June 29, 2013

Praying For Salvation – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:07 pm by sranderson0103

Can one simply pray for salvation and receive it?  Is reciting “the sinner’s prayer” what God requires of us for salvation?  As always, the answers are to be found not by making sweeping declarations, but by examining what the Bible actually says.  What I, or any man, thinks, preaches, or teaches carries no weight whatsoever unless the Word of God confirms it. So, let’s take a look….

There is no New Testament passage that instructs an alien sinner to simply pray for salvation, but there are four important examples that need to be considered- and each one has a vital lesson to be learned.

The first occurs in Acts 2, on the occasion of the first gospel preaching done publically after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  The crowd on Pentecost, through the sermon by Peter and the other apostles, became convicted of their sin(s) of having crucified Jesus.  They asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  They didn’t ask what to feel, or even experience, but what to do, understanding that salvation required activity on their part.  Were they told to say “the sinner’s prayer,” or “accept Jesus into their hearts”?  No, they were told to “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins…” Acts 2:38.

Secondly, consider Simon in Acts 8.  He was definitely told to “pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart might be forgiven you” in the last part of v.22.  But there are a couple of vital considerations here also.  In the first part of the verse, he was told to “repent of this wickedness of yours and pray….”.  So, praying wasn’t the only thing required. However, it should also be noted that Simon had already been saved by belief and baptism, just like the rest of the Samaritans, vv.12-13.  Peter’s command for him to pray for forgiveness was as a fallen Christian coming back to Christ, not a sinner coming to Christ for the first time.

The third important example related to “praying for salvation” is found in Acts 10.  It is obvious that Cornelius was a “devout man, and who feared God…and prayed to God continually,” v.2.  For what was he praying?  While we are not told specifically, the object of his petitions becomes apparent from the response of God to them.  In v.4 he was told by God’s messenger, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God.”  Then he was told to send for Peter.  Why?  Cornelius was devout, benevolent, and prayerful already- wasn’t this enough for salvation?  Evidently not, for when Peter arrived, the text says, “He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,” v.48.  Cornelius, a believer, was evidently praying for salvation (undoubtedly among other things also), so God sent Peter to him that he might obey that which was still lacking: his baptism in Jesus Christ.

And finally, Saul of Tarsus is the fourth of our examples.  Saul had been a persecutor of Jesus and the church, Acts 9:1-2,5.  Then Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, vv.3-5.  But note carefully the words of Jesus to him in v.6, “but arise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.”  Having this great personal experience with the King of kings, and even conversing with Him directly, did not fulfill Saul’s spiritual need with regard to salvation.  So, he got up and went into Damascus as instructed, and spent three days and nights fasting and praying, vv.9,11.  Did this praying remit his sins and provide salvation?  When God’s messenger Ananias arrived to tell Saul what he must do, what did he instruct?  Notice the testimony of Paul (the Greek equivalent of “Saul”) on this point from Acts 22:16 when he recounts what God’s messenger told him, “And now why do you delay?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”   Ananias did not tell Paul to pray for salvation – he told him to be baptized for salvation.  Though Paul had seen and conversed with the Lord personally, and now, as a believer in Jesus, had spent three days fasting and praying, he was told to be baptized to “wash away his sins.” 

I realize that many today are told to “Pray the Sinner’s Prayer” or “Accept/Invite Jesus into your heart” to be saved, I just can’t find anyone in the New Testament who was told to do that.  What I do find is that in every case of conversion in the book of Acts, three things occurred each time to produce salvation: 1) the gospel was preached; 2) the respondents believed; and 3) they were baptized for the remission of sins.  Read it for yourself and see if this is not true, then please obey Jesus’ words given in the Great Commission of Mark 16:15-16.

 

 

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June 22, 2013

“Though They Have Not Seen Him” – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 pm by sranderson0103

“and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” (I Peter 1:8-9)

Peter had seen the Lord. He was called by Jesus to be an apostle. Peter followed Him for three years while Jesus taught. Peter was there at His death, knew that He had been buried and then he saw the empty tomb. He rejoiced together with the other apostles when they saw with their own eyes that their crucified Lord had been raised from the dead.

But, Peter is writing to those who had not seen these things. Peter taught them that they could have a wonderful relationship with Jesus even though they had not physically seen Him and so can we.  As Jesus told Thomas “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29).

The ones to whom Peter addresses his letter were in the middle of terrible trials because of this Jesus whom they had not seen.

“…even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various  trials,…the proof of your faith…” (I Peter 1:6-7).

Their faithfulness under these circumstances demonstrated that we have no excuse in similar situations. Let’s look carefully at the attitudes of these who, unlike Peter, never saw Jesus.

They loved Him: Love stimulates love and helps make a trial bearable.

“We love, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

“Who will separate us from  the love of  Christ? Will  tribulation, or distress, or  persecution, or  famine, or  nakedness, or  peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “ FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly  conquer through  Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37).

No, they did not actually see the fatal wounds He endured for us, but they responded with a love that did not flinch under trial.

They believed Him: Theirs was not a blind faith. They listened to the words of one who spoke from experience, an eyewitness. Peter testified to them as a, “witness of the sufferings of Christ,” (I Peter 5:1).

The effect of a rational, well-founded faith is obvious.

 “Open the  gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that  remains faithful. ‘The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.’” (Isaiah 26:3).

Our faith rests the same words from eyewitnesses, willing to die for their testimony.

They rejoiced: Let Peter try to spell this out in detail, though he says it is not entirely possible. They “greatly rejoiced with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” Their emotion was truly a “better felt than told” thrill and it was glorious, fully glorious (even though they had not seen).

As incredible as it may seem, Spirit inspired Peter explains that faithful response to trials brings this surpassing joy now (while we don’t see) and even greater than surpassing joy later, when we finally do see.

“but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” (I Peter 4:13) 

Conclusion: The inspired apostle prophesies that the “outcome of your faith” will be “the salvation of your souls.” We are assured that the end result of this faithful, thrilling service, is the complete and ultimate salvation of our souls, with many victories of faith along the way.

Adapted from an article by John D. Morris

 

 

 

June 15, 2013

Increased Greatly and Multiplied – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:29 pm by sranderson0103

“But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them,” (Exodus 1:7).

Populations can grow very rapidly. For example, consider that, “All the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number,” (Exodus 1:5). One can calculate that the seventy who came into Egypt with Jacob (Genesis 46:27) could easily have multiplied to over five million in just ten generations, assuming that the average family had only six children who lived and reproduced, and that only two generations were living contemporaneously at any one time. Of course, Jacob had more that twice that many children, 12 sons and at least one daughter. The actual count of the grown Israelite men (not including the tribe of Levi) who left Egypt with Moses was “six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty” (Numbers 1:46). ” The total of the entire population of Israelites that left Egypt would be reasonably estimated to be between two and three million. (The survival of that many people in the wilderness would certainly require supernatural provision.)

The number illustrates how rapidly populations can grow when conditions are favorable. In fact, if a simple geometric growth rate is assumed (which was the assumption made by Charles Darwin in relation to his imagined “struggle for existence” in nature), it would only take about 1,100 years—assuming 35 years per generation—to develop a world population of six billion people. Immediately after the Flood, with only eight people and the whole world before them, with longer life spans still prevailing, and with every incentive to have large families, the population surely would have grown explosively. Yet the average annual growth rate since the Flood need only have been one-fourth the present growth rate to produce the world’s present population in the 4,000 years (minimum) since that time. In other words, the numbers observed today fit easily within the scriptural description of history.

However, if we imagine a period of about one fifth the supposed evolutionary age of mankind (200 thousand years) we get a silly answer. Beginning with eight people and assuming a growth rate of .46% (less than half that of the present rate in America), we get 10398 people. That’s a number that greatly exceeds the number of electrons in the universe. This number not only does not fit, it is absolutely ridiculously absurd.

All of which indicates that the evolutionary scenario, which assumes that human populations have been on the earth for about a million years, is absurd. The whole universe could not begin to hold all the people!

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

June 1, 2013

Results of Compromise – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:26 pm by sranderson0103

When King Jehoshaphat of Judah returned home safely to Jerusalem, the prophet Jehu son of Hanani confronted him; he said to King Jehoshaphat, “Is it right to help the wicked and be an ally of those who oppose the LORD? Because you have done this, the LORD is angry with you! Nevertheless you have done some good things; you removed the Asherah poles from the land and you were determined to follow the LORD.” (II Chronicles 19:1-3)

Jehoshaphat was one of the good kings of Judah. In many ways he faithfully served the Lord, but made the faithless mistake of forming an alliance with ungodly king Ahab of Israel, in their fight against a common enemy, Syria. God had forbidden such alliances.

“The LORD drove out from before you great and mighty nations; no one has been able to resist you to this very day. One of you makes a thousand run away, for the LORD your God fights for you as he promised you he would. Watch yourselves carefully! Love the LORD your God! But if you ever turn away and make alliances with these nations that remain near you, and intermarry with them and establish friendly relations with

them, know for certain that the LORD our God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. They will trap and ensnare you; they will be a whip that tears your sides and thorns that blind your eyes until you disappear from this good land the LORD your God gave you.” (Joshua 23:9-13).

From our experience today, it’s easy to imagine Jehoshaphat’s thinking. “But…after all, we are brothers. We both are descended from Abraham. We have much in common. What’s so  wrong about joining together with an alliance to battle the Syrians?”

Although God continued to bless King Jehoshaphat during his lifetime, the consequence of this compromise was inconceivable tragedy in the good king’s family. His foolish relations with the wicked king Ahab resulted in a marriage between Ahab’s wicked daughter, Athaliah, and King Jehoshaphat’s son and successor, Jehoram. We can understand how Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, may have reasoned. “Dad formed an alliance with these people. They can’t be that bad.”

How bad was it? Ultimately, the son of the king who “determined to follow the LORD,” slew all of his fathers other sons. Elijah, the prophet, confronted Jehoram saying, “You also killed your brothers, members of your father’s family, who were better than you.” (II Chronicles 21:13).

The story of good King Jehoshaphat’s son does not end well. “After all this happened, the LORD afflicted him with an incurable intestinal disease. After about two years his intestines came out because of the disease, so that he died a very painful death,” (II Chronicles 21:18-19).

The road of compromise eventually ends in disaster, especially in matters regarding the integrity of God’s word and His saving gospel. The timeless principle for Christians today is given in      II Corinthians 6:14: “Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness?”

This warning and command is at least as greatly needed today as it was in Paul’s day. Spiritual, moral, and religious compromise seems to be endemic in our society, in the religious world in general and sadly among our brethren, both in doctrine and practice.

Old Testament lessons were written “for our instruction,” (I Corinthians 10:11). The history of God’s dealings with Israel provides a schoolmaster or “tutor to lead us to Christ,” (Galatians 3:24). In these, Spirit chosen, divinely recorded events, God warns us that the course of compromise leads to tragedy, for us, and in the generation of our children. Furthermore, God commands us, “Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” (II Corinthians 6:17).

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris