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If I Really Listened to and Followed . . . Hebrews 12 —

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2021 in Hebrews 12

 

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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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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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Major Themes in the Book of Galatians (Ch. 2 Part 3)

We continue picking out major themes in this great NT epistle of Galatians.  I’m using these posts to guide my study as I prepare to teach the book to students at Word of Life Korea in June.

As we think our way through this six-chapter letter, we’ve seen two themes in chapter two.  Let’s now notice a third theme:  the living out of the Christian life (vv. 19-21)!

The law, though good, only serves to show us our sin and to bring death!  But we then receive LIFE through the Son.  We are crucified with Christ; our old life is over.  We now have Christ living in us (v. 20).

But this is not a passive life.  Paul says, “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God . . .” (v. 20).  The idea that Christ lives His life (again) through me has led some believers to a kind of passive, Quaker-like existence.  No!  We are to actively add qualities to our faith (see 2 Pe. 1), to pursue godliness, to now live in the body (v. 20).

Trying to live one’s life by keeping the law means that one is setting aside the grace of God.  If that is how righteousness could be gained, then Christ died for nothing (v. 21)!  No one will be justified by keeping the law — not even the Apostle Peter!

 

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2018 in Galatians

 

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Some Challenges from Colossians! (Part 3)

We’re doing a quick chapter survey of the epistle to the Colossians. We’ve looked briefly at chapters one and two.

This morning let’s take a couple of notes on chapter three.

Twice we are told to “set [our] minds” in chapter three (vv. 1-2). We are then commanded to execute, put to death, the sins which belong to our earthly nature (v. 5). We are to “rid” ourselves of such things as anger, rage, malice, etc. (vv. 8ff).

We are then told to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, etc., and to bear with and forgive one another (vv. 12-14).

We are to let Christ’s peace rule in our hearts, to be thankful, to admonish one another, and to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (vv. 15-17).

Specific instructions are given to wives, husbands, children, fathers, and slaves (vv. 18-25).

Wow! God’s Word is as specific as what I think, how I treat others, how I look at everything I do!

Anything here you need to work on?

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in Colossians 3

 

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Time for a Great Commercial (nothing hidden!)

Don’t you hate it when you find out about hidden fees, the small print, warranties that don’t cover exactly what you needed covered?  Here’s a great commercial from Ally Bank:

It makes me wonder — Do we hide aspects of the Christian faith from those we are trying to win to Jesus?

Here are five questions that occur to me that might be areas that we HIDE from unbelievers:

  1.  We might not make it clear that trusting Jesus as Savior means giving up one’s efforts to save oneself.

  2.  We might hide the fact — or fail to model it ourselves — that we are now no longer our own authority.  The Bible, the Word of God, is our final authority.

  3.  We might not emphasize enough that we are now SLAVES of Christ — and we are to live to do His bidding!

  4.  We might fail to explain that this fallen world is not our home.  We look forward to the New Heavens and Earth.

  5.  We might cover over the fact that we are the aroma of Christ to those who believe, but the stench of death to those who don’t (2 Cor. 2:14-17)!

    Your thoughts?

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2017 in the Christian life

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord: Psalm 123

Psalm 123

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I lift up my eyes to you,
    to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till he shows us his mercy.

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
    for we have endured no end of contempt.
We have endured no end
    of ridicule from the arrogant,
    of contempt from the proud.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2017 in spiritual vision

 

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“Few of us would escape the gallows!”

“If we were brought to trial for the crimes we committed against ourselves, few would escape the gallows.” (Paul Eldridge)  The following short video shows this point:

Let’s try a brief experiment.  If you are a long-time reader of this blog, would you consider posting a short comment today?  What’s one way that you hurt yourself in your Christian life?

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2017 in the Christian life

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon! (Unconditional Surrender!)

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“Unconditional surrender” — A great description of what ought to mark the Christian’s life.

Why ought the believer unconditionally surrender to the Lord?
(1) If He is Lord, He deserves our obedience, our worship, our service.
(2) Because He is Lord, He knows better than we do. Following His Word makes perfect sense IF it is true (which it is).
(3) We need to recognize that our sinfulness gets in the way of our listening to and following the Lord.

May I ask you, where are you unconditionally surrendering to the Lord?

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2016 in surrender

 

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Lessons I’m Learning in the Loss of My Teaching Position (Part 2 of 4)

Friends:

Many of you know that I have been teaching theology and other Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 8.24.12 PMsubjects at Columbia International University for about 19 years.  That chapter in my life has now come to an end.
Because of declining enrollment in the seminary and the need to get Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 8.15.35 PMthe budget in line with our upcoming accreditation visit, I and nine other CIU employees were let go:  four faculty and six staff.  It was a sad day when we each learned that our contracts would not be renewed for the coming year.

But God is faithful — and we are keeping a list of how He is meeting our needs!

I grew up as a baby Christian on the hymn “Count your blessings — Name them one by one — Count your blessings — See what God has done!”  Linda and I are counting our blessings and trying to stay alert in noticing the specific ways in which the Lord is answering our prayers.  Here are three of our recent blessings:

1. He gives us friends to encourage and strengthen us in our present trial.
2. He provides opportunities to serve Him and use whatever gifts He has given us (I’m in my first week of teaching a survey of Bible doctrine to lifers at a local prison).
3. He helps the two of us to get more serious in our prayer life together.

My prayer for today: “Lord, help me to get better at my spiritual math, counting the blessings You are bringing my way. Forgive me when I allow wrong thoughts to camp on my front porch — thoughts that I have been abandoned, discarded, devalued, not worth fighting for. Remind me of Your presence and incredible concern for me and my family. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2016 in blessings

 

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