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

Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

How Do I Become A Christian?

Many people come unstuck because they wrongly apprehend what makes someone a Christian. Therefore, let us initially answer our question negatively by establishing some of the things that do not make someone a Christian.

  • Being born into a Christian family does not make you a Christian because all are brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. (see Psalm 51:5).
  • Infant baptism or christening does not make you a Christian because a baby cannot “repent and believe in good news” (Mark 1:15).
  • Living a good life does not make you a Christian because the LORD Jesus said “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31b-32)
  • Doing lots of impressive spiritual activities does not make you a Christian because the LORD Jesus anticipated a day when he would say to many who had done remarkable things, “I never knew you; away from Me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:23b)

These things being so, then who are Christians? Quite simply in the words of our Saviour they are people who have repented and believed the gospel. Exercising repentance towards God and faith in our LORD Jesus Christ makes someone a Christian (see Acts 20:21). Let us then look at the two words which sum up the conversion experience; repentance and faith.

Repentance

Repentance involves a grasping that you are going in a wrong direction and that you need to turn around and go in the right direction. We all have walked in the ways of sin and that is serious. We realise it is serious when we come into the holy presence of God. Isaiah did this and confessed “Woe to me, I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). Peter did this and confessed to the Lord Jesus “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8b).

Repentance is vital because if we die in our sins we will eternally suffer the judgment of God on account of our sins.

Revelation 21:8 gives a solemn disclosure of this as we read of the unrepentant having “they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur.”

Faith

As we turn from our sins we simultaneously believe the gospel concerning our LORD Jesus. The gospel is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). For all those burdened down with their sins He says “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

The LORD Jesus is the Lamb of God (fulfilling all the Old Testament prophecies) who is the taker away of the sin of the world (see John 1:29). He died on the cross to bring forgiveness. The principle is established that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (see Heb. 9:22). Now he has shed His own precious blood and there is a fountain flowing for sin and uncleanness (see Zech. 13:1). He is raised from the dead and His work is done. He has made eternal redemption (see Heb. 9:12). Let us come then believing in our LORD Jesus that we might have all our sins washed away in His blood (see Rev. 1:6).

Oh please turn and believe the gospel. The consequences of not doing so are too awful to consider; “how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation”! (Heb. 2:3).

Why Are You Still Not Saved?

Jeremiah addresses the issue of how it is that people pass up the opportunity to be saved when he says “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved” (Jer. 8:20). Are you in this category of having allowed opportunities to be saved to pass by? As you read this you are still not saved? Then ask yourself the question right now: why am I not saved? To help you work through these issues let us consider:

There is a great salvation. Do you know that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners? God in His majestic holiness stands with vehement hostility to sin. Habakkuk says of Him: Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing (Hab. 1:13). We, as wretched sinners, have defied God and chosen our own way. As a result, we exist under the wrath of God. And that wrath is certainly real now, but will be experienced in its fearsome fullness in eternity. Into this desperate situation Jesus Christ has come. He came in full devotion to the purposes of God. He came to live perfectly, to die in our place taking the punishment for our sins and rise from death triumphantly. Given that there is this so great salvation that delivers from the wrath to come, why are you not believing in Christ?

What do you have to do? You have to believe in Jesus Christ. Paul told the Phillipian jailer who was stricken over his sin to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and he would be saved (see Acts 16:31). Sin is the great obstacle to belief. So we need to repent of our sin. We must long for it to be gone. Then we come to commit ourselves to Jesus.

Why won’t you do it now?Now is the day of salvation” is what Paul says to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 6:2b). You do not know what a day will bring forth. You do not know that you will have tomorrow. The man who built his mighty barns and wanted to have rich stores for the future was oblivious to the fact that God was going to call him away that night (see Luke 12:13-21). And who was right? God was right! He always is!

There is an eternal judgement. I know this was mentioned above, but I want to re-iterates it to make clear your desperate situation and why you need to treat this matter as an emergency. Eternity is real. Our LORD says that of the unbelieving that they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life’ (Matt. 25:46). We are dealing with the most serious issues here. Failure to make a believing response means eternal torment for you. So make sure you respond now. And when you believe you will be among the righteous and they have eternal life!

Does such love not affect you? God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16a). He gave His best to the cross that salvation might come to all who believe. How can you just pass by when such love shines out to you? How can you remain cold-hearted?

You say “I want my pleasures.” We mention two things here :

  • Your so-called pleasures will be not be pleasures in the end. The rich man had all his pleasure in this world and then an eternity to regret in the tortures of hell (see Luke 16:19-31).
  • Your pleasures are not satisfying pleasures anyway. They are merely passing. They do not slake the thirst of the soul. The Word says that the true pleasures are at the right hand of God. David says in Psalm 16:11:

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

It is the true follower of Jesus who really appreciates the pleasures of life!

You say “I will take my chance.” Oh, what foolishness is this? God has appointed a day of judgement. God has appointed a day when everyone must appear before Him. You will not be given “leave of absence” on that day so prepare to meet your God (Amos 4:12b). Run to the cross and believe in Christ and all your preparations are done!

You say: “I don’t believe it all.” Oh, may I say respectfully that ultimately it is not your view that matters but God’s view and God believes it all. He has revealed all the truth and teachings that essential for us to live. The Bible is not a collection of fairy-tales, but the revelation of truth. So please examine it and consider it.

You say: “I am not ready.” You will never make yourself ready for the salvation of God. All you have to bring is your repentance of sin to the once crucified and now glorified Lord. If you do so our God will deal with the rest. As our Saviour says: “whoever comes to me I will never drive away (John 6:37a)

Oh what have you to lose? Why will you not come? All is done, a feast of rejoicing and full provision is there in Christ. Oh come now and be saved and have everlasting life

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of August 2015)

Funeral Statement

Below is a somewhat unique document. Jerry Haglund who passed away to be with the Lord on August 13th 2007 wrote this so that it could be read at his funeral.  I have set it down exactly as Jerry wrote it.

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Some funerals are less sad than others! You may think that this is a strange statement to make, so let me explain what I mean.

Christians believe the words of the Lord Jesus Christ (as God incarnate) when He said,”Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. Again “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life.”John 3:15 and “For God so loved the world , that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”   John 3:16

I believe that in June 1952, when I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, I received the gift of eternal life. Further, I believe that at the moment that I died I went into the presence of God. Paul under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, when he was writing to the Christians in Philippi said, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Therefore my funeral is less sad for those present here today who are Christians, for they know that I am in the presence of the Lord . Many who conduct funeral services will, I believe, have a lot of explaining to do to God for deceiving people. To sum up their messages to their congregation is ‘rest assured that your loved one is now at peace and in the presence of the Lord.’ even though they may not have committed their lives to God, or prayed, or read the bible, or worshiped God , that somehow it will all be forgotten of God.

It is a fact of human nature that we are to accept the pleasant facts of life, but ignore the unpleasant ones. To sum up, there is a hell to be shunned and a heaven to be gained ; and heaven is not gained by good works, but by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s personal Saviour, believing that when he died on the cross it was able to pay the penalty for our sin. I do hope that all present here today, by faith, with assurance that they know their eternal destiny will be in heaven in the presence of God.

Peace With God.

I was clearing some things out at home yesterday and decided to discard an old frame with a decorated text in it. The frame was falling apart and so I thought I would throw the whole thing away. So it ended in the bin.

However, I pondered upon it this morning and felt uncomfortable about binning the text. And as I have pondered I felt I needed that text. So I have retrieved it from the garbage and have placed it in front of me at my desk. The text is: Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1).

This justification is ours now if we are in Christ. The acquittal before the judgment throne of God took place those years ago at Calvary’s cross. And I stand righteous before God in Christ totally righteous. Amazing. Whether I feel it; whether I remember it; or whatever, I am accepted and that forever. Praise the Lord.

Worth taking a look at at least once day I reckon.

Goats Can’t Act Like Sheep.

Recently I was speaking to a man and generally seeking to exhort him to live out his profession of Christ. This was all very much resisted. Towards the end I sought to bring him back to the essentials of the gospel. At this point it became clear that he really did not have a clue. He did not understand the basics of the gospel.

This all led me to ponder upon something that I have regularly considered and even chastised myself about. It is the fact that you can’t expect goats to act like sheep. Someone who is a foreigner to the grace of our Lord Jesus, no matter how vehemently they might make profession of Christ, cannot be expected to act like a Christian. Paul gives insight when he writes: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14).

I am left wondering how much of my pastoral engagement with people has been misdirected because I have failed to establish of first importance, whether or not I am dealing with a sheep or a goat. If I am speaking to a goat exhorting them as regards to discipleship is not what is required. What is rather required is to exhort them to come to Christ and find salvation in Him.

You Have Got to Say “No”!

In Titus 2:11-12 we read For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” This is a key verse for Christian living for all Christians. But I can’t help thinking that for young Christians it is particularly essential reading and implementing.

There is so much pressure when young to follow the crowd and conform to the ways of friends at school, work, university and college. Peer pressure is immense and all kinds of negative responses can come if you don’t flow with the crowd. Having a deep and settled conviction that yo going to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions is essential therefore.

There is an important pre-requisite here though and that is of having an awareness of the salvation we have in Christ. The great gospel of forgiveness of sins through the Saviour who once appeared to put away sin forever is the great testimony of the loving favour of God. When that message reaches and changes us then we will be different. But we can slip back and be slack if we lose vital acquaintance with these themes. Upon a captivation with these themes though, there is the propulsion to godliness. There is the inclination to reject the bad and destructive and embrace the good and godly.

The gospel transforms, and it is only the gospel transforms. All other ways leave young people vulnerable to the tendancy to “give-in” to the pressure to conform to the immoral pressure of this world. Young Christian you must be persuaded on these things or you are vulnerable to a multitude of salacious traps. You will only be protected if you have the juices of gospel grace pulsating in your being.

Still Waiting.

Some little while ago I realised we had a message on voicemail on the phone at the church building. I wondered whether, at last, it might be someone who wants to know about how to obtain salvation in Christ. Alas it was not so. Rather, it was (once again) someone enquiring about renting our building for some purpose or other.

This is one small reflection upon how we are still waiting here in Feltham for the time when we see Feltham seeking the Lord. Indifference still prevails. We seek to give out good literature. We seek to contact people and engage with people about the Lord and His gospel and yet still the mood of indifference prevails. Yes, on the street there does, I feel, seem to be more willingness to interact. But still, largely, there is indifference.

Oh yes you could criticise us as regards to our methods for reaching out.  I confess there is much weakness in this. But that still does not alter the fact that there is so little response. And so we continue to long and wait and pray and expect. The gospel is still the power of God unto salvation. The desperate state of the world is proven theologically and empirically. Lives are messed up all around. The palliatives of the world distributed to the people in the various manifestations of materialism and hedonism leave an aching heart. Yet the One who is the Bread of Life and is the source of living water is still the despised and rejected one.

Oh Lord have mercy. I leave you with this song by Stuart Townend. A song that reflects many of these yearnings I feel.

Yet may it be that these islands see a turning to the Lord. Could it even be this weekend when we start to see Feltham seeking the Lord.

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