salvation

What's More Important: Your Works or Your Words?

“Preach the Gospel at all times.  When necessary, use words.” 

The above quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi is one that many of us embrace as well as repeat to others. It does underscore our need as Christians to be ‘doers of the Word’ whose actions should always demonstrate our love for God and commitment to live in accordance with His will. But all too often we also like the quote because it gives us a justification for not speaking out and sharing the gospel with words, words that well may offend others. But words are necessary to pierce hearts with the truth, set people free from lies, and have the power to lead to salvation. None of us wants to offend anyone. But the truth is that the gospel IS an offense, and we have been commanded by Jesus to proclaim—or preach— the gospel with words, not just glorify Him by our actions as revealed when Jesus told His disciples to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Matthew 5:16; Matthew 16:15) In fact, when we make the focus on our actions rather than upon the finished work of Jesus on the cross, it easily becomes a man rather than God centered gospel. Our actions—no matter how ‘good’— will always be insufficient because there is only One Person Who has ever lived a perfect life and Whose life revealed the truth of Who God is. 

The ‘truth that sets people free’ is the gospel that exalts Jesus and what He did on our behalf, and the Word says that when He is lifted up—not our actions—that men will be drawn to Him, the Source of salvation (John 12:32). Jesus’ actions most definitely testified to the truth of Who God is, but very importantly, He also spoke the truth and said He came to earth for the purpose of testifying to the truth (John 18:37). He is the ‘Living Word made flesh’, and His words were an even greater offense than His actions (John 1:1,14; Matthew 15:11-12; John 6:59-61) It was His claim to be the Son of God, and the only way to be reconciled to God the Father, that most offended people and led them to crucify Him (John 10:30-33; John 14:6). That truth offended the people in the days when He walked as a man on earth, and His faithful followers should be aware that when they share that same truth they too will offend others. However, it is only by speaking the truth of Who Jesus is and what He came to earth to do that others will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus and put their faith in what He did to set them free from the penalty and power of their sin.

We have been commanded to preach the word because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:14-17 ESV (boldness added)

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Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul penned much of the New Testament and wrote not only the passage above from Romans, he also wrote the passage below in 1 Corinthians where he highlights that the focus is not to be on us as human vessels, but upon Who Jesus is and what He has done:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV (boldness added)


What is the power of God? God lets us know that it is His Word!  (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 1 Peter 1:23; John 17:17; Isaiah 55:11; Isaiah 40:8) Specifically, the word of the gospel which has the power to save!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 ESV

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

Paul exhorts us to know the Word and to speak the Word. He also warns us that the truth will not always be well-received, but we are to share it anyway, and to be willing to endure suffering as we do the work of an evangelist.

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2-5 ESV

It takes effort to be prepared ‘in and out of season’ to share the truth of God’s Word, and all too often we are lazy Christians. If we have a greater ‘fear of man’ than we do a reverent awe and fear of God, we won’t ‘preach, reprove, rebuke, exhort, admonish and teach’ others, because the ‘truth that sets the captives free’ is also foolishness and an offense to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18;23). 

I was talking with someone the other day who ‘after push came to shove’ reluctantly said he believed Jesus died for his sin. But he quickly followed up that statement by saying that he would never try to ‘convert’ anyone else because he had no right to tell someone else that their belief was wrong. He revealed in that statement that he clearly doesn’t believe that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’; that ‘the wages of sin is death’; and that all will experience the wrath of God unless ‘they confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead’. (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10) My question to him and to anyone else who doesn’t want to share the gospel with others is this: If you truly believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection delivered you from a death sentence, how can you remain silent? If you committed a felony and were condemned to die and your brother stepped in and took your place on the electric chair and died the death you deserved to die, wouldn’t you tell others about that kind of love? Or, if you were in a burning building and knew there was only one way to safety, would you remain silent for fear of offending others in the burning building with the truth that there was only one way out if they wanted to be saved? 

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An unwillingness to share the gospel is an indication of one of two things: 1)You don’t believe the truth of the Word of God that you are a sinner under the penalty of death and can only be saved by faith in Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection or 2) You love yourself more than you love God, and more than you love others. If you really loved God, you’d be willing to ‘lay down your life’ and risk offending others in order to obey His command to share the gospel so that those He loves would hear the truth that has the power to save them.  And, if you love others as God has loved you, you will be willing to accept the risk of offending them in this life so that they can know Jesus, the One and Only Way to have abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven.

It’s important for us to know that our works can never save anyone; only the finished work of Jesus on the cross can! People you know desperately need to hear from you what Jesus’ death and resurrection has purchased for them. Your ‘good works’ can point the way to Jesus because if your life has been transformed people are going to pay attention and want to hear why you love in a world full of hate, why you forgive those who do the unforgivable to you, why you live in every way counter to our sinful culture. Your good works are designed to glorify God and to draw people to want to listen to the gospel you preach (Matthew 5:16), but it is only in hearing the words of the gospel that people will be set free from their sin and accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. Let us never be ashamed of the gospel which alone has the power to save!

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 ESV

Lord, release me from all fear of man and the deception that my ‘good works’ have the power to save anyone! Increase my love for You and for others and give me a vision of eternity so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I will boldly proclaim the gospel, which alone has the power to save! May I never be ashamed of You Who willingly laid down your life for me! In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

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8 Signs That You Are Born Again

As I was reminiscing with my husband about how much our lives have changed over the almost 39 years of our marriage, the Lord brought to my remembrance that this is the year of my 25th birthday! You may question my sanity or my math when I say that I’ve been married almost 39 years and yet I’ll be celebrating only my 25th birthday: How is that possible? It’s because it wasn’t until 25 years ago that I was ‘born again’, which is when I experienced a ‘new birth’ and truly began to live the life for which I was created!

You may have heard the words ‘born again’ and wondered, “What does that really mean?” The phrase comes from John 3:3-6:

Jesus answered him, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.”

 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born, can he?”  Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. AMP

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It is clear from this passage that it is critically important that we know what it means to be ‘born again’-- as well as assured that we have been-- if we desire to see and experience the kingdom of God.

How did I know that I was indeed ‘born again’? When I humbled myself, put my faith in Jesus, and turned my life over to Him, I immediately experienced a freedom, peace, and joy that I had never known before, and that is still with me today! I look back over my life and see that although my personality may be the same as it was before, so much of my life has changed—and ALL for the better-- since that day in November of 1993 when I released my hold on my life and gave it back to God, its rightful ‘owner’ (1 Corinthians 6:20). ‘Who I am’ was transformed when I realized ‘Whose I was’.

 Scripture tells us that when we place our faith in Jesus as our personal Savior, we actually become joined together with Him; we are ‘born of the Spirit’ and become a ‘new creature’. With His Spirit living and at work in us, …’the old things’ pass away, and ‘new things’ come.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life]. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 AMP

By God’s grace, I can testify that I have experienced all of the changes listed below. Are you able to testify to these changes in your own life?

8 Signs that You Have Been Born Again:

1. Your desires change: You no longer ‘crave’ the things this world values, instead, your desire is to live for God’s glory and His pleasure (Isaiah 43:7). You long to please God and to demonstrate your love for Him by obeying His commands and doing the works He created you to do (John 14:15; Ephesians 2:10). You desire to honor Him in thought, word, and deed and to make Him known to others who also are in need of the peace, joy, love, and freedom that only He can provide. Seeking God and His kingdom and 'walking by His Spirit' becomes your priority instead of living to satisfy the desires of your flesh.  (Matthew 6:33; Galatians 5:16)

2.  Your vision changes: Your eyes become fixed upon what is unseen rather than upon what is seen, or in others words upon what is eternal rather than temporal. (2nd Corinthians 4:18) You gain a ‘God-view’ versus ‘man’s view’ of the world, which provides you with revelation, understanding and wisdom. You look at people and situations through the lens of scripture, no longer focusing your attention upon outward appearances, but instead looking at the hearts of people (1 Samuel 16:7). You realize that God can be trusted with your personal life-- as well as the world situation--because you ‘see’ God ruling and reigning over all of the earth! (Colossians 1:15-17; Romans 8:29-31;Psalm 47:8; Psalm 103:19)

3. Your mind changes: You are given a new mind, the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)  Your mind is renewed as you read His Word that reveals His Character and His ways, and enables you to discern what is the ‘good, pleasing, perfect will of God’. (Romans 12:2) Instead of the rebellious, self-focused, worldly thoughts you had before knowing God, His thoughts will become your thoughts, and His ways your ways! (Isaiah 55: 8-9; Philippians 2:5)

4.  Your heart changes: You are also given a new heart. (Ezekiel 36:26). The heart is the seat of emotions, and you will find that you will love what God loves, and you will hate what God hates. He loves righteousness, and He gave us His commandments for our good so that we can live righteous lives that are filled with freedom from every bondage, peace, and joy. He also hates what is evil-- which is rebellion against His perfect will-- because He knows rebellion, which is sin, always leads to death and destruction and He is the Giver and Sustainer of Life. (Luke 10:27; Amos 5:15; Psalm 97:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Matthew 5:43-44) God loves all of His creation, and as your heart becomes more and more like His heart, you too will love others ‘as Christ has loved you’, even those who persecute you and are your enemies. (Matthew 5:43-44)

5.  Your words change: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks’ (Luke 6:45); so since you gain a new heart when you are ‘born again’, what comes out of your mouth changes too.  Blessings rather than curses will pour forth from your mouth! You will sing praises to God, and offer up prayers to Him and for His people. (Psalm 7:17; 35:28; 71:15; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18) ‘Rivers of living water’, wise, and just words will pour forth from your mouth that will be a fountain of life to others! (John 7:38; Proverbs 10:11; 21;Psalm 37:30)

6. Your hearing changes: You will have ‘ears to hear’ and know the voice of Jesus Your shepherd Who will protect, lead, and guide you into ‘paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake’. (Psalm 23; John 10:4; 14; 16; 27) You will hear the convicting as well as comforting and encouraging voice of the Holy Spirit Who will lead you into all truth; (John 14:26; John 16: 7-11; 13) and you will be able to hear the voice of the Father as He pronounces His words of love over you. (Zephaniah 3:17)

7.  Your family and friendships change:  You are born into a ‘new family’, the family of God-- made up of other believers in Jesus from 'every tongue, tribe and nation' from all over the world and throughout history. That doesn’t mean you are to ‘discard’ your family of origin, but that you have also been given the gift of a new family who shares your love for the Lord--something your family of origin may or may not share—who can come alongside you and encourage you to grow in your knowledge, understanding, and love for the Lord! It is important that you surround yourself with fellow believers who can ‘spur’ you on to ‘love and good deeds’ (Hebrews 10:24), and who can encourage you, especially as you see the Day of Christ’s return approaching. (Hebrews 10:25) In addition, although you will pray for and share the gospel with former friends who are living in rebellion toward God, you will limit your interactions with them in order to be careful not to do as they do, knowing that ‘bad company ruins good morals’. (1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV)

8. Your actions and attitudes change: You will ‘bring forth the fruit that is keeping with your repentance’ (Matthew 3:8). You will be a ‘doer of the Word’ who proves that your faith is indeed alive (James 1:22; 2:17, 26). It will become apparent that it is ‘no longer you who lives, but Christ who lives in you by faith’ (Galatians 2:20) and that He empowers you to do the will of the Father, even when ‘your flesh’ doesn’t ‘feel like’ obeying God. You will bear the fruit of the Spirit that is at work and living inside you: you will operate in His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) You will help those who are in need (Isaiah 1:17); you will go and share the gospel and make disciples (Matthew 28:19); and in general, you will ‘offer your body as a living sacrifice’ (Romans 12:2) in imitation of Christ Who offered up His life for your sake. (Philippians 2:1-11; Ephesians 5:1-2) Even in the face of death you can have peace, knowing that the same Spirit that overcame death is alive in you, and therefore death has lost its 'sting' and 'has been swallowed up in victory'!(1 Corinthians 15:54)

Have you truly been ‘born again’? Are you experiencing the victorious life that Jesus promises when you entrust your life to Him and allow His Spirit to live through you? If not, you can by confessing your sin to God and by asking Him to come in and completely take over your life! I can assure you that He will be faithful to give you all of the above—and so much more!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

 

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What Would Jesus Do About the Zimmerman Verdict?

Everyone seems to have an opinion regarding the George Zimmerman trial and the recent verdict rendered for his shooting of Trayvon Martin. Many voices are protesting and some are defending the verdict, but there is only one Voice we should seek to hear and to which we should respond. That is the voice of Jesus. And it isn’t just about asking the question, “What would Jesus do?”, but also looking at what Jesus has already done to address this situation.

Although there is nothing wrong with seeking justice and hoping for it from our earthly elected and appointed judges, we cannot expect to have perfect justice until Jesus rules and reigns in His coming kingdom.Jesus is the only truly Just Judge. Psalm 9:7-8 states, “The Lord reigns forever; He has established His throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.” Jesus alone knows our heart motives and He alone is able to— and will— judge our ‘secrets’, our hidden thoughts and actions. (Romans 2:16)

A jury of his peers found George Zimmerman to be innocent; we may never know the full story while on this earth.He is going to have to stand before Jesus and give an account of all that he has done in his life, including the shooting of Trayvon.And Trayvon will also have to give an account before Jesus of what he did in this incident as well as throughout his whole life. As will the judge and jurors in that courtroom. And so will you, me, and every person who has ever lived.

Have you asked yourself what positive thing can possibly come from the division that is arising in our nation in the aftermath of this verdict?We know that, “If a kingdom is divided against itself it cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24) We need to move on and accept the reality that the verdict in this case has been issued; life on this earth may not always seem fair to us, but God is always the ultimate Judge and He always judges rightly.

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The person who received the most unjust verdict that ever has been rendered was Jesus. He laid down His life and willingly accepted the masses’ cry to “Crucify Him!”, and He surrendered to judge Pontius Pilate’s verdict that kowtowed to the religious leaders and the crowd. Why? Because it was the will of His Heavenly Father who loves you and me and all of mankind so much that He sacrificed His son—whose spotless blood was the only acceptable payment for your sin and for mine. Jesus’ death was the only way for us sinners—children of wrath— to be reconciled to a Holy God. Jesus’ love for His Father and for us led Him to humble Himself and to accept the unjust verdict of mankind.

There will come a time when each one of us will have to stand alone before Jesus and He will render His judgment of our guilt or innocence. He is the only one who can judge us perfectly because He took the place on the cross that should have been yours and mine. He paid the price for our sins. All who put their trust in Jesus and His finished work on the cross will be declared “innocent” before God and receive everlasting life with Him. Those who refuse to believe in Jesus and to put their trust in what He did on the cross for them will be declared “guilty” and be condemned to everlasting separation from God in Hell.

Rather than focusing so much attention on the Zimmerman verdict that Jesus alone knows whether it was just, it is of far, far greater and eternal importance that we focus our attention on the verdict that we will receive when each of us stands alone before Jesus on the Day of Judgment.

God, rich in mercy but also just, does not force the priceless gift of salvation He purchased for mankind on anyone.We must choose to receive it.“But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.“ John 1:12 (Amplified version)

Are you confident that you will be declared “innocent” before Jesus? *What about those whom you love?Do you need to share the life-transforming message of Jesus’ sacrificial death to pay for man’s sin with anyone you know so that they too can be assured of an “innocent” verdict?

* If you are not confident you would be declared “innocent”, you can be.Please contact me at Julie@trueviewministries.org for more information on this vital subject.

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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Do You Have a Plan?

God is a planner and He requires you to bring the F.A.I.T.H. to His plan of Salvation:

F is for forgiveness- We cannot have eternal life and heaven without God’s forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7)

A is for Available- Forgiveness is available.  It is available to all, but not automatic (John 3:16, Matthew 7:21)

I is for Imperfect- We are sinful in our nature and that sin separates us from God.  (Romans 3:23)

T is for Turn- Turn means to repent of our sin                                              

Turn from sin and self   (Luke 13:3)

Turn to Christ only (Romans 10:9)

H is for Heaven- Heaven is eternal life

Here (John 10:10) and Hereafter (John 14:3) 

How can a person have God’s forgiveness, heaven and eternal life, and Jesus as personal Savior and Lord?  By trusting in Christ and asking Him for forgiveness.  Take the step of faith described by another acronym of FAITH: Forsaking All I Trust Him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner.  I believe You died for my sin and only through faith in Your death and resurrection can I be forgiven.  I want to turn from my sin and ask You to come into my life as my Savior and Lord.  Help me Lord, From this day on, to follow You and live a life that brings You glory and pleases You.  Thank You, Lord Jesus for saving me.  Amen.

After I received God’s Holy Spirit into my heart my life was transformed.  I was greatly encouraged and began to learn God’s Word by finding a church, getting involved in bible study and creating a prayer time in my daily routine.  

Are you certain if you died right now where you would spend eternity?

Written by Jamie Shaver

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