Our Salvation Is Quite Sure

My favorite of all the apostles is John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I love his Gospel, and the three epistles that he wrote, and of course,  Revelation.

There are a couple of things I love about John’s writings:

  1. He reminds his readers that he was an eye witness to Jesus life, death, and resurrection.
  2. He clearly sets out the evidence for Jesus’ divinity.
  3. He focuses, particularly in the epistles, on the love of God.
  4. He reveals the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers.
  5. He provides believers with an assurance of salvation.

It is this last point that I want to write about today. Early in the history of the Christian faith, deceivers had come into the church who taught that one had to achieve sinless perfection to be saved. John wrote his first epistle to combat this heresy. The same type of heresy has crept into many legalistic denominations even today. By outwardly following the rules, such people claim to be without sin. But as John writes:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10 (NIV).

John here provides assurance that the fact that the believer sometimes sins does not negate their salvation, because Jesus is faithful and forgives our sin. One of the definitions of assurance on Dictionary.com is “full confidence; freedom from doubt; certainty.” Throughout this epistle, John provides further assurance that those who trust in Jesus can be assured of their salvation even though they are not sinless and perfect.

The word “know” appears 42 times in this short epistle because John wants to make sure believers know that God loves them and that they can rely on His promise of salvation. In each of the chapters of the epistle, John includes his assurance:

I am writing to you, dear children,
   because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
   because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
   because you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:12-13 (NIV).

 

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

1 John 3:21-24 (NIV).

 

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”

1 John 4:15-16 (NIV).

 

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

1 John 5:13-14 (NIV).

 

None of us is perfect and completely sinless. If we were, we would not need a Savior. But we do need Him, and we thrive best knowing that He is faithful in His promise of salvation for those who believe.

John does not advocate living a life in which we sin ‘willy-nilly’ simply because we know we can be forgiven.

Now don’t get me wrong. Those who truly believe in Jesus, and trust in Him for salvation, will desire to keep God’s commands. His Spirit living in our hearts will help us to overcome the temptations of the world and to love as He has commanded.

You may be struggling today with worries that you are not good enough, or that God will give up on you and you will lose your salvation. But remember – God is faithful in His promises and He has promised eternal life to all who believe in Jesus and allow His love to live in them. He has not hidden the truth from us, but has made Himself known through His Son and the witness of the apostles so that we can be assured of our place in His Kingdom. Your salvation is sure.

aasignLinda

 

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Call To All Sons

12624 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

Hebrews 2:10, ESV

“God is the One who made all things, and all things are for his glory. He wanted to have many children share his glory, so he made the One who leads people to salvation perfect through suffering.”

Hebrews 2:10, NCV

There is complexity embedded in this verse. But that shouldn’t stop us from understanding its scope and meaning, yet there is the compelling question.

How did Christ learn obedience through suffering when he was already perfect?

Christ was human and “tempted in all points as we are and yet perfect and without sin,” and thus Christ was sinless.  The humanity of Jesus can be seen throughout the gospels. He hungered, and he got thirsty. We see him very tired, and sleeping in the back of a boat in a storm, which reveals his humanity. However, “He committed no sin, neither was their deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

Only humans need to learn obedience. And everyone of us have faltered. Yet he didn’t. He had to learn, but He didn’t fail. As a man, He met every issue and every obstacle with a solid and a profound obedience. He learned how to obey, but without any failure, or fault.

In every person’s life, we are challenged to obey. There are so many twists and turns, and each of us has stumbled. It can be quite painful. We are also learning “obedience through our suffering.” It seems our own trials and suffering are the tutors teaching us about our Father, and His kingdom.

This thought, “bringing many sons to glory” is of significant consideration. It reveals the intent and purpose of Jesus coming and doing all of this. He wanted to open the doors for all those who come to salvation. In a direct way, His intention was to become our escort, or safeguard to make a way for us into the Presence.

The words, “many sons,” shows the breadth and width of His work. It is considerable. The idea of “sons” is just as astonishing. We are not slaves, forced to labor in the quarries or mines. We are sons and daughters, His own children. Eternity is too short of time, I suppose, for us to hold and occupy this kind of glory.

“They strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:22, NLT

Be Ye Glad!

“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

1 Peter 4:13, KJV

BE YE GLAD Lyrics

In these days of confused situations.
In these nights of a restless remorse,
When the heart and the soul of the nation,
lay wounded and cold as a corpse.
From the grave of the innocent Adam,
comes a song bringing joy to the sad.
Oh your cry has been heard and the ransom,
has been paid up in full, Be Ye Glad.

(Chorus)

Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.

From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.
You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they’ve had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.

(Chorus)

So be like lights on the rim of the water,
giving hope in a storm sea of night.
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter,
for these fugitives in their flight.
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle.
You are winsome and young as a lad.
And there is no disease or no struggle,
that can pull you from God, Be Ye Glad.

Words and Music by M.K.Blanchard 
© Gotz Music/Benson 
(860) 673-5100

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The Man of the Tombs, [the Demoniac]

images (1)I’d like to share with you what I’m thinking this morning.  I hope you will persevere and go through it.  I identify with the “Man of the Tombs” so much.  I am sometimes asked about mental illness and demon possession, but I can give no real light.  All I know is that both are real and similar to each other.  Evil however has a presence about it that can be addressed and cast out.  Mental illness, on the other hand, is often a lifelong issue that requires management.  To complicate things there can be a combo of the two, with demonic exacerbating the medical issue.  God has gifted some in the Church with a gift “the discerning of spirits.”

This tells me #1, it is needful. #2, we should encourage this kind of gift as people have an even greater need today. Today there exists a deeper level for sin, with temptation never imagined by our grandparents generation. It seems that sin, and the resulting bondages, are more advanced.

I believe that Jesus has the power to free the captured heart. He also comforts day-by-day the minds and souls of the mentally ill. I will let Him decide what is what.

The Gerasene Demoniac, Mark 5, The Message Paraphrased

They arrived on the other side of the sea in the country of the Gerasenes. As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves.”

No one could restrain him—he couldn’t be chained, couldn’t be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones.

 6-8″When he saw Jesus a long way off, he ran and bowed in worship before him—then bellowed in protest, “What business do you have, Jesus, Son of the High God, messing with me? I swear to God, don’t give me a hard time!” (Jesus had just commanded the tormenting evil spirit, “Out! Get out of the man!”)

 9-10Jesus asked him, “Tell me your name.”  He replied, “My name is Mob. I’m a rioting mob.” Then he desperately begged Jesus not to banish them from the country.

11-13″A large herd of pigs was browsing and rooting on a nearby hill. The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs so we can live in them.” Jesus gave the order. But it was even worse for the pigs than for the man. Crazed, they stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned.

 14-15Those tending the pigs, scared to death, bolted and told their story in town and country. Everyone wanted to see what had happened. They came up to Jesus and saw the madman sitting there wearing decent clothes and making sense, no longer a walking madhouse of a man.

 16-17Those who had seen it told the others what had happened to the demon-possessed man and the pigs. At first they were in awe—and then they were upset, upset over the drowned pigs. They demanded that Jesus leave and not come back.

 18-20As Jesus was getting into the boat, the demon-delivered man begged to go along, but he wouldn’t let him. Jesus said, “Go home to your own people. Tell them your story—what the Master did, how he had mercy on you.” The man went back and began to preach in the Ten Towns area about what Jesus had done for him. He was the talk of the town.”

Scripture taken from Mark 5:1-20, The Message by Eugene Peterson

 

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Joy Means ‘Strength’

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“Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalem singing,
    crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
    and they will be filled with joy and gladness.”

Isaiah 35:10, NLT

Part of our personalized history includes an opportunity to have a rich contact with ‘joy’.  Joy really has its introduction with our redemption.  When grace latches on to us we find ourselves soaked with gladness and real joy.  It is as if we stepped into a waterfall of mercy.  It has divine origins.

Isaiah speaks of joy as a crown.  To have a crown is a great thing.  When we discover our new headgear is a crown, we can find joy.  People who are troubled and distracted about their salvation are rarely joyful.  Without the confidence of the Holy Spirit, joy cannot find a place to settle, so it moves on.

Let’s be very clear– joy is not happiness, or cheerfulness.  It is not found in great worship, or a rousing time of singing.  Joy is actually strength in God and it is the primary way of defeating the enemy.  It will drive Satan and the demons back into the darkness.  When we are cloaked in joy we will push through a great number of obstacles and leap over fortress walls.

Joy is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit.  This means a lot of things, but it definitely means that we cannot fabricate it or develop it in our lives.   Joy is one of those proximity indicators.  When we more closely approach the Lord we find ourselves percolating with a deep sense of joy.  We are where we belong.  And our soul knows it.

“I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.”  

Psalm 132:16, KJV

A good analogy for me is this. Joy is the box we get to open to get to the salvation that’s waiting inside.  When we look at the subject of the believer’s joy we discover that it is a quality and a fruit of our relationship with God.  We can’t ‘develop’ it, or make it happen.

No one is ever commanded to produce joy on demand.  It will come when by faith you step up to fully receive your salvation.  Joy is not an option that only a few people get.

“Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water
   from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you’ll say,
   “Give thanks to God.” 

Isaiah 12:3, MSG

The joy is waiting for you, and when you have it, you will wonder how in the world you ever lived without it.  Believers will find that joy will be the freshness to follow Jesus in a very beautiful and delightful way.  And those who have a disability or a ‘mental illness’ will find joy to be God’s way of boosting us through hard times.  And this will be the very thing we’ve been waiting for.

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Are You a Half-Shekel Short?

The Jerusalem shekel
How much money a person has can make a big difference in many things in life. It can mean the difference between shopping for groceries as Whole Foods or WinCo, or not being able to shop at all but having to go to a food bank instead.

Money can mean the difference between driving a BMW, or a 30-year-old “beater car”, or not being able to have a car at all. Money can mean the difference between having designer clothes and a nice house or wearing hand-me-down clothes and living in a one-room shack, or not having but the clothes on your back and a cardboard box to keep you warm at night.

But there is one thing that’s available to all regardless of financial circumstances. The rich have no more claim to it than the poor. And that is the gift of salvation offered through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Once when I was reading through Luke, I came to the story of when Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus. Describing His conversation with them, Luke says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:27.

When I read that, I realized that all of the Old Testament, and not just the New Testament, is about Jesus. He existed before the world began and His story is the story of God’s relationship with His people. At that time, I prayed and asked God to show me where Jesus was revealed in the Old Testament scriptures as I read them.

Another time, in answer to that prayer, God revealed an interesting passage to me in Exodus. Generally, the book of Exodus is considered the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and their subsequent wanderings in the desert of Sinai. This is not a book where one normally would think to find reference to Jesus. But it is there nonethless.

Then the LORD said to Moses, ”When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. . . . Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.

This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives.”

Exodus 30:11-15, NIV

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p>When I read this, it became clear that the price to ransom every person’s life is the same. Whether we are rich or poor, the price to pay for all our sins and redeem us, to reconcile us with God, is the same. And that price was the life of Jesus Christ; He is the half shekel. The price has been paid. Satan seeks to hold us captive, but God paid the kidnapper’s ransom 2000 years ago on Calvary.

The rich are no better off because they could give more; the poor are not at a disadvantage because they cannot pay the price themselves. Standing before God on our judgment day, rich or poor stand in the same position. The only question is whether you and I will claim we have paid the price ourselves by our good deeds and works, or whether we will accept the offer of Jesus to take care of our debt and to pay our ransom price.

So are you feeling like you are a half-shekel short in life? Look to Jesus who is our half-shekel who ransomed us all for God.

ysic, Linda

Please check out Linda’s blog. It’s found at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/

I Bind Unto Myself Today

Patrick, Apostle to Ireland

I Bind Unto Myself Today
By: attr. St. Patrick

I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever,
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, his might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need,
The wisdom of my god to teach,
His hand to guide, his shield to ward,
The Word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three,
Of whom all nature has creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word.
Praise to the Lord of my salvation;
Salvation is of Christ the Lord!

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Hymn # 172 from Lutheran Worship