The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

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Cut Off

Posted by israeliteindeed on October 14, 2015

First, two things to remember:

1. Whatever things were written before (about Israel) were written for our learning (Rom. 15:4).

2. All these things happened to them (Israel) as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (I Cor. 10:11).

Keeping these two things in mind, we need to consider God’s dealing with Israel when Israel–as a whole–stopped obeying God.

“Cut Off”

Throughout the writings of the Law and the Prophets, it was written that those who disobeyed God in specific ways were to be “cut off” from among their people. That would mean they were no longer considered part of God’s congregation/assembly. Keeping the two aforementioned Scriptures in mind, it should be easy then to understand that the modern teaching of OSAS (“once saved always saved”) is a lie. If an Israelite could be cut off from God’s people for particular sins, and those things were recorded for our learning, then we too can be cut off from God’s people if we do not continue in God’s goodness (Rom. 11:22).

But there is another lesson in this that I’d like to bring out, which is: Being born a Hebrew in the Old Testament in no way kept a person from being “cut off” from God’s people. Blood or family relations didn’t save during the times of Moses, didn’t save during the times of the prophets, and still doesn’t save today. This is important because the false teaching of Talmudic “Zionism” teaches that if people are related to Abraham (or more specifically his son Jacob), they are the chosen people, or “God’s people.” Such is not the case, and both testaments are clear on this.

Let us look at specific examples of sins that were punished in the OT (Old Testament) by the sinner being “cut off.” With each one, I’ve included NT (New Testament) parallel Scriptures, which further demonstrate that the New Covenant completes and fulfills the Old. Notice that responsibility is placed on each person, under either covenant, to keep the covenant or be cut off. To be “cut off” from God’s OT “congregation” was exactly the same as being “cut off” from the NT Body of Christ/the True Vine/the Olive Tree.

“Cut Off” for:

OT: Not being circumcised if male–Gen. 17:14
NT: Circumcision of the heart unto obedience is a non-negotiable for the believer; it is defined spiritually in Rom. 2:28-29 and Phil. 3:3–We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. I Cor. 7:19 makes it clear that obedience is the principle issue.

OT: Eating leavened bread during Passover–Exo. 12:15
NT: Sinning willfully–“eating leaven” after having knowledge of the Truth (Christ, our Passover slain for us) leads to damnation–Heb. 10:26-27.

OT: Anointing man’s flesh or anointing “an outsider”–Exo. 30:32-33
NT: Laying hands on people who have not been proven righteous leads to partaking in their sins (I Tim. 5:22). No flesh is to glory in God’s presence (I Cor. 1:29).

OT: Profaning the Sabbath–Exo. 31:14
NT: There remains a rest for the people of God, into which we must labor to enter, or we can fall “according to the same example of disobedience”–Heb. 4:9-11.

OT: Partaking of the Lord’s sacrifice while unclean, eating the fat or blood–Lev. 7:20-27; 17:10-14
NT: Partaking of the Lord’s supper while defiled by sin, and without self-examination, a man becomes guilty and brings damnation to himself–I Cor. 11:27-31. Bringing a gift to God’s altar while there is a need for reconciliation with a brother results in our worship not being accepted–Matt. 5:23-24.

OT: Shedding animal blood unlawfully–Lev. 17:3-5
NT: There was a prescribed way to be cleansed by blood–a way that foreshadowed the True Way, and in the New Testament it is revealed that the blood of Christ is that Way. It is the only lawful way to have sins forgiven–I Pet. 1:18-21, Heb. 9:22, etc.

OT: Committing sexual immorality–Lev. 18:29; 20:17-18
NT: Such will still cause one to be cut one off from God’s family/kingdom under the New Covenant–Acts 21:25, I Cor. 6:9-10, I Cor. 10:8; I Thess. 4:3, Jude 7, Rev. 22:15. I Cor. 5 explicitly teaches that the sexually immoral are to be rejected from the fellowship of the Church until they repent; we are not to pretend they are God’s people.

OT: Eating the sacrifice when it was more than 2 days old–Lev. 19:5-8
NT: This seems to teach a general principle that we cannot rely on old victories, but must have a new and fresh relationship with God by offering our bodies a living sacrifice continually–Rom. 12:1. Yesterday’s manna is gone; today we need to partake of Jesus (and His death/resurrection) again to remain alive. Jesus taught the cross must be carried daily–Lk. 9:23. We must take heed when we think we stand lest we fall–I Cor. 10:12. And we must be diligent to continue to grow spiritually lest we stumble–2 Pet. 1:5-11.

OT: Sacrificing children to the devil–Lev. 20:1-3
NT: Abortion/ritual child sacrifice, not parenting righteously; no murderer has eternal life–Eph. 6:4; Mark 9:42; I John 3:15.

OT: Consulting witches or familiar spirits for knowledge–Lev. 20:6
NT: Sorcery disinherits a person from the kingdom of God–Gal. 5:20-21; Rev. 21:8, 22:15.

OT: Attempting to serve the Lord as priest while being unclean–Lev. 22:3
NT: The highest of standards are required for the N.T. priests of the Lord–I Pet. 2:9. Those who attempt to teach others while being unclean will be judged more severely–James 3:1. Bishops and deacons must be blameless and have a good testimony–I Tim. 3:1-13. Every saint who hopes for the final redemption is to purify himself just as He is pure–I John 3:3.

OT: Not being afflicted in soul on the Day of Atonement–Lev. 23:29
NT: Considering the blood of Jesus as “a common thing” and insulting the Spirit of grace by trampling the Son of God underfoot is worthy of even more punishment than rejecting the laws of Moses–Heb. 10:28-31. To take the Lord’s supper unworthily without proper sincerity and self-examination results in judgment/damnation–I Cor. 11:27-32)

OT: Not observing Passover–Num. 9:13
NT: It is clear that any who do not look unto the Lord’s death and resurrection as the source of their redemption cannot be considered God’s people–Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Acts 4:12, etc. Jesus commanded His disciples to eat the Passover meal as a remembrance of His broken body and shed blood–Luke 22:15-20. Paul commanded NT Christians to eat the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him, proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes–23-26.

OT: Presumptuously sinning or despising God’s Word–Num. 15:30-31
NT: Sinning willfully after knowing the truth results in there remaining no sacrifice for your sins–Heb. 10:26-31. We must receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save our souls–James 1:21. It is the Word of God by which we are born again–I Pet. 1:23, and unless we are born again, we cannot see the Kingdom–John 3:3.

OT: Not purifying oneself after being contaminated by the dead–Num. 19:13
NT: Being “contaminated by the dead” could be seen as communing with unbelievers; we are to have no intimate fellowship with them, lest the Lord refuse us as His sons and daughters–2 Cor. 6:14-18.

OT: Not purifying oneself after any uncleanness–Num. 19:20
NT: Everyone who hopes in Jesus “purifies himself just as He is pure”–I Jn. 3:3. The Church is to have “no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish”–Eph. 5:27. The pure in heart shall see God–Matt. 5:8. People who only have a “form of godliness” while being impure are rejected–2 Tim. 3:1-5. For this reason the Lord called the Pharisees “whited sepulchers” (painted tombs) and commanded them to cleanse themselves inwardly–Matt. 23:25-28.

OT: General disobedience and serving other gods (I Kin. 9:6-7)
NT: We are to flee from idolatry–I Cor. 10:14. Idolatry and other forms of disobedience are listed as “works of the flesh” and “they who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.” To remain in Christ, we must have our flesh crucified–Gal. 5:19-24.

Hopefully it is clear that while the OT foreshadowing rituals have been superceded by the NT redemptive reality, God has always and will always expect absolute obedience from His covenant people. Hopefully it’s also clear that no Jew or Hebrew was ever exempt from the possibility of being “cut off” if he disobeyed.

More Examples:

Here are examples of specific people who were “cut off” in the OT–

1. Saul was rejected as king because of disobedience and rejecting the Word of the Lord–I Sam. 15:26, and the Spirit departed from him–I Sam. 16:14. His life ended with suicide–I Sam. 31:4.

2. The house of Jeroboam was “cut off” because of his idolatry–I Kin. 14:7-14.

3. The house of Ahab was “cut off” because of his sin, including murder–I Kin. 21:19-22; 2 Kin. 9:8.

4. In the days of Jehu, the Lord “cut off parts of Israel” because of sin–2 Kin. 10:32.

5. Uzziah was “cut off from the house of the Lord” because of pride and burning incense unlawfully–2 Chron. 26:16-21.

6. Evildoers are “cut off” from the earth, Israel, Judah, or the city of the Lord/Jerusalem–Psa. 34:16, 37:9, 37:22, 37:28, 37:34, 37:38, 94:23, 101:18, 109:13, 109:15; Prov. 2:22; Isa. 9:14, 22:25, 29:20; Jer. 7:29, 44:7-11; Lam. 2:3; Ezek. 14:8, 14:21, 17:9, 21:4; Hos. 8:4, 10:15; Mic. 7:15; Zeph. 3:7; Mal. 2:12.

7. After the apostasy of Israel, those Israelites who would not humble themselves under the yoke of Babylon would “perish” and “be consumed,” but those who would serve the Babylonians (acknowledging God’s righteous judgment) would “remain in their own land” and “live”–Jer. 27:8-17.

Hopefully we see that the Old and New Covenants had this similitude: under both covenants a man could be “cut off” because of sinning and/or not keeping the terms of the covenant. This truth undermines the present day lies of both OSAS and Zionism. Yes, we can be cut off after entering the New Covenant by faith. And yes, OT Jews/Hebrews were also cut off for disobedience, and were never guaranteed as “God’s people” unless they kept the covenant. The promises were only theirs by obedient faith.

Paul seems to sum up this whole thing nicely with his picture of the Olive Tree in Romans 11–a Tree which both Jews and Gentiles from the beginning have been part of by faith. He is very clear that both the “natural branches” and the “grafted-in branches” can be cut off and lost.

What does this teach us about Jews/Israelites today? Are they God’s people?

The simple answer is: Only if they have obedient faith in Jesus Christ.

He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.(Jn. 5:23)

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (I Jn. 2:22-23)

Dear reader, if a Jew/citizen of Israel does not honor the Son, he has been “cut off.” He is an antichrist. It’s that simple. Let no one deceive you with empty words.

The only people who are not “cut off” are those who exercise obedient faith in God’s Word.

Abraham, technically a gentile called out of a pagan nation, became the father of both Jews and Gentiles (including some OT Gentiles like Rahab, Ruth, some of David’s fighting men, etc.) who have his faith. These, along with the God-honoring gentiles who preceded Abraham (like Noah) are God’s children. The saints who went before had to obey the light they were given, and we also must obey the light we are given in our own age. Now that the True Light–Messiah Jesus has come, God commands all men everywhere to repent and obey Him personally. Those who refuse will be cut off and burned in the fire, even if they are Jews (Matt, 3:7-12).

And he (Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. (Heb. 4:11-12)

The promise given to Abraham is to His Seed–Christ, and those who are in Christ:

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16)

Therefore it is of faith…that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”)… so that he became the father of many nations. (Rom. 4:16-18)

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:29)

God bless you!

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Those Who Are Called

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 4, 2014

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (I Cor. 2:22-25)


Who are “those who are called”?

Does God only call a select few from among the Jews and Gentiles, and enable only them to answer the call? Does God then cause those select few whom He called to inherit eternal life? If you only read the following passage, you might think so:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom. 8:28-30)

Paul is referring to those who presently “love God.” “Those who are called” = “those who love God.” Those who love God are “the called according to His purpose,” because they are submitted to His purposes rather than their own. And these, Paul says, were “foreknown” by God, predestined to look like Jesus, called to follow Jesus, justified and glorified. Paul speaks of these things as having already been done in the past, but this does not mean that a calling guarantees the final glorification. We need to carefully weigh this passage with other passages before concluding that God only calls certain people, or that one who is called always inherits eternal life.

Remember, Peter acknowledged that some of Paul’s writings were “hard to understand,” and “untaught and unstable people” were twisting his writings to their own destruction. Then Peter warns, “THEREFORE…beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” (2 Pet. 3:15-17) So let us have a look at other Scriptures that speak of our being called.

The call can be ignored with terrible consequences.

Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes (Prov. 1:24-26)

This call of God to hear His wisdom and submit to it has gone out since the beginning to all simple ones, scorners and fools (1:20-22). This is a call to forsake our own wisdom and cleave to God’s Wisdom (Christ.) But many refuse to take God’s hand, disdain His counsel, and reject His rebuke. He called, but they refused. It is only those who turn at God’s rebuke who come to know His words (1:23). Many in Jesus’ day had already been ignoring God’s call; thus their hearts were ill-prepared to see the salvation of God (Psa. 50:23). They would not turn at His rebuke, so they were denied access to His Words.

The call comes through/in God’s Grace.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace… (Gal. 1:15)

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. (Gal. 1:6)

This is the same grace that has appeared to all men and teaches them to live soberly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-12). When Jesus was lifted up, He drew all men to Himself. The ultimate display of God’s love should cause us to love Him and answer His call to be like Him. But there are some who count the blood of Christ a common thing and insult the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29).

The call comes by the gospel.

to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 2:14)

And to whom are we commanded to give the gospel?–to every creature from every nation (Mk. 16:15; Col. 1:23).

The call includes a command to repent (Not everyone repents).

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

Peter is teaching that everyone who is called can receive the promise if they repent! The call itself does not necessarily mean eternal life is guaranteed.

The call is a call to leave darkness and come dwell in light.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Pet. 2:9)

The call is a call to follow Jesus.

Early in Jesus’ ministry, He began to call men to follow Him. We should wonder what made Him call certain people and not other people in those early days. Why did He call fishermen and a tax collector, for example, rather than esteemed leaders of the day. Wouldn’t more well-known people have had more influence? Paul explained this in I Cor. 1:26-31–

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Notice:

1. The words “called” and “chosen” seem interchangeable in this passage. For example, “Not many wise…are called, but God has chosen the foolish.”

2. God purposely refrained from choosing that which had fleshly glory, so that no flesh could glory in His presence.

3. In so doing, He fulfilled His word in Psa. 18:27, 25:9; 147:6, 149:4; Prov. 3:34, etc., in which He promises to save and help the humble. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble!

Does this mean that someone who had an esteemed position among men could not be called, chosen, or saved?–No, for Paul was advanced in Judaism and his credentials did not keep him from being saved. Yet he had to humble himself and submit to Jesus, counting his credentials as rubbish (Phil. 3:8). Many who have the esteem of men will not risk losing it for Christ, as Paul did. Nicodemus also was a leader who was looking for truth, and Jesus responded to his search for understanding by teaching him.

The call is a call into the fellowship of Jesus.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (I Cor. 1:9)

Is one who is called into this fellowship guaranteed to remain in this fellowship?

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I Jn. 1:5-7)

We must walk/remain in the light in order to remain in fellowship with Jesus.

The call to fellowship with Jesus is a call to suffer patiently.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps I Pet. 2:21

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10).

not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. I Pet. 3:9

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. I Pet. 5:10

If we aren’t willing to suffer with Him, neither will we be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17).

The call is a call to fight a good fight.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Tim. 6:12)

The call is a call to be holy, obedient saints.

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: (Rom. 1:5-7)

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (I Cor. 1:2)

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (I Pet. 1:15)

The call is answered when someone obeys it by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called… (Heb. 11:8)

The call must be followed by knowing the One who called us.

As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (2 Pet. 1:3)

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

We must walk worthy of the calling! (Some do not!)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Eph. 4:1)

We do this by putting off the old man with all of its ungodly behaviors, and being taught by Christ how to live in true righteousness and holiness (same chapter, vss. 17-32).

We must be diligent to make our calling and election sure, lest we stumble!

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Pet. 1:10)

If you do these things you will never stumble“–the things mentioned in vss. 5-7. That is, we must add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. If we do not do these things, our calling and election are still unsure.

We must go past being called to being sanctified and preserved in Jesus.

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ. (Jude 1)

Those who are not sanctified are not doing God’s will (I Thess. 4:3). Only those who do God’s will and obey Christ’s teachings shall be saved (Matt. 7:21). We are sanctified and preserved as we abide in Jesus, the Word of God. Scripture is clear that those who don’t remain abiding in Jesus will be cut off the Vine because of their fruitlessness (Jn. 15:5-6).

We must go past being called to being chosen and faithful.

For many are called, but few are chosen. Matt. 22:14

Judas was called and even given supernatural power–

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. (Matt. 10:1)

Judas was chosen

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (Jn. 6:70)

But Judas was not faithful

This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. (Jn. 12:6)

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ (Jn. 13:17-18)

Those with Jesus are called, chosen, and faithful:

These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)

In summary, the call of God goes out through the earth to all nations, to every creature. So in that sense, all men are called to come to Christ. Yet, “those who are called” in our original passage refers to those who have not ignored the call (in general, the humble), have not received God’s grace in vain, have repented, and have obeyed the gospel. These are following and fellowshiping with Jesus, are suffering patiently, are fighting the good fight, are being holy and obedient, are walking worthy of their calling, and are being sanctified by Jesus as they abide in Him. These will inherit eternal life if they are faithful to the end, and do not turn from the heavenly calling as Judas did.

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Gather with Jesus or Be Scattered

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 13, 2014

The following is taken from Luke 11:17-26.

Jesus taught that His kingdom is superior in strength to satan’s kingdom, and demonstrated it by casting demons out of people. He has power in Himself to overthrow the devil’s hold on a person in order to “plunder satan’s goods.” God can and wants to deliver us from the power of darkness and convey us into the kingdom of the Son. (Col. 1:13)

Jesus issued this very black and white statement–

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Lk. 11:23)

We are either in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of satan. We cannot be somewhere in the middle. The only way to be firmly in the kingdom of God is to be gathering with Jesus (following Him as a sheep follows a shepherd). Any other posture is considered against Him, or treason. And to stop gathering with Him is to begin to be scattered.

Now look at His words in vss. 24-26.

It is not enough to have an emptied and cleaned out spiritual “house.” If we do not gather with Jesus–or fill our “house” with Jesus–we are just empty vessels, still useful to the devil in the future. He has only to search out our weaknesses to gain a foothold in our lives again. We can clean up morally and even profess to be the Lord’s, but if we don’t come to His table and eat His spiritual flesh and drink His spiritual blood, we have no life in us (Jn. 6:53-56). If we do not abide in the Vine, we are still in danger of a fiery destruction (Jn. 15:6). If we are not living according to the Spirit, we are easy prey for the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). There is no “eternal security” for those who aren’t continually gathering to Jesus.

We must never rest on our past deliverance. The cleaned-up state of our house today does not necessitate that it must always be so. Without active work, what is clean today can be filthy tomorrow. As a matter of fact, a once-evicted spirit can return with seven others more wicked than himself unless a person has filled his house with the Spirit of God! And who is God’s Spirit given to, but to those who are gathering to Jesus by obedience to His Word? (Acts 5:32) And so, to keep firmly in the kingdom of God, we must continue in our active devotion to its King.

Gather to Jesus and actively, decisively follow Him. Incline your ears and heart to His teaching, as recorded in Scripture, and your will to applying it. In Him is Life, and that Life is the light of men (Jn. 1:4). Without Him, the darkness will overtake us. But he who gathers with Him, to follow Him, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Jn. 8:12)

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Seeing, Hearing, & Understanding

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 8, 2014

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ Matt. 13:15

Here we see that though the Word of God is sent to heal sinners (Psalm 107:20), they must see, hear, understand and turn in order to be healed. While turning is the act of repentance without which no one can be saved, I would like to focus this study on the seeing, hearing, and understanding that are also important. This is not a comprehensive study, but a starting point for the reader. Please commit some time to studying these passages for yourself with a desire to see and hear and understand what the will of God is.

In Deut. 29:4, Moses declares that although he has been faithfully leading the Israelites for years, God has not given the people hearts to perceive, eyes to see, and ears to hear. Why not? Is the fault God’s or the people’s?

In Isa. 6, the judgment of God is predicted by the prophet, by which God seals the people in their chosen blindness, deafness and lack of understanding until there is devastation and destruction of the people as a whole. Out of this destruction, a tenth (remnant) is manifested as faithful to God. It is this prophecy to which Jesus refers in Matt. 13:15, and it was fulfilled when the majority of the Jews rejected Jesus (the Word made flesh) and a minority repented and believed.

In Isa. 30, God provides further detail as to why the people were blind. They were seeking counsel from the world (Egypt) rather than from Him (vss. 1-2). God instructed Isaiah to record that the people were rebellious children who refused to hear God’s Word. They preferred their spiritual blindness so much that they even commanded those who could see, “Do not see!” (vss. 8-11) As the proverb correctly states, There are none so blind as those who will not see. Dreadful judgment would fall on this people because they despised this Word (of God) and trusted in oppression and perversity (vss. 12-14). But to those who would humble themselves and cry for God’s help and wait for Him to guide their steps, He would give them eyes to see and ears to hear His voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” He would give them understanding so that they would throw away their idols as the abhorrent, defiling things that they truly were (vss. 19-22).

Isa. 32:1-4 speaks of a time when ears will be opened, eyes will see, and hearts will understand under a King who reigns in righteousness. (That King has been installed on God’s holy hill; let all the earth acknowledge and worship Him.) The complacent daughters who are “at ease” in Zion are commanded to give ear to God’s speech (vs. 9), for the harvest they expect is not going to come in. While there are some who are seeing, hearing and understanding in Zion because they have submitted fully to Zion’s King Jesus, there are many more who are complacently on their way to a rude awakening. The competing voices of the world have led them by degrees away from giving ear to God’s Word and building their lives accordingly. They do not know that their “house” is not as destruction-proof as they think (Matt. 7:26-27).

When we can still hear the Voice saying “give ear,” we had better give ear. There may come a time when that Voice says instead–

Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed. (Isa. 6:10)

Likewise, when the Word of God says, “Walk while you have the light,” we had better have enough fear of God to get stepping. Otherwise the darkness may yet overtake us! (John 12:35)

Isa. 35 again pictures a time when the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. What we see in this chapter is a hungry and thirsty remnant of people who are weak in themselves and dependent upon God. Not only are they redeemed by the blood of Jesus from their old way of life, they are willing to walk the Highway of Holiness all the way to Zion. Make sure you are in this remnant!

In Jer. 5:20-25, God convicts the people of having useless eyes and ears again. And what are the causes?–No fear of Him (22), defiance and rebellion (23), and iniquity and sin (25). Indeed He declares that it is their sins that have withheld good from them! (25)

The prophet Ezekiel is commanded to receive into his heart and to hear with his ears all of God’s Words (3:10). He is then to relay God’s Words to other people whether they hear or refuse to hear (3:11). Both prophet and people have a choice to hear or to refuse to hear. If we hear and obey ourselves, we can be God’s spokesmen to others. If we do not, He will take away the candlestick of His presence and leave us and our “ministries” in the dark. Not only will we not see, we will be unable to help others. If we try to help others, we will only be the blind leading the blind into a ditch. Please understand that many ministries today are charging full speed ahead without the light of God! They do not even know that He is not with them.

In Ezek. 12:1, God again indicts this blind and deaf people, stating the reason for their blindness and deafness–“They are a rebellious house.”

Through the prophet Zechariah, God issues a scathing rebuke that blames the spiritually deaf for their own deafness–

They refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. (Zech. 7:11-12)

Stephen, speaking by the Holy Spirit, called his countrymen stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Whose fault was it that they had uncircumcised hearts and ears? Do we not have a duty to circumcise our hearts and ears to yield to the Holy Spirit of God when He speaks? Yet this crowd stopped their ears yet again at Stephen’s rebuke, and stoned him to death for his words. This is still happening today. Those who speak truth are often despised, while those who say pretty things that flatter sinful men are followed, supported and praised.

How do we respond to the Word of God?

Paul reminded Timothy that people will turn their ears away from the truth, having ears that itch for fables instead! (2 Tim. 4:3-4) They will not endure sound doctrine, and so will stop their ears to it. Why?–because of their own desires which conflict with God’s will and Word. It is a dangerous thing to set oneself against the Word of God! And unfortunately the devil has provided many teachers to satisfy the itching, uncircumcised ears of these rebellious people who abound today. But their rebellion will lead to their destruction if they do not turn around.

We are instructed to incline our ears to the Words of God’s mouth (Psa. 78:1). We are commanded to apply our ears to words of knowledge and our hearts to true instruction (Prov. 23:12). Inclining and applying are action words. God opens the ears of the poor–those who are not wise in their own eyes, but depend upon God to show them what is right (Job 36:15). Those who then do what He says will be blessed.

Repeatedly Jesus finished His teachings with this command, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” The Word and instruction of God has been sent to heal us, but we must circumcise our hearts and ears to hear. Otherwise our hearts will be like stony, unplowed ground, unable to be penetrated or made fruitful by God’s Word.

Additionally, we must walk by His light each day in order to see where we are going. It is in His Light that we can see light (Psa. 36:9). Just as the physical eye cannot see anything at all without the presence of some external light source (sun, moon, lamp, etc.), we cannot see spiritually unless we walk in and with the Light of the World. For thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. To walk with Him, one must follow Him. He alone knows the steps we should take and how to keep us on that Highway of Holiness that ends in Zion.

By worshiping blind and deaf idols, people become spiritually blind and deaf also (Psa. 135:15-18). This can occur even after being born again and washed; a washed sow can return to wallowing in the mud and become unclean again (2 Pet. 2:22). This happened to many in Israel (I Cor. 10:1-11), and it can happen to us if we are not careful to hear and apply God’s Word daily in our lives. The apostle John reminded believers to keep from idols (I Jn. 5:21), for idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9; Rev. 21:8).

When we turn from blind and deaf idols to the living (seeing, hearing, understanding) God, we are then changed into His image by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18). Our eyes and ears will then be opened to see and hear, even as the God we worship sees and hears. He will open our understanding to rightly understand the Scriptures He has breathed (Luke 24:45.) Just as Jesus went about opening the eyes of the physically blind, it is He who opens spiritually blind eyes of those who truly want to see. He counsels the lukewarm church to come directly to Him for forgiveness, sight, and true riches (Rev. 3:18). It is through knowing Him–Jesus–that we receive wisdom and revelation, and have “the eyes of our understanding” enlightened (Eph. 1:17-18).

It is my prayer that as you study these and other passages, you will hunger and thirst to see, hear and understand all that God wants to teach you. That you will repent of any known, willful rebellion against God, and trust in Jesus Christ fully as the only Way. There are many who profess to see, and to be leaders of others, but by their sinful actions we know them to be blind. Leave these blind guides and cleave to the Son of God who will never lead you astray.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day would not admit their blindness without Jesus and step into His light. They resisted and twisted, rather than submitted to, God’s Word; therefore their sins remained upon them despite their outwardly religious lives (John 9:41.) This is also the case with multitudes of people who go to church and profess to know God today; they are blind and in need of eye-salve from Jesus, but they insist they see.

May your eyes truly see. May your ears truly hear. May your heart truly understand. And may you turn that you might be healed.

God bless you.

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False Ideas about God

Posted by israeliteindeed on December 24, 2011

What we believe about God does greatly affect our lives and character. After all, Christians are supposed to be “followers of God.” Contrary to what some well-educated and popular men teach, God has NOT:

1. Given His moral laws (10 commandments) SO THAT we break them.  While the law cannot save, but only show–through our disobedience–that we need a Savior, the law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul. It represents God’s perfect will for our lives, not a standard God has placed purposely out of our reach.  Salvation forgives us for our treason and cancels out our sin-debt, gives power to overcome the sins we have allowed to overcome us, and restores us to the loving, law-abiding status of the obedient children of God. According to Jesus, the moral commandments can be summed up in 2 commands–love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself.  Who among us, who has truly been to the cross of Christ and remorsefully looked upon the One our sins have pierced, rejects the law of love?–Paul said if anyone loves not the Lord Jesus (our King and Redeemer), let him be accursed.

2. Cursed us with a level of depravity from which we cannot repent. When He commands all men to repent, He expects all men and holds all men accountable to obey that command. (Acts 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9; Luke 13:3, 24:47)  To disobey the command (which is sent from God to lead us to salvation), is to harden our own hearts, to hate knowledge, to set at nought the counsel of God, to reject the fear of the Lord and despise His reproof. Those who do this will eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.  For the turning away of the simple shall slay them.  (Prov. 1:31-32)

3.  Unconditionally chosen a few to salvation while unconditionally damning the rest. Jesus said anyone who has seen Him has also seen the Father (Jn. 14:9). Jesus healed all who came to Him (Matt. 12:15; Lk. 6:19) and forgave the sins of all those who demonstrated faith, saying He would reject none who came to Him (John 6:37). Rev. 22:17 clearly says the offer of life is for “whosoever will.”  Furthermore, those who did reject Jesus, did so contrary to His will, for He testified with tears, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I WANTED to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but YOU WERE NOT WILLING!” (Matt. 23:37) If in fact, God destined from eternity past to damn these Christ-rejectors because it was His delighted will for them to perish, Jesus was being facetious at best and purposely deceitful at worst when He wept over this city and charged its people with being unwilling to come.

4.  Limited the atonement for the lucky few.  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I Jn. 2:2)  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (Jn. 12:32)

5. Forced “irresistable grace” on the select few.  The grace that brings salvation has appeared to ALL MEN–Titus 2:11-12–and CAN be resisted. God is not a rapist. Love allows Himself to be resisted. To say He does not is to make Him less honorable than most earthly men are; few earthly men are dishonorable enough to force their will on a woman. The Pharisees and lawyers REJECTED THE WILL OF GOD for themselves, not having been baptized by him [John the Baptist]. (Luke 7:30)  Stephen testified to his accusers, “You always resist the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 7:51)

6.  Saved people in such a way that they can’t leave Him even if they want to. His command is “Abide in me” and if you don’t, you will be lost.  His command is deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him, and if you don’t, you will be lost.  His command to those who want to be disciples INDEED (not just in name) is “Abide in my Word.” (Jn. 8:31)  If you don’t, you will be lost.  His command is to get rid of whatever is causing you to sin, lest you be thrown into hellfire (Mark 9:43-48).  He said you must forsake ALL if necessary to be His disciple (Lk. 14:43).  He said if you deny Him before men, He will deny you before the Father (Matt. 10:33).  He said you must endure to the end in faithfulness to Him if you want to be saved (Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13).  The only Savior has given these warnings to those who follow Him; why are so many lying in His name, teaching some form of unconditional “once saved always saved”???

Dear reader, anyone familiar with the TULIP knows that the doctrines refuted above are the core tenants of Calvinism. This insidious doctrinal schema uses select Scripture (ripped from its context) to malign the character of God and the nature of salvation; and it leads to all kinds of evil fruit.

For John Calvin himself, false ideas about God led to his putting to death those who disagreed with him (completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus).  He became a dictator who ruled Geneva (his earthly kingdom) with an iron fist, rather than a servant laying down his own life for his friends as Jesus was. After all, his God was arbitrary and cruel, delighting in the damnation of the wicked, so why should Calvin be any different?  The Protestant churches of the Reformation era, as opposed to the Anabaptist churches which didn’t agree with these doctrines, were marked by rampant sin. False teaching always brings forth the fruit of wickedness.

Today, the problem is worse because so many sin-lovers with itching ears have turned from the truth and heaped up for themselves false teachers to tell them what they want to hear. People blame their sin on God rather than on themselves as they should. They believe if they haven’t repented, it is God who is to blame for not forcing them to be holy while they revel in their sins. They believe continual rebellion and sin is normal Christianity, and the warnings of Scripture somehow don’t apply to them. They believe they are “saved” to continue to do abominations, but with a cover that will shield them from the all-seeing eyes of God and His judgment to come. God forbid. I beg you to see that these lies were planted to stumble millions into thinking they won’t reap what they sow. Do not be deceived. Read the Scriptures and obey them; build your life carefully and deliberately on the truth lest you come at last to be destroyed, and your false ideas about God with you.

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Walk Circumspectly

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 3, 2011

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)

“Circumspectly” means cautiously, vigilantly, heedfully, with watchfulness to guard against danger. “Circumspect” literally means looking on all sides, or examining carefully all the circumstances that may affect a determination. (source)

Why do we need to walk circumspectly?Because the days are evil.  These are days of spiritual warfare.  In these evil days, we need to take up the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the wiles of the devil.  We need to be mindful that principalities and powers are against us to destroy us, but God has given us everything we need to overcome them if we will but heed His warnings. If we neglect the spiritual dress God has provided, we do so to our own peril.

Ephesians 6:11-17 teaches us how we must be dressed for these evil days:

in Truth–for the Lord desires truth in the inward parts (Psa. 51:6). Let us say with David, I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. (Psa. 119:30)  The entirety of God’s Word is truth (Psa. 119:60), and the truth is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21). We who follow Jesus and His teaching follow the living Truth, and it is the Spirit of Truth who lives in us (John 14:6-7).  It is by the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17). Buy the truth and do not sell it (Prov. 23:23), for only those who receive a love of the truth will be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).

in Righteousness–for the Lord upholds the righteous (Psa. 37:17), and He shall never permit the righteous to be moved (Psa. 55:22).  He who does righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (I Jn. 3:7), and righteousness delivers from death (Prov. 11:4).

in the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace–always being ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (I Pet. 3:15), being unashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.  As Paul did, let us share also in the sufferings for the gospel as Christ’s ambassadors through whom our Lord pleads “Be reconciled to God.” (2 Tim. 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:18-20)  And if we are entrusted with the gospel, even so… speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts (I Thess. 2:4).

in the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation–faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked that will come, and to move the mountains that will stand in our way; and our so-great salvation and its captain (Jesus) always guarding our minds. Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

with the Sword of the Spirit ever fitted to our hand and ready to be used–used to silence the lies of satan and to invade and pull down strongholds; casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly; study to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:15).  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (I Tim. 4:16)..

always prayingwith all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Eph. 6:18).  Pray without ceasing, being ever mindful to keep your connection to the Father unobstructed by sin or apathy (1 Thess. 5:17).  Don’t go to sleep, saints, but watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt. 26-41).  Heed the warning of the Lord:

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36)

Walk circumspectly; be dressed for battle and on your guard at all times, waiting and watching for your Master.  Do not be like the foolish virgins, who were unprepared for the long delay of their Bridegroom, and tried to shake off their slumber and get ready at the last moment, only to find they were too late.  Shake off your slumber now and check your oil supply; take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness (Lk. 11:35).  Make sure you are doing what God has told you to do, and that you maintain that work to the end, lest you be appointed a portion with the unbelievers.

Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;  and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.  Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.  And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,  the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:35-40, 42-46)

Walk circumspectly when you are with the wicked, guarding your own behavior. David said, “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.” (Psa. 39:1)  Satan is looking to take advantage of us, and we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11). We must not give place to the devil through our yielding to any sin (Eph. 4:27), especially in the presence of unbelievers who are watching to see if our walk matches our talk. Guard your mouth, for he who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction (Prov. 13:3).  Satan will exploit everything he can, to ruin our testimony before outsiders and offer them an excuse to reject the truth. Therefore, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (I Pet. 5:8-9)

Redeem the time. Each man is given only one life–one chunk of time–to steward, and the end of it is coming. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psa. 90:12). LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.   Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths. (Psa. 39:45)  And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Rom. 13:11-14).  Saints, we simply don’t have time to make provision for the flesh and pursue vain things that have no eternal value. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Who will go for the Lord? He who wins souls is wise (Prov. 11:30).

Do not be unwise, but understand what the Lord’s will is. His will is not that we seek a comfortable life on this earth while millions perish. His will is not that we eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. His will is not that we blend in with our neighbors and keep our lights under a bushel, lest someone be offended. That is satan’s will.  Satan wants us to be carnally minded, because to be carnally minded is death (Rom. 8:6). We dare not be an offense and stumbling block to Christ and His mission, as Peter was at first, being not mindful of the things of God, but the things of menFor whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Matt. 16:23, 25-26)  We must not be conformed to the thinking of this selfish world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can prove what is the perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2). We discover and prove the will of God so that we can do it, for whoever does the will of God is the Lord’s brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35).

Walk circumspectly!  God bless you.

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The Command to Abide

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 20, 2011

 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  (John 15:1-10, NKJV)

I am amazed that any person can really read this passage and still teach the false doctrine of “once-saved-always-saved.”  Jesus did not believe or teach that doctrine and neither should we.

Some say, “Eternal life is eternal; therefore salvation cannot be lost.”  This argument does not take into account that salvation is a Person–the Person of Jesus Christ.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (I John 5:11)

This eternal life is where?–In His Son!  Jesus Christ is eternal life, and will always remain eternal, but that doesn’t mean people always remain in Him.  This is why Jesus taught His disciples that they must abide in (stay connected to) Him!

If a branch does not remain closely connected to the main Vine, it cannot produce fruit. Producing good fruit is absolutely necessary for salvation–for so you will be My disciples (and only disciples of Jesus will be saved, for He is the only Way, Truth and Life.) Jesus made it absolutely clear that if the disciples did not produce fruit through abiding in Him, they would be taken away.  Just as a withered branch is good for nothing but to be burned in a fire, a fruitless branch in Christ will be removed.  Once in Him always in Him? Not according to Jesus.

Jesus also taught that in order to abide in His love, we must keep His commandments!  (Note the conditional “if” in verse 10!)  Even Christ Himself did not take for granted the love of God the Father, but kept His commands and so remained in His love.

Oh dear, this writer is teaching works salvation

No, my friend. This is the Word of God, and we must take its warnings and conditions seriously.

In Romans 11, Paul paints a similar word-picture using an olive tree instead of a vine. The Gentiles (pictured as wild branches) who believed on Christ were grafted into the good olive tree by faith, and the Jews who rejected Him were cut off. But this stern warning was given to those Gentiles already grafted in:

If God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,  if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (21-22)

Once grafted in, always grafted in? Not according to Paul. He said there is a condition to remaining grafted in–you must continue in His goodness.  You must abide in Him!

What does abiding look like?–

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (I John 2:6)

How did Jesus walk?  He gave this bold testimony, “I do always those things that please him [the Father].” (Jn. 8:29)  So whoever says he abides in Jesus must always, as much as is in his power, do the things that please God.  And God does not ask what is beyond our strength to give, for we are commanded to love Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength we possess, but never with more than we possess.  John wrote, “He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him,” and “whoever abides in Him does not sin.” (I Jn. 3:24; I Jn. 3:6)

In addition to loving God, we must also love our brother in order to abide in Christ (who is the light of the world), for he who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him (I Jn. 2:10).

And now, little children, abide in Him, that whenHe appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.  If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.  (I John 2:28-29)

Do you want to have confidence when you see Jesus coming on the clouds?  Make sure that you are grafted in, and then abide in Him! Remain in Him, do only those things which please the Father, love and serve the Body of Christ, and love your neighbor as yourself (being careful to share the truth with them as you are able).  When they see you zealous for good works, false Christians may cast you out of their fellowship thinking they do God a service, but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed (Isa. 66:5).

God bless you!

Posted in Backslider, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Return to the Lord

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 18, 2011

In the book of Hosea, the prophet was called to rebuke and warn Israel and Judah. Israel was such an adulterous people that Hosea was commanded to marry a whorish woman to demonstrate what it was like for God, married to people who “transgressed the covenant” in every conceivable way. The children of Hosea were given names that forecast the judgment of God on Israel–literally “no mercy” and “not my people”–for the mercy of God has a limit, and He will eventually cast off those whom He cannot reform by His many kindnesses.

Some of the charges against these people included:

Appreciating idols rather than God for daily provisions (2:5, 8 )
Forgetting God (2:13)
Forsaking truth, mercy, and knowledge of God (4:1)
Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery, and breaking all restraint (4:2)
Having no respect for the priests (4:4)
Rejecting knowledge and forgetting God’s law (4:6)
Setting their hearts on iniquity and “eating up sin” (4:8)
Ceasing to obey the Lord (4:10)
Asking counsel from wrong sources (4:12)
Loving dishonor (4:18)
Not directing their deeds toward turning back to God (5:4)
Pride (5:5)
Begetting pagan children, not brought up in God’s ways (5:7)
Willingly walking by human precepts (5:11)

This list is what apostasy looks like.

It is possible to begin well, but fail to finish the race, both personally and corporately.

God commands His people to love Him first, to do what is right by His standards, and to teach their children His ways. But over time, even those who have tasted of the heavenly gift and seen His goodness can become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. They can begin to forget God, spending more time in carnal pursuits and increasing worldly goods or other means of self-satisfaction. In fact, the more they increase, the more they sometimes sin (4:7). Little by little, they begin to ask counsel from the wrong places, rejecting the knowledge of God (which is always right) and replacing it with human precepts (which are generally wrong). Their judgment becomes skewed, as they no longer have the mind of Christ, but the carnal mind which is death. They begin to see their daily provisions as coming from their own labor or good luck, forgetting they can’t even breathe apart from the help of God.  If they do notice their own spiritual brokenness, they turn to other broken people for the cure (5:13), trying to get water from broken cisterns. Pride keeps them continuing on their way even when it becomes obvious they have made a wrong turn somewhere.  They don’t direct their deeds toward turning back to God, but instead make provision for their flesh, taking advantage of God’s patience. Worst of all, they continue to call themselves by God’s name, imagining that once in God’s favor means always in God’s favor. Unless there is repentance and change, whole generations of children are brought up in this apostasy; they are “pagan children” though they may deceive themselves to the contrary.  If they “accept Jesus,” He is only one of their many gods, not their only Lord and King.

A cursory look at American Christianity today reveals that we are in a state of apostasy as bad as Israel’s, and we too are in terrible danger of reaching the end of God’s mercy and being altogether disowned without recourse.

A bit closer to home, perhaps this scene of apostasy describes you. Perhaps you once knew God, knew His tender mercy and gracious forgiveness. Perhaps you felt your burden of sin roll away. Perhaps you experienced joy and peace for the first time. Maybe you even served the Lord with gladness for some years. But something hindered you in your walk. Maybe it was laziness.  Maybe there was some sin in your life you refused to give up. Maybe you grew discouraged because of persecution. Maybe you were lonely, and you began to seek counsel or companionship from “friends” who serve the devil. Maybe you began to seek after something–money, material goods, social advancement, romance, etc.–and this pursuit eclipsed your pursuit of the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Whatever the reason for your apostasy, there is only ONE THING TO DO. You must return to God. His threatenings apply to you just as much as to adulterous Israel, for these things were written for our learning. And yet, there is hope!

Listen to what the Lord said He would do to Israel (Ephraim) and Judah in hopes that some would yet be saved:

For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense.   Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. (Hos. 5:14-15)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend! He who knit you together in your mother’s womb will tear you as a lion tears the prey, and go away, hiding Himself until you acknowledge your offense and earnestly seek Him again. The prophet tells us how to respond to this:

Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.      After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.  (Hosea 6:1-3)

Are there any more precious promises than these?  David acknowledged that in faithfulness God had afflicted him, and that his affliction was good for him–for before he was afflicted, he went astray, but now he had learned to keep God’s Word. (Psa. 119: 67, 71, 75)  Come, and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. Leave off sloth and sin and the pride that drives you blindly along, storing up wrath as you go; acknowledge your offenses and seek mercy from the Lord.  He does not afflict you to no purpose, but for your healing!  Yes, when you die to your sins and your old way of life, He will raise even you up on the third day, that you may live again in His sight. He will not reject you if you will only return to Him. Just as the morning is faithful to arrive, so He will come to you like the rain and make your life fruitful again, if you only pursue the knowledge of the Lord. For He has no pleasure in the death of one who dies; therefore turn and live! (Eze. 18:32)

May God bless you!

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Refuting Calvinism

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 5, 2011

This is a very well-written article by Doctor Patrick Johnston, demonstrating how Calvinism is contrary to Biblical reason and sound doctrine.  God bless you!

Refuting What Calvinists Believe with What Calvinists Know

Muting the Objection of Conscience and Creation

There are many Calvinists both dead and living who have earned my admiration over the years. That I believe that they are in doctrinal error does not mitigate my respect and admiration for them as mighty men of God. Some of the greatest open air preachers and evangelists during the first and second Great Awakenings were Calvinists. Calvinists are leading Christendom in the restoration of biblical order for the home, in pioneering Christian home education, and are at the forefront of the attempts to apply the truths of God’s Word to issues generally thought of as secular: public education, welfare, economics, criminal justice, and the lordship of Christ over all matters of life. For that, they have my deep respect.

A Calvinist I deeply admire is Greg Bahnsen, one of my favorite Christian apologists who taught me, through his writings, books, and sermons, the presuppositional approach to evangelism and strengthened my belief in theonomy – the belief that governments and nations should obey God’s Word in all matters. When I prepared to listen to a CD that he preached on the subject of Calvinism, I grew concerned that my worldview was going to come crashing down. I have never heard Bahnsen say anything where he wasn’t overwhelmingly persuasive. I felt for certain he was going to bring a probing application of presuppositional apologetics to prove that Calvinism was true, necessitating a sea change in my theological beliefs.

What I heard from him, however, was the opposite: rather than a vigorous appeal to conscience and creation to prove the veracity of the Calvinist system, he advocated rather a suspension of our rational faculties and the muting of the predictable objection of human conscience. He did so based upon a passage from Isaiah, which is often misinterpreted. I’m sure you’ve heard a preacher say it: “God’s ways our not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.” They often take that passage to mean that we just cannot understand God, and therefore shouldn’t try; just accept the truth of His Word by faith. However, a cursory perusal of the passage reveals the gross error in this thinking.

“Seek 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. For My thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so our my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your  thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9

If your ways aren’t God’s ways, you shouldn’t just accept the conflict as unavoidable – you should repent. If your thoughts aren’t God’s thoughts, you shouldn’t give up trying to think God’s thoughts – you should repent. That’s what this passage plainly means. To interpret this passage to mean that sincere Christians cannot understand God or His thoughts or ways is absurd.

Before one fully embraces the Calvinist system, they must first fall prey to the unstated presupposition that we must suspend our rational faculties and mute the objection of our consciences to simply accept by faith whatever God’s Word says about how He governs. First of all, this is an impractical mission. Without our rational faculties we could not even understand Scripture, much less build a cohesive theological system.  In order for Calvinists to suspend their rational faculties and mute the objection of conscience, they first must engage their rational faculties to come to that conclusion, and enlist the mandate of conscience to submit to the Word of God. Thus, the unstated presupposition of Calvinism is false based upon what Calvinists in fact do. Calvinism’s conclusions so plainly contradict the testimony of nature and conscience that we must constantly be reminded by Calvinists like Bahnsen at the onset of their teaching on Calvinism that “God’s ways aren’t our ways” and we just need to accept Calvinist doctrine in spite of its apparent contradiction to self-evident truths.

Is it not a sin to reason. “Come let us reason together, saith the Lord.” It’s as if Calvinists think that God made our bodies and the devil created our intellect and reason. No, we are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy mind.” (Read More)

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God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 3

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 23, 2011

In the previous post, I wrote out some Scriptures from the Old Testament that demonstrate that once being chosen and favored by God does not make one exempt from living a life pleasing to Him. After entering into covenant with God, one’s future sins are not invisible to God. Many members of “the chosen people” did not inherit the promise because they did not continue to obey the Lord; their carcasses fell in the wilderness, and these things were recorded to warn us that such can happen to us (I Cor. 10:1-12).  Now I would like to examine some New Testament texts that confirm our need for obedience to the Lord after being born into His family, and the consequences for disobedience.

A favorite doctrinal component of Calvinism is that if you have ever believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, or ever had a moment of true faith, His personal righteousness has been imputed to your account once-for-all, and is the only thing God will ever see when He looks at you in the future. In other words, even if you live a wicked life after that and die in sin, God can’t see it; all He sees is Jesus when He looks at you.  If such were true, then not only will He continue to see us as obedient when we disobey, He will be mocked.  He said we would reap what we sow, but we really won’t! He said the wages of sin was death, but we have found a loophole whereby we can sow to our flesh and not reap corruption! He is not only blind, He can’t chastise His children when they do wrong, since He can’t see their sin!

Complete hogwash!

One wonders how God could ever see the righteous acts of the saints, if He can’t see their sin! Do NOT be deceived by these teachings; God will not be mocked. If we sow to our flesh we WILL reap corruption, and God DOES chastise His children when they do wrong. (Gal. 6:7-8; Heb. 12:7) The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good. (Prov. 15:3) The Lord is wearied when people falsely say that evildoers are good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them (Mal. 2:17). People who do what is wicked are wicked; only he that does righteousness is considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord (I John 2:29; 3:7).

Jesus taught the following:

The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves…shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (Jn. 5:28-29)

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus taught the importance of DOING the Father’s will (righteousness), not just acknowledging or SAYING “Lord, Lord.” So important is it to DO the teachings of Christ, that the man who DOES them is likened to a house that survives a storm, while the man who does not DO them is likened to a house that is destroyed in the storm for lack of a proper foundation.  Friend, you ARE that house, and you are determining the final destiny of your house by whether or not you are submitting to Christ and doing God’s will. This is FOUNDATIONAL to your spiritual life.  Remember, King Jesus will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend (cause sin) and all persons who do iniquity, and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt.13:41-42). So serious it is to get the sin out of your life, Christian, that Jesus said it would be better to cut off an offending body-part than to have your whole body “cast into hell.” (Matt. 5: 29-30)

So what if you don’t do as Jesus said, and deal a death blow to the sin in your own life?  Is all automatically forgiven because of His blood shed on the cross?

If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:   of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

Friends, this Scripture destroys the license-to-sin doctrine.  If you willfully continue to sin after being sanctified, you are treating the precious blood of Jesus as an unholy thing!  God sees it and views you as worthy of much sorer punishment than the punishments inflicted on those who disobeyed Moses’ law!  When Ananias and Sapphira sinned in the church, was their sin hidden from God’s view? On the contrary, Peter, speaking by the Holy Ghost, rebuked them publicly. Their judgment was swift, and caused the fear of God to fall on the people who heard about it. Paul instructed Timothy to deal with sin in the church in like manner:

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.   I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.   Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.  (I Tim. 5:20-22)

Instead of following the right ways of the Lord, many in the church instead excuse or overlook flagrant sin, letting it spread like leaven through the whole lump. After all, if a person is considered positionally righteous even when they are doing unrighteous things, then who are they to judge?  False teaching is so dangerous!! Paul instructed the Corinthian church to put the sinner out of the church until he repents!! (I Cor. 5)  To refuse to do so is to be a partaker in other men’s sins and to become defiled.  Remember, the pure religion that pleases God includes keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27); this presupposes that God sees when we become “spotted.”

In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus–who is God–addresses the church. Does He only see His own righteousness when He looks at them, or does He assess them exactly according to their own works, and command repentance when necessary?  Indeed, Jesus makes some startling threats toward those who will not repent!

“Thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.   Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev. 2:14-16)

I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.   Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.   He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  (Rev. 3:1-5)

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  (Rev. 3:15-19)

Please study those two chapters in full, and you cannot fail to see that all the beautiful promises of God are specifically for overcomers. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). There is no easy way; the easy way taken by most is the wide road that leads to destruction. We must die to ourselves, and strive [make every effort, agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:24)

Peter wrote that because the judgment of God is coming, and because we look forward to a new heaven and earth where only righteousness dwells, we must be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless…and beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Pet. 3:14, 17)  The righteous can be led away with the error of the wicked and fall? Yes!

Paul wrote of those who swerved away from love, a clean conscience, and sincere faith, and so had left the path of life and had only “vain jangling” or “meaningless talk”–the emptiness of religion without God (I Tim. 1:5-6). He wrote that some who had not held onto faith and a “good conscience” (they defiled and hardened their conscience by disobedience), had shipwrecked their faith! (I Tim. 1:19) He wrote that any who refused to provide financially for their own widows had, by his wickedness, denied the faith, and was worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). He wrote that some younger widows, being idle and gossipers, had already turned aside after Satan. (I Tim. 5:15)  In fact, Paul recognized that he himself was not immune to falling away:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.   And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.   I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:   But I keep under my body [keep my flesh crucified], and bring it into subjection [to God’s will]: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Cor. 9:24-27, brackets mine)

Paul recognized he could be cast away even after all his dedicated service to God! Just as a man who wants to win a race must be disciplined, so must the Christian life be disciplined, for “if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Tim. 2:5)  It is possible to begin the spiritual race and not finish the course, which is why we are urged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and…run with patience [endurance].” (Heb. 12:1)  It is possible to engage in “the good fight” and not compete lawfully, being finally disqualified.

In 2 Peter 2, Peter wrote of false teachers who bring in damnable heresies [such as once-saved-always-saved or “God doesn’t see your sin”], even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  Peter describes these false teachers as having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices. Beware if your spiritual teacher shamelessly claims he cannot cease from sin, and that we must all sin every day in thought, word and deed! They teach such lies because they themselves are spiritually adulterous, loving the things of this world, especially the adoration and financial support of others who love sin and wish to have their ears tickled with sin-excusing lies.  Such teachers allure through the lusts of the flesh those who were clean escaped from them who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. And so these wolves pretending to be ministers teach the flock of God that they have “liberty in Christ” to sin all they want! But when a man serves sin, he becomes the slave of sin! His so-called liberty is false! Don’t be deceived. Peter called these who had at first escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and were again entangled therein and overcome worse off than they were before they knew the Lord!  They were like dogs returning to lick up the vomit they had expelled, or pigs washed from their filthiness returning to their filth.  Truly this is receiving the grace of God in vain!

Dear reader, it is possible to deny the Lord by your disobedient works (Titus 1:16). Consider this carefully:

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Tim. 2:19)

This is the foundation of the Lord, and will not change despite the empty promises of false teachers.  How do you then depart from iniquity? David said a man could cleanse his way by taking heed to God’s Word (Psa. 119:9)  It is by abiding in Christ that His good fruit will be manifest in your life (John 15).   I John 3:6 teaches that whoever abides in Jesus does not sin! When you go astray, it is directly due to your not abiding in Christ.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.  (John 15:7)

Paul said, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3)  We must CHOOSE the things above or the things of this earth. We must CHOOSE to mortify our members which are on this earth, and to follow the things that please the Lord, because the wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience (Col. 3:5-6).

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post!  I hope it is clear to you that in both Old and New Testaments, God’s covenants with men are conditional. If you have not already, please study both testaments on your own, asking God to open your understanding to the Truth. He has promised wisdom to those who ask, and He has promised to be found of those who seek Him with their whole heart.  He is the God of love, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a peculiar people zealous for good works. His grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-14). I pray that you do not receive the grace of God in vain! I will leave you with this powerful statement by the Apostle Paul:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Rom. 8:13)

God bless you!

Posted in Backslider, Calvinism, Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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