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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
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. 1Timothy 2:3-4
A man was once asked what he believed about God, to which he replied,
“I believe what my church believes.”
The follow up question to this was, “What does your church believe?”
He quickly said, “My church believes what I believe.”
“What do you and your church believe then?”
He said, “We both believe the same thing.”
This brief exchange may sound humorous but it’s not funny. In fact, it’s daunting.
For some reason the preacher’s message isn’t getting through to this individual.
Obviously, this gentleman isn’t standing on “solid” ground with regard to faith and Church Doctrine. “Whatever,” is his motto and he appears to be content.
Unfortunately, this epitomizes far too many church-goers today.
Does this describe you and your church?
Why do you believe what you believe?
What do you believe?
These are important questions.
Christians misunderstand and struggle with several faith-related issues. One of these is assurance. They doubt their salvation. As a follow-up to the previous lesson, I’d like to take a moment to talk about what it means for the Holy Spirit to testify with our spirit that we are children of God: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons (and daughters) of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to (what’s the next word) fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons (and daughters) by which we cry out, Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:14-15)
The first clue that you’re a saved individual is in the paragraph above. You’re the adopted son and daughter of God if you are being led by the Spirit of God. The Greek term Abba Father is a very intimate, warm, personal, affectionate cry to God as our Father and it’s the Holy Spirit witnessing.
You can’t feel or hear the Holy Spirit, so how does one know they are spirit led?
According to Scripture, the witness of the Spirit is the work of the Spirit giving evidence in our lives that we are sons and daughters of God. The work of the Spirit within you provides evidence and isn’t that what witnesses do? They speak of reality after having seen it. So, now we go to Scripture to see what it means to be led by the Spirit.
Please turn to Galatians chapter 5.
Walking by the Spirit or Living by the Spirit, = producing the Fruit of the Spirit.
If you’ll skip down to verse 22, the Apostle Paul has given us a list containing 9 items which he named the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Now examine your life. Is there any evidence that the Holy Spirit within you is producing this fruit which is contrary to the lustful, selfish, Adamic human nature which coexists within you (Romans 7:14-25)?
But let’s be clear. The Bible never says the evidence of salvation is perfection!
It always concerns a direction of life where a person would say, “I used to be hooked on internet pornography, but God showed me how destructive that was to me and my family – He changed me.” Or, “I used to spend Sunday afternoons in front of the T.V. watching sports instead of spending time with my family, but God helped me see how selfish I was, thank you Lord.” In both these examples, we see some “measured” evidence of change. The Holy Spirit is bringing out the nature of Jesus Christ in these individual Believers – He is transforming them into the likeness of God’s Son.
Do you believe there is only one true God?
Do you believe that God is three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?
Do you believe Jesus Christ is God in the flesh?
Do you believe faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures for your sins is only way to be saved? You do, right?
But you say there is still sin in your life and you can’t beat it. No matter how hard you try you keep returning to it – even though you know you’re not supposed to.
As I said, nowhere in Scripture does it say Believers are to be perfect.
Heaven would be a lonely place if God set the bar that high.
Permit me to illustrate: let's say we are on a 20 foot boat out in the ocean. We are sailing along when we notice two men in the water. There is no other boat around, so it is obvious these two men are in dire straits. We take a life preserver, tie it to a rope, and throw it to them but it lands a few feet short. We yell for them to grab onto the life preserver so we can pull them in. One of the men, exhausted, reaches out his arm for the life preserver but falls short. "Grab it!" We yell. He reaches out but his arm drops in the water from fatigue. The waves slap his face; he goes under briefly, resurfaces swallowing salt water, but keeps trying. The other man is simply floating face down in the water. There is no sign of struggle at all. But, the other man is ardently swimming for the life preserver. He is fighting against the ocean, the waves, and the wind all which are stronger than he is.
Which one of these two men in the water is alive? Is it the one face down in the water or the one struggling to grab onto the life preserver? The one struggling for life: right?
Dead people don't struggle for life. Coincidentally, spiritually dead people do not struggle against their sin. An unsaved person is dominated by their depraved, unredeemed flesh. Those who have no life in them do not struggle for eternal life.
(Romans 1:28-32; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Galatians 5:19-21).
If you’re like the first man who is struggling against your sin, this is a sign that you are alive in Christ Jesus. If there was no sign of struggle at all, then one could dispute your salvation. However, since you “war” against your sins you know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
People who walk after the Spirit do so because they think about the things of the Spirit and live their lives according to the Spirit. A true Believer is able to please God because they’re thinking patterns are aligned with God’s and this comes from their new nature.
Those walking in the flesh have their minds on the things of the flesh because they live according to the flesh (Romans 8:8-9). Fleshly thinking patterns or a fleshly disposition will manifest itself in worldly behavior which is contrary to the Spirit of God (1 John 2:15).
Thank you for being here today; now let’s all turn our attention to Bible study.
Please open your Bible at Romans 10:11.
11: For the Scripture says, “WHOSOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” (Isaiah 28:16)
God’s invitation goes out to all! This verse reminds me of the LORD God’s call to Abram around 2000 BC; that’s when the nation of Israel had its start. Then how God worked with Abram and His people down through the years, with a few gentile exceptions of course and that’s what they were “exceptions” – there was the city of Nineveh, Ruth the Moabite, the Syrian general, and a few others. The LORD God dealt primarily with the Jew only and this theme carries through the first few chapters of the Book of Acts (Acts 11:19). Gentiles were separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promises, having no hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12).
But you see there has been a change. Paul says whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved and because of this things are not the same. Instead of God working primarily with the Israelites with a few Gentile exceptions, now God is primarily calling out Gentiles with a few Jewish Believers. Most of them still don’t recognize Jesus Christ as their Lord and refuse to call on Him for salvation. However, in this dispensation of grace this is what God requires.
12: For there is no (difference) distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentile); for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;
13: for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (Joel 2:32)
Before you’re conversion I’m sure you didn’t pay much attention to God, much less call Him Lord, and pay Him homage. Before that occurred, too many other things were more important such as: watching the NCAA basketball finals, studying for your career, gathering money, maintaining your physical appearance, or trying to keep up with the Jones’ to name a few. However, did any of these experiences bring you joy? I know they didn’t offer you salvation! All these things gave you something to do, something to “chase” after while you tried to fill that sense of emptiness inside of you. However, after you “caught” one or more of these life-goals or experiences you discovered they weren’t fulfilling. You needed something more/something else so the chase began anew. That sense of emptiness you were attempting to fill with excitement, experiences, drugs, booze, career climbing, stuff, or other worldly pursuits can only be filled by Jesus Christ. This is why you “called” on the name of the Lord – to be saved. This was step #1 in your honoring Him.
Paul used the same expression For there is no distinction once before in Romans 3:22-23 while referencing sin. On account of “sin” there is no longer a difference between Jew and Greek. Sin puts everyone on the same level before God – guilty! Here in v12 Paul is saying our Righteous Judge is abounding in riches for all who call on Him, (whether Jew or Greek) WILL BE SAVED.
When anyone accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior they are instantaneously enriched with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) and declared to be complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). Paul refers to these blessings as “the unfathomable” riches of Christ in Ephesians 3:8. In the Greek, the word “Unfathomable” is anexichniastos which means: past finding out, unsearchable. The idea being that the Believer’s blessings in Christ Jesus are “too deep to be measured.”
14: How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?
15: How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” (Isaiah 52:7)
This is as good a place as any to point out that after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins God put 5 things into place so that people can be saved. Paul mentions these in verses 13-15:
Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
But…how are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed?
How are they to believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
How will they hear without a preacher?
How will they preach unless they are sent?
So, salvation is the result of a person going forth, preaching/sharing the good news about Jesus Christ, hearing the gospel, believing, and calling on Jesus Christ as Lord.
Now I want you to stop and think for just a minute. Is Jesus Christ doing the evangelical work down here on earth? Are angels spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection around the globe or is it ordinary people like you and me? I mentioned the city of Nineveh earlier in this lesson. Who took the LORD God’s message to them? It was Jonah – right? Just an ordinary man, reluctant to the nth degree, but the LORD helped him see what needed to be done. My point being God has always used ordinary people to BRING GOOD NEWS or to promote salvation.
I find it encouraging that God wants to use us Believers as His ambassadors here on earth for that’s exactly what we are – strangers in a foreign land (2 Corinthians 5:20). This isn’t a chore to put off. This is something to look forward to for we have been included in God's ministry of “reconciliation:” Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and (read carefully) gave us the ministry of reconciliation, (2 Corinthians 5:18).
Please understand it’s not up to us to save people. We have not been given this responsibility. The reason why a person believes the gospel is that God opens the heart (Acts 16:14). What was said by Paul: first someone must speak the gospel. God doesn’t open the eyes of the heart to see nothing. He opens them to see the glory of Jesus Christ revealed in the truth of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Therefore, we Believers must speak the gospel – we are not to leave this responsibility to the next person it is yours and mine. We don’t make the new birth happen, when we speak the gospel but we fit perfectly into God’s plan when we comply. The point of speaking the gospel is to give the individual something to hear and to see quite frankly. Since the key problem in not believing the gospel is the hardness of one's heart, this is where the Lord does His work – He opens the heart.
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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