Jesus Gives Greater Salvation

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” – Hebrews 2:1-4

Have you ever been on a road that had a sign that read, “Warning! Falling Rocks Next 8 Kilometers?” You know that sign is there because at one time someone felt the carnage of a falling rock.

Attention! These verse tell the first of five warnings mentioned in the letter to the Hebrews. This particular warning is for those who intellectually know Jesus saves, but are spiritually uncommitted to him. These people are in grave danger of drifting away from what they know (cf. Mt. 7:21-23). In the end the Rock will fall as be their Judge rather than their Savior (10:26-27).

The cure for spiritual drift is to acknowledge the warning sign and heeds its good news. Step towards Jesus, not away from him. Hear what Jesus has already declared (v.3b), hear what his followers have attested (v.3c), regard the marvelous signs and wonders Jesus has done (v.4a), and witness the work and gifts of the Holy Spirit (v.4b). When you consider each of those categories, how could you drift from what you know or consider any other promise of salvation is so great?

 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What things cause us to meander from what we know will truly save? (Mt. 13:18ff)
  • What does it mean to neglect (vs. reject) such a great salvation? (Mt. 22:5)
  • What are the dangers of neglecting salvation? How is Jesus both Judge and Savior?
  • What makes salvation through Jesus so great?
  • How can you protect yourself from drifting?
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shakamak

Wow, I am still trying to catch up on sleep from Shakamak Bible Camp this past week!!

All I can say is AWESOME. That word totally gets over used and has diminished in value, but it truly expresses who God is and what He accomplished this week at Camp.

Great speakers: Pink Davis delivered some passionate theology in the AM on redemption, reconciliation, and regeneration. Jason Thompson clearly proclaimed in the PM the awesomeness of God in salvation and security.

Great Counselors: the counselors really made my “el director” duties rather easy. They stepped it up and were right in there getting muddy with the teens.

Great Teens: we had near 220 campers and 120 senior camps. Nothing to whine about…they were incredibly fun, attentive and boisterous.

Great God: overall over a dozen committed their lives to Christ for the first time, and many dealt with specific sins in their life that they’ve been struggle with!!

Thanks for another great week of summer camp!

i HOPE so

Hope. It is one of those words that has lost its meaning. True? Hope used to mean a strong or urgent anticipation of the future. For example “I hope Christ will come soon to really take me home”. However, through time words have either increased or decreased in meaning. Hope is one that has decreased. “Jimmy, do you think you’re going to heaven when you die?” And the answer, “I hopeso”.
 
I hope so? More like I don’t know-so or I don’t care-so. I mean, who cares about Heaven…I am concerned about the NOW, today. And do I really know if I am going to heaven? Who knows? Yikes, do you realize what I just said?
 
Your definition of ‘hope’ is seen in and through your life. Hope. Believes the best is yet to come. It is confident in the reality of the future. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
 
C.S. Lewis said, “the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” (Mere Christianity, 134) Sure we have heard it said that someone could be too Heavenly minded to be any earthly good. Is this really true? I beg you to think not. We cannot hope enough for the afterworld because it will affect how we live in this world. “Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”
 
We have been trained to think in this world. Heaven is one of those places that doesn’t seem appealing. I desire to marry, have a family to raise, career to boost, vacation to take…there is no time or thought of Heaven yet. Sure I will be reunited with friends and family, but who wants to strum a harp and sit on clouds all day. Sounds silly, eh? That really isn’t what Heaven is about. Is it?
 
Answer these questions and Heaven becomes more appealing. Do I deserve to go there? (Rom.5:2; 2 Cor.1:10) How do I get there? Do I get to take anything with me? (Eph.1:18; Lam.3:1-19) Will He be there? Will I see Him? (Titus 2:13) Will I ever get off of my face worshipping Him? (Rev.19:1-10) This world is not my home; I’m just passing through.
 
Father, give me a taste of what is to come, so that I might crave it more.
 
Heaven. Hope. I HOPE so.

 

Did God die for You?

A look at Limited Atonement.

Warning: This may be deep

Limited Atonement is perhaps one of the most controversial teachings within John Calvins Institutes:

. . . Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam, are redeemed in Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. (Ch. III, sec. 6)

For starters Limited Atonement needs to be defined, Limited atonement is the theological position, which states that Christ saving work on the cross saved somemen of their sins before the foundations of the world. These men are known as the predestined, chosen or elect.To atone for sin is to clear sin from a person. “Atone” or “Atonement” in the Bible is primarily the Hebrew word “kaphar.” “Kaphar” means “to cover over,” “to pacify,” or “to make propitiation for.” “Propitiation” (“hilasmos”) in the New Testament means “to appease.” In 1 John 2:2, if by, “He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world,”.

Why is Limited Atonement so controversial?

There are two basic views of Christs work in salvation:

1.        Armenians (freewillers or Universalists) Christ died for ALL men & man has the ability to chose to believe or not.

2.        Calvinist (God wills; He is sovereign) Christ died for SOME men & God knew before hand all who would believe.

It might be a cop-out or not academic to say that I can support both from Scripture. Who says, you have to fall into one camp or the other? Who can say, one theological position out-weighs the other?The sovereignty of God is seen all throughout Scripture. God is in control, all knowing, infinite, and rules over all that He has made. There is no question that God could save all men or some men, or cause all or some men to believe in His sacrifice. He is God; He can do as He pleases. He has elected/predestined some to salvation. But even within Scripture you see a balance within His character. Mans sin unleashes Gods wrath, but Gods grace unleashes His salvation to man. To say that Gods saving and sacrificing work on the cross only saved a selected few is a contrary look at Gods own character. I will not argue salvation is all the work of God. Salvation is 100 complete sovereign work of God. He is through and through within the beginning work of justification (regeneration, reconciliation and redemption), sanctification (progressively making man more like Himself after salvation), and glorification (perfecting man to be completely like Him after death). For example, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16), or “No man can come unto Me, except it were given him of my Father” (John 6:65).It is not belittling to God or the message of the gospel to say that man has a choice in the matter of His eternal destiny. In fact, it is honoring and glorifying Gods grace. God demonstrated His love to man by sending His Son, and man demonstrates His love for God by accepting His Son. Faith is a concept communicated all throughout Scripture (Rom.5, 8; Eph.2). Faith is buying into Gods impossible and unexplainable grace.As I exegete or study the original language in context, it is clear that our Scriptures present far too many passages in that speak clearly of the grace, love and justice of God to justify the view that the Atonement was limited in its intention to a chosen few persons. I cannot honestly present the Gospel to the world at large or to my next-door neighbor unless I am convinced that God really desires the salvation of all men equally.

Such a verse as John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish,” is surely without limitation in its implication. And such passages as those which speak of Christ as the “Savior of the world” (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14), or “the Savior of all men” (1 Timothy 4:10), or as the one who gave Himself to be “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2), or which affirm that He is “the bread of God which comes down from heaven and gives life unto the world” (John 6:33, 51), are so all-encompassing as to defy the concept of a salvation is confined to the elect of God while the vast majority of men are passed by. Statements like these, and there are many others, appear to prohibit placing limitations upon the intrinsic worth of that sacrifice or upon its intention in application.

 

Yet there are reasons to believe that another interpretation is possible, if not indeed more likely, both for these passages and others of a similar nature. That the Lord Jesus Christ should die for all, while only some avail themselves of his sacrifice, is surely to make a provision far greater than is required. It constitutes a kind of divine extravagance, which seems inappropriate in view of the appalling nature of the penalty paid in his own Person by the Lord Jesus. In the nature of the case the Father must have foreseen that the sacrifice of his Son would effectively have only limited application. It would seem only appropriate to make the payment limited accordingly: limited punishment to balance limited crime. The Lord Jesus pronounces this principle Himself when He said that the man whose offenses were few was to receive few stripes, whereas the man whose offenses were great was to receive many (Luke 12:47, 48). It is expected to say that the Lord’s sacrifice was sufficient for all, but efficient only for those who avail themselves of it. But to many people even this appears to be an evasion of the problem, a mere play upon words.

 

However, a careful reading of what Scripture does say about those for whom Christ died reinforces the impression that He did actually bear only the sins of his people, ‘You shall call his name Jesus for He shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)“The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep” (John 10:11)“Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25)Christ died for many(Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 20:28, 26:28), the church (Ephesians 5:25), the sheep (John 10:15), and those who will live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24)Certainly the implications here are clear enough. It might yet be true that He gave Himself for us, while still dying for other men also.

 

Paul is very specific when he says: “He gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us” (1:4). And again in Galatians 3:13: “Being made a curse for us,” to the end that we might receive the adoption of sons” (4:5). To the Roman Christians Paul wrote: “He was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). In writing to Titus, Paul said: “He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a special people” (Titus 2:14).

 

Peter wrote: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), a picture reflecting Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by his stripes we are healed.”     

 

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews said, “By Himself He purged our sins” (Hebrews 1:3)“having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). And in 1 John 4:9: “In this was manifest the love of God towards us because God sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.”

 

It might be argued that these passages were written to those who were already saved, yes, but that doesnt prove anything. The majority of these passages are references to what Christ has done and is still doing within the unbelieving world.

 

The Calvinistic and Armenian views of salvation are simply logical ways to explain an unexplainable theological issue. Theology doesnt always follow logic. For example, how does One God equal three Persons? Thats not logical to the finite mind of man. Why did God save all men? Why didnt God punish all men? These are questions we leave to God and do not need to define.

 

In conclusion, not out of ignorance, but out of conviction I walk the middle road. Gods sovereignty in salvation and mans acceptance are two important and parallel and proven truths within Scripture. These two truths are like two rails of a railroad track. The moment you try to deny one you derail the cars/truths. By Gods grace and by faith I believe that Jesus Christ paid my eternal debt and has forgiven me of sins that held me captive. To the praise and glory of His grace. (Eph.1).

 

it was all new to me

Who would have thought that this kid would have ever amounted to anything? He grew up in the “normal dysfunctional American home”. Lived with his grandparents while his mother work two jobs to financially support him. In his elementary years he was forced into a special classroom for students with attention deficits, and after school he would see a local psychologist because of his anger problems. This kid was mentally and spiritually messed up.

 

The only spirituality he knew of was growing up in the Roman Catholic Church his family had always attended. He was baptized as a baby, had his first communion and going through the motions of ritualistic worship week after week. He knew what to expect. And even with all this problems he thought to himself, “I’m okay.”

 

Until…his mother met a new man. He was unlike the other boyfriends she brought home. Mike was his name and he was a Christian. Mike’s church background was Charismatic, but like the boys mother was very unsatisfied with his church. Together after getting married they made a move to a smaller community north of Milwaukee, WI. This new family of three started a new life in their new surroundings. They visited a new church that would meet their spiritual needs, an independant-funamental-Bible-preaching-church. This certainly was a new thing for this boy, but he liked it. They opened the Bible and the people stayed to talk after church was over!

 

He soon made new friends at his school and church. He was opted out of needed special help because of so-called problems. His future was looking a little brighter. However, in Junior High School he made a few friends that became a negative influence on him. Again, his problems got him into trouble.

 

As his family continued to go to church, he noticed the makeup of his home beginning to change. His mother didn’t do the same things she did in the past, she talked differently and she began hanging up religious pictures on the walls of their home. He asked his mother, “why all the changes?” She responded, “Because Jesus has come into my heart, and has made me a new person.” The conversation ended there. But her words stuck in his head like sharp tack.

 

It was no later after that conversation with his mother that the pastor gave a strong message of the realities of hell. This boy who had the I-can-do-what-I-want-because-it-will-not-affect-me attitude, suddenly realize he wasn’t okay. He needed help. He needed forgiveness of sin. He needed to know for sure that he has okay, and going to heaven. On that hot summer night long after the church doors closed he laid in his bed pondering his own pride. He cries out to the Lord, “Father forgive me. I dont want to go to hell. I need Jesus. Help me to live like Him.” From this day on this boys life looked a lot brighter.

 

He was a new creation in Christ. He soon made new godly friends, started attending the churches youth group, and had a desire to be more like Christ. That desire turned into a reality as godly men discipled and led him through the Word of God. They challenged his mind to consider going into the ministry and they opened up for him opportunities to serve in his local church.

 

Who would have thought that this problematic, attention crazed kid would have graduated from Bible College, heading into the world to serve Christ?

 

This is the testimony of MY life and salvation.

 

the stable, the cross, and your soul

WHAT THE STABLE AND THE CROSS HAVE IN COMMON?     

 

THE STABLE…IS WHERE JESUS LAID WHEN BORN. Jesus Christ was born in a humble manger to common parents. While the birth of a child would normally be cause for great rejoicing, the joy this birth would bring is to be short lived. For you see, this child was born to die!

 

I can see this little Baby, lying “Away in A Manger”. I can almost hear Him coo; I can almost see Him jerk His arms, and feel His soft baby skin. Here He lays, “Immanuel” – God with us. Here He lays — God’s great gift to mankind. Here He lays — the perfect Sacrificial Lamb.

 

“Why must was this baby born to die?” The answer — OUR SINS. (1 Cor.15:3 “Christ died for our sins…”)             

 

And in the midst of the sin of the world is plunged a perfect Baby called Jesus! A star shone brightly on the night of Christ’s birth, but if we look closely, we can see a Cross looming in the shadows!

 

THE CROSS…IS WHERE JESUS HUNG WHEN HE DIED. Jesus was born with the shadow of the cross upon Him. With the shadow of the Cross upon His heart He learned to walk, He learned to talk, He learned to work.The shadow of the Cross was upon: When laid in Bethlehem with swaddling clothes; When He was working at the Nazareth carpenter shop; When He was praying in Gethsemane’s garden before being arrested; When Judas betrayed Him with a kiss; When Caiaphas condemned Him; When Herod mocked Him; When Pilate sentenced Him; When the Roman scourger whipped Him; When the Roman soldier crucified Him

 

The Cross is where Jesus died.  The Cross is where He died for your sins. “There is an empty cradle, an empty cross and if you do not know Jesus you have an empty soul.”

 

WHAT THE STABLE AND YOUR HEART HAVE IN COMMON?BOTH ARE PLACES GOD HAS CHOSEN FOR HIS SON TO ENTER. God made the choice of where Jesus was to be born before the foundation of he world (Gal.4:4-5; Eph.1:4). The Prophet Micah (5:2) had foretold the place of his birth 700 years prior. God has chosen your heart to dwell in (Jn.15:16; Acts 9:15; Eph.3:17)

 

BOTH ARE PLACES THAT ARE UNWORTHY OF DIVINE ROYALTY. Stables and Hearts are Dirty, Dark and Defiled places,(Jer.17:9; Isa.64:6; I Tim.1:15). Remember, the Prophet, Priest and King (and God) chose you (I Cor.1:27-28) There is no place on earth worthy of His presence (Rm.3:23) 

 

The birth of Christ means little or nothing to us if he has not been born in our heart”

Q: Do you believe in the Jesus’ message of the Stable and the Cross?Q: Have you invited Jesus into your soul?

 

What does the stable, cross and your soul has in common? They are empty without God.