Works Versus Works!

Let’s start by looking at “dead” works. What are “dead” works? They are works that come about by self-effort, reformation and are defined by whatever code of morals that we have developed. We take pride in being “good” people. We look down on others whose standards are not as high as ours. We assume that since we are decent, caring, law-abiding people and our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds that God (if there is a God) will most certainly reward our good deeds with granting us Heaven. This is a weak illustration, but may help: I work hard, use great skill, create an artificial flower that is so well done that it seems to be real. I’m so sold on what I’ve done that it seems like I can smell the fragrance. The harsh reality is that there is no life in it; I have only produced something that is dead. God’s response to our “dead” works is found in Isaiah 64:6: “….all our righteousnesses (are) as filthy rags….” When our works come from God, He takes pleasure in what He has done “in’ and “through” us. God, the Holy Spirit, bringing God’s Word to bear on and in our lives, makes a “living” flower of His good works. Ephesians 2:10 speaks of this: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” As He works in our lives, He receives the glory; He alone deserves that glory! We would do well to pray the prayer that is given to us in the music of, “Let the Beauty of Jesus be Seen in Me,”- By Albert Orsborn: “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, all His wonderful passion and purity;  O my Savior divine, all my being refine, till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” The answer to this prayer, honestly prayed, will produce the fruits of righteousness! To God be the glory! Selah!  Let this verse from Fanny Crosby’s, “To God be the Glory,” be our experience: “Great things He has taught us, great things He has done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son; but purer and higher and greater will be our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see!”  Ron

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The Source of Salvation

How would you explain salvation? Most would probably say: “You are saved by faith.” However, a close study reveals that that’s a misunderstanding. Ephesians 2:8 reveals the source of salvation: “For by grace are ye saved….” Titus also brings this out clearly: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Where does faith come into the picture? Let’s go back to Ephesians 2:8. Note the underlined: “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” How can we have faith? Faith is not something that we do! Continue in Ephesians 2:8 and again note the underlined: “….that not of yourselves: (it is) the gift of God.” God grants us a “measure” of faith. Romans 12:3 mentions: “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” In II Thessalonians 3:2, we read: “for all (men) have not faith.” Is this a contradiction? No, it’s a distinction. As best as I can, let me explain it this way: God offers to all a measure of faith. When a person receives that measure and starts to trust in His heart; when that trust grows, he or she experiences salvation. (A word of caution is needed: this kind of trust [faith] is not going to go away. It may be challenged, dimmed and wavering. If it is true faith, it will not stop trusting)! The “all” spoken of in the Thessalonian portion, as not having faith, are those who do not have “saving” faith. Their measure of faith is temporary. It is not acted on and vanishes.  These thoughts from Haldor Lillenas’ hymn, “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” underscores the source of our salvation: “Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled, by its transforming power, making him God’s dear child, purchasing peace and heaven for all eternity—and the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me. Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, deeper than the mighty rolling sea; higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain, all-sufficient grace for even me! Broader than the scope of my transgressions, greater far than all my sin and shame;  Oh, magnify the precious Name of Jesus, praise His Name!” Selah! God brings salvation and enables us to trust. Then, we can “savingly” trust. When we do, He works on, in, with and through us all through life.    Ron

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The Burial of Faith

I suggest that “faith” be buried, put away, forgotten! Now, before you organize a protest against any suspected heresy on my part, let James explain: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone (James 1:17). Dead faith is useless and should be buried so that it will not be relied upon as being “living faith.” Well, you might ask, “what is living faith?” “Living faith” is faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord! It is a faith that works. It is a faith that brings results. It is a faith in Jesus that is unconditional. Simply believing facts only adds to knowledge but changes nothing. The facts have to be acted on. If Jesus is to be our Savior, it’s obvious that we need to be saved from something and that “something” is sin. If He is our Lord, that means submitting to His Lordship. It means yielding the control of our lives to Him. The Holy Spirit, using God’s Word. initiates a lifelong process of saving us from sin’s power and influence and He motivates and strengthens us to live Godly and righteously. Living faith (genuine faith) will bring these results into our lives. Anything less will not do! However, dead faith is often called for by sincere believers. Wanting to make it simple for people to be saved, they teach and preach that believing the facts and receiving Jesus into your heart assures Heaven forever. Little or nothing is called for about a surrendering of our lives to Jesus. Until we do that, our “faith” is dead faith and leaves us spiritually dead. It is obvious from his hymn, All to Jesus, I Surrender,” that Judson W. Van De Venter understood “living” faith: “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live. All to Jesus I surrender, make me, Savior, wholly Thine; let me feel Thy Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine. All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee; fill me with Thy love and power, let Thy blessing fall on me. I surrender all, I surrender all; all to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” Selah! A “few” with “living” faith will  strengthen the church; many with only “dead” faith will weaken the church. Ron

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The Wonder of God and the Focus of Men

There are two choices that we can make about where we focus our time, money, energy, abilities and desires. We can focus on the wonder of God or on ourselves. We know, if Jesus is our Lord and Savior, that God’s wonder must come to be our supreme focus. How many times do we stop and evaluate if God is our primary focus? Do we acknowledge that He should be our focus and then slip into the routine (rut?) of making ourselves our primary focus? Easy to do and hard to change the focus on self. However, making Him the major focus of our lives is a discipline that is at the heart of true discipleship. For us to get the right focus and enjoy the view of God, sharply and clearly, requires self discipline. We must give quality time and effort to listening to Him, studying Him, learning about Him, etc. Top priority is time in His Word and authentic prayer. We are not only to think on Him, we are to worship, praise, love and appreciate Him. We need to discern His Presence and learn to gaze on His Person and glory. Once this focus is begun, there are other means to deepen our focus. We can learn from and be motivated by the lives of others who have become caught up in His wonder, His splendor, His glory and His grace. Jesus is the One Who enables us to truly “see” God. John understood! He wrote: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory….).” (From John 1:14). John also quoted Jesus: “….he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” (From John 14:9). This hymn expresses the wonder of His Person: “To Jesus ev’ry day I find my heart is closer drawn; He’s fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn; He’s all my fancy pictured in its fairest dreams and more; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. His glory broke upon me when I saw Him from afar; He’s fairer than the lily, brighter than the morning star; He fills and satisfies my longing spirit o’er and o’er; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. My heart is sometimes heavy, but He comes with sweet relief; He folds me to His bosom when I droop with blighting grief, I love the Christ who all my burdens in His body bore; each day He grows still sweeter than He was the day before. The half cannot be fancied, this side the golden shore; O there He’ll be still sweeter than He ever was before.” (“Still Sweeter Every Day,”-By William C. Martin). Selah! “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to (give) the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). Our focus cannot be on the world and ourselves, and on God at the same time! You and I must determine which is to be our highest focus!   Ron

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Two Kinds of Contentment

The right kind of contentment is a blessing. The wrong kind can be “numbing” and rob you of purpose. For the sake of this article let’s think in terms of positive and negative contentment. Negative contentment is characterized by attitudes like these: “You can’t change it, so live with it!” “Whatever will be, will be!” “So just go with the flow!” Only a genuine Christian can really have ongoing positive contentment. This kind is characterized by these responses: Paul: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, (therewith) to be content” (Philippians 4:11). The Psalmist: “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). Paul to Timothy: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (I Timothy 6:8). This is not a blind trust to avoid reality but confidence in the love, control, wisdom and faithfulness of God. Our Heavenly Father knows when to give and when not to give. Al Smith reminds us in his hymn by this name, “Surely He Will Care for You,” that He will take care of His own: “Why do you let the troubles of tomorrow bring sorrow to your heart, and burdens too? For if the Father’s eye is on the sparrow, then surely He will care for you. He knoweth and careth, each burden He beareth;  For if the Father’s eye is on the sparrow, then surely He will care for you.” Selah! Remember that to worry is a breach of trust. We’ve been wisely taught that “Worry is assuming responsibility that God never intended us to have.” (From Institute in Basic Life Principles).     Ron

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The Fallacy of “Secret Sin”

The Fallacy of “Secret Sin”

September 13, 2017

No sin is private. It may be secret but it is not private.

It is a great error to hold, as some do, that each man’s conduct is his own business unless his acts infringe on the rights of others. “My liberty ends where yours begins” is true, but that is not all the truth. No one ever has the right to commit an evil act, no matter how secret. God wills that men should be free, but not that they be free to commit sin.

Sin is three-dimensional and has consequences in three directions: toward God, toward self and toward society. It alienates from God, degrades self and injures others. Adam’s is the classic example of a secret sin that overflowed to the injury of all mankind. History provides examples of persons so placed that their sins had wide and injurious effect upon their generation. Such men were Nero, Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin, to name but four. These men dramatized the destructive social results of personal sin; but every sin, every sinner injures the world and harms society, though the effects may be milder and less noticeable.

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like today if Napoleon had become a Christian when he was in his teens? Or if Hitler had learned to control his temper? Or if Stalin had been tenderhearted? Or if Himmler had fainted at the sight of blood? Or if Goebles had become a missionary to Patagonia? Or if the twelve men in the Kremlin should get converted to Christianity? Or if all businessmen should suddenly turn honest? Or if every politician should stop lying?


My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes


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Tools or Traps?

I find it interesting that many good things with which we are blessed can be great tools or great traps. Consider these examples: movies can be educational; they can give wholesome entertainment; they can help spread the gospel. It is the same with books. On the other hand, these can teach error, focus our affections on worldly things or just occupy an inordinate amount of our time. One of these blessings seems to have a much greater impact as a tool or a trap. I have technologies in mind. Computers, I-Pads, smart phones, etc. can help us in many ways and are wonderful inventions with many good uses. However, far too many of us have become entrenched in the cyber world and lost sight of the real world. Have we become so engrossed in technological fascination that this has taken our minds off of God and the things of God? Have we focused on gadgetry? In Colossians 3:1-2, Paul’s inspired admonition may be needed even more in our day: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Are we to “use” these blessings from God? Again, Paul offers balance: “And they that use this world, as not abusing (it): for the fashion of this world passeth away (I Corinthians 7:31). Helen H. Lemmel’s hymn. “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” has a wonderful chorus that speaks clearly to today’s subject: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Selah! Yes, God gives us good things as tools; let us not allow them to become traps”  Ron


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