            3. Know the word of God. Become a Berean. They searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether the things the apostle Paul taught were correct (Acts 17:11).  

            4. Realize that a college/seminary education doesn’t make one right. Peter and John were uneducated and untrained men, but they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

            5. Understand that in God’s kingdom the majority opinion doesn’t rule. The word of God sets the standard. Joshua and Caleb acted faithfully. The other ten had the majority vote but it was wrong.   

            6. Truth triumphs over feelings and experience. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:31, 32).  Feelings and experience are fleeting, but the truth of God’s word endures forever (Is. 40:8).

            7. Last of all learn to know what a good Biblical leader looks like. They teach the Bible in a historical grammatical way. They are examples to the flock in life and in doctrine (I Peter 5:1-3; I Tim 3:1-15).

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

What’s pulling your Train – the Engine or the Caboose?

Often decisions about what is right and what is wrong are defined according to what one feels. Feelings motivate people to do a whole host of things. As a young boy I was hammering on a piece of wood. I hit my thumb. In anger I swung the hammer again and hit my thumb a second time. Emotions often get the best of us.

Emotions in and of themselves are not a bad thing. We were created to have emotions. But when emotions lead your decision making process, then things can go astray. To say it simply, the ‘mind’ should be the engine; the ‘will’ should be the coal car; and ’emotion’ should follow.

Mind will emotions

God appeals to our mind (engine) through His truth intending it to change our will (coal car) and emotions (caboose) may follow. He intends to lead us according to His Word. God designed us with a mind, will, and emotions. But He never intended for us to be led by emotions.

But the world system created by the devil appeals to our old nature to lead us according to our emotions. It appeals to my emotions to affect change in my mind and my will follows. In this way what we think and do is controlled by emotion rather than truth.

God intended to change our mind through His word. That’s the only way transformation takes place in the life of a believer (Rom. 12:2). He intends for His truth to lead and guide the way we live and how we respond to the situations of life, so that we can be functional and fruitful. Nothing wrong with feelings, but like a caboose they’re not intended to pull the train.

What and who is guiding your life? Are your decisions influenced by your emotions? Or are you allowing God to direct you according to His word? Are you being led by the engine or the caboose?

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!

The Majesty of God’s Creation

Every once in a while I have decided to post some pictures of God’s amazing creation. (I’m not a professional photographer and I used my phone.) His 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).

He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes; He casts out His hail like morsels; Who can stand before His cold? He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow. Psalm 147:16-18

Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Psalm 37:3

The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16

Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:4

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

How do You Survive a Snakebite?

Few people like snakes. I don’t. So no wonder when God had enough of Israel’s constant complaining He sent serpents among them. They had grumbled about many things in their journey in the wilderness. They had failed to trust God. Now finally the Lord had reached His limitations with their complaining. He sent fiery serpents among the people and many of the people were bitten and died (Num. 21:5-9).

God instructs Moses to make a Fiery Serpent

The fiery serpents quickly got their attention and changed their ungrateful attitude. They repented and went to Moses, seeking deliverance. Moses went to the Lord and He gave them the antidote.  “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live” (Num. 21:8).

How could a Bronze Serpent save Anyone?

Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. God provided the supernatural deliverance. It simply required faith of the one bitten to look to the pole. It was the only remedy. Would you have believed God and looked to the pole?

Jesus uses the Serpent with Nicodemus

About 1,400 years later Jesus would use this same illustration in a conversation with Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a very religious man and an important teacher in Israel. Jesus told him that you must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus was perplexed. He didn’t understand.

Salvation in the Picture of the Serpent Lifted Up

So Jesus explained, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:14, 15). All of us have been bitten by a snake. It’s called sin. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Have you Looked in Faith?

Knowing you will go to heaven is as simple as one look of faith to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It’s not dependent on how much faith you have. It’s the object of your faith that is significant. Jesus, fully God and fully Man, died for our sins; was buried; and rose again. The Israelite that looked to the pole when bitten, lived. Similarly when one looks to Jesus for deliverance, he or she is immediately saved from sin’s bite, eternal death; and receives everlasting life (John 3;16; 6:47). He’s the only way to survive the snakebite of sin!

I invite you to follow me as I continue to explore God’s amazing grace and eternal security for all who have believed the gospel!

Are you Walking in Darkness?

I lived about ten years earlier in life in spiritual darkness. When walking in darkness you live without the influence of spiritual light. I had a relationship with God through faith in Christ, but I lived in darkness for a number of years. If you live in darkness, you have no fellowship with God.

We can’t live the Christian life

I thought you attained the Christian life by self-effort. I was ignorant because I failed to read and study the Bible for understanding. There was no spiritual light shining into my life. I attempted to do life in the power of the old nature (the flesh). The flesh has no power and cannot produce anything acceptable to God.

Nothing Good can be done in the Flesh

The apostle Paul recognized this in himself; “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells (Rom. 7:18). John wrote that believers cannot walk in darkness and have fellowship with God (I John 1:6). It requires walking in the light as He (Jesus) is in the light (I John 1:7). Lack of fellowship causes frustration and eventually can influence you to give up.

To walk in the light we must be in His word, understanding His principles for righteous living. Like a marriage, it takes time to know God through His word. And it requires acting on it by faith, depending on the power of the Holy Spirit for the strength to do it. Jesus told His disciples, “For apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

The Vine Illustration

Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. The Vine provides all the things necessary for the branches to bear fruit. When the branches (disciples) are separated from the Vine there is no acceptable fruit. A branch cannot bear fruit separated from the vine. Fellowship with Him is remaining (abiding) in Him, depending on Him for the resources and the outcome (John 15:1-5). He produces the fruit in us and we simply bear the fruit when we abide in Him.

Fellowship Principles
  • Reading and studying the Bible is not intended to be an academic exercise. It should be a relational skill to help you grow and develop a deeper relationship with God. His word “is a lamp to my feet and light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). “Give me understanding according to Your word” (Psalm 119:169).
  • Learn to live by faith, trusting in God and His word. Pray that you would be “strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:16, 17).
  • Learn to depend on Him for the power over sin. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13).
  • Don’t be defeated when you fail; and fail sometimes repeatedly. “My little children, these things I write to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).
  • Learn to pray Biblically. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (I John 5:14).
  • Stay connected to the Vine (Jesus) even in times of failure by acknowledge your sin and walking in the light with Him (I John 1:7, 9). He promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). There’s nothing you can do to lose your relationship. BUT Fellowship, if lost, can always be restored!
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. Psalm 119:105

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. Psalm 119:105