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I’m Saved! In Church I Walked Down The Aisle and Said A Prayer…


SIH STSTA ICONAs a Pastor of 15 years, I used to ask the question, “Have you ever been saved from your sins?”.  I have received many different responses to this question.  Here are a few of them…

“Of course, I was baptized as a baby in (church name)”;

“Yes, I am saved, I am a member of (church name)”;

“Yes, I have kept all the sacraments of my church”;

“Yes, I was born into a Christian family, we’ve been Christians for at least four generations”;

“Why yes, thank you for asking, I walked down the aisle of (church name) and said the sinners prayer back in September of 2001”;

and many, many more.

It has broken my heart to hear responses like this coming from those for whom I care.  If you notice, in every case, the above responses imply that our salvation is based on something we have done.  The Bible makes it plain that our salvation does not lie in what we have done, but what the Lord has done in us.  (John 6:44-45, 6:63-66, Eph 2:8-10, Php 2:12-13, Col 1:25-29, Titus 3:4-5)

So where did we get the idea that salvation is based on something that we have done?  Sad to say, in many cases, the churches of today must take responsibility for fostering this false belief.  Since I am a Baptist pastor, I will use Baptist churches for my example… my heart aches when I see other Baptist pastors, at the close of the service, beg and plead for people to “come down the aisle and be saved” or “repeat the sinners prayer after me and be saved”.

In many cases, this is done by well-meaning pastors who are trying to encourage those in attendance to make a commitment to Christ.   But, instead of bringing about commitment, they are encouraging others to trust in a work for their salvation.

Please remember, a person can be saved just as easily standing in the pew, or sitting in a chair, or lying in a bed etc etc.  The Lord can work in the heart at anytime and any place, not just at the altar in the front of the church.  Likewise, salvation comes through Christ creating faith into the heart of the faithless, not by us saying any prayer.

Whenever the gospel message is given out in the Bible, it is never accompanied with the instructions to walk an aisle, or say a “sinner’s prayer” (the same can be said for baptism, church membership, keeping the sacraments, or being born into a Christian family).   The gospel message, when given in the Bible, is accompanied with the instructions to trust in Christ and His work. (Acts 16:30-31, John 3:15-16 etc etc)

The only way we can be certain we are saved is by knowing the Lord has worked in our lives.  How can we know this for sure?  The Bible makes it plain….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. … For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:17-21)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  (Jas 2:14-26)

THE STUDY:

In the Bible, a true salvation experience brings about change in the life of the believer.  When God intervenes in the life of a sinner and brings him to salvation, the newly saved person becomes a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17-21)  This “new creation” involves a new attitude about the Lord and sin.  (Eph  4:22-24)  The newly saved now sees Christ as their Lord and despises the sin in their life.  This new attitude then motivates the Christian to begin a life of service to their Lord and Savior.  This service is described as fruit bearing. (John 15:1-5, Gals 5:19-26)  This changed life is one of the reasons why God has saved us (Eph 2:8-10).

Also, this changed life is what gives us the ultimate assurance that the Lord has worked a work of saving grace in our lives. James clearly presented this principle in James chapter 2.  In verses 14-26, James refers to “dead” faith as opposed to a Godly saving faith.  How can we tell the difference?  James tells us the works that we perform will reveal the true nature of the faith we have within us.   The lack of a changed life shows us that the faith we possess is not of God but simply a work that we performed in and of ourselves (a dead faith).  A changed life brought about by our faith, shows us that our faith is a work of God in our heart. (Please read James 2:14-26 in it’s entirety to come to a full understanding of James’ teachings.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

So let me rephrase my original question, “Have you ever exercised faith in Christ?  If so, has this faith produced a changed life within you?  Do you now love the Lord and seek to please Him with your life.  Do you now hate sin and strive to rid it from your life?”  These questions get to the heart of our spiritual condition.

If you can say, “yes” to all three, you can be assured that you have been forgiven of your sins and are a part of God’s family.  If you must say “no” to any, or all, of these then you must come to the realization you are yet in your sins.  If you are yet in your sins, please follow the dictates of God’s Word….

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”(1Jn 5:11-13)

If you would like more information about salvation, please refer to my blog page entitled “forgiveness”.

Also, if you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Live In-Between Right and Wrong – By Kathryn Eriksen


Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

angel devil shoulder simpsonsI was waiting in line at the Post Office yesterday, when I heard loud voices on the other side of the glass doors. Someone was angry and expressing it in a loud voice that demanded attention.

Everyone standing in line raised their eyebrows or shook their heads. Suddenly, the glass doors flew opened and a young man stormed inside and demanded to see the supervisor.

Sally (OK, so I know her name…I am in there a lot) said in her most professional voice,

“I’m sorry sir. But you were already speaking to the supervisor.”

Silence for half a heartbeat.

Instead of beating a hasty retreat, Angry Man decided to notch it up one step further.

“Then I want to see his supervisor!”

To her credit, Sally retained her poise. Everyone else in line was slightly appalled by Angry Man, but of course, no one said anything. As Sally left her…

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The Message of Ten Cent Beer Night


“Ten Cent Beer Night”… June 4, 197SIH STSTA ICON4, is a night that will live in infamy.  For all of us who are Cleveland Indians fans, just the mention of this horrendous night still sends chills of shame through our bones.  The food that was thrown onto the field, several fans that entered the field causing game delays and, of course, the ninth inning riot; were just a few of the highlights of this unforgettable evening.  This was the lowest point in the history of the Cleveland Indians and, many believe, the lowest point in all of professional sports.  The worst that Cleveland had to offer was clearly seen that night.

By the way, to finish off the evening, the Indians were forced to forfeit the game to the Texas Rangers.  (If you happened to be born after 1974 or you have never heard of this momentous night please feel free to learn more about it at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Cent_Beer_Night)

News of this game not only rocked the Cleveland area, but hit the national news as well.  Cleveland became the laughing stock of the nation, once again.

So what could the entire nation learn from this horrible night?  What lesson could the Lord have been trying to teach us by allowing this night to take place?    I’m sure many lessons could be learned, but the most obvious is this… the need for self-control.   Just think what a difference would have been made if everyone would have kept themselves under control.   The over-indulgences of beer and the resulting inhibitions of the evening would have never taken place.  And the shame of the public indecencies would have been avoided.   All would have been different if self-restraint had ruled the night.

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

Here, in Galatians 5: the word translated “temperance” is a Greek word that means “self-control” or “the strength to overcome within ourselves”.   Temperance is the exercise of the strength necessary to control our passions and the lusts of our flesh.

In his writings, Paul made it plain that there is a war that is constantly at work within the lives of Christians.  (Rom 7:14-25)   On one side is our “old man”, desiring to find satisfaction in many sinful pursuits; on the other side, our “new man” desiring for our lives to be pleasing to God.  (Eph 4:17-32, Col 3:1-14)

It takes a tremendous amount of inward strength for the “new man” to overcome the ways of the “old man”.  By “inward strength” I’m not talking about natural, fleshly self-resolve.  I am talking about a divine strength given from our Lord through the Spirit working in our life.  This is why “temperance” is described as a “fruit of the Spirit”.

As a Christian grows in the knowledge of His Word, he should see a gradual, outward growth in his life.  This outward growth is characterized by the gradual, consistent, departure of habitual sin from the Christian’s life.   Much like an infant gradually grows to maturity, so too, a Christian “infant” as he feeds on God’s Word should grow into a mature spiritual man. This was Peter’s wish for all of those who were saved by His grace. (1 Pet 2:1-3, 2 Pet 3:18)   As we grow and mature in Christ, we too, should be seeing a greater control over the sinful desires of our flesh and mind.  This is true spiritual growth and this is of what bearing the fruit of “temperance” is speaking.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For the Christian, “temperance” should be a greatly desired commodity.  The more we possess self-control; the more we please our Lord and Savior, and the more we can glorify Him in our lives.   This is what the Christian life is all about.  In Ephesians 1:1-14, we find a listing of the Trinity’s role and motive in our salvation:

Eph 1:1-6 – God the Father’s role…. Please notice why does the Father do all of this for us?  “to the praise of the glory of His grace”…. In other words, He worked in our lives to save us so that we could be shining trophies of His grace to all the world!

Eph 1:7-12 – God the Son’s role …. What was the Son’s motive in saving us? “That we should be to the praise of His glory”…. So that we might praise Him with our lives!

Eph 1:13-14 – God the Spirit’s role… Why do He do this?  “unto the praise of His glory” … so He would be glorified by us!

In each case, all three persons of the Trinity worked to save us so that they might be honored, obeyed and praised by us!

For those who have never experienced the Lord’s saving grace in your life, your first step to living a life of self-control over your sinful desires is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.  Please remember, true spiritual temperance is a gift of God’s grace, we cannot possess temperance without Him.  By believing in Jesus (His work and His message) you will not only receive forgiveness but also the indwelling Spirit who will enable you to lead a temperate life through God’s Word.  May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Know any Gossips?


Originally posted on Sue's Pen2PaperBlog:

“The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Prov.18:8

“A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.” Prov. 20:19

“A gossip betrays a confidence; but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Prov. 11:13

“A perverse man stirs up dissention, and a gossip separates close friends.” Prov. 16:28

“Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit.” Ps. 52:2

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.” Ps. 34:13

“Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife.” Prov. 26:20-21 

~~~~~~

http://www.elahministries.com   http://www.facebook.com/elahministries

elah501c@bellsouth.net

Blessings to you.

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Oh What A Thing Fear Is!


SIH STSTA ICON

One of the most difficult things in life, for me, is to be forced to face my worst fears.  The longer I live, the more I am noticing one important truth… my fears are at their worst when I am not thinking about my Lord.  Where faith is, fear shrinks away. Within the confines of Scripture, we can find many principles about how a Christian can get through the fearful times in their life…

THE SCRIPTURE: And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. (1Sa 12:19-24)

THE STUDY: In our text, the Lord had given the nation of Israel judges to rule over them.  A judge had been given the authority from God to enforce the laws of the Lord, but they could not make any new laws.   Israel saw that the other nations were ruled by kings.  These kings had both the authority to uphold existing laws and to write new laws.  Out of jealousy, the Israelites demanded that Samuel place into office a king, so they would be like all other nations.  (1 Sam 8:)

It is easy to miss the horrible sin they were committing… by asking for a King, Israel was saying, the laws of God were not sufficient meet their needs, they needed a King who could add to the laws of God. What a horrible attitude to have!  No wonder, when they realized what they had done great fear fell upon them. In our Scripture, we find the basic principles Christians are to follow when faced with fears of any type: “And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.”

Principle #1 – At times, we bring fearful times upon ourselves due to the sinful choices we make.  By living lives of obedience to Christ we can avoid some of our fearful times. (Exo 20:19-20) “And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness:… For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.”

Principle #2 – Despite our past failures, by placing the Lord first in our lives (through repentance), we can rest assured the Lord will be with us… He is a great, faithful, forgiving Lord. (Psa 130:4) “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you:”

Principle #3 – During fearful times we should be thinking of others and not just ourselves.  We should be prayerfully seeking to meet the spiritual and physical needs of those around us.  By concentrating on others, the Lord helps take our mind off our fears and trials we are facing. (1 Thess 5:23-25) “but I will teach you the good and the right way:”

Principle #4 –  The fearful times of our life are great opportunites to present the truths of God to others.  This can be done through our words as we tell others about Him goodness to us during fearful times.  But also, it can be done through our lives as they watch us handle the fearful times with grace and peace.  (James 5:10) “Only fear the LORD”

Principle #5 –  During our fearful times, as we concentrate on the Lord’s greatness in authority, power, faithfulness, and wisdom.  This develops a reverence or “fear” of Him in our hearts and minds.  In His greatness we can find comfort, and assurance, knowing He is in control and accompanying us in our daily walk. (Gen 15:1, Deut 20:3-4, Deut 31:6-8, 1 Chron 28:20, 2 King 6:16-17) “and serve him in truth with all your heart”

Principle #6 – Fearful times in the life of a Christian should bring us closer to Him.   Our service should be greater, our relationship to Him more intimate.  This will lead to greater strength and peace during the troublesome times. (Zech 8:13) “for consider how great things he hath done for you.”

Principle #7 – We are to be remembering His past gracious acts on our behalf, saying as King David did, “David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.”(1Sa 17:37, Isa 43:1, Joel 2:21)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION

For the Christian…. In these times of economic and political uncertainty, fear is beginning to enter the lives of even the strongest of Christians.  During these fearful times, please remember… Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  (Php 4:6-7) (see also Matt 6:25-34)

For those who have never trusted in Christ… Your main concern should be on your eternal destiny… And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  (Mat 10:28) Above all else, please keep in mind, if you are eternally secure in Christ all the events of this world fade in comparison.

Just knowing that you are going home to be with the Lord for an eternity, takes the  sting out of even the greatest life threatening trials we may face in life…. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   (1Co 15:55-57)

Look to Jesus Christ and turn to Him in faith.  He will forgive you of your sins and be with you throughout the trials this world may throw your way….  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isa 55:6-7)

http://www.settledinheaven.org

 

Lowering the Flags of our Fathers


Originally posted on messytheology:

attachment“This church, along with our whole city, was completely destroyed. The Allies’ bombs wiped it from the face of the earth.”

I shifted uncomfortably as our middle-aged German guide came to this point in our tour of historic Worms this weekend. She had proudly taken us around her beautiful city, pointing out the significant remains of its long, multi-layered history dating back to the Roman Empire and playing a significant role in the Protestant Reformation. But now photographic images of the mass devastation that this civilian population endured at the hands of our grandparents confronted me with a side to the story that I had never really considered before. How could this local citizen so calmly look our group of mostly British and American scholars in the eye and talk about it? Rather than use this opportunity to protest the “terror bombings” carried out against her people at the close…

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You Are Not Overlooked


Once again I find I must make this writing personal in order to clearly make my point. You see, I know what it means to be overlooked. I have experienced that most of my life. In fact, I was told on many occasions that I was no good and that I would never amount to anything. Yes, I have been overlooked on many occasions as well. Now, don’t misunderstand. This is not always the case; it is just when I go to some churches and certain other functions. For instance, in the company of my Bishop many choose to turn their backs toward me even if the Bishop and I are conversing. Yes, that is just one way in which I have been overlooked. Still, God has not turned his back on me and speaks to me face-to-face.

In spite of all the heartache and pain I have come to realize that I have not been overlooked. Sure, this brief article might sound like it is about me. It is not. I just want those who seem disenfranchised and who are downcast to know that there is hope. You are not walking alone and have not been forgotten. In fact, the converse is true. You have Jesus on your side as long as you are walking upright. After all God honours the upright heart. No, don’t you dare fret and you had better not give in. You have not been forgotten and you have not been overlooked. Be comforted in the fact that God will never leave you nor will He forsake you. You are the apple of His eye.

Even though I have been through some difficult times those times did not destroy me. I suspect the same is true of all that read this. Yes, there have been tears. There has been immeasurable pain. Some may have even considered suicide. Some may be considering suicide even now. Well, don’t you do it! Don’t you dare harm yourself! You are loved and you have not overlooked. God has a plan for your life and that plan includes good and not evil. So, as Charlotte the spider would say, chin up!

If truth be told I am not a nobody. I am somebody and have grown into and am continuing to grow into what God would have me to be. Neither are you a nobody. You are a child of the Most High. You are the head and not the tail. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and an heir of God and joint heir of Christ. You are somebody and have not been overlooked. You are somebody so I would encourage you to no longer walk in the yoke of bondage which seeks to cause you despair. Instead, walk in the liberty wherein Christ has made you free. You are somebody and have not been overlooked!

Kid’s Notes to God


Originally posted on FOR THE LOVE OF GOD:

merryheartbanner

Recently a Sunday School Teacher asked her class to write notes to God. Here are some of the notes the children handed in:

  • Dear God: Are You really invisible or is it just a trick?
  • Dear God: I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool.
  • GIrl_2_Writer_BrownDear God: Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t You just keep the ones You have?
  • Dear God: I bet it is very hard for You to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I’m having a hard time loving all of them.
  • Dear God: In school they told us what You do… But Who does it when You’re on vacation?
  • Dear God: Is it true my father won’t get in to Heaven if he uses his bowling…

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