“Do you think you are saved?” December 7

 

Do you think you're saved? - “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT). Strong words! What did Jesus mean? How can we know that we won't hear those terrible words, "I never knew you"?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Strong words! What did Jesus mean? How can we know that we won’t hear those terrible words, “I never knew you”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 5 & 6
Psalm 139.1-6
Proverbs 29.19
1 John 5.1-21

 

Do you think you are saved?

 

1 John 5.1-21:

Assurance of Salvation

 

praise worship

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (v. 13).

God used the Apostle John to write the gospel of John so that, “… you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20.31). Then in 1 John He inspired him to write so that believers might have assurance of their salvation.

He wants us to be confident that we have eternal life! But eternal life is not just a reality when we die, we can have eternal life now, because eternal life is in a person—the person of Jesus Christ!

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (v. 11).

If you are “in Christ” and He is “in you,” you have eternal life.

 

Believe you are saved?

 

Do you believe you are saved? On what do you base that belief?

Have you placed all your faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone? Or do you believe that your salvation rests on something you do? Do you understand that you could do nothing to save yourself (not baptism, not sacraments, not being good enough)?

“…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2.8-9).

We’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

But in Matthew 7 Jesus warned us that there will be many people who think they’re saved, but aren’t:

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Was Jesus contradicting other passages that say we’re saved by grace through faith? No, the “doing the will of my Father” is grace-powered and love-driven obedience. It’s the kind of obedience that flows from genuine heart change. It’s the fruit of our salvation.

But He was driving home the point that “good works,” even religious looking good works can’t save us. Only knowing Him personally, having an intimate relationship with Him by acknowledging that we’re sinners who can do nothing to save ourselves and by putting our faith and trust in what He did for us on the cross can save us.  Continue reading

“Parental Legalism” September 26

 

parentingCould you be guilty of parental legalism? Parental legalists often focus on behavior as opposed to the heart. If we make Christianity all about “the law,” we may fail to help our children understand their need for genuine heart change and a personal relationship with Christ.

Also read about:

  • How and how not to communicate with a person who is acting like a fool.
  • And the foolishness of idolatry, even the kind you may be practicing.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 43 & 44
Psalm 110.1-7
Proverbs 26.5-9
Galatians 4.1-31

 

Parental Legalism

 

Galatians 4.1-31:

The Importance of Getting to the Heart

 

I’ve been talking about legalism for several days now. Remember the Judaizers or legalists had come in trying to impose their brand of religion on the Galatians. As human beings we love having a set of rules to follow instead of allowing God to make a change in our hearts or the hearts of others.

Lou Priolo in his book The Heart of Anger talks about how we do this with our children. We make our rules (be in bed at 8.30; you can’t watch that TV show; no dating until you are 16; don’t talk with food in your mouth) on the same par with God’s commands (love God with all your heart; love your neighbor as yourself; do not lie; do not steal, etc.).

It’s not that children shouldn’t obey the rules their parents lay down for them (one of God’s commands is “children obey your parents in the Lord …” Eph. 6.1-3), but we must help our children understand that those are temporary rules for the household and not God’s law. Otherwise we run the risk of either making little Pharisees of our children or causing them to view Christianity as a legalistic religion instead of a relationship with Christ. Without that personal relationship with God, many of our kids will turn away from the things of God once they’re out of our homes.

Instead we need to lovingly teach our children to obey us as God’s temporary authority in their lives, while teaching them the truths and freedoms and principles of a genuine relationship with God and helping them see their need for the Savior. He is the only One who can ultimately change their hearts.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 43 & 44:

Idolatry … It’s Not Just Carved Images!

 

In chapter 44.10-17 Isaiah points out the foolishness of idolatryContinue reading

“Are you a legalist?” September 23

 

Are you a legalist? - I've heard it said that we are all legalists at heart. Are you a legalist? You might be surprised at the subtle ways we fall into it. Also read about: Hezekiah's amazing prayer and how we can pray the same way. One way to start preparing for 2017 and get your time with God off to a good start.

I’ve heard it said that we are all legalists at heart. Are you a legalist? You might be surprised at the subtle ways we fall into it.

Also read about:

  • Hezekiah’s amazing prayer and how we can pray the same way.
  • One way to start preparing for 2017 and get your time with God off to a good start.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 37 & 38
Psalm 109.14-20
Proverbs 26.1
Galatians 1.1-24

 

Are you a legalist?

 

Galatians 1.1-24:

If I Do “A” …

 

The Galatians, who had received the Gospel of salvation by grace, had been infiltrated by Judaizers, men who wanted to impose their own legalistic requirements on them. It’s as if someone came into your church or mine and began to hold his own Bible study telling people they are not really saved unless they’ve been baptized, or unless they become vegetarians, get circumcised, take communion every week, worship on a certain day, or some other list of requirements. It may sound foolish, but if you don’t know the truth and have it firmly fixed in your mind, you will fall for anything!

Legalism is much easier to fall into than we might think, but sometimes it shows up in very subtle ways. Many people who sit in church every week, when asked if they are sure they’ll get to heaven will say “yes,” but when asked why, will say “because I’m a pretty good person.”

What is that? It’s salvation by works. It’s legalism! They may have received the gospel on an intellectual level, but in their hearts believe they must add something to it, and certainly must do something to keep themselves saved.

How else does it show up?  Continue reading

December 7 “Believe you are saved?”

believe you are saved

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 5 & 6
Psalm 139.1-6
Proverbs 29.19
1 John 5.1-21

 

Hosea 5 & 6:

Mercy is more important than sacrifice

Chapter 6.6, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

Jesus repeated this statement in Matthew 9.13 and again in 12.7.

In Matthew 12, Jesus’ disciples had plucked grain and eaten it on the Sabbath Day. He quoted this verse in rebuking the Pharisees when they had condemned them for it. The Pharisees believed their legalistic adherence to the law was what made them right with God. The next scene in the gospel account is this one:

9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.
11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Rather than trying to understand, they hardened their hearts still more.

Meditate on Hosea 6.6. Is there some area in your life where you are legalistically adhering to the law of God, but not out of a pure desire to love God and demonstrate His love to those around you? Continue reading

September 26 “Parental legalism”

parenting, mother scolding her son with pointed fingerParental legalists often focus on behavior as opposed to the heart. If we make Christianity all about “the law,” we may fail to help our children understand their need for a personal relationship with God.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 43 & 44
Psalm 110.1-7
Proverbs 26.5-9
Galatians 4.1-31

 

Isaiah 43 & 44:

Foolishness of idolatry

In chapter 44.10-17 Isaiah points out the foolishness of idolatry:

10 Who would form a god or mold an image
That profits him nothing? …

12 The blacksmith with the tongs works one in the coals,
Fashions it with hammers,
And works it with the strength of his arms …
13 The craftsman stretches out his rule,
He marks one out with chalk;
He fashions it with a plane,
He marks it out with the compass,
And makes it like the figure of a man,
According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.
14 He cuts down cedars for himself,
And takes the cypress and the oak;
He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.
He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.

15 Then it shall be for a man to burn,
For he will take some of it and warm himself;
Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;
Indeed he makes a god and worships it;
He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.
16 He burns half of it in the fire;
With this half he eats meat;
He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
He even warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm,
I have seen the fire.”
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god,
His carved image.
He falls down before it and worships it,
Prays to it and says,
“Deliver me, for you are my god!”

It’s hard to imagine anyone believing a carved or molded image could help or save them. And yet, that is the deceitfulness of all sin and idolatry! To think that alcohol or drugs or food or spending or something else, while it may bring some temporary pleasure, can actually change anything is just as ridiculous!

To think that wealth or power or position or popularity is going to make us happy in the long run is foolishness. It leaves many asking “Is this all there is?” because, once attained, those things are empty of any ability to fill the real longings of our hearts.

Worse yet, making those things the focus of their lives, seeking to attain them, or trying to hang on to all they can, will ultimately lead many to eternal damnation. Continue reading

September 23 “Legalists at heart”

images[4] (2)

We’re all basically legalists at heart and if we don’t have an understanding of the gospel firmly fixed in our minds, we can easily fall into it.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 37 & 38
Psalm 109.14-20
Proverbs 26.1
Galatians 1.1-24

Isaiah 37 & 38:

That all the kingdoms of the earth may know

In yesterday’s reading, an emissary from the King of Assyria had set up camp outside the city trying to intimidate the Israelites into surrendering without a battle. When threatened, Hezekiah turned to God, not on the basis of what he deserved, but on the basis of who God is:

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see …” (vv. 37.16-17).

prayer, worshipThen he asked that God would move on their behalf but for His own glory:

“Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone” (v. 37.20).

This needs to be, not just the prayer of our lips, but the underlying desire of our hearts, as well, that God would receive glory through His work in our lives.

And sometimes that means walking through a trial instead of escaping from it. While it’s fine to pray and ask God to deliver us from tests and trials and difficulties, we must hold those requests in an open hand. Just as Jesus did, “… nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done, O Lord.”

But in this case, as He often does in our lives, God worked in an incredible, supernatural way, destroying the invaders without a battle! Continue reading