Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Walking As He Walked" - Pt. 1

  John speaks that the one who abides in Jesus "ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." (I John 2:6) Peter speaks that Christ having suffered for us "leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps." (I Peter 2:21) How do we achieve this? How do walk and follow in His steps?
It begins with one thing. You have to know you're saved! I'm not talking arrogance or laying claim to something because that's the right thing to say. I'm speaking about salvation from our sins and believing it has happened. Salvation brings life from God. From being dead in our sins to the life of God.
Too many in Christ Jesus are drowning in their guilt. Guilt haunts them. Many try to defeat the guilt through many different means and drugs are one of those. People avoid certain situations because of screaming guilt in their conscience. Shame, emotional trauma, and health issues can be traced to guilt in the lives of many who profess Christ as their Lord. Esteem is deeply affected by guilt. Take some time and read Genesis 3, and you will see all these things mentioned in the guilt of Adam and Eve. How do we get rid of it? People want to know. Growing up guilt was piled on by preachers to control people and responses. Parents use guilt to control their children and children their parents. Guilt is used in work and relationships. "If you love me you would..." It's a powerful tool for destruction and control. I had a local psychiatrist tell me that guilt made her boatloads of money.
   We come to Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." NO CONDEMNATION IN CHRIST JESUS! What part do we not believe? Yet we have many using guilt to get control or get what they want. Preachers, elders, and even members rake brethren over the coals for not helping or condemning for not giving. How do we overcome?
"How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:14) The blood of Jesus is to cleanse the conscience. The blood of Jesus is what cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. The blood of Jesus is the faithfulness of God to forgive us from all our sins. The blood of Jesus is the only place one can find complete freedom from ALL sins we have ever committed. Sins in our past and for our future. (I John 1:9) Every single act, no matter how great, how disturbing, or how hideous, in the sight of man, no sin is beyond complete cleansing by the blood of Jesus. That blood is to be applied to our conscience.

   The cleansing blood of Jesus not only is to cleanse our conscience but it brought us before a covenant God. "For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12) That's the covenant of God. If God speaks He remembers them no more under the covenant we made with Him through Jesus and we have been washed by His blood to cleanse our conscience, why do many still live in guilt? It must be a trust issue. That's not piling on more guilt. That is to help us realize we don't trust in the blood of Christ or find a settling in under the covenant of God. I can remember many of my failures, but to know God doesn't see them at all, that is powerful.  If someone wants to remind me of my guilt, it's alright, as Jesus is aware I failed and His blood flows over me. I don't have to defend myself. It's all God. It's all Jesus.

  If we are going to "walk as He walked" we need to know we have the relationship of holiness and forgiveness. We have to possess His life. We have to know we have been saved. What holds you back from His forgiveness? Why can't we embrace His loving life in our place? What are you celebrating as you observe "the blood of the covenant" when you take the Supper? Enjoy your relationship!! Praise God for the gift of Jesus!! Throw away your crutches that keep you moving each day and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"Let's Talk About the 5 Steps"

  When I was younger I was taught something called "the five steps to salvation." While recently attending a lectureship I was given a card by another preacher and on the back of the card was listed "The Five Steps to Salvation" including Scripture. I see it listed in bulletins and written in articles. I have spoken about this where I preach.

  Where did this five step idea come from? Are you really aware? On November 18, 1827, a preacher by the name of Walter Scott, presented a sermon which described the gospel in six points. Three responses were from man and three from God. (1) Faith in God's Messiah. (2) Repentance toward God. (3) Baptism in Jesus name. (4) Remission of sins - God's gift. (5) Gift of the Holy Spirit - God's gift. (6) Eternal life - God's gift. Later he revised his teaching to five points, so they could be remembered using the fingers on one hand. Scott not only insisted these five steps, but they must be in the right order.  Debates took place in the late 1800's and early 1900's and by the 1930's the five points of Scott's gospel plan was turned into something called "The Five Steps to Salvation." The points were: (1) hear (2) believe (3) repent (4) confess (5) be baptized. Later there was added a sixth "Christian life." To keep it with 5 steps some dropped the "hear" part so they could include the sixth into the five steps. Many have accepted this as doctrine.

  I know many still hold to these today and I'm not trying to attack anyone. We need to reexamine things to see where they came from and is it something we need to be promoting as gospel? These "steps" can be easily turned into something man does. They become an end rather than a growth process. Each step can easily become a check off list and you've arrived. But if we're honest with Scripture, I never hear anything like this tied to the gospel teaching by the apostles of Jesus. I do understand that faith, repentance, and the like are present, but they are not steps. Faith is always ongoing. It isn't a step in my life. Repentance and confession are also ongoing. When these "steps" are given for our salvation, it's almost as if we are saving ourselves by taking each step. It becomes a check list and we check them off, as accomplished. A step is something you stand on and then move to another. When we speak of confession in Scripture, it wasn't a one time confession at our baptism. It is an ongoing confession in our lives. The only one time response is baptism and that too is a response of faith, not a step of accomplishment. Our faith and trust are in Jesus Christ, not in steps. Please understand I'm not trying to trample on someones faith. I'm trying to get us to see that "the five steps to salvation" came as a result of a man's sermon and somewhere was adopted as doctrine. It's defended as if it was taught by the apostles themselves. It is true you find these things in scripture, but they were never laid out as "steps."

  Over the years I've known so many respond to such "steps." These steps have carved out a theology in the mind of many rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ that brings people into gaining "the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thesssalonians 2:14) It has created a work system rather than faith in the work of Jesus, on our behalf. It has created an arrival, a completion, rather than a new birth by God. I pray you will take some time and think about these things. We need to be better disciples and sincere followers of God's truth as revealed through His Scripture. It's all Jesus and Him crucified and nothing else!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Truth Sought"

  I don't know if it bothers you but it sure does me. There seems to be a less emphasis on truth and more emphasis on acceptance. We see it on bumper stickers with all the different emblems that make up the word "coexist". When I am speaking about the truth, I'm not speaking about the dogmatic legalist that believes they have the truth of God and His word all tucked away inside their pocket and if anyone should ever disagree with them they are condemned to the pits of hell. I've heard and seen too much of that in my life. I am speaking of the truth as presented by the apostles they got from Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit that would guide and teach the apostles the truth of all the things Jesus taught them (John 14:26) 
  Read carefully the book of I John. John the apostle was making things abundantly clear about the truth. In his day and time people were making Jesus into someone that wasn't revealed in the truth. What we need to realize is they believed in Jesus but taught that Jesus never came in the flesh (I John 4:1-2). I've heard some say they didn't believe in Jesus but that's not true. They didn't believe in the physical Jesus. John says he (and the other apostles) saw Him, touched Him, heard Him and looked upon the eternal life that He possessed (I John 1:1-2). This Jesus that apostles knew was being presented to others in false concepts. In fact, those that were teaching such were at one time part of the church (I John 2:19). These teachers had left the apostles teachings and John pointed it out so it would be shown that not everyone who speaks of Christ Jesus is of Christ Jesus. John must point out that his writing is to keep those who love the truth on track because there was much deception (I John 2:26).
  We fast forward to today. There is so much flying around and people are becoming more and more dull in their heart not realizing the truth is being attacked and tainted. Truth doesn't seem to be a concern for many. If we would allow ourselves to let God's word be His word and submit to what He says, truth would reign supreme. God is the author of Scripture (II Tim. 3:16-17). God does not contradict Himself. Man does but not God. Man seems to manipulate Scriptures for their own personal agendas or proofs. That's not dealing honestly with the truth. God cannot and will not allow anyone to be in fellowship with Him and deal dishonestly with His Scripture. That's what the apostle John was teaching. John calls, "You want fellowship with me and the other eye-witness apostles? You better listen to what I write because we got it from Jesus Himself!" 
  Too many are wanting sensationalism and they approach the Scriptures in that fashion. Let's be a people who humbly walk and have a love for the truth. That means you allow the Scripture from God to lead your way and when confronted with a change, change. When we have always believed something one way and suddenly we see it might not be that way, be humble about it and not fight. There is one major thing I have learned about seeking and finding the truth. "God is opposed to the proud!" That's the answer. When confronted with the truth different from our thinking or upbringing, you can dig in your heels and fight it and you will get help from God. He will help you find your lies and self-deception. But if you can humbly accept and listen, "But He gives grace to the humble." God will help you discover His truth leading you to His side. Seek the truth. Love the truth. Honor the truth. Speak the love.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


It's been some time since I have blogged anything. With scheduling so difficult, I had to stop. Since then I have been asked to start back again. I'm reconsidering this, but not on a daily basis. Once a week would be all I could do. So here I am just testing the waters to see if this really needs to be done. What about it? There is nothing of ego. I'm simply getting old and enjoy sharing with others the things I have gained over the many years in study of God's word. One day my life will be completed as the Lord intended and I want to share with you what little I have, if you think it's needed. I know I'm not articulate or as wise as others. I realize my weaknesses and can give them up to the Lord. I know I'm definitely not the smartest, that's a given, but I am honest in my undertakings and try my very best to be honest with scripture. I'm not a debater and don't get caught up in issues. So, let's give this a go if you want to come on the journey. To God be all glory and honor. And I'll work on changing the look!!