Posted in salvation, theology

One day the door to salvation will shut

By Elizabeth Prata

It’s vacation week for much of America. I’m going to go a little easy myself this week and get a bunch of reading done. I thought for this week I’d bring forward some of the early essays I wrote.

With 5,200 essays written here since 2009, there are some you may have missed, lol. I published this one in May 2009. You can see my heart even since the earliest days of this blog. Salvation, and judgment. Continue reading “One day the door to salvation will shut”

Posted in salvation, theology

But God…

By Elizabeth Prata

We are saved to sin no more. We are saved to worship God rightly. We are saved to love Jesus. What are we saved from? God’s wrath for our sin, which is a crime against Him.

Without Jesus, I’d probably be dead by now. I was without hope. Being without hope is a very dangerous place to be. Quiet despair ain’t easy to live with. But He saved me and gave me ALL HOPE, faith, Himself, a future, a robe, a crown, and His love. Repent and receive the same!

The greatest gift that God gave the world is His Son Jesus. Non-believer, you might not accept this, as I didn’t long ago. But it’s true. It is true. Jesus is a gift to you. Repent now and see that it is true.

The two best words in the Bible might just be “But God…”

Imagine the little church at Damascus. “Saul of Tarsus is coming! He will persecute us! He’ll bring us to Jerusalem to kill us!” Acts 9:1

But God…

Imagine Peter in jail. “I’ve been here for so long! My trial is tomorrow! Is the church even praying for me?” Acts 12:5-7

But God…

Imagine Hagar and Ishmael waiting to die in the desert. “I can’t even look! My precious boy! They sent us away!” Genesis 21:15-16

Imagine the believers at the cross. “Jesus has died! He is in the tomb! All is lost!” John 19:30

But God… Matthew 28:6!

The other best words in the Bible? John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

by faith you have been saved verse

Posted in salvation, theology

When God speaks a name twice

By Elizabeth Prata

Bible trivia: When a name is used twice in a row it is an expression of intimacy, communicating great emotion.

Abraham! Abraham! Genesis 22:11.

Jacob, Jacob. Genesis 46:2.

Moses, Moses! Exodus 3:4.

Samuel! Samuel!1 Samuel 3:10.

Martha, Martha. Luke 10:41.

Simon, Simon. Luke 22:31.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem Matthew 23:37.

Saul, Saul. Acts 9:4

My God! My God! Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1.

Now think of the other time a name is used twice, this time not from God or Jesus to a beloved person, but from people who thought they had beloved intimacy with Jesus- but didn’t.

Lord, Lord. Matthew 7:21-23.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “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.’

That verse takes my breath away in its devastating truth. Many in this case means in Greek a high number, great in extent. If many will say to Him Lord, Lord, pleading an intimacy that had never existed, we know that on this day there are many who claim an intimacy with Jesus they do not have. They think they do, but they don’t. They’ll find out later. It’s the unsettling truth that we live with now, and will sadly watch later as the bitter truth emerges.

This should enhance our gratitude to Jesus all the more. Prayers of thanks to Jesus for His cross, His resurrection, His salvation, and His assurance are not inappropriate at any time.

If you are unsure whether you say ‘Abba, Father’ and will be received, or wonder if you will be one who says Lord, Lord later and be rejected, then I recommend these resources to you:

Is It Real? 11 Tests of Genuine Salvation

Can I Be Sure I’m Saved?

by faith you have been saved verse1

Posted in salvation, theology

Lost person: Needs a Missionary. My (short) story of the Amazon

By Elizabeth Prata

In 2013 I watched a movie called End of the Spear, about missionaries making first contact with the Stone Age Huaorani tribe of Ecuador not far from the Shell oil company corporate base in Shell-Mera Ecuador. It’s a good movie and I recommend it. The missionaries made the contact in 1956 in the Amazon basin. I got curious and looked up where Mera is, and it is only 5 miles from Puyo.

huaroni tribesman 1956
Ecuadoran Huaorani 1956. Needs a missionary

I was in Puyo, I was in the Amazon.

This is why I am so fascinated by Providence. Little did I know that the incident the modern movie depicts was in 1956 a famous event in Christianity- and still is. When the five missionaries who were killed by an aggressive tribe in the jungle in the middle of the last century in a different hemisphere, that a mere four decades later there I would be at that nearly exact place, sitting at a cafe on the main street unaware of my own lostness and need for those same missionaries who had arrived years before.

I was unaware and unaffected by the drama of courage and salvation that had taken place and had opened up so many hearts. And how Jesus knew that a few years after that, I would become one of His children, my very own heart He opened up to His grace.

He knew I’d come to understand the debt I owe to those missionaries who in the great relay race over centuries, kept the faith alive for all peoples and tribes and tongues to hear the words of life, the baton of belief passed from hand to hand and mouth to ear, so that one day I might partake of the great truth. All I knew back in 1996 was that there were too many Jesus statues in Puyo.

amazon rainforest1
American woman, 1996. Needs a missionary

With a magnificence as great as His grace and the power of the Gospel word, we should rightly celebrate His work in the world in awe and in gratitude. Even on the days when you feel useless for Christ, know and understand that the seeds of faith are powerful and everything you do and say in His name adds to His tapestry of faith, and makes a difference. Providence is an amazing thing- because Jesus is always at work.

Posted in salvation, theology

Tap dancing on the fence

By Elizabeth Prata

Christianity is a dichotomy. A dichotomy is defined as “a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.”

With Christianity, you’re in or you’re out
You’re in Christ or you’re in satan
You’re saved or you’re lost
You are on this side of the narrow gate or that side
You believe in Christ or you don’t
You’ve repented or you haven’t
You’re justified or not
Eternity is heaven or hell
It’s a black and white situation

Some people like to tap dance along the fence, not deciding one way or another. They put off salvation. They decline to think of spiritual things, but they acknowledge God and His creation and the presence of sin. They just don’t do anything about it. They are tap dancing along the fence, not on this side nor that side.

There is no Switzerland when it comes to your soul. There is no neutral ground, no safe spot from which to simply watch the proceedings.

Isaiah 49:8 says

Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,”

And Paul quotes that Old Testament verse in 2 Corinthians 6:2
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation”

If the Holy Spirit has convicted you of your sin, do not delay in responding. We never know the number of our days. The Lord could require your life from you this very evening. (Luke 12:20).

The more you delay in responding to the Holy Spirit’s livening of your conscience and sorrowing of your soul over your sin is to harden yourself to further ministrations. Failure to respond, or a delay in responding, is an answer. It’s a “no.”

People who tap dance along the top of the fence are taking a terrible risk. One day, they will stumble and fall.

Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday end a week of Christ’s Passion. It’s a week whereby He made a way for sinners to come to the Father- through Him (and Him only). Get off the fence and come to Jesus through His narrow gate.

and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

fence

Posted in assurance, encouragement, pilgrim's progress, salvation

How to guard from carnal thoughts and actions. What will do it?

I am reading and studying the John Bunyan book Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan wrote this book in 1678. I am using a study guide from Mount Zion Bible Institute (free) and also notes and commentary from Ken Puls of Founder’s Ministries/Founder’s Press.

I absolutely love the language of the old Puritan times. At one point, Christian had fallen asleep and now had to retrace his steps because he had lost his scroll. The sun was setting and he worried would not make it to the safe and secure way-station Porter’s Lodge before dark. He had been told there were lions awaiting (though chained). He was nervous about the noise the doleful creatures would make.

I wrote this during my reflection time-

When I stray from the righteous path or lose my scroll, the night time noise of the doleful creatures disturbs my heart and troubles my mind.

Christian made it to the Porter’s Lodge, where he engages in conversation with Prudence. She asks Christian,

Saco Museum Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress

Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?
Christian: Yes:
–when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it;
–and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it;
–and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it;
–and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

What a wonderful summation of how to remain on the righteous path, and so to banish carnal thoughts and wayward behavior!

Ken Puls wrote: [excerpted]

The conversation at Palace Beautiful continues with Prudence asking Christian some questions. Prudence represents our carefulness to walk in the wisdom and truth of God’s Word. To be prudent is to live and act with discretion and to exercise good judgment. Prudence is the practical outworking of wisdom. Christian prudence is godly wisdom in action, as we apply God’s Word to what we think, say and do.
Piety began the discussion by drawing out Christian’s story and testimony for the benefit of all in the Palace; Prudence probes deeper. She presses Christian into a more weighty conversation that explores his inner motivation and struggles. Her questions focus on: 

1. His inward battles with former lusts
2. His fortitude to fend off carnal thoughts and worldly temptations
3. His strategy to guard his heart and mind against sin

I’ll focus on the third question and excerpt Puls’ notes here-

Prudence then asks Christian about his strategy to guard against carnal thoughts. What means are most effective in vanquishing besetting sin? 

Christian mentions the value of meditating on God’s Word. He ponders the truth of Scripture and preaches it to himself. He anchors his thoughts in the promises of the gospel: the cross of Christ (the place of deliverance), the imputed righteousness of Christ (the coat he now wears), the assurance of salvation (his roll that he carries close to his heart), and his destination (eternal life in heaven). 

Finally Prudence asks him why he is so eager to reach heaven. Christian is anchored in God’s Word and aiming for eternity. He has embarked on a journey and understands that this world is not his home. It is filled with sin, death, trials and afflictions, and it can wearisome as we press on day by day. We must remember that we are just passing through. Christian longs for the joys that await us in glory: 

There we will see Christ face to face (1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 22:4).
There we will be free, not just from sin’s condemnation and power, but from its presence (Revelation 21:27, 22:3).
There we will have life eternal; there will be no more death (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4).
There we will be in the company of angels (Revelation 4:8) and the redeemed (Philippians 3:20) forever.

When you are discouraged…plagued by carnal thoughts…have sinned…drifted a bit…with ease and alacrity one can return to Jesus! Think of the cross, reflect on your salvation, look into the Book, and ponder your eternal destination.

That will do it.

Posted in assurance, faith, john macarthur, salvation

The dreadful reality of the apostate Church

One of my most fervent prayers is that your church is not filled with comfortable unbelievers. Why? I dread this day:

Artist: Boris Sajtinac

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Today is the day we should…

...draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

Here is a resource for you to test your faith and find assurance

Is It Real?– 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation
1 John; 1 John 5:1; John 10: 10; 1 Peter 5:10

Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don’t pass these tests, you’ll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you’ll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.

Posted in encouragement, rejoice, salvation

Relief in Christ, a soul rejoices

Psalm 107:4-9

Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

This was me! Was this scripture written with my name in mind? Certainly it must be so? A poor wanderer, a Pilgrim without a destination, a sinner without repentance, yet longing for something, something. For what did I long? For what drink was I thirsty? Why was I feeling a deep, gnawing distress? Why was the way crooked? From whence did this trouble come?

Praise our glorious Lord for loving me before I knew Him. Praise Him, for though He was offended by my sin, He set the straight Way through Jesus for me, a sinner, to enter. Praise Him for satisfying my soul, completely. Praise Him for His wondrous works to the children of man.

No longer a wanderer, I am atop the rock, and the rock is Christ.

Posted in doctrines of grace, encouragement, irresistible grace, salvation

Of Tractor Beams and Irresistible Grace

My walk toward the cross was more like trench warfare. I fought it. During the time of the most pitched spiritual warfare, I created a lot of art in attempts to understand what was going on with me as my spirit fought the Savior but I couldn’t express it in words.

In this piece below I felt intuitively that my spirit was trying to transform but something was holding me down while at the same time something was pulling me up. In the piece below, the butterfly is broken and unable to transform because it is caught in a net as it attempts to fight off whatever has captured it. The poem, which I re-typed in larger font, mentions Strigoi. This is a folk personage who, in Romanian legend, is a kind of vampire. I intuitively felt that a dark force of evil had caught me, so I used the reference to Strigoi.

Strangely (though not so strangely if you understand the Bible) I was trying to get “upward” toward something better, BUT NOT JESUS! Horrors, anything except Jesus! I bought Buddhist books, pagan books, New Age gooks, psychology books, all in vain attempts to stave off the one last resort to try- Jesus. I was vigorous about it.

During that time I felt that the world had two elements to it, good, or love, and evil. I represented that fight in this piece, called ‘Intelligent Design.’

You might notice that same cupola in Intelligent Design that is in the Suspended Transformation piece. It has a sort of evil eye as a wind vane and to me, seemed very demonic. It represented a strong tower or fortress of evil. My mistake then was thinking that good, or love, and evil were equal combatants in this world. Of course I know now that Jesus has overcome everything and evil bows to His will. The battle is not equal. It is not even.

I remember shortly after I was saved, this battle and its exigencies were still fresh in my mind and very palpable. I said to a church friend of the Arminian type, “I was brought to the cross kicking and screaming.” She looked at me and dismissively said, “You were not!” My friend and her circle in which I was involved strongly believed that the believer decides for him or herself to go forward down an aisle and the walk down the aisle is littered with rose petals, dancing unicorns and rainbows. While that may be some people’s experience, my own experience at salvation was one of agony, blood, tears, and resistance. I did not want to go. But I could not resist.

Source The Graphics Fairy

On Star Trek, tractor beams were a beam that emanated from a spaceship and when aimed at a lesser vessel, inexorably drew the then-helpless vessel toward the greater vessel. No matter if the lesser vessel had its shields up, or if its thrusters were in full reverse, or if they attempted to bug out at warp speed, once caught in the Tractor Beam, they could not escape and were pulled to the Vessel. The name ‘tractor beam’ was coined from food chemist and science fiction writer E.E. Smith’s original “Attractor Beam.” I was a Trekkie (original series) and I always liked the tractor beam. I did not know, but God knew, that decades later I would be caught in His tractor beam of grace.

Today I understand that God wrote our names down in His Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). The default condition of every person on earth is that we are all sinners all the time and we do not seek God. (Romans 3:10-11).

However, His grace is such that, at the appointed time, God uses His irresistible grace as a tractor beam to draw people to His Son. (John 6:44). Without it, we would never willingly “choose Jesus.” We can’t and if we are drawn, initially we resist. However God is so mighty and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, so no one can resist it forever. Otherwise it would mean that satan and man can frustrate God.

John Murray said of irresistible grace:

The enmity of the human heart is most virulent at the point of the supreme revelation of God’s glory. So deep-seated and persistent is the contradiction that the Saviour as the embodiment of grace is rejected. It is when we recognize this that the need for irresistible grace is perceived.

No one cay say to Him, “Nah, I’m good.” Could Lazarus reply to Jesus in the tomb, “I want to lay here a little longer.” No. The Doctrine of Irresistible grace is the “I” in the TULIP acronym for the Doctrines of Grace. Though personal experience is not the final analysis of anything, I know my salvation walk was fraught with resistance. I dug in my heels.

It is a moral and spiritual impossibility for a person to come to Christ apart from the Father’s drawing. What we find now is that it is a moral and spiritual impossibility for the person given by the Father to the Son not to come. There is by Jesus’ verdict the invariable conjunction of these two diverse kinds of action—“all that the Father giveth me will come to me.” There is invincible efficacy in the Father’s action and this means grace irresistible. (John Murray)

At the time I was revolted by the notion of anything about Jesus, that the something better my heart was wanting was indeed Him. I  now am grateful every day that I know Him and that I can ponder His beauty and wondrous glory at any moment of the day. I can read His word at any time and earn more about Him. I can pray and enter into the throne room. I can see Him in other people of the faith. He is endlessly fascinating to me, to a degree that is as far as the east is from the west as I had found Him revolting before salvation. Only Jesus could turn such a drenched heart of sin and His very name on my tongue made it bitter, to one of cleansed wonder for His glory. Only him. Thank God we cannot resist Him.

For more on Irresistible Grace,

CARM definition and supporting verses

Irresistible Grace is the Power of God

The Doctrine of God’s Effectual Call

Note:
John Murray on Irresistible Grace, From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: http://www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343”

Posted in prophecy, rapture, salvation, tribulation

Will any people be saved after the rapture, during the tribulation?

A friend on Facebook asked me a question. I like questions. They send me searching the Bible for a Spirit-led answer. I enjoy studying for a purpose. Here is the question:

How it can be that the bible states that most people will go to hell, yet in the tribulation, so many are saved they can’t be counted? Is the dynamic different in the Tribulation?

As for most people going to hell, yes that’s true. The Bible says that Jesus promised-

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 narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

A specific answer as to how many will be saved during the wrath known as the Tribulation period can’t be given, because we cannot quantify “many” and “few”. We know for example, that many people died in the Flood (most actually). Few were on the narrow way, (only 8 people actually. Noah and his family). We know that most were sent to destruction when four of the five cities of the plain were destroyed. Admah, Zeboiim, Sodom and Gomorrah were thriving cities full of people, and most were sent to destruction when the angels came to destroy them with brimstone. (Genesis 19:13, 24-25; Deuteronomy 29:23). Only a few were saved (4 actually, and one of those turned out to be a false convert).

Over the course of world history we can’t know how many means few and how many means many. But we notice the fact that as soon as Jesus began teaching the hard truths, most left him. (John 6:60, 66). If we look at the scene in context as a microcosm of the world population, most people throughout history have either rejected Him outright or left the faith showing they never were of Him at all.

Therefore I believe the dynamic in the Tribulation is different. I base this on the verse in Matthew where Jesus said the Tribulation will be a unique time in world history. (Matthew 24:21,

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

As for why so many would be saved, it is because the Tribulation is the fulfillment of the Bible’s promises. John MacArthur says in his sermon “Tribulation Saints part 1”,

“We have prayed that some day there would be a sweeping revival across the world that would bring millions of souls into the Kingdom. It has been the prayers of God’s people through the centuries that God would bring a great harvest of souls. And He will. One day it will come. It will be the greatest movement of God’s saving power in terms of sheer numbers that the world has ever known. Now that anticipation of that should not shock us because God longs to save…”

Revival is something we always pray for, but we don’t often realize that the revival that comes might look very different than the revival we envision in our head. Usually we envision a peaceful, joyful revival that sparks cultural change and personal peace. Yet the revival ahead in the Tribulation will be in a time of blood and war and grief and widespread martyrdom.

The reasons so many will be saved are found in Romans 11:26, that all Israel will be saved, and in Genesis 12, the fulfillment of Abraham’s covenant that all (pagan) nations through Abraham will be blessed.

If you’re interested, you can hear about salvation during the Tribulation explained more fully in John MacArthur’s sermon “Tribulation Saints” parts 1 and 2, expositing these verses from Revelation 7 under discussion.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10).

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:13-14)

Praise the Lord who saves!!