To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

We No Longer Have The “Old Man”

Christians often use statements referring to how they are battling with the “old man”. But is this really accurate? Do we still have the “old man”?

Paul writes this in Romans 6:6-7 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin –  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. At the moment we become Christians we are finished with the old self; the old man is crucified with Christ. Sin used to dominate in that life which I had before I was saved, but when I became a Christian the old man, given over to sinful pursuits, was slain. On the ,contrary we are now new men. We are new because of Christ. The teaching of Romans 6 is that through the gospel we have been re-wired. So rather than being dominated by sin, we are now dominated by righteousness. The inclination of the new man is predisposed towards righteousness.

So the life story of every Christian is like this. Before they we saved, they had the old man. After they were converted, they are remade as new people. As Paul says to the Corinthians: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Cor. 5:17).

We must state here, though, that although we do not have the old man; we do most definitely still have the old nature; we have the flesh. We do still have within us a nature which is set on doing wrong. Paul writes in Romans 7:18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. The Christian cannot be dominated by sin, but he can be plagued by sin. The bent of every Christian is towards righteousness; this is the reason why sin is so detestable to the Christian.

Paul further teaches in Ephesians 4: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” The main idea in this passage is that the Christian is to be who they are. More correctly the text should say that they have put off the old self which is corrupted in evil desires and have put on the new man which is created to be like God in righteousness and holiness. Given that this has happened, they should now live as new people who are finished with the past.

The teaching in Colossians 3:5-10 is similar. Here Paul addresses the Colossians and says: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

So most wonderfully, fellow Christians, we no longer have the old man. Given that God has worked this so wonderfully for us, let us make sure we live as new people risen in Christ.

(Originally published at Venabling on January 30 2014)

Sacrifice Then Promise.

When Noah came out of the ark the first thing he did was to make sacrifices; burnt offerings to the Lord. So we read that Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. (Gen 8:20).

Upon making the sacrifices the pleasure of God is known. This is discerned through the consequent promises.

  • To not curse the ground again: Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood (v21a)
  • To not destroy living creatures again And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. (v21b)
  • To make the earth abide fruitful ‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’ (v22)
  • to make Noah and his sons fruitful Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. (9v1)

Herein is a principle established that the promises follow on from the offering. This finds its most profound fulfillment ultimately in the giving of our Lord Jesus as the propitiation for our sins. He offered Himself as the ultimate burnt offering. On the basis of that one final sacrifice blessing flows to us as God’s people. Consequent to our Lord offering Himself, our Father has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3b). Through our Lord’s sacrifice we are promised so much and we will enjoy what has been promised. Praise Him.

Finally, I must mention that in our lives the sacrifice must come before the promised blessings. If we have not received the benefits of the Christ who sacrificed Himself then we will not receive the promised blessings. We may covet the blessings which the Lord promises. However, these only flow from Calvary’s cross and the Saviour who gave Himself for all who will believe in Him.

How Can The Unsaved Live?

I am pondering here upon the experience of being a unbeliever and wondering how they can go on in life. When I say unbeliever I am referring to those who do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Saviour; those who have not repented of their sins and believed in Jesus as their Saviour.

Now life can be tough for the believer; sometimes very tough. We read of Paul and Barnabas how they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said. (Acts 14:21b-22). Many hardships can be experienced by those believing in the Lord. However, always there is hope. There is hope of eternal blessings secured by our Lord and Saviour which we will fully enter into by-and-by. Moreover, there is knowledge that our sovereign kind Lord is watching over us to work out all things for His glory. 

However, for the unbeliever there is none of this. They are ultimately cast out on the sea of life, with all its uncertainty, without any sure and certain hope concerning the future. They do not have faith and thereby they do not have God and that means no hope. Amidst all the camouflaging of eternal issues and the pursuit of the pleasures of this life, there still remains the great uncertainty of death and beyond.

Moreover, they have no anchor for the soul in the turbulence of life. There are no everlasting arms underneath them promising to strengthen them and comfort them.

Oh what a fearful position it is to be unsaved. Is that you? You may have plenty of religion, but if you do not have Christ then all is not well. So come and find Christ as Saviour and enter into the joyous privileges of being a Christian.

Baptism, Lord’s Supper, Church Membership.

God has established a proper order for our lives in His Word. He, in His grace, provides a structure wherein we can function for His glory.

Salvation. The first and most important thing is that we are saved. We can be involved in church and participating in all kinds of things, but if we are not saved they are all irrelevant. To be saved involves repentance and faith. We need first to realise that we are wrong before God and are going the wrong way; we are on a way that leads to death and destruction as a result of our sin. When we fully appreciate that this is our state we turn back to God. This is repentance. And when we do turn back to God we see how our Lord Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins and is now risen from the dead. Through believing in Him and in Him alone we have eternal life.

Baptism. Upon being saved the Lord calls us to be baptised. He calls us to confess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by being immersed in water and raised out of the water. This is baptism. The principle is established in Acts 2:41a. Those who accepted his message were baptised. Similarly when the message was received by the Gentiles we see the pattern followed. So we read in Acts 9:46b-48a: Then Peter said, ‘Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptised with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. The receiving of the Holy Spirit proved that they were saved and so they needed to be baptised. Baptism is the outward act that indicates to all, that we have been saved. It does not make our salvation, but it confirms our salvation. The act of baptism is associated with our commencing the life of grace in Christ. Every Christian should be continually remembering their baptism and how they confessed that they were finished with living for self, sin and this world and were committed to living for the new creation.

The Lord’s Supper. God also gives us an ongoing ceremony to remind us of our salvation; this is the Lord’s Supper. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only ceremonial acts that are given to the Christian church. The Lord’s Supper confirms our ongoing life of grace in Christ. It is our weekly declaration that we are in Christ and not living for ourselves. You will gather from this that there is something wrong if someone is taking the Lord’s Supper and is is not baptised. The order is that baptism is to be at the start of the Christian life and the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated throughout the Christian life. To be involved in the ongoing rite without submitting to the initial rite is contradictory.

So what happens when we take the Lord’s Supper? At this feast we are called to examine ourselves, confess our sins and acknowledge Christ together. It is to be done in a church setting; it is not a private individual or family thing. In the church setting all those participating in taking the bread and drinking the cup together acknowledge Christ together.

Church Membership. By taking the Lord’s Supper together with other believers we acknowledge our togetherness with them. Paul expresses it to the Corinthians like this: Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf (1 Cor. 10:16-17). When participating in the Lord’s Supper you declare that you are committed to these people who you are sharing the loaf with; you are one with them. So many people seems to think that celebrating communion is just an individual act, but surely this is only part of what is taking place. There is a significant collective element to it.

But our collective participation in the Lord’s Supper is contradictory if we are not a member of the church. When you become a member of a church you are committing yourself into the life of that church; you are formally associating yourself with that community of believers. So if you are not a member and are taking the Lord’s Supper your are giving a contradictory message. You are saying you are joined with that body of believers by taking the Lord’s Supper, but you will not commit formally in membership. Something is wrong here.

I conclude by putting before you what happened when the church in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost was originally formed. After the preaching of the Word by Peter we read this summary of what happened in Acts 2:41-42: Those who accepted his message (salvation) were baptised (baptism), and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves (church membership) to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread (the Lord’s Supper) and to prayer. Salvation, then baptism, then church membership, then the Lord’s Supper; that’s the Lord’s order.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of October 2016)

You Have Got To be Saved.

The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved (Jer. 8:20),’ are the somewhat pathetic words of the nation of Judah. The question I want to ask is; Are they your words as well? They have a certain pertinence in that you are reading them in the November newsletter. That means, very literally, the summer has ended and harvest-time has past. It means as well that another year will soon be passed away. So is it true that you, yes you, are still not saved?

To make any issue of you being saved, we must immediately explain what it is to be saved. When the Philippian jailer was in a state of shock after an earthquake had shaken his prison he was forced to be suddenly faced with his weakness before God (see Acts 16:25-28). As a result he was fearful of what that meant for his future. Through the earthquake he had some taste of the great impending judgement of God and he was afraid. It is in that context that Paul mentions about how to be saved. So Paul urged him to “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31)”. Through believing in Jesus he will be saved from the real and anticipated suffering that comes under and through the wrath of God.

To be saved then, is very much connected with being rescued. It is about deliverance from danger; it is about salvation. When Paul said to the jailer that he must believe on the Lord Jesus he was indicating to the jailer that there was an escape from the terrible rigours of hell. But how is it that Jesus delivers us from this perilous future. It is because Jesus died for our sins. As Isaiah prophetically says But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities (Is. 53.:5a). The wrath that the jailer anticipated comes because of sin; my sin. However, the Lord Jesus died to take away our sins. So when we believe in Him truly we are turning from the foulness of our sins, and realising that we can be accepted with God and delivered from the wrath to come in and through Jesus Christ. This is salvation and as Peter declared Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Only in Jesus can we be saved.

So returning to our original question about being saved we ask, in an alternative fashion: has Jesus saved you? It is so important that you face this question. If you are not saved you face eternity under the righteous judgement of the Lord God Almighty because you have offended His holy majesty and decided that you don’t want him. This is terrible and it reminds us how offensive our sin and rebellion are to God. So you must be saved.

To be saved you need to realise the vile character of your sins and turn from them. You then need to look to Jesus Christ who died on the cross to bring salvation. You must turn to Him and believe. If you do then you will be saved.

Oh you must do this. Let nothing stop you. Which leads me to ask this November of you: What is stopping you if you are not saved. Salvation is on offer as God’s great gift to you. Is there a problem of understanding it? But it could not be simpler. You have a problem and that problem is your sin. There is one remedy for your problem and that is found in Jesus Christ. So heed the Word of Isaiah 45:22 ‘Turn to me and be saved all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

You say that you are just fine without Jesus Christ and you don’t understand this fuss about God, judgment and eternity. If this is your case then I urge to you to think and re-think. You may persuade yourself that life is OK here, but what of God and His judgment? His eternal judgment is real for those who die in their sins outside of Christ. If you die in your sins you face an angry God, fall under His judgement and anticipate an eternity of suffering: will that not make you to think?

Finally, you may have been made thoughtful about these matters through reading this, but you are thinking: I don’t know if I am saved. To which I say go and seek counsel from a Christian you trust. But most important go to God to seek to sort our the matter with Him. In particular test yourself by reading through 1 John. John said of his writings in that book: I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). So read I John to test whether you are really saved

And if you are saved. Then praise Him for His goodness. Thank Him for His salvation. And go live for Him.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of November 2016)

 

I Endure All Things.

I came across this scripture in my readings recently: Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Tim. 2:10). It brought back memories of how this verse sustained me in the continuance of ministry at Feltham some ten years ago.

The word “everything” is striking. Paul says that whatever he suffers, it will not hinder him from ministering so that others will be blessed with, and in, the salvation of Christ Jesus. He has of course, an eternal perspective in view. It is eternal glory which is the attenuating blessing of what is already the greatest of blessings; namely, salvation.

And so we must continue in the ministry wherein we are called by God. Of course if you believe you are not where God has called you to be then that is another issue. But keep going my dear brother in the Lord even if it is tough. And know that it is for the eternal blessing of others you are labouring.

Church Newsletter

Here is the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter for July 2018.

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