God still speaks

Does God still speak today?
I hear many very disdainfully dismissive of anyone who claims to have had a vision or have heard God speak to them. The naysayers claim the one who had the vision or heard God speak are arrogant or need special revelation from God, or that they believe in an open canon of scripture.
 
But God spoke to a child in a time when word from the Lord was rare. GOD decides who receives the gift of prophecy and who receives faith. All true prophecy is from God, but we must test them.
 
Paul wrote that we are to earnestly desire to have the gift of prophecy. He even said we should not forbid the speaking in tongues, but that it was to all be done in an orderly fashion.
 
I have seen people try to use 1 Corinthians 13 to say that we have the Bible and so have no need for prophecy. But that speaks of when we will know in full. None us knows in full and wont until we are with God, which is when we will not need prophecy because we will be with God.
Here is the scripture in question:
1 Samuel 3:1-4
1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. 2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, 4 that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.”
 
Amos 3:7-8
7 Surely the Lord God does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.
8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
 
Romans 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
 
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
 
1 Corinthians 14:1-6
1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?
 
1 Corinthians 14:29-33
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
 
1 Corinthians 14:39-40
39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
 
2 Peter 1:20-21
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
 
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
 
1 Corinthians 13:8-12
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
I think God does still speak today. Not to everyone, and not all the time, sometimes just once to someone, sometimes repeatedly. God ALWAYS speaks though scripture. But  sometimes God speaks through others. Sometimes God speaks in our hearts. Sometimes God speaks with a still small voice. And sometimes God speaks through circumstances. But I see no reason to try to put God in a box which says He cant speak today.
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The Elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture

The elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture.

True worshippers are to worship in truth and spirit (John 4:24), by the Spirit of God (Philippians 3:3). True believers remained in the teaching of God (2 John 1:9). They would have obeyed God as opposed to rebelled against God (1 John 3:10).

Men, women, and children would have gathered together to hear what was being taught – It may have been that only children who were old enough to understand who were in church service (such as those who were age 12, the age of when Jewish boys have their bar mitzvah, which happens to be the age of Jesus when he was in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions) (Deuteronomy 31:12; Nehemiah 8:1-3; Luke 2:41-47; Luke 18:15-17; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; 2 John 1:1).

They met together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). They met in the temple courts, in people’s homes, beside rivers, in synagogues, and in lecture halls (possibly schools) (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 16:13; Acts 19:8-9).

The church leaders were male elders and male deacons and female deaconesses (Acts 6:2-8; Acts 16:13; Romans 16:1; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-10).

The communion supper (also known as the Lord’s Supper) was observed (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:18-32).

Prayers were offered up to God alone, in harmony with the will of God (1 Corinthians 14:15–16; Nehemiah 4:9; Matthew 6:9,;1 John 5:14).

Songs were sung to the glory of God and thanks to God was given (Ephesians 5:19-20; Psalms 95, 96, 98).

A free will collection was taken (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). The Church was not involved with business (Matthew 21:12–13).

Sometimes church discipline occurred (Matt. 18:17).

The Scriptures were publically read (Colossians 4:16; 1 Tim. 4:13), and the Word of God was proclaimed (Acts 20:7; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Timothy 4:2).

Indeed, each had a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:28).

Is it biblical to ban people from entry into a country?

There are people who claim that banning immigrants from groups of people who would harm the USA is unbiblical.

First realize that the president has not permanently banned anyone – but put a temporary pause (for 90 days) on immigration from certain countries where the governments do not have good records of their people and where the people have shown a dislike for our people and country.

But the main point of this post is to see whether it is biblical to ban people from entry into the country. We have an example of GOD saying to Israel to NOT allow people from nations/tribes who were hostile to the nation. Since a generation in the BIble is 40 years, then banning them from entry for ten generations is essentially forever.

The principle God has laid down is that when people have shown they hate your country, do not allow them in. But when it can be shown they embrace your country (as Ruth did), then they can be allowed in. Its the government’s job to determine which is which on a case by case basis – the purpose of vetting them.

Deuteronomy 23:3-6
3 “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 But the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you. 6 You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

But please note that Ruth was allowed entry after she had rejected the religious practices of her people of origin and completely become part of her newly adopted homeland. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:17).

There are some who might complain that the text itself does not state that Ruth was accepted because of her statement to Naomi. But in Ruth 1:15-18, we see Naomi urging Ruth to return to her people and gods – but Ruth laid claim to Naomi’s people and God, and Naomi accepted it. Then in Ruth 1:22, we see they came to Bethlehem..

Ruth 1:15-18

15 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” 18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.


Ruth 1:22
22 So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.


Then in Ruth 2:10-12, we see that Boaz told Ruth she had found favor with him because of what she had done for Naomi, and how she had left her family and the land of her birth go to a people not previously known to her, and he prayed a blessing of the God she had sought refuge with – all of this was evidence she was doing what she had promised – assimilation to the point where Naomi’s people were her people, and Naomi’s God her God. This would not have been the case for someone who was still following the gods of Moab, or had not made Naomi’s people her people. So while it was not explicitly stated, we see this is what happened and exactly why she was accepted.

Ruth 2:10-12

10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 Boaz replied to her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know. 12 May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”

Of course, once someone is living among us, we are to treat them the same as if they were ourselves – do not show preference, but do not show prejudice either. If they can be trusted, then trust them. If they are thieves, then treat them like thieves. If they conspire to harm the USA or its citizens, then they should be treated as our government treats such people. If they follow the laws of the USA, then they should be treated accordingly.

Leviticus 19:34
34 The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.

James 2:8-9
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Does God hear all our prayers?

Does God hear all our prayers – the littlest to the biggest?

Well.. Yes and no.

We know God knows everything and nothing happens that God is unaware of. But… Usually when we speak of our prayers being heard, we mean “will God answer my prayers”.

We have to realize that everyone sins and falls short of the glory of God, earning death.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And the quick answer before you protest “why would God allow horrible things in the world like sin?” Is found in Romans 5:21 ” so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Getting back to our topic…

Isaiah 59:2 tells us, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.”

In fact John 9:32 flat out states God doesnt hear sinners, but listens to the prayers of those who do God’s will: “Now we know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and does His will, him He hears.”

2 Corinthians 6:14 tells us the fellowship with God is broken when we sin:“For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?”.
1 John 1:6 confirms this, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him [God], and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”

So what is the answer, the trick, to having God hear our prayers? We must seek the kingdom of God; we must seek the righteousness of God; we must trust and obey God.

Isaiah 55:6-7, “Seek you [all people—sinners] the LORD while He may be found, call you upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Once we change and humble ourselves, turning to God through faith in Christ, which is exemplified by changes in our lives, by obedience to God, God no longer refuses to hear our prayers because of our sins. 1 John 3:22 teaches, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”

But even then, once we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior, whether God answers our prayers the way we would like depends on a few things.

We must not be sinning; we must ask for what God would have us ask for – it must be in the will of God – and we must ask with the right motive.

James 4:1-3
1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

1 John 5:14-15

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

Grace Alone

For many centuries, the only option for church in Europe was the Roman Catholic Church. There were various groups which disagreed with the Roman Catholic Church and what it taught throughout the centuries, but they were quickly put down. While the Bible had been translated into over 500 languages by 500 AD, by 600AD, the only translation allowed to exist by the church (on penalty of death) became the Latin Vulgate[1]. This effectively made it so only the educated could read it – with end result being that only the Church was able to teach what God had said. And eventually the things the church taught and required of people caused some who COULD read Latin – to begin to speak out; some people even began translating the bible into their native languages (although those who tried to do so were killed). Eventually, this led to the protestant reformation often considered to have begun with Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. That was when he nailed 95 theses to the door of a church, 95 points of disagreement he had with the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, specifically dealing with indulgences (which were intended to be purchased to fund church buildings and supposedly caused people to be forgiven of sin). This reformation eventually came to have five principles in common throughout Europe – these have come to be known as the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation.

One of the things the Roman Catholic Church taught was that a combination of the scriptures, church tradition, and the teachings of the magisterium (the church teaching authority as exercised by bishops and the pope) were the foundation for faith and practice. In response to this, reformers responded Sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone is the foundation for faith and practice. This did not mean that the church was not to interpret scripture, but that scripture must be the foundation, and not ignored in favor of church teaching if what was being taught was contrary to what the Bible teaches.[2] Another thing the Roman Catholic Church taught was that we are justified by faith AND the works that we produce, which the righteousness (that God infuses in us through faith) brings about. The reformers responded, Sola Fide, or “No, we are justified by faith alone, which lays hold of the alien righteousness of Christ that God freely credits to the account of those who believe.” The Catholic Church taught that we are saved by the merits of Christ and the saints, and that we approach God through Christ, the saints, and Mary, who all pray and intercede for us. The Reformers responded, “No, we are saved by the merits of Christ Alone, and we come to God through Christ Alone” – or Solo Christo (AKA Solus Christus). The Roman Catholic Church taught that the glory for a sinner’s salvation could be attributed partly to Christ, partly to Mary and the saints, and partly to the sinner himself. The reformers response? Soli Deo Gloria, or “No, the only true gospel is that which gives all glory to God alone, as is taught in the scriptures.” And finally we come to the topic of today’s message: the Catholic Church taught that we are saved through a combination of God’s grace, the merits that we accumulate through penance and good works, and the excessive amounts of merits that the saints before us accumulated; the reformers responded, “sola gratia”, or grace alone. [3]

Let’s look at an example of how many view grace (this example is credited to the puritan Thomas Boston): Imagine a sinner in a deep pit which he can’t get out of. Now imagine God lowers a long rope down right beside him. If the man grabs hold of that rope, then God can pull him out of that pit.

This is generally as far as most people’s view of grace goes – where God initiates a way for man to be saved, but does not force man to take that way, and so to be saved a man has to cooperate with God by doing his part – making a decision, saying a prayer, being baptized, doing good works. The only problem is that the sinner at the bottom of the pit is dead! He can’t grab the rope, he can’t respond to anyone or anything. He is spiritually dead.

This brings us to our passage for today. Turn to Ephesians 2:1-10

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

I always like to look at a passage through the lenses of an investigator. So let’s look at the questions of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, as presented by the passage in question. Now this passage begins with the condition of every person before salvation:

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins

Paul tells us something of the WHEN and something of the WHO in this passage – WHEN YOU (his audience, believers) were dead in your trespasses and sins. Some people don’t realize what that means, so I thought I’d take a second and review a couple of key passages dealing with sin and death. Let’s look at Romans 3:23

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

So we can see that EVERYONE has sinned – this is the case whether you are a good person or not, whether you are moral or not, whether you grew up in the Christian church or some other religion – ALL HAVE SINNED.

More than that, we have to realize that sinning has consequences.

Please turn to Romans 6:23.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We earn death with our sin. Whether it is one sin or a multitude of sins – we died. Obviously this does not speak of our physical condition, but of our spiritual condition – we die spiritually when we sin. And being dead, unsaved sinners are simply unable to understand who God is, or what God has done and even are unable to understand them. This is easy to see in 1 Corinthians 2:14

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Returning to our main passage

in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience

We see in Ephesians 2:2 that everyone, before they are saved, walked in ways affected by the world and by the spirit which works in those who disobey – the prince of the air – the devil.

While they don’t know it, Satan works in those he has captivated to HIS will. We see this more clearly in 2 Timothy 2:24-26

24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Notice – God MAY GRANT repentance. So many people think they are good people, that if they live “right”, that God will grant them entrance into heaven when they die. But this passage tells us that unless God grants repentance, people continue to be held captive by the devil to do his will.

Indeed, let’s return to our original passage, verse 3:

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

We see in verse 3 that Paul shifts who he includes in the WHO – even HE, the Apostle Paul, lived in his lusts and indulgences, being by their very nature children of wrath – as ALL before coming to Christ were, and are, and will be. By their very NATURE, people without God are children of wrath. They are selfish, indulging the desires of their minds and bodies. The wrath of God remains upon them. But they are not unique – everyone without God is like this. We also see here the Where – in the lusts of our flesh and mind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us

So now we see where GOD enters the scene as part of the WHO. Remember earlier we saw that part of the “who” is believers. So we have two sets of “who” – believers and God. We have “when” – when believers were dead in their trespasses and sins; and “where” – in our lusts. We now also have WHY – because God is rich in mercy and because of God’s great love which with He loved US.

Let us continue in verses 5 and 6

even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

So we see the WHEN repeated – when we were dead in our transgressions. And we see more of the WHO (Christ), and finally we see the WHAT – God made us alive together with Christ – God saved us. God raised us up with Christ. God seated us with Christ in the places IN CHRIST JESUS.

We see that Paul was convinced that God had finished the work, as we see in Philippians 1:6 (AMP)

6 I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].

And for our purposes today, we see some of the HOW – BY GRACE.

But what does “grace” mean? The New American Standard New Testament Greek Lexicon says the Greek word is “charis” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/charis.html)[4].

In our case, the definition we will focus on is:

  1. good will, loving-kindness, favour
    1. of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

We must realize precisely BECAUSE those who do not know God are helpless to do anything to be with God, that God had to initiate what it took for us to be with Him. That is grace.

Some people don’t like the idea that we are helpless to come to God UNLESS God does it all. But turn to Romans 5:6

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

We were helpless, and yet God died for us at the right time and it was by the grace of God that Christ died.

Hebrews 2:9

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

That is grace.

And while people like the idea that they are the ones who chose God, they must realize that no one seeks God.

Romans 3:10-11

10 as it is written,

“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;

Indeed, without God working in us, we are hostile toward God and unable to please God.

Romans 8:7-8

because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

And some believe that everyone in the world has a call upon them to come to Christ and people will have the free will to choose to follow Christ or not, but we see in John 6:64-65 that ONLY those who have been granted permission by God the Father can come to God the Son, and that does not include everyone.

John 6:64-65

64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Indeed, all those given to Christ WILL come to Christ and Christ WILL lift them up on the last day.

John 6:37-40

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

I guess it is summed up by Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

WHILE we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – and that demonstrates God’s love toward us. That is grace.

Getting back to our original passage, let’s look at Ephesians 2:7

so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Another WHY – so GOD can show the awesome riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

So now we have WHO – GOD, Christ, believers.

We have WHEN – while you were dead in your trespasses and sins.

We have WHERE – in the lusts of the flesh and mind – where we were living, the world.

We have WHAT – God made us alive together with Christ; God saved us; God raised us up with Christ; God seated us with Christ in the places IN CHRIST JESUS.

We have HOW – By the grace of God.

And we have WHY – because God is rich in mercy; God loved us; God will show in the ages to come the awesomeness of His grace.

Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us more of this grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

We were saved BY GRACE, THROUGH FAITH. There is often a question as to what is meant by “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Some believe the “THAT” Paul spoke of was referring to grace, some believe he referred to ‘saved’ and some to ‘faith’. Personally, I think the Greek supports the all three being a gift. The key here, though, is that people who are saved are saved by GRACE – this is God working in you and for you to ensure you are saved through faith in Christ. It is God’s gift. It is God’s work.

We see that it is GOD’s work by seeing Jesus saying to people who asked what they must do to work the works of God in John 6:29

29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

This belief is not mere intellectual assent, but it affects the believer so as to cause them to live differently – to obey God.

John 3:36

36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Acts 26:20

20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Its not that doing things saves us, but the things we do show we trust in Christ. This is what James meant in James 2:14-26, when he said that he could show his faith by his works – that faith engenders actions, otherwise it is an empty faith, a mere intellectual assent.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so we would walk in them. We are like living dolls, created to do the good things God prepared for us to do.

We also see in Philippians 2:13

13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure

There are those who would say that God began the work, and they had their own part in it. But that would contradict Ephesians 2:9 which says it was not by works. And Romans 11:5-6 tells us,

In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

Any who believe, only do so because they were graciously chosen by God. So either you were saved by grace through faith or you were not. Either GOD did it, or He lied. If GOD did it, then you did nothing to contribute to your own salvation.

Remember Romans 6:23

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You earned death with your sin. But GOD graced you with the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. This is not something we earn OR cooperate with God on. This is something freely given by the grace of God, and something God works to ensure occurs.

Some would say that God showed grace to those who would be saved because He looked down the passage of time and saw they would choose Him and so chose them. But Romans 9:16 tells us,

16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Hebrews 2:10 tells us:

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Hebrews 12:2 (KVJ) tells us:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Not only does it not depend on the man who desires or the one who does something, but God does not need anything from us, and even determined when and where we would live so we would find Him.

Acts 17:24-27

24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us

Just as we are saved by grace, we are justified (or declared righteous) by grace.

Titus 3:7

so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life

No, our justification, our salvation, our belief, our repentance is all the work of God, by the grace of God, alone.

All believers receive grace, realized through Christ, who was full of grace and truth.

John 1:14-17

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

And this grace is eternal.

2 Timothy 1:8c-9

God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity

We are set apart and called by God before we are born through grace.

Galatians 1:15

But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased

We have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, according to God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

We are to imitate the faith of those who led the church, and not be carried away by strange teachings and so be strengthened by grace.

Hebrews 13:7-9

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.

And we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.

2 Peter 3:18

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Even the very gifts we have differ according to the grace given to us, and we are to exercise them accordingly.

Romans 12:6

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

So reviewing the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW, we saw that God granted believers grace from all eternity – before we are born. God made them alive by grace. God saved them by grace, through faith. Moreover, God did so because He loved us, and to show the awesomeness of His grace. God initiated this while we were still dead in our trespasses and sins. God has completed it by seating us in heaven with Christ. God did it by working in us and around us and through us to desire and to do according to His will – we are HIS workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.

Let’s return to the example of grace I gave when I started discussing grace. You remember, a sinner in a deep pit which he can’t get out of, and God lowers a long rope down right beside him. If the man grabs hold of that rope, then God can pull him out of that pit. But instead of lowering the rope beside the sinner to grab hold of, God puts the rope around the man, gives him new life, and draws the man up out of the pit to be with God himself. THAT is how grace works – God not only initiates the whole thing, He completes it – God provides the people, the new life, the faith, and the obedience. GOD does something in the heart of man so man becomes alive spiritually and is able and willing to be saved and come to Christ. Because of Grace, by Grace, God effectually accomplishes salvation, by Grace Alone.


Footnotes:

[1] Anonymous; “English Bible History: The Pre-Reformation History of the Bible From 1,400 BC to 1,400 AD“; ; Available online 10/28/2015: http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/pre-reformation.html

[2] Horton, Michael; “Reformation Essentials – Five Pillars of the Reformation”; Available online 10/27/15 at http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/essentials.html.

[3] Anonymous; “39. What are the “five solas,” and what do they mean?”; Available online 10/27/15 at http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/qna/fivesolas.html.

[4] The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon; Available online 10/28/2015: http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/charis.html

Different meanings of the word ‘world’

In John 3:16, we see

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

The original word translated as “world” in Greek is ‘Kosmos’. These are the various definitions for that word, and we will look at examples of these different definitions in scripture:

  1. an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
  2. ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens.
    1 Peter 3:3

    Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;

  3. the world, the universe

    Matthew 24:21

    21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

  4. the circle of the earth, the earth

    Matthew 4:8

    Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;

  5. the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family
  6. the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ

    This is the ‘world’ – those who do not trust Christ.

    John 14:17

    17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

    John 15:19

    19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

    John 17:9,14

    I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;

    14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

    2 Peter 2:5

    and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

    1 John 3:13

    13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.

  7. world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
    1. the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ
  8. any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort
    1. the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)
    2. of believers only, John 1:29; 3:16-17; 6:33; 12:47 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19

      John 1:29

      29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God whotakes away the sin of the world!

      John 3:16-17

      16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

      John 6:33

      33 For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

      2 Corinthians 5:19

      19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation

       

 

The Bible says to not cuss

The Bible says to not cuss. What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what is inside us. We should take every thought captive for the obedience of Christ, destroying strong-holds in our lives which prevent us from being who God has called us to be.

Ephesians 4:29

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

James 3:10

 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

1 Peter 3:9-12

 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For
“The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
11 “He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
12 “For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Luke 6:45

45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

2 Corinthians 10:5

 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Colossians 3:8

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.

So we are to not use foul language, but more than that, we are to even stop ourselves from thinking bad language.

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