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Five Benefits of Salvation (A Brief Look at Hebrews 6)

Hebrews 6 is a challenging chapter. Several of my friends and I are reading through this chapter each day this week (our Bible study is described here) and then, on Sunday, we will write each other a brief email highlighting something we got out of the chapter before we move on to Hebrews 7.

I want us to focus this morning not on the possibility of one losing his or her salvation, but on the benefits of being in the family of God. Here are the verses I’m thinking about:

There is much here, but I want to list and briefly discuss each of the five benefits of salvation highlighted here by the author of Hebrews. The text speaks of

THOSE WHO HAVE —

1. ONCE BEEN ENLIGHTENED

2. TASTED THE HEAVENLY GIFT

3. SHARED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

4. TASTED THE GOODNESS OF THE WORD OF GOD

5. TASTED THE POWERS OF THE COMING AGE

Although I don’t believe the Bible teaches that a genuine believers can lose his salvation, these expressions sure sound like true salvation, don’t they? If this is not a description of a born-again person, it certainly seems to be true of one incredibly close to the family of God.

Let’s think about each of these descriptions for a few moments. This person has —

1. “once been enlightened”– Would you describe your coming to Christ with those words? You’ve been “enlightened”? God, by His grace, opened your eyes and you saw your sin and His holiness and you fled to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness? Light broke into your soul and you saw the truth!

2. “tasted the heavenly gift” — How fascinating that the writer uses the sense of taste to describe one’s salvation. What is the “gift” to which he refers? The gift of salvation? Forgiveness of sins? A place in God’s family? And notice please that this gift is “the heavenly gift.” We don’t earn it; it is not of this earth. It is direct from heaven to us through the Incarnate Son of God.

3. “shared in the Holy Spirit” — As some of you know, I’ve been working on a book on the Spirit of God and how we can and should develop a “relationship” with Him. What do we “share” in the Holy Spirit? We share our bond in the Lord Jesus. We share God’s purpose in reaching the world for Christ. We share in the gifts the Spirit gives to build up Christ’s Body, the Church. The unbeliever does not have the Holy Spirit, is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, cannot have fellowship with the Holy Spirit. And consequently has nothing to share.

4. “tasted the goodness of the Word of God” — This is the writer’s second reference to tasting. How fascinating! We “taste” the goodness of God’s Word. We are challenged in Psalm 34:8 to “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” If we are feasting on God’s Word, we are tasting of its goodness, its relevance, its incredible practicality in our lives.

5. “tasted the powers of the coming age” — This is the writer’s third reference to tasting. I really don’t know what is meant here, to be quite honest. Perhaps it is the idea that God’s power breaks into our present age through miracles and the conviction of the Holy Spirit in changing lives, through the powerful preaching of God’s Word, etc. Are such truths a foretaste of what heaven will be like? Your thoughts on this point?

Conclusion: Again, my purpose in this post is not to argue if a genuine child of God can get lost. I want us to concentrate on and thank God for the five benefits we have in presently knowing Christ. And why would anyone give those up?

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2021 in Hebrews 6

 

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Twenty Questions about God’s “Rest” in Hebrews 4

1. What is that “rest”?
2. What is the “promise” of entering that rest?
3. How does one fall short of that rest?
4. How does obedience fit into this issue of God’s rest?
5. We who have believed enter that rest! (v. 3)
6. How does God’s resting on the 7th day relate to this topic?
7. There remains for some to enter that rest. (v. 6)
8. Some did not go in because of their disobedience.
9. How does “today” relate to this rest? (v. 7)
10. What is the rest that Joshua could have given them? (v. 8)
11. What is this Sabbath-rest for the people of God? (v. 9).
12. How does one “enter” God’s rest? (v. 10)
13. Does verse 10 show that this rest is salvation (= resting from one’s works)? (v. 10)
14. How is God’s creation rest a good metaphor for this salvation-rest? (v. 10)
15. What is the alternative to not making the effort to enter that rest? (v. 11)
16. What is meant by perishing in verse 11?
17. How are unbelief and disobedience related to one another? (v. 11)
18. What is the connection of this discussion of rest with the next few verses about the Word of God? (v. 12)
19. How does all this relate to Jesus as our great high priest? (vv. 14-16)
20. Is approaching God’s throne of grace with confidence another way of describing salvation — or the Christian life? (v. 16)

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2021 in Hebrews 4

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #25 “Nine Truths about Being Saved!” (A Study of Romans 10)

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 10 each day this week.

NINE TRUTHS ABOUT SALVATION:

Truth #1- Our heart’s desire and prayer to God should be for others to get saved! (v. 1).

Truth #2- Getting saved means submitting to God’s righteousness in Christ! (vv. 3-4).

Truth #3- Christ provides righteousness to everyone who believes! (v. 4).

Truth #4- God’s way is not a righteousness by the law but by faith! (vv. 5-8).

Truth #5- The guarantee of salvation is declaring Jesus is Lord with your mouth and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead! (v. 9). [Interesting verse re the “Lordship salvation” debate].

Truth #6- Both heart and mouth are integral to salvation: one believes with the heart; one professes with one’s mouth (v. 10).

Truth #7- Believing on Him and calling on Him brings salvation, whether one is a Jew or a Gentile (vv. 11-13).

Truth #8- One needs to hear the message of salvation in order to believe in it (vv. 14-15).

Truth #9- Not all who hear the message will accept the good news (vv. 16-21)

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2021 in Romans 10

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #15 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #4

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s notice this morning the fourth blessing: WE CAN NOW BOAST IN THE HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD (v. 2).

I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a clue what that expression means! Boasting in the Lord makes perfect sense. Boasting in our salvation — brought about by His grace — makes perfect sense. What does it mean to “boast in the hope of the glory of God”?

We will see in our next blessing that we are to “glory in our sufferings”! Perhaps this boasting in the hope of the glory of God is one way to describe our settled position in Christ. We have the certain hope that we will share in His glory and live forever in the presence of the beauty and magnificence of the Trinune God.

But right now — I’ve got some boasting to do.  And so do you. Talk about your hope in Christ today — and brag about His grace and mercy in saving you!

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #14 “Eight Blessings of Belief” (A Study of Romans 5:1-5) Blessing #3

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 5 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Here are the eight blessings that I see in this passage:

1. Justified through faith (v. 1)

2. Peace with God

3. Gained access into this grace (v. 2)

4. Boasting in the hope of the glory of God

5. Glory in our sufferings (vv. 3-4)

6. A hope that does not put us to shame (v. 5)

7. God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

8. The Holy Spirit has been given to us

We will think about each of these blessings — one by one — in subsequent posts. Let’s notice this morning the third blessing: WE HAVE GAINED ACCESS INTO THIS GRACE (v. 2).

The exact statement is: “we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” We have obtained entrance into God’s concert of grace. The ticket that let us in was not obtained by our works, but by the finished work of Christ. No bouncer can kick us out. We have every right to enter fully into God’s saving grace. And we are to stand strong in that grace.

Today, thank the Lord for your free and complete salvation in the Lord Jesus — by grace through faith in Him! And stand in that wonderful truth!

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2021 in Romans 5

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #9 Justified! (Some Thoughts on Romans 4)

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 4 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

Paul uses both Abraham (vv. 1-5, 9-25) and David (vv. 5-8) to prove righteousness comes by faith, not by works!

1. Our natural tendency is to try to get ourselves justified by our works (v. 2).

2. Our before-conversion works don’t count! (v. 5).

3. Righteousness is credited to the one who doesn’t work but trusts God by faith (v. 5).

4. Righteousness is credited to those who believe in him who raised Jesus from the dead (v. 24)

5. The Lord Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (v. 25).

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2020 in Romans 4

 

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DON’T FORGET WHO YOU ARE! (A Study of I Peter 2:9-10)

You may have heard the story of the man who said he was going through a double crisis. “Really?” His friend said. “What do you mean?” “I’m going through both an identity crisis and an energy crisis.” “What?” “Yes, I don’t know who I am — and I am too tired to find out!”

I. Your Identity (v. 9)

1. A Chosen People (v. 9)

2. A Royal Priesthood

3. A Holy Nation

4. God’s Special Possession

II. Your Purpose (v. 9)
>> “that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

III. Your New Status (v. 10)

>> You have moved from the category of NOT A PEOPLE to the category of THE PEOPLE OF GOD! And you’ve moved from the sad status of NOT RECEIVING MERCY to the blessed condition of HAVING RECEIVED MERCY!

Today’s Challenge: Do you know who you are in Christ? Then live today as a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and as God’s special possession. Not for yourself — but to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light!

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2020 in I Peter 2

 

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Why Shouldn’t the World Think Us WEIRD? (A Study of I Peter 1:8-9) Part 4 Conclusion

My friend Frank and I are now going through I Peter. This is our read-the-same-chapter-every-day-for-a-week online Bible study which I’ve described here. We’re making great progress going through the epistles of the New Testament. But the following passage from I Peter really got me thinking:

Please forgive my underlining and bolding and changing colors, but these two verses kind of hit me between the eyes. And they help me not to be so surprised when the world looks at me funny and thinks I need medication or a lengthy stay in a mental hospital. Let’s continue our study of these two verses:

I. We Love What We Do Not See!

But others SAW Him — and used empirical language to describe their experience. We are to “walk by faith and not by sight,” but this doesn’t mean that our faith isn’t established on the facts!

We noticed a second truth in this text and it was that —

II. We Believe in Him! (v. 8)

We are not gullible to believe in Him! And there are so many benefits to belief in Christ (survey the gospel of John for a fascinating study!).

We then continued our study by noticing —

III. We Are Filled with an Inexpressible and Glorious Joy (v. 8)

Someone has said that “the mentally and emotionally healthy are those that have learned when to say Yes, when to say No, and when to say Whoopee!” (Willard S. Krabill, M.D.). If there is no contagious joy with the believer, something is wrong and someone needs to get filled.

Let’s conclude our study of these two amazing verses by seeing that —

IV. We Are Receiving the End Result of Our Faith — the Salvation of Our Souls (v. 9)

What is the conclusion, the pay-off if you will, of our faith in Christ? The salvation of our souls! There are other biblical texts that indicate that our salvation is not just of our souls (as we’ll see below), but here Peter’s emphasis is on that surviving-beyond-death aspect of our humanity.

Is salvation of our souls alone? Some believe that the body is the prison house of the soul (which is not a biblical concept). However, Scripture teaches that our natural body is to be resurrected and changed into an immortal body fit for eternity (I Cor. 15:35-58). In fact, our bodily resurrection is referred to as “the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23-24).

Some Christians hold to the idea that we are three parts: body, soul, and spirit (trichotomy). Others (like myself) see the Bible as teaching dichotomy (that the terms “soul” and “spirit” are sometimes used interchangeably). I believe this is what I call a “distinctive” area of belief (in other words, there can be legitimate disagreement between believers without either falling into false teaching). I Thessalonians 5:23 does say, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

As one writer puts it, man is a unified being divisible into two aspects, material and immaterial. “In the Bible these aspects are variously termed, body and soul [e.g., Matt. 10:28], body and mind [e.g., Rom. 12:1-2], body and spirit [e.g., 1 Cor. 7:34; James 2:26], flesh and spirit [e.g., 1 Cor. 5:5; 2 Cor. 7:1], flesh and heart [e.g., Rom. 2:28-29], and, of course, the outer man and inner man [e.g., 2 Cor. 4:16]. Human beings, though they were created to live in the physical world, are also capable of existing in the spiritual realm as disembodied souls or spirits [e.g., Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11]. See the article “Body, Soul, and Spirit: Monism, Dichotomy, or Trichotomy?” found at https://www.equip.org/perspectives/body-soul-and-spirit-monism-dichotomy-or-trichotomy/

One writer says, “The problem with trichotomy is that the words “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeably throughout Scripture. Jesus says that his soul is troubled (Jn. 12:27), but a few verses later, we read that he became “troubled in spirit” (Jn. 13:21). Likewise, Jesus mother says, “My soul exalts the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Lk. 1:46-47). Moreover, dead believers can either be called “spirits” (Heb. 12:23) or “souls” (Rev. 6:9; 20:4). At death, either the “soul” departs the body (Gen. 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21; Isa. 53:12; Lk. 12:20) or the “spirit” departs (Lk. 23:46; Eccl. 12:7; Jn. 19:30; Acts 7:59). The “spirit” knows an individual (1 Cor. 2:11); therefore, the soul and spirit perform the same function. (see http://www.evidenceunseen.com/theology/anthropology/trichotomy-or-dichotomy/)

Conclusion: From our brief study of I Peter 1:8-9 we’ve seen that we are to love Him whom we do not presently see, are to believe in the One who is not visible to us right now, and that both those responses are to fill us with unbelievable joy! The bottom line is the salvation of our souls — and we should not be surprised if the world thinks us weird! God doesn’t!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2020 in I Peter 1

 

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God’s Co-Workers! (A Study of 2 Corinthians 6:1-2)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

Let us continue our study of several verses in chapter six:

God’s Co-Workers! (2 Cor. 6:1-2)

1. The Incredible Privilege (v. 1)
We are God’s co-workers! He doesn’t need us! But He has invited us in. And we get to work with Him!

2. The Critical Message (v. 1)
“We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” What does that mean to “receive God’s grace in vain“? God’s grace not only saves us, it teaches us how to live (see Titus 2:11-15 for a full explanation of God’s teaching grace). Our lives are not to be content with just being saved from His wrath. We are to press on to godliness and conformity to Christ!

3. The Crucial Present (v. 2)
“Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” This sure sounds like a gospel appeal, doesn’t it? Were there unsaved in Paul’s Corinthian audience? Of course. But perhaps he is referring to more than soul-salvation. He is challenging these believers to a life of response to the God who “heard” them and “helped” them.

Today’s Challenge: If you are in full-time professional ministry, take time to thank the Lord for your partnership — with HIM! If you are not in vocational Christian ministry, thank Him for the work you are enabled to do for the kingdom — by His grace and strength!

 
 

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Reconning . . . Reconciliation! (A Study of 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.

We’re now working our way through 2 Corinthians. Here’s my outline for several verses in chapter five:

Reconning . . . Reconciliation! (A Study of 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

To “recon” means to investigate, to explore, to do surveillance on. In these verses Paul reminds us of several critical truths which ought to guide us in living for Christ right now! Notice that our reconciliation

I. Has Changed Our View of . . . Everything! (v. 16)

II. Has Made Us a New Creation! (v. 17)

III. Has Given Us the Most Important Ministry Possible! (vv. 18-19)

IV. Has Commissioned Us to Appeal to Others to Be Reconciled to God! (v. 20)

V. Has Been Established on the Basis of Christ’s Atoning Work for Us! (v. 21)

Today’s Challenge: Are you aware that you are a “minister of reconciliation”? Your audience are those who are enemies of God because of sin and need to be brought into a place of peace with their Creator. And you — and I — get to be part of that redeeming message! Look for opportunities to engage in that ministry today!

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2020 in 2 Corinthians 5

 

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