God is good………….all the time!
Wednesday Night Bible Study or known as the Mid-week Bible Study is on old fashion tradition most familiar with those from rural places. We see it as a way to grow in knowledge and faith.
We encourage everyone to read the Bible for themselves. In our Wed night Bible Study we serve as a guide to the reader as we study.
Studying the scripture is a satisfying and fulfilling way to learn about our Christian heritage. It’s a pleasant time away from the worries of the world, and we have a lot to worry about.
We love Jesus and one way we learn about Him is read the Bible. Come and see.
Do you love to sing? With all your heart? Acapella?
Acappella in referring to singing unaccompanied by instruments, the traditional spelling is the Italian one, a cappella but we are in USA so we say acapella.
We are not as modern as today’s groups like Pentatonix or Rockapella or Straight No Chaser but we do sing with no instruments. You could lend your beautiful voice to ours as we praise God. We have a wonderful and rich history of singing acepella. Please join us every Sunday for morning worship at 9:30 AM for Praise and Singing. As always there will be refreshments served afterwards.
WE ARE TO WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. Being “buried with him by baptism into death….even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The person who has been born of God does not commit (continue living that old life of) sin characteristic before their conversion (1 John 3:9; Romans 6:1, 2). Such obtains on the basis of the persons genuine repentance (2 Cor. 7:10; Heb. 6:1).
WE ARE TO DESIRE THE SINCERE MILK OF THE WORD. “As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 1:22, 23). This means I will (1 Tim. 2:15), study (2 Tim. 2:15), and meditate upon (1 Tim 4:15) God’s eternal word.
WE ARE TO BRING GLORY TO THE NAME OF CHRIST. Though I may suffer as a Christian I am to glorify God in this name (1 Pet 4:16). I am to never so live as to bring shame upon this high and holy name. Alexander the great conquered the world and wept because there was no more to conquer. But he had a coward, with his name, within his ranks. Alexander called this man into his presence one day and sternly said, “You change your way of living or you change your name!” We wear the name of Christ (Christian). We should live worthily of it. Otherwise, let us not hypocritically thus be identified!
WE ARE TO CONTINUE STEADFASTLY. Of those who were baptized on Pentecost it is written, “And they continued steadfastly…” (Acts 2:42). I am to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). I am not to be in and out, on and off, up and down, and hot and cold spasmodic, irregular, hit and miss in the Lord’s work. Inconsistent living will not get the job done.
WE ARE TO SEEK THOSE THINGS THAT ARE ABOVE. “If ye then be risen (referring back to having been risen from our burial with Christ in baptism, Col. 2:12) with Christ seek those things which are above…set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1, 2). The Christian’s interest and affections are not only to run horizontal but vertical! Our father is in heaven (Mt. 6:9). Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). Our inheritance is in Heaven (1 Peter 1:4). Our names are written in Heaven (Heb. 12:32). Our treasures are in Heaven (Mt. 6:19-21). Truly, then, we are to seek those things that are above, setting our affection on things above.
WE ARE TO TELL OTHERS ABOUT THE SAVIOR. Immediately upon his conversion Paul shared Christ with others (Acts 9:20). Upon finding Christ, Andrew and Phillip told Peter and Nathaniel (Jn. 1:40-51). We have been won to win, saved to save, converted to convert, discipled to disciple. “And things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Tim 2:2).
– Wendell Walker
Scripture Reference: Matthew 16:13-19
Introduction: Those who are interested in church growth are forever trying to find the right method. Being the right kind of people and having the right kind of heart is much more important than the method we use.
I. He Will Build On Spirituality (Phil 2:5).
A. The bible teaches we are to become “partakers” of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4)
- This means we are to become like God. As we develop spirituality, we have the mind of Christ. When a church begins to think as Jesus did, it will be an evangelistic church (Luke 19:10).
- It takes spiritually minded people to give, work, and live as to cause the church to grow.
B. Let us resolve to develop ourselves spiritually.
1. We should put into our schedule time each day to study God’s word. We should also schedule a time to win souls each week. We never have time; we must make it.
2. How did the church grow so greatly in the first century? Not because of miracles, but the gospel (Rom 1:16). Boldly they preached (Acts 5:42; 6:7; 11:21; 12:24).
II. Build Love.
A. Jesus declares that love is the identifying characteristic of his disciples (Jn. 13:34,35)
1. If God’s people had the degree of love they should, more people would be eagerly listening to what we have to say. People rarely see genuine acts of love.
2. We can help them. Many would want to be a part of us and would gladly listen to our message.
III. Build An Evangelistic Leadership.
A. One of the greatest problems in the church today is leadership.
B. Far too often leadership is hesitant.
- Whether we are interested in church growth or not, God wants it (Luke 14:21, 23). Go quickly!
- If the Lord does not want the church to grow, why did he give the Great Commission? (Mk 16:15)
IV. Build a Trained Membership.
A. After we have taught and baptized people, we are to teach them to teach others (Mt 28:19, 20).
- There is teaching before and after baptism. That after baptism involves teaching converts to do all that Christ commands. That is in the N.T. (I Tim 3:15). The early disciples went preaching (Acts 8:4).
- We can touch the lives of more than the average Christian did in the first century.
B. There are not many soul winners in most churches because we have not trained soul winners.
V. Build By Sowing Bountifully.
A. We have the guarantee of God that if we sow bountifully, we will reap bountifully (II Cor 9:6).
- The principle is true in any area that requires sowing.
- If we want a crop of Christians, we must sow seed of the kingdom bountifully.
B. The Jerusalem church was accused of having filled their city with doctrine of Christ (Acts 5:28).
- They sowed the seed bountifully daily (Acts 5:42). Even persecution did not stop the early Christians (Acts 8:4).
- More than half the world today has never heard of a portion of the gospel.
VI. Build With Evangelistic Assemblies.
A. The Bible teaches we are to worship properly (John 4:24).
- The Corinthians became spiritually sick because their worship was lacking (1 Cor. 11:30).
- Our meetings need to be always warm, friendly, vibrant and joyful.
B. Let us take a hard look at our assemblies. Why should anyone return if there is nothing for them?
VII. Build By Faith (II Cor 5:7).
A. If we plan with faith, God will bless our work.
B. It takes a positive attitude to build an evangelistic church.
- Weak faith will not fill classrooms, cause sacrifice or powerful preaching.
- The only real motivation is by what we believe. Faith comes from Gods word (Rom 10:17). Faith is powerful (Mk 9:23; Phil 4:13; Lk 1:37).
C. The first few chapters of Acts describe the growth of the Jerusalem church.
- After some 3000 converts the first day, there were additions daily (Acts 2:41, 47).
- Soon the number was thousands (Acts 4:4). The early church was sowing a lot of seed? Why? They had faith!
VIII. Build By Prayer (John 14:14)
A. God blesses prayer.
- Why do we not have more growth? (Jas 4:2)
- Why not pray for the things that will enable you to lead people to Christ? (Jas 4:3).
- Prayer will cause us to love each other, to love the Lord, to grow spiritually, to have greater faith and dedication, and to work harder for God.
B. Such a church will become a truly evangelistic church where God is glorified (John 15:8).
Conclusion: Apostolic methods have not failed. God is not a God of failure. Who is in control of your life and this church? If God does not control your life, let him.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
INTRODUCTION: There is a real need to know the responsibilities of a preacher. The N.T. places an importance on the work of preaching which must be respected by every person who claims to be a preacher.
I. FALSE STANDARDS OF MEN.
A. If popularity is what men expect of preachers, one should ask how popular were Paul and Stephen.
(Acts 17:30-32; 7:51-60)
1. If a man-pleaser is what is expected, one should know that such does not please God (Gal. 1:10).
People are indeed spiritually weak if they must have a preacher’s social call to keep them serving God.
2. All Christians, including preachers, are to visit the sick (Mt. 25:36, 43; Jas. 1:27).
B. An entertainer is what many people look for in a preacher.
1. On Pentecost Peter did not entertain his audience (Acts 2:23). Neither did Paul entertain Felix
(Acts 24:24, 25).
2. Many think all speeches should amuse and entertain. Such is not fitting in dealing with souls.
II. GOD’S STANDARD FOR PREACHING.
A. When men begin to look at preachers, they expect one thing; but when one studies the N.T. he sees that God expects something different.
1. The books of I and II Timothy and Titus set forth God’s expectations of preachers.
2. These books serve as a handbook for preachers.
B. Preachers are given serious responsibilities toward false teachers.
1. There will arise false teachers who must be opposed (I Tim. 1:3,4). Brethren must be told of departures from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-6). This is needed because of the consequences of false doctrine (I Tim. 6:3-5).
2. If brethren go astray, they must be corrected (Titus 1:13). The preacher’s purpose is not just opposition, but improvement.
C. In relationship to the local church organization, a preacher has certain responsibilities.
1. He must teach the qualifications of those who will oversee (1 Tim. 3).
2. He must see that elders are appointed, and that what is lacking is set in order (Titus 1:5).
D. To the church he has many teaching duties.
1. In all his work, a preacher is to be diligent and dedicated (I Tim. 4:15,16).
2. A preacher must teach concerning prayer, modesty, and the place of men and women (I Tim. 2:1-4, 8-15). He must instruct all on proper conduct (I Tim. 3:15).
3. Brethren must be made to see the gain of godliness (I Tim. 4:7-10). A preacher must teach the responsibilities of all ages in the church (Titus 2:1-6).
4. He must rebuke sinners without partiality (I Tim. 5:20, 21; 6:17-19). He must also teach men to be teachers (2 Tim. 2:2). Brethren must be told to avoid fussing among themselves (2 Tim. 2:14).
E. Basically, a preacher’s work is that of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5).
1. An “evangelist” is a bringer of good tidings. It has nothing to do with traveling.
2. The same man is called a preacher, which tell what he does. He proclaims a message.
F. Preachers have responsibilities to themselves.
1. Each must fight the spiritual fight (1 Tim. 1:18). There may be attempts to get him to put aside his armor. He must be a good example (Titus 3:9). This is certainly a most frightening responsibility.
2. A preacher must avoid foolish controversies (Titus 3:9). The Christian must stand aloof from needless squabbles. He must reject a factious man (Titus 3:10).
3. In all things he must be one who is not ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15).
G. Preaching is assigned to men. Christ has never authorized women to do this work. Women who love the Lord will not usurp man’s work (1 Tim. 2:12).
CONCLUSION: The work of preaching is vital in God’s plan to convert men (1 Cor. 1:21). Christ said, “Go, preach” (Mk. 16:15). Philip preached (Acts 8:5). A preacher puts forth labor for which wages are paid (2 Cor. 11:8; I Cor. 9:14).
Scripture Reference: Eph. 6:11-18
I. Christians Are Soldiers In The Lords Army
- The soldiers of Christ must arise.
- Christians individually and the church which they compose are to be militant. The devil is our enemy and seeks to destroy our soul. (I Peter 5:8, 9). He will be successful if we do not fight (I Tim 6:12).
- We are under the banner of Christ (Heb. 2:10).
- The soldier of Christ must put his armor on.
- The Christian’s armor is provided by God (Eph. 6:10-17). “Stand then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waists.” This belt supports and braces the soldier ready for action.
- “Truth” will support the Christian in any battle. It is imperative that one learn truth and apply truth if the enemy is to be resisted (I Peter 5:8, 9).
- “Having the breastplate of righteousness.” The Christian must “follow after” or pursue righteousness (II Tim 2:22). Righteousness must be sought (Mt. 6:33; Psalm 34:5).
- Only when one works the works of God by obeying His command and accepting the gospel wherein righteousness is revealed can one be saved (Psalm 119:72); Rom 1:16, 17).
- “Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This is not peace at any price. Peace must never be put above purity in doctrine and practice (Jam 3:17).
- “Above all, taking the shield of faith.” Without it we will never resist the devil, and victory will be lost (I Pet 5:9). The faithful soldier of Christ can sing, “Faith is the victory.”
- “And take the helmet of salvation.” Those addressed are Christians. They already enjoyed salvation from sins. “Some think the apostle is looking ahead to the eternal salvation (I Thess. 5:8).
- “And the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” This is the Christian’s powerful offensive weapon (Heb. 4:12). The devil cannot stand against it.
II. Our Strength Is In The Lord And We Are To Trust Him.
- Our strength is only in the Lord (Phil. 4:13).
- Many feel self-sufficient and trust in themselves. The Christian is Christ-sufficient and trusts in Him. He is in Him and draws his strength from Him (Prov. 3:5-7). “Trust” means “cling to” or “confide in”.
- We are to trust in the Lord and not ourselves (Jer. 10:23). Trusting in the Lord is the essence of faith (Psalm 62:8, 22:4, 5). The Christian draws strength from Christ (II Tim 1:12).
- He can direct our lives only if we know and follow His directions. We run into problems when we trust in ourselves (Rom 12:16). The Lord’s trustworthiness has passed the test of experience.
- Only through faith and trust in the Lord can we be more than conquerors (Rom 8:37).
- Let us live like we believe it, responding to the Lord’s love with our faith and trust.
- Banish fear of failure and don’t contemplate defeat (I John 5:4).
III. We Must Stand In His Great Might.
- God has the power to save and give victory (Eph. 1:19)
- If the Christian is to be strong at all, it will be due to God’s power to give victory. When one is saved it is through faith in God’s great power (Rom 1:16). God’s power is available (Eph. 3:20).
- This power works in the Christian through the word of God (Col. 1:10, 11).
- The Christian is to stand in God’s great might, endued with His great strength.
- The Christian Must Always Be On Guard.
- We must continually be on guard.
- Let us be watching for the enemy who seeks to devour us (I Pet. 5:8). Any weakness in us must be shored up (I Cor. 16:13). A good soldier will stand his ground.
- He will never waver between one doctrine and another, but contend for the faith (Jude 3).
- The soldier of Christ will take every virtue, every grace (II Pet. 1:5-7).
- These characteristics are to become an integral part of the Christian’s character.
- Without these he ignores his salvation, his faith wanes , and he leaves his first love (II Pet 1:9; Rev 2:4,
IV. We Overcome Through Christ
- We are striving to overcome evil (Rom 12:2).
- Thus our battle is with evil (I John 2:13). The only way to be victorious is through faith in Christ alone (I John 5: 4-5)
- Our faith is in Jesus, the Son of God. This faith must be maintained by active obedience.
- We cannot do it alone.
- We do not overcome the evil one and stand entire at last through our strength and ingenuity, or through some church creed or organization, or through some man; but through faith in Christ alone.
- This is why we preach Christ (Acts 8: 5, 35). This is why Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is the heart of the gospel (I Cor. 1:23; 2:2). It is in Him that we stand entire at last (Col 2:10; II Tim 4:7, 8).
Conclusion: The crown awaits all who wait with expectation for the coming of Christ. Have you put off starting on the way (Acts 22:16).
Scripture Reference: Acts 5:17-29
Introduction: Satan will do anything he can to destroy the church. If he is to have any success, he must gain it by attacking those who follow Jesus. Satan tries to create internal problems (Acts 5).
I. The Work of Satan in the Church (Acts 5: 1-4)
A. Basically, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was hypocrisy.
- Some would have thanked Ananias for the gift. Not Peter! Being honest and outspoken, he rebukes the wrongdoer. Ananias lied and died (5:5-6). God is not mocked (Gal 6:7).
- We see God’s attitude toward hypocrisy. The attitude of Jesus is not hard to learn (Mt. 23:13, 15).
B. Sapphira, the wife, felt the same sting of punishment (5:7-10).
- Why were this man and wife punished so severely? The results tell us (5:11). To produce such fear as to deter others. The true church must be free of hypocritical profession.
- God punishes the lying lips of those who sought the praise of men rather than God. This is another example of the honest realism of the Bible. Conditions are presented as they actually were.
C. The immediate result was more growth for the church (5:12-16). The healings were secondary to preaching and adding souls (5:14).
II. The Second Imprisonment of the Apostles.
A. The cause of this persecution (5:17, 18).
- Again it is the Sadducees leading the opposition (4:1). The apostles preached much about the resurrection of Jesus (2:32; 3:14, 15). This contradicted one of the main points of Sadducee belief.
- “They were filled with jealousy”. The success of the apostles created intense indignation, many believed the apostles teachings (2:41; 4:4; 5:14). The Sadducees were losing ground rapidly.
B. God’s angel released the apostles and sent them back to preach (5:19-21a).
- It takes more than a human prison to stop the work of God. Four reasons have been suggested why the Lord intervened here, but not always in other cases.
a) It was a reproof to the Jewish leaders. b) It encouraged the apostles in their preaching. c) It convinced any doubtful Christians. d) It was proof of the truth of the apostles’ preaching.
2. The apostles lost no time getting to the people. The message was “the word of this Life” (5:20). This is dependent on a living Christ, and a living Christ is dependent on His resurrection.
III. Courage In Face of Persecution.
A. The apostles again are brought before the rulers (5:25-29).
- The angel did not promise that there would be no more persecution. God’s approval of our efforts does not exempt us from hardship and possible persecution.
- The Sadducees prefer not to mention the name of Jesus (5:28). The charge was a great compliment to the apostles. The apostles did it because they were busy every day.
- Human authority said, “Don’t preach”. The apostles must obey one or the other. The choice is simple (5:29). The apostles preach to the leaders of their guilt and need to repent (5:30-32).
- The testimony could not be gainsaid or honestly denied. The Jews who rejected it proved themselves dishonest and unworthy of respect (5:33). They did not want credit for killing Jesus (Mt. 27:25).
B. The apostles were saved from death by Gamaliel (5:34-39).
- The merits of Gamaliel’s advice depend on which point of view you take. As a general rule, it is poor. Instead of waiting, every lover of truth should promptly investigate (Acts 17:11).
- Public opinion or great success do not prove that anything is true, especially religion (Mt. 7:13, 14). One finds no middle ground when confronted with Jesus. One cannot take a wait and see attitude.
- If Gamaliel’s advice is looked at from the point of view, “Should we attempt to crush this movement with violence?” then his counsel is good.
- Notice again his comment (5:39). You need to decide the question, “Is the gospel from God?” Why not accept the gospel as God’s power (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38).
IV. Rejoicing in Persecution (5:40, 41).
A. Very early in His ministry, Jesus pronounced happiness to sufferers (Mt. 5:10-12).
- Any suffering the council could impose upon them was nothing compared to eternity. Thus they are happy to suffer for Christ (II Cor. 4:17; Rom 8:18).
- It is better to be beaten than to fight against God as the Sadducees were doing.
B. So the work went on unabated (5:42).
Conclusion: All who could admire moral heroism were drawn to the apostles who turned them to Christ. It is love that gave such strength to men (Jn. 3:16) Will you not accept him (Acts 22:16)?
Scripture Reference: Eph 1:13-14
Introduction: Throughout Ephesians runs a theme of the church. Certain themes recur constantly. One of these is the purpose of God in establishing the church. This lesson will focus on Eph 1:4.
I. The Election: “He Chose Us In Him”
A. The spiritual blessings provided by God are bestowed by his design upon those who are chosen in Him (1:3, 4).
- The expression “He choose us” means that God picked us or selected us for himself. The emphasis is on what God has done in the matter of salvation.
- The word “chose” does not tell us whether God chose us conditionally or unconditionally. Can we become part of God’s chosen by our actions, or is it totally in God’s hands that we have no will in the matter?
- This verse does not tell us so we have to look elsewhere in the bible. God’s grace would be manifested in either conditional or unconditional election because salvation is totally beyond man’s reach.
B. All the great spiritual blessings in this text are “In Him”, that is “In Christ”.
- All spiritual blessings are in Him (1:3). In Him we are chosen (1:4). Grace is freely bestowed in Him (1:6). Redemption is in Him (1:2). The mystery of God’s will is purposed in Him (1:9).
- All things are summed up in Him (1:10). We are made a heritage in Him (1:11). We hope in Him (1:12).
C. Let us see that coming into Christ is conditional.
- There are things we must choose to do (Gal 3:26, 27). Peter speaks of Christ as being elect or chosen (I Peter 2:4). Christ was chosen first and with Him all who are in Him.
- If God has chosen those in Him, and being in Him is conditional, then God’s choosing involves the same conditions as coming into Christ involves.
- God chooses those who are in Christ. We get into Christ by obedience (Mk 16:16, Rom 6:3).
II. Time of Election: “Before the Foundation of the World”.
A. The word “foundation” comes from an expression which means “to throw down”.
- Here God is seen throwing down the world into its proper place.
- Before any of the creation was brought into existence, God chose to save those who would come into Christ and remain in Him according to the gospel.
B. God’s choice of Christ and those in Him was not an afterthought.
- His plan was carefully thought out before the world was brought into existence (II Tim 1:9).
- God says, “You are sinners, but I have chosen you because you have accepted Christ as Lord”.
III. Object Of The Election: “That We Should Be Holy and Without Blemish Before Him In Love”.
A. God elected a body of people in which all who are holy and without blemish will be presented to Christ (Eph 5:27; Col 1:21, 22).
- God chose Christ and the Church. The church is composed of people who come into Christ by obeying the gospel. God did not chose individuals unconditionally.
- God chose to save all who will comply with his will. He chose all the faithful in Christ. The Christian entered the body by his own choice and God adopted him (I Cor 12:13).
B. To be “holy” is to be separated or to be sanctified.
- The original word comes from the same root word from which we get “saint”. The sanctified are saints. The chosen are a group who are identified by their holiness, their separation from the world.
- They are also described as without blemish. Just as being chosen is conditional, being holy and without blemish is also conditional. (Col 1:22, 23).
C. The election of God is also “in love”.
- Election and adoption by God imply God’s love. The phrase “in love” may then modify God’s part in our election and adoption. Yet, could he mean we are holy in love?
- We must respond in love to what God has done for us in love. God has chosen us in love and we choose Him. Faith in Christ is the highest expression of love.
- Doesn’t this explanation of election by God make even more glorious the relationship of the Christian to the Lord than the cold Calvinistic position that God chooses arbitrarily apart from a person’s own will.
- Calvinism and other many other doctrines ignore the great truth announced by Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:34, 35). This statement is meaningless if God decides unconditionally leaving us with no choice.
Conclusion: You can be among God’s chosen people if you will accept Christ’s teaching and be baptized into Him and live a faithful life unto death (Mark 16:16, Acts, 22:16, Rom 6:3, Rev 2:10).
God created man.
Man sinned against God.
Sin carried the penalty of death.
God gave his Son to die and save us from sin and death & reconcile us to life with Him.
God created man
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen.1.1). He created plants, beasts, birds, fish, and finally, man and woman. Looking at his creation, God saw that “it was very good” (Gen.1.31).
Reflect on that statement please. Looking at this earth, with man and woman placed upon it, God saw that the creation was “very good” in the beginning.
Reflect again upon the status on earth today. As God sees into the very hearts and thoughts of men, into the midst of our crowded cities, and into the lives of men and women across the globe, does he still see a creation to be described as “very good”?
Man sinned against God
When Adam was placed in the garden, he was given great blessings and a notable prohibition. He was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good or evil, or he would die. In Gen. 3, the serpent tempted Eve to violate God’s command. His message was twofold: exalt yourself and do not fear God. Tempted by the fruit’s appeal to her eyes, to her flesh, and to her vanity, Eve chose to rebel, and Adam joined her in rebellion. The same basic rebellion occurs in our own lives when we have failed to respect God and his will, and exalted our own will and desire above His. “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned each of us to his own way” (Isa. 53.6). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3.23).
Sin carried the curse of death
The warning to Adam had been that in the day he violated the command, he would surely die (Gen.2.17). “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezek. 18:20. “For the wages of sin are death” (Rom.6.23). There are two aspects of death in the Bible; spiritual death and physical death. Both forms of death are described as separations. In physical death, the spirit is separated from the body (James 2.26; cf. Gen.35.18; Lk.23.46). In spiritual death, the soul is separated from the Creator; “ye were dead through your trespasses and sins … ye were at that time separate from Christ…without God in the world” (Eph. 2.1,12). It is not that the Lord cannot hear you or reach you, says Isaiah. The problem, he says to the Israelites, is that “your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you” (Isa. 59.1-2).
God gave his Son to die and save us from sin and death, and reconcile us to life with Him.
Death was the penalty for sin, and Jesus took that penalty for us, to save us. Concerning his upcoming birth, Joseph was told “it is he that will save his people from their sins,” (Mt.1.21). The night before his death, Jesus said “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto the remission of sins” (Mt.26.28). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangeth upon a tree.” (Gal. 3.13; Dt.21.23).
He also faced down the old tempter (Mark 1.13), but without sin (Heb.4.15), and through his death, he brings to nothing the “him that had the power of death, the devil” (Heb.2.14). At the cross, Jesus shed his blood for remission of sins (Mt.26.28), redeeming us from spiritual death; and in the resurrection he conquered the grave, the first fruits of those to be redeemed from physical death (Rom.8.11,23).
Think back to the garden and consider the curse placed on the serpent: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen.3.15). In Genesis, we are not told who the serpent is. Rev. 12.9, however, identifies Satan as “the old serpent.” The same chapter describes his attempt to destroy the Son, and his failure to do so (12.1ff). Then consider that in the OT usage of children, “seed” is regularly used of the seed of man (Gen.17.19; 19.32). Yet here we have reference to “her seed,” the seed of the woman. Does this call to mind he who was “born of woman” (Gal.4.4), without the seed of man (Mt.1.18)? Has the serpent tried to inflict damage upon the Son, but the Son will ultimately defeat the serpent? Paul calls up this image at the end of Romans: “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom.16.20).
Sin & Sacrifice
Under the law of Moses, sin incurred the death of sacrificial animals without blemish. These sacrifices were offered by imperfect priests (7.27), and were offered continually year by year (10.3). But the blood of bulls and goats would not ultimately take away sin (Heb.10.4). Jeremiah 31 had spoken of the days of a new covenant wherein sins would be remembered no more (Heb.8 & 10). Other prophecies pointed to a better priest, that would rule forever at the right hand of God (Ps. 110.1ff, Heb. 7); to a better cleansing (Zech. 13); and to a servant without guile, on whom the iniquities of the people are laid, and who is cut off from the earth for the sins of others (Isa. 53).
When Jesus comes to John, John says: “Behold, the lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world!” (Jn. 1.21,29). God so loved the world, that he gave his own Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have eternal life (Jn. 3.16). Jesus, hanging on the tree, took the curse (Gal.3), took our iniquities upon him (Isa. 53), and gave his blood for the remission of our sins (Matt.26.28).
As Jer.31 had spoken of the day of a new and better covenant, Jesus came to serve as the better priest of a better covenant (Heb.7-8), offering a better sacrifice (Heb.9-10). Jesus died for the sins of all, once and for all; “this he did once for all, when he offered up himself” (Heb.7.27); “having been once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb.9.28); “he offered one sacrifice of sins forever” (10.12). In doing so, he died not only for the sins of those who lived in his day, and for those who would come in the future (Acts. 2.28-39), but also for those who had died before, and under the old covenant.
Note Heb.9.15; “He is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant,” and Rom. 3.23; “all have sinned … being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: who God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3.23-25).
So though God, in forbearance, has passed over the sins of those who trusted in Him, the true redemption of their sins was not provided until the cross. In offering full atonement for those sins, as well as ours, God remained just, while at the same time offering justification to us (v.26), through the redemption of he who died for us.
So where is the room for boasting in salvation by our efforts? It is excluded (Rom.3.27). We are spiritual charity cases. Someone else has paid our way. By grace have we been saved, and our hope and trust must be in Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Responding to the offer of salvation
FAITH – the basis of our response to Christ
God gave his Son for whosoever will believe on Him (Jn. 3.16). Except we believe, we will die in our sins (Jn.8.24). By grace we are saved, through faith (Eph.2.8). Man is justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Gal.3.16). The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all those that believe (Rom.1.16).
Belief (ie.; faith), is a matter of trust. Luke 18.9 speaks of those who mistakenly “trusted in themselves that they were righteous,” yet they remained unjustified before God. Trusting in our merit is empty. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Our trust (our faith) must be in the only one who can save us (Acts 4.12).
Question: What type of faith is required? Faith “alone”? Or faith that is faithful?
What is often misunderstood is whether or not the Lord requires nothing but “faith alone /only,” or whether he not only desires, but requires, a faithful faith. Based on texts such as those above from John, Romans, Galatians and Ephesians, many declare adamantly that salvation is in faith “only.” Read farther into each of those texts, however, and it becomes clear that God not only desires more than belief “alone,” he requires more than belief alone. In John: Some of the rulers believed on him, but would not confess, for they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God (Jn.12.42). Is that salvation? (see Rm.10.9; Mk.8.38).
In John 15.1-6, Jesus said “I am the vine, the Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bears not fruit, he taketh it away,” and it it is cast out and burned.
In Romans: In Romans 3 Paul established why we are justified through faith, in his blood, not through our works (our works do not redeem, they condemn; it is the blood of Christ that redeems). In Romans 6, Paul clarifies that salvation by grace does not remove the demand for obedience. Continue in sin, that grace may abound? Not at all (6.1ff). We were baptized into Christ, and into his death (v.3). As Christ died, and rose from the dead, our old man is put to death (v.6), buried with him (v.4), and raised to “walk in newness of life” (v.4). We must not then let sin reign in us (12). Shall we sin, because we are not under law but under grace? Not at all: “Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness” (6.15-16).
In Ephesians Salvation is by grace, through faith, not by our works (2.8). But good works is what we are created for (2.10). What of one who chooses to continue in immorality? Should he presume that a faith without repentance and obedience is going to be acceptable? Read on: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints … For this ye know of a surety, that no fornicator, nor unclean person … hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God. Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them; for ye were once darkness, but ye are no light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph. 5.3-8).
In Galatians Very similar to the point above, after establishing that salvation is in Christ, he demands that they walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh. After enumerating various acts of disobedience such as fornication, drunkenness, etc., he says; “of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Note also in Galatians how Paul associates faith and baptism together: “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, did put on Christ.” (Gal. 3.26-27).
Baptism is not an unnecessary work of merit. Baptism itself is an act of faith in which Christ is put on.
Those who have erroneously claimed that God requires nothing from us than faith “only” would do well to read farther and more carefully into these very texts. The Bible does not teach salvation by “faith only.” As James also wrote: “What doth it profit my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? Can that faith save him?… faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself …faith apart from works is barren …. man is justified not by faith only … faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2.14-26).
REPENTANCE – the decision and commitment of faith
The Lord does not merely desire repentance. He requires repentance. “Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13.3). “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3.19). The Lord is longsuffering, not wishing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance” (2 Peter. 3.9). To repent is to change one’s mind. In coming to Christ, we resolve to change from seeking to serve self, to serving the Lord; “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Lk.9.23). Godly sorrow of sin leads to repentance (2 Cor.7.10). Repentance in turn, is to lead to the bearing of fruits of repentance (Mt.3.8). Those who come to Christ choose to deny self, and in following him they will bear fruits of that commitment. If they are not commited to following through, they are like a man who started building a tower but was never able to finish. Jesus warns in Luke 14.25-35 that we must understand what full commitment is. Those who serve other things or persons above him “cannot be my disciple” (v.26, 27,33).
Confession – a statement of faith
Rom.10.9; “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God 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.” This is not a silent, secret confession of sin, with “every head bowed, and every eye closed,” so that “no one will see,” as is popular in some circles. This is a confession of Jesus Christ the Lord. Compare 1 Tim.6.12; “Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou was called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.”
Nor should confession stop at conversion. In our continued walk in Him, we are to be people that confess Him. “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mk.8.38). “Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt.10.32).
Baptism – an act of faith
The great commission states in Mt.28.19: “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.”
On the day of Pentecost, when the people were cut to heart of discovering their sin, they asked Peter, “what shall we do?” Peter replied: “Repent ye, and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.”
When the Eunuch asked Philip who the slain lamb was in Isaiah, “Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from the scripture, preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on the way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8.35-36).
Three days after the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damacus, what did Saul of Tarsus still have on his soul? “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22.16).
Where does baptism put us? (see Gal.3.27 and Romans 6.3).
What is accomplished at baptism? (1Peter 3.21).
Biblical baptism is unto the remission of sins (Ac.2.38); is for the washing away of sin, through Jesus Christ (Ac.22.16); is for salvation (1 Peter 3.21); and it puts us into Christ.
For those who object that baptism cannot be necessary for salvation, lest it be by our “works” rather than the grace of God, and disdain the concept as mere “water salvation,” we close with the following questions.
Please read the account of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Note what the prophet told Naaman to do.
Note his initial response, and ultimate submission and cleansing. Note when his leprosy was removed.
QUESTIONS: Was Naaman’s healing the power of his own works? Or was it by the power and grace of God? Was the power inherent in the river? Or in the promise and command of God?
Please read the account of the blind man in John 9. What did Jesus tell him to do? What did the blind man do?
QUESTIONS: Was the blind man healed by his own works? Or by the grace and power of God?
Questions: If someone had told Naaman and the blind man, that they did not need to dip, should they have listened to such advice? If someone told them to instead, say a silent prayer accepting the Lord as their personal healer, would that have been a more spiritual, more obedient, or more effective option? lf someone told them they shouldn’t trust in “water healing,” and dismissed the importance of the instructions given to them by the prophet or by the Lord, should they have listened?
Likewise, today, we surely ought not trade the word of God for the words of those who would lead us away from what we are told to do.
God created man.
Man sinned against God.
Sin carried the penalty of death.
God gave his Son to die and save us from sin and death & reconcile us to life with Him.
If we wish to honor him as both Lord and Savior, we need to come to him understanding that only he can save us, and obey him, knowing that he is Lord (Matt. 7.21).