Tag Archives: Grace

Coming out of the Darkness

I haven’t posted anything for a while. I have been in the midst of a fight for my life. And now that I am coming out of the darkness of the cloud I have a new lease on life. As I found myself fearing that God may have some impending punishment waiting on me I had a moment alone with our Lord. And I felt the need to grant you all a very intimate look int my life so that you may be blessed.

While sitting in worship this morning, I was touched by what must be reverently described as the presence of God. And in that touch He spoke to me. And the words he said to me moved me to tears as I was overwhelmed with the reality of who He is in my life. As I remember all that He has done for me. He said to me, “Do you think that I have come all this way with you, to leave you now? I am always with you, I will never leave you. Even in the darkest hour I am with you. Don’t fear what you are going through, but trust me.”

So here I am, with a renewed knowledge that He is faithful. Even when I am unfaithful, He remains yet faithful. Yes, sometimes I feel alone, but He is there. Yes, Sometimes I feel like no one understands, but He does. He experienced my pain and more in His time on earth. He is not so far removed from my infirmities that he doesn’t know what I am going through internally.

Rather, He knows full well what it is to be rejected, despised, hated, and cast aside. And He experienced that while giving Himself in love to the world. I have not yet given myself to that level of sacrifice. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even come close.  So here I am again, learning the faithfulness of God. Learning that He is ever present and always helping. He is always teaching and correcting. He is always loving us into His arms and His ways.

I hope that this short read will add something to you, in some way. God Bless you.

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Baptizo

Baptism has been the root of quite a bit of contention in the Body of Christ. It is a transliteration of the word Baptizo, which bears a manifold definition.

  1. to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
  2. to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe
  3. to overwhelm

Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptised shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle! Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.

Is baptism necessary for salvation and if so, which definition best illustrates the method?

 

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Sola Fide (By Faith Alone)

SOLA FIDE

(Hab. 2:4; Heb. 10:38; Eph. 2:5-8)

     By Faith Alone. Grace through Faith. These are contentious statements if ever one was made in the Body of Christ.  This sola is certainly one that requires our most diligent attention. It is in this that we have our theology shaped and our stance challenged. Sola Fide is not a direct quote from the bible as some have supposed, rather it is a slogan that captures what our stance is as Christians. Faith alone in Christ as being our savior from the wrath of God that is come upon the children of disobedience and darkness, that is “The Way” that we walk in. Let it never be said among us that we have anything to boast in.

     Faith itself is a gift from God. No man comes to the Father unless he comes through the Son (John 14:6). But understand that no man comes to the Son unless the Father draw/drag him (John 6:44).  So it is impossible that man should come to God of himself or through himself.  It is only through this gifted faith that a man can come to Christ, yet God bids all men, “COME”.  Who can search out the riches of his knowledge and wisdom? God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Faith alone is such a foolish thing. “By faith were the worlds created…” says the epistle to the Hebrews, and it is this same faith that causes a man to be born again of the spirit of God.

     Faith is not alone, for if it is it is dead. That was the Apostle James’ word on faith. many have supposed that he was an opponent to Paul’s theology which would imply an inconsistency in the scriptures. But, on the contrary, James put more emphasis on a part of faith that Paul taught but not as harshly as James. James wanted to be sure that Believers everywhere understood that faith is not mere credence, but that true faith is alive and active.  James’ position on faith was very simple, it could be summarized like this, “Don’t just hear the word of God, Don’t just say you believe the word of God, But if you truly believe this gospel that I bring to you, Then be a performer of the commands of God as well.”(James 1:22)

     So we see then that faith is an active trust. And it is only through this gift of active trust that we come to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The 5 Sola’s Introduction

     Never forget your history, for it is your history which will inform your future.  That is my view of church history and the doctrines that accompany it. In this era we have seen many modes of the church, and for all of my study I find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the theology of the laity with the doctrines of our spiritual forefathers. Do not mistake my statement to mean that there is no more to be learned, that is not my position.  Neither is my position that the theology and doctrines of old are immovable and totally authoritative, even over the Word of God.  But rather my position is that we cannot throw out the baby with the bath water. We must examine carefully what our history as a community has taught us and we must apply it in our progress.  Eat the meat, and discard the bones.  This is not an attempt to give an in depth dissertation of this topic. I simply wish to rehash a forgotten conversation among the called out of God.

    

       The 5 Solas are 5 Latin slogans that summarize 5 key elements of our faith. New to many modern day Christians, but in reality they were ancient truths lost in the dark ages.

  1. 1.       SOLA SCRIPTURA – By Scripture alone
  2. 2.       SOLA GRATIA – By Grace alone
  3. 3.       SOLA FIDE- By Faith Alone
  4. 4.       SOLA CHRISTUS/CHRISTO – By Christ Alone
  5. 5.       SOLI DEO GLORIA – To God Alone be the Glory

 I was originally going to post these all as one article, but for the sake of being reader friendly I have opted to go with one article at a time. I have attempted to summarize the 5 solas in a manner that is easily understood.  I hope that they have been laid out in a way that makes it easy for you to read and comprehend.

 

Know that no one can have indulged in the Holy Writers sufficiently, unless he has governed churches for a hundred years with the prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, Christ and the apostles. Do not assail this divine Aeneid; nay, rather prostrate revere the ground that it treads. We are beggars: this is true-Martin Luther (from his last statement)

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“Relationship is more important”

 

Today, I was confronted with my own heart and had no good answer to give God on its behalf. As I stood among the ranks of the Body of Christ that I gather with I observed an almost forgotten reality. God is more concerned with the hearts than the minds. What a jarring statement! What an absolutely insulting idea to the great theological teachers and teachings that have filled the Church libraries for so long. The thought, that God Almighty to whom we have devoted such intense scholarly attention would be rather aloof to our haughty words and enticing wisdom. To imply that he is more than moved at the sincere heart cry of the laymen with no theological background, and no knowledge of hermeneutics and exegesis. I was reminded today, that we serve a God who is not only the Creator of the Universe, but the Abba of every undeserving wretch who calls their self by the name of Christ. This God whom I serve is a Lord of Lords and a King of Kings, but he is also a Father of fathers and friend who sticks closer than a brother.

 

As I drove to service this morning I felt in myself the sensitivity and presence of the Spirit, and I was anxious to see what our Father had in store for the assembly today. I didn’t have to wait long, at the very outset of the service the praise was high and the presence was strong. I watched and participated with wonder as I saw with renewed clarity the plea of the people for God to come in our midst and be with us. They actually wanted God to come and receive their worship and praise. They actually wanted to spend time in corporate communion with God. It was in this observation that I realized the futility of knowing the scriptures, which is of the utmost importance, but never knowing the author.

 

It is this same type of religious practice that Jesus corrected the Jews on all the time. To be consumed with the study and practice of The Word as we see it, and never get the point. God loves his people and he desires us to know him in an intimate way. Not just as the Creator, but as Abba Father. I was recounting to my pastor these thoughts afterward and his response was humorously short, but true nonetheless. He simply replied, “Relationship is more important.”

 

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Fallen From Grace

The Grace of God commands men everywhere to repent.

But repent from what?  In all the writings of the apostle Paul to a group, except one, he gave thanks for the readers and the audience that he is writing to.  Who is the one group that he does not write a thank you for? Is it the unholy rebellious group of idol worshipping, pagan practicing, sexually sinning so called Christians? Or, does he overlook that slight mishap and get serious with the altogether holiest group of them all, The most law abiding Christians in the book? What are the odds that you are leaning towards the latter right now?

The Backslider is a person who is often assumed to be someone who is or seems to be caught, sinking, living, or dying in sin.  This sin is defined by the culture of the region that the “backslider” lives in. It could range from smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, to drinking coffee and eating too much, maybe even some heavyweights like fornication and lust. Of course the less frequently mentioned problems are there as well. Sins like Idolatry, and failing to remember the Sabbath. But if we’re honest with ourselves, Come on I mean really honest, we can all confess that we are or have at one time or another been living in, got caught by, or “slipped” into some sin on a regular basis of some sort. Maybe you don’t lie, steal, murder, or practice infidelity. But maybe, just maybe, you’ve seen that one person with that purse or car you want so bad it ate you up inside. Or maybe you’re not that person, maybe you just practice work. All day every day, your mind is running and you’re not even considering that you’re breaking the Sabbath, and practicing idolatry. Oh yeah, forgot about that one huh?  No worries I wouldn’t leave you out there.

When we put it into that perspective we all look like mini backsliders right. I mean, it stands to reason that if the “heavier” sins dictate a backslider then all sins commited after repentance qualify you for the title of  backslider.  Well, that’s not exactly true. The qualifications for being a backslider are skewed on a lot of levels. As we allow God to show us the right way, the way of grace, we begin to see that the body of Christ is filled with backsliders and they seem to be holding their holy rolling sanctification together fairly well. So, by now you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at. Just what do I mean by all of this? Am I implying that you are a backslider? NO. I don’t know you to make that call. But hopefully by the end of this you will see that we can very easily become backsliders in God’s eyes, never mind the eyes of man.

I believe that we must use the bible to define the backslider. We need to search the scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit of God to lead us into revelation concerning these things. Most of us fall into the category of Gentile where our natural heritage is concerned. That places us outside of the old covenant as natural things go. But God gave a new covenant to bring the outsider into the fold. The way into the new covenant is through Jesus Christ. But many of us are trying to accomplish through the law what God already accomplished through the messiah. The bible gives us an example of what happens when we make that mistake.

The churches of Galatia receive a rather harsh “talking to” from Paul the apostle. Not an apostle sent by men, nor man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the father who raised him from the dead (see gal. 1:1). Paul has taken apparent issue with the Galatians saying that they have been removed from “him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” This gospel turns out not to be a gospel at all, but a perversion of the truth. A close look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians reveals the reason for his disappointment in the Galatians who he himself labored for in the Lord. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace” (gal. 5:4).

Fallen from grace? Here we have found the true definition of the backslider. It is shown to us clearly in the Galatian’s actions. They received Jesus Christ as the way, truth, and the life. They trusted his sacrifice to be a replacement for their own lives before God. They relied on his righteousness to be their own. Then, they turned to the very law which Jesus had come and fulfilled on their behalf. They had been dissuaded into trusting in their works. They would rather have a serving of old fashioned law with a side of Christ, than a heaping scoop of fresh Christ all by himself. This was the problem; they had failed to obey the truth.

The Grace of God is what has always been and will always be the method through which God reconciles man unto himself. It is his unwavering love shown in its highest fashion. The law has been in place since the beginning of time. It has never nor will it ever be able to remove the stain of sin from our lives. But the grace of God through the Blood of His lamb cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The grace of God is what commands men everywhere to repent. Grace is the very goodness of God which leads to repentance. Where Men will remember your shortfalls, Grace blinds God’s eye to your sin. Men judge men day in and day out, but the greatest judge of all declares the recipient of grace not guilty. It is God who has bestowed upon His people His love long before we were even considering loving him or worshipping him. God loved us so much that he sent his own son to die for us that we might live and love for him. Ask yourself , “Am I a Backslider? Have I fallen from grace?” If the answer is yes, repent and be renewed in the grace of God.

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