A New Testament Perspective on Giving

Money is often an uncomfortable topic to talk about in the church. Immediately, people begin to think filthy lucre because of the unfortunate rise of prosperity gospel teachings and ministers who try to trick persons out of their money for personal gain. Yet, the New Testament speaks about giving more than any other topic. Giving is the way of God. His love towards us was demonstrated in His giving of His special Son. Love for each other is expressed in our giving. As a body, we were challenged on our commitment to giving from 2 Corinthians 9:1-10. We learned that giving begins at the level of our attitude. It must be:
1. Willing
2. Generous
3. Cheerful
4. Planned
5. Sustained

Day 1

Good morning, family. Let us reflect together:

“I have shown you all things, how that so labouring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Paul sought to teach by example how other believers ought to act towards those in need (the weak). This teaching of Jesus, passed on by Oral traditions. The admonition to “Remember” suggests that this saying had been prominent in the Apostles’ teaching but it also indicates the importance for believers to be consistent in their response to giving.

Those who give are blessed, not because of the rewards they will receive for giving or becauae they are in a superior position but because there is a pure and godlike Joy in giving. The foundation on which this saying rests is that giving is the result of LOVE and SELF-SACRIFICE.

Where the heart is full of deep, real love, and that love expresses itself by the cheerful act of giving, there is a sense of blessedness. The highest joy and noblest use of our possessions is found in blessing others.

 

 

Day 2

Good morning, Family. As we continue our reflection, we answer THE question, “Why should I give?”

Merely “throwing ” your money in an offering plate out of compulsion or grudgingly is NOT giving in God’s eyes. The type of giving that pleases God is willing and cheerful and generous.

*1.We must give because we have received from God*, having considered that *”all generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from THE Father of lights, With whom there is no variation or THE slighest hint of change”* (James 1:17).

*2 We must give because it glorifies God*: God’s glory is THE overaching concern of every believer. *”Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your OBEDIENCE to your confession in THE Gospel of Christ and THE generosity of your sharing With them and With everyone”* (2Cor. 9:13). Our heart must be concerned With the things of God, for where our heart. is, there our treasures will be.

Like every other spiritual discipline, giving is an important aspect if we are to walk worthy of our calling and to be used by God for His glory! Do you truly want to be used by God, or will you turn away in sorrow like the rich young ruler in Matthew 19: 16-22?

 

Day 3

Good morning, family. Let us deeply consider the following: “One the first day of the week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping With your income, *saving it up*, so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1Cor. 16:2. NIV).
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7 NIV).

We sometimes struggle with the question of how much to give. Giving, in the first place is an act of Faith in God to supply your needs.

Paul is consistent in his writing to Corinth that giving is a matter of the heart and must pre-planned & systematic. Each of the verses indicate that giving requires advance planning and must not be done on impulse or under pressure to do so. In response to God’s grace, each household should determine the amount/percentage God wants them to give each month (not the legalistic 10%. ) and then follow through on this. We should not wait for the offering plate to be passing down the aisle and the think, “Oh, let me drop something in.”

So, how do you arrive at a percentage/amount?? *PRAY* about it!!! If you hear God says 10% that is perhaps you or the voice of tradition screaming in your head. God can be leading to give more so be open to hear as you consider how he has blessed you and you trust Him to meet your other needs.

 

Day 4

Good morning, family.
With all the bills that we have to pay and all the responsibilities that creep up on us how do I still give? In 2 Cor. 8:2-3, we learn that sometimes, giving is sacrificial. The church was giving *”beyond their ability”* or giving having need themselves but trusting God to supply their needs.

But perhaps the question of concern we must have is, “do I just take up my money and give everyone who asks?” It is not right to deprive your family of necessities to give to others (1Timothy 5:8) but we dp have a duty to the poor and to the work of the ministry, as scripture teaches.
We are to help meet the physical needs of food, shelter, clothes, etc. of others, first to those who belong to the household of faith (Galatians 6:10) and then help others who may have genuine need; like that indigent woman or man in your community. That is why as a church, we have a love basket that we ask week after week that members carry s non perishable item so that we supply those in need.

But we are also are expected to give to the work of the ministry (Galatians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). After you’ve taken care of family, this is next in line on your list of priority. However, be careful of the ministry you give to. Any ministry that is worth its salt will be ensuring that the needy in its midst are taken Care of.
The next time you are called upon to give consider these things.

 

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What Did You Do With The Talent: A Lesson In Stewardship

Matthew 25:14-30 is an excellent narrative about stewardship. The cast includes 3 servants, one of whom was slothful, lazy and ungrateful, and their master. Every story calls for you to pay attention to detail – making comparisons and contrasts; listening to tone and mood; examining characters; understanding context etc. In this particular story, there is, for me two striking characters: the master and the slothful servant (the one who received one talent). A talent was silver (money) which weighed between 58 to 80 pounds, so the master was entrusting his servants with quite considerable money. This was the kind of money you would entrust to a trusted relative or friend, not a servant.

The other two servants were faithful but there was one who wasn’t, that is, the one who received 1 talent or 80lbs of silver. Here is something about that servant that angered the master. He was selfish. Selfishness is the biggest hindrance to proper stewardship. One cannot be a good steward and seek self-interest at the same time. That third servant had reasoned that the master might not be returning. So, he kept the money. If the master returned, he could simply return the money without loss from a bad investment (verse 25) but if not he gets to keep it for himself. He did not want to deposit it in the bank because he would have to record it as belonging to the master and could not keep it if the master did not return (verse 27). His reasoning exposed his heart of selfishness and a lack of faith in his master in his master. He proved to be a worthless servant because of this. He perhaps was even comparing what the others got to what he got instead of being grateful that the master place confidence in him in the first place to have given him so much money as a servant/slave.
The master on the other hand demonstrates that he is a fair judge. Those who did not think about themselves and how they could profit off him, were rewarded for their selflessness. And the one who was selfish was not only not rewarded but he was stripped.

The lesson for us today is to serve without seeking our own interest. To serve gladly and willingly. To serve God, not out of compulsion but from a heart of gratitude for what He has entrusted you with.

How Do I get to know God: Tracing God Through His Word

DAY 1

Good morning Family lets reflect on :  Knowledge of God from 2 Peter1:2

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.”

Renowned African American  educator, Burghardt DuBois was convinced that he could change the plight of black Americans if the truth of their condition was known, so he made careful scientific investigations and  presented his thesis. But several years after his presentation nothing happened. Remorsefully he came to the conclusion that ‘the availability of truth does not mean it will be appropriated’.

The church, today, spends much of its time claiming  all manner of things from  God as if we are entitled and  should have them.   Peter’s desire was that grace -God’s activity towards man to enable him; and peace – shalom- completeness, wholeness, prosperity, blessings and victory; be multiplied! But this was not wishful thinking as Peter instructed them how it could be accomplished which is by the knowledge of God.The  Greek word for knowledge has the preposition attached which means ‘towards’, ‘in the direction of’. So a knowledge that is always moving in the direction of that which it seeks to know. As our  knowlege of God and Jesus Christ increases  grace and peace  are multiplied to us. The better we know Them the more we experience grace and peace. The only way  we can gain this knowledge is by a  careful and purposeful study of God’s word .  So  lets us forget the  naming and  claiming and  start studying the word of God and appropriating it to our lives.

DAY 2

Good morning Family, today we reflect on the purpose of  having a knowledge of God.

2Peter1:3 tells us “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything  pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us”

How can finite man come to knowledge of an infinite God? Zophar long ago asked, “Can you by searching find out the  deep things of  God?” (Job 11:7) It was not left up to man to discover the  things concerning God but He revealed them in His word. And in knowing the word we find authority (power ) to live godly .

Chuck Swindoll listed the following six reasons why it is important to pursue knowledge of the Scriptures:

  1. Knowledge gives substance to faith.
  2. Knowledge stabilizes us during times of testing.
  3. Knowledge enables us to handle the Word of God accurately.
  4. Knowledge equips us to detect and confront error.
  5. Knowledge makes us confident and consistent in our walk with God.
  6. Knowledge filters out our fears and superstitions.

Godly living is not dependent on the binding of  spirits or invocation of supernatural power but on complete obedience to the revelation of the knowledge of God’s word.   Knowledge of God  produces godliness in us. Let us seek to gain knowledge of God through the study of His word.

DAY 3

Good morning Family,  today’s  encouragement  ‘Be faithful to grow in the knowledge of God.

As Peter concludes his epistle on false teachers that had infiltrated the Church the  charge is   “Therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:17-18

We live in an age where scant regard is given to the discovery of the truth of scripture. Worst even there is complete disregard both of the hearers and the preachers of the impending judgment given by Peter for those who would perverse the word. The Apostle  implores the church to be watchful and resist those who twist the word leading people astray. Peter says excuses will not stand if you  fail because he has given a warning  about  these persons and  of the consequences   to those who lead and also  follow.  He commands  against complacency and  exhorts his readers to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

If we are not rooted and grounded in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ  which comes from a purposeful  study and application  of scripture    it will be easy to be swept off our feet and  loose our spiritual balance by the false teachings which swamp our culture. Lets remain faithful to growing in the knowledge of God.

DAY 4

Good morning, Family.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and  the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Ephesians 1:17-18 KJV

Paul is praying that God would give believers a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the true knowledge of Him. What becomes clear is that to know these important truths requires God to reveal them. In Eph 4.18 he describes our previous state as , ” darkened in  understanding, excluded from the life of God because of ignorance “. Sin blinds the minds of unbelievers rendering them incapable of first, understanding the truth of the gospel and second the truths of God. It necessitates God to open blinded eyes to believe in Jesus as Saviour (2 Cor. 4:4,6). Our finite minds have to be enlightened by the Spirit of God to understand the deeper truths of His word.

This prayer of Paul includes an intellectual grasp of the Scriptures. We cannot obey what we do not understand. It engages our emotions to desire relationship. This brings us  into a greater submission to His will and conformity with His purpose . When we know  His plans, (the hope of His calling and glory of His inheritance  we become strengthened in the inner-man and will live victoriously as believers .

Psalm 19:7 reminds us that the Law (Word) of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making the “simple” wise. The Word of God makes us wise and formidable against false teaching.

DAY 5

Good morning Family. Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesians 3:18-19 “may be able to comprehend…what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

These verses express the heart of Paul  for his fellow believers to understand the fullness,  vastness and completeness of  Christ’s  love . The Apostle  prays  because only by Divine intervention can our finite minds comprehend the great love that Christ’s gives. Such love  surpasses human  knowledge.

John McAuthur does a good contrast; human love lasts until it is offended. Christ love lasts despite every offense. Human  love is  for what it can get. Christ love is  for what it can give.

Paul knows that when the child of God grasps the magnitude of this truth it will  result in deep gratitude, manifested  in a life  yielded to the will and purpose of Christ born out of a deep sense of obligation. The book of Romans describe it as a living sacrifice which is our reasonable response to His love demonstrated through  His mercies and grace. Being filled with all the  fullness of God that is  being under God’s complete control and emptied of self.

These are critical elements for victorious Christian life.

Paul’s prayer, then, is that we live victorious Christian lives  fitting of our calling.

Through God’s Eyes: Resisting the Temptation of Condemning Others!!!

Resisting the urge to judge and condemn others it not as easy as we may think. There is this innate need to be superior. Superiority is dehumanizing and anti-Christ because it denies the image of God in others. The bible is replete with narratives and verses that instruct us on how we must esteem others as we live in community. Yes!!! It will take a renewing of the mind for us to begin to see others THROUGH GOD’S EYES.

1 Samuel chapters 11 to 16 gives an account of how David was chosen as king over Israel. Perhaps the most instructive verse of the unfolding of this interesting saga (which today could easily become a poignant Hollywood story that chronicles a life from obscurity to prominence) is found in chapter 16, verse 7: “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The Lord told Samuel to go anoint another king. This time the Lord said, “For I have selected a king for myself” (16:1). Before, a king was selected by the people (1 Sam. 8:5). Samuel, when he arrived at Jessie’s house and looked at his son Eliab thought, “Surely, this must be the one1” No doubt, he must have been tall, and handsome and fair. Even God’s prophet was fooled by appearances. But God reminded him that what qualified a wo/man for His work were not outward appearances but the state of his/her heart. Amazingly, even Jesse, the father of the future king, never thought of David, for he was not called with the other sons to walk before Samuel. Surely, God must have been out of His mind to have thought of this little boy who by the standards of other had been disqualified. But David went on to be the greatest king in the history of Israel.

In the New Testament, Luke 15:1-17, Jesus tells a scintillating parable about lost things! Jesus was doing what was normative for him to do – outreach – and there were those who were upset with what He was doing and with whom he associated. “This man sits with sinners,” they said among themselves. But Jesus began to confound their self-righteousness and condemnation with those parables (Lost sheep, lost coin, lost son). Jesus first drew on their common understanding of a shepherd’s responsibility and practice of pursuing a lost sheep even into treacherous paths.

Just in case they didn’t understand, Jesus told another story about a woman who had ten silver coins (possibly a day’s wage or a symbol of her betrothal). So when any of those ten coins is lost, there will be a great desire to find it and a feeling of great loss if she loses any. Clearly, the point of Jesus’ parable about lost things (a sheep that had lost its direction; and a coin that had appeared to have lost its worth) is that they are all valuable and of worth to the person who lost them. Every ‘sinner’ is considered a lost child of God and God places TREMENDOUS value on them (being lost does not diminish their value; only their use) that he would stop at nothing to find/rescue them from their “lostness”. Finding them makes God happy according to Luke 15:7.

Jesus proceeded to tell the story of the obstinate and ungrateful son who wished his father dead and abandoned their relationship. Despite his actions, upon his return, his father ran out to meet his son and accepted him. A real demonstration of LOVE! Interestingly, this son expected to be treated as a servant. Instead, the father restored him fully. Again, there was rejoicing over the lost. This, again, Jesus said to explain the love of the Father and to clarify His situation with those whom the Jews considered sinners/lost.

Do we place the same value as our Heavenly Father places on the lost? Is the urge to condemn difficult to resist? Too often as a church, we respond in callousness to people who have fallen; we remember and categorize people according their sin. We see no value in the lost and that is why we have no desire to be where they are and to reach out to them. Reaching out to the lost requires diligence; effort; love and value for them. Do we see value in even the vilest of sinners?

It will take a special kind of re-socializing/re-orientation for us to begin to estimate fairly those around us who may not believe and practice like we do if we are going to engage them and bring about transformation. Paul calls this re-orientation a ‘renewing of the mind’ in Romans 12:2. Remember, a change in others begins with a change in YOU!!!

Once Saved, Always Saved? Seriously?

The issue of “Eternal Security” is often a vexing one. Depending on your church traditions you might not even have heard of the concept. Most Christians in Jamaica may have the belief that they can forfeit the GIFT of salvation and so they must live a morally upright life at all times to guarantee the reception and preservation of this gift.

Can a person who has been saved ever be lost? Is it possible for one to ever fall away from grace? Is the statement “Once saved, always saved,” true? Do I have to worry about whether I go to hell or heaven as a Believer? These are questions that often bombard the mind of many Christians. For many, there is the fear of losing their salvation at a moment of vulnerability, for others there is the arduous task of trying desperately to secure their places in heaven by ensuring that they have done everything to the letter. Why is it, however, that those who are supposed to have been set free by God’s grace; free to serve Him “out of gratitude for what he has done,” (Gromacki, 1973)rather than serve him out of apprehension or anxiety, live in so much uncertainty and bondage? If it is that we have been saved, then what is salvation and what have we been saved from? Is our anxiety caused because our salvation is not assured?

Arminian and Calvinists would argue against and for eternal security (http://www.epm.org/articles/arminian_calvinist.html). But which view does the Bible support? Does it support both? For certainty, the Bible cannot present two contradictory claims on the issue of salvation and thus one’s eternal security, having come into salvation that the Bible teaches. So where is the supposed evidence that supports the loss of salvation or security of same coming from? Furthermore is there any truth in either claim?

In a quest to answer these questions put forward, critical analyses will be made of the two existing views on eternal security, citing scriptural references (from Romans mainly) that support each view, while at the same time highlighting and establishing the stronger of the two arguments. Further, the researcher will seek to employ hermeneutical principles and establish grounds that God’s character is harmonious with His revelation. Thus the Bible teaches in Romans and other books one doctrine on eternal security, which is a person who is born into the family of God, cannot at any point lose his or her position. “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His son, that he might be the first born among many brothers. And those He predestined, he also called; those He called, He also justified; those he justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30, NIV)

The position on eternal security is, believed by John R. Church, D.D., to be, unsound and a dangerous teaching. Church uses as his premise 1 John 4:4, which assures the believer of the ability to endure to the end without falling into Satan’s hand (Church, Pg 7). However, this security in the scripture mentioned, according to Church, cannot be construed as unconditional security. He calls such teaching “the first deception that the devil ever put over the human race.” He draws his argument from the scenario in the Garden of Eden when the Lord told the couple in the day they shall eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they shall surely die. Then, comes the devil and he says to them that they will not surely die. He further claims that the Bible teaches in Ezekiel 18:20 that the soul that sins shall surely die. In light of this scripture, Church, like other Arminians, believes that anyone who dies in sin whether Christian or not will be eternally lost.

In addition, those who support the idea that one, after having been saved, can lose one’s salvation, argue that Jesus himself teaches in Luke 8: 11-14 (in the parable of the farmer and the seeds), particularly verse thirteen and in John 15:1-2 (husbandman and vine and branches), that a person who had once been saved could fall away and be lost. Church, adamantly puts forward that is only he that endures in righteousness shall be saved. If what Church says obtains, then we cannot, in this life, know that we are saved or it is impossible to be saved in this life. The best we can know is that we are working towards being saved.

He, further, argues that Matthew 24:12-13 teaches “But he that endures to the end shall be saved. According to him the conditions for eternal life are: constantly abiding in Christ, fruit bearing, and enduring unto the end. “There is no promise of eternal life to any others” (Pg. 11).

Furthermore, Church cites Exodus 32:33; Ezekiel 18:24, 33:12-13; Luke 9: 62; John 6:66; Galatians 5:4; and 1Timothy 4:1 as verses in scripture that support his argument against eternal security. He says that man can take himself out of God’s hands because he is a free moral agent. If these scriptural references are used appropriately by Church and are interpreted based on sound hermeneutical principles then, it stands to reason that what he has posited and what those of Arminian persuasion believe has credence based on scripture.

Church uses Luke 8:11-14 and John 15:1-2 to argue that a person can lose his or her salvation after having believed. Romans 5: 9 & 10 tells us that when we have been justified by his blood, we will be saved from wrath through him (Christ). It must be understood that the death of Christ and His shed blood effect salvation, but the life of Christ sustains it. This verse underscores the lasting effect of the blood he shed, and that it is Christ who keeps us. In other words, Christ never gets weary of keeping us. John 10:26-30 tells us that His sheep know His voice and follow Him and in verse 28 makes the promise that He gives them eternal life and they will never perish; no one will snatch them out of His hand. In other words he or she cannot lose his or her salvation. Such person is eternally saved and will go to heaven when he or she dies. It is not possible for him to be lost.

Moreover, in that passage of scripture are some fundamental truths. Firstly, those who believe are His sheep (children). The flip side of that is those who do not believe are not his. Therefore, according to Romans 8:29-30, those who believe are the ones who he had predestined to believe in Him. Secondly, those who believe in Him, listen to Him. This speaks to obedience. Therefore, we must answer the question, can one who has put on the righteousness of Christ (justified) resist God constantly and continually as one who never believed? Scripture teaches us of newness that is found in Christ in Romans 6:6-7. Thirdly, there is the promise of eternal life. Then, the second part to that promise is that his sheep (those who believe) will never perish. Fifthly, Jesus assures those who believe that no one can snatch them out of his hand because his Father, who is greater than all, had given them to Him.

Romans 8: 34 – 39 assures of this promise that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, because Christ himself is making intercession for us. No matter what happens, we cannot be separated because his grace is sufficient to those who are the elect. These scriptures mentioned in Romans and also John stand in direct contradiction to Church’s Claim that those who believe or who have experienced Salvation can lose it or can even reject Christ and consequently eternal life.

In addition, Church makes the assumption that a person who has come into salvation can go on sinning as one who has not or can revert to the position of never knowing God. Hence, he alludes to the scripture in Ezekiel 18:20, which says that the soul that sins shall surely die. Romans 6:1 tells us that if we sin more grace is abounding, this however doesn’t mean that we must continue sinning, because grace is not a license to sin. 1John 3:9 also says that one who is born of God will not continue sinning because God’s seed; (His word and His Spirit, who is the guarantee of salvation) remains in him.

In fact chapter one of 1John and the eighth verse says if one claims to be without sin then one deceives oneself and does not tell the truth. So with such sin being in us and the inevitable death of the soul, who sins, how is eternal life ever possible? The answer lies in Romans 8:30. “….those he called he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” We are justified or made to be in right relationship with God because of Jesus’ work on Calvary alone. That is why if we confess our sins he is faithful and just (because the debt was already satisfied) to forgive us our sins and forgive us all unrighteousness.

Once a person comes to Christ, he cannot lose his salvation (Romans 8: 34 – 39,John 10:26-30). He is eternally saved, he cannot be separated once he has been elected and will go to heaven when he dies. It is not possible for him to be lost. This is a big problem for the Arminian view of freedom. If it is not possible for a person to lose his salvation, they contend, then there are two options: firstly, It is possible for the believer to later on reject Christ and reject eternal life, but God will still take him to heaven when he dies even though he has rejected it and secondly, it is not possible for a believer to ever reject Christ and eternal life once he is saved (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8449/ armin.html).

Under option one; clearly the person’s will is violated, for the person would be rejecting Christ but God would be taking him to heaven anyway. He would be saving the person against his will. This would obviously be inconsistent with the Bible. The Biblical teaching of eternal security clearly teaches that a person cannot reject eternal life once they are saved because they do not want to reject eternal life. God causes us to continue wanting to believe in Him once we are saved. If it Christ who sustains us, it is He who will continue to give us the desire for Him – Romans 5: 9 & 10.

Moreover, the Bible teaches that the grace of God actually stimulates believers to serve God with a thankful heart Romans 2:4. God cannot act outside of his nature. His nature is good and though perfectly just, He is perfectly merciful and thus, He acts in those manners. His Justice was satisfied when He, as Christ took up our sins and paid the price while His mercy is expressed in his forgiveness extended. God is able to determine who will be saved without violating our wills or forcing us to believe. If a person is elect, God does not force him to believe neither does He leave open the possibility that he will use his will to reject Him and overthrow His plan. For if God prepares his heart and gives him a desire for Christ that is greater than his desire to remain in sin, the person will most certainly come–and will come freely. This presupposition is supported by the scripture in Romans 8:29-30. We must remember that the faith that comes to those who believe is given by God in the first instance. For, in Romans 12:3 we are told that God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Furthermore, we must be cognizant that man has no basis of appeal before God; he is simply guilty according to Romans 3:10 -20 (Gromacki, 1973). What then is man’s hope before God since he is already guilty before even starting out? Belief in Christ! “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life…,” John 3:36.  Man’s only hope is belief in Christ, which assures him of salvation from the penalty of sin – death. God foreknew us because he chose to save us, in spite of our future sins and failures which he knew since eternity. All are eternally certain (Gromacki, 1973. Pgs 36-37). Not only that but even while in sin, as enemies of God, He reconciled us unto Himself (Romans 5:10) how much more of His mercy will we experience having been reconciled.

The fact that we are predestined means that there is a guaranteed future destiny of the child of God and not that a person is determined to go to hell or heaven. Our predestination and subsequent election are based on God’s Foreknowledge (Romans 8: 29). Our election to salvation is based on the same principle as God’s choice of Jacob through whom the blessing of Abraham would come to the world, according to Romans 9:10-13 (Gromacki, 1973). Romans 9 reveals that out of God’s own Sovereignty, He has determined that though all are condemned to death (separation from Himself) because of Sin that He was going to save or rescue some for eternal life.

Does God guarantee our salvation? According to the Calvinists and particularly Gromacki, He does. Gromacki argues that salvation must be seen as the work of God. “Salvation,” he says, “is Theo centric, not anthropocentric. That is, salvation originates with God and not man. He (God) has done the work, and He has done it for His eternal glory.” Hebrews 12:2 describes Jesus as the author (originator/beginner) and finisher (perfecter) of our faith. Our eternal salvation rests in Christ’s ability to perfect that which he has begun 1Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Furthermore, Jesus himself testifies to eternal security in belief in Him. Could Jesus have testified of two opposing views? The Bible is whole and presents one doctrine. In John 5:24 Jesus said, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” However one may attempt to argue that one can stop believing because of what, they perceive, is said in 1Timothy 4:1. In that passage, the issue addressed is not a believer turning away from truth but the refusal of many to accept the truth and thus turn to deceitful teachings. To agree with the former suggestion is to argue with God’s nature to Give faith to cause one to continue in His ways as is clearly demonstrated in Ezekiel 36:27 and Jeremiah 32:40.

In summary, we know that the blessings of salvation cannot be lost because of the nature of salvation. Scripture reveal to us that salvation is eternal. John. 3:16, 36 attest to this claim. The former tells us that those who believe (a) will never perish and (b) will have everlasting life. Secondly, salvation is a present possession as is lucidly stated in Romans. 5:1 and 1 Peter 2:24-25. Thirdly, salvation is by imputation and substitution (2 Co. 5:17; Ga. 2:20; He. 9:10; Ro. 3:24). Salvation is positional. We are told so in Ephesians. 1:3 that salvation is “in Christ”; Romans 6:7; Colossians. 2:10; 3:1-4, 12. Salvation is not of human merit; it is a free gift of grace which cannot be mixed with works Ephesians. 2:8-9; Titus. 3:3-7; Romans 3:19-28; 4:4-5; 9:16; 11:6. Not only are we assured of eternal security because of the nature of salvation but also of the results of salvation as scripture teaches. The results of Salvation are: eternal life John 3:16; Justification Romans 5:1; 3:19-28;  Peace with God Romans 5:1; Sure possession of future glory Romans 5:2, Col. 3:1-4; Salvation from future wrath Romans 5:9; Raised up with Christ Romans 6;  Blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Ephesians 1:3; Sealed with the Holy Spirit Ephesians. 4:30; Passed from darkness to light Colossians. 1:12-14 (http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/eternalsecurity.htm).

We cannot and should not construe that because salvation is eternal, it necessarily gives way to licentious behavior or supports that behviour. On the contrary, though eternal security recognizes the grace of God that leads to full and free salvation, it does not support the view that grace has abolished the responsibility of the believer to live rightly or morally. For certainly, Paul does not agree with the notion that grace is the antithesis of good works. In chapter 6 of Romans, He anticipates that said notion and emphatically said may it never be that one thinks that in light of God’s abundant grace, one should go on sinning. Furthermore, in Romans 12 verse 1, Paul implores his readers that after having considered God’s grace, they must present their bodies to Him as living sacrifices. The idea Paul picks up on is that the life of the believer must be given over entirely to God; much as the sacrifice was in Jewish culture as well as yielding their members to God rather than to the dictates of the evil desires of man (Romans 6:13).

The refusal of many, to accept the doctrine of eternal security stems from a belief that the doctrine of eternal security gives persons a license to sin or live carelessly. Paul, the apostle addressed this misconception in the church at Ephesus in Romans 6:1 “…shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” His answer to that rhetorical question comes in the early part of verse two “By no means…!” In fact, the opposite is true. The Bible teaches that the grace of God actually stimulates believers to serve God with a thankful heart Romans 2:4; Ephesians. 3:14-19; Titus. 2:11-14. The more a believer understands the unfathomable love God has for him in Christ, the more he wants to please God. A believer ought not to live in constant fear of one day falling away, or missing the mark or ultimately going to hell because his or her destiny is sealed in Christ’s redemptive work at Calvary. All efforts must be in fulfilling his purpose which is to serve and worship God. Our salvation (rescue from the penalty of sin) remain a gift; an act of grace _ something we neither work to receive nor can we work to keep. In the words of our Christ, “It is finished!”

REFERENCE LIST

Church, John R. Security In Christ: Or Kept By The Indwelling Christ. Pentecostalk Publishing Co., Louisville, Kentucky.

Gromacki, Robert G. 1973. Is Salvation Forever. The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago: Moody Press, Chicago.

Randy Alcorn. 2006. Some Thoughts on Eternal Security and the Arminian and Calvinist Positions. Internet Source:http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/8449/armin.%20html Eternal Perspective Ministries. Last Updated: October 21, 2008.

Way of Life Literature’s Fundamental Baptist Information Service. 2001. Eternal Security And Problem Passages. Internet Source:http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns%20/eternalsecurity.htm. Last Updated: October 21, 2008.

Internet Source: http://www.epm.org/articles/arminian_calvinist.html. Last Updated:October 31, 2006.

Watch What You Sing: ‘Praise and Worship’ Songs that are Unsound!

1 Corinthians 14:12-18 says:

12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church. 13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer,[d] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Specifically, the passage deals with the issue of loudly speaking out in tongues in the corporate worship setting, which Paul seems to indicate is unprofitable. But point makes a deeper point that is often lost on many. He argues that the corporate worship experience should be instructive. There MUST be edification, for that is the end of the corporate experience.

Often, within the corporate worship experience, there seems to be an unfortunate focus on; veneration of; and desire that is geared towards emotionalism. There is a place for the expression of emotion in worship but emotions are not what worship is about. Worship/’worthship’ is about appropriating God’s worth. It is about coming into knowledge of who God is (God’s Character/attributes) and what God does and how we must respond as a consequence.

Unfortunately, many of the songs we sing in “church” help us to hold false understandings about God, ourselves and how we must respond to God and others in light of our reflection upon God. Perhaps before further engaging this issue we should pause to reflect together on what is Christian and/or Gospel music.

Christian music is music that show the way of Christ: the way of love; justice; truth; unity peace and salvation. This way is only apprehended through the teaching of scripture and anything outside this teaching, though it may mention Jesus or God cannot be considered Christian/Gospel music. Gospel means Good News. Simply match that definition against many of the songs that fall under that genre and we realize that many of them give no good news.

The issue of appropriate worship is always one of contention. And we recognise that it will cause some discomfort:

1. Because it sometimes calls for us to admit to ourselves and even more frighteningly so to our membership that we have been wrong.

2. Because old habits are difficult to break

3. Because we have traditionally made worship to be about the worshiper when, in truth, worship is ALWAYS about the audience of one – God.

Perhaps in light of those aforementioned points, we can understand why some will take offense to the views (held on the premise of scripture) that this article opines.

In John 4, the Samaritan woman, who has a rich religious tradition and whose heart no doubt might have been in the right place approached Jesus on the topic of worship. Jesus’ response was both direct and instructive. He said that “…True worshipers must worship in Spirit and in truth“. Interestingly, the same word for spirit (pneumati) in that context means “MIND”. Because in every other sense, except where spirit clearly means a spirit being who has revealed himself, spirit is seen as a function of the mind, whether it is God’s mind, angel’s mind, or man’s mind. It must be understood that the mind is more than spirit, yet “spirit” can figuratively refer to a person’s mind. So, Jesus basically said to the woman that true worship brings us into understanding. Please note that prior to saying to the woman that true worshipers MUST worship in “spirit and in truth”, Jesus said to her you worship what you do not understand. Our challenge as a church is to take people beyond emotionalism to knowledge/understanding. It is then that true worship happens.

I want to point out a great danger that we hold in “churches”; that song writers are inspired by The Holy Spirit to write what they did and so we should not question their “poetic license” or expressed content. The insinuation that inspiration continues to this day (in a theological sense), allows for no standard of judgment or measuring that which is true. Because if inspiration is as arbitrary as to be left up to a writer’s poetic license, there is , then, no way of verifying inspiration except by taking the writer’s word for it. Inspiration can ONLY be ascribed to scripture (which by the way is demonstrated by the historicity, propheticity and unity of the scripture, written by more than 40 authors, on 4 different continents over a period of more than 1600 years). People are not “inspired” to write songs to worship God. Well, not in the real theological sense of the word, inspired. They must use the inspired Word of God to express authentic worship; worship that is done in spirit (or with understanding/with the mind) and in truth; worship that reflects upon the truth of who God is and about who we are; having begun in perfection in the MIND of God and now having been called into peace with Him.

Here are a list of Songs that we consider unsound:

  1. Create in me a clean heart–  Unlike David, whose reality was that the Holy Spirit came upon him (and others in his era) for service, today the Holy Spirit of promise lives in us and he is not going anywhere and cannot be taken from us (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:22; 4:30). Today we have an abiding promise and hope that the Holy Spirit will dwell with us always and that God will NEVER leave nor forsake us.
  2. We are standing on Holy Ground – The truth is God no longer dwells in temples made of hands or of stones; he lives in us (1 Corinth 3:16; 6:19).
  3. There is a sweet Anointing in the Sanctuary – Ibid
  4. Anointing fall on me – What do we mean when we say this? What do we call “Anointing”? Anointing was the processing of pouring oil on an individual (in the OT) to symbolise his/her ascent to a position (priest, prophet, king). It was not about enablement. The Holy Spirit was always the enablement.
  5. Daniel saw the stone rolling down to Babylon – while Daniel did see a stone.. we cannot, from the text, decide it was white or little
  6. Open the floodgates of Heaven– Let what rain? What does this song say and how does it lead us into knowledge about God?
  7. Welcome Holy Spirit– Where is the Holy Spirit? Where is He coming from? And Welcome where? He lives in us; we are conduits of the Spirit. Wherever He is, we are and vice versa (  Ephesians 1:13-14).
  8. Saturate me With Your Anointing – See 4 above
  9. We fall Down But We Get up – “A saint is Just a sinner who fell down”<— That is an untrue statement about the Saint (The Saint has come into benefits and Identity that is Greater (Romans 5:1-9)
  10. God is watching us from a Distance– This is a Deist (the idea that God created the world and left it to run on its own) perspective. Proverbs 21:1 gives the idea of a God who is involved in the affairs of men
  11. Hallelujah is the Highest Praise– There is no biblical support for this. Period!
  12. “We Three Kings” (Christmas Carol)– The bible never suggests how many wise men there were.
  13. Fire Fire Fire, fire fall on me. Fire never fell on anyone on the day of pentecost…The simile in Acts 2;3 “like fire” is often missed, misunderstood or read simplistically.
  14. When the praises go up the blessings come down : This utilitarian relationship with God does not exist in scripture. There is not even a scripture from which this theological folly can be derived. It makes God reactionary and suggests that God only blesses those who praise him and those who are not blessed (which we often measure by material gains) have gone wrong in their relationship with/praise to God. Job’s friends had that same fallacious idea and they were rebuked by God’s response…
  15. Come Holy Spirit I need thee: He already lives in us. To ask him to come is illogical. You do not invite someone who is already present to come.