what salvation is

Man tends to oversimplify salvation diminishing God and His purpose in the process

Oftentimes we make salvation so man-empowered and so one-dimensional … we create an impotent counterfeit … something religious

Focused on an event … a personal decision for Christ … a prayer of salvation … a declaration of ‘I am saved’

We really market and sell the ‘free gift’ (Romans 6:23) while failing to say a word about the ‘cost of discipleship’ (Luke 14:26-33) …

And while there is absolutely no doubt that the free gift of God is of utmost preeminence (Colossians 1:18) … God has a purpose to be fulfilled for those who receive that free gift (Romans 8:29) … a purpose not without costs …

Evangelism is not the end-game.   In football analogy, it is simply recruiting … seeking a commitment letter.  What comes next?  Coaching, conditioning, practices, games, victories … and losses, injuries, and championships.  A ‘Yes’, simply says ‘Let’s begin’ NOT ‘It is finished’.

Jesus did not say to make converts … He said ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19)

We celebrate the rebirth of a child of God … and then leave that newborn infant IN Christ to his or her own devices … perhaps that makes more sense to the spiritual man than it does to the natural mother.  An infant IN Christ should be embraced by the church family and loved and nurtured toward maturity, preparing them for the mission … the battle … of life that lies ahead.   While they have learned of the love of Jesus … now they must learn of the love one another.

Instead we convert them, then leave them to choose next steps, to become easy prey for the prowling, roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8) … much like that young one you see a lion cut out of the safety and protection of the herd on nature documentaries …

Salvation as defined by God is … divinely multi-dimensional

Salvation has a beginning with God … a beginning in which you were chosen IN Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-4)

Salvation is found IN Christ Jesus alone (2 Timothy 2:10, 3:15), the gift of God (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8) and not a result of works (Ephesians 2:9)

Salvation has another beginning with you and with me … when we respond as Peter instructed at Pentecost:

     “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself … Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:38-40)

Salvation is guaranteedto those the Father has given to the Son … none will be lost (John 10:29) God chooses us … we don’t choose Him …

Salvation is guaranteed by the seal of the Holy Spirit of God for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Salvation is not an event … it is a journey … a process … by which ‘God who is at work IN you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure’ … we are ‘being saved’ (Philippians 2:12-13)

Salvation has a finish line … Peter calls it ‘the outcome of our faith’ and confirms it will ‘be revealed in the last time.’ (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Salvation is both personal AND communalGod is performing His work IN and THRU us individually and collectively (Ephesians 5:23, Revelation 19:7)

Yes, I am saved … I am being saved … I will be saved.

Also, we are saved … we are being saved … we will be saved.

All praise, honor and glory to our Lord and Savior!

Bernie

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when does God choose you and me

Actually that’s the wrong question … the correct question would be …

When did God choose you and me?

Oftentimes, in a salvation decision we incorrectly believe that God is waiting for us to choose Him … but the reality is it is God who chooses you … who gives you to Jesus … who draws you to Jesus …

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day … No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.    John 6:37-40, 44

Only the sheep of Jesus hear His voice …

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;          and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than ALL; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.  John 10:27-30 (NASB)

As believers, we are created IN Christ Jesus for the good works which God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in …

For we are His workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

All the days of our lives were written in God’s book before we ever took our first breath

My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.  Psalm 139:15-16 (NASB)

God chose you and me IN Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world … our Abba Father predestined us to adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ … in love and ALL according to the kind intention of His will …

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places IN Christ, just as He chose us  IN Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (NASB)

We have been predestined according to the purpose of God to obtain the divine inheritance …

He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed IN Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of ALL things IN Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. IN Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 1:9-12 (NASB)

You have to do a little reverse interpretation of this passage … but what you come up with is this … from the foundation of the world the names of the children of God have been written in the book of life of the Lamb …

It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.  Revelation 13:7-9 (NASB)

God predestined us to become conformed to the image of Christ Jesus … God called us … He drew us unto Jesus … God justified us … He gave us to Jesus … God glorified us …

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  Romans 8:28-30 (NASB)

So thankful my future is grounded in God’s choice, plan and purpose … and not my own … so thankful!

How about you?

Friends, I’m feeling the love of God!!!

So loved by our heavenly Father!!!

Bernie

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when did God choose Jesus to die and live for me

Some people believe that Jesus is Plan B and that God did not choose Jesus to die for the sins of man until after Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden … as if God was surprised by Adam and Eve’s choice. If that was the case, we could just toss out omniscience and omnipresence as attributes of God, couldn’t we?

There was always only one predetermined plan …

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. Acts 2:22-23 (NASB)

What happened to Jesus in route to and on the cross was predestined by God according to His purpose …

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Acts 4:27-28 (NASB)

And God’s plan and purpose called not only for the cross … but for the summing up of ALL thing IN Christ in the fullness of times …

IN Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed IN Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things IN Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.  Ephesians 1:7-10 (NASB)

The Father loved the Son before the foundation of the world …

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24 (NASB)

Jesus and His mission was foreknown before the foundation of the world …

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers IN God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are IN God. 1 Peter 1:17-21 (NASB)

For the sake of you who through Christ Jesus are believers IN God …

A plan and a purpose predetermined before the foundation of the world …

For the sake of you and me …

WOW!

That said … let’s close with these words of Jesus …

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.  John 10:17-18 (NASB)

Bernie

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what creation has to do with Jesus

Hopefully you read yesterday’s post … if not, I would suggest reading why the creation vs evolution argument matters … in that post, please note my definition of evolution.  For some folks, that may prompt the following question …

What does creation have to do with Jesus?

Some will say I believe in evolution and I believe in Jesus … while I won’t say they are wrong, IMHO I can’t help but think there is an issue with that combination of beliefs.  Yes, that’s personal opinion and personal conviction based on what I see in Scripture … please consider the opening words of the gospel of John … remembering that the Word is Jesus

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with GodALL things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  John 1:1-3 (NASB)

How ‘ bout the Webb paraphrase …

In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.  Jesus was in the beginning with God.  ALL things came into being through Jesus, and apart from Jesus nothing came into being that has come into being.

(Note: it may be helpful to take a look at Genesis 1:1, 26a, John 15:5 … for me; they add power and insight into the verses above).

Once more … ALL things came into being through Jesus Christ

… yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom ALL things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom ALL things came and through whom we live.  1 Corinthians 8:6 (NIV)

By Jesus ALL things were created … ALL things have been created through JesusALL things have been created for JesusJesus is before ALL things … ALL things hold together IN Jesus

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of ALL creation.  For by Him ALL things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–ALL things have been created through Him and for HimHe is before ALL things, and IN Him ALLthings hold together.  Colossians 1:15-17 (NASB)

Once again, through Jesus, God made the world …

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  Hebrews 1:1-2 (NASB)

You and I are the workmanship of God, created IN Christ Jesus for good works (remember that last part … it may be important in the next post)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created IN Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.  Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)

Are you beginning to get a glimpse into the creation-Jesus connection?

A couple of verses that seem to speak to the topic of evolution might also be helpful …

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.  Hebrews 11:3 (NASB)

It is by faith … God-given faith … that we believe and understand that God spoke the world into existence (check out the eight occurrences of ‘Then God said, “Let …” in Genesis 1’).  It is also by faith … God-given faith … that we believe and understand that what exists was not made out of other existing and visible things (that throws a real monkey wrench in evolution for believers … sorry ‘bout the pun!)

Also consider …

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”  For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.  2 Peter 3:3-6 (NASB)

Based on the verses that follow verse 3 above, it is not much of a leap to align evolutionists with the foretold mockers.  Why?  Because rather than acknowledge the biblical truth that the flood of Genesis 7 actually created most of the sedimentary layers we see all over the world (one confirmation of this was discovered in the scientific observation, research and analysis of the Mount St. Helens eruption), the evolutionists ignore the flood and claim that each sedimentary layer takes millions of years to form  and ‘that all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’ … actually scratch that last part and probably replace it with ‘from the big bang’ … no creator … no creation …

Yesterday … why the creation vs evolution argument matters

Today … what creation has to do with Jesus

Wonder what’s next?

Bernie

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why the creation vs evolution argument matters

This may seem an odd way to begin but stick with me …

My father established our relationship when I was seven years old.  He looked at me and said, “You know, I brought you in this world, and I can take you out.  And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you.”

Bill Cosby – “Himself” album

After you’ve taken a few moments to remember the first time you heard Bill Cosby (the original album was released in 1983) say that and laughed about it, consider this …

His father decided than since he brought his child into the world, it was his right to have expectations of that child, and also his right to take away the very life he had given that child if he did not live according to those expectations …

Sound familiar?

(Note: When I speak of evolution, I am speaking of the concept that theorizes but never proves that the universe has randomly evolved over billions of years out of nothing and that within that imagined process man has evolved from other species … actually through multiple species … while certain others of those exact  same species were unexplainably left behind ‘AS IS’)

Evolution would tell us we are fatherless … we are here by a sequence of random events …

Creation tells us we have a Father … we are here as an act of love according to His plan, purpose and will …

Evolution would tell us since we are here by a sequence of random events; we are free to do whatever we want …

Creation tells us since we are here as an act of love according to the plan, purpose and will of the heavenly Father; we should want to do what He wants …

Evolution would tell us that we are free to do whatever we want without concern for others …

Creation tells us we are free to do what God wants with concern for others … our neighbors

Evolution would tell us to love self …

Creation tells us to love God and love one another as He loves us …

Evolution would tell us “You are your own”

Creation tells us “You are not your own”

Evolution is a scheme of the devil intended to distract us from God …

Creation is the truth of Scripture intended to attract us to God …

See the dilemma?

The creation account in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible tells us that …

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Genesis 1:27 (NASB)

Now for you literalists who might say, ‘That’s just describing Adam and Eve’, remember Adam and Eve did not come from the womb as you read the following …

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.  Psalm 139:13-16 (NASB)

The challenge then for the natural man is to discover he was made for a divine purpose … and that the life he lives is one in which he is ensnared and enslaved to his flesh, his pride and the devil …

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 (NASB)

We need to realize the status quo is not what was intended … it is a deception.

The truth is that the ‘Father who brought us in this world’ is waiting and willing to give us life and bring us into His kingdom!

Evolution vs. Creation … it’s foundational to what we worship and believe!

Bernie

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Be found ready for the wedding feast of the Lamb!

Covering some familiar ground this morning … with a new stop or two …

“So then, you will know them by their fruits.  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.'”  Matthew 7:20-23 (NASB)

Since I’ve hit the basics on this before, here are the key points …

  • Only he or she who does the will of the heavenly Father will enter into the kingdom of heaven
  • Those doing the will of the Father will be known by others by their good fruit
  • Those who do the will of the Father are known by the Lord (actually that order is backwards …)

So often we put the emphasis on coming to know Jesus … and that’s certainly important … but it’s more important to be known by Jesus.  A relationship is a two way street and requires being known by one another.

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.  Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.  But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’  And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.  Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’  Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.  Matthew 25:1-13 (NASB)

The biggest takeaway I have always gotten from this passage was always simply … Be ready. for you do not know the day or hour of Christ’s return!

But today I have different questions …

Why did the virgins need their lamps filled with oil to go into the wedding feast?  Surely the lamps of the other virgins and the rest of the wedding party would put off enough light?  And why virgins?  And why would the bridegroom not know them just because they had no oil for their lamps?

In Scripture, being anointed with oil is oftentimes synonymous with being filled with the Holy Spirit

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward.  1 Samuel 16:13 (NASB)

God lights the lamps of his children via the indwelling presence of His Son and His Spirit that they might glorify Him before the world.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB)

The virgins collectively are the bride of Christ … and with their lamps filled with oil … their invitations to the marriage supper of the Lamb confirmed … were found ready and entered in … Jesus knows them.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.  It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.  Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'”  Revelation 19:7-9 (NASB)

When one is born again of the Holy Spirit, he or she receives a pledge … a seal … a promise … an invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb …

IN Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed IN Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 1:13-14 (NASB)

IMHO the filled flasks represent an overflowing of the Holy Spirit … an overflowing to be shared and poured out upon others prior to Christ’s return …

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.  John 7:38-39 (NASB)

And then again … maybe all Jesus meant was ‘Be found ready!’

Bernie

 

 

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Real Men DO Eat Quiche … and make it too!

About four months ago I received the Spring 2014 edition of NE Georgia Living Magazine and it had an article about quiche …  offering several recipes.  To this novice breakfast chef, the broccoli quiche recipe looked pretty simple and straightforward so I gave it a try … a decision that has pleased my wife greatly.  Over the last few months, I have experimented with adding ingredients and different spices until I arrived at the current recipe.

DSC01092

INGREDIENTS:

1 frozen deep dish pie shell

4-5 ounces frozen broccoli florets
(Thaw and drain all the excess moisture off the broccoli and
then chop into small pieces discarding the stalks – I usually buy
the 14 oz bag at 
the grocery store, then split it equally into three
ziploc bags … 
using one, while putting the other two in the
freezer for the 
next quiche).

Sliced mushrooms to taste … I use the little jar from Green
Giant – it lasts through several quiche

Chopped onions to taste

Diced ham to taste … I buy the vacuum packed pre-diced (not
cubed) package of ham at the grocery store … the little pack will
usually last for 
3 or more quiche.

¼ lb shredded Swiss cheese

2 tbsp melted butter

3 eggs

1 cup half and half

Mrs. Dash – Garlic and Herb (or salt and pepper) to taste

Optional ingredients: Feel free to substitute crumbled bacon
or sausage for the diced ham, can also add chopped peppers

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Distribute broccoli evenly across the bottom of the pie shell.  Then top with mushrooms, onions and the diced ham to taste.  Then season with the Mrs. Dash.  Evenly spread the shredded Swiss cheese over the other ingredients.  Beat eggs, half and half, melted butter and Mrs. Dash together.  Pour mixture evenly over broccoli, cheese, etc.  Then I usually sprinkle a bit more Mrs. Dash on top of it all.

Bake for 45 minutes.  I usually move it to the lower rack with 10 minutes to go to keep quiche from crusting.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

My final experiment with this recipe occurred tonight.  For a couple of months I have been considering using sriracha on my slice of the quiche to spice things up a bit.  So after I put tonight’s quiche in the oven it was off to Publix to buy a bottle of Texas Pete’s Sriracha Cha! hot chili sauce.

So I cut my slice of quiche into bite size pieces and the final experiment began … the trick was getting the right amount of sriracha on each bite … too much and I spent a few minutes in a fire drill dousing the flames with milk … the perfect amount ended up being a drop per bite … and perfection!

If you happen to try the recipe, would love to hear about it.  If you take this recipe and personalize it, I would love to hear about it.  If you have a personal quiche recipe you recommend, please leave a link or the recipe itself.

Happy cooking my friends … happy cooking!

Bernie

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