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Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

I am a Christian, that is who I am.  This means I believe in Jesus Christ, He is my savior because I need Him.  I sin, have sinned, need His sacrifice for my sins.  He is the only way to heaven, and He drew me to Him.  On my own, I would not have come to Him. 

In the “Who Am I?” section of this blog a few recent comments have tried to point out that they do not want to be associated with the term Christian because of history and the ways people have acted while calling themselves Christian.  To me, it’s a denial of the body.  Anyone can say “I’m a Christian” but not anyone IS a Christian.  To disassociate myself with those in history who died as Christians is to deny who I am.  I am one of those.  I would die for Christ as a follower, as one who is also known as Christian.  I know people believe lies about the body of Christ.  I know people have done things in the name of Christ and have not behaved as they should.  I believe denying my Christian brothers and sisters throughout history, and those now around the world truly being persecuted is cowardly.  Making others more comfortable with a new name won’t work.  If you are truly regenerated and have a new label, they’ll lie about you too.  If you walk around following Jesus with this new label, you’ll eventually have people join you who will taint the name.  It’s what happens, no way can any group be true believers and not offend the world around them.  So, renaming yourself will backfire.  People are not persecuting Christians because of the name Christian.  They are persecuting Christians because they don’t like Christ.  People are not refusing to join the body of  Christ because of the misdeeds of past or current people labeling themselves Christian, they are refusing to join the body of Christ because they refuse to be saved, to give up their sin, to truly follow.  We are all sinners, and only through the grace and mercy of Christ are any of us saved.  A new name won’t change this fact.

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http://cside.org/audio/20090823%20-%20The%20Story%20of%20the%20Revelation%20of%20God’s%20Glory%20-%20Part%2022.mp3

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Baptism has been understood and practiced different ways within Christianity.  I have felt, and this is just feelings without complete scriptural backing, that baptism is an act of obedience.  It is to be done after a person trusts Christ.  It is not a means of salvation, not that the regeneration cannot occur simultaneously, but I personally feel (again, feel not know) that there is a true baptism on the spirit or heart and this work is done by the Holy Spirit.  Those who are saved by grace through faith are to be baptised to show their faith publicly, because it is commanded. 

I do not believe infant baptism hurts anyone, but do not believe it is necessary.  I was baptised at a very young age (baby or toddler) and later trusted Christ.  Because I had been baptised Lutheran and at a young age (I recall it, recall crying…so I think I had to be older than an infant) I decided to be baptised later as an adult to publicly show my faith.  Christ was baptised, so no Christian should be above the act of water baptism. 

I believe, unless there is a physical reason why not, that a person should be immersed.  It was how Christ did it.  Baptism represents a cleansing, and I believe it’s best shown through actual dunking.  Sprinkling is not wrong in my opinion, I just think the dunking is a better way. 

So, how’s that for clear as mud?  I want to study baptism again.  I know that I went through it in college because some guys from the Church of Christ were stressing the need for baptism for salvation.  I recall coming out of those talks with the belief that the water baptism was for obedience as a symbol of our cleansing, but that those who trust Christ and are saved by grace through faith have a baptism that is from the Holy Spirit and not only of water.  There is no magic in the act, no magic in the water.  Of course, I also have heard Charismatic people claim tongues etc as a sign of Holy Spirit baptism and I say that is hogwash (respectfully, of course).

Anyone want to give a scriptural reason for baptism…either dunking wholly…sprinkling…infant…after trusting Christ…or whatever variation thereof.  I know there is a right way, a right true answer about baptism.  I know God knows.  I just want to be clear about it myself.

I have been in contact with a Lutheran on this issue of baptism and have not been satisfied with infant baptism.  I was told it has been a tradition through the ages to baptise infants…but why is this not modeled in Acts?

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Sunday’s sermon was the basic gospel.  The pastor has been preaching out of John since the first of the year.  We were in John 5 and it’s late June!  This kind of detail would never have happened in our former church.   I believe a lot is assumed at the former church, skimming the gospel and other important biblical topics may happen because the leadership believes everyone just knows it already, not sure.

The pastor began by pointing out all the attention given in the media to the recent deaths of  famous people, most especially Michael Jackson.  He then quoted Hebrews 9:27 and 28.  “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of  many, will appear a second time,  not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”  Those who die without Christ will be resurrected to judgement, those who are waiting for Christ will be glorified.

The pastor highlighted Previous sermons stating Jesus’ activity as god is the substance of His work, his authrity as God is the basis for His work, Jesus’ glory as God is the purpose of His work, and Jesus’ gift as God is the provision of His work.  This sermon was baobut Jesus’ power as God is the culmination of His work. 

He stated that only Jesus has the power to save those who are dead spiritually. 

I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.” (Jn 5:25-26). 

The pastor highlihgted the time of regeneration which is both present and future (is coming and has now come).  It was speaking of those with Jesus at that time and all future believers. 

The pastor also spoke of the people who need regeneration, which are all  who are spiritually dead.  In fact, we all are spiritually dead until we hear the voice of the Son of God.  It’s only the Son of God who can give this regeneration.  Only the Son has life.  He is life, the source of life.  He is the only way. 

Besides spiritual regeneration, Christ has the power to physically raise the dead.  The time for the resurrection is in the future.  Our resurrection is supposed to be serperated.   He spoke of the resurrection of believers, resurrected to life.  Those who have rejected the Son will be resurrected to condemnation and judgement.

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”  (Jn 5:27-29)

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1Cor. 15:22-23)

 

 

13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess 4:13-17)

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)

The above verses were quoted by the pastor, talking about the resurrection of the believers contrasted to the resurrection of the dead all together.  He talked of a distance of 1000 years, that there would be a first resurrection and then a second before the judgement.   The result of the resurrection is that those who have recieved the Son will be resurrected to life with salvation and santification in this life, and glorification of the body at the resurrection.  Those who reject the Son are resurrected to judgement and condemned to hell for eternity. 

Jesus is the judge, and His judgement is righteous.  He seeks the will of the Father. 

Final statement in my notes is that we ought to be terrified by His power and should repent, turn from sin, and embrace Him.  Jesus took conemnation that I deserve.  The Gospel is the power of God onto salvation for everyone who believes.

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I once wrote my pastors and asked not only who they were reading but who they would recommend.  There were many who did recommend Dallas Willard.  Apprising Ministry linked to this page.  It further confirms my squeamish feelings for this man’s influence in the church.  I must admit, when I began my research on this man (I came across him after researching Steve Smith who spoke at our church…he mentioned Willard as a big influence on him), I thought that discipline sounded good.  It was like a weight loss plan that I wanted to buy into.  If I would only be more disciplined, I could be a better Christian.  Time passed, I read more, and it just sounded too good to be true (and it was).  I couldn’t pin it all down, but I began to realize Dallas Willard’s thinking was not quite right on.  I do not believe I really had some magic insight, just that my pastors were preaching unbibilically, and Willard was their influence.  As I read more, I did finally learn Willard was part of the Spiritual Formation crowd (and he’s a leader).   Read the link and just think on scripture and what is taught about Christ.  He’s the narrow gate, no one comes to the Father except through Him. 

http://www.dwillard.org/articles/artview.asp?artID=14

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In my darkest days after a miscarriage when my baby died at 16 weeks, I prayed like a gulping fish out of water. It was constant, it was painful. I relied on my Lord for every moment. I could not be happy, I did not have comfort. But I knew where to find comfort and how to survive. I had to rest in His hands. I had no choice. For me, grief was a gift. This gift brought me nose to nose with my self reliance, with my foolishness. My baby was gone, and I had not been content to that point. I begged God many days to change things. Maybe the sonogram and doppler had been wrong. Maybe God would perform a miracle. This was not His will. During these days, I had to pray for each and every moment. Just sitting without crying in front of my other children was awful. I wanted to glorify Him in my pain. I wanted suffering not to be lost.

Our former pastor was preaching on the Sermon on the Mount. Yes, this is our old church. I sent him a note expressing that I thought grief was a gift. I was then asked to speak on “blessed are those who mourn.” Just a few short weeks after my miscarriage, I found myself telling about 2000 people (give or take) about my grief. I had been encouraged by a doctor to take anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I couldn’t do this, I had to mourn. I shared in my “testimony” that I believe we feel death is unfair (or really the seperation not actually death as punishment for sin) because our hearts are set for eternity. We were created originally to be in fellowship with God and with one another. When someone dies, we mourn the life. I was encouraged early on to “get over it” and even was reminded by my OB that I have a beautiful family already. This is true, yet I was seperated from my child. Despite never meeting this child, I had to mourn this life I would not know. My grief was the point, the life God created mattered to me, mattered to God. My grief did more though, it brought me face down to God. I remembered how I am dust, I am nothing. The only thing that makes me something is Christ and his grace, his mercy.

When I was in a van accident several years ago, I again prayed and leaned on God. I tend to become a hermit after having a child, and it might be months before I go out alone without any children at all. My youngest at the time was 4 months old, and I told my husband one day I needed to run an errand, and would be right back. I usually take a child or two with me, but I knew he had to work. On a tight schedule, I rushed off. On the way home, the van was sounding funny. I punched the gas at one point just to check it out, and the van suddenly died. Most cars were traveling 70 mph on this road. I was in the left lane of three, and saw an exit up ahead. I thought I might coast into the exit with flashers and I’d be safe. Not so. My van died in the center lane of the highway. I could only sit, knowing I should have gotten off on the left shoulder. Cars and even semi-trucks passed me at full speed for a few minutes. I prayed desperately in the moments I waited to be hit. I didn’t really know what exactly to pray but, “God, please help me.” I held on to the steering wheel, stayed in drive with flashers on, listened to Phyllis Shaffley (well, didn’t listen any more, but knew she was on) and watched my rear view mirror. I saw two vehicles split to go around me and one behind them continue going forward. BAM! I felt the crash jolt me, and suddenly I was screaming without realizing it, screaming without faith, all in fear. I could see my car ceiling as my seat had broken back. I could see my back door with the window crashed out, it was open wide. I felt myself rocket forward and fish tail, I actually thought I was spinning. I just held on, and screamed to God to help me, I didn’t want to die. I suddenly realized I had stopped moving, and sat up still screaming. I was thinking of whether or not I should get out of the van, would a car hit me trying to pass? I suddenly spotted people on the road, and I screamed at them afraid they’d be hit. However, when I looked back I realized the police had already come. A fireman pulled my side window off the back of the van asking me if my children had been with me. He was relieved when I said “no” quickly. The couple who had stopped offered me their phone and I called my husband. I did go to the emergency room seeing frosty images as I looked around, and had a badly bruised arm with a strap burn burn on the seatbelt, bumped knees from steering wheel, and my head had a big goose egg where I had landed right in my 4 year old daughter’s car seat. My seat had broken into the recline position and so I was leaning on top of my daughter’s car seat as the van stopped moving. With all the excitement, I focused on getting out of the ER and home to my children. My 4 month old had cried the entire time for a feeding, and with arm in sling it was hard to take care of her but I did it. A few days later I was in the shower replaying the accident when it suddenly it me that my kids weren’t with me, and I had been reclined into where my precious 4 year old daughter would have been. Her legs would have been crushed, and who knows exactly how my head came down. The cover of her seat had been pulled off her head rest, so it seemed my head hit there. It’s possible I would have bumped heads with her. In an instant I was crying and actually kissing my hands and throwing the kisses to God in praise. It was not a planned action on my part, I did this spontaneously. My spirit was just taken by the moment and the possibilities, God had spared me the horrible nightmare of my children being hurt or killed in that accident. I came away with a scar from the seat belt burn, but otherwise, I didn’t even experience whiplash because the seat broke down. I know what desperate and “life flashing before your eyes” prayers are like. God was with me though I feared.

I have had many events I can recall leaning on God in prayer. Some were while in labor, when baby had a decel and I feared a c-section. All the sounds and people around, and I submitted to God’s will and an outcome I could not control. There were times in which people I loved were dying, like my grandfather and my aunt. I grieved to the Lord, cried for them and begged comfort in their pain. I also prayed for salvation (my Grandpa assured me two weeks before his death that he had assurance of his salvation).

Many moments of prayer are dramatic, I know I need to lean, but I also lean in the little moments. Some mornings I just whisper a prayer as I wake up. I know I will be faced with temptations to waste my time, to be angry at my children, or to overeat. I will be tempted to selfishness. I have to rely on the Lord for strength to get through just being me every waking moment. I praise Him for his steadfastness, His sovereignty. I thank Him for His grace and mercy. I ask His forgiveness. Every day, in the little things, I struggle. Every moment, I need to lean on Him. I am nothing without Christ. He saves me.

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I am a Christian.  The reason I decided up on such a simple title is because as a child we used to sing a song that spelled “I am a C…I am a C.H…I am a C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N.”  In the church I formerly attended (and in some we have visited) pastors are in the habit of using the term “Christ Followers” to replace the word “Christian.”  This has been explained to me in a few unsatisfactory ways.  First, an elder explained that we need to be sensitive to those who are offended by the Christian past, and so Christ Follower is a descriptive term that better paints a picture of what we are.  Uh, not good enough for me.  My husband said, “but why would we give in to them and give up what we’ve been called since Antioch?’  I’ve read that some use the term “Christ Followers” because the first ones to call us Christians were our persecutors.  Okay, I recall the verse, and it doesn’t seem like Luke cared if it was persecutors or not, no negatives were ascribed to the use of the term Christian.  

In a twistification of meaning, I heard one of the many former pastors say we are “little Christs.”  Uhmmmm, what?  That just sounds dangerous to me.  Even if it were true the word could mean that (and I’m saying IF) in English it sounds too much like “we are little gods).  In our “exit” meeting, we asked the lead pastor about the definition “little Christs” and he said “well, when you become a Christian you ask Christ to come into your heart.”  So even when the word Christian has a distorted meaning in that church. 

My title does refer to a song I was taught as a child, and it does go on to spell out…”and I have C.H.R.I.S.T. in my H.E.A.R.T. and I will L.I.V.E. E.T.E.R.N.A.L.L.Y.”  As a child, I never once thought that meant I really had a little tiny piece of my Savior inside of me.  I really thought it was like when you say “I’ll keep you in my heart” as more like the faith or love I have for Christ.  I know the Holy Spirit indwells us once we are redeemed.  We are part of the family of God, we become in unity with Christ.  “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  I don’t believe I have a literal piece of Christ inside me, but that we’re connected like family, in faith through grace and mercy given by God.  Anyone with more study want to help me out here in this?  I want to explain this to my children in such a way that they always have this doctrine right, that they have a clear understanding.  I hope I don’t sound like an idiot here.  A few verses below may be a good start.  Context, meaning, culture at the time, Greek…

 

Colossians 1:27 (NIV)

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Ephesians 3:16-18 (NIV) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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