If God wanted to talk, would you listen?

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

‭‭John‬ ‭1:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We listen to so many narratives in life.  There’s no shortage of voices trying to get in on your internal conversation, trying to explain life, and define reality.  We give credence to scholars, philosophers, authors, gurus. Like the ancient Athenians, we love to listen to whatever seems new (Acts 17:21 NKJV).

But in our rush to hear the counsel of the multitude of voices, there’s a short circuit.  Jesus said, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.”  But why?  Why are so many of us so quick to believe everyone else but God?  Why are we willing to stake the destiny of our lives on the words of so-called “teachers” – new age philosophers, business magnates, celebrities, and even those claiming to speak to the dead – and yet be unwilling to even hear out the God of the universe?  He does not just explain reality; in fact, He is supremely qualified to explain reality because He made reality.  And although much of what we blame God for is actually not part of His original plan, He can provide answers and perspective that no one else can.

Will you give Him the same opportunity you may be giving to an outspoken tv personality?

If God wanted to talk with you, would you listen?

“I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.”

‭‭John‬ ‭5:43‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;”

‭‭II Timothy‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭NKJV‬

“So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’…”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:27-28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.”

‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭9:5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

When God just can’t take it any more

Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; They are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them.

Isaiah 1:13-14

God’s power is inexhaustible. When you reach a point in an action or attitude, that God, who is tireless and limitless in strength says, “I can’t take this… I’m weary of this…”

When God, who is love, who “suffers long”, who “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” says,  “I can’t endure this,” we need to pay attention. 

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4:8 NKJV

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7 NKJV

These words are like water to a thirsty soul this morning

As you read the promises, remember they are the expression of unutterable love and pity. The great heart of Infinite Love is drawn toward the sinner with boundless compassion. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 1:7. Yes, only believe that God is your helper. He wants to restore His moral image in man. As you draw near to Him with confession and repentance, He will draw near to you with mercy and forgiveness. Steps to Christ,  pg 55

Salvation in the Unseen

Periodic table of the chemical elements Españo...

What does reality consist of?  What’s real to you?  What’s the world made up of?

What are you made up of?

Am I made up of the same stuff as a rock, a table, a chair?  A pair of expensive shoes?  A piece of technology?

Wikipedia says that “almost 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of the six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.”

Every substance on earth is made up of molecules, which consist of atoms, which have different configurations of sub-atomic particles that form different elements.

Google defines an element as “each of more than one hundred substances that cannot be chemically interconverted or broken down into simpler substances and are primary constituents of matter. Each element is distinguished by its atomic number, i.e., the number of protons in the nuclei of its atoms.”

As far as we can see — there’s no further way of breaking down existence.

One university website says this about atoms:

“What is an atom?

An atom is a fundamental piece of matter. (Matter is anything that can be touched physically.) Everything in the universe (except energy) is made of matter, and, so, everything in the universe is made of atoms.” [Source]

Is that absolutely true?  Is everything in the universe made of matter?

God steps in to this picture and says no.  It’s not true.  There’s something more than matter, molecules, atoms, and elements.

In John 4:24, Jesus Christ said to the woman at the well that “God is spirit.”  You can’t contain Him in anything that exists in the periodic table.

In Spanish there’s a saying – every mind is a world.  There is great truth to that statement.  The way you see things in your mind is your world.  And in many minds, most people’s worlds are made up of only matter.  Physical, material existence.  What’s real is what is tangible, what can be sensed, tasted, and touched.

But God speaks into that world and defies it.  God whispers to us that there is more.  More than matter.  More than mere, mindless energy.  God declares that He is.  He exists.  He is real.

But many of us live in a world where the things we can see are the only things that matter to us.  Even as we claim to believe in God, the world of our mind is a godless one, a world where only the material matters.  We focus our attention on our possessions and our own gratification because they are what really mean something to us.  We live to mold ourselves to the world’s standards, and live like there is no God in our world.  Because if there were a God in our world, wouldn’t He come before all that stuff?  Wouldn’t He be our life?

No, all too often, if we really paid attention to ourselves and the choices we are making, we would see that we still live in a world where everything that exists consists only of matter.  By denying God entry into our mental world, we become idolators.  Are we not idolators when all we care about is what we can see?  When a God who is Spirit doesn’t figure into our daily lives or plans?  When our trivial interests matter more to us than His interests?

The apostle Peter says that a day is coming when the “elements will melt with fervent heat”.  What will become of our world then?  When the only things we truly believe to be real melt away in a supernatural blaze?

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:10-13.

The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”  Isaiah 40:6-8.

Are there things you care about more than you care about God?

When what you care about most are your material possessions, you don’t possess them – they possess you.

When the choices you make center around the opinions and acceptance of others, you have fashioned your own gods made of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. Your gods are visible, and they leave no room in your world for the God who transcends the elemental, whose substance we can’t encode on a chart.

There is a cure for seeing the world like the university definition.  We find it in 2 Corinthians 4:18:

“… while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:18

To open our eyes to the world in which the invisible God dwells, He bids us to look at the invisible.  Focus more on what you can’t see than on what you can see.

The things that you can see are temporary.  They will pass away.  They will amount to melted, dissolved, disintegrated nothing.

It is essential, imperative, absolutely critical that you set your eyes on the things that you can’t see, for only those things are eternal.  Only in that world can you connect with the only true God, who is Spirit, who transcends the elements on the periodic table, who is invisible.

When your eyes are focused on the things that are visible, you have reason to fear.

When your eyes are focused on the things that are invisible, you have reason to hope.

If you think you believe in God, but the choices you make every day reflect that you don’t care about Him in the least, you are focused on the things that are visible.  When God asks you to honor Him, and show that you love Him and that He is first in your life by keeping His commandments, you will be incapable of doing so.  When the day comes that the physical melts away, you will melt away with all the things you set your heart upon every day of your life.  You gave yourself to those things, to a world in which Spirit cannot exist.

The word of God tells you that you can choose what you will set your focus upon.  If you want to live in the world where the true God, who is love, dwells, change your focus.  Lift up your eyes.  Dare to look at what you can’t see.  Look for the invisible God.  Let Him in to your world each day.  Then, “when Christ, who is [y]our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:4.

Don’t focus on the things that you can easily see, taste and touch.  Remember that those things are temporary, but the Word of God, and those who abide in Him, moment by moment, will last forever.  “Keep seeking the things above, where Christ is… set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”  Col. 3:1-2.

If you choose to heed the Word of God in this, your destiny will not be tied to the destiny of the elemental things of this world; the day of fire will not harm you, and you will remain forever with God, even when all the elements on the periodic table are dissolved.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25 NKJV

Cut my life into pieces … this is my last resort

When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:4, NASB

 

Many, many years ago, I passed through the darkest period of my life. It was a time in which the end of a bad relationship left me without the will to live.

I remember feeling that the pain was so unbearable that I wanted to crawl out of my own skin to escape it. I remember the desperate feeling of hopelessness. I recall the tears, the heart-rending agony, the prayers that did not seem to escape my dorm room walls. Most of all, I remember equating existence with unspeakable pain.

I remember wishing to die.

Its such an unimaginable thought. Wishing for death? If you sit at an outdoor booth in Manhattan, you’ll see all varieties of people rushing by. They’re all trying to live as long as they can. They see doctors. They exercise. They eat celery. Even those who don’t would still take most any action if their lives depended on it.

And yet there I was, in a place I pray very few people go. Its so strange when you come to that precipice. I remember with high-definition clarity that overcast day when I crossed the street from my dorm room to the Village Market, almost praying to be struck by a car. A dark moment in the middle of the night spent staring at a knife set in the middle of a hotel kitchen. My face was drenched with tears by the time I was close enough to touch them. I cried because I felt God’s longing for me to take a look at where I’d gotten myself.

Why am I saying this? Because the other day, I recalled those moments and marveled. My despair was so complete. My life seemed so empty, devoid of love and hope. It all seemed so horrific that I actually thought it would be preferable to give up living.

I don’t know how Jesus saved me from that experience. But He did.

He saved me. I didn’t feel a lightning bolt of relief. I didn’t heal quickly. But now, looking back, I can joyfully say, I KNOW my Redeemer lives. He gave me the oil of joy for sadness. He gave me beauty for ashes. In all my life, I have never known such love and happiness. Once upon a time, I lost myself. My life felt completely hopeless. But now, I have found my life in Jesus Christ. I’ve never felt more complete.

Why do I share this? I share it for you. I don’t know what you’re going through. But if you feel like you’re all out of hope, I’ve been there. I’ve brooded in misery with headphones in my ears, listening to hard rock songs about suicide; I’ve sung the words as if they were written just for me.

“Would you even care if I die bleeding? Would it be wrong, would it be right, if I took my life tonight? Chances are that I might. Mutilation out of sight, and I’m contemplating suicide. Cuz I’m losing my sight, losing my mind, wish somebody would tell me I’m fine… “

And then the climax of the song would come, and he would scream: “I can’t go on living this way!”

If that’s how you feel, the next word I’m going to write can change your life forever.

But. But not just any but. But Jesus.

There may not appear to be hope in your life. You might be feeling like life has pushed you into a dark alleyway corner with a knife pushed up against your throat. There may not be light at the end of the tunnel.

But there is Jesus.

Satan might say, “You can’t go on living this way,” but the Bible says,

“But anyone still alive has hope…” Ecclesiastes 9:4, NCV

And so, if you’re still alive, no matter how hopeless you feel, the almighty God of the universe says you have hope.

A doctor can heal your body. Medicine can numb your pain. Drugs can get you out of your head so you can ignore the desolation in your heart. But only Jesus can heal you on the inside. When you’ve tried it all and you think your only option is death, God invites you to choose life. You can do that simply by choosing Him.

If you don’t know how He can possibly heal you, it doesn’t matter. You may not know how Aleve makes your headache go away, but that does not for a moment stop it from working, does it? The GOOD NEWS is that your lack of knowledge is incapable of making Him incapable of saving you.

Jesus, I don’t know how you saved me. But You did. And for that, my life, my love, and my adoration will always belong to You.

¡¡¡Te amo!!!

Javier

Click here for a quick view of all the Bible verses in this blog post on my tumblr page.

Rebuttal: “Does the Bible Teach Eternal Security…?”

 

Grafting of olive tree (Olea europaea) Mallorca.

Image via Wikipedia

 

I came across a blog post promoting the concept of eternal security, or “once saved, always saved,” and I wanted to share my response with our readers. I gave other biblical evidence to support what I believe to be the true biblical position on this topic here.

I think a lot of the verses you mentioned do indicate that a person must abide in Christ in order to remain saved. Just as entering into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ requires a choice on our part to give our hearts and lives to Him, each day we must choose to remain in that relationship much the way a married person must choose each day to remain in that relationship and honor the vows they made on their wedding day. It’s a commitment which lasts a lifetime, so long as both people choose daily to honor the commitment.

Consider Christ’s use of the vine and branches in John 15 as an analogy of our lifelong relationship with Him. I pose that all the branches who are connected to Him are saved. How can a branch who is drawing his or her life from the Vine, Jesus Christ, be anything but saved? Indeed, Jesus says in verse 2, “Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit, He [the Father] takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” Thus the people who are branches are people who are *in Him.*

And yet, even though they were once saved – connected to the Vine – Jesus says,

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” John 15:5-6.

What does abide mean if not to remain in Him?  And we me must already be in Him in order to remain in Him.  Once we are saved/connected to Him, we still have a choice: remain in Christ, or don’t remain in Christ. If we choose not to abide in Christ, we are cut off from the Vine, apart from which there is no life as per John 15:6.

Consider also Romans 11, in which Paul uses the imagery of the grafting in of branches into an olive tree to talk about salvation (verses 17-23):

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Paul said we were grafted in (saved) by our faith (this is the same concept of righteousness by faith taught by Paul in Romans 3:22, 24-25, 28). “Do not be conceited, but fear,” Paul warns. He’s saying, don’t be haughty, don’t be presumptuous, but fear – for “if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either”; if we do not “continue in His kindness,” we will be “cut off”. If we later lose our faith in Christ, we will *not* be spared. This shows a clear picture of how a saved person can choose to stop abiding in Christ, to separate him/herself from His kindness, and in so doing, lose his/her salvation. For there is no salvation apart from Christ.

This does not mean that just because a saved person makes a mistake and falls, that they have lost their salvation. It’s only if they abandon the faith and start living a life of habitual sin with no more regard for Jesus’ commandments, and they completely grieve away the Holy Spirit, that their name can be blotted out of Christ’s book. If we taste the best that God can give, if we partake of the heavenly Gift, and then fall away (not meaning stumbling and getting back up, but again, meaning abandoning the faith), Hebrews 6:6 says “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance”, for “ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” (Hebrews 6:7-8)

Lest anyone misunderstand, the Bible does teach that we can have assurance of our salvation. But we have no assurance of salvation apart from Christ. We must ABIDE in Him, and as long as our very lives are as intimately dependent on Jesus Christ as the life of the branches depends on the Vine, the Root of that divine tree, we have full and complete assurance of salvation. We just can’t trample Jesus underfoot (Hebrews 10:29) by abandoning our faith in Him and returning to an unrepentant life of brazen, abandoned, habitual sin and claim to still have salvation in Him. To say that because we once verbally accepted Christ we can now never be lost is tantamount to saying the same thing that the Jews said in Jeremiah 7:9-10:

“Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’–that you may do all these abominations?”

The obvious answer is, of course not. Salvation is not a license to sin. And although I know that wasn’t your premise, can it honestly be said that the doctrine of eternal security doesn’t lead down a slippery slope that ends with just such a license?

What do you think?

(Note: The author of the above site deleted my comment without responding to any of my points.)

The Parable of the Medicine Cabinet

Scissors

Image via Wikipedia

The Bible says that even in nature the existence of God is expressed to humans.  So much so that people are without excuse for not believing in Him.  Well, last night, a pair of scissors inside my medicine cabinet helped me get a sense of what Paul was talking about in the first chapter of Romans.

I bought the small pair of grooming scissors at Walgreens not too long ago and had used them only once or twice.  They should’ve been in pristine shape.  When I opened the cabinet door, though, I noticed that small amounts of water had made their way over to where I laid them, and now they are covered in rust.  I just bought them, and they’re already ruined!

God seeks to teach us things about His kingdom even through the things which have been created. And now that the curse of sin has marred the earth, even the effects of that curse show us, like a parable, the truth of God’s word. In something so small, we’re reminded that everything that we see is corruptible and subject to decay.

Cars rust.  Pipes burst.  Wooden beams are eaten away by termites.  Moths eat holes in Burberry shirts as easily as they do the Wal-Mart variety.

Cuba Gallery: Orange / vintage / retro / car / door handles / rust / texture background / grass

Jesus said,  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

In the end, only the Word of God and those who keep His word by the power of the Holy Spirit will endure forever.  Everything else, without exception, will turn to dust.

The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.  1 John 2:17

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

  • What is God teaching you through your day to day life?
  • Where is your treasure?