It is difficult, because I myself struggle with growing in the knowledge of the Lord and having an ever increasingly intimate relationship with Him. I find it as hard as any of you to maintain a clear focus and eager expectation of Christ’s return when there are so many distractions in this world to pull me away. So this blog is just as much of a message to me as it is to you.
I’ve mentioned the perseverance of the saints in previous blogs. Let us go to the first chapter of Colossians for a perfect example of this. By the words that Paul wrote, it is absolutely evident that Paul was writing to believers. Verses 21,22, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – “ The readers were reconciled to God, forgiven of their sins. So obviously they had professed Christ as their savior. But Paul doesn’t stop there. Verse 23, “...if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
Even some of the most notable eternal security theological commentators admit, “If ye continue in the faith” - In the belief of the gospel, and in holy living. If this were done, they would be presented unblameable before God; if not, they would not be. The meaning is, that it will be impossible to be saved unless we continue to lead lives becoming the gospel. Albert Barnes “If ye continue in the faith” - Otherwise, ye will lose all the blessings which ye have already begun to enjoy. John Wesley
Although it is true we are saved by grace, and by no acts or deeds we have done, after we profess Christ as our savior, we have a duty to fulfill our part of the covenant (agreement) of grace until we die or Christ returns. Although we cannot achieve these things without the help of the Holy Spirit, He cannot help us achieve them without our discipline and surrender.
There have always been factions of the Christian church that have done just what the Pharisees did with the Mosaic law – added all sorts of rites, rituals, ordinances, etc. to the pure gospel to make it more difficult to become what they deemed “advanced” or more valid spirituality. However, on the other side of the coin, the true church is being brutally attacked by the emerging church that is making it easier to become a “true” Christian without actually having to believe in the most basic maxims of the gospel. The following test is designed to keep us all on the right track of doctrine so we may remain “established and firm” until He returns.
1) Do you believe that, although the Bible was written by man, those men were divinely inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit ? “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 Who is this “Word” spoken of? “He (Christ at his return) is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.” Revelation 19:13 Therefore, if we deny the veracity of the Bible, we are denying Christ Himself! “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2nd Peter 1:20,21 If you do not believe this, you may as well stop reading this blog now.
Yes, there are slight differences in phrasing of scripture from one modern translation of the Bible to the next. But it has been studied and calculated that 85% of scriptural content of nearly all the many versions and translations available are extremely close in capturing the essence of the Book, verse to verse.
2) Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only divine Son of God and was born as God incarnate on this earth in the flesh? “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. At Jesus’ baptism, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 1:23 In John 17:11, Jesus prayed for His disciples, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.” In John 8:56-58, the Jews were debating with Jesus about Jesus’ claim of who he was. “I tell you the truth, Jesus answered, before Abraham was born, I Am.” This title “I Am” is never used elsewhere in the Bible except for describing God. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” John 1:14 “Your attitude should be the same as Jesus Christ, who although existed in the form of God did not think it robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Philippians 2:5,6
3) Do you believe one gains access to the Father God, forgiveness of our sins and the expectation of eternal life only through faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ? “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear. But you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father! Romans 8:15 We no longer fear condemnation because of what Christ did for us. “For He (God) rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption – the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13,14 In John 14:6 Jesus said, “ I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” “Salvation is found in no one else. For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 I feel deeply for those who have been caught in the devil’s lie that there are many paths that lead to heaven.
4) Do you believe it is our faith in Christ alone, and nothing that we have done to bring us our salvation and eternal life? Due to the tendencies of our carnal, sinful nature, there would never be any hope of our deliverance without Jesus’ sacrifice on that cross. “But God demonstrates His love for us in this; while we were still (condemned) sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him (Christ).” Romans 5:8,9
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and it is not from yourselves. It is a gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9 Our participation in our salvation is simply accepting His grace and keeping the faith. However, James 2:17 states, “Faith, by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. That means faith has no spiritual effect if we do not allow the Holy Spirit to help us live a life of good deeds that are aligned with the will of God and not our own wills. I do not want you to confuse these good deeds with spiritual obedience and a resolve to live a holy life that God demands in continuing to prove our faith in Him. There are many good and moral deeds that are done by people that will never know Christ as their savior.
5) Do you believe God’s Holy Spirit lives within you? It is interesting that the Holy Spirit is also referred to as God’s Spirit and Christ’s Spirit in the Bible, fortifying the fact they are all of the same God – three in one. What are the signs that He abides within us? We have a desire to obey and please God. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” Friends, that means if we don’t try to keep His commandments, we have a weak relationship with His Spirit. We should feel a conviction when we sin. “No one who is born of God will continue to make a habit of practicing a lifestyle of sin, because God’s seed remains in him. He cannot go on continually sinning ” 1st John 3:9
Do we have a desire to grow in bearing the fruit of the Spirit, or have we stopped growing and become stagnant (or never even started to grow at all)? We should all know these verses by heart: Galatians 5:22,23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Are we trying to rid ourselves of all other idols in our lives? This is a really tough one given all the worldly distractions Satan has devised. Again, if we are not, we are blocking the Holy Spirit from being the disciples God wants us to be. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Really sobering words! Understand what is being said here. If anyone loves the world to the point where it actually takes away from our love from the Father, it’s bad news. “...For everything in the world; the cravings of the sinful man; the lust in his eyes; the boasting of what he has and does comes not from the Father, but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1st John 2:15-17 I pray your faith is in God and not the world. If not, the abiding of the Holy Spirit within you is suspect.
Does all this mean a Christian cannot enjoy their lives and some of the things the world has to offer? No. It means that we should not use worldly things as a substitute for the fulfillment and joy we should be finding in our relationship with the Father God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. If you truly desire to please God by obeying His Word, and your deepest joy comes from doing so, His Spirit abides within you.
6) Do you believe in the evil one, Satan and his unholy angels and his influence over the minds and lives of humans? tells us, “And do not give the devil an opportunity (to tempt us into sin).” Ephesians 4:27 Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to “put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the devil’s schemes.” “Be self-controlled and alert, for your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1st Peter 5:8 In 2nd Corinthians 11:13 and 14, Paul wrote of Satan, “No wonder there are false apostles, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” He can perform startling deceptions that can unfortunately fool many professed Christians that do not recognize and acknowledge his power.
I’m not trying to frighten you or weaken your faith in God’s protection. The true believer has the power and authority to cause the devil to flee by the name and blood of Christ. One who does not believe in the power of Satan is leaving themselves wide open for the influences of him without any safeguard from God. After all, God doesn’t force anyone to believe or not believe in anything. He’s given us free will to make our own decisions. “Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
7) Do you believe in eternal judgment? (Coming in the future is a series of blogs concerning hell.) Paul instructed the Christians in Romans 14:10, “ You then, why do you judge or look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. But whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains upon him.” John 3:36 “ But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant hearts, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done. For those who persevere in doing good and seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But to those who are selfishly ambitious and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Romans 2:5-8 Yes, God is a God of immeasurable and incomprehensible love. But He also must be a God of wrath in order to prove Himself to be a just and honorable judge.
There are many other doctrinal points in the Bible in which our particular viewpoints have no bearing on our salvation. But we must remember what Paul wrote to Timothy, “ All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequately equipped for every good work 2nd Timothy 3:16
When asked what He thought the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” A “neighbor” can be anyone, even your enemy. Love is the most important principle to God. Everything we do should be done as an extension of our love for God, others and ourselves. John 13:35: “By this, all men will know that you are My disciples – if you love one another.”
I have tried my best in this blog to let the Bible speak for itself. I judge no one. It is not my place to judge your relationship with the trinity. It is only my place to try to teach the truth the best I can by (what I believe to be) the guidance of the Spirit.
May the love of Christ fill you overflowing!