“Is believing ‘in’ God enough?” November 21

 

Is believing in God enough? - Is believing in God enough to save us? If so, why would James say, "even the demons believe--and tremble"?Is believing in God enough to save us? If so, why would James say, “even the demons believe–and tremble”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 33 & 34
Psalm 130.5-8
Proverbs 29.1
James 2.1-26

 

Is believing “in” God enough?

 

James 2.1-26:

Orthodox Demons?

 

Watching, Warning & Orthodox Demons

Verse 19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”

John MacArthur says that demons, while they seek to deceive others about the truths of God and while they chose to follow Satan, are orthodox in their theology. They know who Christ is, they know they are under His authority, and they know that one day they will be cast into the lake of fire (Mk. 5.6-10).

But just believing in God isn’t enough.

Do you know someone who claims to believe in God, but without any evidence of saving faith? This is a great verse to memorize and share. Believing in God does not save us, that is, merely, believing that He exists. It’s belief in the gospel that saves (Mk. 1.15; Rom. 1.16). It’s believing He is who He says He is and believing what He says is true.

Instead, many have some general idea of God as some kind of a benevolent Father. They often expect that He will weigh the good and the bad things we have done and since most of us think we’re really not that bad (Prov. 20.6), hope the good will outweigh the bad.

But the gospel is the truth that we are sinners dead in our trespasses and sins and unable to save ourselves. We cannot be saved by good works (Jn. 3.10, 3.23, 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9), nor through any amount of religion (going to church, being baptized, taking sacraments, etc.).

God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins. He died on the cross, was buried, and was raised again. We are saved by His grace when we admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior and by putting our faith in Him and Him alone to save us. It’s Jesus who saves us, but we must “receive,” choose to believe, the truth.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 33 & 34:

Watching & Warning

 

1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand” (ch. 33.1-6).

Ezekiel was called to be a “watchman” to the people of His day. He was to warn the people of their need to repent and turn from their sin and idolatry. We, too, are “watchman” called to share the gospel with those around us. Matthew 28.19-20 says:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

If we are faithful to share God’s truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient, we are free from guilt. But if we refuse, God says “their blood is on our hands.” Continue reading

“The Cost of Losing God’s Restraining Grace” May 20

 

barcodeOne of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God’s restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what our sinful heart wants. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 11 & 12
Psalm 65.9-13
Proverbs 16.22-24
John 6.22-51

 

2 Samuel 11 & 12:

David, Bathsheba & the loss of restraining grace

This is a sad page in David’s life story, one that would define and change the rest of his life and his reign. Even though God forgave him when he repented, the consequences of it were great!

Neither is there any sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart. God will not even hear our prayers when we are in that kind of willful sin:

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66.18).

Romans 6.1-2, 15-16, 21, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? … Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”

And Galatians 6.7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

So what were the consequences of David’s and Bathsheba’s sin? Continue reading

October 24 “Good doctrine matters in hard times”

depression prayer hard timesIf you’ve been taught “there’s a miracle in your mouth;” that God wants you rich; that if you have enough faith or enough hands laid on you, you’ll be healed; or that your problem is a demon of lust, alcohol, or pornography … and it doesn’t happen, where does that leave you?

 

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 33 & 34
Psalm 119.57-64
Proverbs 27.21
1 Timothy 3.1-16

 

Jeremiah 33 & 34:

Call to Me, and I will answer …

Chapter 33.3 says, “‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’”

What an incredible invitation from our Mighty God! The only reason not to pray is because we don’t take Him at His Word.

 

Psalm 119.57-64:

Obedience, godly friends, and a hunger for truth

I love this psalm. It is rich in wisdom and truth and this passage is no exception. Verses 60-64:

60 I made haste, and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.

Do you obey the Lord, quickly, or do you hem and haw and try to find some loop-hole?

61 The cords of the wicked have bound me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.

Are you willing to live for Christ no matter what the cost?

62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
63 I am a companion of all who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.

With whom do you hang out?

64 The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy;
Teach me Your statutes.

Are you hungry to know God more and better every day through a better understanding of the Scriptures? Continue reading

September 5 “Me… keep silent?!”

time“Let your women keep silent in the churches … they are to be submissive …” Are you kidding? Me … keep silent? This is not first century Jerusalem! Is that really in the Bible?

 

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 1 & 2
Psalm 105.1-6
Proverbs 24.23-25
1 Corinthians 14.21-40

images[4]Isaiah 1 & 2:

Empty ritualistic religion verses salvation by grace and relationship

The book of Isaiah is the first of the “Major Prophets,” so called because of their size, not necessarily their importance, since “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” (2 Tim. 3.16). He prophesied during the time when Israel was divided into the Northern and Southern kingdoms. He condemned the empty, ritualistic religious practices and the spiritual idolatry of the people and warned of God’s coming judgment. Come to think of it, he could just as easily be preaching today! Continue reading