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

Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

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.

If God Knows Everything…

…..and He therefore knows who is going to be saved then where does that leave me?

Many people get themselves into mental and spiritual fixes through their consideration of the sovereignty of God in salvation. One of the ways is to tangle themselves up over the issue about whether or not they are called to salvation.

The Lord Jesus faced this issue in Luke 13:22-24

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’  He said to them, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

He then went on to adumbrate the pain and bewilderment as those who thought they were saved, but had never entered into the door of salvation. Therefore they face eternal rejection and loss.

The approach of our Saviour is most instructive here. When the question about the number of people being saved was asked He did not get involved in a discussion about the electing purposes of God. Rather, He immediately challenged those in front of him to make sure that they are saved.

We do well to follow this example of Our LORD. When we are faced with questions about election and salvation the most important thing is to challenge those in front of us to repent and go through the open door which is offered to them in the Lord’s grace.

And if you are personally tangled up mentally and spiritually over this issue, my call to you, in the words of our Saviour is:  Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Don’t let Satan divert you from the lord’s direct call to you to repent and believe the gospel.

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).

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