The word faith can be very misunderstood in the context of our personal salvation. In the book of James we read about two distinct type of faith that are not able to save.
“For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
“You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”
Also the apostle Paul gives us a warning in 1 Corinthians 15 about a type of faith that is useless in regard to salvation.
1 Corinthians 15:1–2
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.”
In these three examples are types of non saving faith mentioned in the Bible:
1. A faith that is dead
2. A faith that is demonic
3. A faith that is vain
We have the Christian lingo down and often tell others that you just need to have faith in God or have faith in Christ. If a family member, friend or neighbor were to ask you about faith in Christ could you give them a proper definition, illustration and Scriptural support? Would you be able to distinguish for them betwee dead faith, demonic faith and useless faith? Continue reading…
As people enter our doors this Easter Sunday, will they see us as real people worshiping a real Savior? Will they enter a community of grace? Tim Chester, in his excellent book, You Can Change, lists some great questions to discern if your church is a community of grace, and thus attractive to broken, needy sinners.
- Are people open about their sin or is there a culture of pretending?
- Is community life messy or sanitized?
- Are broken people attracted to your community?
- Is conflict out in the open or is it suppressed?
- Are forgiveness and reconciliation actively pursued?
- Do you constantly return to the cross in your conversation, prayers and praise?
In the past decade, many books, endless blog-posts, and countless conference sessions have illuminated this exodus away from organized religion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard (and used) the statistic that 3500 churches will close their doors this year, never to reopen. In many cases, the death of these churches is not a tragedy. Looking at a recent Pew Forum survey will help make this point.
Researchers from Pew Forum discovered the following when surveying a cross-section of adults who claim to be evangelicals (Southern Evangelicals are the subject here only because they tend to have a higher adherence rate than evangelicals in other regions – this is best case scenario):
- 98% of all southern Evangelicals believe in the existence of God
- 41% of southern Evangelicals believe there is only one true interpretation of the Bible’s teachings
- 36% of professing Evangelicals in the South believe their religion to be “the one, true faith that leads to eternal life”
If 98% of Southern Evangelicals are certain about the existence of God, but only 36% of the same group believes their faith is uniquely true, then 64% of professing Evangelicals in the South believe in a gospel contrary to that of the Bible. Simply put, the average church and the average Christian in America do not understand or believe the Gospel. When a church loses the revolutionary power of the Gospel, legalism and religion replace it. Churches are dying because they are nothing more than organized religion, which cannot change the heart of men. When a legalistic dinosaur dies, that’s a good thing!
To read this entire article from the Resurgence Blog simply CLICK ON THIS LINK.
When we speak of Scripture as “sufficient,” we mean that the Bible reveals everything God wants us to know about his will, and how to be saved from his wrath. The Bible was given for a very specific purpose. The Bible does not teach us everything that might be useful or practical to know, nor was it intended to do so. The Bible was not given to satisfy sinful human curiosity, nor will we find answers to all of the mysteries of life. The secret things belong to God (cf. Deuteronomy 29:29).
But the Bible does reveal both the law and the gospel. The law is that which God commands of us and is found in a passage such as Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments). The gospel is what God gives to us in Jesus Christ which meets the demands of his law, and is spelled out by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (as but one example). Although the moral law is universal–it us written upon our hearts because we are created in God’s image–only in the Bible do we find God’s law in written form so that God’s will is perfectly clear to all.
I am constantly on the lookout for books, quotes, audios and videos that can help deepen our understanding of the gospel. In some reading this morning I came across the following quote from Tullian Tchividjian as it relates to our daily growth as Christians.
"Every temptation to sin is a temptation, in the moment, to disbelieve the gospel–the temptation to secure for myself in that moment something I think I need in order to be happy, something I don’t yet have: meaning, freedom, validation, and so on. Bad behavior happens when we fail to believe that everything I need, in Christ I already have; it happens when we fail to believe in the rich provisional resources that are already ours in the gospel. Conversely, good behavior happens when we daily rest in and receive Christ’s “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of our being every day— into our rebellious regions of unbelief (what writer calls “our unevangelized territories”) smashing any sense of need to secure for ourselves anything beyond what Christ has already secured for us."
When I have sin in my life, at that very moment, I am choosing to find my happiness or security in something other than Christ. My problem is that I am not believing the gospel. I called Pat earlier this week and said I know the gospel is true, I can articulate it and even break down the verbs and nouns. But in my sinning, though I know the gospel to be true, at the time the sin is happening it is NOT true for me. And though my standing before God has been declared righteous I still am dealing with the presence of sin which wages war. The solution for that sin past, present and future is "THE GOSPEL." He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God promises to give life to people who will reflect his glory.
God promises to destroy evil and rid the world of its curse.
God promises to bless people from all nations.
God promises to reconcile sinners to himself through a sacrifice for sins.
God promises that his people will live under the blessing of his rule forever.
God promises that all his people will walk in all his ways.
God promises to bring new life from the grave. . . .
Here is the breathtaking sweep of what God promises us in Jesus Christ. Jesus came and lived and died and rose again so that:
We might become a new creation fully reflecting the image of God.
We might be delivered from the curse of evil.
We might enjoy the blessing of God together with a vast company of redeemed people from all nations.
We might be reconciled to God through Christ, who offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins.
We might live under the blessing of God’s rule forever.
We might walk in God’s ways, loving him with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
We might receive new life from the grave. . . .Continue reading…
Jesus comes to set the captives free (Luke 4:18). He frees you from everything that is smaller than Himself.
"Under every behavioral sin is the sin of idolatry and under every idol is disbelief in the gospel." - Martin Luther
You don't fully realize what idols you have in life until God takes them away.
Whatever your heart clings to and relies on becomes the very thing you worship.
Our trials are God's platform to capture us by His grace.
The Bible never teaches us to go out and get what we don't have but rather to take hold of what we do have in Christ.Continue reading…
You may spoil the gospel by substitution. You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to Faith, — Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place, — the Church, the Ministry … and the mischief is done …
You may spoil the Gospel by addition. You only have to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honour, and the mischief is done …
You may spoil the Gospel by disproportion. You only have to attach an exaggerated importance to the secondary things of Christianity, and a diminished importance to the first things, and the mischief is done. Once alter the proportion of the parts of the truth, and truth soon becomes downright error …
— J. C. Ryle, quoted by Peter Adam in
Hearing God's Word
(Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2004), 24
This book of the Bible helps to reaffirm for me the importance of Bible doctrine. God's truth is absolute and not relative like so many today would like to proclaim. Even though we may want to have shades of grey in our religion we serve a God who teaches us in black and white. I have said before and will continue to say that doctrine divides. It divides truth from error, right from wrong, wheat from tare, sheep from goat and believer from non believer.
A key application for us from Leviticus is our distinctiveness as Christians from the world around us. Is there a marked difference in our lives in regard to the truth of God's word? Or do we just blend in with everyone else in our tolerance of things that are unholy. Are we so casual and lukewarm in our faith that there is little contrast between us as Christians and our non-believing neighbors? God says to us today "be holy as I am holy." We no longer are under the food restrictions of the OT Jews however we should stand out as different unto the glory of God!
- You believe that God has done His part, now you have to do yours.
- You believe that every time you repent, God wipes your slate clean.
- You believe that people are saved because they responded to an altar call.
- You believe that it is unfair for God to command things people can't do.
- You believe that God helps those who help themselves.
- You fear that the Rapture might take place before you get a chance to repent of your latest lapse from Christian character.
- You think the Book of Life is written in pencil.
- You feel compelled to remind everyone that obedience is necessary lest they think that because salvation is of grace and not works, grace is a license for sin.
borrowed from Contra Mundum website
Do we really believe that the path to eternal life is narrow? So narrow that not even atheist hippy pop stars will make it in? Don your shallow thinking cap and come wander some contours of meaning in this parody of Rob Bell's Love Wins book trailer.
from the book Counterfeit Gospels by Trevin Wax