Truth Warrior

Friday, June 30, 2006

Part 1 All He Has for Me (Discovering my Spiritual Gift/s)

A Sunday school teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?"One bright little girl replied, "Because people are sleeping."

Our church services should not be boring, but alive and energetic. By taking responsibility and time to discover your spiritual gift and exercising that gift (not just when the church meets in a local assembly) you become a key contributor of making the body healthy and vibrant.

How can we discover our gift/s?

First we should know what gift/s are available. God has a purpose for you. He does have a wonderful plan for your life! One aspect of fulfilling that purpose is to understand, discover and exercise the spiritual gift/s you have from God. We have already seen, at least in part, what some of these spiritual gifts are.

The question before us now is how do we discover what our gift/s is/are? Some well meaning churches offer a spiritual gifts “quiz”. It asks the participant questions and based on the answers one learns what gift/s God has granted them to develop. This may be somewhat helpful in getting one to think about the possibilities, and with the right rudiments one may discover his or her gift I would not want to discourage this. I would also like to present the following helpful suggestions from Dr. John MacArthur; he offers nine guidelines that can aid us in discovering our spiritual gift/s. They can be found in The MacArthur Commentary on Romans, p. 162. This may even be more effective than taking a quiz.

1. Present ourselves as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).

2. Recognize that all believers, including ourselves, are gifted (Rom. 12:3).

3. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5).

4. Seek for nothing (Acts 8:18, 24).

5. Examine our hearts desire (1Tim. 3:1).

6. Seek confirmation. [This often occurs without seeking].

7. Look for the blessing of God.

8. Wholeheartedly serve Him.

9. Cultivate the gift as it becomes obvious.

Do you know what your spiritual gift/s are?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Part 4 Understanding Spiritual Gifts: The Particular Gifts

To aid one in the understanding, discovering, and exercising the spiritual gift or gifts it is a good idea to know what the particular spiritual gifts are. There are primarily four (4) passages that list the spiritual gifts in the Bible, they are found in Romans 12; 1Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4; 1Peter 4; none of these is an exhaustive list. I am not sure that a compilation of them forms an exhaustive list. I am open to the possibility, at least, that there may be some finer aspects of these gifts mentioned that are not detailed for us in Scripture. We have what we have, however, in the Bible and it is these that I will attempt to explain.

A. Foundational Gifts

There are foundational gifts mentioned in Ephesians 2:20. It is my observation that certain gifts required qualifications, which means it was not for everyone and anyone, they were limited in scope of history and purpose. Even among those who met the qualifications very few received these certain gifts.

1. Apostle 652 Apostolos (Eph. 4: 11; 1Cor. 12:28).

a.) Qualifications for this gift included:
- Must be a man who accompanied Jesus during His earthly ministry.
- Must be a man who personally saw the risen Lord (see Acts 1:21-26).
- The only exception to this is Paul, a man who was commissioned directly by our risen Lord Himself (cf. Acts 1:1-8 with 9:1-22 see also 1Cor. 9:1).

b.) An apostle was a man who had absolute authority in the early church.

c.) Apostles, Prophets, and sometimes their very close companions were authenticated by signs and wonders; I can not find any exception to this in the Bible.

d.) The word does have a wider reference and means one who is sent. This use in various places in the N.T. is not to be taken as the spiritual gift of apostle.

2. Prophecy 4396 Prophets (Rom. 12:6; 1Cor. 12:10, 14:1-40; Eph. 4:11)

a.) This gift was given to men and women (Acts 13:2; Acts 21:9).

b.) It included communication of the mind of God imparted to a believer by the Holy Spirit. It was a declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means (see Mat. 26:68). It was direct revelation from God for a specific occasion.

It also included:
- Predictions of the future (cf. Agabus, Acts 11:28; 21:10-11; also cf. Timothy Acts 16: 1; with 1Tim. 1: 18; 4:14)
- Indicating God’s will in a given situation (cf. 14:29-30; Acts 13:1-2).
- References to the past, present and future (Gen. 20: 7; Deut. 18: 18; Rev. 10: 11; 11: 3...)

c.) It was apparently a wide spread gift (see Acts 11: 27-28; 13: 1; 21: 9; 1Cor. 14)

3. The above foundational gifts were accompanied by signs and wonders, such as tongues, and healing. This in no way should be confused with what is going on today in the alleged “Charismatic” and or Pentecostal movement.

All sign gifts were:

a.) Used to authenticate the messenger.

b.) They were temporary in results. For example all who were healed died. Even Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:43), died.

c.) They were temporary in scope and they fulfilled their purpose (cf. 1Cor. 13:8, 9; 2Pet. 1: 19; 2: 1) therefore, they are no longer needed, nor are they available today.

Apostles and Prophets were foundational gifts, significant, but temporary. With the completion of the Canon (the Bible) these gifts are no longer needed and are not available to us today. They are, however, for us. The church still benefits from them as we continue, “...steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine...” in reading the completed Word of Prophesy, the Bible. Nevertheless, they are not to us. Though there are many who say they are a Prophet and those who believe in Apostleship, NO ONE in the church today can stake any claim on these two spiritual gifts. If someone claims to have a fresh Word directly from the Lord apart from the Bible, let that one take heed to the warning found in Rev. 22: 18-19 and repent of this grievous sin against the Holy Spirit of God. For the purpose of this study we will not take the additional time nor space to develop this thought. Let it be noted that much more could be said about false Prophets such as Mohammed, and Joseph Smith, etc. and false Apostles (such as the Popes, and the ostensible Apostles and Prophet of the Mormon cult) etc. and the sad attempt to imitate the sign gifts in the dubious “Charismatic” and Pentecostal movement. The bottom line is that there are many other wonderful gifts that are ours let’s find out what they are and use them for God's glory.

B. Evangelist 2099 Euangelistes (Acts 21:8; Eph.4:11)

1. One equipped with this gift is not only concerned with leading the lost to Christ, but is also anxious to encourage others to do the same (Acts 18:27-28).

2. This is an “out reach” gift of the church. The word “evangelist” means “gospelizer” or “good news teller” (Mark 16:15 the great commission).

3. Mark it well that although some in building the church of God have this gift it does not excuse the rest of the builders from being witnesses (2Tim. 4:5).

C. Pastor/Teachers 4166 Poimen, shepherd.

1. One with this gift is concerned about people particularly those under his care (Acts 20:28-29; 1Cor. 9:7; 1Pet. 5:2-3).

a) One with this gift is first of all, a prayerful student of the Word of God (Acts 6: 2-4).

b) Secondly, a careful communicator of the Word often through preaching. (See the warning in Gal. 1:9)

c) Thirdly, and as a result they abide in prayer. (Rom. 1: 9-10)

2. A Pastor is an under Shepherd. This is the “welcome in” gift of the church.

a) A protector of the flock, warning of false doctrine and wrong practices.

b) A provider of adequate sustenance food, water, shelter. This is a metaphor concerning the things of God. (1Pet. 5: 2)

c) A pace setter, he/she leads, and guides the flock in the right direction.

3. Not everyone has this gift, but we all can be prayerful students, then careful communicators of the Word.

Note: The gift of teacher always accompanies the gift of Pastor. One with the gift of pastor also has the gift of teacher, but one with the gift of teacher may not have the gift of pastor. The words pastor (shepherd), bishop (overseer), and elder (presbyter), are interchangeable titles with regards to the office of the Pastorate. Just because one has the “gift” of pastor does not qualify him/her to hold the “office” of a pastor. Also one who does not have the gift of pastor may be qualified and hold the office of the pastor.

D. Teaching 1321 Didasko (Rom. 12: 7; 1Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11)

1. This gift differs from Pastor/Teacher in that one with this gift is concerned primarily about doctrine.

2. This is the “training gift” of the church.

a.) The aim is to shape the will of those being taught to conformity with the Bible.

b.) To influence the understanding of those being taught toward godly thinking and conduct.

c.) To give progressive instruction (not revelation) of God’s redeeming purposes.

3. This gift comes with a warning (cf. James 3:1). Teach only what you know.

E. Ministering 1248 Diakonia (Rom. 12:7; 1Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:12)

1. This is a major support or service gift (see 2Cor. 8:4 NASB)

2. This is the “grunt” gift of the church. The primary meaning is serving.

3. Goal-oriented, decisive, in Rom. 12:8 it is also translated leadership or governing.

Note: Do you hear the word deacon in diakonia? Good! But here again don’t confuse the gift with the office.

F. Exhortation 3870 Parakaleo, 3874 Paraklesis (Rom. 12: 8).

1. One with this gift would make a good preacher. The word means to beseech entreat, admonish exhort, to urge one to pursue some course of conduct (see Vine’s Vol. 2: p. 60).

2. This is an “outreach and support” gift. The word also denotes an appeal, encouragement, consolation, and comfort.

3. One with this gift is not likely to turn back once set on a right course.

4. Though sometimes diplomatic, one with this gift won’t compromise or back down on settled biblical doctrinal matters.

G. Discernment 1253 Diakrisis (1Cor. 12: 10).

1. Those who have this spiritual gift detect error easily.

a.) In doctrine.

b.) In trends and movements.

c.) In others, motives, intentions, and / or purposes.

2. This is a “protection” gift in the church. The church would do well to listen with an open mind to those who have this gift from God. Sadly, what happens far too often is that one with this gift is accused by others in the church of being unloving and divisive. That is why in our carnality we rarely honor those with this gift as we should. I am reminded that J. Vernon McGee once said, “Those who don’t stand for something will fall for anything.” We need godly leaders with the gift of discernment to aid the backbone of the church.

3. One who has the gift discernment should become a close companion with someone who has the spiritual gift of mercy so that he may find comfort. Not only to be comforted, but too, that the spirit of mercy can rub off on him. This is a picture of our gifts contributing one to another.

H. Mercy 1653 Eleeo (Rom. 12: 8).

1. This gift involves the outward manifestation of pity.

2. This is a “care giver” gift of the church.

3. Comforting those who are sick or in pain is also typical for those with this gift. They see and recognize your pain (cf. helps, those who feel your pain).

I. Administration 2941 kubernesis- to steer (Rom. 12:8; 1Cor. 12:28).

1. This gifted person offers direction and organization.

2. This is the “management” gift of the church.

3. God often uses those with this gift in dealing with the worldly affairs of the church. For example in securing building permits, visas, dealing with the bank, utilities and on and on it goes.
J. Faith 4102 Gk. Pistis, L. Fides (1Cor. 12:8-10).

1. One with this gift is loyal through and through, with an allegiance to Christ first, then the brethren, then others. The primary meaning of this word is trust, or trustworthy.

2. This is the “motivation” gift of the church. It is a capacity to believe and expect great things. If it’s right and godly this gifted one will stand behind it, and stick to it.

3. This gift may show up as trusting another, or being trustworthy of another.

K. Helps 484 Antilepsis (Rom. 12: 7)

1. The pathway to joy for those with this gift is in assisting those who are weak, ill, or in some kind of distress.

2. This is the “empathy” gift of the church.

3. Those with this gift feel your pain, and their greatest desire is to help you with it or help you through it (cf. mercy, those who see your pain)

L. Giving 3330 Metadidomi (Rom. 12: 8)

1. The Greek word more accurately means sharing or imparting.

2. To share with others is the thing that satisfies those with this gift the most.

a.) Weather it be time, material things, or spiritual things.

b.) Weather it be to support financially a new church, or a missionary.

c.) Weather it be in temporal things or eternal things.

3. There is no other spiritual gift like this one. It just seems like there is an endless stream of resources available, and one with this gift knows where, when and how to find it and use it for the glory of God and the betterment of others. Sometime the person with this gift exercises it with out even trying.

I have not offered an exhaustive treatment here of all the gifts, as there may be some finer aspects, or even variations of these gifts. My aim in this post was to help us think about the gifts that are at our disposal with which we may use to serve Christ Jesus. He alone is worthy of all the body parts in the church, including our hands and feet and eyes and ears and nose.

Did I miss one or two?

What gift do you think have?

What gift would you like to have?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Part 3 Understanding Spiritual Gifts: Who is the Giver, and who are the Receivers?

One may ask, “Who is the giver of spiritual gifts, and who are the receivers of spiritual gifts?”

The gift/s giver of course is the Triune God. God, the Father wrought or gives spiritual gifts because of His grace. It is God the Father who determines the diversity of working or diversity of power, and the realized end result/s. (1Cor.12:6).

It is God the Holy Spirit, who distributes the gifts as He wills (1Cor 12:4&11). God, the Holy Spirit also decides who gets what gift, so no one needs to get all discomposed over the work God is doing that is His business, we would do well to leave it up to Him.

Gifts are given to magnify God the Son, and it is Jesus Christ, God the Son who leads one to use the gift in a specific area of service (1Cor. 12: 5 cf. Eph. 4: 10-11).

“Who then are the receivers?” Good question. Speaking to believers the Scriptures state “…the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man [and woman] to profit withal…” (1Cor. 12:7) “As every man [and woman] hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1Pet. 4:10)

I maintain that only believers are receivers of spiritual gifts. I stress that in the first place every believer is the recipient of at least one spiritual gift and usually more spiritual gifts, and that they are permanent gifts (1Cor. 12:11; 1Pet. 4:10; Rom. 11: 29). In the second place I stress that NO believer has all the gifts. Otherwise that one would be a local “independent” Church and would not be dependent on any other believer. Thus the Apostle Paul asks this question, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?” (1Cor. 12:17)

It must follow that unbelievers are un-receivers. Unbelievers would not, could not, do not, and cannot, possess or operate, use nor abuse a true spiritual gift from God (1Cor. 12: 12-27 esp. v.18). Counterfeit gifts, however, are a different matter. The unsaved may and do at times possess something that looks similar, and some times may appear very much like the authentic gifts, as to be deceived and to deceive others (cf. Mat. 7:21-23; 2Ths. 2:8-12). The modern “charismatic” movement is ripe and loaded with counterfeit spiritual gifts.

Therefore heed these warnings:

Take heed that ye be not deceived 4105: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. (Lu 21:8)

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived 4105…(1Cor. 6:9a)

Be not deceived 4105: evil communications corrupt good manners. (1Cor.15:33)

Be not deceived 4105; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Gal. 6:7)

Do not err4105, my beloved brethren. (Jas 1:16)

4105 planaw planao {plan-ah'-o} to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way; to go astray, wander, roam about (metaph.) to lead away from the truth, to lead into error, to deceive; to be led into error; to be led aside from the path of virtue, to go astray, sin; to sever or fall away from the truth; of heretics; to be led away into error and sin.

The point of this post in regards to spiritual gifts is that... the giver is God, the receivers are believers only, unbelievers are non-receivers, and watch out for imitations and imitators.

It is wonderful to know that we have been given spiritual gifts from God to carry out his purposes. Do you know what your spiritual gift/s is/are?

We will begin to look at particular gifts in the next post.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Mar­tin Lut­her, 1529 (MI­DI, score); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Fred­er­ic H. Hedge, 1853.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.


Alternate translation:

A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from every need that hath us now overtaken.
The old evil foe now means deadly woe; deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight; on Earth is not his equal.

With might of ours can naught be done, soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the Valiant One, Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this? Jesus Christ it is.
Of Sabbath Lord, and there’s none other God;
He holds the field forever.

Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us.
We tremble not, we fear no ill, they shall not overpower us.
This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none, he’s judged; the deed is done;
One little word can fell him.

The Word they still shall let remain nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain with His good gifts and Spirit.
And take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife,
Let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Part 2: Understanding Spiritual Gifts

Here are some definitions of spiritual gifts given by some theologians; I offer my own up too.

1. A gift enabling the Christian to perform his [or her] service in the church (1Cor. 7:7); a special gift enabling a Christian to perform a particular ministry in the church (e.g., 12:28 ff.) James G. S. S. Thomson, B.D. Ph.D. Bakers Dictionary of Theology p. 497

2. A God-given ability for service. Charles C. Ryrie, A.B., Th.M., Th.D., Ph.D. The Holy Spirit p. 83

3. An instantaneous enablement by God in the power of the Holy Spirit to do or say something beyond one’s natural ability in order to fulfill a specific purpose of God in the time-frame in which God permits it. Spiros Zodhiates, Th. D. Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible p. 1402 (or see his notes on 1Cor. 12 1-11 in the same)

4. A permanent God given enduement of power appointed to every believer to fulfill His purposes in service to the building up of the local church for the glory of God and benefit of others. (Mine)

Spiritual gifts should not be confused with:

1. Natural Talent, we are not speaking of a piano player, surgeon, or a golfer.

2. A Place of Service in the Church, such as Pastor/Elder, or Deacon Superintendent, Sunday school Teacher, Usher, Greeter, etc.

3. A Nationality, not a ministry to Jewish, Gentile, Arab, Oriental, cross-cultural ministries, and so on.

4. A Geographical Location, not a calling to Hawaii, or the French Caribbean.

5. An Age Group, such as a youth worker etc. Have you ever heard of anyone called to an old person’s ministry?

Note: After asking this question, in a rhetorical manner in my ABF one student reminded me that we have a wonderful pastor who was called and is still serving in this vital capacity.

A further note: “Pastor V” Charles Vermilyea has recently gone home to be with our Lord (10-10-23 ~ 6-5-06).

6. The Fruit of the Spirit, one should bare in mind that Jesus said, “...for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matt. 12:33) He did not say, “…for the tree is known by his gift.” Sometimes gifts are over emphasized rather than the Giver and rather than the fruit of the Spirit. Christians would do well to cultivate spiritual fruit, and let the spiritual gifts develop as they grow in grace and in an understanding of the fruit of the Spirit (see Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 5:9; and context of each), but that topic is reserved for a different study which I highly recommend. (An informative and challenging read on this topic is Cultivating Spiritual Fruit, by Dr. Robert Gage RBP)

In conclusion to understanding the meaning of spiritual gifts, from this post and the previous post, we have seen from Bible references listed that there are, in God’s program “spiritual gifts”. Further we have done some etymology (the Study of origins and development of words) using classic sources and still (in my estimation) the best available on the words used in Scripture. We also have provided some quotes from respected Theologians who have helped to define for us what spiritual gifts are. We then have clarified what spiritual gifts are not. One should now be equipped to make a working definition of spiritual gifts, or feel free to use mine.

How would you define spiritual gifts if one asked you to give an answer? Has this study helped you to understand the meaning of spiritual gifts?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Understanding, Discovering, and Exercising Your Spiritual Gifts:Understanding (part 1)


Maturity, maturity in Christ, is a bit different from the little boy’s attitude that was overheard prying, “Lord if you can’t make be become a better boy… don’t worry about it! I’m having a good time the way I am.” Yes Jesus loves us and wants us to come “…just as I am”, but He loves us enough NOT to let us be content to stay that way. He wants us to grow. I am convinced that we will grow as believers as we learn to understand, discover and exercise our spiritual gift/s.

The question we want an answer for here is “What are Spiritual Gifts?” The Words employed in the N.T. are found in the following verses:

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1Pet. 4:10)

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; (Rom. 1:11)

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. (1Cor. 1:7 NIV)

Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. (1Tim. 4:14 NASB)

The first word we will look at is charisma (5486) it means a gift of grace. It is an undeserved benefit from God. It is derived from the Greek word charis, meaning grace, and the suffix -ma, indicates the result of grace bestowed to an individual. Interestingly the root word is chara, and the meaning is joy. It follows that there should be, in my view, joy in discovery and use of ones spiritual gift/s.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says, “... a gift of grace, a gift involving grace (charis) on the part of God as the donor, is used... of His endowments upon believers by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the churches, Rom. 12:6; 1Cor. 1:7; 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31; 1Tim.4:14; 2Tim.1:6; 1Pet. 4:10;”

The second word is pneumatikos (4152) it is used in the plural tense and could be translated as “spirituals”.

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament states, “...belonging to the Divine Spirit;... in reference to persons; one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God...”

Vine’s adds this insight, “pneumatikos, always connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power. It does not occur in the [Septuagint (LXX)] nor in the Gospels; it is, in fact, an after-Pentecost word.” Vine’s continues “...things that have their origin with God, and which, therefore, are in harmony with His Character, as His law is, are “spiritual”, Rom. 7:14; ...[believers] appointed activities in the churches are also called “spiritual gifts”, lit., “spiritualities”, 1Cor. 12:1; 14:1; (Boldface, mine)

These are the two primary words employed in the NT when it comes to spiritual gifts there is more to come in my next post. For the sake of time and interest this is as far as we will get today. I hope it is enough to stir your thoughts and get us thinking about understanding, discovering, and exercising your spiritual gifts.

Brother John

Understanding, Discovering, and Exercising Your Spiritual Gifts: Disclaimer

Prepared by J. Wendell Cole


I want my readers to know that the following is a study that I prepared and taught in several ABF classes at EBC. It generated much discussion (which is one way I believe we all learn best) and we had a good time doing it together. I am offering my disclaimer at the beginning and end. Any materials I do not give credit for here I give inside the study. I will be working from my outlines and notes, if you would like a copy of the “teachers guide” or the “student outlines” (or both) for yourself or for a class it is my privilege and joy to offer them to you free of charge via email. You will have to make your own copies or pay someone to do it for you (unless you make a special request and I feel that I can meet that need) I am not a religious professional. This study will be expanded and/or edited to better suit The Earnest Contender blogger format. My hope is that this study will be a blessing and a challenge for all who have an interest in understanding, discovering, and exercising spiritual gifts.

Brother John

Four digit numbers correspond to Strong’s numbering system used in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, and The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible by Spiros Zodhiates.

New International Version
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by The International Bible Society. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The King James or Authorized Version (KJV or without designation) is in the public domain and therefore has no copyright.

New American Standard Bible
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NAS) are from the New American Standard Bible. Copyright (c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Questions and/or comments are welcome, and appreciated. All email and snailmail correspondences are confidential, and may be sent directly to the author who is solely responsible for the content herein. Publications on other topics are available upon request. Matt. 10: 8; always applies.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Eternal Life (Part 5 Problematic Texts Ezekiel 3:16-23)

Ezekiel 3:16-23

16 At the end of seven days the word of the LORD came to me: 17 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for [a] his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
20 "Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself."

22 The hand of the LORD was upon me there, and he said to me, "Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you." 23 So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the LORD was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown. (NIV)

This is another “problematic” passage for some. This writer suggests a slow, careful reading of this passage. Then one can note that:

The message is to the house of Israel, NOT New Testament Christians.

The “righteousness” of the “righteous man” does NOT refer to a Christian, rather to a citizen of Israel who is in good standing by practicing the Mosaic Law.

There is NO reference to the salvation of a soul, or the loss of a soul.

The only salvation spoken of here is for the wicked to “save his life”.

The only penalty spoken of here is NOT eternal damnation, nor the loss of a soul, but rather (and only) physical execution because of a specific sin.

John R. Rice commenting on this passage admits,

We preachers have spiritualized this passage and made it mean what it does not say. The righteousness mentioned is not the righteousness of Christ, but the self righteousness of a [Jewish man] under the law. The [Jewish man] who never committed a murder, adultery, nor any other major crime, would yet, if he turned from his righteous way and committed such a crime, be taken out and stoned; that is, he should die [for] his sin. This passage clearly has no reference to a saved person becoming lost. (John R. Rice, Can a Saved Man Ever Be Lost? Sword of the Lord, 19?? pp. 6, 7.)

We 'laymen' also, must be careful not to spiritualize away the plain meaning of the Bible, trying to make it mean what it does not say!

There may be other problematic texts on this topic, but the two we have covered are the most common stumbling blocks. My hope is that the reader has been strengthened in conviction that nothing can separate God’s blood-bought children from His love (Rom. 8:31-39; John 10:25-30). This fact is essential to spiritual growth and effectiveness in witnessing (see Heb. 6:1-3; 11-12). “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline…” (2Tim. 1:7). Therefore we can “...speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” (Phil. 1:14).

It is true that we are unworthy of His love gift, and with this in mind, we should rejoice in Him all the more, spend quality time with Him all the more, and go out and serve Him all the more. Then we can continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of His Word. What a blessed assurance that He promised, “...I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5). And of His saving character the Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8). “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (cf. Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33) Rest in His Word. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2Tim. 2:15).

Other passages to study on the topic of eternal life:

Luke 15:11-32; observe that the wayward son was always a son.

Luke 7; observe that even the greatest prophet of all time had doubts.

2Tim. 1:8-9; note especially who did the saving and why He did it.

1Pet. 1:1-5; note who gave new life and the means by which it was given.

I have heard of being born again, but never of being born again and again and again. I discover no trace of it in the Word of God.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon at His Best Baker Book House Company, 1990, p. 186)

As for that sandy gospel which lets you fall away and then come back again, it is the most wicked falsehood on earth.” (Ibid Pg. 184)

Be strengthened!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Eternal Life (Part 4 Problematic Texts Heb. 6:4-9)

The texts that might cause one to question the doctrine of eternal life (or eternal salvation) are simply not in abundance. The two that seem to be most commonly cited are Heb. 6:4-9 and Ezek. 3:16-23. Let's look at them one at a time.

Hebrews 6: 4-9

4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, 5who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. 9Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case - things that accompany salvation.

Some have read this passage, and perhaps in haste, have come to the immediate conclusion that one who is saved can become unsaved, or lost. However, this passage is not speaking of a believer “...falling through a knothole in the plank of grace...”, as Earnest Pickering, a firey preacher has said. Jesus offers eternal life, not temporary life. If one can lose it, it is not eternal, but temporary. I think it was Zane Hodges who said, “If we are not born again to eternal life then the Bible should have called it something else!” I couldn’t agree more! Jesus makes it clear that this life begins the moment one believes the Father's message (see John 5:24). Jesus offers eternal life as a free gift, not as an item you must pay for, or make payments to keep. Since we know that “...God is not the author of confusion, but of peace...” (1Cor. 14:33), we need to ask God to illuminate our minds to understand this passage, especially if it doesn't SEEM to mesh with easier to understand verses on the same subject.

After comparing Scripture with Scripture (knowing the many times God’s Word speaks about eternal life) and remembering to keep verses in their context, we can accurately interpret this passage.


This section of Scripture might throw us off a bit at first. However, using our guidelines for interpretation, we can conclude that it is not speaking of a saved person becoming unsaved again, but of a saved person losing his effectiveness and losing the rewards of a life lived for Christ.

This passage is in the context of Christian maturity (Heb. 5:12-6:3) it can be easily deduced that it is speaking about redeemed, saved people. Also, supporting this deduction is the fact that the experiences spoken of in vv. 4-5 pertain only to those who are saved or "born-again."

It seems clear, with this in mind, that what vv. 4-6a are saying is that it is "impossible" for a soul that is born again to become re-born again. At this point, we may be reminded of what we have learned in the rest of the New Testament: there was a once-and-for-all substitutionary sacrifice for sin, Jesus’ death on the cross. There is simply no other sacrifice to be made for sinful individuals in this wicked world. So, to our joy, we can see that vv. 4-6 are affirming the security of salvation and are stating that repentance unto salvation is a one-time appropriation of this one-time sacrifice. It cannot be repeated by an individual. Not only is it unnecessary, but, just like the author of Hebrews has said here: "it is impossible!"

The author of A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Moody Press, 1972) Dr. Charles Ryrie said on page 133 that “If this passage were teaching that it is possible to lose one’s salvation, then it also states, in no uncertain terms, that it is impossible to be saved a second time.

Although it is clear that the passage is indeed a warning about something, one should not feel insecure because of the phrase "falling away". It is not speaking of losing salvation. This English phrase is a single Greek word that refers to a deliberate act of getting off the path and going one's own way. It does not mean salvation is lost, but instead the saved person has chosen a different path that leads to ineffective service in the work of furthering the cause of Christ. That is why it is a loss, but not a loss of salvation! Instead it is a loss of fruit (productivity) and rewards for faithful service.

Also, if this same person, in an effort to save or renew his testimony, erroneously said that Christ had saved him AGAIN, he would be, in effect, “crucifying the Son of God all over again" (and we know that can't be done and is not needful). Furthermore, in effect, it is the public declaration of such a (saved) person that, in his or her earthly life and practice, Christ’s salvation made no difference. All of this is the "public disgrace" of Jesus (which is spoken of in v. 6), who paid such an awful price for that person’s salvation. Verses 7 and 8 emphasize the whole teaching by use of metaphor. Verse 8 compares the life and service of a fruitful Christian to productive land that blesses others. Verse 8 likens the life of an unfruitful Christian (one who "falls away" by deliberately getting off the path and going his own way), to land that produces thorns and thistles and is worthless. It also says that such land is in danger of being "cursed" and it declares that it will be "burned".

Compare this idea with 1Cor. 3:13-15; “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Let it be understood that Heb. 6:6-8 is a contrast of a fruitful (i.e. productive) and an unfruitful (i.e. unproductive) Christian. The expressed desire of the author of Hebrews for his fellow believers is not an immature or suspended faith, but rather a growing, vibrant faith: “...better things... things that accompany salvation...[!]” (See v. 9). This passage is not saying that an unproductive Christian will be cast into hell to be burned forever. The word forever is not used here at all, so it can not be speaking of the eternal soul of man. Rather, it is the works that are no good that are in danger of being cursed or thrown into the fire to be burned (i.e. forgotten altogether).

Reading the book of Hebrews in its entirety, one can readily see the tenor and theme of this treasured discourse:

Jesus who is supreeme, alone paid the full sin debt once

Jesus who is supreme, alone made full pardon once

Jesus who is supreeme, did it for all of the sins of the whole world once

Jesus who is supreeme, covered once; sins of the past, present, & future

No other sacrifice will do or even begin to come close to this, ever

This sacrifice, alone, is all one should trust for the forgiveness of sin

My next post will deal with Ezekiel 3:16-23

Are there other problematic texts on this subject you would like me to treat some time?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A break

I am taking a break from the computer for one week. God bless you. I look forward to returning with some more posts and to read some more posts from you.

Eternal Life (Part 3 the Good News)

The Bible is clear, we are all sinners the day we are born into this world and sinners until the day we leave this world (cf. Ro. 3:23; 5; 12; 1John 1:10). The Bible does teach the reality of God’s wrath and indignation toward sinners. All sinners (i.e. everyone, everywhere) are under God’s judgment (see John 3:36; Ro. 2:8; 5:12; 6:23). God is just and fair to judge as He wishes. However, God is also full of mercy and grace. He became a man and bore our punishment in full on the cross. His precious blood was shed on our behalf. Although Jesus endured this physical pain and public humiliation, He also endured God’s wrath for all time and for all who will believe in Him. One can never pay for their own sin; that’s why hell is eternal. One can spend eternity in hell or trust in God’s solution, the Lord Jesus Christ alone “...the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

One might ask oneself a pointed question at this time, “Do I know Jesus as my own, personal savior?” This Jesus is the God-Man, who loves you and paid a horrible price, a death deserved by all sinners; for all have violated God’s holy standards. This same Jesus Who died for you, rose from the dead. He will come again with power to give all who trust in Him a home in heaven forever! Those who reject Him however, in much sorrow, will be thrown into the lake of fire. Do you know this Jesus? If you do, GLORY!!! If not, you can trust Him now and He will save you. His Word promises,

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9-13)

This is the good news! You can be saved from sin, death and the devil. How? Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Ask Him and He will forgive you and make His dwelling in you, in the person of the Holy Spirit. Then you can say with the apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

We have spent much time looking at the good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Much more time and space could be devoted to this most holy and solemn doctrine. It is this writer’s conviction that if we are to mature in our walk with the Lord, we must be firm and grounded in our salvation. Secure in the Lord with complete assurance and confidence in His saving work and keeping power (cf. John 6:37; 1John 5:13), then we can grow and serve Him in a manner that pleases Him and benefits others. However, there may be those who are still troubled by some “problematic texts” of Scripture. These “problematic texts” must not be avoided. Yes, we ought to thrive on passages that are more readily understandable before we move on to the difficult passages. Nonetheless, we will persist “ declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27 KJV).

I am taking my family on a get away. When we return I will begin to post on some problematic texts if God permits.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Eternal Life! (Part 2 Interpretation)

Discovering the Right Interpretation

This writer has laid aside his own presuppositions and bias many times as he searched the Word of God to discover the truth. To discover the Bible's truths, one must approach the Scripture as it is, God’s final authority for mankind. One must also be willing to follow God wholly because, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12).

To arvive at the correct conclusion we must interpret all scripture in a method that is honoring to the entire Bible. One should carefully examine a passage or verse in light of what the chapter is saying, the book, the testament (new or old) and finally, it must work together with what the rest of the Bible as a whole has to say on its subject. Simply put, taking a group of words out of its context can cause the true meaning of any thought, in any book to become clouded over at best, and distorted at the worst.

It is also important to let the rest of the Bible help interpret a particular passage. Every word in the Bible is true. So if it seems that one verse contradicts another, we must discover the interpretation that accounts for all the verses on a particular subject. This is especially important to remember when there are many clearly understood verses dealing with a doctrine and one verse or passage that just throws our whole understanding of those clear passages out of whack! Usually, this is an indication that this "problematic text" needs some extra study, in its context, to see if our first impression is just a faulty interpretation. Only when an understanding of a doctrine allows for all the verses on its subject to be true, is that understanding the correct one. Sometimes searching the Word can be long and laborious. So can digging for silver, gold, and precious stone. Once the search comes to fruition, however, you will posses a real treasure that will endure forever.

Prayer is essential. Ask God for guidance and growth in the knowledge of His Word, so that we may love Him the way He desires us to love Him. Prayer is very important as we open His holy Word. We can pray the way David the great king did in Psalm 119: 18; “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” God alone is the omniscient (all knowing) Author of the Bible and He is pleased to lead us through it. God the Holy Spirit can take every “problematic” thread of His Word and weave it together with the whole of Sacred Scripture into a robe of truth that you can wear with confidence! We need to ask and depend on Him for this enlightenment (sometimes referred to as illumination) or we could wind up dishonoring the King whom we wish to serve.

Improper methods of interpretation are harmful. They can cause unrest and confusion. However, “...God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1Cor.14:33).

A preacher once said, “We Christians need to bathe in the parts of God’s Word that we can easily understand before we attempt to understand the difficulties of Scripture.” Please pray and meditate on the following clear and easy-to-understand verses before continuing this discussion on eternal security.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (Jn. 1:12,13)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (Jn. 3:16-18)

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (Jn. 5:24)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Ro. 8:1-2)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13-14)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ro. 6:23)

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1Jo. 5:13)

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:12-14)

One truly ought to spend much time, prayer, and meditation in communion with the Father God on these plain, “easy to understand” verses (many more could be cited). One can then see directly from God’s Word:

Salvation is eternal life, not given for any righteous merit of our own, but by God’s mercy and grace because of His unconditional love. (Titus 3-7; Eph. 2:8, 9)

Eternal life begins the moment one believes in Jesus Christ alone. (2Cor. 5:17)

Salvation cannot be earned or kept by our own efforts or good works. (Rom. 3:19-31)

Heaven is not a reward given to those who are good enough for God, it's a gift! (Rom. 11:6)

A contemporary Theologian has accurately stated:

Salvation is not something man does for God. It is something God has done for man. Because they don't have sight of this fact, many theologians would change the old hymn to read:
“Jesus paid a part, and I a part you know
Sin had left a little stain; we washed it white as snow.”
Yet the original version [proclaims]:
“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow." 1

One of the most quoted preachers from the 1800’s said, “If good works had put me into Christ, then my bad works might turn me out of Him. But since He put me in when I was a sinner, vile and worthless, He will never take me out though I am a sinner, vile and worthless still.” 2

1. Ernest Pickering, Th. D., “The Theology of Evangelism” (Regular Baptist Press, 1984), p. 7.
2. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon at His Best (Baker Book House Company, 1990), p. 185.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Eternal Life!

Yes, you can have eternal life! Abundant life! A full life!

I am going to post on this blog a little pamphlet that Rose and I worked on laboriously, the original title was Eternal Security, but I have changed it to Eternal Life for two reasons. First, because eternal security is over used and second, because eternal life is the biblical term. “Eternal life” is used 26 times in the KJV; the NIV uses the term 42 times.

Eternal Life

Here is the issue, just to get us thinking. Can someone who is saved become unsaved? That is, can a child of God become separated from the life that was formed in ones heart because of Jesus Christ, by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, through the seed of faith, directed by the God the Father? That is, does the Bible teach, imply, or even allude to the elect of God (saved) becoming lost (unsaved), cast into the lake of fire (Hell) forever?

The question of eternal life has been raised and debated by many good Christians on both sides of the fence down through the ages. Bible students, teachers, theologians, and preachers can be found throughout church history raising this very issue. This publication is written with the prayer that those who are still “on the fence” can get their feet down on solid biblical ground, free from the confusion that can cloud this topic.

Think about this too:
Nearly everyone who has been born again has, at one time or another questioned whether God has really saved them. These questions of doubt are usually raised in our spiritually low times. Then Satan comes along in an attempt to amplify our feelings of estrangement from God our Father. Sin can seem so heavy that the Christian forgets the cleansing and renewing power referred to in God’s Word: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1: 9 KJV) Then God can, “Restore to [us] the joy of [our] salvation and grant [us] a willing spirit, to sustain [us].” (Psalms 51:12).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Growing in Wisdom and Tender Talks

I have afore mentioned those who have imparted to me some "spiritual gift", and have helped me to grow in my walk with our Lord, one such person is my friend and at times, though unaware, mentor... Joyce Felske. We have known each other for a while and both meet with the same local church. However, we really began to connect when I became her Letter Carrier a few years ago. She and her husband, Bob could always be counted on for a word of encouragement and/or a doctrine to hold fast to. Bob is now absent from the body and present with the Lord. I will remember him for his love of sacred music and reverent worship.

Since Bob’s home going Joyce would still come out for her mail, I would more than once use my designated break to gain wisdom from my godly sister. I have been blessed to grow a little wiser because of her tender talks with me. She has a way of bringing others (myself included) to understand the practical out working of our faith in Christ. I have a link on my side bar to her very fine web page. She has quite a ministry to the women of many local churches in our area. She sends out Tender Talks, a (good news) news letter and she is faithful to do so at no cost to those who receive it. I am blessed to get one in my mailbox at our church.

Tender Talks this month, as always, presents a common sense approach Christian living. Give it a read here and let me know what you think. While your there go to her home page and explore her site there is something for everyone there. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Good News!

Here’s some good news from God just for you! The one true God loves you, and cares about you more than most can imagine. This is not something new, but it is ‘good news’! God wants to have a personal relationship with you. Does this sound too good to be true? The Scriptures indicate that God the Son always existed, Jesus said, "‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’" (Rev. 1:8) To show how much He cares, God the Son became flesh, that is, He became a man. The Bible says with clarity, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1&14) Do you see it now? God became a man and His name is Jesus. We may wonder, “Why did God become a man?” He told us why, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b). God wants you to have ‘life… to the full’! He considers you to be valuable. He has a special interest in you and cares for you as an individual. That is good news! Do you still doubt it?

To see how much value God places on people, we can look in the book of Matthew (the first book in the New Testament):

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you O you of little faith?” (Matt. 6: 26-30)

Yes, it is true God loves you and values you; He cares about every minute detail of your life, even the smallest things that may not seem so important to you. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matt.10:29-31)

Jesus became a man who was on a mission, a crusade of love for you and me. He said, “...the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) To be “lost” in the biblical sense of the word means we cannot find our way to God because of our sin. Sadly, we cannot comprehend or relate to Him who is gloriously holy. In Romans 3:23 we read this all-inclusive statement, “...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...” Everyone, at some time or another, in some way, has demonstrated willful rebellion (in word, thought and/or deed) toward the loving God of all creation. This is what the Bible calls sin, and this is why we are lost. Left up to our selves we would never look for God, as it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11) Perhaps you have observed that this is not “good news”, to the contrary it is bad news. That is one reason why Jesus came, He is seeking us, He wants us to have a relationship with Him and escape this awful judgment.

Yes, my friends, the Bible speaks about judgment. Judgment is going to be met. We deserve judgment because of our sin. “How will this judgment be made?” one may ask. The Bible says, “ is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment...” (Heb 9:27) Each one of us has sinned individually. Those of us who die in our sin will be judged individually. “…God, who does not lie…” (Titus 1:2), and in accordance with His Word, has made it plain, we will all be JUDGED!!! We all have sinned, and therefore we all deserve death, condemnation (Hell). “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23a) It is our own sins that we will bring before the all seeing, holy and righteous Judge. Like skeletons from the closet, they will march before Him who knows every secret of our hearts. God cannot and will not allow sin into His holy heaven. This is not “good news” this is really bad news. Where then is the hope?

The good news is: the same God that cannot and will not allow sin into His heaven has provided a means of entry for every sinner. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) The Lord Jesus Christ took our place! We deserve eternal torment, but Jesus Christ, who knew no sin (cf. 2Cor. 5:21), and therefore was free from the consequences of sin (i.e. death and Hell), voluntarily took upon Himself our punishment. (See John 10:17-18) Now that is good news!

He took our place! He died for my sin! He died for your sin! Amazingly, after taking on the immense punishment of the sins of the world, He died and rose from the dead, showing his incredible power over the death that we deserve because of our sins. 1Cor. 15 records the following:

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the good news I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this good news you are saved: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time... Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles...

Remember the two verses we pointed to earlier where Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” And, “...the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) With these in mind do you understand that God is… right now, seeking a relationship with you? This good news reaches all the way into the 21st century right to you just now. This is no fairy tale based on make believe that someone cleverly dreamed up. Many people saw Jesus live, die and then live again after he was dead for 3 days. This is serious business.

Ephesians 2: 8-9 proclaims: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” Someone that works or labors earns a wage. A reward is earned or merited in return for something one has done. A gift is not something one works for, nor is a gift something someone can earn. A gift is something given freely by the giver. A gift can either be received or rejected. To drive this point home, let’s look at an illustration from the Bible. Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev. 3: 20) Notice, in order to eat with Him, it is not enough to hear His Word. One must open the door, too! Jesus and His gift must be received into our lives.

God is offering you the gift of eternal life. He alone can do this because of the judgment Christ took for you when He died on the cross. He also wants a Father/child relationship with you now, through Jesus Christ. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12). God, who made you, will give you a new heart that will be able to know Him and please Him. God’s Holy Spirit will live right in you if you accept His gift! John chapter 3 calls this a “spiritual birth” or being “born again.”

You may receive this precious gift right now! “As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor.6:1-2).

Admit to God that you have sinned and are in need of His forgiveness.

Believe in your heart that the Lord Jesus Christ alone qualifies as Savior.

Confess with your mouth that He died for your sin and rose from the dead. (See Rom 10:9)

A good way to express your heart to God is to pray out loud something like this:
Dear God, I come to You just as I am, a sinner. I realize that You alone, Jesus, have paid the penalty that I deserve when you died on the cross. Thank You, Jesus for dying for my sins. I am opening to you the door of my life and I welcome You to come in. I want this free gift of forgiveness! Thank You God, that I can now call You Father, Amen

God knows your heart; He will hear your prayer.
When anyone believes the good news and accepts God’s gift, that person becomes saved (from life without God now, and Hell in the future). He/she is born again into a new relationship with God and a new family with all who are born-again! To get to know your heavenly Father, like in any other relationship, you must communicate with Him. The more someone communicates with God, the closer and more meaningful that heavenly relationship becomes.

God will speak to you through His Word the Bible. Read it as often as you can (you may wish to start with the book of John). Ask God to show you what He wants you to know about Himself, through His Word.

Prayer is talking to God. Remember to pray often (any time, any place). If your complete trust is in the resurrected Christ of the Bible, you are now a child of God. He delights in listening to you!
Go to a church where they teach and preach that the Bible alone is God’s Word, His complete and final authority to man. Once you find such a church, you will want to publicly declare your faith by being baptized (all believers should be immersed and added to a local church). This is also an act of obedience to your new Father (see Acts 2:41-42; Matt. 28:19-20).

Tell others of your new life and what God is doing for you. Believers will be encouraged, and unbelievers may want to know about Jesus Christ’s good-news gift and accept Him, just as you have!

Email me if:

  • you have put your confidence in Jesus Christ and received His gift of forgiveness. We will delight with you, and send you some helpful literature if you wish.
  • you have further questions. I will do my best to help you in any way I can.
  • you live in the Toledo area and would like someone to call you or visit you.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Questions and/or comments are welcomed and appreciated. All correspondences are confidential. They may be sent directly to the author who is solely responsible for the content herein. Publications on other topics are available upon request.
This publication may be copied and distributed in its entirety without consent or permission. “Freely you have received, freely give” Matt. 10:8.

The Fundamentals of the Faith (conclusion)

Earnestly Contend for the Faith!

Presently, there are movements, crusades, organizations, conventions, associations, churches, and individuals which promote or practice glaring error in a purposefully subtly manner. Some groups boldly flat out deny the fundamentals of the faith and do not preach the whole Word of God. Biblical Christians are responsible for the resources that God puts into their care: time, abilities, and material goods. Why would a biblical Christian allow these precious resources of His to be used by such groups? We need to be mentally intelligent and spiritually discerning in all of our stewardship.

The fight is not just the battle of pastors and deacons. Jude said, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 3) The “Beloved” here refers to the members of the local church that is being addressed by Jude and yet it can be applied to all who are in the faith. Fighting the good fight of faith is for every Bible believer lest we fall into the tragedy of compromise.

Perhaps God has spoken to your heart through this publication. You may have discovered your need for a relationship the real Jesus, the God-Man spoken of in the Bible. You may trust in Him right now, and pray that God will lead you to a Bible believing, fundamental church. If you wish I will send you literature to get you going in the right direction (use the email link to send your address to me).

No church is perfect, but you may have discovered, as you read these publications that you are in an organization that does not adhere completely to these vital fundamentals of the faith. It may seem difficult to you, but the Bible gives this clear command with a promise, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2Cor. 6:17) If you are not sure if the church or organization you are now a part of is secure in the biblical fundamentals spoken of here, or if you would like information on finding a solid Fundamental Bible Church near you, please use the email link with your concern or request, I will help you as much as I can.

Related and recommended books are:

The Fundamentals, Edited by R.A. Torrey, Kregel Publications, is available at most Christian book stores

Biblical Separation: The Struggle For A Pure Church, by Ernest Pickering, Regular Baptist Press

In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850, by David O. Beale Unusual Publications

Questions and/or comments are welcomed and appreciated. All correspondences are confidential except in public forum. They may be sent directly to the author who is solely responsible for the content herein. Publications on other topics are available upon request using the email link.

These publications may be copied and distributed in there entirety without consent or permission. “Freely you have received, freely give” Matt. 10:8.

The Earnest Contender

J. Wendell Cole

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 10)

The Minor Issues

Authentic Fundamentalism should not be confused with the approach by some religious people who think it is important to nitpick on externalities. Here are some of the issues often given focus that are not fundamentals of the faith:

  • Different translations of the Bible
  • Days of celebration and/or worship
  • Eating and not eating certain foods
  • Wine vs. grape juice
  • Hair styles
  • The wearing of certain clothing styles
  • The use of make-up for women
  • Jewelry
  • Playing billiards or pool
  • Playing cards
  • Dancing
  • Movies
  • Swimming
  • Listening to or using various musical instruments or styles
  • Gum chewing, and
  • Wearing eye glasses

Believe it, or not these last two were taboo at one time.

There may be value in discussing some of these issues; however, these have been confused with the “fundamentals of the faith”, these matters should not be the fighting ground between Bible believers!

Instead, we should be bold and declare together that:

The Bible and the Bible alone is God’s Word.

The Creator is the Triune God. The Lord Jesus Christ is God.

Jesus’ ultimate mission was to become a sacrifice for fallen man.

Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven corporally, (i.e. physical or bodily).

Jesus’ return is imminent and will be physical.

Will you stand fast in these "fudamentals of the faith" and be an earnest contender?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 9)

Summary of the Major Issues

In summary, the biblical truths that this Fundamentalist affirms and will by God's grace, and conscience decision earnestly contend for are:

1. The reality that the Bible alone is God’s Word.

2. The reality that the Creator is a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. The reality that Jesus Christ is God the Son (full deity and fully man).

4. The reality of the corporal, resurrection and ascension of Christ.

5. The reality of the imminent and physical return of Christ.

Some other Bible truths that are also under “academic” scrutiny are:

  • The biblical account of creation
  • Adam and Eve
  • the person and personality of Satan
  • the fall of man
  • the global flood
  • the tower of Babel
  • the book of Jonah
  • the authership of Issiah
  • the reality of Hell
  • the reality of Heaven
  • the final judgment and condemnation of sinners who do not come to know the Lord Jesus Christ alone as their Savior.

Jesus affirmed the truth of all of these doctrines while He walked this planet. These truths can be discovered today by asking God to enlighten us as we read and study His Word, the Bible.

Will you join me in upholding these essential doctrines of the Bible? Together we can all earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.

There will be two more posts in this series what the fundamentals are not, and a practical concern with suggested application.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 8)

The Second Comming

The imminent and physical return of Christ is a truth that is spoken of in many places throughout the entire Bible. To reach a conclusion that Christ will not return physically one must deny, or spiritualize away the other “fundamentals.” Jesus’ physical return is the capstone for those who believe in the Jesus of the Bible, because it means we will see Him as He is, and behold Him in His splendor.

This event is our “...blessed hope...” (Titus 2:13)

It is true that there are variations in views and approaches about the end-times, and the events that lead up to the second coming of Christ. This is an important topic; however, these variations are not fundamental. The fundamental truth is that He will come again just as He promised. Neither the day nor the hour can be predicted, but He will come quickly! This event will take place and every eye shall see it! (cf. Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 22:7, 12, and 20)

Are you ready for this event?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Fundamentals of the Faith (Part 7)

Jesus resurrection and ascension was corporal, (physical or bodily).

The historic death (by crucifixion) of Jesus of Nazareth (the God-man) is well documented, even apart from the Bible. He became dehydrated. Then He was tortured by being beaten with a rod. His beard was ripped out of His face. He was slapped with open hands and closed fists in the face, spit upon, mocked and taunted. He received a crown of thorns for a diadem and a reed for a scepter. He was whipped with the cat-o-nine tails receiving 39 lashes in all. He was forced to carry the Roman cross of His execution up the hill of Calvary. He was so physically weakened that another man was called along side to help Him. There He was stripped naked. Then His hands and feet were pierced through with Roman nails, attaching Him to the cross. He was then lifted up and hung from that cross, suspended between heaven and earth. After hours of slow suffocation He died. His side was then pierced through with a sword; water and blood gushed out. Many witnessed this, but what couldn't be seen was even worse.

He suffered the equivalence of eternal wrath and separation from God the Father. God allowed this to happen in a moment of time. In the eyes of God, Christ’s bloody death on the cross paid the price in full for our sin debt. The Bible says, “....without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).

The fact that He truly died is substantiated by His burial. In those days burial was quite a process. Jesus was wrapped from head to toe with cloth and laid in a dark empty tomb that was sealed and guarded. No man could have lived in a tomb for three days without food, water, and air; much less could one have the strength to roll away a heavy tomb stone.

The Disciples came to see His body at first, but where was it?

The Jewish religious leaders could not produce His body.

The Romans could not produce His body.

His corporal (bodily) resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven was attested to by all who saw Him alive from the dead! It is a sign to all that He is who He claimed to be (i.e. God in the flesh), and it validated everything else He said and did forever.

This is not a fairy-tale.
“...if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (1Cor. 15: 17)

This was not some kind of hallucination. He appeared to hundreds of people at the same time (see 1Cor.15).

It is a fact.

This was not a phantom apparition. He cooked and ate breakfast with His disciples (John 21:5-15). This included an exercise of all five of His senses. (See also John 20:27)

He is alive!
He is alive, and because He is alive, we too can live forever when we have a relationship with Him!

He ascended into heaven in the view of hundreds of people (cf. Acts1 w/ 1Cor. 15). Then He sent the Holy Spirit to permanently dwell in all those who trust in Him alone and His finished work on the cross. Jesus now reigns as the high priest of every believer. He, as such, is the one mediator between God and man (1Tim. 2:5) His resurrection and ascension are what sets biblical Christianity apart from any other religious system.

Buddha did not rise from the dead.

The bones of Mohammed are still in the grave.

Joseph Smith did not come out of the grave alive.

However, Jesus actually died and actually rose from the dead!

The Lord Jesus Christ is alive!

Do you believe this?

In contrast, Modernistic theologians and pastors teach that either Jesus didn’t really die, or that He didn’t really rise from the dead, or both. His ascension is reduced to the “idea” of Christ living on in our hearts and minds. In fact, many modernists (or liberals as they are sometimes referred to), deny and explain-away most (and many times all) of the miracles of the Bible. That is why this writer calls them “unbelieving preachers.” They are not believers in the historical Christian faith by any means.


Who Links Here