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Bob Burney

“Bob Burney Live,” WRFD Columbus, Ohio

If you are older than 40 the name Benjamin Spock is more than familiar. It was Spock that told an entire generation of parents to take it easy, don’t discipline your children and allow them to express themselves. Discipline, he told us, would warp a child’s fragile ego. Millions followed this guru of child development and he remained unchallenged among child rearing professionals. However, before his death Dr. Spock made an amazing discovery: he was wrong. In fact, he said:  

 

We have reared a generation of brats. Parents aren’t firm enough with their children for fear of losing their love or incurring their resentment. This is a cruel deprivation that we professionals have imposed on mothers and fathers. Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn’t realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents.

Oops.

Something just as momentous, in my opinion, just happened in the evangelical community. For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the “seeker sensitive” movement spawned by Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. He and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.

Perhaps inadvertently, with this “new wave” of ministry came a de-emphasis on taking personal responsibility for Bible study combined with an emphasis on felt-needs based “programs” and slick marketing.

The size of the crowd rather than the depth of the heart determined success. If the crowd was large then surely God was blessing the ministry. Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting “felt needs” and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn’t matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn’t “cutting edge” and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.

Thousands of pastors hung on every word that emanated from the lips of the church growth experts. Satellite seminars were packed with hungry church leaders learning the latest way to “do church.” The promise was clear: thousands of people and millions of dollars couldn’t be wrong. Forget what people need, give them what they want. How can you argue with the numbers? If you dared to challenge the “experts” you were immediately labeled as a “traditionalist,” a throwback to the 50s, a stubborn dinosaur unwilling to change with the times.

All that changed recently.

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.

Just as Spock’s “mistake” was no minor error, so the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement.

Perhaps the most shocking thing of all in this revelation coming out of Willow Creek is in a summary statement by Greg Hawkins:

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.

Isn’t that what we were told when this whole seeker-sensitive thing started? The church growth gurus again want to throw away their old assumptions and “take out a clean sheet of paper” and, presumably, come up with a new paradigm for ministry. 

Should this be encouraging?

Please note that “rooted in Scripture” still follows “rethink,” “new insights” and “informed research.” Someone, it appears, still might not get it. Unless there is a return to simple biblical (and relevant) principles, a new faulty scheme will replace the existing one and another generation will follow along as the latest piper plays.

What we should find encouraging, at least, in this “confession” coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing “model” does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.

Bob Burney is Salem Communications’ award-winning host of Bob Burney Live, heard weekday afternoons on WRFD-AM 880 in Columbus, Ohio. Contact Bob at bob@wrfd.com.

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William MacDonald

 

There is a curious problem today in the evangelical [and fundamental] world — one that poses sobering questions for the church and for the individual believer. The problem in brief is this: a great army of personal soul-winners has been mobilized to reach the populace for Christ. They are earnest, zealous, enthusiastic, and persuasive. To their credit it must be said that they are on the job. And it is one of the phenomena of our times that they rack up an astounding number of conversions. Everything so far seems to be on the plus side.

But the problem is this: The conversions do not stick. The fruit does not remain. Six months later there is nothing to be seen for all the aggressive evangelism. The capsule technique of soul winning has produced stillbirths.

What lies at the back of all this malpractice in bringing souls to the birth? Strangely enough it begins with the valid determination to preach the pure gospel of the grace of God. We want to keep the message simple — uncluttered by any suggestion that man can ever earn or deserve eternal life. Justification is by faith alone, apart from the deeds of the law. Therefore, the message is “only believe.”

From there the message is reduced to a concise formula. For instance, the evangelistic process is cut down to a few basic questions and answers, as follows:

“Do you believe you are a sinner?”
“Yes.”
“Do you believe Christ died for sinners?”
“Yes.”
“Will you receive Him as your Savior?”
“Yes.”
“Then you are saved!”
“I am?”
“Yes, the Bible says you are saved.”

At first blush the method and the message might seem above criticism. But on closer study we are forced to have second thoughts and to conclude that the gospel has been over-simplified.

The first fatal flaw is the missing emphasis on repentance. There can be no true conversion without conviction of sin. It is one thing to agree that I am a sinner: it is quite another thing to experience the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. Unless I have a Spirit-wrought consciousness of my utterly lost condition, I can never exercise saving faith. It is useless to tell unconvicted sinners to believe on Jesus — that message is only for those who know they are lost. We sugar-coat the gospel when we de-emphasize man’s fallen condition. With that kind of watered-down message, people receive the Word with joy instead of with deep contrition. They do not have deep roots, and though they might endure for a while, they soon give up all profession when persecution or trouble comes (Matt. 13:21). Many have forgotten that the message is repentance toward God as well as faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

A second serious omission is a missing emphasis on the Lordship of Christ. A light, jovial mental assent that Jesus is Savior misses the point. Jesus is first Lord, then Savior. The New Testament always places His Lordship before His Saviorhood. Do we present the full implication of His Lordship to people? He always did.

A third defect in the message is the tendency to keep the terms of discipleship hidden until a decision has been made for Jesus. Our Lord never did this. The message He preached included the cross as well as the crown. “He never hid His scars to win disciples.” He revealed the worst along with the best, then told His listeners to count the cost. We popularize the message and promise fun.

The result of all this is that we have people believing without knowing what they believe. In many cases they have no doctrinal basis for their decision. They do not know the implication of commitment to Christ. They have never experienced the mysterious, miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.

And of course there are others who are talked into a profession because of the slick salesmanship techniques of the soul winner. Or some who want to please the affable, personable young man with the winning smile. And some who only want to get rid of this religious interloper who has intruded into their privacy. Satan laughs when these conversions are triumphantly announced on earth.

I would like to raise several questions that might lead to some changes in the strategy of evangelism.

First of all, can we generally expect people to make an intelligent commitment to Christ the first time they hear the Gospel? Certainly, there is the exceptional case where a person has already been prepared by the Holy Spirit.

But generally speaking, the process involves sowing the seed, watering it, then sometime later reaping the harvest. In our mania for instant conversion, we have forgotten that conception, gestation, and birth do not occur on the same day.

A second question — can a capsule presentation of the gospel really do justice to so great a message? As one who has written several gospel tracts, I confess to a certain sense of misgivings in even attempting to condense the good news into four small pages. Would we not be wise to give people the full presentation as it is found in the Gospels, or in the New Testament?

Thirdly, is all this pressure for decisions really Scriptural? Where in the New Testament were people ever pressured into making a profession? The practice is justified by saying that if only one out of ten is genuine, it is worth it. But what about the other nine disillusioned, bitter, perhaps deceived; enroute to hell by a false profession?

And I must add this: Is all this boasting about conversions really accurate? You’ve met the man who solemnly tells you of ten people he contacted that day and all of them were saved. A young doctor testified that every time he goes to a new city, he looks in the phone book for people with his last name. Then he calls them one by one and leads them through the four steps of salvation. Amazing enough, every one of them opens the door of his heart to Jesus. I don’t want to doubt the honesty of people like this, but am I wrong in thinking that they are extremely naive? Where are all those people who are saved? They cannot be found.

What it all means is that we should seriously re-examine our streamlined capsule evangelism. We should be willing to spend time teaching the gospel, laying a solid doctrinal foundation for faith to rest on. We should stress the necessity for repentance — a complete about face with regard to sin. We should stress the full implication of the Lordship of Christ and the conditions of discipleship. We should explain what belief really involves. We should be willing to wait for the Holy Spirit to produce genuine conviction of sin.

If we do this, we’ll have less astronomical figures of so-called conversions, but more genuine cases of spiritual rebirth.

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By Ray Stedman

My home is on the Rogue River in southwestern Oregon. As the river flows by my door it is a quiet, happily murmuring stream. But ten miles downstream it turns into a raging torrent, sweeping through the walls of Hellgate Canyon with unbelievable power and white-capped display. The varied assortment of rafters, kayakers, and boatsmen who challenge its course through the Coast Range have but one thought in mind—survival! A few hardy, experienced souls dare it on their own, but most rely on river-wise guides who thoroughly know the dangers, can instruct in the techniques of survival, and are able to build implicit trust in their knowledge and leadership.

By now you have doubtless discovered that life is very much like that powerful and treacherous river. Who hasn’t felt at times that you are being carried along into unknown dangers quite beyond your control? Who hasn’t breathed a sigh of relief during quiet seasons, only to have sudden intrusions of tragic circumstances press faith to the breaking point? We’ve all known (and perhaps succumbed to) the allure of powerful temptations to wrong-doing that can leave us shattered and disillusioned when they are past. Or thought we were doing okay only to discover that we had badly misjudged our state and woke up too late to recover.

All these perils and more are charted for us in the seven letters to the churches of Asia, found in Revelation 2-3. The encouraging factor is that they come from the great River-Guide himself, Jesus our Lord, who thoroughly knows the dangers which confront us, can advise knowledgably and accurately of the correctives needed to survive, and, in addition, offers incredible rewards to those who make the trip successfully to the end.

Each of the seven letters confronts a different situation and teaches a different lesson. The first, to the church at Ephesus, describes the one absolutely essential motivation to survival. It is to preserve continuously the warm and intimate love for Jesus that we first felt when we learned of that agony of self-sacrifice on our behalf which made salvation possible and brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light. If we lose that love by being drawn into side currents of man-pleasing or self-gratification or personal ambition we are in deadly danger of finding ourselves washed up on the shoals of life with little to show for having lived at all. “Watch your motivation,” says Jesus, “there is only one that can see you safely through the perils of life—a genuine and often-renewed love for Me.”

The letter to Smyrna faces a quite different danger. Here it is the terrible pressure to give up faith because it will mean ridicule, ostracism, affliction and outright persecution even to the point of death. We hate the thought that difficulties and hard trials are to be part of our lot, but Jesus tells us that only these can build the moral strength and trust that is needed to get us through. Modern examples include Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who suffered for years in Russian prisons and detention camps but who was sustained by a deepening devotion to Christ. His sturdy declaration of unpalatable truth has become a model to many of how one man can influence a whole generation. We believe that strong military forces are needed to preserve Christian civilization but Smyrna teaches us that Jesus can keep his church alive and vigorous in the midst of social and political upheaval. “Don’t be intimidated by opposition,” cries Jesus, “just as I died and came to life again, so can you, for the cross always leads to a crown!”

Pergamum stresses the need for integrity. The perils are subtle. One of them is sexual seduction. A young business man once told me of being with associates in a city away from home. His two friends planned to go out and find girls for a sexual party, but being a Christian he demurred and stayed in the room to write letters. After going to bed he was awakened by his two friends returning, accompanied by three girls. One of them promptly climbed in bed with him, awakening strong physical response. But he reminded himself of all he had to lose, and what his Lord would think, and wisely dressed without a word of reproach and went down to get another room. The other peril at Pergamum was to seek for personal power at the price of integrity. This was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. It is found in many offices today in the lure of The Inner Circle, entrance to which demands some surrender of moral principle.

“But,” says Jesus, “don’t forget that integrity maintained means greater intimacy with Me. Guard your morality with care!”

The letter to Thyatira develops the other side of the same problem. It teaches us that compromise destroys. Under the figure of the Old Testament queen, Jezebel, who introduced idolatry into Israel, a contemporary Jezebel teaches Christians that having another god is necessary to do business in the modern world. It pictures adopting the world’s value system in place of the personal honesty which Christ requires. To lie, to shade principle, to promise what can’t be delivered, is to begin a downward slide into moral disaster. The recent spate of indictments for inside trading on Wall Street is a case in point. Those indicted have testified to the way their moral perceptions were blunted by the lust for easy money–but now prison awaits! So a false god leads to certain destruction. “But remember,” Jesus urges, “faithfulness leads to greater authority. He who overcomes will reign with Me.”

Sardis is the church in deepest trouble. It started well but soon began to lean on a good reputation and that led to inner-coasting till before they knew it they were all but dead. The Lord’s staccato command to them is, “Wake up, strengthen what remains.” The lesson to each of us is clear: words are never enough. A reputation for past success will soon disappear if the deeds that built it are missing. It is a call for consistency. Begin again where you once were. Apathy and lethargy are deadly enemies so recognize them as such and come alive. “Those who do,” says Jesus, “will find security and honor. Limited success is far better than phony achievement.”

Alone among the churches, the church of Philadelphia merits the full approval of its Lord, without reproach of any kind. It is because its members are alert to their opportunities, compassionate to their enemies, and patiently aware that nothing will ever be fully set right till Jesus comes. Read the lives of the heroes and heroines of the Church and see how that pattern is repeated in each life. With the love of Jesus as a continuing motive, and a determination to faithfully reflect his character till he returns, men and women like Mother Theresa, Chuck Colson, Jim Elliott, Amy Carmichael, and thousands unnamed have earned the title, “of whom the world was not worthy.” “I will acknowledge them as my own,” Jesus declares, “in new ways they cannot now imagine!”

Laodicea is the church filled with self-sufficient members. They had two problems. One, there was a lack of full commitment; they were neither hot nor cold. And, two, there was an inaccurate self-image; they thought they were rich when they were really poor. They were both comfortable and complacent. But in the eyes of Jesus they were far from what he wanted his people to be. The church is not a country club, operated for the benefit of its members. It is not a performing arts center, offering high-quality entertainment. It is not a political action group, choosing up sides in the public arena. It is not a protest movement, radically seeking the overthrow of law and order. What it is intended to be is salt, and salty salt at that, flavoring life and arresting its corruption. And light, widely visible light, illuminating a dark and confused world. To be this, Jesus offers himself, in intimate and personal relationship, to be the source of all that’s needed for ministry in this present age. “Nothing else will suffice,” he says, “only my life lived through your life will do the trick. It will bring you through the shoals and rapids of life to share with me in the Final Triumph!”

So, can you make it through the dangers, toils and snares of this dangerous world? Of course you can—if you love your Leader, heed his warnings, and lay hold of his resources. Without him you cannot succeed; with him you cannot fail!

 

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By Dwight Knight 

Soteriology -The Greek word “soteria” means, the salvation of the soul.  Thus, we derive at the study of God’s plan to save man’s soul.  To outline our look into Soteriology we will focus our gaze into three areas.  They are: 

                              I.The Descriptions of Salvation

                          II.The Doctrine of Salvation

                       III.The Definitions of Salvation

 
 I. The Descriptions of Salvation

      a.) Salvation from the Penalty of Sin ~ Justification 
           1.) Redemption
           2.) Ransom
      b.) Salvation from the Power of Sin ~ Sanctification
           1.) Impartation
           2.) Holiness
           3.) Righteousness
      c.) Salvation from the Presence of Sin ~ Glorification
           1.) Expectation
           2.) Reward 

Salvation
is described as the process which a righteous, holy, loving God provides all the necessary components to redeem fallen humanity.  To accomplish this, the act of God on this matter must be comprehensive, complete and correct.

It must be comprehensive in its work so that there can never be claims of exception or exemption.  No one may ever say that salvation was not available when needed.   It must also be complete in its work, so as to satisfy all the requirements necessary to appease God’s wrath. If even one tenet of man’s fallen condition is not addressed, God would be compelled by the dictates of His own nature to banish mankind from His presence and exact on man the eternal punishment that man justly deserves.  And finally the work of salvation must be correct.  The process that would redeem the lost must be flawless in every component.  There is no luxury for error or fallibility.  Else, God’s holiness is a farce; man’s hope for eternal life is a fable and he (mankind) is still lost for eternity.  
Therefore, the work of salvation must deliver us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and the presence of sin. 

The penalty of sin is not just banishment to hell.  Because man comes to God with his need already in place, God must provide a means also that will deal with the corruption and contamination in man’s heart that already exists.  The process that God uses must provide a way to eliminate the sin of man’s past offenses.  This process is known as justification.

Justification is brought about through the resurrection of Jesus (See Rom. 4:24, 25). This act eliminates our past sins (See Rom. 3:24, 25), and allows us to appear before God as though the past sinful acts never existed.  This means that the issues surrounding man’s condition must be revealed and also remedied.  The forces of darkness hold mankind against his will in the slavery of a sinful world system (See Heb. 2:14, 15).  Therefore, to rescue man from slavery and pay the cost to release him from the one who imprisons him against his will, God must redeem and ransom him or as the words suggests “buy back” the hostage mankind by paying the acceptable price for his freedom.

Redemption

is the price one pays to release a person held in some form of slavery or prison.  Whereas, ransom is the price paid for someone held against their will.  By providing the Lord Jesus Christ to be the innocent blood payment for fallen man, God satisfies the requirements of His own holiness, while saving humanity from the penalty of sin. 
It is important to remember that while justification deals with sins that are past, i.e., the penalty of sin, there must be some type of salvation benefit that sees man’s present condition.  For, although mankind has been redeemed and ransomed; even though the sins of his past have been eliminated by the process of justification, man still has a soul that is in a fallen state, he lives in the immediate vicinity of a wicked world system, and there is a wicked despot, named Satan, who wants desperately to enslave him again. 

 

So, it becomes necessary that God provide a plan that will change the fallen nature to that which is eternally converted and thereby impervious to the contamination of future sinful acts, while also protecting man from the retribution that comes from living a sinful life before a righteous God.  This very necessary transaction would require that the perfect sacrificial body of Jesus (Heb. 10:4-10) offered would appease God’s wrath and provide man with sanctification.  That is, man can be made holy in his spirit (the part of his being that was made to be the dwelling place of God), and live holy by desire with his soul (that part of man the is his essence where volition of will is found) and choice without fear of death, proving in other words, that God has also saved us from the power of sin, upon which man can please God with the actions of his body (Romans 12:1). 

To bring about the work of sanctification, three very important works must be done at conversion.  First, there is the work of impartation. Impartation is the act where we are placed in Christ (II Cor. 5:17) and He in us (Gal. 2:20).  Because of the act of impartation, God now sees us in His Son; man is no longer forced to stand before God having his own merit or deeds to represent him (Phil. 3:9).  This process is also known as the baptism of the Spirit (I Cor. 12:13).   As a result of impartation God is can now declare righteousness on everyone who by faith receives Christ as their Savior.  Righteousness means, “To declare one in right standing before God”.  This declaration is solely a gift from God (Rom. 5:17b).  The righteousness of God is imputed, meaning it was given on the behalf of someone else.  God imputed His righteousness to us because of the love He has for His Son.  Everything God does for the believer is because of His love for His Son.  As a result of having God’s imputed righteousness and being placed in His Son, the Bible teaches that we are holy and we should live holy.  God decided in eternity past that everyone that comes to Him through His Son would be made holy (Eph.1:4).  That is, we are as holy as His Son Jesus because we are in Him.  This is known as positional holiness.  We are sanctified because of Jesus Christ alone, not by any accomplishments of our own (Heb.10:10).  But God also requires us to live in such a manner that does not follow after the world and its philosophies, but rather He expects us to live in a way that reveals a change in nature from our former lifestyle of sin.

This is known as practical holiness (I Peter 1:15, 16).  The statement of our individual lives should speak of the wonderful work of grace that God has accomplished in us.  To live contrary to this, would be stating that our God is not worthy of our commitment and that the death that Christ suffered was worthless and wasted. 
The final aspect in the work of Christ on our behalf would be salvation from the presence of sin.  The Bible makes it clear that this is not a temporary condition of salvation.  Instead as it was an eternal, infinite, and almighty God that conceived, completed and consummated this deed.  This work is called glorification and it is an eternal work that is impossible to reverse.  Glorification is the process where God takes mortal man, once a sinner now redeemed by His Son and elevates him to the highest position attainable, i.e., heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17) Already our spirits are with Him, seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), what we now await is His soon, sudden and sure return; just as He promised.  This return is referred to by His followers as the “rapture”.  Now, while the term “rapture” is never used in scripture, the Greek work parousia, meaning “catch away” or “to be caught away” (I Thes. 4:16, 17) is used to describe the Lord’s return.  The scriptures go on to teach that this is the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) and should be the expectation of every believer.

 

It is not an allegorical scheme or clever myth, this is the eternal plan of God which He planned for (Eph. 1:4-11) and what our Savior prayed for (John 17:24) actual and certain.  The Lord Jesus will take the saints of God, to be with Him forever in heaven and sit at the throne of His Heavenly Father, God and His earthly father, David.  Finally it will be at this time God will reward all those who have faithfully served and followed Him.  The reward that will be given the believers’ at this time will be conditional, based on deeds done on earth. 
We have just finished a brief look into the description of salvation.  Now we’ll turn our scrutiny toward the doctrine of salvation

II. The Doctrine of Salvation

 

a.     What Calvary Costs

1.     mercy

2.     grace

3.     propitiation

4.     justice

b.    What Confession Cancels

1.     forgiveness

2.     confession

c.     What Conversion Changes

1.     new nature

2.     newness of life

 

The vicarious death of the Lord Jesus Christ and the subsequent events around it comprise the must important acts of all time and eternity.  For it was at the cross, that a God who owed nothing to anyone, gave everything to anyone.  The giving of God’s only begotten son to die a sinner’s death was the greatest act of love ever displayed.  When one considers, that an infinite God, who is infinite in wisdom, power, understanding and genius, could have chosen from an infinite number of ways to save mankind, he chose only the one that would cost Him the most.  This begins to give us an understanding of what Calvary cost.

To display His mercy on humanity, a wholly just and righteous God must first appease His own standard of holiness.  In other words, God must somehow allow for the justice of His holiness to act and the mercy of His heart to act.  One does not cancel out the other.  Justice looks at a righteous standard and decides accordingly.  If there has been even one violation of His commands (James 2:10), God is forced by His own nature to judge and mete out the appropriate punishment.  Every man has violated God’s law.  Every man is worthy of God’s justice.  Every man is worthy of the appropriate punishment.  There are no exceptions to this reality. 

So, how does God bring about this very important transaction without invalidating His own moral code?  The answer is propitiationPropitiation is God’s determine process of changing justice to mercy without making a farce of justice, and without making a façade of mercy.  Propitiation says that if there is one who satisfies all of the essentials, i.e., (a) a sinless past, (b) a perfect flawless spirit, (c) maintain a perfect, law fulfilling life; this same person, if willing can pay the price for all.  This selfless act is the only way that the judgment seat becomes the mercy seat.   Jesus Christ did just that for all of lost humanity.  And because of His giving of Himself for us, God gives us not only His mercy, but also His grace.  Grace is the favor one shows on another, without the receiver deserving or asking for it.  God’s love gift to His Son for dying for us was that He would provide His limitless favor on sinners redeemed.  That is, God would treat the followers of Christ as He would his own Son, Jesus Christ.  Christ death on the cross was able to appease God’s justice without violating His holiness, while also giving to ruined creation God’s boundless favor.

God’s divine favor means that He does for His blood-bought children things that they do not deserve.  The on going process of living a holy life before Him is one that is fraught with fights, failures, and foes.  Often, however, the most difficult fight that the Christian faces is against his most dangerous adversary, the flesh.  The flesh provides enough conflict and confusion to the life of the believer as to make it seem that the devil is out of a job!  No matter the case, whether the sin in our lives is as a result of the devil’s schemes or the weaknesses of our flesh, the point remains; we sin.   Our sin is a result of the sinful desires we carried over from the former life.  It would be fair to say that God, having given us the grace and mercy that we do not deserve, would be justified in washing His hands of us.  But instead God reaches out yet another time and places his hand of grace out to rescue.  For, the scripture teaches us that the Lover of our souls has provided yet another benefit to our salvation that meets this reoccurring need.  That provision is called confession.  The act of telling God that what He sees us commit is in fact a violation of Him and His law and that we are aware of it (the Greek word for confession – “homologeo” means “to say the same as”).  What confession cancels is all sin that we commit after we have accepted Christ as our Savior.  Because the Father loves His Son, Jesus, He has so ordained that any child of God who confesses their sin, He will forgive (“aphiemi” – to put or send away) of all their wrongdoing.  We should also realize that the term confession brings with it the notion of a repented heart.  The act of confession is not a stand alone deed.  It is incumbent upon us to have sincere contrition when we come before the throne to discuss our wrong. 
Now the tendency is to say that with such a provision in place, it would seem we have the license to do whatever we want and expect God to remove our wickedness because of this provision.  This very same argument was addressed by the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 6.   He looked at the situation and brought into focus the balance between the problems of our faults and the promise of God’s forgiveness. 

 

He introduces for us in clear terms what every believer should study and adhere to.  This is a discussion about what conversion changes.

Every person, who has had a heart change, i.e., a new nature (II Cor. 5:17), by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior now can live in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-4).  The new nature removes the uncontrollable tendency to sin without choice.  This new nature provides us with the internal working of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:17; Phil.2:13) as the new governing principle of control in our lives.  This simply means that because we have a new operating source in our hearts there should be a new behavior pattern in our everyday life (Phil.2:12).  Newness of life is the very least that God should expect from us (Rom. 12:1) if we are really His.   This new nature that God in His infinite love and grace has given us, demands a new life that is a living witness of the completed work of Calvary on our behalf.  Everyone who by faith has come to trust Him for eternal life should strive by the power of the Holy Spirit and the instruction from the word of God to honor our Lord by keeping His commandments.  This above all else proves if the love we say we have for Him is genuine.

These points that have been shared are the basic point of the doctrine of Soteriology.  For a more in depth study, read Romans chapters 5 and 6.  This will give you Paul’s presentation of the saving work of Calvary.  We recommend that these passages presented here and the Paul’s work in Romans be study over and over until there is no doubt of the completed work that God has done.  God’s love for the saint and His provision to rescue lost humanity from sin, Satan and eternal punishment is not transitory or temporary.  The work of Calvary fro everyone who by faith believes, is eternal.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God and His work in our lives.  We may sin and we are capable of imperfect acts, but, salvation was never based on our work but His. In return, our love gift to Him should be our lives lived for Him. 

 http://www.challenge-ministries.org

 

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This is the story of the blacksmith who gave his heart to Jesus:

Though living a more godly life, still he was not prospering materially. In fact, it seems that from the time of his conversion more trouble, affliction and loss were sustained than ever before. Everything seemed to be going wrong. One day a friend who was not a Christian stopped by to talk to him awhile. Sympathizing with him in some of his trials, the friend said, “It seems strange to me that so much affliction should pass over you just at the time when you have become an earnest Christian. Of course, I don’t want to weaken your faith in God or anything like that. But here you are, with God’s help and guidance, and yet things seem to be getting steadily worse, I can’t help wondering why that is.”
The blacksmith did not answer immediately, and it was evident that he had thought the same question before. But finally, he said, “You see here the raw iron  which I have to make into horse’s shoes. You know what I do with it? I take a piece and heat it in the fire until it is red, almost white with the heat. Then I hammer it unmercifully to shape it as I know it should be shaped. Then I plunge it into a pail of cold water to temper it. Then I heat it again and hammer it some more. And this I do until it is finished.” “But sometimes I find a piece of iron that won’t stand up under this treatment. The heat and the hammering and the cold water are too much for it. I don’t know why it fails in the process, but I know it will never make a good horse’s shoe.”
He pointed to a heap of scrap iron that was near the door of his shop. “When I get a piece that cannot take the shape and temper, I throw it out on the scrap heap. It will never be good for anything.” He went on, “I know that God has been holding me in the fires of affliction and I have felt His hammer upon me. But I don’t mind, if only He can bring me to what I should be. And so, in all these hard things my prayer is simply this: “Try me in any way you wish, Lord, only don’t throw me on the scrap heap.”


Author unknown, vita Bernie Koerselmon
Pulpit Helps
Published by AMG Publishers
Chattanooga, TN 37421

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by John Edmund Haggai
One winter morning in 1931, I came down to breakfast – and found the table empty. It was cold outside. The worst blizzard on record had paralysed the city. No cars were out. The snow had drifted up two stories high against our house, blackening the windows. “Daddy, what’s happening?” I asked. I was six years old. Gently Dad told me our fuel and food supplies were exhausted. He’s just put the last piece of coal on the fire. Mother had eight ounces of milk left for my baby brother Tom. After that – nothing. “So what are we going to eat?” I asked. “We’ll have our devotions first, John Edmund,” he said, in a voice that told me I should not ask questions. My father was a pastor. That morning, Dad read the scriptures as usual, and afterwards we knelt for prayer. He prayed something like this: “Lord, Thou knowest we have no more coal to burn. If it can please Thee, send us some fuel. If not, Thy will be done – we thank Thee for warm clothes and bed covers, which will keep us comfortable, even without the fire. Also, Thou knowest we have no food except milk for Baby Thomas. If it can please Thee…” For someone facing bitter cold and hunger, he was remarkably calm. Nothing deflected him from completing the family devotions – not even the clamour we now heard beyond the muffling wall of snow. Finally someone pounded on the door. The visitor had cleared the snow off the windowpane, and we saw his face peering in. “Your door’s iced up,” he yelled. “I can’t open it.” The devotions over, Dad jumped up. He pulled; the man pushed. When the door suddenly gave, an avalanche of snow fell into the entrance hall. I didn’t recognize the man, and I don’t think Dad did either because he said politely, “Can I help you?” The man explained he was a farmer who’d heard Dad preach in Allegan three years earlier. “I awakened at four o’clock this morning,” he said, “and I couldn’t get you out of my mind. The truck was stuck in the garage, so I harnessed the horses to the sleigh and came over.” “Well, please come in,” my father said. On any other occasion, he’d have added, “And have some breakfast with us.” But, of course, today there was no breakfast. The man thanked him. And then – to our astonishment – he plucked a large box off the sleigh. More than sixty years later, I can see that box as clear as yesterday. It contained milk, eggs, butter, pork chops, grain, homemade bread and a host of other things. When the farmer had delivered the box, he went back out and got a cord of wood. Finally, after a very hearty breakfast, he insisted Dad take a ten-dollar bill. Almost every day Dad reminded us that “God is the Provider.” And my experience throughout adult life has confirmed it. The Bible said it. But Dad and Mom showed me it was true.
Bible readings: Matew 6:25-34
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, `What will we eat?’ or `What will we drink?’ or `What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own

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