Tag Archive: Faith


You MUST Forgive!!

WARNING!! DANGER!!

‘But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ (Matt. 6:15)

‘And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.’ (Matt. 18:34-35)

There is no ‘wiggle room’ here. Jesus was giving us a very literal warning.

Friends, if your neighbor comes banging on your door at 2 am and tells you your house is on fire, you don’t simply respond ‘Thank you. I believe in you!’ and then go back to bed. No! You pull your sleeping family from their beds and drag them out the door!

Likewise, faith in Jesus is much more than just believing that He existed, died, and rose again. Believing in Jesus means believing in His WORDS–AND OBEYING THEM!!

There are no options and compromises allowed here–we MUST forgive others, else we forfeit OUR hope of being forgiven and saved.

[There is NO magic incantation (‘Sinner’s Prayer’) you can say that will enclose you in a protective bubble and transport you to the end of your life unscathed. We must walk (and perhaps even crawl at times) along that ‘narrow path’ until we reach our destination. There are trials and temptations all along the way. We must walk IN THE SPIRIT (obedience to God) in order to overcome them.]

I truly believe that God is testing and preparing His people now. I am not perfect, but I am not a person given to holding grudges. However, in the last few weeks, God has been bringing people to my constant remembrance who I have had even the slightest little thing against in years long past. He is urging me to be sure that I have completely forgiven them, from my heart.

Friend, if you are harboring a grudge against anyone, you are walking in the flesh, not the Spirit. This will be a great detriment to you–perhaps even hindering your prayers.

God HATES hypocrisy. To claim to be forgiven, while we refuse to forgive someone else, is a grand form of hypocrisy. It shows that we do not understand the mercy and forgiveness of God. His forgiveness comes, not because of any worthiness on our part, but because of His great love. So likewise, His Spirit living within us will lead us to pour out that same great love on others, by forgiving them–even when they are unworthy.

We MUST walk in the Spirit to reach our destination.

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What drives a person to persist in sin, although they profess to love God?  I can think of several possible reasons.  There may be more.

  1. They do not understand that God requires holiness of His children.
  2. They have not truly repented.
  3. They are mocking God–attempting to gain the reward of eternal life, without making the sacrifice of ‘dying to self’.
  4. They love the pleasures of sin more than they love God.
  5. They do not have true faith in Jesus.
  6. They are in bondage to demonic spirits.
  7. They do not know HOW to fight sin.

 

Lets address these reasons:

1.  They do not understand that God requires holiness of His children.

God’s children MUST strive to live a holy life.

‘Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD’  (Heb. 12:14)

‘But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

[Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, WHAT MANNER [of persons] OUGHT YE TO BE IN [all] HOLY CONVERSATION AND GODLINESS, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, BE DILIGENT that ye may be found of him in peace, WITHOUT SPOT, AND BLAMELESS.’  (2 Peter 3:10-14)

 
2. They have not truly repented.

True repentance is sorrow over having grieved God and broken His holy law.  True repentance is a wholehearted commitment to STOP breaking God’s Commandments.

True repentance leads us to purge out of our lives all that offends God.  True repentance says ‘goodbye’ to sinful friends.  True repentance cleans house, then builds a bonfire and destroys all the implements of sin from one’s old life–porn magazines and videos, New Age and occult books, music CDs, drugs, alcohol, etc., etc., etc.  True repentance purchases filtering software that blocks access to porn sites.  True repentance stops going to parties, bars, and concerts.

True repentance makes pleasing God and walking in holiness the NUMBER ONE priority in our life–even, at times, placing it before food (fasting) and sleep (travailing in prayer).

 

3. They are mocking God–attempting to gain the reward of eternal life, without making the sacrifice of  ‘dying to self’. 

Contrary to what today’s false gospel teaches, we do not become Christians simply by believing in Jesus and saying a ‘Sinners’ Prayer’.  Nor is salvation a once-and-done deal, at the time we decide to ‘accept Christ’.

No–salvation is the DESTINATION we seek.  Repentance and ‘accepting Christ’ by faith is the GATE we enter in at.  But we have a NARROW PATH to WALK, for the rest of our life, to reach our destination of salvation.

We do not say a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’, make a profession of faith in Christ, go on living a sinful life, wait on GOD to change us, and believe we are in a safe capsule that will be delivered to our final destination with no effort on our part.

Very few will attain to eternal life.  Most miss the gate.  Others won’t walk the narrow path until the end.  We are to STRIVE to enter in . . . and we must STRIVE to keep our focus and our faith, to the end.

God is not mocked.  He sees beyond our actions, to our true motives.

‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.’  (Gal. 6:7-8)

‘To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil . . .’  (Romans 2:7-9)

 
4. They love the pleasures of sin more than they love God.

‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is ENMITY with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the ENEMY of God.’  (James 4:4)

‘Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. IF ANY MAN LOVE THE WORLD, THE LOVE OF THE FATHER IS NOT IN HIM.  For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.’  (1 John 2:15-17)

If you love the world, you do NOT love God, because God HATES the sins and system of this world.  If you love the world, you are positioning yourself as an ENEMY of God, and you will be destroyed along with it.

5. They do not have true faith in Jesus.

Saving faith in Jesus recognizes His true character:  loving, joyful, peace-loving, longsuffering, gentle, good, faithful, meek, self-controlled, gracious, truthful, just, having a deep hatred for sin, and an absolute zeal for holiness and purity.

Because He is just, God does not call us to do something without also equipping us to do it.  We are called to holiness and told we will suffer the fires of eternal damnation if we walk in sin.  We are likewise told:

‘According as his divine power hath given unto us ALL THINGS that [pertain] unto LIFE AND GODLINESS, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these YE MIGHT BE PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE, HAVING ESCAPED THE CORRUPTION THAT IS IN THE WORLD THROUGH LUST.’  (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Through reading God’s word we are instructed in righteousness, and we are spiritually transformed  IF WE TAKE HEED TO DO what is written in His word!  Hearing only profits us if we base our actions upon what we have heard!

Even more than this, we are given the Holy Spirit, which comes to dwell INSIDE of our mortal body, both guiding us and EMPOWERING us to live in victory over sin.

Although our ETERNAL salvation is not yet secured, our salvation from the bondage of sin certainly is!  Jesus death has saved us from the bondage to sin, and the Law of Sin and Death.  We are now born of the Spirit–the INCORRUPTIBLE Spirit of God.  Rejoice!  God has given you a new spirit that cannot be corrupted!

To continue to walk in sin, therefore, is to disobey and grieve the Holy Spirit that God has placed inside you to guide you.  It is to reject the power He has made available to you.  It is to CHOOSE to walk in the flesh . . . to willingly submit yourself again to the Law of Sin and Death . . . to allow sin to again become your master . . . and to forfeit your hope of salvation.

No man can serve two masters.  Either you serve God or you serve sin.

‘ . . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.’  (Jesus, John 8:34)

‘Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?’  (Romans 6:16)

To continue in sin is to deny Christ:

‘They profess that they know God; but in works they deny [him] . . . ‘  (Titus 1:16)

‘But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.’  (Matt. 10:33)

To profess Jesus, but to live a life contrary to His teachings, is to take the name of God in vain.

‘Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.’  (Exodus 20:7)

6. They are in bondage to demonic spirits.

We must not give the devil a foothold in our lives.  Most of us though, while we were yet sinners, DID give Satan open doorways into our lives.  True repentance . . . housecleaning and destruction of all our belongings that we used in the practice of sin . . . will set us free from many demons.  However, there will still be some that will persist.

We must understand that there is an ongoing war for our souls.  When we become Christians, we change sides in that war.  The forces of evil are going to, at first, reach out and try to seduce us to come back.  They will play upon our weaknesses and try to get us to turn back to sin.  We must RESIST the enemy!

‘ . . . Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’  (James 4:7)

In the midst of your temptation: pray!!  Sing spiritual songs.  Quote Scripture and rebuke the devil, in Jesus’ name.  Get mad at what he’s trying to do in your life, and start fighting back.  Resist the devil and he will (eventually) flee from you.  Why would you willingly submit yourself to the enemy of your soul?  Submit yourself instead, to God!

7.  They do not know HOW to fight sin.

We must cry out to God for help in this battle.  We must pray until we have peace, yet not yield ourselves to sin while we wait upon His strength.

‘Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy*?  But he giveth more grace.

Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

CLEANSE [your] hands, [ye] sinners; and PURIFY [your] hearts, [ye] double minded. BE AFFLICTED, AND MOURN, AND WEEP: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and [your] joy to heaviness. HUMBLE YOURSELVES in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.’  (James 4:5-10)

*Our flesh lusts not only to envy, but to adultery, to idolatry, to murder, etc., etc.  But God gives us more grace!!  By His grace He gives us enough power to overcome sin.  He does not call us to holiness, then leave us alone to flounder and fail, because He KNOWS that we still live in fleshly bodies that lust to sin!  Remember–God is faithful and just.

But notice:  He gives grace to the HUMBLE.  We access His grace and power in our lives, not through fleshly pride and believing we are strong enough to overcome sin ourselves–but by humbly pleading for His help, and acknowledging that we are weak, because we are encased in sinful flesh.

‘And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. . . ‘ (2 Cor. 12:9)

The Holy Spirit in us guides us with a still, small voice that shows us which way to go.  When we encounter situations that are beyond our strength, we can pray and tap into His power.  He is right there with us.  But although His Spirit lives in us, He will not violate our free will.  Nor will the Spirit live THROUGH us, without our explicit invitation for Him to do so, and then only for a time.

You may not see the evidence of God moving in your life, to deliver you from certain sins, until you are completely undone . . . until you HATE that sin . . . until you MOURN and WEEP at your inability to fight it on your own.  Although Jesus has already set you free from sin, it is your love for that sin that draws you back to it.  Throughout the Bible, God gave people over to what they lusted for.  You will not walk in the freedom He purchased for you, until you come to HATE your sin.  You want to over come sin?  Learn to hate it.

When you LOVE your sin, you will not listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit as He attempts to lead you away from sin.  Instead, you listen to the clamoring voice of your fleshly lusts, and the voice of the Spirit gets drowned out.  It is not that He abandons you in your weakness–it is that you do not attune yourself to Him, or obey Him.

Learn from the example of Peter: when he tried to walk on water . . . as long as he kept his focus on Jesus he was able to rise above the limitations of his fleshly body . . . but when he took his focus off Jesus, he lost connection with the divine power that was enabling him to do the miraculous, and he sank into the waves.

But if Peter had LOVED swimming, would he have even had the WILL to walk on water?  Instead, given the opportunity, he would have dived in and started reveling in swimming.  Walking on water or focusing on Jesus would have been the last thing on his mind.

True repentance gives us a new heart–a heart that hates sin.  If you still love sin, your repentance is not complete.  Repentance is not only a change of mind, but a change of heart and will.  If you still love sin, pray diligently for God to give you a godly sorrow over that sin, and to bring you to true repentance.

Focus on the voice of the Holy Spirit, and obey Him.  He will show you how to stand strong and not sin . . . or how to escape the situation, if it is too much for you to bear.  Tune out the clamoring voices of your fleshly lusts, and of the demons that are trying to tug on you.  LISTEN and OBEY the Holy Spirit.

‘There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].’  (1 Cor. 10:13)

Learn to call on God IN THE MIDST of your temptation and sin.  He is with you there anyhow.  In our shame, we sometimes feel unworthy to call on Him, as though if we don’t call out to Him He won’t see where we are, or what we are doing.

‘What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?’  (1 Cor. 6:19)

God is with you all the time, and in your temptation is the time you need Him the most.  He is right there with His arm outstretched, hoping that you will allow Him to help and deliver you.  Don’t turn your back on Him in shame.  Don’t focus on the lust or the demonic voices that are tempting you.  Don’t worry about your dirty and tattered garments, and skinned knees.  RUN TO HIM!!

Righteousness by The Flesh?

Many believers, in an attempt to draw closer to God, have turned to ‘keeping Torah’ (Old Testament Law) and are following the Hebrew Roots movement.  But this is not pleasing to God.  Keeping The Law is, and always has been, a work of the flesh.

To go back to keeping the letter of The Law, rather than being led by the SPIRIT of The Law, shows a lack of understanding.  (But I do not say this in condemnation–the subject CAN be confusing.)

We are plainly told that we are delivered from The Law . . . specifically, the LETTER of The Law.

‘For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter.’  (Romans 7:5-6)

 

Sadly, and ironically, living by The Law INCREASES a person’s separation from God, because where The Law is, sin increases.

‘What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.

For without the law sin [was] dead.  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.  And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].’  (Romans 7:7-11)

 

God’s ways are higher than our ways.  The way He works is often a mystery to us.  One might reason that The Law was given so that men would be obedient.  But men who are spiritually dead, who are under the Law of Sin and Death, are unable to walk in perfect obedience.  In fact, the reason that God gave The Law to men is perplexing to human reasoning:

‘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.’  (Romans 5:20-21)

‘[Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.’  (Galatians 3:21-22)

When the Law came, men became worse!  Sin was strengthened and sin abounded.  But this was in order that our salvation could be by FAITH, and not by works.  If we could have walked in perfect obedience, salvation would not have been a gift, by God’s grace, but rather the just compensation for our works.  By the way that God chose, He is glorified and His righteous, longsuffering, merciful, gracious character is revealed.

So, should we dismiss The Law as being useless?  By no means!

‘But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.’  (Galatians 3:23-25)

‘ . . . I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.’  (Romans 7:7)

The Law gives us a picture of what righteousness should look like.  It also shows us that, while we are still under the Law of Sin and Death, we are unable to walk in perfect obedience and righteousness.  It makes us realize our need for a savior . . . and our need for God’s help.

There is another aspect to this situation that must be discussed.  Those who have turned to ‘keeping Torah’ have often done it as a reaction to the false gospel and false doctrines that have taken over mainstream ‘Christianity’:

‘Just believe in Jesus and say this Sinner’s Prayer’ (no mention of repentance) . . . ‘Once you are Saved you are Always Saved’ (OSAS) . . . you can live as you please because you have ‘liberty in Christ’ and ‘we are only sinners saved by grace–we sin daily in word, thought, and deed’ . . . etc.

Not everybody is fooled by this hogwash.  But not everyone is grounded in God’s word either, so they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak.

Those who have turned to ‘keeping Torah’ are not completely wrong.  They are far closer to the truth than mainstream ‘Christianity’.  HOWEVER . . . they have gone a little too far.

Jesus DOES tell us to keep The Commandments:

‘ . . .  if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’  (Matt. 19:17; also John 14:15, 15:10)

And Revelation tells us that in The Tribulation ‘the saints’ will keep God’s Commandments:

‘Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’  (Rev. 14:12 and 12:17)

The distinction is this:  there is a difference between The Law and The Commandments.  We ARE to keep The Commandments, but we are NOT to focus on the letter of The Law.

  • The Law contains 613 restrictions and commandments, including a dietary code.  The Commandments are ten.
  • The Law was written down by Moses, on scrolls.  The Commandments were written by God, in stone.
  • The Law was kept in the SIDE of the Ark of the Covenant.  The Commandments were placed under the Mercy Seat, INSIDE the Ark of the Covenant.

Furthermore, our keeping of The Commandments is not to be our FOCUS, but will be the RESULT of being led of the Spirit, once we are born again.  The Holy Spirit which is placed inside each Christian, is the (same) SPIRIT of The Law.  The Spirit leads us to keep the spirit/intent of The Law, and to DO IT WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVES.

Keeping the letter of The Law leads to death, but the Spirit leads us in the way of life.

‘Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.’  (2 Cor. 3:6)

The Holy Spirit is NOT leading people to keep the LETTER of The Law, because that would be in contradiction to what is written in God’s word.

Therefore, there is no way around it: those who are ‘keeping Torah’ are NOT being led of the Holy Spirit.  They are walking in the flesh.  Romans 8:1 applies to them, in reverse:

‘[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.’  (Romans 8:1-2)

Those who are keeping Torah are NOT walking after the Spirit, but are walking after the flesh.  They ARE under condemnation, and they have submitted themselves again to the Law of Sin and Death.

‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.’  (Romans 8:3-5)

Those who are ‘keeping Torah’ have their attention occupied with walking in the letter of The Law–all 613 requirements of it.  And they cannot keep it.  Nor will the Holy Spirit HELP them to keep it.  They are walking in the flesh.  Hopefully, in time, they will realize the miserable condition they have fallen into, and their need for a savior.

Ironically, those who are walking in the Spirit, who ARE focusing on loving God and loving their neighbor, ARE keeping the spirit and intent of The Law, and are not under condemnation.

‘So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.

Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  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.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’  (Romans 8:8-14)

If YOU have gotten caught up in the Hebrew Roots movement, understand that God sees your heart and knows that you wish to please Him.  But we please Him by walking in the way that HE has ordained, even if it doesn’t make sense to us.

The Scriptures clearly tell us that The Law cannot give us life (Col. 3:21, 2 Cor. 3:6) and that The Law has been done away with (Romans 7:6, Gal. 3:23-25).  YES, we must walk in obedience–but obedience to what?  (The Commandments, not The Law.)  And how?  (By the Spirit, not by the flesh.)

I hope you will prayerfully consider what I have said here, and turn back to a walk of faith and obedience, being led by the Spirit.

What Must We Do To Be Saved?

‘As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall PREPARE THY WAY BEFORE THEE. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’  (Mark 1:2-3)

Did you ever wonder why God sent John the Baptist before Jesus?  Here is my belief:  it was a pattern to be understood and continued.

How did John the Baptist prepare the way before Jesus?  What did John preach and do?

John did baptize in the wilderness, and PREACH THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE for the REMISSION OF SINS. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, CONFESSING THEIR SINS.’  (Mark 1:4-5)

According to Mark 1:4, the remission of sins came after repentance, confession, and baptism by faith in the Messiah.

John prepared the hearts of the people for Jesus’ ministry.  What was John’s ministry?  To call the people to repent, confess their sins, and be baptized for the remission of sins, through faith in the coming Messiah.  John’s ministry was to bring the people to salvation.  Jesus’ primary ministry was to turn these converts into disciples.

Those who were baptized BEFORE Jesus’ death did not receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come.  Thus, FOR THOSE WHO WERE SAVED BEFORE JESUS’ DEATH, a separate impartation of the Holy Spirit was necessary.

‘And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, JOHN VERILY BAPTIZED WITH THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE, SAYING UNTO THE PEOPLE, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE ON HIM WHICH SHOULD COME AFTER HIM, that is, on Christ Jesus.

When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them*, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.’  (Acts 19:3-6)

(*I do not believe this refers to the popular practice of ‘laying on of hands’, it simply means that when Paul laid his hands upon them TO BAPTIZE THEM in Jesus’ name, they received the Holy Spirit.)

Acts 2:37-39 confirms this salvation pattern has not changed.  But now we are baptized in JESUS’ NAME (because now we know who our Messiah is) and now we receive the Holy Spirit:

‘Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men [and] brethren, what shall we do? 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.

FOR THE PROMISE IS UNTO YOU, AND TO YOUR CHILDREN, AND TO ALL THAT ARE AFAR OFF, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call.’  (Acts 2:37-39)

Today, ALL who follow the salvation model outlined here, DO receive the Holy Spirit (not necessarily evidenced by speaking in tongues.)

‘Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts’  (2 Cor. 1:22)

The remission of sins came after repentance, confession, and baptism in Jesus’ name.  It did not come by professing BELIEF in Jesus Christ, saying a ‘Sinners’ Prayer’, and asking Him to come into one’s heart and be their personal savior.  Today’s gospel is NOT the same.  Do you see the difference?

repentance + confession + baptism in Jesus’ name
vs.
confession of belief + ‘Sinners’ Prayer’ + invite Jesus into one’s heart

After John came Jesus.  What was Jesus’ ministry?  Jesus built on, and surpassed, John’s ministry.  He called sinners to repentance, healed the sick, confirmed The Covenant, and paid the price for the sins of mankind, triumphing over Satan.  He also began by preaching repentance, but the bulk of His ministry was spent showing people how to properly follow God’s Commandments, out of a heart of love.

‘Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’  (Jesus, Matthew 22:36-40)

 

‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.’  (John 13:34)

 

‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’  (John 14:15)

 

‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.’  (John 15:10)

(Loving God doesn’t mean we will AUTOMATICALLY keep His Commandments.  But if we love God we will CHOOSE to keep His Commandments.)

I believe this sets the pattern for the true gospel:

Repentance, confession, and baptism in Jesus’ name.  Then continuing obedience, out of a heart of love.

(The reason people today aren’t receiving the Holy Spirit when they ‘get saved’ is because they are no longer following the Biblical model of repentance, confession, and baptism in Jesus’ name.  Not having the Holy Spirit is why they are not having victory over sin or understanding the Bible.)

We all need to be very careful that we are preaching the true, Biblical gospel.

‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.’ (Gal. 1:8-9)

Be Baptized

If you have repented of your sins and believed on Jesus Christ: be baptized. Jesus and the Apostles commanded it.  Salvation is by faith and repentance.  Baptism in Jesus’ name (not a ‘Sinners’ Prayer’) is the faith part of the equation.

‘And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him [John the Baptist] in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.’  (Mark 1:5)

‘And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.’  (Mark 16:15-16)

‘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)

‘But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.’  (Acts 8:12)

‘And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.’  (Acts 19:3-5)

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.’  (Romans 6:3-4)

‘For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.’  (Galatians 3:27)

Saved by Faith, or by Works?

‘Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, STRIVE to enter in at the strait gate: for MANY, I say unto you, WILL SEEK to enter in, and shall not be able.’  (Luke 13:23-24)

Notice Jesus doesn’t just say ‘many won’t enter in’.  Instead, He says ‘many will SEEK to enter in but won’t be able’.  These are not just worldly, indifferent people–they are people who WANT to enter into Heaven.  What is the difference between those who seek to enter in but can’t, and those who strive to enter in and are able?

‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, YE THAT WORK INIQUITY*.’  (Matthew 7:21-23)

According to Strong’s, those who ‘work iniquity’ are those who do ‘anomia’

iniquity = anomia (G458)

1) the condition of without law

..a) because ignorant of it

..b) because of violating it

2) contempt and violation of law, iniquity, wickedness

 

This passage separates between those who DO the will of the Father, and those who don’t–and further clarifies it as those who live by His law vs. those who don’t.

Now, we know that as Christians we are not bound to the Mosaic Law.  But we ARE expected to follow the Ten Commandments (and the four restrictions in Acts 15:20).

‘ . . . but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’  (Jesus, Matt. 19:17)

According to Matt. 7:21-23, the difference between eternal life and damnation is whether or not you follow God’s Commandments.  NO, we do not OBTAIN salvation by following the Commandments, or any other thing that we might do.  There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  But when we become Christians we enter into a blood covenant with God, and our part is to do His will.  If we aren’t doing His Will, then we aren’t ‘abiding’ in Him.  If we aren’t doing His will, then we are walking in the flesh.  Christianity today is misrepresented as a free bus ticket: we say a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ and then get a free ride.  But that’s never what God intended.  His will is to have

‘ . . .  a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:’  (1 Peter 2:9)

When God made the first covenant (the ‘Old’ covenant) with the people of Israel, Moses gave the people The Law

‘And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.’  (Exodus 24:3)

Then a blood sacrifice was made, to seal the covenant.

We are heirs to a better covenant.

‘But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.’  (Jer. 31:33)

Not only does He write His law in our hearts, He gives us His Holy Spirit, to will and to perform it.  This covenant was sealed by the blood of Jesus.

In return for being redeemed from the bondage of sin and judgment, we are to yield ourselves as living sacrifices to Him.

‘What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’  (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.’  (Romans 12:1)

To simplify it,

‘Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’  (Matt. 22:37-40)

And how do we find the love to fulfill these two commandments?  We walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. The Holy Spirit is the love of God, living in us, and flowing through us. The Holy Spirit will work in our heart to desire to do, and to perform the will of God.  The Holy Spirit will not lead us into sin.  The Holy Spirit will keep us on the path.

‘Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;’  (Titus 2:12)

The Holy Spirit works in conjunction with the Word of God, to change us from the inside out.

‘And be not conformed to 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)

‘ . . . Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.’  (Ephesians 5:26-27)

How do we walk in the Spirit? We say ‘no’ to worldly lusts and ungodly temptations, thereby ‘crucifying the flesh’–because if we are walking in the flesh, we are not walking in the Spirit.  And we pray and read the Word of God . . . and then we live what we learn.

‘For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.’  (Matt. 11:30)

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light–but we must CHOOSE to walk on the narrow path.  We must STRIVE to enter in.  That striving is not a ‘work’ . . . it is our flesh and our will we strive with.  But if we say no to the flesh and yield ourselves to Him, His Spirit will lead us into all righteousness.

‘Teach me to do thy will; for thou [art] my God: thy spirit [is] good; lead me into the land of uprightness.’  (Psalm 143:10)

There is much confusion about ‘works’, but  here’s what the Bible says, in a nutshell:

‘For BY GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.’  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.’  (Galatians 2:16)

But

‘What [doth it] profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? . . . faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone . . . I will shew thee my faith by my works.’  (James 2:14, 17, 18)

‘But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.‘  (James 2:20-24)

Saving faith produces ‘works’ in keeping with that faith–and that is God’s will for us.

‘Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’  (Titus 2:14)

‘And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works’  (Hebrews 10:24)

‘That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.’  (2 Timothy 3:17)

‘[This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.’  (Titus 3:8)

‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’  (Ephesians 2:10)

Who are the ‘saints’?

‘ . . . they that keep the commandments of God, AND the faith of Jesus.’  (Rev. 14:12)

There really is no contradiction at all, except in the minds of those who don’t consider the full counsel of the Word of God.

Fear Must Be Overcome With Faith

Whosoever shall SEEK TO SAVE his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.’  (Luke 17:33)

God isn’t mocked.  He knows our hearts.  If we realize our attitudes aren’t right . . . see that we are falling short . . . we must repent and ask Him for help.

Yes, there are fearful things ahead–but fear isn’t an option for a Christian, anymore than lust is.  We must repent of fear and fight it, through prayer and READING THE BIBLE (faith comes by hearing the Word of God).

It is fear that drives people to cling to the (false) preTrib Rapture doctrine.  They ‘seek to preserve [their] life’.  This is natural and understandable–but so are lust, lying, stealing, etc.  We must overcome our own selfish desires and sinful nature, take up our cross and follow Him.  By the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we CAN have victory over the flesh!!  And He WILL sustain us through WHATEVER He calls us to.

Don’t think fear is that big an issue?

But the FEARFUL, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the LAKE WHICH BURNETH WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE: which is the second death.’  (Rev. 21:8)

Wow.  That’s sobering.

As a Christian, when we give in to fear, we negate our testimony to all who are around us.  When we give in to fear, we are calling God a liar, because He has promised to take care of us and to be with us always.  Our fear says we don’t really believe that’s true.

Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.  But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.’  (Hebrews 10:38-39)

‘. . .  we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I WILL NOT FEAR what man shall do unto me.’  (Hebrews 13:6)

For GOD HATH NOT GIVEN US THE SPIRIT OF FEAR; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  BE NOT THOU THEREFORE ASHAMED OF THE TESTIMONY OF OUR LORD, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of THE AFFLICTIONS OF THE GOSPEL according to the power of God;’

(2 Timothy 1:7-8)

FEAR NONE OF THOSE THINGS WHICH THOU SHALT SUFFER: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH, and I will give thee a crown of life.’  (Rev. 2:10)

‘ . . . that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  And deliver them WHO THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH WERE ALL THEIR LIFETIME SUBJECT TO BONDAGE.’  (Hebrews 2:14-15)

Fear of death is a bondage–a bondage that Jesus (also) died to deliver us from!  Only fear God, and the wickedness in your own heart.

I’m not saying you’re in sin to be afraid or to feel fear–it’s what you DO when that happens that matters.  Do you ruminate on that fear? Do you worry endlessly?  Do you give in mentally, physically, or spiritually?  Or, do you fight the fear as though it were an enemy?  Do you rebuke it and ignore it and press on?

Faith is the enemy of fear.  Faith or fear–when things happen, you make a choice which to yield to.

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)

‘Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;)‘  (Hebrews 10:23)

God is FAITHFUL to perform what He has promised.  Read the Bible and find out WHAT He has promised.  Read stories of God in action, and  how He deals with His people.  Build your faith!!

‘So then FAITH [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’  (Romans 10:17)

Above all, taking the shield of FAITH, wherewith ye shall be able to quench ALL THE FIERY DARTS OF THE WICKED.’  (Eph. 6:16)

It boggles my mind that, even when shown clear Biblical evidence to the contrary, some people who profess to be Christians will continue to believe in lies.  If that describes you, you are in a very dangerous place!

‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.’  (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The part about having ‘itching ears’ . . . only listening to what appeals to us . . .  isn’t just talking about somebody else.  I would venture to say it’s talking about 98% of us these days!  Unless you STRIVE to compare what you hear to God’s Word, you will find yourself doing the same thing.  For some reason, in our day and time, it’s the natural thing to do.

How do YOU decide what you will believe?  Do you have an objective standard that you compare things against, or do you just believe whatever ‘feels right’?  In this life, you can believe whatever you want . . . whatever feels right . . . or sounds nice . . . or appeals most to you . . . if you want to, but if you don’t love TRUTH and seek after TRUTH you are on very dangerous ground.

The Lord HIMSELF is sending strong delusion, to people who do not love the truth (2 Thess. 2).  If YOU reject the truth when it is shown to you, then it could very well be said that YOU do not love the truth.  If you don’t love the truth, you will be overcome by the strong delusion and you WILL believe The Lie and follow the False Prophet and ‘The Antichrist’.  If you don’t have a love for the truth–PRAY FOR IT, because your eternal soul is at stake!

The correct response, when someone is showing you something from the Bible, is to PRAY that the Lord would give you discernment (because you don’t want to reject the truth OR believe a deception, right?).

Then, you PRAYERFULLY go to the Bible and start searching the Scriptures to see if what they told you is true.  At the very LEAST, read the verses they showed you, IN CONTEXT to make sure that they are using the verses as God really said them.  Reading a verse in context usually means reading the whole chapter they are a part of–sometimes more.

Most false doctrines are based on verses taken out of context (often a LOT of verses taken out of context), and ‘personal revelation’ of vague and difficult Bible passages.

If a person promoting a teaching says things like ‘the Lord revealed to me’ or ‘God told me’, or ‘I had a dream’, that doesn’t prove it was really a revelation from God.  There are plenty of deceiving spirits going around masquerading as ‘the Lord’ and whispering unBiblical things in peoples’ ears.  Be VERY careful of people who try to elevate their credibility by claiming divine revelation.

‘Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;’  (1 Timothy 4:1)

The Bible tells us that

‘ . . .  In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.’  (2 Cor. 13:1)

God follows this pattern in His Word–things are repeated two or three times in Scripture.

The Bible also tells us

‘Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.’  (2 Peter 1:20)

So pay attention, and when someone tries to claim divine authority via personal revelation for what they are telling you  ( ‘the Lord revealed to me’ or ‘God told me’, or ‘I had a dream’, etc.)  be VERY cautious about believing what they say, and PRAY that God will protect you from believing any lies they may be telling.  Also, be careful of believing doctrines that are based on obscure verses, or verses that stand alone (the same idea isn’t repeated elsewhere in Scripture).

There’s no way around it.  WORK is involved in getting to the truth.  You can’t just be lazy and believe whatever sounds good when it passes through your ears.  You must PRAY for discernment AND open your Bible and read, to be sure that what you are told is TRUE!!

Too many pastors these days are preaching lies (deliberately, or because they themselves are deceived).  The Bible repeatedly warns us to ‘let no man deceive you’ . . . and God has provided each of us with plenty of access to a Bible!!

If the truth isn’t important to you, you WILL believe The Lie and be damned.  The Bible promises it (2 Thess. 2:11-12).  And those of us who believe lies, without opening and reading our Bible to see what’s true, will have no excuse when we stand before God, damned for believing THE Lie.