Salvation

Book Blurb: Beat God To the Punch

Image result for best god to the punchI just began reading a book with a potentially misleading title.

It’s called Beat God to the Punch: Because Jesus Demands Your Life by Eric Mason. One could quickly conclude that the author might be suggesting that we can arrive at a thought or place before God is able or capable of arriving or thinking a particular thought we had. Paul David Tripp writes in the foreword of this book what we are all wondering when we hear the title of this book,

“We can’t ever beat God to the punch. He is in control. He is sovereign. He always is the one who initiates our relationship with Him. Isn’t the Bible the origin-to-destiny storyof how God in grace has beat us to the punch? There is something about this phrase that just doesn’t seem right.” (pg. xiv)

To understand what is meant of the title, you must understand what this “punch” is? What is it that is going to happen one day to all of us? Is there something that we can be prepared for now that we won’t be forced to do later in life?

Answer: yes. Paul writes this in Philippians 2:9-11,

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

You see, one day everyone – whether they have acknowledged it or not, will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. This is not a salvific acknowledge but an intellectual one. Everyone will come to realize who Jesus is, even though they may not be saved.

Beating God to the punch means confessing Him as Lord now before you are forced to later. Mason writes,

“This is a reality, that all will bow to Jesus. By implication, we have the option to bow by choice, or to bow by force. This reality extends to our whole life. willfully bowing to Jesus now – rather than later – is the option we have in our everyday life. the preaching of the gospel is the invitation – a free offer, an urgent call, to bow now, by choice.” (pg. 1)

Don’t wait to be forced to bow! If you get to that point, it’s too late to enjoy the eternal joy and fellowship with those who acknowledge His Lordship in their lifetime (II Thessalonians 1:9).

Q/A Friday: What Is Propitiation?

In I John 2:2, Jesus is called our Propitiator. The word “propitiation” means “satisfaction” or “a means of appeasing another” (A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, pg. 216). It means Jesus brings satisfaction to the Father for someone.

In this case, Jesus satisfies or meets the wrath of God against sin. As the sacrifice for sin and our advocate, He satisfies the Father. He propitiates and is the Propitiator. John Murray, in his book The Atonement, has said that

“the doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this: that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of His wrath. It was Christ’s so to deal with the wrath that the loved would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath the children of God’s good pleasure” (pg. 15)

In ancient pagan cultures, and even in many religions today, false deities needed to be appeased with bribes (e.g., fruit, money) and then their wrath to be diverted and then the worshiper would help create a happy or favorable deity. They would propitiate their false god. Here, Jesus propitiates perfectly for the Father.

Isaiah would write, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). This verse screams of propitiation! Being the source of piercing and crushing and chastising so we could be present before the Father as faultless. That is propitiation.

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.

Q/A Friday: How Can I Know If I Am Saved?

Paul tells us to examine ourselves (II Cor 13:5) to make sure we are of the faith. And God, in His wisdom, gives us a means to do that in I John where we have a series of salvific tests.

When you read I John, you discover a series of questions that could be asked of the Christian to allow them to ready themselves for facing God as well. Here are the questions we could ask to examine ourselves:

Do you have a pattern of joy in your life? “And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete” (I John 1:4).

Do you confess your sins regularly? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

Are there sins that you are not willing to give up? “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous… Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him… Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God… We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (I John 2:1; 3:4-6, 8-9; 5:18).

Are you committed to walking as Jesus walked? “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (I John 2:6).

Do you have a pattern of loving your brothers and sisters in Christ? “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 1Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes… And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (I John 2:9-11; 3:23).

Do you love the world less and less? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17).

Are you regularly being persecuted in some form or fashion? “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (I John 3:13).

Is God answering your prayers? “And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him… And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (I John 3:22; 5:14-15).

Are you in a pattern of putting off idols? “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21).

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.

Q/A Friday: Can I Lose My Salvation?

I am probably asked this question more than any other. And it normally comes from a professing believer who either can’t recall biblical teaching on the subject or hasn’t read the Bible enough to discover the answer to their question.

In short, “No, you cannot lose your salvation.”

First, we must make sure that we agree that is a Christian is not someone who has made a profession of faith. A Christian is someone who has genuinely had his heart and mind converted as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is someone who knows Him as Lord and Savior. It is not someone who simply says, “I am a Christian” and can offer no evidence.

Second, here are just a few reasons why we cannot lose our salvation.

  • We cannot lose our salvation because God does not take back the gifts He gives us (Romans 11:29). God does not accept returns on His gift of salvation. This means we are guaranteed to belong to Him for the duration of our lives on earth. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to offer salvation to us, give salvation to us, and then think to Himself, “You know, I take it back!”
  • We cannot lose our salvation because God promised that once we come to Him, we will have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus never says, “You have eternal life for a time, but you might lose it. So, watch out!”
  • We cannot lose our salvation because the Holy Spirit has sealed our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). A seal is a guarantee; it is not a “maybe.” When we have been regenerated, the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is a moment of “I am here to stay!”

So no, we cannot lose our salvation.

I commend to read to read I John for more Scriptural proof about the eternal security of the believer. R.C. Sproul’s short book Can I Lose My Salvation? or John MacArthur’s book Saved Without a Doubt are of great value to this question.

Questions

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.

You Can’t Buy Your Way Into Heaven

Psalm 49:5-9– “Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit?”

Some see their money as their salvation or their “end all.” These are the individuals that would subscribe to the 1980’s bumper sticker mantra “he who dies with the most toys wins.” They depend and “trust” in their riches.

There is a story about the French atheist and philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778). He was a man who trusted in his riches for he was a very wealthy man. During the last few days of his death, he begged his doctor, “I will give you half of all I possess if you will give me six more months of life.”

It didn’t happen; none of his riches could slow the certainty of death. Those who trust in their riches think they can buy life.

Eternal life cannot be bought. It cannot be bought with good works or prestige or popularity or riches. Peter would say it this way, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet 1:18-19). It was “costly”; it cost the Son of God His life. And no “silver or gold” can “redeem his brother.”

Jim Clark, who co-founded Netscape, is an incredibly rich man who grew in his reputation of buying whatever he wanted when he wanted it. He once said, “I grew up in Texas, the prototypical poor boy. When you make it, you start to think there isn’t anything you want than you can’t buy.” He couldn’t be more wrong.

Wealthy people might be able to buy better health care or live in safe environments to extend their life but they cannot buy eternal life; God alone redeems.

Ligon Duncan said in his sermon “Trusting in Wealth” (based on Psalm 49),

“Riches cannot buy talent. They cannot buy the excellency of mind or heart. They cannot give a good physical constitution. They cannot prolong life. They tend to increase rather than diminish our fears. They cannot soothe a guilty conscience. They cannot cool a fever. They cannot fix a headache or a heartache. They can contribute nothing to salvation.”[1]

One commentator just simply says “Death laughs at bags of gold.”[2]

Wealth has always been insufficient and it will always be. It cannot purchase exemption from eternity in hell. Wealth cannot buy eternal life. It’s like trying to buy a house or car with Monopoly money; it just can’t happen. Money does not solve everything and it certainly can’t solve the biggest issue in life – our eternal destiny.

money

[1] J. Ligon Duncan, “Trusting in Wealth,” www.fpcjackson.org/resources/Psalms/Psalms%2042-72/25bpslm49.htm.

[2] Exposition of Psalms, pg. 540.

Friday Q/A: How Can I Strengthen My Assurance of Salvation?

In life, we want assurance. We buy life insurance to guarantee our loved ones are cared for in the event of our sudden death. We buy health insurance to guarantee assistance in paying for expensive health care. And we all want assurance we will spend eternity in heaven so we can live our lives free of doubt, despair and discouragement.

Many Christians struggle with the assurance of their salvation. Many Christians live the way the Puritan Thomas Brooks wrote in 1864 in his treatise Heaven and Earth,

“Assurance is the believer’s ark where he sits, Noah-like, quiet and still in the midst of all distractions and destructions, commotions and confusions. … However most Christians live between fears and hopes, and hang, as it were, between heaven and hell. Sometimes they hope that their state is good, at other times they fear that their state is bad: now they hope that all is well, and that it shall go well with them for ever; then they fear that they shall perish by the hand of such a corruption, or by the prevalence of such or such a temptation. … They are like a ship in a storm, tossed here and there.”[1]

Assurance is a precious commodity that is not worth trading for anything else. And the lack of assurance can be paralyzing and demoralizing.

I John 5:13 (and the rest of the book) shows every reader he can be convinced of his eternity – “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

This Epistle is primarily for Christians. And here’s the simple truth: assurance is meant for the Christian. Assurance is a knowledge gained by experience and reflection, which is a common thread in this Epistle (I John 2:3, 29; 3:1, 6; 4:2). If you know Christ, you are not meant to live without assurance.

AssuranceBut if you are a Christian who struggles with assurance, it could be for any one of the following reasons. Maybe you misunderstand the difference between justification and sanctification. We quickly forget the act of justification is something Christ accomplished on the cross. His perfect sacrifice atoned for sin. Your sins are paid for! They are forgiven. Justification is a perfect work. On the other hand, the process of sanctification – the process of being made like a holy Christ – is an imperfect and incomplete work. That doesn’t happen at once. As long as we remain imperfect, sanctification is not over. But that does not change us being justified. Some people who struggle with assurance look at their imperfect and incomplete work of sanctification and then forget their act of being justified.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance is simply biblical ignorance of the teaching of this doctrine. This is where I John has been so helpful. John’s purpose has been to educate the clueless. Some people don’t understand a sovereign God’s role in drawing us to Himself and then how he produces assurance in us as we grow in Him.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance is because your hear strong or imbalanced preached. Don’t get me wrong: strong preaching is a healthy dynamic for the local church. Too many churches have too many shallow, shabby, jellyfish preachers. But when you preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), you come to understand just how high God’s standard is for all of us. And when you see how high the standard is and how often you miss the standard, you can easily doubt your salvation.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance (this one resonated with me) is because you compare yourself to other believers: “How come I don’t pray like Him? Why don’t I quote Scripture as naturally as her? Why don’t I possess the level of love and compassion of him? Why does parenting come much easier for that father or mother? How was she able to discern right from wrong in that situation quicker than me? Why couldn’t I answer that question from Scripture as timely as that person?” People who do this can struggle with assurance because they fail to remember everyone matures and grows at different rates.

There is a remedy that can help enforce what the Bible has to say about a Christian’s assurance of salvation: study the person and work of Christ. Don’t be afraid of terms like expiation, redemption, propitiation, advocacy, justification, sanctification, etc. These terms explain in a more thorough way the marvelous work of Christ on the cross and they show us the permanency and thoroughness of salvation achieved for us. And they will help remove doubt when you see their awesomeness.

Robert Murray McCheyne, a Scottish minister in the 1800’s, said,

“Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely.”[2]

Make a commitment in 2016 to study Christology. Read books like Christ’s Glorious Achievement by Charles Spurgeon or The Incomparable Christ by John R.W. Stott or The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper or Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Christ by D.A. Carson or Who Is Jesus by Greg Gilbert.

Study the One who saved you and seals you.

 

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please send them to charlesheck@cox.net or ask them in the comments section of this post.

[1] Heaven and Earth, pg. 11

[2] http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/assurance-of-salvation/