Saturday, March 22, 2008

Exceptions regarding Salvation (part 2) Child-Like Faith

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)

Characteristically, young children are both humble and teachable. In fact, they will take your word(s) at face value. Because of such attitudes we as responsible adults must be very careful when dealing with children regarding Salvation. We must take the time to thoroughly cover the important points of Salvation (sin, penalty, Christ and His death, burial, resurrection, repentance, and believing). We dare not by-pass anything, including even the child’s understanding of the facts regarding Salvation. The profound thing about all this is that as great as Salvation is, even a child can get saved. So much so, that Christ actually demands child-like faith in this area of Salvation.

If people are going to be saved, it is going to happen through humility and being teachable. The opposite of humility is pride, and “teachableness,” stubbornness. Pride has its roots spread out in the hearts of mankind. There is something repugnant about pride. Pride is basically saying that one is self-sufficient. Dear friend only God is self-sufficient. It was a proud Lucifer that got kicked out of Eden. It was a proud Adam, who would not own up to his sin, who also got separated from God in Gen.3. And just like that every proud individual will be kept from Heaven. Sin is what keeps the sinner from entering Heaven. If we took a survey of what people think are bad sins, many would most likely say killing, or stealing. But the Bible teaches us that the heart sins are just as wicked as the outward sins. And pride is at the heart of every inward sin. Humble people don’t argue with God. What is the problem with the atheist? A proud heart. The same could be said about the religious lost. When you ask someone how do you know for sure that you are on your way to Heaven, and they respond with asserting their own credentials, and that is the basis of their belief, then that reveals a serious defect in the matter of Salvation.

Christians also struggle with pride. The disciples themselves argued over who would be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus rebuked them by pointing out that the greatest in Heaven, is the “servant of all” (see Mark 9:35). God can never use a self-promoting Christian. The “notice-me” Christians have their reward here, but will have nothing for the rest of eternity. Just as it doesn’t speak well of a person to assert their own credentials in the area of Salvation, so it is with asserting one’s own self in the area of Christian service. Jesus said in John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (5) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” How important it truly is for every Christian to maintain child-like faith. If God tells you to do it, just do it. Child-like faith says, I am going to tithe and give what God wants me to, regardless of my finances. Child-like faith says, I am going to be the Christian that God wants me to be. I believe we fail in serving the Lord, when we rely on our own power, and wisdom. In Matt. 18:3 Christ is calling our attention to believe in Him and to serve Him humbly with a child-like faith.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Expections Regarding Salvation (part 1) "Exceeding Righteousness"

Matthew 5:20 (KJV) For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

The word righteousness means “holy or upright living.” In this passage Jesus used the outward righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees as a way of communicating to us the degree of righteousness required by anyone who claims to be on their way to Heaven. The scribes were men who copied the Law and interpreted the Law. They were perhaps the most educated men in the Old Testament. The Pharisees on the other hand were of the strictest religious order of Bible times. These men were “straight arrows.” And the point I believe that Jesus was saying, is that if any man expected to go to Heaven, they were going to need a righteousness that exceeds even the righteousness that the scribes and the Pharisees exhibited. There is a need for exceeding righteousness. A person must have a righteousness that is genuine and it must be something better than than just outward acts of kindness or goodness.

The Bible is not silent concerning our own righteousness. In Isaiah 64:6 the Bible says: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” This is what the Bible says about our very own righteousness. This is talking about you and me. So many people think they are OK, when the Bible describes our very own righteousnesses as “filthy rags.” Romans 3:10 puts it this way: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: “ How plain is that? There is none righteous, no not one. Not one among man is righteous. We are all sinners. If that is the case, and it is, then where can we find the righteousness that is demanded by the word of God? Where may we find this exceeding righteousness?

1 Corinthians 5:21 answers this for us: “For He (God) hath made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God.” It is through the Lord Jesus Christ, and His death and blood on the cross, and His resurrection that we can have the very righteousness of God applied to our souls. In other words, exceeding righteousness is found only in repenting of sin and self and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for Salvation. This verse teaches us the glorious truth that God transforms our empty and sinful account to His glorious and exceeding righteousness. As a Christian, my righteousness is literally the only one given to me by God through Christ. It is the very righteousness of God Himself. That is exceeding righteousness.

What are Christians to do with this righteousness placed upon us at Salvation? In 2 Corinthians 6:7 we are told that we have an “armor of righteousness.” The Bible says: “By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,” This means that we are to put on our righteousness every day. We are to live righteously in an ungodly world (see Titus 2:12). Today it seems that many Christians, or professing Christians, are doing away with their armor of righteousness. It may not seem significant to live righteously every day, but it does matter. It matters the most to God. Since He is the one who gave us our righteousness, we can guarantee it that He desires for us to use it every day. Old Bob Jones Sr. use to say: “Do right.” And how simple and practical and important that little sanctified common sense is, and yet how neglected is that from the average Christian’s conduct. The Bible puts it another way in Romans 6:13 “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Christians, genuine Christians that is, have the power to do what is right and be pleasing unto God. As Pastor Chris pointed out in his sermon last Sunday…it is only a matter of yielding. To whom are you yielding your members as servants to obey? God gave us exceeding righteousness, let us apply that righteousness and let it permeate every area of our lives. Doing what is right matters for two reasons, at least this is what I think of, I am sure there are more, but first of all for the glory of God, and secondly, souls are in the balance.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Exceptions Regarding Salvation (Introduction)

The most popular verse in all of the Bible is most likely John 3:16. Most, I venture to say, Christians know this verse by memory, if not they have some sense of knowledge about the verse. After all, who would not be impressed by The Gideons for passing out the (then) KJV New Testaments with John 3:16 in numerous languages within its front pages.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In this verse we see the magnitude of God's love. Not that we can comprehend it, but because this verse says it, we know that God truly loves everybody, in the sense that He wants to see them saved. I love this thought: You cannot find one person in this world that God doesn't genuinely love. Simply put by Jesus himself: God so loved the world. I don't understand it, but somehow the Devil has convinced people that He hates them. The Bible does indeed speak of God hating sinners, but again, just like His love, we can't fully comprehend this. And certainly, only God can hate (and love) perfectly. The point is, God wants as many people saved, as could possibly be saved. In fact if it was left to Him, He would have all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

John 3:16 also reveals to us the enormous Salvation invitation: "whosoever." D.L. Moody puts it this way: You, me and everybody else. God invites everyone to be saved. The responsibility of being saved rests solely on the shoulder of each individual. In light of God's invitation to Salvation, every man will answer for himself, as to why they rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. An old preacher use to say: "Whatever you do with Jesus, God will do to you. If you receive Him, the God will receive you. If you reject him, God will reject you." And how true that is.

God grants us eternal life, how great is that. To be with the Lord forever. What a wonderful and glorious Salvation awaits us as believers. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation;..." (Heb. 2:3a).

Salvation is great! You would think that everyone is going to Heaven. BUT wait a minute. As great and as grand as Salvation is, the truth of the matter is not everyone is going to Heaven. An old Spiritual says this: "Every body talkin' bout Heaven ain't goin." If you are wondering about God's simple plan of salvation then read here. I am assuming that most of my readers are Christians. Therefore, I write this to you so that you can use these set of verses as tools when dealing with lost sinners about their souls.