Salvation

Do you truly believe in God, or are you full of bologna?

bolognaLove and obeying God and belief are all united. When a person who is saved says, “I believe in God,” it means something totally different than when a false convert says, “I believe in God.”  The actual believer means that they love God and their highest goal is to obey Him in love. That’s actual belief.

On the other hand, the false convert says he believes in God, but doesn’t actually have Christ inside his heart reigning supreme. The false convert doesn’t actually want to obey the Bible simply because his love for Christ is the highest authority in his heart.

So true believers and false converts both say, “I believe in God.” The difference is that if you actually search deep into their motivations and desires and hearts, you will find that only the true believer actually believes and loves and obeys God because he knows God and is forever indwelt the Holy Spirit. Therefore the true believer will persevere until the end, and always grow stronger from persecution and struggles and failures and weaknesses.

Meanwhile, the false convert doesn’t actually believe or love or obey God from a heart forever ruled by Christ. That’s why under persecution and struggle and failures and weaknesses, the false convert falls away and recants his belief in Christ and the Bible, and abandons the truth, and eventually seeks out a lifestyle that makes sense to him – like the world and sin.

It’s something else, you know, when you meet those people who say, “I believe in God too” or“yeah, I’m a Christian too.” And inevitably they follow up with the self-exposing words, “but I don’t go to church” or “but I don’t read the Bible” or “but I don’t pray.” I’m like, “Really? You’re a Christian who doesn’t follow Christ?” That must be some new form of Christian that the devil invented.

When a person claims to be a Christian, yet lives a sinful lifestyle that is totally void of any actual fruit and love and obedience and belief in God and His Word, and his life is characterized by the world, worldly lusts, worldly desires, worldly motives…. then, chances are that person is full of bologna.

Follow up with a few statements from the Bible, and see if their attention suddenly drops. Quote Christ a few times, and see if they suddenly lose their interest in the conversation . Ask them their testimony and see if they even have one. Ask them the Gospel and see if they even know it. Ask them who Christ is and see if they say God. It usually doesn’t take long to discern that they desperately need a full-on Gospel presentation and that their wild lifestyle isn’t merely circumstantial, but rather a direct result of their choices and desires to follow sin instead of Christ.

There is a reason people don’t know the Bible, and it is usually because they have spent their whole lifetime choosing to read anything else, and the Bible is the least important thing to them. Be discerning people, there are lots of false converts out there, and instead of teaming up with them, we should be evangelizing them and avoiding their misdirection. We need to be discerning and test our friends, family, loved ones and peers. We shouldn’t be naive, but rather we should be diligent and wise and prayerful and sober-minded.

If people are complicating the Bible, and complicating their lives and missing church and missing Bible study and missing fellowship and missing accountability and missing enthusiasm to obey Him, then it’s likely not just a coincidence, but rather a giant redflag about them.

People who don’t actually like something or love something, over-complicate matters and make excuses and miss meetings and have a hard time showing genuine enthusiasm. Contrastly, when people do actually like something or love something, then they make it simple and take responsibility and show up early and get excited to participate and even seek out additional related things.

Like, a person who wants to go to the store might say, “It’s just a block away, we’ll be there and back in no time. Let’s go.” See, easy. There’s like 1 step involved and plenty of enthusiasm and simplicity.

But, a person who doesn’t want to go to the store might say, “It’s dark and dangerous outside, and it’s raining, and the store is all the way down the street, and we have to put on our shoes, get dressed and find our raincoats, and find my wallet and keys, and then get into the car, and maybe dirty up the floorboards, and maybe stop and get gas, and then hope that they aren’t closed, and…”  See, difficult. Complicated. Lots of steps involved. No enthusiasm. No simplicity.

I always ask myself when I’m dealing with a person who claims to be a believer, which one of these people do they become when I am talking to them about God. Which person are they when extra events are introduced into the conversation. What about Bible study, and fellowship groups, and opportunities to serve, and evangelizing strangers? Are they at least trying to find way to obey and serve Christ, or are they making things complicated and trying to increase the number of steps involved? My question is, what are their actual desires about God and the Bible and belief and obedience and love? Because those things come in a cluster. If you love, you also obey, and also believe. So without all of those, then a person isn’t really believing at all. They are just saying they believe They’re lying to themselves and others.

If I told you I believe that my house was on fire, but I just sat in the house calmly and didn’t do anything about it, then it would be hard to convince you that I am telling you the truth.

But, if I told you that my house was on fire and I jumped up and ran outside fast as lightning, then WOW! You’d really be convinced that I believed that.

Same concept applies with actual saving belief in God. If a person actually believes, then God’s Word, the Bible, won’t be a table decoration. The person who actually believes because he is filled with the Holy Spirit and ruled by Christ, knows God and is highlyconcerned with Him and obeying Him and learning about Him. Anyone who is actually saved knows exactly what I am talking about. True Christians are hyper-aware of their sin and they have a genuine desire to please God, because they know that the Almighty GOD is reigning and orchestrating every single detail of life!

True Christians KNOW that the all powerful God is able to answer prayer and control everything in the universe and they are aware and conscious of Him and therefore, because they actually know that to some extent, they are overwhelmed by that truth and are forever changed by that heart-piercing reality. You can’t meet God and then be the same afterwards. It’s impossible to be transformed, given the Holy Spirit, born again, and then like… I don’t know… somehow forget God is right here watching and listening to everything you do. That’s not something that you can walk away from the same as you were before.

It is the most important and supernatural and extraordinary thing that has ever happened in your life. It’s more important than your wedding, the birth of your children, your graduation, your first kiss, anything. There is nothing more amazing then having your eyes opened to the truth of God and your own depravity, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, and loving and believing in God for the first time. It is the single most important and radical thing that has ever happened. So, how can a person say they “believe in God” and yet have nothing to say in terms of a testimony or the Gospel or some change in their heart or anything?

It’s just crazy what some people will accept in a profession of faith. How many people are out there who call themselves Christian, and yet are the farthest thing from it? Too many. And many have even been baptized! They have never admitted their helplessness or repented of their sins or believed in Christ with saving faith or understood the Gospel or submitted and committed their lives to God. They have never truly loved God or believed in Him, and they will walk away from God as easily as they supposedly chose Him.  They call themselves Christians and believers, for all the wrong reasons.  They are Hellbound and in desperate need of the true Gospel. Be discerning, brothers and sisters. There are many false converts out there saying, “I believe in God” and claiming to be Christians.

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Robin Williams: The Dark Fall of a Bright Life

Robin Williams 2014The star of two of my favorite movies – Good Will Hunting and Aladdin. Yet, there seems to be no indication anywhere that he was a believer in Jesus Christ. In fact, after searching for a few hours, it seems that most people figure he was probably an atheist. He was a brilliant mind. He knew comedy and delivery better than most people on earth. In his movies, he was warm and personable. But his stand up comedy was very raunchy and often he mocked God and religion. Foul language and extremely graphic skits were typical for his stand up sets. And now with a quiet ending to a very busy life, the vanity of this world rings loud and clear to believers, especially this believer.

I consider a life like his, with that level of talent and brilliance, to be a prime example of the simple truth that God’s grace touches all mankind, if even just for a moment. But greater than this life, is the life to come. Eternity infinitely outweighs this world we live in now, and forever is only a blink away. This life is a snap and it’s over, and we have no excuse to live without hope, love, grace, mercy, compassion, selflessness, and joy. We have no excuse because Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, the Prince of Peace, was slaughtered so that we can taste this world and enjoy the things of this life. But, our ultimate purpose is to glorify God. Our ultimate purpose is to deny ourselves, deny our lusts, deny our flesh, and follow Christ even if it kills us.

As those with faith in the Lord persevere, counting all things as loss, struggling to maintain their first love, moving forward even under persecution and intense tribulations, we can looks around us and see clearly that not everyone is conscious. Not everyone loves God and believes in His Son, yet we are called to witness to them, and to reach the lost and spread the good news of salvation. We don’t have to live that life. We don’t have to pretend that a person dying in unbelief doesn’t hurt us, because the moments we stop telling them the truth are the exact same moments that others are passing. This life is too short!

US President Barack Obama said Robin Williams was a “one of a kind,” and that he “ended up touching every element of the human spirit.” For me, this is one of the most heartbreaking truths of life. That brilliant men and women, and talented and caring people, can live a full life and die without ever embracing Christ and putting their faith in Him and submit to Him alone. It happens every day.

Matthew 7:14 says, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” We know that everyone is unique in some way. Most people have a tender side and a gentleness at some point, and yet that isn’t salvation. That isn’t faith and that isn’t the path to everlasting life. Jesus said unmistakably, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

There is no entrance into Heaven apart from Jesus Christ, and not a single human being on the earth is exempt from this. It’s a tragedy to know that people are dying, not just in Hollywood, but all around us who don’t know Christ as their Lord and Savior. There are people all around us who have no genuine grasp on Christ. They don’t have that grasp, because the only way to truly embrace Christ is through faith alone. We are broken in to pieces, and we abandon ourselves, and we are poor in spirit, and we know that we are wrong and hopeless without Him, and when we are convicted like that and reach out to Christ with a true faith that lasts forever, then we are saved. When we commit to Him as our God. That’s when tragic death is avoided. For a believer in Christ, death is not a tragedy, because Christ has graciously given us eternal life through faith in Him.

There is a reason to rejoice and be glad and know this, that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).

We have dead people dying all around us. We are surrounded by death on all sides. There is no way to avoid the fact that we will die, and therefore right now is the time to stop being hardened and stop being deaf and stop being blind, and wake up and listen to the truth and stop wasting life without Christ. Cling to God’s Word only and never think twice about this world’s precepts, because “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). His purpose, not ours. We only have one life, and every second you spend away from Him and without Him as your Master is a second wasted.  A second that has eternal consequences. There is no such thing as a genuine peace and eternal salvation apart from the love of Christ, and faith in His Word.  Change!  Instead of death and hopelessness, cherish Him and never let go.

Christ is Lord. What does that mean?

Jesus-Christ-is-Lord“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

When we sin, we are said to be “of the flesh,” meaning spiritually disobedient which can result in physical, mental, and emotional disobedience.

At any given time, our actions can only be “of the flesh” or “of the Spirit,” but not both at once. If a person sins, we can safely say at that moment the Holy Spirit was not the driving force behind the action. Yet when a person thinks or lives righteously, it is fully the Holy Spirit at work within us by the grace of God. The Bible gives no percentages of “of the Spirit” or ratios of “of the flesh”it’s either one or the other.

That means that after salvation, we have times when we sin, of course, and we can obviously state that at the moment of sin we are not obedient to the Lordship of Christ. But when a person is saved, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, which is referred to in Scripture as the “baptism of the Spirit,” and we are “in the Spirit” in that moment, therefore we 100%, absolutely have and receive and submit to Christ as our Lord, for the first time, at that time.

Of course the Spirit chooses Christ as Lord of us, but we are indwelt with the Spirit, we are transformed into new creatures that will forevermore have the Holy Spirit within us, therefore we also are part in parcel of the whole operation. We do good deeds, think good thoughts, and have good affections, because we are driven by the Holy Spirit. As Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I LABORED even more than all of them, YET NOT I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor 15:10).

And from that point forward – the point when we are saved and transformed and receive the Spirit – we continuously grow in His likeness in love, obedience, study and sanctification, and we continuously are “in the Spirit” for the rest of our lives, because the Spirit lives inside of us and is always present within us. However, we still can and do sin, and in those sinning moments we are “of the flesh” and in those moments, in our disbelief and disobedience, we are not submitting ourselves to Christ’s Lordship. However, we do not maintain a lifestyle that resists His Lordship, because as the Bible says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom 6:6). We will always crave and return to obedience and submission to Him. That’s part of our assurance and a result of our being transformed.

Here is something the Scripture says about the relationship between Spirit and flesh, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, HE WHO RAISED CHRIST JESUS FROM THE DEAD WILL ALSO GIVE LIFE TO YOUR MORTAL BODIES THROUGH HIS SPIRIT WHO DWELLS IN YOU.

So then, brethren, we are under OBLIGATION, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but IF BY THE SPIRIT you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:5-15).

“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26) sends the same message, but much more profound and compact. If your nature is truly changed, if you are truly a transformed creature (2 Cor 3:18; 2 Cor 5:17) with new affections and a new heart (Ez 36:26), then because the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, you will relentlessly and forever crave more than anything else to be “of the Spirit” and obedient to the Lordship of Christ, living righteously and pleasing to God. And that is one very easy way I can explain Lordship Salvation when we are saved, we are for the first time filled with the Holy Spirit, obedient, and therefore are “of the Spirit,” and therefore we 100%, absolutely have and receive and obediently submit to Christ as our Lord, for the first time, at that time, and then forevermore afterwards.

Anything less is not true salvation.