Conditions

Do a search. You'll find 16 things that the NT says saves you.

I learned from Robin Sigers that the New Testament tells us that there are 16 things that saves us.  Four of those things you do.  Actually, you have help in doing them, help from God himself, he is involved in these four things with you.  These are not steps of salvation. These are conditions which place us in the very hand of God because of the heart of God who has chosen to save us by grace through faith.

The first condition is FAITH. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen,” Heb. 11:1.  “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and rewards those who earnestly seek him” Heb. 11:6. What do

You gotta have faith!

you think.  Faith is essential.  Now God works in our lives so that faith can be instilled in us, faith in God, faith in Jesus the Son of God.  Faith that Jesus is the Son of God and that God has raised him from the dead.  Faith that holds onto truth, reality, and fact.

Faith is foundational. If we are building a house, faith is the foundation.  Everything else it built on it.  You got to have faith!

Another condition of salvation, one of those things you are involved in deciding and doing, is REPENTANCE.  Jesus told us, “But unless you repent, you too will perish,” and “But unless you repent, you too will perish,” Luke 13:3 & 5.

Repent means to turn, to hate sin and turn away from sin.  It’s really that simple.  Though understanding and realizing that is simple, a lot of times, it’s not that simple to do. It implies a trust in God because there is going to be a major change in my life.

Since faith is the foundation, repentance is the framing, the 2×4’s and 2×6’s and such.  The structure of the house.

I have to turn to God, away from sin, I have to pronounce that I hate sin, I have to tell people that I am a sinner and my heart is conditioned than to receive God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

And I must CONFESS.  What must I confess?  Usually in church, when someone presents themselves for baptism, we ask them to

Confess Jesus is Lord and Christ

confess their faith in Jesus.  Often, mostly, we will say the Good Confession, Peter’s confession of Matthew 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This is true, but we should be making the Great Confession.  Thomas, doubting Thomas made this confession.  when Jesus appeared to the disciples a second time, Thomas was with them than and he saw Jesus and said, “My Lord and My God,” John 20:28.

Our confession is commitment.  Are we committing to let Christ take control of our lives.  With the Great Commission we will.

Faith is the foundation, and repentance is the framing, confession is the outside, the brick, the siding, the stucco of the walls that people see, seeing the beauty of our life in Christ.

The other condition for salvation is BAPTISM.  Baptism is immersion, not sprinkling or pouring, or some spiritual symbol, it is literally being immersed under the water.

One of the Biblical uses of Baptism/Immersion is when they would have the cloth and it was grungy looking, they would dip it in a solution and it would come out white as could be.  That is the picture we need of baptism.  Jesus told his disciples to make disciples and “to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” Matt. 28:19. Peter told the people on the day of Pentecost to “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins,”

Jesus says you must be immersed.

Acts 2:38. Peter again tells us that “baptism now saves us, not the washing away of dirt from the body, but an appeal toward God for a clear conscience,” 1 Peter 3:21. Baptism is where, due to the activity of faith, we come into contact with the blood of Jesus and God washes our sins away.  It is when salvation begins in my life.

Faith is the foundation, repentance the framing, and confession the outside of the house. Than Baptism is moving into that house.  Let’s get a new address and move into heaven not hell.

I want to be saved.  These four conditions are what I am involved in as a thinking and choosing person.  Choosing faith in Jesus and choosing to obey the God of creation, so that I will come into a personal and loving relationship with a loving and caring Father who wants to live with me.  There are other things that save me, God’s grace, standing firm, and more, but there are four things that I am involved in with God whereby I must be saved.

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Identification Badge

Often one of the first things that we examine when we try to understand who God is, is the many names of God.  There are many, Adonai, Elohim, Yahweh, El Roi, El Shaddai and many others.  Each name has to do with what God has done or with attributes of his character.  But one of those names basically includes what all of his names mean and more.  That name is the I AM.

Popeye the Sailor Man says “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.”  He was saying, I am who I am.  Maybe another way to say it is what you see is who I am.  French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) said this; “I think therefore I am.”  He is often quoted or his quote is altered for given situations; “I eat therefore I am,” etc.  He was saying because I have consciousness, I must be alive, I apparently exist.

On a tall mountain one hot day in the desert, about 3500 years ago or so, Moses saw a bush on fire but not burning up and went up on that mountain to see what in the world was going on.  It was a curious thing, and got even more bizarre because of what he encountered, or rather, who he encountered and how when he got to where the bush was (Exodus 3 & 4).

In 3:6 God introduced himself to Moses this way, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob” At this Moses hid his face.  He knew he was in the very presence of God, YHWH.  A ways into their conversation, after God told Moses that he was sending him to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery to the Egyptians, Moses, trying to offer objections, said, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask, ‘What is his name?’  Then what shall I tell them?” (3:13). Here’s what God said;“I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites,: I AM has sent me to you.’  God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites,’ ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers-the God of Abraham, the God of Issac, and the God of Jacob-has sent me to you.  This is my name forever the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation'” (3:14-15).

The I AM.  That’s who God is.  The meaning goes something like this, “I Am the Being.”  “I Am the self-sufficient, self-existing One.”

Another way to realize who God is is to look at a couple of verses in Revelation.  “‘I Am the Alpha and Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty'” (Rev. 1:8) and the worship of the four living creatures who, Revelation says never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come” (Rev. 4:8).

He who exists outside of time and space, who lives according to his own life, is involved with us.  He was involved with the Patriarchs, Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham.  He was involved with Israel.  He is involved currently with the church.  These all honored and worshiped him, but he is involved in all of creation.  He created the world and everything in it (Gen. 1, 2 & 3).  He sustains this world, keeping it functioning and living (Heb. 1:3).   He reaches into our lives to bring us into relationship with him through Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Names have meaning.  Names have significance.  Learn the meaning of names in the Bible and you’ll gain understanding into that person or about the event or meaning of what is being revealed.  Abram meant “great father.”  God changed his name to Abraham with means, “father of a multitude.”  My first name means “God’s Peace” or “Peace of God,” and my last name means “descending one.”   Therefore, my name means “The Peace of God Descending.”  I like that.  In fact, that’s what seems to happen to people around me, they experience God’s peace through my faith, my hope, my joy, my encouragement, etc.

God’s name tells us he is the God of Wonders.  Wonderful in love and compassion, wonderful in care and help, wonderful in hope and provision, wonderful to forgive and save.  Wonderful you are O Lord.

He is identified by his name and his name reveals who he is.

All Scripture passages from the New International Version of the Bible.

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Learning About the Creation

The more recent posts have had a lot to do with creation.  God being creator and creating this world that we live in.

I recommend the Institute for Creation Research as a strong and outstanding resource for understanding creation.  It is not that it relates back to the Bible and the Creator, but that it is truthful and factual and therefore points back to the Bible and the Creator who is God.

http://www.icr.org/aaf/

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I Didn’t Make Myself

Truthfully, I don’t think I have ever heard of anyone who claimed to have personally created themselves.  There are self-made people, but that has to do with who they are not their very existence.  The evolutionist, those who believe evolution is real, wouldn’t dare claim that they created themselves.  Something else did.  Actually, someone else did!

In the movie “Expelled” by Ben Stein, you know the teacher from the movie “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” and the show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” he talks with atheist Richard Dawkins.  Interesting conversation.  Dawkins believes that there is the possibility of an intelligent designer, but rejects the idea that this intelligent designer is the God or a god of any sort.  It cannot be the Hebrew God, the Christian God, the Hindu god or gods, or any possibility of god, a non-personal or a personal god.  He totally rejects that.  He wouldn’t want that!

I reject the concept of “Mother Nature.”  Nature is God’s creation.  The God of the Bible, the Hebrew and Christian God.  Nature is not our creator, or even a god over us.  The Bible rejects the notion that there is no God and teaches there is only one true God.  “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1); “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  The forever existent, self-existent being — GOD!  Hmm!  Pre-existent to creation, existing outside of time and space and existing beyond the end of the world and time.  Everlasting God is who He is.

So, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). From that point God created time (day and night, the seasons, the week – 7 days long) and created various aspects of what we have on this planet (land and sea, plants and animals and sea-creature, the sun, moon and stars) and human beings and you and I are related to Adam and Eve the progenitors of all humanity (Read Genesis 1).

I was created through conception and birth, a picture of the creation of man in my mind.  I didn’t make myself.  God made me and gave me breath and life.  Now, I can take my life (that’d be pretty bad) and I can ruin my life and I can run from God and deny him if I please (which is also very bad).  God gave us that prerogative; free-will, the freedom to choose right and wrong, the freedom to obey or disobey God.  In that, I guess I could be a self-made man, but I choose to let God’s creating continue in me.  To recreate, to renew my life through faith and hope in Jesus.

My physical make-up shows me without having to look into some high-powered microscope and see the depth of the detail of my cells and the molecules that make up my body.  It’s natural functions, breathing, eating and digestion, etc., tell me that there is a God and Jesus reveals who that God is (Romans 1:19-20), Yahweh the creator God who is Lord of creation and the whole world.  He rules from a throne in the spiritual realm and enters the physical world through Jesus, through messages from angels and prophets, through his Holy Spirit who is in the Christian, remaking me every day into the image and likeness of Christ who is the image and exact representation of God.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” Colossians 1:14-17, NIV.

I am his because he created me and because he has recreated me through Christ.

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ID-ing God

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus”  Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662, French Mathematician, Philosopher & Physicist.

I’m sure that a lot of people when they try to picture God see in their minds the picture Michael Angelo painted on the roof of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy.  God looks like what we think Abraham or Moses might have looked like.  Older, long gray hair and beard, with a firm, determined or an angry look on his face.

Pascal, who I know very little about and I’m not even sure what the context of the above quote is from, noted our need for God.  He described us as having a God-shaped vacuum or a hole in us that only God can fill.  There is this spiritual longing and an emotional search to fill this void.

The search has involved for a lot of different people, forays into a variety of religions, beliefs, philosophies, drug experimentation and alcohol.  Many have attempted to fulfill this “need” with sexual addictions; food issues, work, and anything that is possible.

Honestly, there is a severe need to find out who God is.  Many miss him because they are looking in the wrong places and those systems and addictions capture them and keep them in a bondage that makes it almost impossible to discover God, but he can be found.

…. what may be known about God is plain to humanity, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from has been made….” Romans 1:19-20

If we were simply left to our own search and discovery, than all we might learn about God is that there is some force, spirit, power, or something like that out there.  We wouldn’t know anything about this being.  God has chosen for us to be able to discover that he is there, and he is now often called by those who are trying to determine the earth’s origins an intelligent designer.

Science as it delves deeper into the molecules and atoms and the make-up of our world, continues to discover more and more, without end, and are struggling to believe it is chance.  So much for evolution.  Telescopes and space probes keep learning more and searching farther as if there is no end.  What we learn is that none of this is chance or accident but there was purpose and intelligent thought behind it all.  What or who is that intelligent designer?

It is God!  How do we know it is God?  Because he didn’t just leave it up to our interpreting creation to figure it out.  He chose to reveal himself beyond the world of natural science.  He chose to tell himself about us.  He chose to show himself to us.

Finding God is more than realizing and believing that he is.  That is a key element.  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those  who earnestly seek him” Hebrews 11:6

If you search for God he will find you.  It won’t matter if you are in the heart of NYC or a desert island in the South Pacific all alone.  He will find you because it is obvious that you want to believe.

One Sunday in late summer of 2008, I shared with around 30 teens about the problem of evil.  The previous two times I was there I shared with them that God loves them and no matter what the trouble may be that they go through and that ultimately, all bad stuff comes from sin, even sickness and disease.

This particular Sunday, I took them to the book of Job.  After explaining the benefits of pain and suffering, we wouldn’t know there was a problem without pain, physical and emotional, and stuff like that, I shared with them about how Job had questioned God about it all.  And showed them how God answered Job.  Job didn’t know the ins and outs of creation, of exactly how great and powerful it is.  He didn’t understand just how God controlled and maintained this world, even caring for Job in the trouble he was going through.

God showed Job that simple faith and trust in him was all that Job had to worry about.  God had control.

One young lady, originally from Russia, had been seeking God.  She asked me a few questions and said, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but I want to.” Over the next 3 or 4 months until she left the program, we worked on developing her faith in God.

She was asking and searching and God sent a messenger to show her the way to him.  In this case the one sent was me.

So, what is God like?  We’re going to find out.

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Let’s Take on Faith, Reason, and Nonsense

These discussions are hard, not because they’re rational but because they’re emotional.  It’s hard not to let hurt, disgust, anger, fear, and a number of other possible emotions get involved in the discussion.  It injures me deep in my soul when people attack what I have found and believe to be true.  They feel the same when I say Jesus is the only way.

Well, let’s go back in time 35 or 40 years.  I grew up in central Indiana, in a conservative environment.   A mostly working class community with about 60,000 people, several GM plants, a steel mill, a Dodge transmission factory and the like.   Two large high schools with 1500-2000 students each and a hand full of county high schools of a few hundred each.

I was born into a family of believers.  My parents were part of a church whose fellowship primarily was with  Restoration Churches (http://www.therestorationmovement.com/ and http://www.gotquestions.org/Restoration-movement.html, should help explain the movement).  We were taught the Bible, not a form of theology and doctrine, just what the Bible presents as a whole, you know, Biblio-theology.

I attended Ozark Bible College (now Ozark Christian College, http://www.occ.edu/) a conservative Bible-believing and teaching college and have read and studied over the years what I first believed beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus is the only way to God, salvation, and heaven.  I learned it from those I respected and they shared it with me from the Bible and through reason.  People like Paul Jordan, PT Butler, Knofel Staten, Harvey Bacus, Don Dewelt, Seth Wilson, Wilbur Fields and more and they referred to many apologists such as CS Lewis in Mere Christianity, Josh McDowell with Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and others documenting facts and truth about Jesus.

So . . . for me, it’s pretty simple, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, my Lord and God (I thank Peter, Mark 8:29 and Thomas, John 20:28 for faithfully confessing these truths for me to learn, believe and confess).  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me” John 14:6 & 9 (cf., Acts 4:12 & 1 Timothy 2:5).  In doing so, I also believe that there is only one way to God and salvation and that is through Jesus.

The problem now lies not in whether I believe it or not, I do, the problem lies in that many don’t or they don’t like that God chose to be so exclusive about access to him.  And when we begin discussing these things, though reason may be present, often emotions are stronger than reason and people go all bongo about what they feel.

Let us look at the identity of Jesus Christ, of who God is and what they have said taking into consideration the claims of many other religions because as one theologian I recently heard on the video The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel (bought it at Wal-Mart for $7.50 last week), all religions could be wrong, but not all of them can be right.

I had (maybe I still do) a lesson book for teens called Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door, let me borrow from and alter the title for use here.  We will use our brains because Christianity is a thinking religion that is filled with faith, hope, and feeling, but as we find the way to salvation, let’s Check Our Emotions at the Door.

What is right and what is true?  Let’s find that out and then put our heart and soul into it.

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PS: Check Lee Strobel’s books The Case for Faith and the The Case for Christ for detailed information about this.

Discovering Grace

Whenever we think of grace, we think of God’s unmerited favor to us the sinner.  He voluntarily shares the gift of salvation through Christ.  That in itself is a cause for rejoicing.

But Paul speaks of “the grace given him” by God (1 Corinthians 3:10; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 2:2, 7-9; 1 Timothy 1:12; use this link to read these verses at Bible Gateway,http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=the+grace+given+me&qs_version=NIV).

The grace God gave Paul was the ministry of reconciliation, particularly to the Gentiles.  Paul would always approach the Jews first, that is how God revealed and administered his grace to the world, to the Jew first.  If he found a Jewish community wherever he went, once he had preached to them (and often they rejected the message about Jesus) Paul went to preach to the Gentiles.  The time he spent in Athens and spoke to the philosophers in the Areopagus on Mars Hill (Acts 17) is one of those times.

The ministry of grace was the ministry to spread the Good News of Jesus, because he had received grace from God, even describing himself as the greatest of sinners (1 Timothy 1:5).

Are you a Christian?  Have you considered the ministry of grace God has given you?  God has sent each of us with this message.  Maybe as an evangelist.  Maybe as a servant.  Maybe as a social worker, or an engineer, or through encouragement or any other number of ways.

Paul sacrificed to be able to fulfill his ministry of grace.  He went through ridicule, beatings, imprisonment, ship-wreck and more to see that he was able to tell about Jesus.

Your ministry, whatever it is, involves your salvation, your sacrifice, boldness supplied by the Spirit, mission and ministry, love, joy, hope, everything that God gives that you get to share with the rest of the world.

I have found the most effective way for me to share about Jesus is to work with teens through church camps, conferences, and residential care facilities.  God has done more through me in those ways than in small one-on-one situations and I thank God for the benefit he gives others because of my ministry of grace.

God’s grace is seen in the life of the believe as we