The Difference Between The Who And The When In Salvation

March 26, 2020

Many times in the Bible there is a big difference in the Who and the When – Who causes something to occur, and When that something occurs, are not the same thing.

For example we read in Josh 6:1-20 that God instructed the Israelites to walk around the walls of Jericho thirteen times in seven days, and then God would knock those walls down. Don’t confuse the Who with the When. The Who is God; he is the one that knocked those walls down. But the When was not until after the Israelites walked. Heb 11:30 makes this clear when it says “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.” It is clear then the Israelites didn’t knock those walls down themselves; they would have had to use battering rams and sledge hammers to do that. No, God knocked those walls down. But when? The verse says God knocked the walls down after the Israelites walked as God specified.

We see the same thing in the II Kings 5:1-15 story of Naaman having to dip seven times in the Jordan river to be cleansed of his leprosy. Who cleansed Naaman of his leprosy? God of course. Did Naaman heal himself just by dipping in that dirty river seven times? No, but he did have to dip, didn’t he? The Who that healed Naaman was God, but the When was when Naaman dipped seven times.

We see the same thing in the Numbers 21:4-9 story of the Israelites being told that if they would look up at the brazen serpent on the pole, they would be healed of their snake bite. See the difference in the Who and the When? The Israelites didn’t heal themselves by looking. No, God is the one that healed them. But not until they did what God said to do to be healed.

It is the same with our salvation. God is the one that saves us. God is the one that forgives us – because of the death of Christ. But the question is – When? Does God forgive us when we believe or does he forgive us when we are baptized? When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Acts 9 makes it clear that Saul believed in Jesus. So was he forgiven of his sins at that point – when he believed? Absolutely not, Ananias was sent to tell him what to do, and Ananias told Saul in Acts 22:16 to “be baptized, and wash away thy sins.” So obviously Saul’s sins were not washed away when he believed on the road to Damascus. Instead he was told at least three days later to be baptized to get his sins washed away. Now the baptism is not the thing that washed away Saul’s sins. It is God that did that – based upon the blood of Christ. God is the Who. But the question is – When? When were Saul sins washed away? When he believed or when he was baptized? The text makes it clear Saul’s sins were washed away When he was baptized, and not before.

It is the same for us – Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, I Pet 3:21, Gal 3:26-27.

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Deut 5:29 Keep ALL My Commandments ALWAYS

March 19, 2020

Deuteronomy 5:29 reads “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” Let’s notice from this verse what God expected of the Israelites, and He would expect the same of us today, just within the confines of a different law …

First, God expects us to fear him. This is kind of like the way I feared my Dad. That would be a healthy respect of God as long as we are faithfully serving him. But if we are being disobedient, we should be scared out of our britches, knowing what eternal fate awaits us. Phil 2:12b commands “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We should tremble at the thought of facing God in judgment unprepared and out of compliance.

Second, God expects us to keep his commandments. As a matter of fact Jesus said in John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I can show my wife I love her by kissing her, but I can’t kiss God; He isn’t here. So we demonstrate our love for God by keeping his commandments (and repenting when we make a mistake – II Pet 3:9).

And Deut 5:29 says we should keep “all” God’s commandments. Our goal should be to do everything God instructs in the New Testament. And when we fail, we are upset with ourselves (and repent) because we didn’t meet our goal. This popular idea that it is okay to sin because “everybody sins” (I John 1:8), or it is okay with God for us to continue in one sin because we are doing most everything else right, is false to the core. James 2:10 says “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

And Deut 5:29 says we should keep God’s commandments “always.” That would mean all the time, and for the rest of our lives. The idea that as long as we believe in Christ and go to church on Sundays, it doesn’t matter so much how we live Monday through Saturday is a false notion. And the Once Saved Always Saved doctrine is a false doctrine (Gal 5:4).

Lastly let’s don’t overlook Deut 5:29 is saying God would want us to have the kind of heart that would keep all his commandments always. It goes back to our heart and attitude every time. If we have the right kind of heart, we will live in obedience to God. And if we are not serving God faithfully, that reflects upon our heart. Maybe we need to work on our heart?

Warning About SPECULATING In Sermons

March 12, 2020

There is a lot more speculation in sermons now than I used to hear when I was first converted. A good example was a Bible lesson I heard recently at a gathering of young Christians. The Bible teacher presented quite a number of his speculations as actual Bible teaching. That can become a dangerous practice.

One such speculation was made about the “three days” we read about in Gen 22:4. It is very possible Isaac in Gen 22 is a type of Christ, but I think the only thing we know for sure is that the sacrificed ram in Gen 22:13 is a type of Christ (John 1:29, etc., Gen 22:8). To say that since Abraham arrived in close proximity to his destination on the “third day” (Gen 22:4), that there is a parallel to Jesus being dead for three days, because Isaac was “as good as dead” for three days – seems like a mighty stretch to me. First of all, Isaac was not as good as dead for three days; he didn’t even eventually die at the site. And second, it could be a complete coincidence that Abraham arrived on the third day. Does this mean every time we read about the “third day” in the Old Testament (32 times), that there is an intended parallel to Christ in the grave being made?

I remember studying with a Seventh Day Adventist in Huntsville in the late 1980s, and we were discussing the issue of seventh day or first day, and the guy asked me how many churches were written to in Revelation chapters 2-3?, as if that count (seven) proved the seventh day Sabbath was still binding. That illustrates how this kind of poor reasoning (based upon speculation and/or coincidence) can lead to all kinds of problems.

Is it possible the increase in speculation being done by gospel preachers these days is an indication they and their listeners are becoming bored by just learning what is actually found in the Biblical texts? We certainly hope not.

Does “Preaching Christ And Him Crucified” Mean We Should Preach Less About What Christ Taught?

March 5, 2020

Many gospel preachers seemed to have the mistaken notion that I Cor 2:2 (“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”) means we should preach more about what Jesus did and what happened to him, and less about what Jesus taught. Denominational preachers use the phrase “Preach The Man Not The Plan” to imply the same false concept.

But they are missing the point of Paul’s statement altogether. Paul’s declaration is not contrasting what Jesus did (and what happened to him) with what he taught. It is actually contrasting what Jesus did and taught with what uninspired humans do and teach.

What Paul is teaching in I Cor 2:2 is the same thing as he taught in Col 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” It’s a contrast between teaching the doctrine of Christ (II John 9) versus teaching the philosophies of men, the commandments of God versus the commandments of men (Matt 15:9), not a contrast between preaching what Christ did versus what Christ taught. If the latter were the case, then Paul himself was more guilty than us all, because by my estimate – Paul spent at least 95% of his recorded teaching relating what New Testament doctrine is; only a small part of his material actually describes what Jesus did.

Notice from even the context of I Cor 2:2 itself, Paul is not contrasting preaching about the things Jesus did versus what he taught, but Paul is contrasting what Jesus’ wisdom taught versus what human wisdom would say (verses 6-7 “Howbeit we speak wisdom … not the wisdom of this world … But we speak the wisdom of God …”). The contrast is God’s revelation of New Testament law versus man’s wisdom (verse 13).

A few years ago a well know preacher in our brotherhood (we’ll call him John Doe), after he was too feeble to get out much, wrote a lot of religious articles to keep his influence going. But I noticed he was the central figure of almost every article. Most every article was about something he had taught in the past and about how he was mistreated because of it. Even if it were true the brethren were wrong for mistreating him in every case he mentioned, he was still violating I Cor 2:2. Instead of writing about Christ and what Christ taught, this preacher was writing about John Doe, what John Doe did, what John Doe taught, and what happened to John Doe. That is not preaching Christ and him crucified, and that has nothing to do with the fact that John Doe spent more time on Jesus’ teaching than Jesus’ actions. Instead it had everything to do with John Doe writing primarily about himself as the focus (even in the context of religion) instead of writing about Jesus and what Jesus taught as the focus.

Nobody thinks preaching “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” rules out preaching about Jesus’ resurrection. Why then would anybody think the phrase rules out preaching on the details of what Jesus taught? As a matter of fact, Jesus puts to rest this whole notion in Luke 6:46 “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” It is not enough just to call Jesus Lord; we have to make him Lord, and we make him Lord by doing the things he taught us to do. That cannot be over emphasized.

Does The NKJV Translation “Sexual Immorality” In Matt 19:9 Mean One Can Divorce For Lust?

February 27, 2020

In the NKJV version, Matt 19:9a reads this way – “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Some take that to mean a person may divorce their spouse for mental adultery (lust, pornography) since admittedly that is a form of “sexual immorality” in the way we use the phrase today. But I don’t think that’s what the translators intended to communicate (had in mind).

This phrase is from the Greek word “porneia” which is defined by Thayer’s Bible Lexicon as “illicit sexual intercourse.” Do you see how “lust” does not really qualify by that definition? Lust is not a form of intercourse. Many other standard versions translate “porneia” as “fornication.” It is possible to commit fornication in the heart (Matt 5:28), but Matt 19:9 is talking about actual fornication – following through on the physical act that one might be lusting for.

Consider an analogy. The Old Testament prescribed the death penalty for murder (Gen 9:6) but not for hating one’s brother – which in principle is the same as murder (in the sense I John 3:15 is talking about). Hating one’s brother is murder “in the heart” just like lusting is “adultery in the heart.” But if we can see that “murder in the heart” should not be punished with death (like actual physical murder should), then I think we can see in the same way that “fornication in the heart” is not a scriptural cause for divorce (like actual physical fornication is).

Conclusion: Matt 19:9 is referring to the actual physical act of fornication (as the only cause for scriptural divorce), not fornication “in the heart.”

What Does It Mean To Do Something “In the Name of Jesus”?

February 20, 2020

Matt 28:19 does not contradict Acts 2:38 because neither verse is talking about a certain formula of words that must be said when someone is baptized. That is easy to see when we notice the same phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus” in Col 3:17 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus …” Obviously we don’t have to say a certain formula of words every time we do anything, do we?

But what does it mean, to do something “in the name of Jesus”? Consider the following definitions …

· “in the name of Christ” – “to do a thing … by one’s command and authority, acting on his behalf, promoting his cause” (Thayer, p.447)

· “in the name of” – “(a) in appeal or reference to; (b) by the authority of; as the representative of; (c) as belonging to.” (Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language, 1976 edition, page 1193).

Relating specifically to baptism in the name …

· Vine’s (page 100) – in the name … representing the authority of Christ … in recognition of the authority of … Matt 28:19, Acts 8:16

· Thayer (Strong’s #907) – “baptize in the name of Jesus Christ” – by the authority of the Lord, Acts 10:48

Water baptism must be done “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), but it doesn’t matter what the baptizer actually says, as long as he teaches the truth.

Could Jesus Have Sinned? – Hebrews 5:8

February 13, 2020

Some say it was impossible for Jesus to sin, but consider Heb 5:8 – “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”

Aren’t Jesus’ temptations a part of how Jesus learned obedience?

If it were impossible for Jesus to disobey (impossible for Jesus to sin), then Jesus didn’t really learn to obey – obedience would have been automatic for Him.

That gets us to one of the most amazing things about Jesus Christ.  He could have sinned, He was “in all points tempted like as we are,” yet He never sinned, not even one time in all His 33 years in this life.

Will Practicing Homosexuals Who “Accept” Christ Be Saved?

February 7, 2020

Gay Church members claim they are saved because they believe in Christ. It is true passages like John 3:16 teach believers in Christ will be saved, but does that include practicing homosexuals?

Even the devils have the kind of faith that is being referring to by the gay church:

· James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

Will these devils be saved? According to gay church logic, they will be … because they believe in Christ.

Belief without the life to back it up is worthless:

· Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

· Matt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

· James 2:24 Ye see … that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only

· Heb 5:9 Jesus became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him

Homosexual or not, if you are a believer, are you backing up your belief with a changed life?

The Bible teaches repentance is also required (in addition to faith):

· Luke 13:3 except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish

· Acts 19:18 And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds

Repentance would require the cessation of all homosexual relations.

The “unrighteous (including homosexuals) shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor 6:9). That is why it is said of homosexuals who had become Christians, “such were some of you” past tense (I Co 6:11). They had changed. They weren’t homosexuals anymore.

If Not Doing It, Then Can’t Preach It

January 30, 2020

I was having a study recently where the subject of divorce and remarriage came up. The lady I was studying with commented that her preacher certainly could not preach what Matt 19:9 says on that topic because he was divorced himself. This is sad but so true in many cases. When one who teaches the gospel is not practicing the gospel as he ought, not only will it hurt his influence among others (nobody will listen to a hypocrite, II Cor 8:21), but it usually also compromises his preaching.

As another example, if a preacher is not as heavily involved in personal evangelism as he ought, how can he consistently teach that all Christians need to be involved in such (Acts 8:4)?; he would just be condemning himself if he did so.

If a preacher watches modern TV shows, then how can he emphatically preach against watching trashy TV?; he is doing it himself.

If a preacher is not in the habit of warning his regular listening audience of what they need to change on (Acts 20:26-27,31, Ezek 3:18), then how can he effectively teach that other Bible teachers need to be regularly warning their listening audiences of what they need to change on? It is easy to preach about others who are not there.

If a preacher is spending most of his time running errands and what not, then how can he forcefully teach that Christians should be busy about the Lord’s work on a daily basis (Matt 9:37-38)?

If a preacher is not regularly out doing the good deeds Jesus emphasizes in Matt 25:31-46 (and deeds in the same category), then he can’t very well preach others should be doing such, can he?

Conclusion:  Not practicing what one preaches is exactly the kind of judging condemned by Matt 7:1-5.

II Peter 1:3 – God Has Given Us All Things That Pertain Unto Life And Godliness

January 23, 2020

II Pet 1:3 reads “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”

Some may think this verse is talking about how God gives us everything we need informationally through His word, the Bible. II Tim 3:16-17 does teach that, but II Pet 1:3 I think includes more. It is talking about ALL the things that God gives us (using his divine power) that pertain to life and godliness. Let’s name a few (but not all) of those things …

1) God’s word, the Bible. This is such an important gift. Without it we would be groping around in the dark trying to figure out how to please God:

· John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. – God’s word is the truth. That means it has no errors, and would also mean it encapsulates all the religious truth God intends for us.

· II Tim 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. – So the Bible is the thing we look to for doctrine, for religious instruction, etc. It makes us complete as a Christian. We don’t need anything else such as the Pope or church tradition as a standard of truth.

2) Forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ. There is nothing more important to us than this:

· Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, – Without the death of Christ, we couldn’t be saved (Heb 9:22).

· Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. – Only believers who repent and are baptized will receive the forgiveness of sins.

3) The right to pray:

· I Thess 5:17 Pray without ceasing. – We should take full advantage of the power of prayer.

4) The necessities of life. This probably would pertain more to life than to godliness:

· Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. This context shows that if we will put God first, even before our jobs, he will make sure we get the necessities of life.

5) Parents to guide us in our youth. Without our parents’ good influence, probably not too many of us would be faithful Christians today:

· Eph 6:4 … ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Good parents’ first priority is to teach their children to serve God.

6) The angels to minister to us:

· Heb 1:13-14 … the angels … Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

7) Other Christians to encourage us to remain faithful:

· Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. – One of the main reasons we should attend church is to encourage others and be encouraged toward love and good works. Maybe that’s why this passage makes it a sin to skip church services.

Conclusion: The last part of II Pet 1:3 says “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”  So none of this will work as intended unless we are a faithful Christian.  We should be so thankful God gives us (using His divine power) everything we need to survive this life, and especially everything we need to be godly – so we can please him and be saved eternally. Remember, passages like Heb 5:9 say Jesus “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him,” so we have to please him to be saved.