Posted in creation, encouragement, God, Lord, sun

Creation Grace: Dawn and the Sun

The sun comes up to the left of my driveway. As I leave for work and head down the driveway and stop to look left for traffic, I often see the first rays peeking up over the hill. In spring, the sun shines through the blossoming trees, illuminating them so they look like fiery snowflakes.

The Lord made the sun for His own good pleasure and for us as a useful time-marking tool

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.” (Genesis 1:14-19)

At one point He made the sun stand still:

“And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day.” (Joshua 10:13)

At another point He made the sun go backwards ten steps:

And Isaiah said, “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he has promised: shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or go back ten steps?” And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for the shadow to lengthen ten steps. Rather let the shadow go back ten steps.” And Isaiah the prophet called to the Lord, and he brought the shadow back ten steps, by which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz.” (2 Kings 20:9-11)

And at a still future point, He will blink out the sun entirely:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken“. (Matthew 24:29)

Our Lord is Lord of Creation! This is who we worship:

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18)



Posted in Lord, salvation

Lord, Lord!

So my daily burden is for the lost. Lost Christians, that is. The Lord has given me an attention to and burden for Christians who occupy pews, labor in ministries, partake of Easter and Christmas celebrations, yet do not know the Lord. They think they are saved, but they are not.

They think that because they belong to a particular denomination, they’re saved. They think that because they prayed a prayer, they’re saved. They think that because they are a deacon, they’re saved. They think that because they go to church regularly, they’re saved.

Many are not.

Many.

Jesus said, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'” “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Mt 7:22-23)

I can think of no more of a heartbreaking moment than that. At least Atheists know that they have rejected God. At least those who have heard the Gospel & rejected it know what they have done. False Christians don’t know. You see the surprise in their voices in the verse, repeating plaintively, “Lord, Lord…”

Further, Jesus said, ““Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14). [emphasis added]

Wait, wait, I found another heartbreaking verse!
“And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:9)

Here, people worship. They think what they are doing is worship. Like the ones who are self-deceived in thinking they are saved by speaking the prophesies, casting out demons and performing miracles, these ones worship. They pray, they bend a knee, they approach an altar, they sing. They even tithe. But it is all IN VAIN. It is empty and hollow, because though their lips profess, their hearts do not possess Jesus.

“Therefore the Lord said:
“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,’ (Isaiah 29:13)

Can you imagine a worship so hollowly self-deceiving, for years having done the right thing outwardly, thinking they are saved, and on His Day, He says He doesn’t even know them?

Here is Pastor Adrian Rogers’s essay (excerpted) on how to tell if you’re saved:

The Lordship Test. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of your life? Jesus said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46). Here’s a riddle I want to solve for you. On the one hand the Bible says that we know that we’re saved because we keep His commandments (See 1 John 2:3). On the other hand, the Bible teaches us that it is possible to sin (See 1 John 1:8-9). The key word is “keep”. It is the same word used years ago by sailors who navigated by the stars at night. A sailor’s goal was to keep the stars. As a child of God, His commandments are the stars by which you navigate your life. Is keeping His commandments the burning desire of your heart? It is if you’ve met the Christ of Calvary.”

The Fellowship Test. Do you love your brothers and sisters in Christ? The Bible challenges us on several occasions that this is the way we will know we are in Christ (1 John 3:14, 4:20, 5:1). When you get saved, you receive the divine nature of God and the nature of God is love (1 John 4:7). You’re not saved because you love the brethren, you love the brethren because you’re saved. Love is the nature of the Christian because love is the nature of God. If we love the Lord Jesus, it follows as night follows day that we are going to love what Jesus loves.”

The Relationship Test. The question is not, “Did you believe in Jesus Christ?” The question is, rather, “Are you believing Jesus right now?” If you can’t remember when you were saved, that’s okay. 1 John 5:11-12 says, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” Can you say that at this very moment, that you have a personal relationship with Jesus right now?”

Here is John MacArthur’s two part sermon series, “Saved or Self-Deceived”, a salvation survey to help you check yourself to see if you are in the faith.

I want to see YOU there. I do not want to hear you crying out, “Lord, Lord” but rather I want to hear the Lord say to you “Well done good and faithful servant.”

Posted in faith, Lord

Back to Basics: How do I know I’m saved? Examine yourself!

Apostle Paul told the Corinthians to test themselves. Since Paul said it, we should do this as well. It is important to always be mindful of our faith, test it, examine ourselves, and see if we are straying. First, let’s look at the verse to see what it says, then let’s look at the context to see what was happening then and why Paul said it, and last let’s see how to take this test, or make this examination. For some who make an examination, it will reveal a lack of salvation in the first place.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

We know in our day at this point in the timeline that there is prophesied to be much deception in the church body. False doctrines will enter. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. Man-made doctrines which is the same as saying doctrines of demons. People will not stand for sound doctrine, and will like to have their ears tickled instead. (Luke 21:8, 1 Tim 4:1, Acts 20:29, 2 Tim 4:3, Eph 4:14). But the church body was always plagued with falsity. It began almost immediately with the believers at Corinth.

The Corinthians had made a good start. They all converted at about the same time, when Paul came as missionary and preached the Gospel. But Corinth was a severely pagan place, and after Paul left, they had started to slide back to pagan ways, even allowing pagan practices into the church. They were acting selfishly and even gorging and drinking to drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper, bringing shame to the church. (1 Corinthians 11:21).

Paul was urging them to look at themselves individually and see if they were selfless, pious, modest, and humble. But not to muse about it intellectually, but to go forth and live the Gospel selflessly, piously, modestly, humbly. He wanted them to conduct themselves according to the standards to which a mature Christian should behave. It is walking with the Lord and being active in our faith daily that brings us strength and as we grow stronger in Him (the Holy Spirit regenerates us more and more) then when trials come, we can withstand.

As it stood then, Paul knew that when the trials would come, and then when the persecution came, the Corinthians would not be able to withstand. In 1 Corinthians 3:2 he complained then about them still not being able to have meat, and still being babes in Christ and on milk. He is trying to wean them so they could stand on their own two feet, strong and brave, ready to withstand satan’s buffeting, of which Paul knew only too well.

So it is well with us if we examine ourselves from time to time to see if we are growing, or even if we are in the faith at all.

How do we know if we are saved, if we pass or if we “fail the test”? First, ask yourselves,

Am I sensitive to sin? My own and others’ sin, such as on television or movies? A growing Christian will look back at the early days of their conversion and see the sins they tolerated back then are no longer tolerable. Swearing bothers you. Entertainment depicting adultery piques your anger. Blasphemy hurts your ears.  Obviously demonic novels and movies will no longer appeal. If they still appeal, then examine yourself further to see if you pass the test. A growing Christian grows away from sin and when we do sin, it breaks our heart.

Here is a Paul Washer sermon that examines sensitivity to sin in the saved or unsaved Christian. Hunker down for the long haul because it is an hour and 13 minutes. Audio only. But if you have gotten this far, finding the blog, reading this essay, getting down to this point, you need to hear him preach on sin. Sin is the foundational differential between being saved and unsaved. Do you recognize you are a sinner, and have you repented? If repented, are you sensitive to the effect sin has on your life and what a blight it is on Jesus’ name?

Secondly, does your faith grow stronger through trials and not weaker? In this essay by John MacArthur, he answers the question about why it is bad to appeal to people’s emotions at an altar call. He said that the church is filled with tares, flooded with them. They have no firm root (Mark 4:17) so when a strong wind comes they are uprooted and blow away. If your faith is firm, nothing can prevail against it because the root is Jesus. The essay is not long and it will help understand how your response through trials and even persecution can illustrate if we are passing or failing the test. If trials make you hate God and you stop going to church and doing good works, you are failing the test. If trials make you love Him all the more, then you are passing the test.

Does your walk bear fruit? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says if anyone is saved, he is a new creation. As a new creation, one made in His image, we want to glorify Him and do things that expand His kingdom. Those things are works. Matthew 7:16 says people will be known by their fruits. An apple tree isn’t named because of distinctive bark or a certain shaped leaf. It is named an apple tree because it bears apples. It is the apples that are useful. When the Spirit prompts us to do a work, we do it. Doing this work in the Spirit’s strength bears fruit. Ephesians 2:10 says we are created in order to do good works, which He has prepared for us beforehand. Being holy, growing in righteousness, doing things in His name for His name is showing the world that the Light is in us. Anyone who is not doing good works for His name is likely not saved. James 2:17 says faith by itself without works, is dead. Clarke’s Commentary explains, “The faith that does not produce works of charity and mercy is without the living principle which animates all true faith, that is, love to God and love to man.” Here is a Charles Spurgeon devotional that explains bearing fruit.

So there are three quick but not exclusive criteria for examining yourself to see if you pass the test: sensitivity to sin, strength through trials, and bearing fruit of good works.

In the verse Paul warns us not to fail the test. You might be thinking, ‘big deal. I’ve gotten a F on a test before and just made it up later. Or went to summer school…” How big of a deal is it if you fail the faith test? VERY BIG. Here is what happens:

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

In verse 22 you see the surprised cry of those who had deceived themselves. They had done works, but had not had faith. They had not done the will of our Father who is in heaven. The will of the Father is to believe on the One He has sent. (John 6:29, 6:40). But many people in churches are busy, busy doing this and doing that and feeling pretty spiritual about it, too. They deceived themselves that it counted for something. None of it counted. All that they did had looked like spiritual work, but it was not. Why? It was absent a saving faith. They never knew Jesus.

The penalty or failing the faith test is not an F, it is being cast away for all eternity. THAT is the penalty for failing the test. You must do the will of the Father, which is to believe. Do you believe? Not sure? Here is a short essay on “How to detect a false conversion” from GotQuestions.org.

It’s hard. The Christian life is hard. It goes against our nature to be good, loving, humble…Life doles out hard knocks and our faith is tested and then it is tested again. It is a struggle. Paul said it was and it is. But it is so worth it! Life on this earth is temporary. It is a temporary location, and heaven, soon New Jerusalem, will be our home forever. Examine yourself, live for the faith He died to give us! And then, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7). Examine yourself today. Don’t wait.
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Posted in end time, Lord, pre-tribulation rapture, revelation

Guess what is, (or should be), the world’s largest mission field right now?

“Since Christianity has never survived on the basis of mild and uncommitted theism, it is certainly not likely to survive on that basis today.” D. Elton Trueblood, 1961, from “The Company of the Committed

Trueblood, a Quaker, said that in the opening paragraphs of his book fifty years ago. A little more than a generation. We understand how much more true it is today that we have a world full of mild and uncommitted theists. But worse than a world full of mild and uncommitted theists, is the Christian church full of mild and uncommitted theists. Trueblood went on:

“In any case, when the Church is looking for a mission field it need not look beyond the nearest campus.”

When looking at the prophesies it’s always more interesting to look outward, to see the Muslims and the lost and the atheists and the other nations. But there are prophesies that are foretold about us, the Church.

Matthew 7:22-23 says, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Many. If your church is filled with 300 people today, how many do you suppose would be granted entry into the Kingdom? Jesus said MANY will not be. So out of 300, how many is many? 10? 100? 150? 200?

Elton Trueblood again. “When the Church is looking for a mission field it need not look beyond the nearest campus” Why? Because many have halted between the service of God and the service of sin. As Elijah said-

“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long will ye waver between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21.

Now is the time for decision. That gap between the two opinions is widening. People will not be able to straddle it any more, and that time is drawing close. You must decide, and if you think you have already decided, re-examine yourself. Soon there will be a showdown similar to the one that occurred between a God  and the false prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel. Soon the false notion that we can  serve two masters will be exposed, then removed. 

This is a call to re-examine our response to the Holy Word. Paul urged us to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves,” 2 Cor 13:5. The particular reason why Paul calls on them to examine themselves was, “that there was occasion to fear that many of them had been deceived. Such had been the irregularities and disorders in the church at Corinth; so ignorant had many of them shown themselves of the nature of the Christian religion, that it was important, in the highest degree, for them to institute a strict and impartial examination to ascertain whether they had not been altogether deceived. This examination, however, is never unimportant or useless for Christians; and an exhortation to do it is always in place.” (Barnes Notes). It is never more important than now. In any and all churches, I pray that the many will hear “well done good and faithful servant” and not “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

Serve sin or serve God, time to choose. How long will you waver between two opinions? How long will you push forward in church activity but never actually coming to know the builder of that church, Jesus? How long will you study prophecy as it applies to everyone else but not yourself? By the looks of things in the world, we won’t have long at all.

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