“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

“Church: Necessary or Optional?” November 15

 

Church: Necessary or Optional?How do you view church attendance and involvement? Is it a requirement for a Christian? Is it a duty? Is it even necessary?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 21 & 22
Psalm 126.1-6
Proverbs 28.23
Hebrews 10.19-39

 

Church: Necessary or Optional?

 

Hebrews 10.19-39:

 Fellowship with God & Others

 

The writer of Hebrews sums up this section on the superiority of Christ’s priesthood by saying that we should enter into His presence with boldness, “a full assurance of faith,” and a clear conscience. What a privilege we have to become children of God and have that personal relationship with Him.

But what about our personal relationships within the body of Christ? How important is fellowship with other believers? How do you view church attendance and involvement? Is it a requirement for a Christian? Is it a duty? Is it even important?

Part of how God speaks to us and answers our questions and prayers is through one another. It’s part of how He grows us, teaches us, encourages us, and reproves us.

We are to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (10.24-25).

I believe we should all be members of, and actively involved in, a good Bible-believing church. There are times in all of our lives when we need the love and encouragement of others. We also need others to hold us accountable. That isn’t possible if all we do is come to church and slip out the back door, as if we’re fulfilling some “church attendance requirement.” We need to get involved in some area of ministry and grow as part of a smaller group in Bible study, discipleship, and fellowship.

Do you agree or disagree? How do you view attendance at worship services and the importance of church involvement? Is it optional or a requirement? What do you believe it means to be a disciple and why? Share your thoughts at the bottom of this post.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 21 & 22:

Patiently Inviting & Warning

 

As we read the prophets it may seem that God is saying the same things over and over. It’s easy to get weary of reading them. But as we read these prophesies concerning God’s judgment, we need to remember that God repeats things because we need to hear them … repeatedly. It’s His mercy and patience at work.

Even today, God has faithful men and women who continue to sound the alarm, to warn of the dangers of sin and compromise in our society. But many want to cover their ears, or worse, attack those who speak truth. They call us homophobes, mean-spirited, and narrow-minded and accuse us of trying to force our beliefs on others. But we need to be like faithful Noah who both encouraged others to get into the ark and warned of the coming flood. We need to speak the truth in love, inviting others to come into the ark of salvation while warning of the judgment to come. Continue reading

December 8 “Tolerance … not always love” +LINKUP

tolerance

Sometimes obeying God’s Word seems contrary to what the world considers love. The world often defines “love” as “tolerance.” Yet, passages like Galatians 6.1-2 make it clear that tolerance is not always love.

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 7 & 8
Psalm 139.7-12
Proverbs 29.20
2 John 1-13

 

Hosea 7 & 8:

Israel has forgotten his Maker

This little book of Hosea contains some of the strongest prophecies against His people, alongside the greatest picture of His redeeming love. Although He declared judgment for their rejection of Him, He also promised to “buy them back” off the auction block, just as He commanded Hosea to do for Gomer.

12 I have written for him the great things of My law,
But they were considered a strange thing.
13 For the sacrifices of My offerings they sacrifice flesh and eat it,
But the LORD does not accept them.
Now He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.
They shall return to Egypt.
14 “ For Israel has forgotten his Maker, … (8.12-14).

Though Israel continued to perform their religious activities—“the sacrifices of My offerings,” God would not accept them. They were meaningless to God because they were without faith and were mixed with idolatry. But, although they would return to captivity—“Egypt”—God said He would not leave them there forever. There will come a time when He will once again begin working in the Nation of Israel as a whole and many will return to Him in faith.

Today many people attend church. They may even be involved in some area of ministry. But their religion has little, if any, effect on how they live their lives or treat others. They give God very little thought on a practical level. They may well be among those we talked about yesterday who hear “on that day … ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” (Matt. 7.23). Continue reading

November 21 “Are you a faithful watchman?”

Silhouettes of trumpetWe are all called to be God’s watchman. Are you faithful to wisely and prayerfully share God’s truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient?

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

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.”

Notice I said we are called to be “faithful,” not to do it perfectly, not to memorize the whole Bible, nor to be able to answer every potential question or objection someone may make … just to be faithful!

We are not responsible for someone’s response, only to be obedient as God’s instrument in the lives of others. It is He who ultimately seeks and saves! Continue reading

November 15 “Church involvement: optional or necessary?”

church benches pewHow do you view attendance at worship services and the importance of church involvement? Is it a requirement for a Christian? Is it a duty? Is it even necessary?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 21 & 22
Psalm 126.1-6
Proverbs 28.23
Hebrews 10.19-39

Ezekiel 21 & 22:

Patiently inviting & warning

As we read the prophets it may seem that God is saying the same things over and over. It’s easy to get weary of reading them. But as we read these prophesies concerning God’s judgment, we need to remember that God repeats things because we need to hear them repeatedly. It’s His mercy and patience at work.

Even today, God has faithful men and women who continue to sound the alarm, to warn of the dangers of sin and compromise in our society. But many want to cover their ears, or worse, attack those who speak truth. They call us homophobes, mean-spirited, and narrow-minded and accuse us of trying to force our beliefs on others. But we need to be like faithful Noah who both encouraged others to get into the ark and warned of the coming flood. We need to speak the truth in love, inviting others to come into the ark of salvation while warning of the judgment to come.

 

Psalm 126.1-6:

Tears & joy

This psalm was probably written about Israel’s eventual repentance and return from captivity in Babylon, but also applies to our repentance and salvation. Those who sow tears of repentance shall reap the joy of salvation. Continue reading