Every Knee Shall Bow

We hear so much about “taking a knee” these days, that I almost get nauseated. Not too many years ago Tim Tebow was lambasted for bowing down on one knee and unashamedly thanking God for the strength, ability and privilege to play football, a game he dearly loved. He was hammered, ridiculed and even threatened. But nowadays it has become popular to take a knee to protest ‘social injustice’ and other political ideologies. This is all done at the expense of disrespecting our military men and women who fought, sacrificed and died for this beloved country. The national anthem and our U.S. flag are shunned and disrespected as well. Ungrateful, millionaire athletes who are blessed to live here and make more money than they could ever need, should be thankful for the opportunities they have. If someone doesn’t like it here in the United States, I suggest going to Iraq, Iran, Russia or North Korea and try their arrogant, disrespectful behavior and see how that works out for them.

In light of this, I would like to remind everyone of a future appointment that we all have to meet. I want to remind everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, of an unavoidable meeting that all humans have. There will come a day, that everybody will bow both knees, not in shameful disrespect and protest, but in complete and unconditional submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ as KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS! Also every tongue will unconditionally confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (See Romans 14:11). Even without the liberal news media cameras present, it will still happen. There will be no arguing and no protests. To those who reject Jesus’ free offer of salvation, it will be the last and most devastating decision they make. What people do with Jesus now will determine what He does with them on that day of final judgement. Jesus will either be your Savior or He must be your Judge. Read Revelation 20:15 to find out the rest of the story. May God have mercy on our blessed nation, that started so right, and now is ending up so wrong!

Sound The Alarm!

“Yeah all that will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV)

Recently my wife and I had a close call with a round of severe weather, which included a tornado. I will be the first to admit that I do not understand why some people and property are devastated and others escape the damage. I feel so badly every time there is loss of life, and/or property. I simply do not have a scriptural or human explanation. But all I am reporting is the miracle we experienced.

As we prayed and looked out the front door of our home, there was an ominous feeling, and the night was eerily quiet. It was still, humid and the air felt thick as the barometric pressure rapidly changed. The city’s warning sirens were blaring incessantly as the storm bore down upon us. I was monitoring the coverage being live streamed on my iPhone and we were ready to step into the safe place we had picked out. There was a debris field being detected by doplar radar, indicating the tornado was on the ground at some point. As the tornado barreled directly toward our city and our home, a strange thing happened. The meteorologists begin to announce that an unexpected rain storm suddenly came up from the south and intersected with the tornado. As the two merged, the tornado was weakened and destabilized. The tornado’s strength and intensity was diminished and it took a slight northward turn and skipped around us. The weather reporters were somewhat at a loss as to how to explain what had just happened. We were praying and asking God for mercy and protection, as I’m sure hundreds were. I don’t understand it, but we were very grateful when this happened and the severe weather threat was over. Having shared the details of our night, now let me move right into the spiritual application that is on my heart as I write this.

Suppose the meteorologists had been watching this severe weather, while casually drinking coffee and laughing about how dangerous it looked on radar. What if the emergency sirens were deliberately kept silent and many of us had not known it was headed our way? How would the public feel if there were no warnings or alarms of the imminent danger? How cruel it would be NOT to warn and sound the alarm! Can you tell where I’m headed with this? I suspect you can. I’m not politically correct or looking for votes, so here goes.

In my reading and study of the Old Testament Scripture for most of my adult life, I have learned how Israel had a very efficient system of audible communication. There were distinct sounds given, usually by a ram’s horn, (shophar in the Hebrew language). Skilled trumpeters would sound certain blasts for various tasks and warnings. For example, there was a clear sound given when Israel was to report for WORK. This was especially useful as they roamed for forty years in the wilderness prior to entering the promised land. Moving from one location to another required massive manpower and organization. There was a certain trumpet sound also, that indicated a time to WORSHIP. Another trumpet blast meant simply to WATCH, and be on high alert. At other times watchmen would sound the warning that meant WAR! Regardless of the occasion, the sounds had to be unmistakably clear and precise. It would be tragic for people to hear a sound and think it meant WORSHIP or WORK, and it was actually WAR time! If there has ever been a time that we need to send forth a clear, clarion call from God’s Word, it is now. Some wimpish preaching today is almost sent out with an apology! However, we never have to apologize for the infallible Word of God.

So consider this; we who are called by God to preach His Word, are often labeled as “gloom and doom” preachers. But we are charged by God to preach His Word as it is, to people, as they are. We are to sound the alarm and not be sleepily apathetic. Wouldn’t it be cruel if we saw impending doom and not say anything about it? That would be tantamount to knowing a bridge is out and not warning a bus load of gleeful young athletes and staff on the way home from a ballgame. Similarly, what if I came home one night from revival and saw smoke seeping out the attic of my neighbor’s house, but  just went on inside and went to bed without saying a word? Medical professionals and social workers, among others, are mandated by law to report abuse if they see signs of it, especially concerning children. How much more are God’s men to warn this dark, wicked generation of judgment to come? I am an alarm-sounder and a spiritual watchman. I do not apologize for saying emphatically that there are some dark days ahead for America, and the world, for that matter. I believe with my deepest being, that this generation is in the beginning stages of the judgment of an Almighty God!

Finally, I believe the people of God better pray, buckle up and get ready for some tough times. I have a solid, Scriptural basis to believe and say this. The Bible is replete with examples that that proves we are in for some turbulent times, particularly in these last days. The enemies of the cross will keep the ‘heat’ turned up on Christians, especially Christians who dare believe ALL of God’s Word. Gird up and be ready if you consider yourself conservative in doctrine and deportment. All you have to do is dare to know something, be something, or do something for Jesus, and you will be persecuted.

One verse, for example, states “Yeah all that will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV). Not maybe, or possibly or might suffer persecution, but SHALL suffer persecution! A major news network recently reported that in 2016, 90,000 Christians were killed worldwide simply because they were just that, CHRISTIAN! Notice also, the two key words . . . “live godly”. Of course if someone chooses to get along and go along, they will have to be a compromiser. Compromise might be considered useful protocol in governmental diplomacy, but compromise is a dirty word to Bible-believing Christians. Sadly, so many are caving in to this liberal, casual and backslapping “churchianity” that is so popular today. So if you live godly, look for it (persecution) and don’t be surprised when it happens. It’s not a matter of if, but when. This fallen world hated Jesus who was perfect in every way, long before we came along. This world and its political system is our natural and eternal enemy.

I challenge every preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to boldly proclaim all the Word without caving in to liberalism, fear and compromise! I pray that we all like the Apostle Paul, will fight a good fight, finish our course and keep the faith. (see 2 Timothy 4:7)

 

Lost Lives Matter

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10 KJV)

This brief blog will intentionally be simple and to the point. There is one main idea that I want to get across. As I ponder the present moral and political climate in America right now, my take is markedly different than you will see on the talks shows and news. It all depends on where you get your perspective, that colors how you view the situation and dilemmas we face. I was reminded recently by a friend, that as grave and serious as things are in America, it loudly proclaims just how true the Bible is! God’s Word tells us that we shouldn’t be surprised at what we are seeing. As Christians do we need to be reminded of “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”?  (2 Timothy 3:1). We shouldn’t be SURPRISED, we shouldn’t be SHAKEN, we shouldn’t be SAD! That’s another blog (sermon) for another day. We are to expect chaos, anarchy, hatred and violence. We should expect persecution and rejection. We know the world will hate us and the message we preach and endeavor to live by. When people begin to hate God’s message, they naturally hate God’s messengers! Don’t be surprised, brethren!

Now, with that little intro in mind, let me get to the point I want to make. We hear so much today about lives that matter. There are movements and agendas in America that proudly and loudly, proclaim that certain lives matter more than others, such as black lives matter, blue lives matter, white lives matter, gay lives matter, or Hispanic, Asian or Muslim lives matter. Each and every citizen has the constitutional right to say whatever they want to say. So now let me exercise my constitutional right as well. According to God’s Word, which is contained in the Holy Bible, that all lives matter to God. Why do I say that? Let me briefly and clearly explain.

Probably the most well-known verse in the Bible states “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV). All lives matter so much to God that He gave, (delivered up) His one and only Son, to die a harsh, brutal death by Roman crucifixion, for EVERY person. If every human life did not matter to God, (even before they are born), He would not have given His son to die for us!! Every life matters to God, because every life is LOST! Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” LOST LIVES MATTER! Believe it, don’t believe, hate it, love it. This is what God’s Word clearly says. Lost lives are what matter to God.

Please get this, we do not have a SKIN problem in America, but a SIN problem. All have sinned; all are lost and need a Savior. The wickedness, violence and hatred that is played out every day across our country, goes further and deeper than just the pigment in our skin! The heart of the human problem is the problem with the human heart! People do what they do because they are what they are! “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). That’s the only viewpoint that matters, because it is God’s, not mine. If a persons gets their belief system and ideologies from anywhere else, this means nothing. But to born-again, Bible-believing Christians, it means everything.

Say friend, is your heart right? Are you right with God and ready to meet Him in judgement? Are you saved? If not, you can be. If you will recognize and admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins to God, and call upon the name of the Lord, He will save you. Eternity is too long to be wrong. When you finally get where you are going, where will you be?

(For more information see, John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:13).

God is great – God is good

I was not raised in a Christian home and atmosphere. However, occasionally someone might say a “blessing” on the food. The little memorized prayer would go like this: “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we are fed, thank you Lord for daily bread.” That would be the sum total of spiritual activity at my house as a child, and it was very rare.

Much is said in the Bible about the goodness of God. For example, Romans 2:4 reads, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” But I have learned that God is good, and it is a part of who He is. He is intrinsically good. God’s character is totally good. I have come realize that God is good whether He is ever good to me or not!

However, I am so very thankful that God is, in fact, good to me! He is far more gracious, loving and kind to me than I deserve! God’s goodness can be seen in His creation, in His provisions, and in His mercy and grace. God is good all the time, even in our so-called tragedies and crises. In fact, the goodness of God will lead a person to God if they follow His goodness to its logical conclusion.

I have a sermon idea brewing on the “back burner” of my mind. It is a work in progress and one that I hope to preach someday soon. It speaks of God’s goodness to me in several areas of life. God has shown goodness and grace to me by protecting me, providing for me, preserving me. He is even good to me by punishing me for my personal sins and rebellion. God chastises every son or daughter that He receives, much in the same way that a human father who loves his children will chastise them.  If a person who claims to be a Christian, can get by with a lifestyle of sin, they are not really a child of God, because He chastises all of His children. God’s goodness can also be clearly seen in his patience toward to me. His mercies are new and fresh every morning. He is a long-suffering God.

I just wanted  to take a moment out of my day to praise God for his goodness, and particularly his goodness toward to me and my family. Whether anyone acknowledges this fact or not, God has been far better to all of us than we deserve! I do not want what I deserve, but I want mercy and grace. As a lost sinner, I deserve death and judgment in hell forever. But thanks be unto God for the unspeakable gift of his Son Jesus Christ, who died on a cruel, Roman cross and paid the sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 3:16). Jesus was buried and rose again to life on the third day! He now lives in heaven making intercession for us. The Bible declares that whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved, (Romans 10:13).

Do you know Jesus today? Are you ready to meet God? When your heart beats for the last time, and your lungs exhale their last breath, where would you spend eternity?  Are you ready for the judgment day?  If not you can be and should be. Call upon the name of Jesus, repent of your sins, and by faith ask Jesus to save you now! God is great and God is good!

I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is

Every year at this time, folks begin to get a little sentimental and have warm, fuzzy feelings, particularly about religious things. Many hearken back to their childhood days with fond memories. They remember visiting relatives and all the wonderful smells that emanated from the kitchens. People can remember someone playing an old upright piano and everyone gathering around to sing a few Christmas songs. It was a wonderful time amid all the decorations. Times were simple and oh, so different then. But as I meditate on Christmas again this year, I’m reminded afresh of what I believe is the most important thing about Christmas.

My wife, Brenda, and I will be singing, and I will be speaking at a couple of Christmas banquets for Pastors and their wives in our state. It is quite an honor to us. One of the songs we will be singing was heard at a recent revival meeting. It is entitled, “I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is”. The lyrics are wonderful, because they describe to us that Jesus is more than just a story, He is the King of Glory! And the chorus repeats that “I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is”. This greedy world only sees and wants the economic advantages of the Christmas season, but not the Savior Himself. While up north recently, I heard an advertisement on local television station that promoted a “Holiday Parade” that would kick off the “Holiday Season”. They dared not use the word “Christmas!” I was tempted to call or email the station to ask, “Now which holiday exactly is being kicked off? What’s it’s name?”

The political correctness police are roaming about in America and “seeking whom they may devour!” I plan to say more about that in my next blog. Well, my point is this; I’m so glad that I know what Christmas is really about and WHO Christmas is really about. It’s more than just a sentimental story that evokes warm, fuzzy feelings. Jesus came into His earthly existence through a precious teen-aged girl, who was a pure, virgin. Her name was Mary. Jesus lived a sinless life, to die a cruel death on a Roman cross for OUR sins. He had no sins of His own. He was buried and rose to life three days later, in glorious triumph and victory over sin, death, hell and the grave! The Christmas story is about this and so much more. It is tragic that most of the world does not know the real meaning. Sadly, they will miss the meaning of Christmas for a few fleeting, temporal dollars and a few drinks, parties and gifts.

Friends, I have nothing to boast about. I have no goodness or righteousness of my own. It is only by God’s grace and mercy, that I can say of a surety, “I’m Glad I Know Who Jesus Is!” (And I really do know Him!) Say friend, do you know Him, or do you just know the story?

I Love Animals

“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Psalm 9:17 (KJV)

In a few days, I will be 61 years old. From a child, I have always enjoyed owning and caring for animals. My family always had cats, dogs, a horse, a cow, birds, fish and hamsters, to name a few. Needless to say, I love animals. God made animals and they are precious and valuable to Him.
When you grow up in the south, hunting and fishing is a normal part of life. As a young adult, I was almost addicted to bass fishing. I would fish for the enjoyment, to be sure. I normally released the majority of my catch, but I would dress and eat some too. I also shared my catch with others who loved to eat them, but could not or did not enjoy fishing. I have never killed a deer, but I did hunt for certain small game, for food. In my older years, I neither hunt nor fish these days. Concerning animals, I would like to address a tragedy in America today.
Concerning the preservation of wildlife, there are laws on the books today, which carry heavy fines for those who break them. You will fined and/or jailed for killing the wrong kind of deer, or killing it out of season. You dare not shoot or injure certain endangered or protected species, such as bald eagles or condors. Now my point is this, people have come to value and worship animals above human life. God never intended this.
Recently, an American dentist made news headlines by killing a special, protected lion on a legal game hunt in Africa. People all over the world reacted in anger toward the dentist. He received death threats, and had to go into hiding for a while. Outraged protesters sent hate mail to him, and left vitriolic notes and posters at his home and dental clinic.
But, where is the outrage and outcry about 58 million precious human babies who have been killed in America? Women have the legal right to have their perfectly-formed, beautiful, baby killed just when its ready to be delivered. Please be reminded that just because something is legal, does not make it morally right! God’s law never changes.
It is a dark, sad day in America when you will go to jail for killing a bald eagle, but you can have your baby killed, then go home and enjoy a cocktail with friends or family. May God have mercy on America!
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Psalm 9:17 (KJV)

Practical Atheists

“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” James 4:15

In the Book of James, chapter 4:13-17, there is a passage that shows a business man’s (or woman’s) intentions to go to a certain city and do business, and hopefully make money. He has big plans, every detail is carefully mapped out. However there is one serious flaw in the scenario; he does not mention God at all in the plans. The passage is replete with personal pronouns, but no God!
To be fair, the Bible has much to say about planning. We should save, plan for the future and prepare as best we can for the things we hope to accomplish in life. There is nothing wrong with that. However, believers in Jesus Christ should be bathe every decision in prayer to seek the will and mind of Christ. Since the Holy Spirit lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation, we have a built-in teacher and guide. Unfortunately, so many don’t even give God the time of day when it comes to planning their activities, which brings me to my point.
I often hear about another famous Hollywood celebrity or perhaps a powerful politician, etc., who openly declares that he/she is an avowed atheist. They make no bones about it, “there is no God” they say. By the way, God says in Psalms 14:1 “The FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Atheists do not want to hear any of this religious nonsense or have anyone’s views and beliefs forced upon them. I’ve often wondered why so much money and effort is expended by fighting and opposing something that one does not even believe exits! You know what? That’s one of the great joys and rights we have by living in America! A person is free to believe whatever they want to believe and live their lifestyle accordingly, as long as they do not break laws, commit crimes by harming  people or property.
On the other hand, I have known and observed people all of my life, who are what could be called “practical atheists.” These are people who profess to be saved, born-again Christians. They say “Jesus is my Lord and Savior, I am heaven-bound!” However, their daily lifestyles, actions and words, do not reflect the character traits of a true Christian. Someone is probably already gearing up to say that we should not be judgmental. . . a popular thing to latch onto, of late. I readily admit that we never really know what is in a person’s heart, or their relationship to Jesus Christ. But you can ascertain, with amazing accuracy, what is in a person’s heart by what they do on a daily basis. A person’s habitual, routine lifestyle reveals what they are. What a person believes can be clearly seen by their actions. Jesus said you’ll know a tree by the fruit it bears, (Luke 6:44 “For every tree is known by his own fruit”).  Simply put, people DO what they do, because they ARE what they are!
Millions of people profess that there is a God, but live their lives like there is no God. They try to ignore God, His church and everything that is characteristic of a Christian. They say they believe in God, but live their lives as if there is no God, hence the term “practical atheists.” They call Jesus Lord but do not submit to His Lordship. “Nobody is going to tell me how to live my life,” they say. By the way, for those who say, “well I believe in God!” Congratulations, so does Satan and every demon in hell! It is one thing to “believe” in God, but does your life exemplify Jesus Christ? Does your light shine? Are you walking daily in His light and according to His Word? Just saying “I’m a Christian” does not make one a Christian any more that living in a barn makes one a horse. Do you love His church, being around His people regularly in corporate worship and fellowship? Friends there is simply something wrong with saying I’m a Christian, while not living the life a Christian should live. While we have not attained perfection in this life, there is a mark, a standard of holiness, for which we should strive. We are not perfect, but forgiven and loved by the Father.
As I close, let me remind any reader who does not know that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, please know how much He loves you. The Bible doesn’t say that God so loved the world that He saved the world. No, but it says “
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). God’s love is the reason He gave his unique, only begotten Son to pay the price and suffer the penalty for our sins, for Jesus had no sins. On Calvary, man did his worst, and God did His best. God has done all He will do to make salvation available. Salvation may be free, but it is not cheap. It cost God His precious Son! He paid a debt He didn’t owe, because we have a debt we cannot pay!
Jesus died a cruel, bloody death on a cross for your sins and mine, was buried and rose again three days later. He ascended back to Heaven and longs for you to be saved. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Eternity is too long to be wrong, we must, and can know, where we will spend it. For those living your life like there is no God; you better hope there is no God! Remember, “the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

America’s Heart Problem

We hear a lot lately about “hate speech” and “hate crimes”, and other related terms. It is unfortunate that our world is still filled with far too much hate. I am glad that there is a permanent solution to the hate problem that I will address a bit later.

I was raised in the deep south and was indoctrinated with the all-too-common values, speech and thoughts of the segregated south. Children are not born to be racists, or bigots; it is a learned behavior. We become what we are around. I am grateful that, through God’s amazing grace, that there was a day in my life where all that changed. It was the day that Jesus Christ came into my heart and life and I was born again. My thoughts, views and speech changed. I do not use inflammatory words that offend those of other races. Since my salvation experience, God has not allowed me to view others the same any more. Skin color or race is not a factor.

While I am not perfect, and have not always loved as I should, do not hate anyone on this earth, even the man who shot and killed my father when I was seven years old. I hold no ill-will, grudges, bitterness or hatred. When we disagree with the sins, lifestyles and actions of people, we are to love the person and hate the sin. Also, disagreement should never be misconstrued as hatred, racism or bigotry. In fact the Scripture says in Psalm 97:10, “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil.” Therein lies the challenge to everyone, particularly the Christian. There is much being said about tolerance today. But I’ve come to discover that tolerance works both ways. People who expect, even demand, you to be tolerant toward them, are usually not tolerant of what you believe. Others expect far more grace than they are willing to give.

This is a difficult lesson to learn and live. Why should we hate sin? Because sin is what put my Savior on the cross of Calvary to die a cruel death. He died there to pay for the sins of mankind that separates us from a Holy God. Jesus did not die for His own sins, because He had no sin. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (KJV). Jesus died for sins, not weakness, flaws, mistakes or blunders, but sins. We are to hate sin because it has a terribly high cost. Our sin cost God his only begotten son. Where do we find some of those things we are to hate and stand against? They are found throughout God’s Word, which is the Holy Bible.

Listen to a small list that came from the very lips of Jesus Christ, found in Mark 7:21-23: For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Someone has said, “the heart of the human problem is the problem with the human heart.” What we believe governs our actions. Our creed controls our conduct; our belief turns into behavior. Simply put, people DO what they do, because they ARE what they are. Why is most every newscast replete with more murders, abductions, rape and robberies? Why do people burn, destroy and kill? Only look to a depraved, unregenerate heart filled and controlled by hate!

Washington has no solutions, and Wall Street is helpless. Another government program that simply throws millions of dollars at a problem is ineffective. As valuable and wonderful as educators are, they cannot fix this nation’s woes. Our hope is not in the White House, but in God’s House where lives are changed one at a time. America will only face more perilous and violent days, until the hearts of people are changed by an experience that Jesus called being “born again”, (see John chapter 3). We must do something we have never done before, in order to have something we have never had before. People must be washed white from the inside out, not merely whitewashed, like painting an old fence. The change must take place in the heart. You cannot purify the water, just by painting the pump!

Finally, as Americans, our collective hearts are broken in the wake of another godless act of violence and murder. We pray especially for those who are without nine precious souls today. Their lives have a void, that can never be filled. But they have hope, because they have not “lost” their loved ones, but are only temporarily separated for a little while. When something or someone is lost, you do not know where it is. But these nine people from Emanuel A.M.E in Charleston, South Carolina are not lost, we know where they are. They are in the eternal presence of their Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven! They are with the One who loved them and gave Himself for them! Do you know Jesus as your Savior? If you had been gunned down, would you have been ready for what comes after this life? I read where it is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgement (Hebrews 9:27 KJV). Are you ready for the judgment day? If not, why not? God said you must repent of your sins and place personal faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, and whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, (Romans 10:13 KJV).

The Whole Truth

 Have you ever been personally sworn in as a witness in a court of law? If not, you have probably watched this happen in a movie, or even live television. Nevertheless, the witness, with one hand on a Bible and the other raised, swears to tell the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” This is a solemn, sobering oath, to say the least. An interesting part of the equation to me is the part about the “whole truth.” ‘Why?’you may ask. Because we live in a day of half truths, twisted truths and unfortunately, no truth at all. When it comes to something so important as the eternal destiny of the human soul, I believe we need to get to the whole truth of the matter of what God says about the matter of salvation. This topic deserves our utmost and careful deliberation.

In a time when pastors/preachers are hungry for numerical success and statistical progress, we find all kinds of trickery, gimmicks and “easy believism.” When it comes to offering the plan of salvation to a world in darkness, we must make it plain and simple. We have a Divine mandate to tell the whole truth when it comes to salvation according the Word of God. There are many verses in the Bible where the only condition to salvation is the word or act of believing. Probably the most familiar of these is the most famous verse in all the Bible, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Over one hundred places in the New Testament, we find the word or act of believing as the sole condition of salvation. However, there is more to being Scripturally saved than the intellectual act of believing. James says it is a good thing to believe but even the “devils also believe, and tremble” (James 1:19). So while believing the facts and accepting God’s word is a part of the salvation equation, that is not the whole truth. If a person says Jesus is my Lord and Savior and heaven is my home, I want to share with you what the Bible says must have happened to that person for this to be true.

There is a verse of Scripture in the Book of Acts to which I would like to direct our attention. Acts 20:21 says “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” (emphasis mine). I would like to point out the two sides of salvation indicated by this one verse. I like to refer to these two acts as two sides of the same coin. When you see the word believe in Scripture, in reference to salvation, you may not always think of the two separates acts of repentance and faith. But friends, make no mistake about it, when a person says they have believed to the saving of their soul, they have, of necessity, repented of their sin and placed personal faith in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross of Calvary. I am not saying a lost person, under conviction of the Holy Spirit, must understand all these theological details at the time of their conversion. I do mean however, that these two acts must take place for one to experience genuine, Biblical salvation.

Someone might object to repentance as being too negative. Well if repentance is too negative, then Jesus is too negative, because it is His idea! Jesus’ forerunner and friend, John the Baptist, preached “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus himself said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Without repentance there is no salvation. What is repentance? Repentance is the result of the Holy Spirit convicting a person of their personal sin to the point that they view themselves as a lost sinner, separated from a Holy God because of that sin. Repentance is experiencing godly sorrow for our life of sin, saying to God “I am sorry” for my sin, and then willfully turning from sin to the Savior. Repentance is not negative, but positive, in that it brings about the changes that lead us to Christ and eternal life. On the one side of the coin of salvation is repentance, and on the other is faith. Notice that repentance is toward God. Why? Because He is the One we have sinned against. Then our faith is toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because He is the One who died for us! So the salvation experience is composed, in part, of two acts of the human will, that actually are wrapped up in the one Bible term, “believe.”

When I was saved as a seventeen year-old boy, on a Sunday night in the little country church, I did not understand all these details at all. I simply knew God had done a work in my heart that caused me to see myself as a lost sinner and in need of a Savior. I asked God to forgive my sin that night and I placed personal faith in Jesus and my Lord and Savior. I am glad we do not have to understand it all to experience Biblical salvation. Has this ever happened to you personally? As a result of the Holy Spirit doing a work in your heart, have you ever repented of your sin and placed personal faith in Jesus alone as your Savior? If not, why not? Why not now?

The Costs Of Discipleship

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (KJV)

To be born again does not cost a person one thing, but it cost somebody everything. Salvation may be free, but is certainly not cheap! Our salvation cost God His only begotten Son. The sinless, pure blood of His Son Jesus was the only suitable price for sin. Salvation cannot be gained by human works, merit, or any other price such as silver or gold. However. discipleship will cost us dearly. One line in the beloved hymn, Rock Of Ages, reads “In my hands no price I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling.” Another hymn states, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
But do we know much about sacrifice? Has following Jesus cost us anything lately? I remember reading in the Old Testament of the Bible where King David was going to offer a special sacrifice to God. Someone offered to give him all the necessary elements he would need: the land, a threshing floor, the animals, etc. But David refused the offer, and said, “but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24 (KJV)
Jesus says that following Him is a costly endeavor also. Specifically, taking up a cross is costly. A cross has one purpose; it is made for death, hence the command to die to self. We must give up the dearest things to us, denying what self wants and submit to what our precious Savior wants for us. Jesus reminds us that before we build a house or go to war, we must count the cost. A person doesn’t simply get up one day and say, “I think I just might build a house this week.” Similarly a nation should not jump into a war without deliberately and carefully planning the costs. So it is concerning discipleship.
Many of us grew up in poverty and hard times, but most people today have been blessed with so much that it has created what I call a garage sale mentality. We have so much abundance that we sometimes gather up our excess and sell it for almost nothing just to get it out of our way. This makes room for more ‘stuff’ that we really don’t need, so we can have more garage sales! Consequently, it is easy to part with things that we really don’t want or need any more. It is easy to give away that old suit, dress, purse or shoes. It is painful, however, to give away the things we’d really like to keep. Are you willing to deny yourself, die to what king self wants and follow Jesus? Say friend, has your love for Jesus cost you anything lately?