The Problem of Prejudice

bible-998150_960_720Prejudice can be defined as “unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.”

A few things about prejudice are worth mentioning: First, no particular race, or ethnic group, has a monopoly on being prejudice.  It is possible for someone from any race, country or ethnic group to be prejudice.  Second, prejudice does not always involve race.  It is often the case that one person is prejudiced toward another because of his (or her) race. But a person may be prejudiced toward another person because of his education, or lack thereof.  Someone may be prejudiced toward others because of their financial status, or lack thereof.  Other causes of prejudice may be a person’s appearance or prejudice toward another person simply because of where they come from.  Prejudice can take on many forms!  Third, prejudice toward others is always a sin.  James wrote, “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9) Fourth, sadly prejudice often exists among those who profess to follow Christ!

We all realize the problem exists.  The question all of us should be asking is, “What’s the solution?  How can the problem of prejudice be corrected?”  A number of answers have been proposed – rallies and protests, police reform, income equality, free college for everyone, reparations toward those who have been wronged, etc.

None of these things will eliminate the problem of prejudice!  The problem of prejudice is a problem of the heart.  Prejudice will never go away until men’s hearts are changed.  The problem of prejudice will never be remedied until men recognize God as their Creator and Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The problem of prejudice will never be remedied until men strive to do God’s will and follow Christ’s example for living.  Can you imagine the good that could be realized if everyone of us took to heart Paul’s admonition to Timothy – “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.” (I Timothy 5:21)

What Does Going to a Garden Party Have to Do With Living a Life That Is Pleasing to God?

tone armGood question!  How could an old song about going to a garden party make me think of the importance of living a life that is pleasing to God?  It’s really not as odd as you might think,  To find out, listen to the audio below!

Living Certain in an Uncertain World

Sleepless Young Man

Seems like I’ve been hearing the phrase “We are living in uncertain times” a lot lately.  Folks, ever since Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and Eve was formed from one of his ribs, people have always been living in uncertain times.  The word “certain” can be defined as “free from doubt, confident, sure.”  Synonyms that come to mind include “unquestionable” or “indisputable.”  When, in the history of man, could a man be certain he would live a long life?  At what point in the history of the world could a man be certain he would always enjoy good health?  Could a man ever be certain his standard of living would always match, or surpass, his previous standard of living?  Could a man ever be certain the value of his investments would always increase and be sufficient when he hoped to retire?  When could we be certain our country would be safe from enemy attack?

Friends, we have always lived in uncertain times!  But, before you start to wring your hands in despair, can I remind you of some things of which I am certain?  First, I am certain God created me and loves me. Some would have you believe you are here as a result of the process of evolution.  Such foolish nonsense! The epitome of ignorance! To borrow a phrase from the late Curtis Cates – “that’s hyper-stupid!”  David wrote, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14) My physical body stands as a witness to the creative powers of God!  Because I am a product of God’s handiwork, I know He loves me and cares for me.  Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Second, I am certain there is a Savior who loved me enough to die for me!  I have sinned.  There is nothing I can ever do to remove sin from my life apart from the blood of Jesus Christ!  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) Because of Christ’s sacrificial love, I am certain I can be forgiven and live this life (as uncertain as it may be) with the hope of an eternity in heaven.

Third, I am certain this world is not my home.  Paul described my earthly, physical body as a tabernacle (II Corinthians 5:1-4).  My physical body can be compared to a tent – temporary, a place where my spirit dwells for a short while until I am clothed with my immortal body (II Corinthians 5:2).  I am merely a pilgrim on this earth (Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11).  One day, this sinful world in which I now live will come to an end (Hebrews 1:10-12).

Fourth, I am certain that life is good.  Sure, life on this earth has it troubles.  I would not be so foolish to deny that!  Jesus said “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) But I am certain that life is still good!  Life is good because I’m a Christian!  I enjoy greater blessings than money can ever buy – I experience the joy of my salvation.  I understand that the troubles of this world are temporary and pale in comparison to the glory of heaven (II Corinthians 4:16-18).

Fifth, I am certain an eternal hell awaits the unrighteous (II Thessalonians 1:8) and an eternal heaven awaits those who keep the faith – those who fight the good fight and finish their course (II Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 22:1-5).

I’m aware of how the headlines read.  I know what the “talking heads” are saying on tv.  But I also know I can live certain in an uncertain world!

Denominations Are a Product of Men, Not God

cropped-bible-medium2.jpgThis past week I read an article written by a minister of a well-known denomination.  The first statement of the article read as follows, “When the church age began during the Lord’s earthly ministry, there was only the church Jesus built.”  Questions for the minister who wrote the article, and all of us, to consider include, “Does the one church Jesus built exist today?  If Jesus only built one church, why are there so many churches today?  Who made the change?  If Jesus only built one church, who built these other churches? And does any of this really matter?”

A denomination can be defined as “a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name, usually organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.” Friends, I must say with all kindness yet with all truthfulness to God’s word, denominationalism is completely incompatible with and foreign to the scriptures.  Notice the following from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) Men may accept, even applaud, the division that exists in the religious world today, but God never has and never will.

Denominations are of human origin.  In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Jesus said He would build His church, singular.  All denominations exist without New Testament authority, New Testament example or Christ’s approval.

Why does any of this really matter? The inspired apostle Paul taught that Christ’s church and Christ’s body are one and the same.  (Ephesians 1:22-23) He went on to teach that there is only one body, therefore there must be only one church. (Ephesians 4:4) Later in his same letter to the church at Ephesus he taught that Christ is the savior of the body.  (Ephesians 5:23) What can we conclude from all this?  Christ is the savior of the one church that He built!

Peter told those present on the Day of Pentecost to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) When these people were saved by believing the gospel, repenting of their sins, confessing their faith in Jesus Christ and being baptized to receive the forgiveness of their sins, how did the Lord respond?  He added them to the one church that He built.  (Acts 2:47) He did not add them to a denomination, for there were no denominations in existence!

The church that Jesus built still exists today, just as it did in the first century.  It has no earthly head.  It has no legal hierarchy.  It follows no manmade creeds, practices, manuals or handbooks. It simply follows the New Testament pattern for the church.  Its congregations are autonomous and are overseen by elders who have authority only over their particular congregation. (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5; I Peter 5:1-3) Its members meet on the first day of every week to worship, including partaking of the communion. (Acts 20:7) Its members worship God through acapella singing, just as the early church of the first century did.  (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) Its members pray and study the Bible together. (Acts 2:42) Its members hear preaching together and give financially on the first day of the week. (I Corinthians 16:1-2)

Can a person be saved from his sins today and be a member of Christ’s one church without being a member of any denomination?  Yes!  He not only can, he must in order to please God.  How can a person do this?  He must believe the good news, or gospel, concerning Jesus Christ.  (John 3:16) He must repent of his sins (Acts 17:30-31) He must confess his faith in Jesus Christ.  (Acts 8:37) He must then be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins.  (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16) When he does this, the Lord will add him to the one church that he, Jesus Christ, purchased with his blood.  (Acts 2:47; Acts 20:28)

Friends, it is not my intention to be unkind.  Rather, it is my desire to expose the clear teaching of the scriptures concerning Christ and His church. Search the scriptures and see whether these things are so! (Acts 17:11)

“The churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:16)

Can Blood Transfusions Extend Life?

imgbin-blood-donation-blood-transfusion-human-body-blood-bank-blood-red-blood-drop-vB0gVuMyQXZCvY5WPUscLhpJxI came across an article recently discussing bizarre ways tech billionaires are attempting to reverse the aging process and live forever.  More than one company is conducting research to determine if blood transfusions from younger people can extend life.  According to some experts, transfusing blood from young, healthy people – specifically those between ages 16 and 25 – into those who feel that they’re getting on in years could reverse aging.

I’m no expert in the medical field; far from it.  But I am expert enough to know that eternal life is made possible by blood. No, I’m not talking about the blood from a younger person.  Eternal life is made possible only by the blood of Christ.  The really great news is that you don’t have to be a tech billionaire to benefit from this blood!

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17)

Why Worship God?

cropped-bible-medium3.jpgOur English word “worship” is often translated from two words meaning “toward” and “kiss” (or “kiss toward”).  In certain cultures, it was a common practice to prostate oneself before another and kiss his feet, the hem of his garment, or the ground.  This was especially done by the Persians to express reverence toward their deified kings or by the Greeks to honor their idols.

Our common English word “worship” has its origin in an old English word meaning “worth-ship.”  This indicates the worth, or value, of the one being worshipped.  God is worthy, or deserving, of our worship because of who he is and what he has done.

As Peter was coming into Cornelius’ house, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.  Peter then responded, “Stand up; I myself am also a man” (Acts 10:25-26).  God, in comparison, desires that we worship him (John 4:23).  Why the difference?  What do we worship God, and not man?

First, we worship God because he is our creator.  Where did we come from?  How did we get here?  Yet the answer is very simple – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  Later, in that same chapter we read – “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27).    It only makes sense that the creation worships the creator.

Second, we worship God because he is our provider.  Every physical blessing that we enjoy comes to us from God. James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).  God has not only blessed us physically but, more importantly, he has provided us with every spiritual blessing.  Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3).  God is truly the fount of very blessing!

Third, we worship God because he is our savior.   The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  God loves us so much he was willing to gave his sin as the only sacrifice that could remove sin from our lives (John 3:16).  Those in the church have been purchased, or bought back from their bondage of sin, with nothing less than the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28).

God is seeking those who will worship him.  Are you seeking opportunities to worship God?

To listen to thoughts on “Why Worship God” click here:

Hang in There, the Game’s Not Over Yet!

Football-Field-Artificial-Sports-Turf-12-1024x680On September 16, 2018 Buffalo Bills defensive back Vontae Davis shocked his team and sports fans when he retired during halftime of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He later issued a statement confirming his abrupt decision to retire. “This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” the 10-year veteran said, adding that he meant no disrespect to his teammates and coaches.  “I’ve endured multiple surgeries and played through many different injuries throughout my career and, over the last few weeks, this was the latest physical challenge,” he continued. “But today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore.”

Is there a spiritual application to be made from Vontae Davis’ experience? There most certainly is!  Christians often experience more than their fair share of bumps, bruises and hits on life’s playing field.  Perhaps, like Vontae, we are tempted to think we shouldn’t be out here anymore.  “It’s just not worth the effort,” some may say.

Not so!  Sure, no one can deny that life can be difficult.  Like everyone else, Christians may become weary.  But hang in there!  Any hardships in this life will compare in comparison to the blessings of heaven.  The apostle Paul understood what it meant to experiences life’s difficulties, yet he wrote, “16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” (II Corinthians 4:17).

I hope everyone of you will keep the faith, endure to the end and one day experience heaven!

With Whom Are You Walking?

walking-hiking-stickman-stick-figure-matchstick-manDo you realize your friends will help determine where you spend eternity?  It’s true!  Your friends can help strengthen your faith!  But they can also help weaken your faith!  Consider these words from Proverbs 13:20 – “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (ESV).  Your friends have a definite influence on your character.  If you want to be wise, establish friendships with wise people.  If you want to be a fool, establish friendships with foolish people.

This thought is repeated in the New Testament: “I Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals (ESV).  Some may deny this, saying, “Oh no, my friends will never have so strong an influence on me!  Never!”  But Paul says the person who denies the influence of bad company is deceived.

What lesson can Christians learn from this?   If you want to strengthen your faith and stay loyal to Christ, surround yourself with friends who want to do the same – strengthen their faith and stay loyal to Christ

There’s a War Raging, And You’re In It!

War_Thunder_Xbox_release_Thumbnail-heroThere’s a war raging; and you and I are caught in the middle. Oh you won’t hear any gunfire. This war is absent of the sound of missiles soaring overhead. No grenades are being tossed in your direction; at least, not literally. But nonetheless, there is a war going on. And this war has more devastating effects than any physical battle could ever produce.

Today, like any other day, there is a war raging over your soul.   Because, just as much as God wants you to be with him in heaven, Satan wants you to spend eternity with him in hell.   “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). And he will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Satan is very cunning in his methods.   Satan will attempt to do whatever is necessary to trap us; to deceive us; to discourage us and weaken us. If left unprotected we will surely fall. No wonder then Paul admonishes us to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

The raging war over your soul is a fierce battle that requires much strength and endurance on our part. But it is a battle that can be won! “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

Excluding the Scriptures Leads to Confusion

It’s an easy mistake to make when studying the Bible, focusing on only one verse that addresses a certain topic to the exclusion of other verses that also address that same topic.

No single verse in the Bible procropped-bible-medium.jpgvides all we need to know about any given subject. For example, consider the question, “What did Jesus say while on the cross?”  From Matthew’s account of the crucifixion we know that Jesus said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” meaning “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to Matthew’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

From Mark’s account of the crucifixion we also know that Jesus said “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” meaning “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Mark 15:34).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to Mark’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

From Luke’s account of the crucifixion we know that Jesus said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Luke also includes Jesus’ words “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43) and “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to Luke’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

From John’s account of the crucifixion we know that Jesus said “Woman, behold thy son” (John 19:26), “Behold thy mother” (John 19:27), “I thirst” (John 19:28) and “It is finished” (John 19:30).  If we limit our study of Jesus’ words from the cross to John’s account of the crucifixion, this is all we know about what was said.

Not one of these verses that deal with Jesus words from the cross, if studied to the exclusion of other verses, provides a complete answer to the question, “What did Jesus say while on the cross?”  But when we consider all of them together, we know that Jesus, while on the cross, said “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani meaning My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, Woman, behold thy son, Behold thy mother, I thirst,” and “It is finished.”  It is only when we study all the verses that address Jesus’ words from the cross that we have a complete understanding of what Jesus said while on the cross.

A second example can be seen when a person considers the question: “What must I do to be saved from my sins?”  It is easy to make the mistake of focusing on only one verse (or a few verses) that answers this most important question to the exclusion of other verses that also address this same question.  Unfortunately, it’s also a very costly mistake.

Many preachers are quick to quote John 3:16 as one verse that explains God’s plan of salvation.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  The truth is this one verse alone does not explain God’s plan of salvation.  If I limit my study to John 3:16, the answer to “What must I do to be saved from my sins” would be incomplete.  John 3:16 says nothing of the need to confess my faith before others.  Should I then conclude that this confession is not necessary?  Not at all!

I might go to Luke 13:3-5 for the answer: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  I understand from these verses that I must repent of my sins to be saved.  But these verses say nothing of the need to believe.  Again, if I limit my study to Luke 13:3-5 my answer would be incomplete.

Still others are quick to mention Romans 10:9-11 to answer the question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins?” “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 10:9-11). Do these verses provide a complete answer to the question “What must I do to be saved from my sins?”  Not at all!  They say nothing of the need to repent!  If I focused on these verses to the exclusion of others, I would not know that I need to repent to be saved from my sins!

How then can I find the answer to my question?  I must consider all the verses that deal with man’s salvation.  When I do this, I learn that, to be saved from my sins, I must hear the gospel of Christ. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

I learn that I must believe the gospel of Christ.  I must believe that Jesus left heaven and lived a sinless life while on earth.  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  I must believe that Jesus gave his life for me, that he offered himself on the cross as the only sacrifice that can ever take away my sins.  For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). I must believe that he was victorious over death (I Corinthians 15:55-57), that he rose from the grave (Matthew 28:5-6) and ascended back to heaven where he now sits at the right hand of God.  “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10:12).

When I study all the verses that deal with my salvation I learn that I must repent of my sins.  “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30).  A person repents of his sins when he changes his will and decides to conform to God’s will.  He decides to live a life that is pleasing to God rather than self.

When I study all the verses that deal with my salvation I learn that I must confess my faith in Christ to others.  “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).

  When I deal with all these verse that answer the question “What must I do to be saved from my sins” I learn that I must be baptized to receive the forgiveness of my sins.  Those present on the Day of Pentecost heard Peter’s preaching and were pricked in their hearts (Acts 2:37).  They asked Peter and the rest of the apostles “Men and brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37)?  We can learn something when we consider what Peter did not tell them to do.  Peter did not tell them there was nothing for them to do, for this would have been an incorrect answer.  Peter did not tell them to pray the sinner’s prayer for this too would have been an incorrect answer.  Peter did not tell them to simply admit they were sinners and ask Jesus to come into their hearts and save them, for this too would have been an incorrect answer.  No friends.  Peter told them to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).

When I study all the Bible says concerning the question, “What must I do to be saved from my sins” I learn that I must hear and believe the gospel of Christ, repent of my sins, confess my faith in Jesus Christ before others, and be baptized to receive God’s forgiveness.

Many preachers incorrectly exclude baptism as a condition of salvation.  They are quick to refer to one (or a few) verse that relates to the topic of salvation to the exclusion of other verses that relate to that same topic.

The statement is often made that baptism is a work and we are not saved by works.  Make no mistake about it.  We are saved by God’s grace.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8).  We can never earn our salvation. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  We can never be deserving of heaven.  We can never be saved by meritorious works!

It is also true that no man can be saved by the works of the law of Moses.  “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith” (Galatians 3:10-11).

Can I then conclude that God’s forgiveness requires no works of any kind on my part?  Not at all!  In the context of being set free from the bondage of sin the apostle Paul wrote, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17).  It is true that none of us can be saved by meritorious works or works of the law of Moses.  But it is also true that God extends His grace to us in response to our works of obedience.

Baptism is no more a work than is hearing the gospel, believing the gospel, repenting of our sins or confessing our faith.  Each of these things (hearing, believing, repenting, confessing) is something that man is commanded to do.  They each require activity on man’s part.  It should not be ignored that Jesus called believing a work.  “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).   Baptism is a commandment to which we submit and allow God to do His work.  Baptism is a work of God!  “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).

What must I do to be saved from my sins?  Eternity is too long to settle for an incomplete answer!

Error of “Once Saved, Always Saved”

cropped-bible-medium.jpgThe doctrine of “once saved, always saved” teaches that it is not possible for a child of God to sin in such a way that he will be lost. Many people, who undoubtedly are very sincere and possess a desire to do what is right, find tremendous comfort in this doctrine. This doctrine, however, is not taught in the Bible. It is an erroneous doctrine that provides a false comfort and a deceitful feeling of security.

First, let’s examine some of the passages often used to support this doctrine. Concerning the Christians in Asia Minor, Peter wrote “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:5). How is it that Christians are kept, or guarded, unto salvation? Through their faith! It is possible for a Christian to lose his faith and quit believing in God. The author of the book of Hebrews warned his readers against the sin of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12). Don’t overlook the fact that the author was writing to people who were already Christians!  They had been saved from their sins.  Yet he still warns them of the sin of unbelief.  Is a Christian who loses his faith still saved? Of course, the obvious, and only logical, answer is a resounding no!

Others point to John 10:27-28 in an effort to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27, 28). Does this passage really teach “once saved, always saved”? No! Notice Jesus’ words “they follow me.” This passage contains wonderful promises for Christians. However, these promises are conditional upon our continually following Christ. Those Christians who quit following Christ will not receive these promises.

Still others point to I John 3:9 in order to defend their doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” “Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God” (I John 3:9). John wrote that a person does not continue to sin because the seed (the Word of God) continues to abide in him. However, Satan can steal the Word of God out of a person’s heart if that person allows Satan to do so (Matthew 13:19). When a Christian allows the Word of God to be taken away from him, that Christian has fallen from grace and is lost.

Many other passages are used in an attempt to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” But, much to the disappointment of those who defend this false doctrine, numerous passages teach it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he will be eternally lost. First, there are things a Christian must do in order to keep from falling. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (II Peter 1:10). This passage provides a clear implication that if a Christian does not do those things Peter detailed in II Peter 1:5-9 he will fall from grace and be lost.

Second, the writings of the apostle Paul teach it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace and be lost. To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27). The word “castaway” refers to one who does not stand the test and is rejected!  Paul knew that without practicing self-control he would be rejected by God.

Third, Paul taught the Christians in Galatia that it was possible for them to fall from grace. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Many of the Christians in Galatia strayed from the truth and tried to be justified by the law of Moses. The Bible not only teaches it is possible for Christians to fall from grace, it gives us an example of Christians who fell from grace – some of those Christians to whom Paul was writing!

Fourth, the Bible teaches a Christian can sin in such a way that he will be in a worse condition than that which he was in before he became a Christian. Peter wrote “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:20-22). The “dog turning to his own vomit” and the “sow that was washed turned back to her wallowing in the mire” are used to represents people who have become Christians, left their life of sin, and then gone back into that sinful world.  If, in the “latter end” they are still saved how could their “latter end” possibly be worse than their beginning?

The parable of the vine and the branches proves it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace. Jesus said, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:…..” (John 15:2). Jesus went on to say, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). Notice that the branches in this passage represent individual Christians, not individual denominations. There were no denominations in existence at the time Jesus spoke these words. If everyone today would follow the pattern for the New Testament church given to us in the Bible, there would be no denominations in existence today.

God’s word plainly teaches it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he can fall from grace and be eternally lost.  Submit to God’s plan for saving man: believe in Jesus Christ as your savior (But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him – Hebrews 11:6), repent of your sins (And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: – Acts 17:30), confess your faith in Jesus Christ before others (And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – Acts 8:37) and then be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of your sins (Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost – Acts 2:38).  Then guard your salvation like your eternity depended on it – because it does!

Are You a Saint?

cropped-bible-medium.jpg“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-2).

Are you a saint?  “Not me,” you might say.  “I’m not really a bad guy, but I’m no saint!”

Unfortunately many, if not most, in the world do not have a correct understanding concerning saints.  If you go to Webster’s dictionary you would get the following answer – “one officially recognized, especially through canonization as preeminent for holiness, an angel or one of the spirits of the departed in heaven.”  WRONG ANSWER!

I know that’s the common thinking among men.  But is that what Paul had in mind when he wrote concerning saints?  Notice that Paul address his letter to the saints at Ephesus, people who were very much alive at the time he wrote!  The word saint means “set apart for God, to be exclusively his.”  We might define it very simply as “separated.”

Saints are separated from their past sins.  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  Your past does not define who you are today!

Saints are separated from the passion of sin.  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Ephesians 4:21-23).  Those things of the world which were once were attractive to us no longer capture our attention.

Saints are separated from the practice of sin.  “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 5:20-6:2).  For a saint, sin is no longer a habitual practice.  Sin is no longer a part of our character.

Saints are separated from the penalty of sin.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  Because of God’s grace saints have the gift of eternal life.

Where can you find saints today?  You won’t find them buried under the floors of great cathedrals.  You won’t find them in history books.  Where do you go to find saints today?  Paul wrote that the saints are in Christ!  To be in Christ is to be in his body, the church.

How does a person become a saint today?  By being set apart!  When a person is baptized he is set apart from his past sins.  He is set apart from the penalty of sin.  As he continues to mature as a Christian he is set apart from the passion and practice of sin.

Not Conformed, But Transformed

The world is constantly trying to influence our thinking; constantly trying to mold us into what they would like for us to be.  But as Christians, God expects us to be different.  Rather than “go with the flow of the world” we are to be transformed, or changed, according to God’s will.  To the church at Rome the apostle Paul wrote, “And be not conformed tE2UeT29o this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2)

As Christians, we are to consider ourselves pilgrims on this earth, sojourners passing through on our way to heaven (I Peter 2:11).  We are to realize our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  As strangers on this earth (I Peter 2:11) we are to set our affection on things above, rather than on the things of this world (Colossians 3:1-2).  Rather than allow the world to shape us into what they would have us be, we are to be changed into what God wants us to be.

Today, I am determined to resist the temptation to be conformed to the world.

Read Any Good Books Lately?

Read any good books lately?  I have sixty-six that I can recommend.  Thirty-nine of them are in the Old Testament and twenty-seven of them are in the New Testament.

The Bible remaibible mediumns the most widely distributed and bestselling book in the world.  More than one hundred million copies of the Bible are sold or given away every year.  Sadly, according to www.statista.com, for the year 2018 it is estimated that 30% of people in the United States never read the Bible, 12% read the Bible once a year, 6% read the Bible once a month, 9% read the Bible once a week, and only 15% read the Bible every day.  It is also noteworthy that, the younger a person is, the less likely he is to read the Bible.  Of those people age seventy and older, 20% never read the Bible.  The percentage of people who never read the Bible increases as their age decreases.  Of those people in the eighteen to thirty-one years old age group, a whopping 35% never read the Bible and only 9% of this group reads the Bible every day!

When you read these statistics, do you get the impression that the number of persons who read the Bible regularly seems quite low in comparison to the number of persons who own a Bible?  Why is this number so disappointing?  A better question might be “Why should I read the Bible?”

First, we should read the Bible because it is the word of God.  “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (I Thessalonians 2:13). Those at Thessalonica who heard the word of God understood that the scriptures have God, not man, as their source.

Because the Bible is the word of God it answers questions no other book can answer.  Where did man come from?  How did life on earth begin?  What is our purpose in life while here on earth?  Where will we go when we die?  No other book can answer these questions!

Second, we should read the Bible because it is how God reveal his wills to man.  God does not speak to anyone today privately or individually, but through His written word!  “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 perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). When we have the Bible we are perfectly, or completely furnished with everything we need to live a godly life.

Third, we should read the Bible because it is impossible to grow spiritually without reading the Bible.  “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (I Peter 2:2). If a child does not grow physically, the parent soon realizes that something is wrong.  The parent becomes troubled and distraught.  We do not grow spiritually by delving into pop psychology, the opinions of the majority or traditions of men, but by reading the Bible and applying its teachings to our lives.  When we fail to read the Bible as we ought, God realizes that something is wrong.

Fourth, we ought to read the Bible because it provides guidance to our lives.  Without the Bible we are “stumbling in the dark” spiritually.  O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). The Bible provides us with the direction we need. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).  Jesus said, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures” (Matthew 22:29).  As long as we fail to read the scriptures we will continually live in error.  Countless numbers of self-help books are written every year, yet none more helpful than the Bible.

Fifth, we ought to read the Bible because it helps us in overcoming temptation.  The apostle Paul wrote, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Ephesians 6:17).  Like it or not, you are in a spiritual battle!  Realize it or not, every day Satan is battling to win your soul.  The word of God is a weapon we have been given to help us win that battle.  Every time Jesus was tempted he used the scriptures to overcome temptation, and we can too (Matthew 4:1-10)!  Remember the statistics we mentioned earlier?  Only 15% of people read their Bible daily.  Where do you suppose other 85% keeps their Bible?  On a dusty bookshelf?  On a coffee table as a decoration for their home?  To overcome the temptations of life, we ought to keep the Bible in our hearts.  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

Sixth, we ought to read the Bible because it is the standard by which we will all be judged.  You and I will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10).  Many today are quick to say, “Only God can judge me!”  But friends, that thought should be no comfort to someone who does not know the scriptures.  “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Doesn’t it make sense that we would want to know the standard by which we will be judged?  I’ll give you a hint – it’s not at all what you have heard from many men!

Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All

bible mediumThe apostle Paul, because of his unwavering faith in our savior Jesus Christ, was severely persecuted by those who were so adamantly opposed to the gospel.  He was beaten with rods and was stoned.  He suffered shipwreck three times and was frequently imprisoned.  He suffered pain, hunger and nakedness (II Corinthians 11:23-27).

Yet notice how Paul described his persecution when writing to the church at Corinth.  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

It’s not possible to read these verses without two words jumping out at you, grabbing you by the collar and demanding your attention – light affliction!  How could Paul possibly describe his beatings, stonings, imprisonment, pain, and hunger as light affliction?  Paul is painting an obvious contrast between his temporary life on this earth and his eternal life in heaven.  While he describes his affliction as light, he describes the glory of heaven as weighty.  Paul knew his affliction was but for a moment – temporary, while the glory of heaven is eternal.  Paul knew any suffering he experienced on earth because of his faith in the gospel would pale in comparison to the blessing of eternity in heaven.

Friends, this is true for us also!  No sensible person would deny that life on this earth has its difficulties and trying times.  But whatever they may be, any difficulties we experience while on earth will pale in comparison to the blessing of an eternity in heaven.

Today, I will ask God to carry me through any difficulties I may face, knowing that heaven will surely be worth it all!

Salvation Without Baptism?

baptismCan we be saved from our sins without being baptized (immersed in water)? This question is of great importance as it relates to the eternal destiny of our souls. Admittedly, we can go to any number of different sources for our answer. Some will go to their preachers, their family members, or trusted friends.

But friends, the question of “Can we be saved from our sins without being baptized,” is too important a question for us to rely on other men for the answer. This question demands that we go to God, through the Bible, for our answer. When we set aside all preconceived ideas and prejudices, all human creeds and all doctrines of men, we learn that the Bible teaches that no person living under the New Testament can be saved from his sins without being baptized.

Friends, the devil wants us to believe that we can be saved from our sins without being baptized.  But if we can be saved from our sins without being baptized, Jesus was mistaken when he said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). The word “and” is a conjunction that joins belief with baptism. Neither belief or baptism, without the other, will result in salvation. Some men want to rewrite the Bible, making Mark 16:16 read, “He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized.”

If we can be saved from our sins without being baptized, then Peter was mistaken when he preached his sermon on the day of Pentecost. When those present heard Peter’s preaching concerning Christ, they were pricked in their hearts and asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Notice Peter’s answer.  “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). There’s that conjunction again – the word “and.” Those present on the day of Pentecost were commanded both to repent and to be baptized for the remission of sins. Neither repentance or baptism, without the other, will save a person from his sins.

Notice Peter’s use of the phrase “for the remission of sins.” Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, page ninety-four, indicates the purpose of the baptism referred to in Acts 2:38 is, and I quote, “to obtain the forgiveness of sins.”

The phrase, “for the remission of sins,” is the same phrase Jesus used in Matthew 26:28 when he said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  Would anyone dare contend that Jesus shed his blood because our sins had already been forgiven? Would anyone dare contend that Jesus shed his blood to show the world that our sins had already been forgiven? Of course not! Jesus did not shed his blood because our sins had already been forgiven, but in order that our sins could be forgiven!

Likewise, Peter did not command those present on the day of Pentecost to be baptized to show the world their sins had been forgiven. Peter commanded those present on the day of Pentecost to be baptized to have their sins forgiven!

If we can be saved from our sins without being baptized, then we can be saved outside of Christ. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3). But no man can be saved outside of Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  It is only through baptism that we enter a relationship with Christ.  “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3).  Every time the phrase “into Christ” appears in your Bible, it is always preceded by the word “baptized”, without exception.

If we can be saved from our sins without being baptized, then we can be saved without being a member of Christ’s church. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13).  Because we are baptized into Christ’s body and because Christ’s body and Christ’s church are one and the same (Ephesians 1:22-23), we know we become members of Christ’s church by being baptized into his church. Because Christ is the savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23), we know that only those persons who have been baptized into Christ’s body, his church, are saved.

The conditions of salvation and the conditions of membership in Christ’s church are the same. Men often try to make a distinction between the conditions of salvation and the conditions of membership in Christ’s church. Some people teach we can be saved from our sins (and thus be in heaven) without being baptized. But oddly enough, many of these same people will not allow us to be a member of their church unless we have been baptized. Seems odd, doesn’t it? What do you think about someone who makes it harder to be a member of their church than it is to go to heaven?

If we can be saved from our sins without being baptized, then Saul (later known as Paul) was saved before his sins were washed away.  When the Lord appeared unto Saul on the road to Damascus, the Lord told Saul to go to Damascus where Ananias would tell him what he must do. Do you remember what Ananias told Saul? “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). No friends, Paul was not saved before his sins were washed away in baptism, and neither are we.

If we can be saved from our sins without being baptized, the apostle Peter was wrong when he taught that baptism saves us. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3:21). Friends, did you notice Peter’s words? Baptism doth also now save us. That’s right, baptism doth also now save us!

Some people want to eliminate baptism as a condition of salvation by noting that baptism is a merely a figure.  They often cite I Peter 3:21 to support their belief that baptism is no more than a symbol of what has already taken place.  Those who do so should study types and antitypes.  The Greek word that is translated “figure” in the King James Version is antitupos, from which we get our English word antitype.  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (page 51) defines an antitype as “a thing resembling another, its counterpart, something in the Messianic times which answers to the type prefiguring it in the Old Testament, as baptism corresponds to the deluge.”

What is the meaning of I Peter 3:21?  Water baptism corresponds (it is the antitype) to the flood during Noah’s day (the type).  Just as the waters of the flood served as a dividing line between death and salvation in Noah’s day, the water of baptism serves as a dividing line between spiritual death and salvation today.  When Peter wrote what we refer to as I Peter 3:21 he did not contradict what he said in Acts 2:38 – a person is forgiven of his sins when he submits to water baptism, not before.

What must we do to be saved from our sins? We must hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). We must believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16). We must repent of our sins (Acts 2:38). Repentance is a change of mind brought about by godly sorrow, resulting in a reformation of life and is accompanied by restitution whenever possible. We must confess our faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:32-33). We must be baptized to receive the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).

No matter what well intentioned preachers or trusted friends may say, the Bible teaches that we cannot be saved from our sins without being baptized.  A person who has not been baptized to receive the forgiveness of his sins is a person who is still lost in his sin.