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

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!