Verse 3 of II Timothy, Chapter 2 reminds disciples that we are also soldiers. A soldier is one who must be disciplined. It is essential to his mission that he be disciplined. God admonishes discipline of children, done properly, and He also wisely disciplines His children. God's Spirit, using God's Word, will discipline God's soldiers. Verses1-2 of the same chapter tell us our mission as soldiers. Let's explore some of the implications of our mission. First, we must study constantly our Soldiers' Manual (i.e; the Bible). This is where our discipline begins and shows us how it is to be developed, day by day. Secondly, our theater of operations, our "mission" field, until God assigns or re-assigns us elsewhere, is right where we are, (unless it is contrary to the instructions in our manual). Thirdly, our uniforms and weapons and their use are outlined in Ephesians 6 of our manual. The enemy is all around us, not to mention the strongholds that he has established within us. We need to bring down those strongholds. (See II Corinthians 10, in the manual). We need to capture as many of the enemy as we can, but not by force. When we bring our manual to bear on our enemies, energized by our Commander-in-Chief, many can be won over and be "bound to Him eternally by love's strong cords." No true disciple wants to be AWOL! Selah! Keep in mind that your conduct as a soldier can influence the enemy negatively or positively. If positive, he may defect to the winning side. Wouldn't that be something?! Ron
"Fight the good fight of faith,.." (From I Timothy 6:12).
When we are made an offer, we naturally want to know what is in the fine print before we accept. Our responsibility in giving the offer of salvation is to make the terms clear and understood. With that in mind, let's consider what needs to be understood. We are, even if we are in denial, sinful and we sin (Romans 3:23). This sin can't be allowed into Heaven. Jesus suffered and died to pay the penalty for our sin and sins. He offers us a perfect righteousness, His, not ours! (Romans 6:23; 4:6) The channel for God's offer to be given to us is faith. (John 3:16) This faith is such that we believe the facts (to do this is a decision, not some vague, nice, abstract, feeling) and then act on these facts by yielding our lives to His control. It is not of works, no matter how good these works might be (Ephesians 2:8-9). Even faith is not a work, but a gift of God's that we can decide to use in order to respond to Him. We take Him, as "Lord" (Romans 10:13). Don't ever try to separate His Lordship from His Saviorhood. Works do not bring salvation, but salvation produces good works. There isn't even any merit in our making the right decision. God enables us to decide for or against receiving His salvation. Is the potential convert ready to surrender his or her rights to order their own lives and yield to His ordering of their lives? If not, they are not ready to take advantage of the offer. Selah! Let's not make the eternal mistake of softening God's demands! Ron
"Believe on ( take God at His Word and trustingly yield to) the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
Imagine a conversation within the Godhead. It begins with the plan to create man. A discussion follows and it is determined to give the first man and woman a test to see if, of their own free will, they will obey God or do their own thing. Knowing that they would fail, a salvage operation is provided for, but what infinite cost it would require to accomplish! The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus! He came and provided the way of salvation. He went through infinite suffering and died in an excruciatingly painful way. Now the conversation continues, "If a human being will agree to the truth of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection, he or she will be O.K. forever. It would be nice, if they learned to obey us now. However, that's optional. If they will accept the facts, their behavior can continue as it always has or they can live right, if they want to do so." Ridiculous!! Of course it is! Yet, isn't this a fair assessment of the implications of many of our evangelistic appeals today? Believe the facts and your "in." We'll worry about the rest, later. Why are we afraid to point out that the faith that God is calling for demands a surrender of our wills and lives to His control? Could it be because, if we do point this out, we'll scare people off from being saved? Jesus wasn't afraid to lose a potential convert, if that person wasn't serious about his or her need. Is it just possible that the carnal activity in many of our churches is found in the lives of those who were only mentally converted, not Spiritually reborn? Selah! Consider the shock when a person stands before God and finds out that they only thought they were saved! Let's tell them the whole truth! Ron
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;.." (II Corinthians 13:5)
How should the offer of salvation be made? Stop by tomorrow.
No true minister of the Gospel would be apt to intentionally "water down" the way of salvation. That, however, doesn't stop the enemy of our souls from "pulling the wool over the eyes" of some well-intentioned and sincerely motivated preachers. In a desire to see souls saved or to see visible results, in terms of people being converted, could any of us have made the mistake of making the offer of salvation too simple? As pointed out in previous articles, it is not enough to just mentally agree with the facts of the Gospel. Conversion is a result of our responding to the Holy Spirit's conviction of our sinfulness and opening our hearts and lives, not just our minds, to the Savior. Any teaching that we can be saved without our lives, values, attitudes, and behavior being changed by the Holy Spirit's working through the Word of God may produce a false assurance of security in some people's minds. Make no mistake, gradually or sometimes suddenly, there will be change. There certainly can be and often is a crisis initial experience. There has to be, one way or another, a moment in time when one turns to Jesus and experiences Him as Savior and at that moment begins coming to terms with His Lordship. Some will yield to His Lordship rapidly, others more slowly, but yield all true converts will do! Good works (holiness of heart and life) are the inevitable outcome of a true work of grace in a human being's life. Selah! When we invite people to "come to Christ," failure to make sure that they understand that they are surrendering their lives to Him and trusting Him for salvation is short of being completely honest. Ron
"…for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made (acknowledging that Jesus is our Savior) unto (giving evidence of the reality of our) salvation" (Romans 10:10).
"Feel" is a very misused word. When we stop and think about it, it really means to touch something or run your hand(s) over it to see how it feels. It is often used now to refer to our emotional state (i.e; good feelings like joy or bad feelings like sorrow). It doesn't require much thought to realize that these kinds of "feelings" can change rapidly. We also know that bad "feelings" can have a paralyzing effect on our ability to function. We warned back along that basing our faith or lack thereof on our "feelings" instead of on the facts of God's Word can result in instability in our Christian life. Should we conclude from this that we need to be without "feelings?" Are we to work at becoming a fact machine? (Machines do not have "feelings"). By no means! Healthy emotions are the result of believing, obeying, and applying the facts of God's Word. Example: "…joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth,.." (From Luke 15:7). Repentance is based on a knowledge of what God says about our sins and a realization that our sinfulness has offended a Holy God and we are convicted of our need to repent and we make a decision to believe God and to change, depending on Him to help us do that. Out of this comes joy, not only in Heaven but in our inner being also. Holy behavior in our Christian life produces healthy emotions. To put it another way, the Holy Spirit brings us to the truths of Scripture and when we obey and apply these truths, we begin to see Him produce the fruit of the Spirit in us which includes among other things, joy. Selah! When we act on the basis of God's Word, as we would on the basis of a legal contract, the blessings guaranteed in His Word become a thrilling reality and fill us with joy and peace. Ron
"For the kingdom of God is…righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (From Romans 14:17)
There appears to be a permeating lethargy in the church today. We move slowly along, as if we are in a daze. There is a missing excitement in many lives. Could this be, in part, because the reality of Jesus and the wonder of salvation haven't really gripped us? Have we been the victims of too much familiarity? We have heard the old, old story so often presented as facts to be accepted that we have responded to that thrilling message as if it were only a fairy tale to be listened to, instead of a dynamic experience to be lived. "Once upon a time…" A long time ago, far away, a nice story, not real, of course. "…and they lived happily ever after." Now, enough of that, we have to get busy in the real world! Have we only allowed this amazing life-transforming gift to charm us and inform us but not revolutionize our lives and change us radically? Those who have caught the "wonder of it all" will have something that is contagious, something that others can catch. Are you content to only store facts away in the back of your mind, or are you ready to move into a depth of relationship with Him unlike anything you have ever had up to this point? Let me urge you to make a commitment to seek that kind of relationship as the number one priority in your life! Selah! What is anywhere near as important as knowing Him, in a real and deeply personal way? Ron
"…for to me to live is Christ,…." (From Philippians 1:21) Is it?
I want to focus on three thought provoking questions for a disciple to ask himself or herself.
1). Am I excited about and thrilled with the Lord? Whatever we really enjoy and/or invest a lot of our time in will result in our expressing our excitement to others. Example: For most, if their favorite sports team wins, they will make sure that others will know about it.
2). Do I really love the Lord? Doing something for someone we love is not a drag but a pleasure. It's not hard to extol the qualities of someone we love. We also want to learn all about the person we love. Example: A young man will willingly do for a girl that he is "taken with," things that his mother has been trying to persuade him to do for years.
3). Objectively evaluating my Spiritual progress, is there discernable growth? Too many Christians assume that if they are doing their duty and/or have nice "feelings" that they are growing Spiritually. What evidence is there of growth? Example: Analyzing your heart, can you clearly discern greater love for the Lord. Can you see an intensifying interest in the Bible. Can you point to increasing desire and determination to obey him. Do you discover a longing for a holy life and are you motivated to maintain a Godly lifestyle. Are things of the world are losing their grip on you?
Selah! Regarding example three, are we further along in these areas than last year at this time? Ron
"…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (From I Corinthians 10:31)