Salvation

Bought with a Price

When Jesus hung on that cross absorbing the fury of God’s wrath and paying the penalty for man’s sin, He bought us out of the slave market of sin. Jesus didn’t plan on doing some minor repairing or tweaking our former lives. God doesn’t want to repair or even remodel our life; he wants to tear down the entire structure and rebuild. He wants absolute transformation and absolute ownership, because He bought you and He owns you. If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you belong to Him.

It’s not enough to just say we were bought; the Bible says we were bought with a price (I Corinthians 6:20). Paul is talking about the Son’s blood on the cross. It’s like He was saying, “You were bought and look at what it cost. You were bought – do not forget the price that was paid.”  Or, from God’s perspective, “I bought you – and I paid dearly.” Salvation is very expensive; it cost Someone His life.

When you consider what God received in return for the payment of His Son’s death, you have to scratch your head and think, “How is this fair? How does Jesus’ death equal my salvation? It seems like a huge price to pray for such an eternally significant change of destiny for us. What do we bring God that He doesn’t already have?”

Those are the types of questions you will ask the rest of your life and it is not my objective to answer all of them for you, but we need to keep asking them because they remind us of how favored we are by God and how infinitely loving He is to us. His measureless love ought to bring us to our knees in humility every time we consider the cross.

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Warren Wiersbe, On the Greatest Miracle God Performs

Related image“I believe that saving a lost sinner is the greatest miracle our Lord every performs. After all, it meets the greatest need. God can heal the body and the person becomes ill again and eventually die, but salvation lasts for eternity. Forgiveness produces the greatest results – changed lives that glorify God. But most of all, forgiveness required the greatest price. It costs very little for God to heal the sick, but it cost His Son’s death on a cross for Him to save the lost.” (Warren Wiersbe, Meet Yourself in the Parables)

Q/A Friday: Can Satan Take Away My Salvation?

The Apostle John has written that “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 5:18).

This truth he mentions here of knowing that Christian do “not keep on sinning” is something we see several times in John’s 1st Epistle.

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:10).

No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. … 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” (I John 3:6, 9).

Now to be fair, Christians sin (Romans 3:23) and they sin often, but they are not habitual sinners. In other words, they may occasionally choose sin but they will never live together in harmony with their sin. They will not habitually love their sin,

And when a Christian does choose to sin, he won’t remain in it. He will confess and repent. The one who remains in sin, loves his sin, and can’t wait to sin again is not a believer.

Why is this the case? Because Jesus freed us from that bondage. His death canceled the power of sin over us.

How do we know that? John says the Christian sees “God protect him, and the evil one does not touch him.” It means the Devil can’t do anything of eternal value to you. No one – even the most powerful demon – can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28).

The Devil has no ability to fasten himself onto the Christian and destroy his life. He cannot steal his eternal birthright or remove his heritage. The Devil can tempt us to sin; he can deceive us unto thinking sin is good (Genesis 3), he can even afflict us, but he cannot and will not and has no inkling of power to bring you back into bondage to him!

That is tremendous news for all of us! He cannot hurt us because Our Protector is greater and stronger than our enemy!

In Romans 6:17, Paul writes, about our new slavery. We are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to a different master he says –

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. … For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. … But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:17-18, 20, 22).

We are not under sin’s dominion; this life we now have is a slavery to grace (Romans 6:14).

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 post your question in the comments section.

Q/A Friday: Can a Christian Struggle With Assurance of Salvation?

The short answer to this question is this: “yes, it is permissible” and “yes, Christians will struggle with assurance periodically.” Let e give you an example of this in the Bible and in church history.

When Paul was in his 50’s, he wrote a letter to the church in Rome to instruct them on the grace of God in salvation. This was a doctrinally sound church that had some very mature believers, but what we read in in Chapter 7 must have shocked his original audience. Here is Paul describing his life after he had walked with Christ for almost thirty years –

15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:15-24).

What is this? How could an apostle of Christ, leader and primary missionary in the early church be so despondent and sound so defeated? While Paul never says, “I don’t think I am saved,” he does express the frustration we all have at times. He is unsatisfied with his struggle against sin and likely reacting to some doubt and lack of assurance. He is asking himself, “How could someone who is a slave to righteousness behave like this?” Is it permissible for Christians to lack assurance at times? Absolutely! Paul did.

Here is an example from church history. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress in 1678. In this work, the main character, named Christian, journeys to the Celestial City. Christian is a man weighed down by a great burden. And throughout the journey, Christian greatly wants to free himself from his burden. What does the burden represent? If you read another of Bunyan’s books, Grace Abounding, which was written in 1666 (12 years before Pilgrim’s Progress at the age of 38 after he had been walking with God for over twenty years), you discover Bunyan struggled with assurance of salvation that was likely Christian’s burden as well. In his book Grace Abounding,

“Sin and corruption, I said, would as naturally bubble out of a fountain. I thought now that everyone had a better heart than I had. I could have exchanged my heart with anyone. I thought none but the devil himself could equal me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind. So I fell into deep despair at the sight of my own sin and corruption.” (pg. 51)

Is it permissible for a Christian to have doubts from time to time or lack assurance? Yes, the godliest of men and women have been down that road.

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.

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.