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Christian Myths: Who Is And Who Is Not A Christian

One of the common misconceptions regarding the identity of “who is a Christian” is the belief that being Christian is about what you do.
Many people believe that select good works outweigh bad behavior, and that God is looking for those good works to consider one worthy for heaven, or His favor.

It’s true that the bible is full of instructions about behavior. There are hundreds of rules in Old Testament law relating to Israel specifically and many more in the New Testament, relating to Christian behavior. However, none of these prescribed behaviors was intended to bring an individual into a right relationship with God. Rather, they were given as a model of behavior for those already in a right relationship with God.

Here is what Jesus said about the subject, and mind you, He spoke this to one of the nations top religious leaders… someone we might consider a very “good” man:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” -John 3:3
This was part of a conversation with Nicodemus, it would be good to read the entire conversation in John 3 to get an idea of all that Jesus said. Repeatedly in the conversation Jesus pointed to this concept of having a spiritual transformation from within, which He referred to as being “born again.” He actually made it clear that short of that, one could not “see the kingdom of God” nor could they “enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Since Jesus is the Christ, the source of our Christian faith, it is important to understand what He Himself said on the matter of who is and is not Christian. He went on, in John chapter 3, to direct Nicodemus to the one thing he needed to do, to unlock, as it were, this idea of rebirth:
“…so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” -John 3:15-16*
The Apostle Paul confirmed this teaching, explaining that salvation is by faith in Jesus: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  -Romans 5:1*

To be a Christian, one must believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ, relying on Him and Him alone for salvation. Good works are just that, good works, but they cannot cause you to be born again.
Billy Graham has a great video out that clarifies some of these points. You can watch it online here: https://myhopewithbillygraham.org/program/heaven/

* all scripture is NASB and emphasis is mine

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Doctrine, Evangelism

 

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2014 Retrospective

I watched the movie “Live, Die, Repeat” recently, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It’s kind a like a military, sci-fi version of “Groundhogs Day” but with a lot fewer laughs and a lot more action.
It got me thinking… in light of the New Year, about all the events of the last year. Many great things happened in 2014, but there were also some missteps along the way. Probably a lot like you, I said things I wished I hadn’t, and held back things I should’ve said. I was blessed to be involved in many good works, yet I’m nagged by the good things I failed to do. I’m not living with regret, I trust the Lord and his ability to make good out of even the worst of circumstances. Nevertheless, it’s important for all of us to learn from our mistakes, and to apply those lessons as we grow and move forward in our lives.

I would suggest the following retrospective questions as you consider the new year…

1. What things did I say, that didn’t need to be said?

2. Where was I dishonest, either lying, or withholding accuracy in my statements?

3. What things that I engage in that were a waste of time and energy?

4. What things did I fail to do, that would’ve been a blessing to others?

5. In what ways did my life honor the Lord, and in what ways did I dishonor Him or his name?

6. Could it be said that I loved too much, or too little?

7. Does my checkbook register accurately reflect what I believe about the Kingdom of God and His work on earth?

8. If my coworkers, or neighbors, were tasked with writing a summary of what they see in me, what would that look like?

9. Did I spend too much time in 2014 praying?

10. Do I plan on applying new lessons in 2015, or simply repeating the same old patterns?

May God bless you with His own richness in the coming year. May you know His grace, love, and peace.
– Jim

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Meditation, Real Life

 

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On Faith.

This week as we looked at Romans 4 and the faith of Abraham, I thought this quote from Pastor Chuck was a good reminder of the blessings of that faith that God supplies…

Faith believes the promises of God. Unbelief doubts God’s promises.

Faith believes the Word of God because it is true. Unbelief doubts the truth of the Word.

Faith sees that God’s help is greater than any force that can come against you. Unbelief looks at the problems and declares it just can’t be done.

Faith sees Christ’s love when He is reproving you. Unbelief imagines anger in Christ’s loving words.

Faith helps the soul to wait when God delays. Unbelief gives up if there is any tarrying at all.

Faith gives you comfort in the midst of fear. Unbelief brings you fear in the midst of comfort.

Faith makes heavy burdens light. Unbelief makes light burdens heavy.

Faith helps us when we are down. Unbelief brings us down when we are up.

Faith brings us near to God when we are far from Him. Unbelief puts us far from God when He is near.

Faith sets men and women free. Unbelief holds them in bondage.

Faith purifies our hearts. Unbelief pollutes our hearts.

Faith makes our most feeble works acceptable to God through Christ. Unbelief makes even our greatest works unacceptable, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and without faith it is impossible to please God.

Faith brings peace to our soul. Unbelief brings strife and trouble, like the tossing waves of the sea.

Faith causes us to see the preciousness of Christ. Unbelief sees no beauty that we should desire Him.

Faith helps us experience fullness in Christ. Unbelief leads to leanness of soul.

Faith gives us victory. Unbelief leads to defeat.

Faith causes us to see glory in the things of the unseen world. Unbelief sees only the misery and the things of the present, material world.

By faith Abraham was given the Land of Promise. By unbelief Moses was not allowed to enter the land.

By faith the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea. By unbelief they perished in the wilderness.

By faith Peter walked on the water. By unbelief he began to sink.

Through faith our cup runs over. Through unbelief the cup is always empty.

-Chuck Smith / “Faith”

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

DeHaan on criticizing the Pastor…

If the pastor is young, they say he lacks experience. If his hair is gray, he is too old for the young people. If he has five or six children, he is irresponsible; if he has no children, he is setting a bad example. If he uses a lot of illustrations, he neglects the Bible; if he does not use enough, he is not relevant. If he condemns wrong deeds, he’s cranky; if he does not, he’s compromising. If he drives an old car, he shames his congregation; if he drives a new one, he’s setting his affection on earthly things. -Richard DeHann / Men Sent From God

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Just For Fun

 

The Life Saving Station

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur stood a lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea and with no thought for themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many of those who were rescued and also others from the surrounding area wished to become associated with the station and to give their time, money, and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The lifesaving station grew.
In time some of the crew became concerned that the station was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more commodious place should be provided as the first refuge of those snatched from the sea. The emergency cots were replaced with beds, and better furniture was purchased for the enlarged building. The station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely. Fewer members were now interested in leaving the plush station to go to sea on lifesaving missions. So they hired surrogates to do that work. However, they retained the lifesaving motif in the club’s decorations, and a ceremonial lifeboat lay in the room where club initiations were held.
One dark stormy night a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and obviously from distant shores. The station was in chaos. The event was so traumatic that the people contracted for outbuildings to be constructed so future shipwrecks could be processed with less disruption.
Eventually a rift developed in the station. Most of the members wanted to discontinue the station’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to their normal social life. Some insisted, however, that rescue was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But the latter were ignored and told that if they wanted to keep lifesaving as their primary purpose, they could begin their own station down the coast, which they did. Over time those individuals fell prey to the same temptations as the first group, coming to care more about comforting one another than rescuing the perishing. After a while a few, remembering their real purpose, split off to establish yet another lifesaving station. And on and on it went. Today if you visit that seacoast, you will find a number of impressive lifesaving stations along the shore. Sadly, shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but most people are lost.

-R. Kent Hughes (Adapted from “The Life Saving Station by Theodore Wedel)

 

Future Unsatisfiable Lust…

There is only one longing of the heart of man that will be satisfied in the future: that of the Christian’s longing for Jesus and the revelation of His righteous kingdom. For the sinner, who rejects Jesus and the offer of salvation, there will remain the lust of the flesh, possibly intensifying, yet without the physical ability to satisfy that same longing. Gone will be the myth of the “party in hell”, replaced by the eternal reality apart from the goodness of God.

“…Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” -2 Corinthians 6:2

 

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Meditation

 

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Voter Responsibility.

Who is responsible for the current political situation the United States of America?
Who is responsible when our elected officials lie, spin, and cover-up wrongdoing?
Who is responsible to hold them accountable?

Who is responsible for the current political situation in the church?
Who is responsible when pastors and leaders in the church lie, spin, and cover up wrongdoing?
Who is responsible to hold them accountable?

Responsibility in leadership is an interesting thing.
Leaders are responsible for their own wrongdoing.
Those who follow them bear their own responsibility.

We have a responsibility to vote.
We vote for politicians with the ballot.
We vote for pastors and church leaders with our wallets and our feet.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Culture, My Opinion

 
 
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