Can I Get Unborn?

“Once saved, can’t we choose to reject Christ?” Someone asked this question at the Membership 101 Class. It illustrates how important a membership class is.

If someone believes a person can be saved, then unsaved, then saved again, all by the fickle act of our will, then there are other sincere followers of Christ who believe this too. Perhaps they don’t want to be a member of a Southern Baptist Church.  And that’s “OK.”

But, the “Security of the Believer” and “Perseverance of the Saints” are beliefs Southern Baptists cherish. We believe that once someone is saved then that person is always saved. We also believe that once a person is genuinely converted by Christ, that person will persevere in the faith.

Salvation is first and foremost an act of God, not of man:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 ESV
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37 ESV

Salvation is also an act of our “faith” and for “whoever comes” to Jesus, as the two verses above also reveal.

So, Jesus shows there is a conscious coming to Him, but also shows the security of the person who will never hunger or thirst again, never! He said:

I am the bread of life: whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35

Certainly salvation requires an act of faith on our part.

But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. John 6:36

But once we believe, salvation does not depend on us being able to hold on to Him. Jesus said:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37

Jesus came only to do the Father’s will. And what is that will?

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

There is no work we can do to earn salvation, it is by God’s grace through an act of faith. Therefore, we can doing nothing to KEEP our salvation, it is an act of God.

The debate will go on, I’m sure, on this side of heaven. But here we stand: genuine believers are secure in Christ.

Children with Special Privileges

Quentin would die as a fighter pilot in World War I; Ted became a highly decorated soldier who saw service in both World Wars; Archie became a businessman; Kermit grew up to become an adventurer and soldier of fortune; and Ethel served as a nurse in France during World War I and later became involved with the Red Cross.

As children they had a very unique experience in common. They had access to the Oval Office of the President of the United States! Can you imagine?

They are the children of President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife, Edith . (See Photo)

As believers in Jesus Christ we have access to the throne room of God! We are the children of God through a second birth.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 NLT

As a child of the King, we have special privileges.

1. We can come BOLDLY into God’s throne room at any time. This does not mean arrogantly, but confidently. We are his child!

2. We can receive MERCY when we mess up. We all mess up. With a genuine sorrow for the sin and full intent to turn from it we will receive his forgiveness and mercy.

3. We can find GRACE when we are weak, incapable, and need resources, which is just about all the time.  These grace-gifts are given freely to His children. We have not because we ask not.

Freedom to stroll into the Oval Office to consult with a sitting United States President seems like nothing compared to the privilege we actually do have to boldly enter God’s presence any time we choose!

Our Father, what an amazing privilege to write these words knowing you see and hear them. Thank-you we can come into your very throne room boldly and confidently as your child. Please have mercy on us in our sins. Please provide all we need to serve You effectively and faithfully.

You Have an Appointment

“Honey, I made my favorite thing for dinner tonight!”

“Oh really,” he replied quizzically, “what’s that?”

She replies, “Reservations!”

Last week my parents asked me to go with them to his appointment at the U.A.M.S. Reynolds Institute on Aging. Memory loss issues runs in the family as they near their 80s. My Dad is no exception. I went with my Mom and Dad to help negotiate the morning traffic, construction, and the U.A.M.S. complex of buildings.

Every fall I get a physical. Every six months I get my teeth cleaned and checked.

Appointments, we look forward to some and others we don’t.

But there’s one appointment everyone has and no one will miss it. It is an appointment made by God himself.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.  Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV

Our Father and Creator has provided everything we need so we can be ready for this appointment. We celebrate the first coming of Christ at Christmas. Christ will come a second time for those who are eagerly waiting for this appointment to arrive.

The first time Christ came he dealt with sin once for all. He is the total and complete sacrifice needed for sin. The Old Testament sacrificial system required sacrifices to be done over and over and over again.

It sounds gruesome to some, but I’m actually looking forward to dying. No, I’m not in a hurry to leave this earth. But as the writer of Hebrews says it, I am “eagerly waiting for him.”

That’s an appointment I look forward to keeping. I rejoice that my name is written in heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

At the same time we wait with tears. We all have those we love and know who ignore the fact that they even have an appointment with God.

Reality check: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

EVERYONE will keep this appointment!

Pray urgently this Christmas for those who need to know Jesus as their Savior. Witness as the opportunities arise. Pray for our International Missionaries, over 4,000 of them scattered around this globe, that their sharing of the gospel will be successful!

Give a generous, sacrificial amount to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year. My challenge is to think in terms of giving your largest Christmas gift to this offering. How much did  you spend on your most expensive gift this year? Give at least one dollar more to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions!

Our Father, thank-you for sending Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Thank-you for the salvation that will be fully revealed on that day we stand before you. We urgently request that our friends, grandchildren, children, neighbors, and acquaintances come under the deep conviction of your Holy Spirit of their urgent need for a Savior. 

 

Look Out the Window

Take-off was a rush! I never dreamed that the initial thrust would set me back into my seat the way it did. In no time we were off the ground quickly gaining altitude.

As an adult I experienced my first ride on a commercial passenger plane. I felt like a kid. The thrill of take-off put butterflies in my stomach.

Then came the view! I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the patchwork below me. Seeing things from thousands of feet above the earth gives a whole new perspective!

I thought to myself, “God sees the world like this all the time, yet he knows me personally!”

Our Father always has the big picture perspective for our lives, disasters, sins, set-backs, diseases, and celebrations.

Jeremiah told his countrymen who had just been carried off to captivity to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

We often see this verse on plaques . It is certainly an encouraging verse. It is one I meditate on when I get discouraged.

But the context is a horrible situation of defeat and exile! Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 in a letter to settle in, build homes, have lots of children and grandchildren, and make the city prosperous and peaceful, because you will be there a long time, seventy years!

Are you going through a disaster or an exile now? Perhaps your disaster has already lasted a long time. Or maybe it is just beginning.

Remember God has the 35,000 feet view even though you can’t seem to see 3 feet in front of you. God’s really does have the big picture.

Honor and love your Father in Heaven in the middle of your chaos. He indeed knows the plans He has for you! He wants your good, not disaster.  So whether He delivers next week, years down the road, or in heaven, He will come through! The LORD is still your hope!

Look out the window.

Our Father, thank-you for the hope, assurance, and confidence that you never lose control of this universe, this world, and the circumstances of our lives. Fill us with hope in the midst of our exiles. Help us to live faithful lives honoring You inside our disasters.

I Did Not Get Your Email

When I was team leader for the Leadership & Worship team, I asked William Jaques (he pronounces it Jay-Kiss) to join our team. He now does the stewardship training I did before coming to pastor Balboa.

I ran into him the other day. He said he had sent an email to me with a new stewardship resource. I never got it.

I knew they had my new email. I asked him to resend it. He did.  I still got nothing.

So I sent his ministry assistant an email and asked that she reply to me. When she replied she saw it!

When someone entered my new email address into the Arkansas Baptist State Convention database, only one letter was incorrect.

How inconvenient!  How narrow-minded! Surely the email would have come through with only one letter changed.

But of course it did not reach my computer.

A recent survey of 3,000 American Christians reveals that only 53% of them believe “Salvation is found through Jesus Christ alone.” (Click here for more info.) As I have suspected, a universalism is creeping into our churches. Many “Christians” believe that Jesus is one many ways to heaven. Of course this is a dangerous false teaching.

The resurrected Lord Jesus spoke directly to Paul on the road to Damascus. The blinding light stopped Paul in his persecution of Christians. Paul become a believer and key leader for the early church writing much of the New Testament. Paul said:

For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Jesus is the only way to know God.  He is the only Mediator who can reconcile us to God. He is the only perfect sacrifice for our sin. No one can come to the Father except through Him. No other “way” to heaven even comes close. No amount of money or good works can “purchase” salvation.

Just like a misspelled email can’t get to the right destination, neither can a way contrived by humans reconcile us to our Creator!

Our Father, thank-you for the gold mine of grace you have given to us through Your Son Jesus Christ. Your abundant grace and mercy to us is truly amazing. Help us to lovingly share the one true path to You provided only by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ.

Mighty Mouse, Superman, & the Road Runner

Cartoons fascinated me as a child. The make-believe world of animated characters, creatures, and super-human stunts still grab the attention of my grandchildren today.

Does anyone remember the Roadrunner dropping an anvil on the coyote? Or do you remember Mighty Mouse flying through the air at supersonic speed and punching the villain in the nose?

I vividly remember as a child wishing there really was a Superman or a Mighty Mouse to come at just the right moment and rescue people from their impossible circumstances!

This morning I read this wonderful promise:

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. Psalm 18:30

It was written by David in praise to God when God rescued him from Saul and his army. But the description David gives of God rescuing him would be a challenge for any animator.

Check this out this imagery in Psalm 18:

Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger.
Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind.
11 He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.
12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused.
15 Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.

The Holy Spirit inspired David to write this! We have our hero!  We have our rescuer! He is our Lord!  He is our God. Whether He rescues us from our here-and-now circumstances of life as He did with David or He rescues us ultimately in heaven, He is our hero!!!

Our Father, thank-you when you rescue us, heal us, or get us out of the messes we or someone else make. You are a great and awesome God beyond our imagination. Fill us with faith today in You. Whether our enemy is a physical illness, a human terrorist, an Ebola, a spiritual attack, or a discouragement, please give us the faith of David to face it knowing You are always with us.

 

We Agreed

“We agreed” carried us through the difficult challenges! “We agreed” became an anchor point for everything we did after that.

The decision to move to Hot Springs Village and accept the pastorate at Balboa Baptist Church created a transition in our lives with some painful steps. Transition always produces stress.  Stressful times always stress relationships. The marriage of a “preacher” and his wife are no exception!

But, we agreed this was the wise thing to do.  We agreed this was in the center of God’s will for us. We agreed “finishing well” in life meant moving to the Village.

But then came the ripping and the tearing of buying, selling, and moving . Loss produces grief. A sense of loss came over both of us as we purged. We had to let go of some “stuff.” We sized down. We know now many of you have experienced the same purging, moving, and transitioning!

But we agreed it was only “stuff.” We agreed that none of this “stuff” will matter a hundred years from now anyway!

Agreement solves a lot of issues! Our marriage didn’t survive this little bump in the road, it thrived!

The word “confess” means to agree. Do you “agree” with God about who Jesus is?  It solves a lot of eternal issues. It requires some purging and letting go of some “stuff.”

Our agreement as a married couple to move solved a lot of other issues. But the most crucial “agreement” is between you and God about who Jesus is.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 ESV

God lives in you and you live in God when you agree with God about Jesus. Do you agree Jesus is His perfect Son risen from the dead? What a thought! What a reality! We are indwelled and surrounded by the God of the universe in personal relationship if we agree with God about Jesus!

Do you agree? This is the most important agreement you will or will not make. It impacts how you live now. It impacts how you spend eternity!

Our Father, we praise you for being a loving Creator. We rebelled against you in our sin. Thank-you for offering to each of us the greatest gift possible: salvation, forgiveness, relationship, redemption, and your presence in us and around us! Father, WE AGREE! Jesus is Your Son, risen from the dead, alive and well, the sacrifice for the sins of the world, and now our personal Savior! Thank-you!