Archives For salvation

What wonderful and awesome things God has done for us! But how often we fail to proclaim how good He has been to us! The Psalmist begins Psalm 107 saying, “Give thanks to the Lord.” Then he says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” In other words, if God has saved you from trouble-then say so!

Psalm 107

1) Let those who were hungry and thirsty thank the Lord (Psalm 107:4-9). Before you came to Christ you were starving; you were hungry and you were thirsty. Now, if you are in Christ, you have been filled. By His grace, you are feasting at His banquet table. Peter writes, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:3-4). So if you have “tasted the goodness of the word of God” (Hebrews 6:5), then let your thanksgiving be heard; and by all means, keep hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)! “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9).

2) Let those who were in bondage thank the Lord (Psalm 107:10-16). Before you came to Christ you were a slave, in bondage to sin (Romans 6). Now, if you are in Christ, you have been set free from the chains which held you! Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Let all those who have been set free from sin rejoice, “For He shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron” (Psalm 107:16).

3) Let those who were perishing thank the Lord (Psalm 107:17-22). Before you came to Christ you were dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). Now, if you are in Christ, you have been made alive through the love, mercy, and grace of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). If you have been redeemed from death, then “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15); or as the Psalmist said, “Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy” (Psalm 107:22)!

4) Let those who were tossed in the stormy seas thank the Lord (Psalm 107:23-32). Before you came to Christ you were tossed to and fro by all the storms of life. Now, if you are in Christ, you have an anchor in the storms! If Christ has calmed the storms of your life, then praise Him! “Let them extol Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders” (Psalm 107:32).

Are you washed in His blood? If so, then are you praising Him and thanking Him for His awesome salvation? Do those around you constantly hear how grateful you are for the love, mercy, and grace of God? Let this thought be on our mind today (and everyday), “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble” (Psalm 107:2).

I love you and God loves you!

Wes

Hope – The Anchor of the Soul

Wes  —  August 17, 2011

Hope - Anchor of the SoulOne of the greatest things a Christian possesses is hope! When the Bible uses the word “hope” it is not being used in the wishful sense that many use the word today. Hope, in Scripture, usually refers to a “confident expectation.” The Christian’s expectation concerns salvation and his confidence comes from the trustworthy nature of God.

Anyone who is “in Christ” (Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:27-29) can expect to be saved from his sins. However, my expectation concerning salvation does not come from a reliance on my own righteousness. In fact, I am saved in spite of who I am, rather than based on who I am. Instead, my confidence comes from knowing that the One who promised me salvation is faithful and it is “impossible” for Him to lie (Hebrews 6:18). My confidence–my hope–is in Christ!

Paul says in Hebrews 6:19 that the Christian’s hope is a “steadfast anchor of the soul.” What an AWESOME analogy!

  1. An anchor is solid! Our hope, likewise, is solid. Paul says that it is “steadfast.” How wonderful it is to get up every morning KNOWING that you are saved; knowing that God loves you and the blood of His son continues to wash away your sins (1 John 1:7)! As long as you have been united with Christ (Romans 6:1-7) and you “abide” in Him (John 15), you can have a confident assurance concerning the heavenly home He has prepared for us!
  2. An anchor keeps a ship from being “tossed to and fro” in the sea. Paul encourages the Ephesians to grow up spiritually, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness indeceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). Our hope keeps us in one place. It keeps us anchored in Christ. As long as we keep our hope focused on Christ, we will not be carried along by false teaching. It is when we lose hope (or pull up our anchor) that we forget why we should do what we should do. So many out there are drifting hopelessly along listening to whatever teacher will say what their “itching ears” want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). They think these false teachers are giving them hope, but they are only causing them to drift farther and farther from the Truth. Keep your eyes on Christ! Keep your anchor firmly established, by staying in His word!
  3. An anchor brings peace, even in a storm. When an anchor firmly in place, even during a fierce storm, those on board can know peace. Life is a scary place–full of storms. But when Jesus is in our boat, we can know the peace He had when he slept during the fierce storm (Matthew 8:24). Christians need not fear the storms of life. We need only to put our confidence in Christ and ride out whatever comes our way!
What a blessing to have a “steadfast anchor.” It is one of the three greatest things with which we have been left. Paul wrote, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). There will come a time when our faith and our hope both melt away when we come face-to-face with our Redeemer. Until that time, let us not lose hope and let us rejoice in our hope!
In Him,
Wes McAdams

 

The Treasure Chest of Grace

Wes  —  August 9, 2011

Treasure Chest of GraceBeing radically Christian is about living a life that is completely focused on Christ. The reason we focus on Christ is because He is “the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). If Christ were not my Savior, why would I want to follow Him?  If I had the power to save myself, I would have no need of Christ. Too often it is presumed, by outsiders, that those who are passionate about Christianity are passionate because they consider themselves to be perfect. On the contrary, more often than not, it is those who know they are imperfect and in desperate need of grace, who are the most excited about being Christians. The more one acknowledges his dependence on (and need for) grace, the more passionate he can be about Christianity!

Grace has been defined as “unmerited favor”. This indicates that grace is when God blesses in ways that have not been earned or merited. It has also been defined as “blessings bestowed when wrath was owed.” This idea goes a bit further in explaining grace, showing that not only has the favor or blessings not been merited, but they have been given when what was deserved is God’s wrath. And lastly, some define grace with the acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Meaning, that the riches, favor, and blessings that were given, were given at the expense of Christ’s life. When we put these three definitions together we get a great picture of God’s grace that could be worded something like this, “Grace is God’s unmerited favor, riches, and blessings, bestowed at Christ’s expense, when wrath was owed.” That definition may be a bit more laborious to remember, but comes closer to capturing the idea of grace in its fullness.

The treasure chest of grace is filled with God’s favor, riches, and blessings. James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). God loves those whom He has created and loves to lavish good gifts upon them. Jesus asks, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent” (Matthew 7:9-10)? Then He adds, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11)!

Every gift which God gives comes from the treasure chest of His grace. Paul says the riches of God’s grace are “immeasurable” (Ephesians 2:7). Paul was a man who understood and depended on the riches of God’s grace. In every single epistle, Paul mentions God’s grace! In fact, Paul mentions grace over 80 times in his 13 books! He declares, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul took pride in nothing as coming from him or his abilities. He considered everything he was and everything he had as being gifts of God’s rich grace. He writes, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

It must be fully understood that gifts are given from God by grace and not by merit. In Acts 17:24-25 we read, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” It is from God that mankind receives “life and breath”; what has man done to merit life? What has mankind done to earn air to breathe? Nothing!

By way of analogy, think for a moment about a man’s pet goldfish, swimming in a glass fish bowl. Who owns the bowl? The man, not the fish, owns the bowl. Who owns the water? The man, not the fish, owns the water. Who owns the food which the fish eats? The man, not the fish, owns the food. What has the fish done to earn the bowl, or the water, or the food? The answer is, absolutely nothing! In fact, there is nothing the fish could possibly do to deserve anything from his master. Anything which the fish receives is given solely upon the basis of grace.

In a lot of ways we are exactly like that goldfish. We exist in a world which we do not control and we do not own. We are completely dependant on the air we breathe; yet we did not create it nor do we own it. We must consume the food of the ground in order to live; yet we did not, nor would we be able to, create the soil or the seed from which our food comes. We rely upon meat to give us the strength which we need; yet we did not create the animal from which we receive it. The Psalmist proclaims, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

Just as a goldfish is incapable of earning anything he receives from his master, so too we are completely and utterly incapable of earning the things we receive from God. This does not mean, of course, that we are incapable of obeying Him, pleasing Him, honoring Him, and glorifying Him; but we must remember that by doing so, we have earned nothing.

God is so much higher than us and His glory is so far beyond our comprehension, that He could not possibly be indebted to us for anything. Isaiah reveals, “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6).

Therefore, let no one think that God owes him something! Let no one suppose that he has earned anything! Let no one even imagine that anything is his own! Everything you are and everything you have, you have received from the treasure chest of God’s grace!

I love you! A gracious God loves you! I pray many blessings for you!

Wes McAdams

 

Once Saved Always SavedOne of the phrases I repeat to my son Malachi, multiple times during any give day is, “You have two choices…” The specifics of the choices differ depending on the situation, but the basics are always the same, “…You can disobey and get a spanking, or you can obey and not get a spanking.” You get the idea; and it’s probably the same in your home.

The problem comes when children try to create a third option. The third option is almost always disobedience without punishment. Let me illustrate how a conversation might go in my home:

I say to my son, “Malachi, pick up your toys and put them away.”

And he replies, “I don’t want to.”

“Alright, you have two choices, you can put away your toys and not get a spanking, or you can not put away your toys and get a spanking; your choice buddy.”

And as always, his response is, “Not get a spanking.” He decides very quickly he likes the benefits of option one.

But just because he chooses the benefits of option one, does not mean he will necessarily comply with the requirements of that option. He tries to create a third option where he does not clean up his toys and does not get a spanking. He, of course, is greatly disappointed when he inevitably (and painfully) discovers there is no option three. Eventually, he almost always comes to the realization that it is less painful to simply obey.

We see this same scenario played out perpetually between God and His children. God explains that there are two choices. One is obedience with benefits, and the other is disobedience with consequences. And God’s people have continually acted like children by trying to create a third option, disobedience with benefits and without punishment. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy is almost entirely an explanation of the two choices God gave toIsrael before they entered the Promised Land. I would encourage you to read Deuteronomy 30:15-20:

See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You shall not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing theJordanto enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

From the book of Judges, one can easily observe that the people ofIsraelthought life and prosperity sounded great, but obedience was not so appealing. They chose to disobey and were utterly confused when God disciplined them. You can hear the puzzled dismay in Gideon’s voice when he says to the angel of the Lord, “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up fromEgypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian’” (Judges 6:13). This is the same Gideon whose father was an idol worshiper (Judges 6:25)! And he actually had the audacity to ask, “Why then has all this happened to us?” It should have been obvious!

Yet, are we any different today? Have we not invented our own “option three” when we come up with doctrines like Calvin’s “Perseverance of the Saints,” also known as “Once Saved Always Saved”? There are those who believe that once you are a child of God, God will continue blessing you and withhold from you eternal punishment on the Day of Judgment, regardless of how disobedient you may be to Him. It is the same old story of trying to reap the blessings, with no obligation to obey. However, this theology simply doesn’t align with the teachings of the New Testament.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:26-29)?

All of us, to varying degrees, have probably tried to pull this over on God. For all of us have the propensity to be like immature children; trying to create a scenario where we can continue to freely sin and yet avoid the punishment of God. And as my beautiful wife pointed out, this is not what Jesus had in mind when He told us to become like little children!

Because of what the New Testament says, I firmly believe these things to be true:

1. God’s grace is lavished on those who are in Christ (Ephesians 1:7-8). No matter the nature or the magnitude of the sin, when a man or woman is in Christ, the blood makes all past sins disappear; as if they never happened (Psalm 103:12).

2. For those who abide in Christ, there is continual forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:7). We continue to fall short of God’s expectations and God’s will for our lives, but the blood of Jesus continues to wash us clean. As we “walk in the light” the blood continues to wash away our sins, no matter what they may be.

3. Abiding in Christ (walking in the light) is not about perfection, but it does require obedience (John 15:10). If walking in the light were perfection, no continual forgiveness would be necessary since perfect people would need no forgiveness. However, walking in the light is about making every effort to obey. Every effort should be made to be obedient in our thoughts, our actions, and our intentions. When one finds he has sinned, he is commanded to repent (Acts 8:22). An unwillingness to repent, no matter the sin, is a disobedience with which God has shown little tolerance (Luke 13:3).

4. If a believer ceases to make an effort to obey, he will fall from grace. I have heard people say the very idea someone could have “fallen away from grace” is a contradiction in terms. However, the phrase is not man-made, it is God breathed. God said, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4). The Galatians were walking away from Christ in favor of the Old Law, and many had already fallen from grace. If it is possible for them to fall from grace, why would we consider ourselves to be any more secure? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Grace is conditioned upon our continual effort to be obedient to the truth.

5. God’s expectations are never unreasonable (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must understand God’s will is not too complicated for us to understand (Romans 12:2). What kind of a God would give commands, to people He created, which they were incapable of obeying? Christ proved perfection was possible, even under the Old Law (Hebrews 4:15). This is what makes His grace even more amazing, He is willing to forgive us for giving in to temptations which we are perfectly capable of resisting (1 Corinthians 10:13)! Praise God for His amazing grace!

I love you! God loves you! God bless you!

In Him,

Wes McAdams

Romans 10:9-10 Confession with the MouthRomans 10:9-10 says, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (English Standard Version).

The question before us today is, are these verses to be used (as many have tried to do) as “stand-alone verses” concerning the issue of salvation? When considering this passage should the seeker of truth come to the conclusion that nothing more is required of man than belief and confession? What then shall we do with verses concerning baptism? Does this passage make all of those passages obsolete?

Let us consider some important facts:

1. All of God’s word is truth (John 17:17) and it is all “breathed out” by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, when considering a subject such as salvation we must consider what all of Scripture says about it and not one isolated verse. Consider what these verses also have to say about salvation:

Mark 16:16 (ESV) Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 16:31, 33 (ESV) And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”…And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.

1 Peter 3:21 (ESV) Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

What shall we do then? Should we throw out the passages that link salvation and baptism in favor of those which link salvation with belief? Or instead, should we accept them all and see the harmony of God’s word? I believe it is easy to see, when one takes into account the entire New Testament, that baptism is a part of what it means to come to Christ in faith.

2. Verses cannot be removed from their context within a chapter, nor can they be removed from the context within a book. The word “Law” is found over 50 times in the book of Romans, and the subject matter of the book can be summed up by passages such as Romans 3:28 (ESV), “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”

The overall context of Romans is saying that man is justified by putting his faith in Christ, not by obedience to the Old Covenant (the Law). One cannot read Romans 10:9-10 thinking that Paul is discussing, in context, whether or not someone should be baptized in order to saved. Paul is talking about whether or not man can be saved without putting his faith in Christ and confessing Christ as Lord.

Furthermore, when those in Romewere reading chapter 10 (not that it was divided into chapters at the time), we must assume that they read chapter 6 first; which says in part, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4, ESV).

3. We must see the “Big Picture” of the New Testament! The big picture of the New Testament is that salvation is in Christ! One cannot be saved without coming to Christ in faith, trusting in the efficacy of His blood, proudly proclaiming a belief in Him, turning in shame from past sins, and appealing to Him for a clean conscience by being baptized in water (1 Peter 3:21) and having His blood wash away your sins (Acts 22:16).

Every passage of Scripture within the New Testament fits within that “big picture”. Passages dealing with salvation and baptism are not contradictory to those dealing with faith, trust, and belief. And in the same way, passages dealing with faith, trust, and belief are not contradictory to passages about baptism.

I hope this has helped you in your study of this passage. Remember, I love you. God loves you. I pray God blesses you! Have a wonderful day!

In Him,

Wes McAdams

 

Was Naaman cleansed from his leprosy by faith or by his works? “So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14).

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