Saturday, March 30, 2013

Eternal Security: Helps on Difficult Passages

We learn the true sense of a verse by its context. If we ignore the context, we are apt to miss the mind of God. These are portions that are often misunderstood when it comes to the subject of eternal security.

1 Corinthians 9:27-A counterfeit coin is rejected because it is counterfeit, not because it has become one. This verse does not teach that a real believer can become unsaved, but that a real believer like the Apostle Paul (who is being examined by the carnal Corinthians, 9:1-2) can so run by the Spirit (Rom 8:130, "not as uncertainly," but certain that he himself would not be finally rejected! Judas had "preached to others" while he all the time was "the son of perdition" (Jn. 17;12,Mt. 7:21-23, 2 Cor.11:15, 13:5-7, 2 Tim. 1:12, Jn 6:37, 39).

Ezekiel 18:24- Carefully distinguish between the Old Covenant which demanded righteousness, and the New which bestows God's righteousness (Jn.1:17, Rom. 3:10, 19-24, 9:30-32, 10:2-4).

Matthew 12:31-These hardened opposers of God seal their own doom by blasphemously charging that the perfect expression of the Holy Spirit's power int he Lord was Satan's power (Mt. 12:24, 28, Rom. 4:8).

Matthew 12:43-45- "My house" is reformed Israel become apostate (2 Chron. 34:1-7, Mt. 23:29, 36, 24:15, 21). Luke and Peter refer to privileged professors of faith in Christ in a similar way (Titus 1:16, Luke 11:24-26, 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Matthew 18:27, 34 – Here the unforgiving is governmentally punished as also the child of God now (1 Cor. 5:5, 11:32, Eph. 4:32), and the nation of Israel (Lk. 23:34, 1 Thess 2:15-16, Is. 40:2). The mere professor is eternally punished (Jm. 2:13).

Mathew 24:13- This is physical deliverance to tribulation saints when Christ comes. (Mt. 24:3, 6, 14, 22). It has nothing to do with the Christian of this age.

John 15:2, 6- Mere profession is a worthless "branch" (Jn. 6:60, 64, 66, 13:10, 11, 30, 15:3, Mt. 13:6, 8).

Acts 8:13, 20-23- Simon Magus was not a real Christian (Lk. 8:13, Jn. 2:23-25, 8:30-31, 37).

Romans 3:25- The sins of the Old Testament saints which had been only provisionally "covered" were now by the cross "put away" (Heb. 9;26).

Romans 8:13- Our manner of life proves which road we travel (Rom. 8:6, 2:6-11)!

Romans 11:22- For the present God has set Israel aside and His testimony is now toward the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13, 25), but soon due to slighting their privileges, Laodicean Christendom in turn will be spued out and God will take up Israel again (Rev. 3:16).

1 Corinthians 8:11- If we lead a brother to act contrary to his conscience, he will suffer in the flesh (1 Cor. 5:5, 11:30, Heb. 12:13, 2 Cor. 4:16). Romans 14 teaches us to respect such a believer's weak and limited intelligence in the truth.

1 Corinthians 10:12- Paul warns lusting professors against trusting in privileges instead of Christ (1 Cor. 10:1-12, Heb. 3:17-4:2). But it is not presumptuous for the believer to be certain of going to heaven (Phil. 1:6, 3:20-21, 2 Tim. 1:12, 1 Jn. 3:2, 5:10-13).

2 Corinthians 5:10- This judgment is judgment to determine the Christian's eternal destiny (Jn. 5:24, 1 Pet. 2:24), but it is a review of his works, and giving of the rewards (1 Cor. 3:11-15). Ponder and believe Revelation 20:6.

Galatians 5:4- The Galatians were giving up the principle of grace (which saved and kept them) by making their "keeping saved" depend upon their works. Paul condemned this bad teaching (Gal. 1:6, 3:33, 5:1 Acts 15:11, 24, Rom. 11:16).

Colossians 1:23- Philosophy would soon sift any of the Colossians who were not established in the faith (Col. 2:4, 7-8, Lk. 8:13, 15).

Hebrews 2:3- There was danger of the Hebrews professed Christians giving up Christianity (Heb. 12:25, 10:38-39, 2 Tim. 3:7, Lk. 8:13, 15).

Hebrews 3:6- A warning to any who lacked faith in the "promised land" lest they give up the journey. Firm confidence of faith in His word is strongly commended (Heb. 6:11-12, 10:35-36, 11:6, Rom. 9:3, Acts 13:38-42).

Hebrews 6:4-6- Privileged by Judaism (Heb. 6:1-2) and by Christianity (Heb. 6:4-5), those Hebrews who had been enlightened by "tasting" Christ and His word and were companions with the Holy Spirit in the assembly, yet who rejected it all and ell away, had no hope. They had turned from the best God had to offer, salvation through the death of His Son (Mt. 26:15-16, 1 Jn. 2:19).

Hebrews 10:26- For those who were not real to turn from the cross back to Jewish sacrifices would mean certain doom (Heb. 10:29, 39, 10:8-9, Jn. 8:24, 1 Jn.2:19).

2 Peter 1:10- Spiritually diligent Christians will not fall into a state of unfruitfulness (Prov. 13:4, 19:15, 24:30-33, Ps. 37:24, Jude 24).

2 Peter 2:1- The ransom price purchased all, but only those who have faith profit from it (Rom. 3:22, 1 Tim. 2;6, Mt. 13:38,44).

2 Peter 2:21-22- Mere professors knowing the way of salvation, but lacking faith, give it up. They were never sheep, but only washed sows, mere dogs (Ruth1 :15).

2 Peter 3:17- Peter warns against the coming corruptions of false teachers lest we be caught in their errors (Acts 2:42, 20:29-30, 2 Tim 2:26).

1 John 1:7- John speaks of not how we walk, as does Ephesians 5:8, but where, as in Colossians 1:13 and 1 Peter 2:9. It is not a question of "applying" the blood, as in John 6:53, but its abiding efficacy for all Christians.

Jude 5- Mere professors, those who were "natural, not having the Spirit" (Jude 19 JND) and who had been privileged by knowing the truth but who lived indifferently toward the Lord who bought them, would incur eternal judgment (Ex. 14:30, Heb. 3:12, 17-4:2, Rev. 3:16).

Revelation 2:10- All believers "have" eternal life (Jn. 3:36, 5:24, 6:47, 1Jn. 5:13). But here, in view of persecution unto death, (Rev. 2:8-10), the crown is promised as an encouraging reward (Jm. 1:12, 1 Cor. 15:55, 57, Acts 7:54-8:3, 2 Tim. 2:13).

Revelation 3:5- "You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead" (Rev. 3:1). Such a person may be written in the book of some denomination. But of a child of God (1Jn. 5:4-5), God says He, "will not blot out his name out of the book of life" (Rev. 13:8, 17:8, Eph. 1:3-6, Rom. 8:28-30, 37).

Friday, March 29, 2013

Eternal Security: Let the Bible Speak for Itself

"The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him" (Deut. 33:12). "the Lord will not forsake His people for His great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you His people...Consider how great things He has done for you" (1 Sam. 12:22-24).

"The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 Jn. 1:7) and makes us "whiter than snow" (Ps. 51:7). "Your sins are forgiven" (1 Jn. 2:12), "blotted out" (Is. 44:22), "put away" (Heb. 9:26), as "far as the east is from the west" (Ps. 103:12, "into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19), and those sins He "will not be remember" (Is. 43:25). 

"Clean every whit" (Jn. 13:10), "justified from all things" (Acts 13:39), "perfected forever" (Heb. 10:14). "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). "Chosen in Him...accepted in the beloved" (Eph. 1:4, 6). "Complete in Him" (Col. 2:10). "Bound in the bundle of life with the Lord" (1 Sam. 25:29), "members of His body" (Eph. 5:30), "preserved in Jesus Christ" (Jude 1), "and shall not coe into condemnation" (Jn. 5:24), "shall never hunger...shall never thirst" (Jn. 6:35), "shall never perish (Jn. 10:28).

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed" (Jn. 8:36). "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free" (Rom. 8:2). "Stand fast therefore in the liberty where with Christ has made us free" (Gal. 5:1).

"To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1:5-6).

Eternal Security: Backsliding and Apostasy

Carefully distinguish between the backsliding of real believers, such as Peter and Lot, and the real falling away of apparent believers, such as Judas and Simon Magus.

Peter, in self-confidence, yet real love to his Master, vowed that he would face prison and death for his beloved Lord, and yet at the voice of a servant maid denied His Master with oaths and cursing! Peter sinned, but his faith did not fail (Luke 22:31-34, 54-62). It is so with each one of us. Even in the darkest season of fiercest temptation, those who have the weakest faith always cling to Christ, the Son of the living God (1 Peter 1:4-7), although the lips may cruelly deny that they know Him! "Peter followed Him afar off." "My people have forgotten Me days without number" (Jer. 2:32). "Yet will I not forget you" (Is. 49:15).

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love.

A believer may, alas, go down into terrible depths of evil, and , for the time being, wreck present happiness and usefulness, as Lot did in Sodom (but see 2 Pet. 2:7-8) and Jonah (Jonah 1:2-5, 2:9) and the fornicator of 1 Corinthians 5 (but see 2 Cor. 2:6-8). but there is one thing he cannot do. He cannot, like Judas, absolute give up Christ. How many weak, yet true believers needlessly worry about the fear of being lost, citing the sin of Judas and his awful end. But reasoning as to Judas, Satan, angels, and Adam falling, overlook the difference made by the "eternal redemption" that is in Christ Jesus for the believer (Heb. 9:12, 10:39, Rom. 8:34).

Many a believer has followed in the footsteps of Peter, the backslider, but no true child of God has gone , nor van go the way of Judas, the apostate. Backsliding is not renouncing Christianity, but failing in that holy separateness of walk which God expects from His children. Peter was a backslider, and one for whom the Lord prayed and on whom the Lord looked (Lk 22:32,61). That touching look of grieved and injured love broke the heart of the poor backslider. "Peter went out and wept bitterly."

Provision is made in the advocacy of Christ with the Father for the restoration of backsliders (1 Jn. 2:1). It is of apostates that the sacred writer says, "It is impossible...if they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance" (Heb. 6:4-6).

Judas was an apostate and so the word he had heard and received had "no root" in him (Lk. 8:13). He was a mere professor, not a saved man, nor quickened of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 13:10-11).

An apostate is one who professes to believe and received all the outward privileges of Christianity, yet with no divine work in his soul, and so later he gives up Christ. Thus Judas, an apostate, sold his Master, but Peter, a backslider, temporarily denied his Master.

An apostate has "tasted" of the heavenly gift and rejects it, having neither faith nor life. A true believer is one who has tasted, but more also-he goes on to "eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man" Jn. 6:34, 53-54, 58). One may taste and perish (Heb. 6), but to "eat" is to live for ever."

Judas sinned willfully by rejecting the only Savior and thus made it manifest that he would incur the awful judgment which cannot possibly overtake the weakest believer. He had shared in that external sanctification which includes all who outwardly separate from Judaism and Paganism to embrace Christianity, the only soul-saving system which reveals a Savior. (Outward sanctification is also seen in 1 Cor. 7:14) To sin willfully is to deliberately, with heart and mind, give up Christ and Christianity completely. That, no child of God could or would do (1 Jn. 2:19).

If an unredeemed professor deliberately renounces Christ for Mohammed, the Bible for the Koran or Christianity for Atheism, he embraces a system without a Savior, without a sacrifice, and without a heave. So there is nothing before him but a certain "fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation." The solemn warning contained in Hebrews 6 and 10 refer to mere profession, to giving up Christianity to go back to Judaism and d not at all assume that the persons referred to were ever true children of God. See the contrast in chapter 6:9 and 10:39.

Beloved of God, heir of glory, rest your soul in unshaken confidence on the imperishable Word of God. God has pledged Himself in word and oath to secure your blessing and has anchored your soul in Christ. Your ship may be tossed on stormy seas, but fear not, you will ride out every storm successfully. The anchor cannot drag, nor can the divine chain which links the ship and anchor ever break. All, all is as solid and enduring as the throne of the Eternal! You cannot be more safe in the glory than you are now. You are as completely beyond judgment in this world, as Christ is at God's right hand: "Because as He is, so are we in this world" (1 Jn. 4:17). "When He shall appear, we shall be like Him" bodily (1 Jn. 3:2).


Monday, March 11, 2013

Eternal Security: Our Relationship is Permanent; Our Behavior is Variable

Every child of God should be well acquainted with these two distinct truths, for they are of the utmost importance for our spiritual understanding and happiness. 

Our love is ofttimes low, Our Joy still ebbs and flow; But peace with Him remains the same, No change Jehovah knows. We change, He changes not. Our Christ can never die, His love, not ours, the resting place, we on His truth rely. 

As to my relationship, having been born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13), I am a child of God, I have eternal life, I am "in Christ" and a member of His body (1 Cor. 12:13). I am no longer in Adam, but a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). 

Yea in the fullness of His grace God out me in the children's place. Safe in Christ the weakest child stands in all God's favor.Yet Lord alas! What weakness within myself I find, No infant's changing pleasures is like my wandering mind. 

As to my behavior, I should no longer live unto myself (2 Cor. 5:15) and in fleshly lusts (1 Pet. 4:2). Since I have become a child of light, I should walk as a child of light (Eph. 5:8). "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men" (Titus 3:8). "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," and everything that magnifies Christ (Gal. 5:22, Is. 26:12, Eph. 2:10, Phil. 2:13, Heb. 13:21). Good behavior is never the means of keeping saved; it is the evidence that one has been saved. 

Our relationship to God as His children is unchangeable. Natural birth constitutes you a child of your parents. The relationship is an eternal one. Good conduct cannot strengthen it, nor failure weaken it. That which is born of God abides forever (1 Jn. 3:9). Once you are God's child, you can not cease to be His child: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (Jn. 1:12, Gal. 3:26, 1 Jn. 3:2)

Behavior unbecoming to such a blessed relationship as child of God, will certainly mar the feelings proper to the relationship, and one will forfeit for the time being the joy of salvation. But neither the relationship of the child or the salvation can be lost. The advocacy of Christ with the Father (1 Jn. 2:1), and the prayer of Christ for the self confident disciple Peter, were not to restore a relationship, which was not broken, but to restore the state of the soul from waywardness and loss of joy (Lk. 22:31-32). David, after his sin, did not pray for the restoration of salvation, but for the "joy" of it (Ps. 51:12). Your child may require correction because of his misbehavior, but he is still your child. 

Satan is ever on the alert with his subtle temptations, entangling wiles, compromises, and snares. So if we are not alert to judge ourselves and to depend on the Lord, we may have to learn some very bitter lessons (Ezra 4:2-6, Lk. 22:31, 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Tim. 1:20, 2 Tim. 2:26). Never the less, "all things work together for good to them that love God" and in the end none of them will be lost (Jn. 6:39). 

The sins a child of God commits must come under God's governmental chastening in this life, but he cannot come into God's penal judgement when the world is condemned. The distinction between God's chastening and God's eternal judgment is clearly made in 1 Corinthians 11:32 "But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." See also Ps. 89:31-33 and Hebrews 12:5-11 which describes His governmental chastening in disciplining His redeemed children. But John 5:24, Romans 2:5 and Revelation 20:11-15 refer to God's eternal judgment of wicked unbelievers. 

Fear not, dear fellow believer. Remember the Lord's own hand shut Noah and his family in the ark (Gen. 7:16), which was made judgment proof, without and within (Gen. 6:14). God Himself secured the door. None could enter, and none could get out. "The Lord shut him in." God took charge of the door, safety, while Noah looked out of the window above, communion. 

Noah and his family were just as safe as God could make them. The ark had three stories, and Noah had his place in the third, the one nearest the heavens. Instead of Noah's going down to the "lower" level and grumbling and fumbling at the door to get out, or to see that it was properly secure, he occupied himself at the window which was at the top and through which he could gaze up into heaven (Gen. 6:16, 8:6). His safety was founded on God who "shut him in." Is not the application to us simple? Have we not entered the Door (Jn. 10:9). Are we not quickened, raised and seated in the heavenlies? The hand of God has set us there (Eph. 1:4, 6, 13, 2:4-6, 18, 4:30, 5:30, Col. 1:12-14).

Eternal Security According to the Apostle Paul

Paul was a firm believer in God's everlasting salvation. "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Tim. 1:12, see also Rom. 4:20-21). Romans 8 is full of it. He opens that grand chapter with, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" and closes it with equally emphatic declaration of no separation "from the love of God." 

In delivering an address on the eternal security of the believer, I quoted the closing verses of that chapter, in proof that creation above and beneath, past and future, was challenged to produce anything that could separate believers from God's love. At the close of the happy service,a friend remarked, I can tell you something not named in these verses, which will assuredly separate you from God's love." Surprised, I asked, "What is it?" The answer was promptly given, "Sin." Once more we read the precious words, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Sin is not named, but it is surely included in the expression "things present", for the Apostle says in chapter 7:21: "Evil is present with me." Thus we regard these verse as conclusively proving the ever abiding security of all in Christ Jesus. 

Nothing can snatch you from the grasp of Christ, who has "all power" (Mt. 28:18), who is "the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8), who saves forever "those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25, Rom 5:10, 8:34). We are engraved upon the palms of His (Is. 49:16), on His breastplate and on the stones upon His shoulders (Ex. 28:12, 29). “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). His hold, His heart and His power will not lose one of His own (Jn. 6:39). 

In Romans 8:30 we are furnished with a magnificent declaration on the security of God's elect. "Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." Here is a golden chain of four precious links stretching from eternity to eternity, each link in the divine chain dependent on the other. "Whom He predestined" in eternity, "these He also called" in time,"these He also justified and whom He justified, these He also glorified" in eternity. Predestined in the past, glorified in the future, and in the meantime both called and justified. Here there is no uncertainty. The infallible salvation of all believers is divinely secured, and no power of man or Satan can break any one of those four links. So absolutely certain is the divine result of God's eternal counsel respecting each one that it is spoken of as already accomplished, "them He also glorified." Our imperfect state and weakness are not taken into account at all in this divine assertion of eternal security. "God for us" brushes aside every difficulty and is the weakest believer's triumphant answer to every unbelieving doubt (Eph. 1:3-11, 2 Tim. 1:9, 1 Pet. 1:2-5).

Eternal Security: My Sheep...Shall Never Perish

As sheep, our security is the responsibility of our Shepherd (1 Pet. 2:25). Of each saved sheep it is written, "And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing" (Lk. 15:5). The struggles of the sheep would not be to keep on, but to get off. We are not saved by our "holding on", for sheep have no hands to hold on by. Now all the Lord's sheep are borne along the shoulders of the rejoicing Shepherd, and thus all are equally saved. The Shepherd will take care that not one shall slip off His shoulders. When danger is past, the journey ended, and home reached (v6), the Shepherd's note of joy is this: "I have found My sheep which was lost." Thus the eternal safety of every sheep is the blessed Lord's own personal responsibility and care. 

"My Sheep" whether they are white, black or brown, dirty or blemished, inclined at times to stray or nibble at wrong food, yet they are His redeemed sheep having a nature which distinguishes them from goats, pigs or dogs. 

"They follow Me", sometimes they follow "a far off" until He in His faithful grace restores them. The Shepherd says, "I know them." The weaknesses, fears and temptations of each one of the purchased flock are perfectly known to Him! Yes, "The Lord knows them that are His" (2 Tim. 2:19). He comprehend all perfectly, and in the absolute knowledge of each one's name, character, and ways, He declares, "I give unto them eternal life." 

"The gift of God is eternal life" (Rom. 6:23). How can eternal life be anything else but eternal? It can not be lost, forfeited, or sinned away, for "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Rom. 11:29). Eternal life once given is an everlasting gift. He who gave has pledged His word not to recall it. A Christian, when he sins, doe not forfeit the life he has, but he mars the enjoyment of it. The life is God's free gift; it is unfettered by conditions and never withdrawn. 

"Has everlasting life" is the Lord's repeated declaration to all who believe on His name (Jn. 3:15, 16, 36, 5:24). And this "life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). How then can it be lost? It is not in our hands to keep or to lose. Our "life is in His Son" (1 Jn. 5:11). "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 Jn. 5:13). 

"They shall never perish" this brief statement of four words is a mine of gold. The word never in the Greek language is the strongest, double- emphatic word possible. It's stronger than saying, "never never" in English. He declares the sheep shall never perish, knowing well their continual proneness to wander and their timidity and weakness tot he slightest apparent danger. Never the less in John 5:24, He, who endured the judgement of God for them, assures them that they shall never come into judgement. 

"Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand" how safe the sheep are! No enemy can reach them in His hand. Nor is it the good sheep alone which are grasped by and held in the secure hand of the omnipotent Savior, all the sheep are equally maintained by divine power; all are equally safe. He will hold me fast. "My Father, which gave them Me is greater than all" (v29). Believers are the Father's gift to the Son, and this very fact in itself insures the resurrection of every one given tot he Son (Jn. 6:37, 39, 40, 17:24). 

"No man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand." We are in the hand of the Son (v28), and in the hand of the Father (v29). "Kept by the power of God" (1 Peter 1:5). Our eternal security is in other and more powerful hands than our own. Then comes the climax to this marvelous statement about our present and eternal safety: "I am My Father are One" (v30). One in divine nature and one in purpose to keep the blood bought sheep (Acts 20:28, Mtt. 16:18).

Eternal Security: Holding On or Eternally Held

Many people are not sure whether a saved person can be lost again or whether once saved they are eternally saved. And as long as one is unsettled on this very important truth, doubts and fears are bound to hinder that soul's peace and happiness. 

In place of truth, man's enemy, Satan presents wrong teachings, doubts and reasoning's. In the garden of Eden he raised doubts, saying "Has God said" (Gen. 3:1)? The Holy Spirit encourages simple faith, a prayer and simple belief in the Word of God. 

Happiness comes by accepting a plain statement of scripture which one can understand, and by not allowing it to be overshadowed by a passage that is difficult to understand. 

The Lord gave Peter a lesson on security. "So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

The Lord of Heaven and earth walked on the sea as on dry land (Mtt. 14:25). Calmly too, He slept in the ship with winds howling around and waves dashing over and filling the vessel, yet instantly at His word they sank to rest, and "there was a great calm" (Mk. 4:37-41). 

The overseeing of our lives and our eternal safety are int he hands of the Lord, our Savior and everlasting friend. He would impart confidence to the weakest and feeblest believer. We are with Him and He with us in the ship and storm (Gen. 28:15). His safety is ours. The One who controls winds and waves, armies of heaven and earth, is Jesus who died to make us His own, who lives to keep His own, and who shall come to claim His own. What security! (See Romans 5:10, 8:34, 2 Cor. 1:10). 

Peter "walked on the water to go to Jesus." To reach his Master was his one object and goal. His eye on Christ, he walked on the rough waves, "but when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid." Why did he look at boisterous winds while his Master was within sight? Fear instead of fearlessness is always the result of turning our eyes from Christ. Although there are moments of danger and our hearts grow cold, yet His ever watchful eye and never failing eye is fixed on every real disciple and His grasps of power rescues from the peril. Peter's terrified cry brought immediate and effectual help. 

The Savior's love and power are equal to every demand made upon Him. Helplessness and self distrust are golden keys to unlock the treasures of grace. If the need is great, the resource is infinite, for we have a great God and Savior to count on. The sinking Peter did not secure his safety by "holding on", but Jesus "stretched forth His hand and caught him." 

Since we are so apt to turn our eyes from Jesus, we may have to learn His faithfulness by our fears and doubts. "If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful" (2 Tim. 2:13, see Is. 49:15-16, 1 Cor. 1:8-9). 

If getting to heaven depended on our "holding on", do you think one redeemed person would enter the mansions of glory? Certainly not. No flesh shall glory in its faithfulness. What presumption! "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh (Gal. 3:3)? How much better is the language of faith: "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). From Start to finish, "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).

Friday, March 8, 2013

How to Run Well (Part 4)

THE CHRISTIAN’S HELPS 

There are four greatly practical helps for the Christian, whether he is young or old. The Spirit of God will certainly lead you to use them diligently. 

•God’s Word. First and foremost is the Word of God. Read your Bible, and read it well. Make it absolutely the most important book in your library. Other books may be helpful, especially if they continually refer you to the Bible; but never allow them to displace your reading of the Word of God itself. 

We live in days of much unbelief. One of its greatest strongholds is ignorance of the Scriptures (see Matthew 22:29). We need to arm ourselves by close and prayerful acquaintance with the Book. A certain well-educated unbeliever was warned by his doctor of impending death by a terminal disease. He wanted to investigate seriously for himself the claims that the Bible is a revelation from God. Meeting a Christian friend, he asked what books he should read to enable him to judge the Bible’s merits. The terse answer was, “The Bible.” Astonished, he repeated his question, but received the same answer. He was advised to start at the beginning and read straight through. He did, and before he completed the five books of Moses he became convinced that its origin was divine. He was ultimately converted to God! 

If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, it would be good for you to start reading in the New Testament. This is the part that tells about the life of Jesus Christ. 

Yes, if there is a royal road to understanding the Bible, it is reading the Bible itself – prayerfully, and in dependence on the teaching of the Holy Spirit. 

•Read consecutively; don’t jump around here and there, and don’t have favorite Scriptures that you read over and over again, neglecting other parts. 

•Read comprehensively; don’t read too fast to think about the material, but fast enough to get an overview of the passage, to get a bird’s-eye view of the whole. 

•Search the Scriptures, as well as read them. Situations will often arise in your life which drive you to seek the mind of God. Sometimes you will find a Scripture dealing with the point in question, but sometimes you will not. Then you must search for some God-given principle which applies to your case and sheds light on your pathway. The Bible is pre-eminently a book of principles. Be like the Bereans, who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). 

Meditate; develop the habit of diligently turning over the Scriptures in your mind. To be well nourished, it is necessary not only to eat but to digest. Cattle must not only browse on the fresh grass, but also chew the cud. So do not only read and search, and thereby gather information; but having done so, turn it over and over in meditation, that it may really soak into and prosper our souls. Paul said to Timothy, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Tim. 4:15). 

•Prayer. Second only in importance to the Word of God is prayer. If you want an idea of how necessary it is, take your Bible and read Luke’s Gospel, underlining every place where Jesus prayed. Notice that He, a divine Person, frequently prayed when here on earth. 

Read Paul’s Epistles and see what he says about prayers: “… night and day praying exceedingly.” If Paul had to pray, surely you and I must. 

You may simply pray about anything and everything (read Philippians 4:6-7). Nothing is too small. Our God is great enough to attend to your smallest need. 

What a Friend we have in Jesus, 
All our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry 
Everything to God in prayer! 

Unburden your heart, and make your request with thanksgiving. Whether you get the answer you want or not, you will get at least His peace in your heart. 

Don’t forget intercession; i.e., praying for others – both saved and unsaved. There is a danger of becoming cramped and narrowed in our thoughts and prayers. There is always a great blessing in thinking of others. 

In any event then, let us pray, and that “without ceasing.” Keep in an attitude of continual dependence and waiting on God. Keep your heart always in the spirit of prayer, even though you cannot always be on your knees. Besides being helpful, it is safe. The old rhyme is very true: 

Satan trembles when he sees The weakest saint upon his knees. 

•New Associations. There is great importance in keeping Christian company. Much of what has been said about old companionships and associations would apply here. The best way to keep away from old associations is to form and cultivate new ones. 

David said, “I will not know wickedness … My eyes shall be on the faithful” (Psalm 101:4,6). He was without doubt a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. To avoid evil and to cultivate good was always His way; and if so, we should make it ours. 

The very first decision for which Moses is commended is that, having come of age, he whole-heartedly identified with the despised people of God: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11: 25). 

Don’t start with the idea that Christians are perfect or you will be greatly disappointed. They are far from it! But you will find among them a warmth and a love which you will never find in the world. Stick with them, even if they don’t meet your expectations or act like you think they should. If they give you the “cold shoulder,” return the gesture by giving them a warm heart, and you will soon get your investment repaid with interest. 

Generally, however, things are the other way around. I have heard many complain that their fellow-Christians are so unfriendly that they never get spoken to after the service or meeting. On closer investigation, I nearly always find that these very people are known to jump up instantly after the meeting and leave without giving anyone the chance to befriend them. They are cold – not their associates! A frequent symptom of disease is that one complains of cold when really it is quite warm. 

To avoid the company of Christians is an early symptom of spiritual disease. When shepherds see one sheep standing in a field away from the rest, they conclude that it is ill. When well, sheep keep together. Beware of sulking alone; stragglers become easy prey for the cunning enemy. 

Some people may desire advice about where to meet, since even true Christians are divided into many groups – small and large – meeting in various places. 

My advice is: Go where the Word of God leads you. 

But remember – personal preferences or your parents’ practices have nothing to do with this matter. The question must be decided absolutely by God’s Word as if your salvation were at stake. You must search the Scriptures prayerfully on this point. 

Do not become a “rolling stone”; such practice indicates a lack of principle. It is better to stay where you are as long as the Word of God, a good conscience, and true-hearted love for our Lord Jesus Christ will allow you. 

•Service. Last of all, do not forget to serve the Lord. By this I don’t merely mean that you should do everything, including your regular daily work, to the Lord (see Colossians 3:22, 24); but that you should take up some further interest and work directly for the Lord Jesus Christ, even though it may be very small. 

“What shall I do?” is often asked. Ask your Master, who alone has authority to answer it, and you will soon discover what you should do. Opportunities are all around and needs are great. 

Possibly you are already serving the Lord, almost without knowing it. 

Like Andrew, you may be trying to bring some relative or friend to Jesus (see John 1:40-42). Having found the Lord yourself, you did it without being told, just like a newly-hatched duckling instinctively waddles to the pond. If so, thank God, and do not get tired of this blessed work. Go on, and in seeking to bring your friends to Jesus, enlarge your borders and keep going on! 

There are many ways of serving the Lord: by personal conversations, anywhere and at all times; by distributing tracts, by visiting the sick, by teaching a Sunday School class; by public preaching of the Gospel and ministry of the Word to believers. Ask the Lord what you should do, and having found out, DO IT. 

•Do it in obedience to the principles in the Word of God. 

•Do it prayerfully, and 

•Do it in cooperation with your fellow Christians; but I repeat, DO IT. 

Healthy bodies are impossible without work. Solomon observed this and said, “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet … but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12). 

Many famous socialites suffer from “nerves” and similar complaints, often simply from lack of something to do. Even Christians may be found who do not fare well for the same reason: they are unemployed, except perhaps with what is profitless or even mischievous. The old saying is as true as ever: 

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” 

We should be like the Thessalonian believers, to whom it was said, “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). 

If that verse becomes a truthful summary of our lives, they will have been lives well worth living. 



How to Run Well (Part 3)

THE CHRISTIAN’S RESOURCES 
•Support. Some may be thinking that it is difficult (if not hopeless) work to be a Christian! You need to discover that it is hopeless work in your own strength. Do not forget that the power of God is behind you. There certainly are lions in the war, but do not be intimidated by them, especially since God Himself has provided you with the greatest helps. 

You have not believed on a dead Savior, but on a living One. He may be out of sight, having left this world, but He is your great High Priest in heaven. He has entered “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). 

There He manages your concerns. Use Him; make Him your Friend; confide in Him. Keep no secrets from Him, but let Him have the key that opens every room of your soul. 

You will meet many temptations. “He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). 

Weakness and infirmity will sometimes overcome you. He is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). 

Difficulties and dangers may wash over your soul and threaten to drown you. “He is also able to save to the uttermost (i.e., right through to the end)” (Hebrews 7:25). 

Your Christian friends may help and sympathize with you; we trust they will. But if you want absolute certainty, look to Him! 

•Power. The Holy Spirit of God, a divine Person, is on earth. If you are a believer, you have received the Holy Spirit. “But,” many young converts say, “I have not felt anything special. Is it possible to receive the Holy Spirit without some great and unique experience?” 

It is certainly possible, for two reasons. First, the outward and visible signs which once accompanied His coming, such as tongues of fire or speaking foreign languages, are no longer used. Second, His mission is emphatically not to call attention to Himself, but to glorify Christ (see John 16:13-14). 

Silently, noiselessly, He takes up residence, but soon the effects of His presence are felt. Perhaps it never occurred to you that the very glimpses you get of Christ and His preciousness, and of the love of God; the Bible becoming a new book to You, and prayer becoming delightful instead of irksome – are some evidences of His presence. 

“But in my case,” someone may say, “these results are conspicuously absent, and yet I do believe in Jesus. I doubt I have received the Spirit.” The explanation probably is not that you have never received Him, but that having received Him, you have grieved Him. 

“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” the Apostle Paul said to the Ephesian believers (Ephesians 4:30). The practical benefits of His presence are lost when we grieve Him. He then grieves you; and since He is the Teacher in the things of God, and the power for worship, communion, and service – no wonder you are unhappy! 

Always remember that “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Avoid everything that defiles, for with the Spirit of God ungrieved you have greater power than any that can be brought against you (1 John 4:4).

How to Run Well (Part 2)

HINDRANCES 
•The First Fall. Shortly after your conversion you will discover that there are many traps. Let me point out some of them, so that being warned you may be prepared, with God’s help. The first fall (sin) after conversion is very frustrating and disappointing, especially if you had previous addictions or sinful habits. Not one of us escapes this experience. The joy of salvation is in our hearts and it seems as if no sorrow or clouds will cross our path again. Then suddenly, unexpectedly, we sin! Bitter shame and sorrow fills our hearts. Perhaps some of you have that sorrow and shame in your hearts right now. To make matters worse, your worldly friends may have noticed it, and are amused at your defeat; your Christian friends are none too sympathetic; and you don’t know what to do! 

This is Satan’s opportunity, and he will suggest to you, “A nice mess you have made, trying to live as a Christian. Wouldn’t it be better to give up and save further disgrace to yourself and dishonor to the Lord?” He will tempt you to distrust God. “Give up,” is always his word. 

Friend, let me tell you what not to do: do not give up, but get down and go on. 

Get down in humiliation and self-judgment before God, remembering that even though you have changed, He has not. This sin of yours is one among the many for which Christ suffered on the cross, and He has now gone into heaven to be your Advocate (see 1 John 2:1). God is still your Father, and the message to you is: 

“If we confess our sins, He (the Father) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). 

Get down then in confession to God and He (as your Father) will forgive you. The very process itself will have a cleansing effect on you; and with greater confidence in Him and less in yourself, go on. 

•Old Associations. Beware of old companionships and associations! Sometimes when the convert himself starts brightly, confessing the Lord, seeking to leave his old companions, they are not willing to part with him, and move heaven and earth to retain him. Sometimes it happens that years later love grows cold, and the believer begins slowly (more rapidly as time goes on) to drift back to people and to things he once left behind. Sometimes, most subtle and dangerous of all, we think that by joining our former ungodly associates we will gain their confidence and influence them for good. 

This is a great mistake. We will not lift them up. They will drag us down. Experience universally confirms this statement, and so does Scripture. 

Jehoshaphat was one of the best kings of Judah, while Ahab was the very worst king of Israel, and yet we read, “Jehoshaphat … allied himself with Ahab” (2 Chronicles 18:1). 

What was the result? Did Jehoshaphat elevate Ahab to his own level, so that he could say with satisfaction, “You have become as I am”? By no means – the very reverse! In verse three of the same chapter Jehoshaphat said, “I am as you are,” and was not ashamed to admit it. 

This was followed by the battle at Ramoth-gilead, in which Ahab lost his life and Jehoshaphat escaped by the skin of his teeth. God confronted him with a very serious message through Jehu the prophet: “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you” (2 Chronicles 19:2). The final outcome of all this was that Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram married Ahab’s daughter (2 Chronicles 21:6) – the notoriously wicked Athaliah, a true daughter of her mother Jezebel, and the cause of much misery to Judah. 

If you want more evidence from Scripture, read carefully Genesis 13, 14 and 19, which tell about Lot’s sad downfall because of his friendship with the men of Sodom. He did not elevate them – they degraded him, so much so that no one paid any attention when he warned of Sodom’s impending judgment. We ourselves would not know whether he was a true saint of God if the Spirit of God had not called him “that righteous man” in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:8). 

Of course you will meet your old companions, but let them know right away that the old relationships no longer exist. Speak to them about Christ. Whatever you do, don’t descend to the old level. If you do, your power, like Samson’s, will have left, and you will easily fall. 

In most cases, one good, bold confession of Christ is enough. Some friends may eventually be converted; others may just leave you. If not, you will find it best to leave them. If you can’t help them, they will harm you; don’t give them that opportunity. 

These remarks apply equally to the forming of new links and associations. This principle should guide you in your Christian life: 

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14; read through v. 18). Pray with this text in mind, and keep it in a prominent place in your heart and memory. If obeyed, it will save you from a world of sorrow. You need it, because you cannot go through life without forming many kinds of associations. 

Beware of the “unequal yoke” in society; beware of it in business. Many a Christian has had his testimony ruined through partnership with an unconverted man and involvement with his questionable practices. But above all, beware of it in marriage. Unequal yokes in society or in business can be broken, but marriage is life-long. How many promising young lives have been voided and how much sorrow has resulted from disobedience to this divine command! I wish I could shout like a trumpet blast and warn every young convert in the country. 

•False Teachers. Be warned also about false teachers and their doctrines. Do not be surprised that they exist. Satan, as well as God, has his servants, but he works by imitation. The Apostle Paul said this about some of Satan’s agents: “Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corin­thians 11:13-14). Most likely, before long you will discover men or women with strange doctrines, seemingly credible and covered with a thin veneer of truth. 

Here are one or two hints: 

If they present doctrines that contradict the simple gospel you have received, diminishing the death and resurrection of Jesus, refuse and avoid them; they are false (see Galatians 1:6-8). 

If they do not acknowledge Jesus as their Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3), or that He – a divine Person – has come in flesh (i.e. has become man); if they do not confess His deity and manhood (1 John 4:3), they are not of God. 

If Christ is not the center of their teaching, but rather some religious fad; or if they demand your subjection to the teaching of some man or woman who assumes the place of prophet, or to some new revelation which someone professes to have received, you may safely turn from them. If tested, they will prove to be liars (see Revelation 2:2). 

If the teacher himself is unconverted, don’t listen to him. Of course he may say what is right, just as a parrot sometimes makes very appropriate remarks. Scripture, however, is very decisive: “The natural man (i.e. man in his natural or unconverted state) does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). 

Don’t pay attention to unbelievers’ theories, whether honestly advanced by themselves or dishonestly cloaked as “Higher Criticism” and “Modern Thought” by religious leaders. The poor authors of these soul-destroying delusions do not have the Spirit of God, and even though possibly very intelligent, are not Christians, and know nothing of true heart religion. 

Again, if anyone comes to you with doctrines which he must support by twisting Scripture, either by re-defining words in our English version or by continually referring to the Greek or Hebrew original and translating to fit his ideas; or if he takes texts out of their contexts – you have every reason for being suspicious of his doctrines. “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20). Remember that the Bible is a whole: one part dovetails into the rest, not only agreeing with it, but explaining it as well. 

•Hobbies. Seek grace from God not to spend all your spare time on hobbies. Many Christians, both young and old, are sadly lacking in freshness. This is frequently not because of sin or even worldliness, but because of some interest or hobby that occupies too much valuable time and thought. Common hobbies include recreation and entertainment in their multiple forms, as well as many “harmless” activities and pursuits. 

Do not misunderstand me. I don’t want to impose legal requirements on you. If we merely force you to show a false godliness and wear a “holy” expression, you have only gone “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” Of course you must have exercise and recreation, especially if you are young; otherwise your health will suffer. The point is: keep them in a secondary place, subordinate to Christ and His interests; don’t let them become prominent. If you do, they will become weights. 

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance” (Hebrews 12:1), the apostle directs us. Notice it is the “weight and the sin” (i.e., weights are something additional to and distinct from sin). “Sin” is like some entanglement across the racer’s path: if he catches his foot in it he goes down. A “weight” may be something very useful and excellent in itself, but if the race is to be won, it must be set aside. The athlete does not even carry valuables; he has no pockets in his brief uniform. 

If you find anything in your Christian life becoming a weight to you, however good it may be, have the courage to let go of it. We want you to get the maximum joy and blessing out of your knowledge of Christ. 

How to Run Well (Part 1)

A GOOD START 
•Conversion. If you have just been converted, you stand on the doorstep of an absolutely new era in your life. No doubt things seem new to you, and the path you now begin to walk is a little mysterious. I want to point out a few things which may, with God’s blessing, help you at the start of your Christian career. 

We will not say much about your past – that is settled; nor about your future – that is secure: both through the value of the precious blood of Christ. Our thoughts will be concentrated on the present. You are a total loss to Satan for eternity, and he knows it. He will therefore concentrate his efforts on spoiling your testimony for the Lord here on earth. 

If he can cause you to dishonor Him, so much the better from his point of view. If not, he has some very successful ways of stunting spiritual growth and making his poor victim anything but a successful Christian. 

The animal kingdom is divided into two great classes: the vertebrate (with backbone) and the invertebrate (without backbone). Believers also may be classified in the same way. We hope that you would be a vertebrate Christian – having backbone and being marked by decision and spiritual vigor, not by stagnation and decay. 

Be warned at the beginning against the idea that in your conversion you have reached the summit of Christian experience, the goal of the Christian race. The truth is, conversion is just the starting point; the race is just beginning! It is definitely not the time for you to take things easy, but rather to prepare for action. It would be well if every convert asked the same questions that Saul of Tarsus (later the Apostle Paul) asked at his conversion: “Who are You, Lord?” and, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:8,10). 

Jesus is not just your Savior – He is also your Lord. Of course you acknowledge this, unless you are not a true convert. So prepare to get up and follow His direction like Saul did. In the epistle addressed to converts from the Jewish religion to Christianity, we find the exhortation: “Let us go on to perfection” (Heb. 6:1). Take these words, “Let us go on,” as a motto, and think continually on them. Just as a bicyclist must go on if he would keep on, so we must advance if our Christianity is to be much more than a meaningless name. 

You want a good start; then first of all be real. If you still have lingering doubts and fears about your standing with God, have courage to admit it. Don’t say everything is all right if you are not sure. Don’t worry if you have told a preacher or friends, even many times, that you are saved. Your doubts should not surprise them if they know their own hearts, and they may be able to encourage you. At all costs, be real. Don’t say, “I see,” if you don’t see. Don’t go one inch beyond where you are to please your best friends. Take time to get a firm foothold or you will never start well. 

•Confession. Once you have taken your stand on the Word of God and have assurance, confess Christ immediately; don’t let anything hold you back. This proverb is all too true: “He who hesitates is lost.” The Scripture says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). You will not be happy without it, because you will be a hypocrite: inwardly a Christian, outwardly still a man or woman of the world; drifting with the tide, doing as others do; weakly smiling when unbelievers direct their humor at sacred subjects, for fear of making yourself conspicuous; and hating yourself for acting so cowardly. How miserable this is! 

Don’t stand shivering on the shore – plunge bravely in. Never mind the shock, the ridicule, the sneers, the cold shoulder. They will not be half as bad as you imagine, and will be followed by the after-glow of divine peace and joy you never knew before. Begin at home: “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (Mark 5:19). 

Having confessed the Lord, you have made a good start as a Christian. Now do you know what will give vigor to your Christianity and ensure a successful and God-glorifying career? Be whole-hearted. 

You may have heard of the General who, having disembarked his men, burned the ship from which he had landed, deliberately throwing away his only chance of retreat. He did it so that none of his men might be tempted to look longingly behind him. Act on this principle yourself; make a clean break with the world behind you. 

Make up your mind that by the grace of God, Christ and His claims will be supreme – your chief consideration in every circumstance. In the world, the man succeeds who follows his pursuit (whether money, education or power) unwaveringly and persistently. His object controls him; everything else submits to it. Eventually he becomes a millionaire, a great scientist, or a prime minister, as the case may be. If you make Christ your object, He will control you. You will be able to make everything count for His interests, and ultimately you will get the greatest of all rewards from His own lips: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). 

Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment for the Christian (Part 4)

Enjoyment: The Joy Of Salvation 
You are saved by Christ’s work, you are assured by God’s Word, and your joy is maintained by the Holy Spirit who indwells you. But every saved person still has the old, sin nature that he was born with. The Holy Spirit resists the old nature but is grieved by every thought, word or deed that springs from it. When you walk “worthy of the Lord,” the Holy Spirit produces in you His blessed fruit: “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22). However, when you are walking in a worldly way, the Holy Spirit is grieved and this fruit diminishes as your worldly ways increase. While Christ’s work and your salvation stand firm together – because He cannot fail – your walk and your enjoyment stand or fall together because the one depends on the other. 

The early disciples walked “in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit and they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31). Again it says, “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). In other words, your spiritual joy will be in direct proportion to the spiritual character of your walk after you are saved. 

Do you see your mistake? You have been confusing enjoyment with safety. When, through sin, you grieved the Holy Spirit and lost your joy, you thought your safety was also lost. Your safety depends on Christ’s work for you, your assurance depends on God’s Word to you and your enjoyment depends on not grieving the Holy Spirit in you. 

When you grieve the Holy Spirit, your communion with the Father and the Son is interrupted. Only when you judge yourself and confess your sins is your joy restored. For example, just before your child did something wrong, you were playing together and enjoying each other’s company. He was in communion with you. 

But now, all has changed. Because of his disobedience, he sits alone in his room, the picture of misery. You told him you would forgive him if he confessed his wrong, but his pride and self-will keep him from doing so. Where is all the joy you shared when you played together? It’s gone because your communion with him has been interrupted. 

What has happened to the relationship between you and your son? Has that gone too? Of course not! His relationship depends on his birth; his communion depends on his behavior. 

Soon he comes to you and asks you to forgive him. You see that he hates his disobedience as much as you do. You hug him and his joy is restored because his communion with you is restored. 

After David committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged to have Uriah killed in battle (2 Sam. 11-12), he did not ask God to “restore to me Your salvation,” but to “restore to me the joy of Your salvation” (Ps. 51:12), 

Let’s look again at the example of the father and son. Your child is still in his room when your house catches fire. Would you leave him there? I’m sure you would make sure he was safe, because your love relationship is one thing while the joy of communion is quite another. 

When a believer sins, communion is interrupted and joy is lost until he returns to the Father in self-judgment, confessing his sins. The believer then can know for certain that he is forgiven since 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Always remember that there is nothing as strong as the link of relationship and nothing so tender as the link of communion. Nothing can break the first; but an impure thought, a wrong motive or a hurting word will break the second. Never mix up your safety with your joy! 

Are you troubled? Turn in humble confession to God. Examine yourself. When you identify the thing which has robbed you of your joy, confess your sin to God and judge yourself for your carelessness that allowed the sin to enter in the first place. 

Don’t think that God’s judgment of the believer’s sins is less severe than that of the unbeliever’s sins. He does not have a double standard. He only has one way of dealing with sin. The believer’s sins were all paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. There, the question of judgment for the believer’s sin was forever settled. Judgment fell on the Lord Jesus, the blessed Substitute who took the believer’s place: “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24). On the other hand, the unbeliever, the Christ-rejecter, must forever bear the punishment for his own sins in hell because he has refused to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Substitute, his Savior. 

When a believer sins, the question of judgment cannot be raised against him because the Judge settled the judgment-question on the cross. However, the communion-question is raised within the believer by the Holy Spirit every time He is grieved. 

A man, looking at the moon’s reflection in a pool of still water, remarks to a friend how beautiful the moon is. Suddenly, someone throws a stone into the pool and the man exclaims, “The moon has fallen apart and the pieces are everywhere!” His friend replies, “Look up! The moon hasn’t changed at all. Only the pool has changed.” How does this apply to the believer? 

Your heart (the real you) is the pool. When you don’t allow evil in your life, the Holy Spirit reveals to you the wonders of Christ for your comfort and joy. But the moment sin enters, the Holy Spirit disturbs the pool (your heart) and your happy experiences are broken up. You are restless and disturbed. But as soon as you confess your sin, the calm joy of communion is restored. 

While your heart is in the state of unrest because of sin, has Christ’s work changed? Of course not! Then the safety of your salvation hasn’t changed either. Has God’s Word changed? No! Then the certainty of your salvation hasn’t changed either. What, then, has changed? The action of the Holy Spirit in you has changed. Instead of filling your heart with the sense of Christ’s worthiness, He is grieved at having to turn aside from this delightful job to fill you with the sense of your sin. He takes away your comfort and joy until you judge and resist the evil thing that has grieved Him. When this is done, He restores your communion. 

The Lord in His Word tells us, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). 

Dear reader, our Savior and Lord will never change. The Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). His finished work will never change either, for “whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it” (Eccl. 3:14). Also, the Word that He has spoken will never change. The object of your trust, the foundation of your safety and the ground of your certainty are eternally unchangeable. 

Let me ask you again, “Which class are you traveling?” Turn your heart to God and tell Him you want to travel through life in first class, with safety, certainty and enjoyment!

Satey, Certainty and Enjoyment for the Christian Life (Part 3)

Certainty: The Assurance of Salvation 

Man’s imagination sees salvation this way: “These happy feelings I have given to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God that you may hope that you have eternal life.” Now open your Bible to l John 5:13 and compare man’s imaginative thoughts with God’s Word which says: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” 

In Exodus 11-12, the Lord pronounced the judgment of death on the firstborn in every house in Egypt that did not have lamb’s blood placed on the doorposts. Now, how did the firstborn sons of Israel know for sure that they were safe on that night of judgment? Let’s visit two homes and hear what they say. 

In the first house, everyone is trembling with fear. When we ask why they are so fearful, the firstborn son tells us that the angel of death is coming tonight and he is not sure what’s going to happen. 

“When the destroying angel has passed by our house, then I’ll know I’m safe, but until then I can’t be sure. Next door, they say they’re sure of their salvation, but we think that’s presumptuous. All I can do is hope for the best.” 

We ask, “Hasn’t the God of Israel provided a way of safety for His people?” The son replies, “Yes, and we did what God told us. The blood of a spotless lamb has been sprinkled on the doorposts, but we still are not sure of our safety.” 

Now let’s go next door. What a contrast! Everyone’s happy. Their doorposts are painted, and they are enjoying the roasted lamb. Why all this joy on such a solemn night? They answer, “We are waiting for Jehovah’s marching orders and then we will say farewell to Egypt.” 

“But, don’t you know that this is a night of judgment?” 

“Sure, but our firstborn son is safe. The blood has been applied according to God’s orders.” 

“But that also has been done next door,” we reply, “and they are unhappy because they are uncertain as to their safety.” 

The firstborn answers firmly, “We have more than the blood. We have God’s Word about it. God said, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you.’ God is satisfied with the blood outside and we are satisfied with His Word inside. The sprinkled blood makes us safe while God’s Word makes us sure.” 

Which of these two houses was safer? The answer is that both were equally safe because their safety depended only on what God thought about the blood outside and not on the state of their feelings inside. If you want to be sure of your blessings, don’t listen to the unstable testimony of your inward emotions. Listen instead to the infallible Word of God: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47). 

Let me use another illustration. A man asks to rent a house, but the owner doesn’t give him an answer. One day a neighbor says, “I’m sure you will get that house. Don’t you remember that the owner sent you a present last Christmas? He also waved to you the other day.” These words fill the man with hope. 

The next day another neighbor says, “I don’t think you’re going to get that house. Someone else has also asked to rent it and he is a good friend of the owner.” The man’s bright hopes burst like soap bubbles. One day he has hope, and the next day he is full of doubts. 

Then a letter comes from the owner. His face changes from suspense to joy as he reads it. He exclaims to his wife, “It’s settled now. The owner says the house is ours for as long as we want to rent it. Man’s opinions don’t matter now that we have the owner’s written word.” 

Many people are in a similar condition, troubled by the opinions of men or by the feelings of their own hearts. It is only when they finally receive the assurance of God’s Word that certainty takes the place of doubt. 

When God speaks, there must be certainty, whether in pronouncing the damnation of the unbeliever or the salvation of the believer. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). His Word settles all. “Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). 

But you may ask, “How can I be sure that I have enough of the right kind of faith?” It isn’t a question of the right kind or the amount of your faith, but of the trustworthiness of the Person in whom you have faith. Do you have confidence in the right Person – the Son of God? 

One man grabs hold of Christ with a drowning man’s grip, while another only touches the hem of His garment, but both are equally safe. They both made the same discovery. They can completely trust Christ and His Word, and confidently rest in the eternal effectiveness of His finished work. 

Make sure your confidence is not based on your good works, your religious activities, your feelings or your moral training. You may have the strongest faith in such things, and still eternally perish. The feeblest faith in Christ eternally saves; the strongest faith in self is of no use. 

“I do believe in Him,” said a sad-looking girl to me one day; “but I don't like to say I’m saved for fear I might be lying.” This girl’s father had gone to a livestock sale to buy some sheep and had not yet returned. So I said, “Now, suppose when your dad comes home, you ask him how many sheep he bought and he says ‘ten.’ Later, someone asks you how many sheep your father bought today and you reply, ‘I don’t want to say because I might be lying.’” With righteous anger, her mother who was standing nearby exclaimed, “But that would be making her father a liar!” 

In like manner, this well-meaning girl was making Christ a liar by saying, “I believe in Him but I don’t like to say I’m saved for fear I might be lying.” Christ has said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47). 

You might then ask, “How can I be sure that I really do believe? The more I look at my faith, the less I seem to have.” Maybe you are looking in the wrong direction. Your trying to believe only shows that you are on the wrong track. 

Let me use another illustration. One evening a man who is a notorious liar tells you that a friend has just been killed in an auto accident. You are not likely to believe him, because you know him too well. But then a neighbor tells you the same bad news. This time you say, “Since you tell me, I believe it.” I ask, “Why do you believe your neighbor and not the liar?” You answer, “Because of who and what my neighbor is. He has never lied to me and I know he never will.” 

In the same way, I know I can believe the Gospel because of the One who brings me the news. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son … he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 Jn. 5:9-10). 

An anxious person once told a preacher, “I can’t believe.” The preacher asked, “Who is it that you can’t believe?” This question solved the problem. He had been looking at faith as something that he had to feel within himself to be sure that he was fit for heaven. But faith always looks outside to Christ and to His finished work and quietly listens to the testimony of a faithful God about both. 

The outside-look brings inside-peace. When a man turns his face towards the sun, his shadow is behind him. You can’t look at yourself and at a glorified Christ in heaven at the same time. God’s Son wins your confidence: His finished work makes you eternally safe and God’s Word gives you the certainty of salvation. 

Even if you are saved, you may wonder why you so often lose the joy and comfort of your salvation and become as unhappy as you were before you were saved.

Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment for the Christian (Part 2)

Safety: The Way Of Salvation 
In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites, “Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem” (Ex.13:13). 

Travel back in time with me about 3000 years. A priest is talking to a poor Israelite about the little donkey standing beside them. The poor man says, “Can’t you make a merciful exception for me just this once? This is my firstborn donkey, and although I know what God’s law says, can’t its life be spared? I can’t afford to lose this little animal.” 

The priest says, “God’s law is very plain. Unless the donkey is redeemed by the death of a lamb, its neck must be broken.” 

“But I don’t have a lamb.” 

“Then go buy one. The lamb or the donkey must die.” 

The Israelite sadly replies, “Then it’s hopeless because I can’t afford a lamb.” 

Another man who overhears the discussion approaches the poor Israelite and says, “Cheer up! I have a little lamb which is without spot or blemish. Although it means much to me, I will give it to you.” Away he goes, and soon both donkey and lamb are standing side-by-side. Then the lamb is placed on the altar, its blood is shed and it is consumed by the fire. 

The priest turns to the poor man and says, “You can take your donkey home. Its neck will not be broken because the lamb has died in its place. Your donkey can live and righteously go free, thanks to your friend.” 

This little story gives us a picture of a sinner’s salvation. God’s claim against sin demands a “broken neck” – a righteous judgment on you. The only alternative is the death of a Substitute approved by God. No matter how hard you try, you cannot meet God’s requirement. However, God Himself provided the Lamb in the person of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. John the Baptist referred to Him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). 

Jesus went to Calvary’s cross “as a Lamb to the slaughter” (Isa. 53:7). There He “suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). He “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Rom. 4:25). God does not reduce His judgment against sin when He forgives the sinner (Rom. 3:25-26). Jesus had to pay the penalty in full. 

How do you answer this question: “Do you believe on the Son of God?” If you reply, “I have found Him to be the One I can safely trust as my Lord and Savior,” then God credits you with the full value of Jesus’ sacrifice. 

God’s love, the glory of His precious Son and the salvation of the sinner are all bound together. What a bundle of grace and glory! God’s own Son does all the work, and you and I – poor, guilty sinners who believe in Him – get all the blessing. “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:3). 

But you may ask, “Why don’t I have assurance of my salvation? One day I feel saved, but the next day I don’t. I am like a storm-tossed ship that has no place to drop anchor.” 

That’s your mistake. Did you ever hear of a captain trying to anchor his ship by dropping his anchor inside the ship? The anchor must be hooked to something solid outside the ship. You may understand that Christ’s death alone gives you safety, but you think that it is what you feel that makes you certain. 

Safety, Certainty and Enjoyment for the Chrstian (Part 1)

Which Class Are You Traveling? 
As you are traveling through time toward eternity, I would like to ask, “Which class are you traveling?” There are only three: First class travelers are eternally saved from their sins, and know it. Second class travelers are not sure of their salvation but want to be sure. Third class travelers are unsaved and don’t care about their future. 

A man came running through the airport just in time to catch his flight. Gasping for breath, he took his seat on the plane as the engines started. “You just made it,” said the passenger seated next to him. “Yes,” he replied, “the next flight is four hours from now. It was worth the run to save four hours.” 

I wonder if he’s as concerned about eternity as he is about those four hours! Intelligent men and women all over the world today are carefully looking after their interests in this life but are blind to eternity. In spite of God’s love for man, His hatred of sin, the brevity of life and the terror of judgment after death, men and women hurry on as if there were no God, no sin, no death, no judgment, no heaven and no hell. If you are like this, I hope this booklet will open your eyes to the danger of your position. Don’t travel through life third class! 

But you may say, “It’s not that I don’t care about the welfare of my soul. I’m just not sure. I guess you’d call me a second class passenger, because I’m uncertain.” Both indifference and uncertainty result from unbelief. Indifference comes from unbelief about sin and how it condemns man. Uncertainty comes from unbelief about God’s plan to save man. The more you are concerned about your eternal future, the more unhappy you will be until you know for certain that you are eternally saved. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mk. 8:36). 

Suppose you are driving far from home. You are low on gas so you stop to ask a passerby the way to the nearest gas station. He says, “I think a left turn will get you there.” Then he says,“I hope that’s right.” Would his directions satisfy you? Unless you have certainty about it, every mile down that road will increase your anxiety. People can really get sick worrying about the eternal safety of their souls! 

One poet expresses the value of the human soul this way: 

To lose your wealth is much. 
To lose your health is more. 
To lose your soul is such a loss 
That no man can restore. 

I want to show you three things from the Bible; the way of salvation (Acts 16:17), the knowledge of salvation (Lk. 1:77) and the joy of salvation (Ps. 51:12). A person might know the way of salvation without knowing for sure that he, himself, is saved. Also, he might know for sure that he is saved without having the joy that should accompany that knowledge.