Holy, Just and Good

July 26, 2017

Holy, Just and Good

  “For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law but under grace” (Rom 6:14)

  The believer’s attitude toward the law is that it is “holy…and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12). He does not belittle it by refusing to be under it; he honors it by acknowledging its fulfillment. “For I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live unto God” (Gal. 2:19).

If I say I am under law, and stop there, I am left in spiritual anarchy. If I say I am under law and under grace, I am in the current Galatian heresy which seeks to combine law and grace. But if I say I am not under the law but under grace, I am giving a biblical and Christian testimony.

Our identification with Christ in His death places us in perfect reconciliation to a violated law. God has said, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ The believer has sinned, and has died in Christ’s death. The law has said, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ None have continued in obedience. But Christ has been ‘made a curse for us’; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.’ Hence, crucified with Christ, we have been accursed in Him. Not one jot or tittle has then passed away from the law, but all has been fulfilled.

  “If, then, when you died with Christ, you put away the childish lessons of outward things, why, as though you still lived in outward things, do you submit yourselves to decrees?” (Col. 2:20).

Remember Paul K, in prayer, the 26th he goes into the VA hospital to have a kidney removed because of cancer. This is a dear Brother in the Lord, pray for peace of mind, no fear, and the guiding hand of the Lord.

Pray for Lacy, she just found out her husband is having an affair with her sister, she is devastated. And to add insult to injury she (the sister) is pregnant. Which she did on purpose to out the husband.

Pray for Mailand, she is here from Thailand, rescued by a missions group and is applying for citizenship.

Blessings from Christ our Lord,

Housekeeping note, prayer requests, comments, and all to the email address please.

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Bridge over the river Kwai

You may not be old enough to know this movie reference, if you haven’t seen this movie I suggest you move it up to things you need to do this week.

I don’t want to ruin the plot or the ending so I will only say this “don’t give up.”

As I’m writing this devotion I am at the point of saying I quit, no more, let me off, goodbye, sayonara, adios, you get my point.

I’m tired, fed up, frustrated, worried, anxious, fearful, depressed, again you get my point, not the fruits of the spirit.

You have no idea how my brain works, I have no idea how my brain works.   But you don’t want to be in my head. One reason I keep the radio on a Christian station all day everywhere, even in the shower is so I don’t hear what I’m thinking. Because when it gets quiet it gets crazy.

So here was my idea of solving my problems today, get a big refrigerator box, put a sign on it that says “Unwanted Merchandise” put it out on the Interstate and climb in and see who picks me and maybe they’ll keep me. (grade “A” pity party today)

Except right after I think that this song pops into my head;

1 I have a song that Jesus gave me,

It was sent from heav’n above;

There never was a sweeter melody,

‘Tis a melody of love.

2 I love the Christ who died on Calv’ry,

For He washed my sins away;

He put within my heart a melody,

And I know it’s there to stay.

3 ‘Twill be my endless theme in glory,

With the angels I will sing;

‘Twill be a song with glorious harmony,

When the courts of heaven ring.

Chorus;

In my heart there rings a melody,

There rings a melody with heaven’s harmony;

In my heart there rings a melody,

There rings a melody of love.

And like Paul Harvey, (another reference for the older crowd) is the rest of the story. Yes, tomorrow will still be hard, the pain, the difficulties, the realities of life and circumstances. But I will probably still be singing this song until I fall asleep tonight and then when I wake up tomorrow.

Don’t give up, don’t give in to the dark side, the sun will come up tomorrow and it still may suck in a major way, but hey I will sing this song until the Lord rescues me.

Seriously, smile!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

more than one day

July 17, 2017

A young man with a bandaged hand approached the clerk at the post office. “Sir, could you please address this post card for me?” The clerk did so gladly, and then agreed to write a message on the card.

He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” The young man looked at the card for a moment and then said, “Yes, add a PS: ‘Please excuse the handwriting.’”

We are an ungrateful people. Writing of man in Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky says, “If he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful! Phenomenally ungrateful. In fact, I believe that the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.” Luke’s account of the cleansing of the ten lepers underscores the human tendency to expect grace as our due and to forget to thank God for His benefits. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).

REMEMBER: GOD’S DELIVERANCE IN THE PAST

Our calendar allocates one day to give thanks to God for His many benefits, and even that day is more consumed with gorging than with gratitude. Ancient Israel’s calendar included several annual festivals to remind the people of God’s acts of deliverance and provision so that they would renew their sense of gratitude and reliance upon the Lord.

In spite of this, they forgot: “they became disobedient and rebelled against You . . . . they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses . . . . they quickly forgot His works” (Nehemiah 9:26; Psalm 106:7, 13). The prophet Hosea captured the essence of this decline into ingratitude: “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore, they forgot Me” (13:6). When we are doing well, we tend to think that our prosperity was self-made; this delusion leads us into the folly of pride; pride makes us forget God and prompts us to rely on ourselves in place of our Creator; this forgetfulness always leads to ingratitude.

Centuries earlier, Moses warned the children of Israel that they would be tempted to forget the Lord once they began to enjoy the blessings of the promised land. “Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . . Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth’” (Deuteronomy 8:14, 17). The antidote to this spiritual poison is found in the next verse: “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth” (8:18).

Our propensity to forget is a mark of our fallenness. Because of this, we should view remembering and gratitude as a discipline, a daily and intentional act, a conscious choice. If it is limited to spontaneous moments of emotional gratitude, it will gradually erode and we will forget all that God has done for us and take His grace for granted.

REMEMBER: GOD’S BENEFITS IN THE PRESENT

“Rebellion against God does not begin with the clenched fist of atheism but with the self-satisfied heart of the one for whom ‘thank you’ is redundant” (Os Guinness, In Two Minds). The apostle Paul exposes the error of this thinking when he asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Even as believers in Christ, it is quite natural to overlook the fact that all that we have and are—our health, our intelligence, our abilities, our very lives—are gifts from the hand of God, and not our own creation. We understand this, but few of us actively acknowledge our utter reliance upon the Lord throughout the course of the week. We rarely review the many benefits we enjoy in the present. And so we forget.

We tend toward two extremes when we forget to remember God’s benefits in our lives. The first extreme is presumption, and this is the error we have been discussing. When things are going “our way,” we may forget God or acknowledge Him in a shallow or mechanical manner. The other extreme is resentment and bitterness due to difficult circumstances. When we suffer setbacks or losses, we wonder why we are not doing as well as others and develop a mindset of murmuring and complaining. We may attribute it to “bad luck” or “misfortune” or not “getting the breaks,” but it really boils down to dissatisfaction with God’s provision and care. This lack of contentment and gratitude stems in part from our efforts to control the content of our lives in spite of what Christ may or may not desire for us to have. It also stems from our tendency to focus on what we do not possess rather than all the wonderful things we have already received.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We cannot give thanks and complain at the same time. To give thanks is to remember the spiritual and material blessings we have received and to be content with what our loving Lord provides, even when it does not correspond to what we had in mind. Gratitude is a choice, not merely a feeling, and it requires effort especially in difficult times. But the more we choose to live in the discipline of conscious thanksgiving, the more natural it becomes, and the more our eyes are opened to the little things throughout the course of the day that we previously overlooked. G. K. Chesterton had a way of acknowledging these many little benefits: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Henri Nouwen observed that “every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until, finally, even the most normal, obvious, and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace.”

REMEMBER: GOD’S PROMISES FOR THE FUTURE

If we are not grateful for God’s deliverance in the past and His benefits in the present, we will not be grateful for His promises for the future. Scripture exhorts us to lay hold of our hope in Christ and to renew it frequently so that we will maintain God’s perspective on our present journey. His plans for His children exceed our imagination, and it is His intention to make all things new, to wipe away every tear, and to “show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7).

Make it a daily exercise, either at the beginning or the end of the day, to review God’s benefits in your past, present, and future. This discipline will be pleasing to God, because it will cultivate a heart of gratitude and ongoing thanksgiving.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

grow or die

July 11, 2017

It is a law of nature that where there is no growth, there is no life. That principle applies as much to our spiritual lives as it does to plants and children. The way we grow in our spiritual formation is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2Pe 3:18) But what does that mean? If grace is entirely God’s gift to us, how can we take the initiative to “grow in grace”?

 As any soul increases in spiritual knowledge, in the same degree it grows in grace.” To grow in grace requires that we be diligent in the acquisition of spiritual knowledge, both experiential and intellectual, that allows us to grow in wisdom—knowledge of our spiritual state, knowledge of God’s Word and knowledge of Christ.

 Here are a few suggestions how to grow in grace:

  1. Recognize that it will take sustained effort—“As growth in grace is gradual, and the progress from day to day imperceptible, we should aim to do something in this work every day. We should die daily unto sin and live unto righteousness.”

  2. Do the work, but rely on the Holy Spirit—Our progress in spiritual formation requires that we “do the work” by diligently practicing spiritual disciplines. But even as we add our human efforts toward sanctification, we should realize that any progress is the work of the Holy Spirit. A good rule of thumb is to “use the means as vigorously as if you were to be saved by your own efforts, and yet trust as entirely to the grace of God as if you made use of no means whatsoever.”

  3. Study Scripture for spiritual benefit rather than for curiosity and controversy—“Avoid curious and abstruse speculations respecting things unrevealed and do not indulge a spirit of controversy.” Our efforts in studying Scripture should lead us to become more like Jesus, not toward becoming better theological debaters or curators of obscure speculation.

Grow or die, growth is a part of any living organism.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

A special to Ron at our local Veteran’s Association, he’s been a big help.

Remember Dion; 9 years old and bravely battling cancer, quite the little trooper

Pray for Frank K, 97 years old today and is going RV-ing with his nephew up to Vancouver from Texas. He’s in great shape for his age and he’s the one asking for prayer that his nephew doesn’t chicken out of the trip.

 

ouch, man that hurt

July 9, 2017

Colossians 4:6

English Standard Version (ESV)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21)

Not-so-constructive criticism. For many of us this is a tough one, because we really mean for our criticism to be constructive. We want our little comments and suggestions to motivate our loved ones and inspire them to change (for the better, of course). But too often, they only devalue.  We say we just want our loved ones to be happy. But how can they be, when what they hear from us is that they are unacceptable and unlovable the way they are now? They get the message that they’re a disappointment to us; they’ve let us down.

It’s been said that some people find fault like there was a reward for it. I think it’s true. If we’re not careful, we can get in the habit of constantly criticizing other people, finding fault with them and tearing them down, for no good reason.

Truth not spoken in love. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it’s always loving or helpful to say it. This includes bludgeoning others with Scripture in a misguided attempt to set them straight. The family of a woman I know once found itself facing one crisis after another: loss of a job, death of an elderly parent, adult daughter attempting suicide, and adult son going through a divorce. To top it all off, she and her husband both came down with bronchitis.

When, for the first time in five weeks, they were finally able to attend church, they slipped into the pew exhausted and desperate for some spiritual nourishment. Within minutes they were accosted by a woman, barely more than an acquaintance, determined to take them to task for their recent absence. “I’ve noticed you haven’t been coming to church lately,” she began. “The Bible says we’re not supposed to ‘give up meeting together.’ We’re all busy, but we have to make it a priority. You need to make a commitment to be here.” She added, “I’m just telling you this because we’re supposed to ‘speak the truth in love.’” Seriously? There was no love behind her words. She was just being a busy-body. Love would have said, “It’s so good to see you. We’ve missed you. How have you been?” And later, “How can we help?”

“Humor” that gets out of hand. We were just teasing. Having a little fun. Then it got out of hand. Sarcasm has a place, for sure; it serves a purpose. It can be an effective tool to highlight hypocrisy and humble the proud and arrogant. (God uses a fair amount of it Himself.) But it’s not meant to be used to constantly ridicule and rip to shreds people we claim we love. Even when our quips are clearly intended to be funny, even when they’re accompanied by laughter, a daily barrage of snarky asides can be brutal to another person’s self-esteem. Even those of us who regularly enjoy a little “witty repartee” have to admit how quickly “cute” and “clever” can grow old.

Add a little sarcasm to a compliment and you can steal all the pride and joy, the enthusiasm, and the sense of accomplishment right out of someone else’s heart. “Wow! You cleaned your room for once. Too bad it doesn’t look this good every day.” Or, “Your teacher says you’re so organized and disciplined at school—wish you could be that way at home!” A favorite excuse: “We’re not laughing at you; we’re laughing with you.” Really?

The silent treatment. Strangely enough, one of the ways we wound with our words is to withhold them! When we refuse to communicate, when we won’t say what it is we’re upset about or what people have done wrong, we shut them out. We fill their hearts with anxiety and frustration and even dread. We make them feel isolated and rejected—without saying a single word. And that is after all, what the silent treatment is for. Not to be confused with taking time out or having a cooling off period, the silent treatment is all about manipulation and control. It’s a form of punishment or revenge that somehow feels more righteous than an angry outburst. But throwing this kind of tantrum is not the mark of an emotionally healthy, spiritually mature woman. It certainly isn’t biblical (see Matthew 18:15-17).

These are just a few of the weapons at our disposal; they go on and on.

So speak in love, be careful what you say and think before you speak.

I always stop at stop signs and say one Alabama, two Alabama, after getting stopped by the police for rolling through a stop sign. If only I practiced the same way before opening my mouth.

What we say can bless or harm.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Praise report, well this is the second time in last year that someone seriously ill, and mean you can’t get any more sick has been misdiagnosed with the wrong disease, been given the wrong medicine for several years and guess what, it’s Lyme disease, no cure but there is medicine that helps tremendously. So if you’ve been told you have MS, Lou Gehrig’s or even IBS, get a second opinion and tested.

 

  “For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).

  Our Father took the old fleshly life into death at the Cross (Rom. 6:6). He gave us new spiritual life in Christ at the resurrection (Rom. 6:4, 5). As we keep our eyes upon the Cross for the old, and upon the Lord Jesus Christ for the new, all that will remain for others to see will be “not I, but Christ.”

  “In Romans Seven, the personal pronouns ‘I,’ ‘me,’ ‘my,’ are used 47 times in 18 verses. This is the way in which believers live who do not know or who do not recognize the fact of their union with the Lord Jesus Christ.

To be occupied with self is to be defeated and to have failure and live in sin; but to be occupied with the Lord Jesus will mean victory. He must be the center, He must be everything to me. In Him is liberation; apart from abiding in Him is defeat and failure. Are you trying to please God, or trusting the One to whom you are united, the One who did ‘always the things that are pleasing to Him’?

In our Position (union) in Him we are made manifest to God; we are holy and complete in Him. In our Possession of Him He is manifested to men; He lives out His life through us. As we are accepted in Him, so may He be manifested in us.

  “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Genuine Longing

June 29, 2017

True, real longing,

 I long to know Christ and the power which is in His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10, Weymouth Translation. If you can find a printed copy of this translation do so, it will really bless you).

  The difficult thing for most hungry-hearted believers is to wait in dependence upon the Lord for everything. Truth is not to be grasped, but received—received by faith, mainly through study. How true this is concerning reckoning! Many seek to reckon before they understand the scriptural facts upon which to count, and that adds up to failure. The secret is to learn the truth of our identification with the Lord Jesus so thoroughly that reckoning and its resultant growth will come as a matter of course, just as in our justification.

The death of our Lord on the Cross has depths of meaning that can only be plumbed by way of discovered need, but then reveals ‘unsearchable riches.’ To the believer who still has hopes of ‘attaining’ in the Christian life, a verse such as Romans 6:11 is a rather meaningless jargon used by those who give messages on the ‘deepening of the spiritual life.

To the believer who has been taught by the Holy Spirit something of his own utter, inbred sinfulness, it comes as a message from God full of hope and encouragement. He grasps the rescue rope flung to him by the right hand of Omnipotence, and with humble thankfulness sets out to learn how he can reckon himself dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord. When he looks at the Cross he sees there the fact that not only did the Lord Jesus die for him, but that he himself was taken down into His death, in order that the practical reality of His resurrection life might transform him into the divine likeness.

  “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

NOTE: If you live in the Boerne, Comfort, Waring area of Texas and are interested in becoming part of a new church start up email me and let me know.

And as a housekeeping note, questions, comments, and prayer requests also to the email address please, blessings.

also having a problem tonight with posting to my twitter account. sorry about that.

 

the tongue

June 21, 2017

The best devotion I’ve ever read on taming the tongue was in the late 70’s and it was written by Christian song writer Keith Green, if I can find that devotion I will post it for you, until then…..

Taming is a process by which a wild beast is subdued into adapting and submitting to human control. As James notes, “all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind” (Jas 3:7). But despite mankind’s success in taming the animal kingdom, there is one wild thing, James says, that we haven’t been able to subdue and adapt: “No human can tame the tongue” (v.8).

 While we might never fully tame our tongues, with God’s help we can learn to use our words in a manner that is increasingly more edifying and Christlike.

 In what way does your tongue most often get you in trouble? Look over the following list of verses that address how we are to use our words. Choose two or three verses to memorize and reflect on daily:

 Watch what you say and speak only after careful consideration.

  “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” (Pr 13:3).

   “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity” (Pr 21:23).

  Sometimes the most becoming speech is silence.

  “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues” (Pr 17:28).

  Seek first to understand what someone is saying before attempting to respond.

  “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame” (Pr 18:13).

  Be slow to speak your mind.

  “Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them” (Pr 29:20).

  Be wary of making trivial or casual remarks that reflect ungodly attitudes.

  “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Mt 12:36).

  Avoid obscenities, profanities and blasphemy; instead, speak words that build up others.

  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph 4:29).

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

do your part

June 20, 2017

Today as never before, Christians are being called upon to give reasons for the hope that is within them. Often in the evangelistic context seekers raise questions about the validity of the gospel message. Removing intellectual objections will not make one a Christian; a change of heart wrought by the Spirit is also necessary. But though intellectual activity is insufficient to bring another to Christ, it does not follow that it is also unnecessary. In this essay we will examine the place and purpose of apologetics in the sharing of our faith with others.

The word “apologetics” never actually appears in the Bible. But there is a verse which contains its meaning:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you the reason for the hope that is within you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).

The Greek word apologia means “answer,” or “reasonable defense.” It does not mean to apologize, nor does it mean just to engage in intellectual dialogue. It means to provide reasonable answers to honest questions and to do it with humility, respect, and reverence.

The verse thus suggests that the manner in which one does apologetics is as important as the words expressed. And Peter tells us in this passage that Christians are to be ready always with answers for those who inquire of us concerning our faith. Most Christians have a great deal of study ahead of them before this verse will be a practical reality in their evangelistic efforts.

Another question that often comes up in a discussion about the merits and place of apologetics is, “What is the relationship of the mind to evangelism?” “Does the mind play any part in the process?” “What about the effects of the fall?” “Isn’t man dead in trespasses and sins?” “Doesn’t the Bible say we are to know nothing among men except Jesus Christ and Him crucified?” “Why do we have to get involved at all in apologetics if the Spirit is the One Who actually brings about the New Birth?”

I think you will agree that today there are many Christians who are firmly convinced that answering the intellectual questions of unbelievers is an ineffectual waste of time. They feel that any involvement of the mind in the gospel interchange smacks too much of human effort and really just dilutes the Spirit’s work.

But Christianity thrives on intelligence, not ignorance. If a real Reformation is to accompany the revival for which many of us pray, it must be something of the mind as well as the heart. It was Jesus who said, “Come and see.” He invites our scrutiny and investigation both before and after conversion.

We are to love God with the mind as well as the heart and the soul. In fact, the early church was powerful and successful because it out-thought and out-loved the ancient world. We are not doing either very well today.

People respond to the gospel for various reasons—some out of pain or a crisis, others out of some emotional need such as loneliness, guilt, insecurity, etc. Some do so out of a fear of divine judgment. And coming to know Christ brings a process of healing and hope to the human experience. To know Christ is to find comfort for pain, acceptance for insecurity and low self-esteem, forgiveness for sin and guilt.

And others seem to have intellectual questions which block their openness to accept the credibility of the Christian message. These finally find in Christ the answers to their intellectual doubts and questions.

Those today who are actively involved in evangelism readily recognize the need for this kind of information to witness to certain people, and there are many more doubters and skeptics out there today than there were even twenty years ago.

We can see more clearly where we are as a culture by taking a good look at Paul’s world in the first century. Christianity’s early beginnings flourished in a Graeco-Roman culture more X-rated and brutal than our own. And we find Paul adapting his approach from group to group.

For instance, he expected certain things to be in place when he approached the Jewish communities and synagogues from town to town. He knew he would find a group which already had certain beliefs which were not in contradiction to the gospel he preached. They were monotheists. They believed in one God. They also believed this God had spoken to them in their Scriptures and had given them absolute moral guidelines for behavior (the Ten Commandments).

But when Paul went to the Gentile community, he had no such expectations. There he knew he would be faced with a culture that was polytheistic (many gods), biblically ignorant, and living all kinds of perverted, wicked lifestyles. And on Mars Hill in Athens when he preached the gospel, he did somewhat modify his approach.

He spoke of God more in terms of His presence and power, and he even quoted truth from a Greek poet in order to connect with these “pagans” and get his point across: “We are God’s offspring” (Acts 17:28).

One hundred years ago, the vast majority of Americans pretty much reflected the Jewish mentality, believing in God, having a basic respect for the Bible, and strong convictions about what was right and what was wrong.

That kind of American can still be found today in the 90s, but George Gallup says they aren’t having much of an impact on the pagan, or Gentile community, which today holds few beliefs compatible with historic Christianity.

To evangelize such people, we have our work cut out for us. And we will have to use both our minds and our hearts to “become all things to all men in order to save some.”

As we’re considering how we as Christians can have an impact on our increasingly fragmented society, we need to keep in mind that many do not share our Christian view of the world, and some are openly hostile to it.

In fact, a college professor recently commented that he felt the greatest impediment to social progress right now was what he called the bigoted, dogmatic Christian community. That’s you and me, folks.

If we could just “loosen up a little,” and compromise on some issues, America would be a happier place. What is meant by this is not just a demand for tolerance . . . but wholesale acceptance of any person’s lifestyle and personal choices!

But the Bible calls us to be “salt and light” in our world. How can we be that effectively?I don’t have a total answer, but I’ll tell you after 30+ years of active ministry what isn’t working. And by my observation, far too many Christians are trying to address the horrendous issues of our day with one of three very ineffective approaches.

Defensive Approach Many Christians out there are mainly asking the question, “How strong are our defenses?” “How high are our walls?” This barricade mentality has produced much of the Christian subculture. We have our own language, literature, heroes, music, customs, and educational systems. Of course, we need places of support and fellowship. But when Paul describes spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10, he actually reverses the picture. It is the enemy who is behind walls, inside strongholds of error and evil. And Paul depicts the Christians as those who should be mounting offensives at these walls to tear down the high things which have exalted themselves above the knowledge of God. We are to be taking ground, not just holding it.

Defeatist Approach Other Christians have already given up. Things are so bad, they say, that my puny efforts won’t change anything. “After all, we are living in the last days, and Jesus said that things would just get worse and worse.” This may be true, but it may not be. Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour of His coming. Martin Luther had the right idea when he said, “If Jesus were to come tomorrow, I’d plant a tree today and pay my debts.” The Lord may well be near, He could also tarry awhile. Since we don’t know for sure, we should be seeking to prepare ourselves and our children to live for Him in the microchip world of the 21st century.

Devotional Approach Other Christians are trying to say something about their faith, but sadly, they can only share their personal religious experience. It is true that Paul speaks of us as “epistles known and read” by all men. Our life/experience with Christ is a valid witness. But there are others out there in the culture with “changed” lives . . . and Jesus didn’t do the changing! Evangelism today must be something more than “swapping” experiences. We must learn how to ground our faith in the facts of history and the claims of Christ. We must have others grapple with Jesus Christ, nor just our experience.

We need to:

  1. Go to people. The heart of evangelism is Christians taking the initiative to actually go out and “fish for men.” Acts 17:17 describes for us how Paul was effective in his day and time: “Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the gentile worshippers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”

  1. Communicate with people. Engage them. Sharing the Gospel involves communication. People must be focused upon and then understand the Gospel to respond to it. It is our responsibility as Christians to make it as clear as possible for all who will listen. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).

  1. Relate to people. Effective witness involves not only the transmission of biblical information; it also includes establishing a relationship with the other person. Hearts, as well as heads, must meet. “So, affectionately longing for you,” said Paul to the Thessalonians, “we were well pleased to import to you not only the good news of God, but also our own lives, because you have become dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

  1. Remove barriers. Part of our responsibility involves having the skills to eliminate obstacles, real or imagined, which keep an individual from taking the Christian message seriously. When God sent the prophet Jeremiah forth, He said, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth . . . and I have ordained you to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Sometimes our task as well is one of “spiritual demolition,” of removing the false so the seeds of truth can take root. Apologetics sometimes serves in that capacity, of preparing a highway for God in someone’s life.

  1. Explain the gospel to others. We need an army of Christians today who can consistently and clearly present the message to as many people as possible. Luke says of Lydia, “The Lord opened her heart so that she heeded the things which were spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14). Four essential elements in sharing the gospel:

someone talking (Paul)

things spoken (gospel)

someone listening (Lydia)

the Lord opening the heart.

  1. Invite others to receive Christ. We can be clear of presentation, but ineffective because we fail to give someone the opportunity and encouragement to take that first major step of faith. “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we beg you in Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

  1. Make every effort by every means to establish them in the faith. Stay with them, ground them in the Scripture, help them gain assurance of their salvation, and get them active in a vital fellowship/church.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Scripture makes it clear that our eternal salvation comes by grace through faith; it does not come from ourselves but is wholly a gift of God (see Eph 2:8). So what does James mean when he asks, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (Jas 2:14).

 James is saying a faith without accompanying works is no saving faith at all: “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (v. 17). Is James contradicting Paul? No.

  Paul is describing true and living faith; James is arguing against a false faith which consists of nothing but spiritually dead intellectual assent (vv. 17, 19, 20, 26)

. . . Faith and good works are both necessary. But one is the root and the other is the fruit.

Not only is holiness the goal of your redemption, it is necessary for your redemption. And as John Piper adds, “All the obedience of believers necessary for final salvation is obedience that comes from faith (1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:11; Gal 5:6; Heb 10:35–36; 11:8). If it does not come from faith it is legalism and gains nothing but deeper condemnation (Ro 9:32).”

 Hundreds of verses in Scripture confirm that growing in holiness is necessary for our salvation. Because holiness is so important to spiritual formation—and for our eternal destiny!—let’s look at some of these verses (emphasis added):

  ➤ The necessity of holiness—“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

 ➤ The necessity of doing good—“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (Jn 5:28–29).

 ➤ The necessity of obedience—“Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person” (1Jn 2:4).

 ➤ The necessity to forgive others—“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt 6:15).

 ➤ The necessity of being free from the love of money—“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Mt 6:24).

 ➤ The necessity of love for God—“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them” (1Jn 2:15).

 ➤ The necessity to love others—“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1Jn 3:14).

 ➤ The necessity of being childlike—“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).

 ➤ The necessity to bridle the tongue—“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (Jas 1:26).

 ➤ The necessity of perseverance—“Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory” (Heb 3:6).

 ➤ The necessity of walking in the light—“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn 1:7).

 ➤ The necessity of repentance—“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Ac 3:19).

  While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all relevant verses on the connection between sanctification and salvation, it’s enough to convey the importance Scripture places on the subject.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com