Our Hope in Christ Archives 2010
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  • A Destiny of Glory by Jon Quinn
  • God Wants You (Saved)! by Jon Quinn
  • Hopeful Passages by Warren E. Berkley
  • Spiritual Debtors by David Powlas
  • Adrift Without an Anchor by Allan McNabb
  • Unexpected Love by David Diestelkamp
  • Do You Feel Saved? by Wayne Greeson
  • The Joy of Expecting a New Baby by Kent Heaton

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A Destiny of Glory

By Jon W. Quinn

    

     Sometimes it seems as if to the government each of us is just a number. There are so many of us, but in the IRS computers we are SS#123-45-6789. It appears from recent headlines concerning IRS abuses that we are often times just numbers to IRS employees as well. It is much easier to cheat and harass a number.

      But we are human beings, not just meaningless cogs in a machine. We must not allow ourselves to swallow the lie that we are just numbers without purpose. So many today are despondent and cynical. Others are tremendously self centered.

      Before God created the first molecule, there was within His mind a plan. This plan entailed bringing into being a group of people whom He would love and bless and exalt; and they would return to Him love and honor. Within the mind of God these people already existed whom God would ultimately glorify as they were fashioned into the image of His Son. God is mindful of us! The Psalmist considered the greatness of God and marveled that He would think of us at all, let alone love us and provide for us (Psalm 8:3-5).

      What is even more amazing is that God still loves us even after countless incidents of outrageous human  behavior, pride and disloyalty. Israel, a microcosm of the human race, certainly well illustrates human treachery and faithlessness, putting God's love and patience to the test (Hebrews 3:7-12).

      It is a shameful thing for any person to think as little of God as many do today. Consider God's interest and purpose for us as is recorded in our text: "And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30).

God Causes All Things To Work Together For Good

      The "all things" in verse 28 is not referring to all the accidents and tragedies of life. That is how this statement is sometimes misused, and if someone falls and breaks a leg, there must be some good purpose for it.

      The "all things" of this statement has reference in the context to all the things God has done for us; things such as the incarnation of His Son, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, His ascension and His role as our intercessor and His intention to come again (Romans 8:32; cf. Hebrews 2:14,15; 3).

      This is true for "those that love God". Love involves action, not merely words or sentiment. Our love for God will lead us to draw closer to Him as we keep His commandments (James 4:8; 1 John 5:3).

      Those that love God are "called according to His purpose". It is through the gospel that we are called according to God's purpose. God has chosen from the beginning to save those who are set apart (sanctified) by the Holy Spirit and faith in the truth. This occurs when one obeys the gospel from the heart (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Romans 6:17,18).

Whom He Foreknew He Also Predestined

      The word "foreknew" (vs. 29) simply means to "know beforehand" . The word "predestine"  means to "appoint beforehand". God knew beforehand that there would be a people with hearts receptive to the gospel of redemption. Based upon this foreknowledge God appointed beforehand what would be the ultimate destiny of this group. This group is made up of people who are willing to answer God's call in Jesus Christ and come to Him (John 6:37).

      One of the things God appointed beforehand for this group is that each of them "become conformed to the image of His Son" (vs. 29). Paul Earnheart once noted a "progression"  of salvation in these verses which I think is very helpful. First, there was man in the mind of God; then man is created. Also, man was recreated in God's mind; then man is recreated by the power of the gospel. Finally, man was glorified in the mind of God; and man's ultimate destiny is glory in eternity.

      It needs to be stressed that God deals with us as free men and women. He does not determine what each of our attitudes will be. That is left up to us. He may foreknow our attitudes and based on that use us accordingly to advance His purpose (as He did with Judas).

      Jesus was the "firstborn among many brethren". We become God's second-born ones. We are His sons and daughters. We have purpose and our lives have meaning.

Predestined - Called - Justified - Glorified

      God foreknew and purposed His Son's atoning death on the cross for our sins (1 Peter 1:20; Acts 2:23). He had foreordained the death of His righteous Son to be our justification on the basis of our faith. Before time began, God had woven the attitudes of men and women; of the apostles, of the scribes and Pharisees; of the Romans, including Pilate, and even the schemes of Satan, into His plan. And this was also true of those who had preceded Christ on earth, back through the history of the world to the beginning; of nations and kings and queens; of Israel, the patriarchs and Adam and Eve.

      Our calling and our justification is according to this plan of God's (verse 30). Our attitudes toward our calling is our doing. We can answer the call and be justified, or we can turn away and be lost. But if we answer the call to live a sanctified life of faith, we can be assured that our prearranged future holds glory for us. God has made the arrangements, and no force can separate us from it if we love God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).

http://www.bradleychurchofchrist.com     

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God Wants You (Saved)!

Jon Quinn

We should be concerned about everyone's spiritual welfare. We are probably concerned about our own spiritual welfare, and it is correct to be so concerned. In fact, a lack of concern in this area can be eternally devastating! It ought to be there. We also love our families, and so we want all our loved ones to serve the Lord. I would also hope, and do believe very strongly that it is so, that we are concerned about one another. We would not want any of our brothers and sisters in Christ to have “received the grace of God in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1) and “come short of entering His rest.” (Hebrews 4:1).

But we should be reminded that God "desires all men to be saved." God loves the whole world and desires all people to be saved. God's great desire in this ought to strongly influence our thinking, our praying and our evangelism, and the zeal with which we approach them !

God Would Like For Everybody To Be Saved

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Back when Paul wrote these words to the preacher Timothy, many of Paul's own people, the Jews (particularly the Pharisees), were very prejudiced against others. They believed themselves to be God's privileged favorites. In fact, Jesus' hometown folks got angry with Him for suggesting that Gentiles could be righteous and acceptable unto God as well (Luke 4:16-30). Many had apparently forgotten God's original promise to bless all earth's families through Abraham's descendant (Genesis 12:1-3).

Today, there are be similar attitudes that confront faith.. Racism, nationalism and various factionalisms based on differences in economic or social levels, and many other things, together with all the pride and prejudice these narrow attitudes can generate, can deter evangelistic efforts. We need to be on guard against these attitudes lest they ruin our walk with Christ by faith. What do you suppose God will think of one who has regarded another person for whom Christ died as nothing? God wants us to imitate Christ, not the Pharisees! (Galatians 3:26-29).

As we deal with others, we need to remember that God is patient, and so should we be (2 Peter 3:9,10; 14,15) Regard the Lord's patience to be salvation. Others need God to be patient with them, just as we did ourselves. God is not willing that any perish, and we should not want that either. If we can save our worst enemy, then we should, and be thankful for the opportunity, and rejoice if it happens (Matthew 5:44,45;48).

One Way

At the same time, we must understand that there is only one way to be saved! In this age of open minded tolerance and ecumenical attitudes, it will arouse much anger and animosity to suggest that there is only one way to be saved! In the name of “pluralism” such a position as there being only one way to heaven, even though Biblically based, is attacked. In the name of diversity, we are told that many roads lead to God. Pluralism applauds all the different religions. Contemporary pluralism affirms that the Jewish religion, the Hindu, the Muslim, New Age, Catholicism, Protestant Denominations, Evangelical Groups, Cults, native American religions are all to be valued equally; that each has it's own truth, and all approach God in it's own tradition, and all are saved through their own doctrine. This is the politically correct view.

However, it is not Biblically correct! Understand this: Jesus, the Son of God, said it is not so! He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6). Who will it be? Jesus or the politically correct? To whom will you entrust your soul? The Son of God? Or will it be those who contradict Him? How many faiths are there? How many Lords? How many Gods? (see Ephesians 4:4-6 for the politically incorrect answer).

Jesus Gave Himself As A Ransom For All

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6). Nobody else gave themselves as a ransom… and nobody else could do it! In the birth of Jesus, God became a man. No one else has done this! As He lived, He did so without sin. Again, this is only true of Jesus. In His death, His life and blood became a ransom for all. In His resurrection and exaltation to God's right hand He became our Intercessor. No one else possesses or has ever possessed these necessary qualifications to mediate between God and sinners! (Acts 4:12). That is why, as politically incorrect as it may be, that Jesus is our only hope.

Listen, Jesus died for all men and John adds, "not for ours only but also for the whole world," (1 John 2:2). We are therefore encouraged, yea, it is demanded of us that we teach others the gospel by our words and deeds. The gospel of Jesus Christ is to be preached to all because it is the power of God to save (1 Timothy 2:7; Romans 1:16). Paul was called to preach to everyone; to Jews and to Gentiles; to all. There was none of this patronizing nonsense about there being many faiths, Lords, Gods and Ways leading to eternal life. That is merely an invention of man, and man cannot deliver on what he promises because it is all in God's hands, not man's.

Paul obeyed the gospel, and was appointed to be preacher of the gospel as an apostle of Jesus Christ. To be an apostle, he had become an eye-witness of the resurrected Christ. He proclaimed a message he received directly from Jesus Christ by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1:1).

All people, of all nations; regardless of ethnic or racial origin, need the good news of Jesus Christ.

Obviously, our desire should be the same as what God desires. We should desire that all might obey the gospel and be saved. In both our prayers and desires - we must maintain the conviction that Jesus gave Himself a "ransom for all," and that He is the only mediator between man and God. If we believe these things - we will do all we can to take the gospel to all men! This passage is an open rebuke to racism and other prejudices that would cause us to treat another dishonorably. But it is also a witness to the only Savior of the world-Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

http://www.bradleychurchofchrist.com/

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Hopeful Passages
(1 Pet. 1:3,4; Rom. 8:18-25; 1 Jno. 3:2,3; Heb. 6:1)

By Warren E. Berkley

One of the noblest, greatest and most comforting blessings for the Christian is hope. And it is everywhere in the Word of God, especially in the New Testament. Here are some hopeful passages for the beginning of this year.

Peter tells us about hope, and he presents this blessing in the setting of the historical truth of the gospel - "the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." This is a case where your conviction about history is the basis of your confidence about your future (see also Heb. 11:1). The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Pet. 1:3,4 -

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead ... to an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you."

If I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and my life is a response to all that truth represents - I enjoy this living hope. I am able to look forward to an eternal inheritance of such enduring nature -- it is "incorruptible, undefiled" and "does not fade away."

Paul tells us about hope in Rom. 8:18-25.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For we were saved in this hope, but that hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, then we eagerly wait for it with perseverance."

In "this present world" we suffer. It is the objective reality of our existence on the earth: we suffer. The suffering may take the form of persecution, financial struggle, disappointment with people we love, health problems, the stress of unexpected turmoil, or some other hardship; but we suffer in this "present time." Paul wants Christians to know, whatever pain we suffer now - there will be unsurpassed glory for God's people in the future. This assurance of future glory becomes our motivation, our comfort, our pleasure and perseverance.

John tells us about hope in 1 Jno. 3:2,3.

"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And, everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."

Notice, side by side in this verse - what we cannot know and what we can know. We cannot know what "has not yet been revealed." In the absence of revelation from God - there cannot be knowledge; so there are matters of curiosity we may have about our future state in heaven that cannot be known now in detail. But "we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him." This promise should be sufficient! Intellectual curiosity may provoke demands for detailed information about the spiritual body we shall have in heaven. There may be a variety of questions we would like to discuss, but such matters have "not been revealed." What does it matter, when we can "know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him?" This hope we have motivates purity in life, as "He is pure."

The writer of Hebrews tells us of this hope in Heb. 6:19.

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil."

In this verse hope functions in at least two ways. (1) It provides us with surety and steadfastness as we navigate the stormy waters of life on earth; we have hope as "an anchor of the soul." (2) This hope moves us toward access to Deity; as expressed in Jewish terms, entering "the Presence behind the veil."

In these places, and in many other places in the Scriptures there is this concept, this blessing of hope for the child of God. Everybody needs hope, and everybody can have it, through the gospel of Christ. We need hope. When we are tired, sick, weary, disappointed, depressed, offended or persecuted - we need hope. The time to acquire and nurture this hope is now! Hope is available by an obedient faith in Christ. One of the noblest, greatest and most comforting blessings for the Christian is hope.

Expository Files http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4051/

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QUESTION:  "Is it in harmony with the Bible to refer to Christians as being spiritual debtors?"

ANSWER:  A "debtor" is an individual who owes a debt or is under an obligation to someone. The word is often used in a monetary or financial context; but, can we properly use it in a spiritual context?  In other words, can we accurately speak of Christians as being spiritual debtors?  Yes!  We are indeed spiritual debtors under an obligation [indebted] to God for a multitude of physical and spiritual blessings (1 Timothy 6:17-19; Ephesians 1:3).  Here are some of our other spiritual debts...

LOVING ONE ANOTHER
Our love is something that we "owe" to each other (Romans 13:8-10).  It is a spiritual debt or obligation that will never be paid in full (1 Peter 1:22-23)!

FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER
Jesus used the words "debts" and "trespasses" synonymously when He taught about for-giveness (Matthew 6:9-15). We are obligated to forgive each other just as He forgave us (Colossians 3:12-13).

BEING SPIRITUALLY MINDED
Christians are "debtors" to live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:5-13).  This involves setting our minds and hearts on spiritual or heavenly matters (Colossians 3:1-4).

HELPING NEEDY CHRISTIANS
Those who share spiritual things are "debtors" to share material things (Romans 15:25-27). The indwelling love of God obligates us to help our needy spiritual brethren (1 John 3:16-18).

PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL
Paul viewed himself as a "debtor" to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people (Romans 1:13-17).  Are you and I any less obligated to do so (1 Corinthians 9:16 & 11:1)?

••• Posted 12-01-09.  Written by David Powlas.  Unless noted otherwise, all verses cited and/or quoted are from the New King James Version [NKJV] of the Bible.

http://lowerrichlandchurch.org/

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Adrift Without an Anchor
Allan McNabb

My favorite recreational activity is boating, although I seldom have an opportunity to go out on a boat. Twice I found myself adrift without an anchor, nearly resulting in a boating accident. It's not that we didn't have an anchor, but the hook wasn't set and we were allowing the boat to drift. Both incidences taught me an invaluable lesson.

Two Events in Life
The first time I nearly had an accident while adrift, I was on a lake. The batteries had gone dead and we were waiting for help to arrive. When I realized we would soon run aground, I threw out the anchor and waited safely for help.

The second time, my family was with another family aboard a boat in the ocean. We decided it was time to go and raised the anchor, taking our time to get under way and head back home. Before long, I realized we were quickly drifting toward land as waves pushed us toward shore. I alerted the owner of the boat, who quickly scurried to get underway, before grounding the 60,000 pound yacht.

We Need an Anchor
These two events reminded me that danger lurks nearby, when we allow our lives to drift without an anchor.

When we allow our lives to drift, we are "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Eph. 4:14).

As Christians, we need an anchor to remain faithful, keeping us safe from the deceptions of Satan.

Hope is Our Soul-Anchor
Our soul-anchor is hope (
Heb. 6:13-19). We believe that God cannot lie, and that He's promised eternal life to everyone who obeys Jesus (Heb. 5:9). Therefore, we "take hold of the hope set before us" (Heb. 6:18). This hope, is an anchor to our soul (Heb. 6:19).

Jesus Keeps Our Anchor Securely Set, Behind the Veil
Jesus is the One who keeps our anchor secure, so it doesn't give way and set our lives adrift.

  • "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Heb. 6:19-20).

Jesus is in the heavenly tabernacle, behind the veil (i.e., the Holy of Holies) where our soul-anchor is securely planted. This is the place Jesus entered, through His own blood having offered Himself and obtaining eternal redemption (Heb. 9:11-14). It is Jesus, and His sacrifice, that secures our anchor of hope in heaven.

As the old hymn says, "We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love." Our anchor is hope. Jesus is the Rock that keeps our anchor steadfast, sure, and immovable, so that we don't lose hope and drift away from God.

http://www.biblestudyguide.org

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Unexpected Love

David  Diestelkamp

"Love is" The unending quest of romantics, philosophers, and songwriters is to try to adequatelyfinish that sentence. Each of us probably has an idealized picture of love; people, places and things all coming together in a perfect, indescribable moment. And while we know that, in reality, love is not always running through a field of daisies toward the person of our dreams, romantic visions tend to dance in our heads when real love is what we desire and look for.

Now think for a moment about injustice, terrible loss, and suffering pain and death. With this picture any thoughts of love we were having probably evaporated. Where did all those thoughts of love go? Well, unfair judgments at a trial, the loss of one's possessions, abandonment, pain and death are not remotely a part of anyone's love story-- but they are part of God's!

"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us" (1 Jn. 3:16). Love is not defined by butterfly feelings in our stomachs, but by the scourging, the loneliness, the physical agony, and blood of Christ who died for us. We would like a prettier picture of His love for us--with Him at sunset, hand in hand on a hilltop, calm, picturesque, warm, fuzzy and nice, but these are not how ultimate love shows itself.

The truth is that the application of love is often quite ugly. Love that sticks around only for romance or pleasure is no more than fantasy or lust. Of Christ, Isaiah prophesied, "He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isa. 53:2). Oh, the religious world has managed to clean Him up for marketing purposes, but that's not the Messiah revealed in Scripture. For us, He was "despised and rejected a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3). He was wounded and bruised, oppressed and afflicted, taken from prison and judgment (Isa. 53:5, 7, 8). He sweat in agony for us, was beaten, spat on, stripped and then crucified--hands and feet pierced (Psa. 22:16)--for us.

Then, for us, He endured the pain and humiliation on the cross for six hours, then He gave up His spirit into His Father's hands. So, can there be any doubt? "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

Now here is an interesting twist to God's love story: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12). In other words, we are to do more than acknowledge and thankfully benefit from God's love, we are to emulate it in our dealings with others. We tend to be willing to do this until application turns ugly and distasteful, it is actually at this point that we have the opportunity to demonstrate true godliness, loving like God loves.

If we find it more difficult to love our brother than to love God it is because we are loving like the world. In the words of Jesus: "But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same" (Lk. 6:32). God loves us. In fact, He loved us first (1 Jn. 4:19) and when we weren't loveable (Col. 1:21-22). He forgives us, is good to us, blesses us, and promises us a home with Him for eternity.

Loving someone like this doesn't take much. But loving our brother is quite another matter. Our brother isn't perfect. He doesn't always love us first, he doesn't always forgive, do good, bless or fulfill his promises. In our anger and disappointment we use his offenses not to love him, while still claiming to love our good God. God says to us: "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also" (1 Jn. 4:20-21).

There is a very strong temptation for us to try to excuse hatred based on what a person does. They lied, they cheated, they stole. At times like this, words like injustice, terrible loss, suffering pain and death ought to echo in our ears.

Those are what we required of the love of Jesus--He endured it and then said, "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12). We don't love others this way as payback or even to try to change them, but because it is what love is, it is what God is, and what we desire to be as well.

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" (Lk. 6:27) must become more real to us. Jesus was not just talking about some threatening foreign nation or someone we simply fear. He commands us to love those who actually touch our lives with pain and even violence. They hate us, slander us, rob us, humiliate us, inflict emotional and physical pain, and kill us--yet, like God, we are to respond only in love.

When the application of love becomes difficult, even ugly, we are tempted to excuse our hatred by saying, "I'm only human." Of course, that's not accurate, we are created in the image of God and therefore able to understand and choose to imitate His characteristics. Often saying, "I'm only human" is our way of really saying, "I'm going to do what my carnal, human, side desires," or "I'm going to act like the world in this situation."

Jesus said that it would be our love for each other that would tell the world that we are His disciples (Jn. 13:35). Not simply loving the lovable, but loving, forgiving and blessing, when the world would not, says we are not of the world, but of God. Jesus said, "Love like this" and then died for us. Refusal to do so, no matter who it is or what they have done, is to not know God (1 Jn. 4:8)

http://www.thinkonthesethings.com 

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Do You Feel Saved?
Wayne Greeson

Are you saved? How do you know you are saved? "I know I am saved because I feel it in my heart," many often say. But are the feelings of your heart the proper standard to determine your salvation? We do not use this standard in other matters. No one says of his bank statement, "I know it is right because I feel it in my heart," while they ignore to properly add and subtract from their balance. No carpenter says, "I know the board is 10 feet long because I feel it in my heart" — he checks the board with the proper standard, the measuring tape! But, when it comes to a matter far more important than bank balances and board lengths — salvation — many are willing to trust their eternal welfare to their feelings.

Can you trust the feelings of your heart to tell you whether or not you are saved? The Bible says "No!" "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Prov. 28:26), for "the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jer. 10:23). "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12). Feelings are subjective, they change from person to person and even within the same person. Truth is objective, it remains fixed and does not change, regardless of the person or the year.

The way you feel about salvation does not change God's truth concerning it, just as the way you feel about math, does not change the truth of it. Whether or not you are saved is an objective fact, not subject to the whims of how you feel from moment to moment. So how can they know they are saved? The Scripture says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5).

You do not have to rely upon your own faulty and deceptive feelings concerning your salvation. The Lord has given "the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation" (2 Tim. 3:15). The knowledge and confidence of salvation can only come from the objective standard of God's Word. God will judge you by His Word, not by how you feel. Jesus proclaimed, "the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). What is your salvation based upon? Many people feel in their heart they are saved because they have "simply believed" in Jesus. While salvation certainly requires faith in Jesus, faith alone does not and cannot save according to God's Word. James wrote, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only" (Jas. 2:24). Other people have prayed and "asked Jesus to come into their heart" and now they feel they are saved. But nowhere does the Bible teach one must simply pray to Jesus in order to be saved. God's Word teaches to be saved you must: hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17); believe Jesus is the Son of God (Mk. 16:16); repent of your sins (Acts 2:38); confess Jesus (Rom. 10:9; Acts 8:36-38) and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16). Those who obey God's Word do not have to guess whether or not they are saved based upon the feelings of their heart. They know they are saved because their salvation is based on the unchanging Truth of God's Word.

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The Joy Of Expecting A New Baby

Kent Heaton

One of the most magical moments in life is the first cry of a newborn baby. It has a distinctive carol of innocence, purity and freshness. The long awaited moment has arrived. Plans are made with anticipatory excitement and in fruition of nine months of expectant joy life presents itself in the form of a newborn child. At that moment all time stands still. Laughter is mixed with tears and hearts swell with unbounded love. Helpless on their own the newborn is held close and tenderly swathed in the embrace of their mother. The only time of greater anticipation is when grandchildren are born. Regardless, the joy of expecting a new baby is almost beyond understanding.

Jesus told a ruler of the Jews in John 3 that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Nicodemus thought Jesus was speaking of returning to the womb of the mother to be born. Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6). The new birth is the means by which people of God have been newly created into the image of the Father. Paul described the process as a resurrection in Romans 6:3-9.

The birth of a child of God is a most wonderful thing. As with the excitement of a baby’s birth the people of God should have anticipation at helping others come to knowledge of the truth and experience the new birth. To be born again is to experience the birth of water and the birth of the Holy Spirit. The Ethiopian of Acts 8 understood this birth when he said to Phillip, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" (Acts 8:36). The new birth is experienced through water (not as many teach today as “faith only”) and the Holy Spirit. Peter declared on the Day of Pentecost that all men are to "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39).

The new birth is characterized by being born of the Holy Spirit. Paul shows how the Holy Spirit cries out as the “Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15). People of God are spirit led people (Romans 8:1-14). Experiencing the new birth is experiencing the dwelling of the Holy Spirit in our spirits to make intercession for us and to guide us.

When a person became a child of God under the Law of Moses they were born into a Jewish family and when the parents kept the Law in regard to circumcision and offerings the child was under covenant with the Lord. The Hebrew writer declares those who are the people of God now are those who have been taught to know the Lord and have become children of God through obedience (Hebrews 8:7-13). The new birth is when someone comes to a knowledge of truth and is obedient to the will of the Father.

As exciting as it is to expect a child or grandchild we as people of God should be working diligently to help others experience the new birth. We should have a greater expectancy for the spiritual birth. Our goals and aims should be to bring more people to a knowledge of salvation through the new birth. Let us be busy about sharing the good news of those who are born of the water and of the spirit.