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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PERSEVERING IN FAITH: GLEANINGS FROM SERMON BY PASTOR BARRY HALL, JR.

We (Ekklesia Bible Fellowship) recently celebrated our fourth (4th) anniversary as a local assembly in Jamaica. Ours, have been a journey of F.A.I. T. H (Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him). Our journey has not always been easy though. As a new church plant, we have had our teething pains – moments when we questioned ourselves and worried about what was going to happen next. Yet, we persevered because we know the God we serve is bigger than any of our circumstance and the vision that He had given us, He is able to make pro-vision for.

On the occasion marking our fourth anniversary, under the theme: “Persevering in Faith: Impacting the Future”, our senior pastor, Barry Hall Jr., challenged a filled to capacity hall to persevere and finish well.

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The context of the letter to the Hebrews is one where the Jewish Christians were facing intense persecution for having “abandoned’ Judaism and believing on the Gospel of Jesus. Many found themselves abandoned by their families, homeless and destitute and the temptation was to return to the comforts and privileges that Judaism afforded them. It is against this backdrop that the entire book of Hebrews is written – to help them to realize the superiority of (their faith in) Jesus and why this new covenant in Him was better than the former.

In chapter 11, the writer to the Hebrews spends the time outlining many stalwarts of the faith; some who held on to the promise, many who were sawn in two, martyred in coliseums – all dying, holding on to the promise. They never gave up. They kept running. They kept striving. They are the ones who make up the cloud of witnesses spoken of in verse one of chapter twelve.

Paul likens this faith walk as a race and he says as we prepare ourselves to run this race we must:

  1. Throw off everything that hinders and the sins that so easily entangle us. If we look at athletes running in a race, as they make their way to the tracks, they are in full track suits. But as they prepare to out under starters’ orders, they remove those suits, removing that which will hold them back and slow them down. Sin slows down the walk of the believer. The sad thing is that many believers find reasons to explain away their sin. “Oh, it is a struggle”, “The devil, made me do it.” The truth is, we sin because we want to. We have developed an appetite for it. But through Christ, we have been set free from sin’s power and penalty. We must now choose to walk in this liberty that we now have by fully submitting ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and walking in obedience to His Word. God has already given us the ability to walk in righteousness (2 Peter 1:3).
  2. Run this race with patience: sticking with the writer’s analogy of athletics. An athlete puts his body through rigorous training in order to compete and finish well. It is often, a painful experience. Interestingly, the Greek word used for race, ‘agon’, is the word from which we get ‘agony’. This walk of faith will sometimes be arduous but we cannot give up. That is why we must run it with patience. Those who are now witnesses, who are not simply spectators but persons who ran before us, ran right up to the end under real persecution but they never gave up. We must never give up either. It will be hard but keep running.
  3. Keep your eyes on Jesus as you run: Don’t be distracted by whatever is happening around you. Keep your eyes on Jesus. And when you consider what He, Himself, endured just for you and considered a joy to have endured such, it should motivate you to keep running. A cross was before Him but for Him it did not merely represent shame and torture. It represented purpose.

The advent of the prosperity and name-it-and claim it teachings have distracted believers from the understanding the value of suffering and the need for believers to endure it. Athletes endure whatever pain they must to win a reward that will fade. But we run and endure for one of far great value. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” So run the race that is set before. Run and finish well. Persevere in faith.

ABIDING FAITH: Stories of Tragedy & Triumph Behind the Hymns

It is difficult not to despair in the face of adversity. We are humans and sometimes we do forget – we forget the abiding hope that resides in a deep faith in One who is able to do “exceedingly abundant and above all we can ask or even imagine” and the strength that we have when we throw ourselves, in faith, on Him, who is ABLE! So many who have gone before us found the peace that resided in a firm faith in God and they shared in poems and verse that, have today, become some of our most loved hymns. Perhaps they resonate with us because they were borne out of a faith journey that was often punctuated with various trials as we do, today.

1.Hymn: All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name

The author of this hymn, Edward Perronet (1726 – 1792), would probably have fallen into obscurity had it not been for this story that relates to his hymn: Reverend E. P. Scott was a missionary, living in India during the 1800s. One day Rev. Scott met a native Indian tribesman in traditional costume. After earnest inquiry he discovered that the native was from a ferocious mountain tribe which rarely came to the city. Feeling the need to visit the tribe to share the gospel, Rev. Scott after much prayer set out with a few meager provisions and his violin. After travelling for two days, Rev. Scott suddenly found himself surrounded by a party of warriors from the very tribe he sought with their spears pointed to his heart. Fearing that this was the end for him, he pulled out his violin and began to play. Closing his eyes tightly he sang ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’ in their native language. When he came to the stanza ‘Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe…’ he cautiously opened his eyes. He was astonished to see that the spears had been withdrawn and several of the warriors were in tears! For the next two and a half years Rev. Scott lived with this tribe teaching them the way of salvation. When poor health forced him to take a leave of absence, the natives followed him nearly 40 miles, entreating him to return to them soon. This he did, spending the last days of his life with the people whose hearts had been opened by ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’.

 All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all. B

ring forth the royal diadem,

and crown Him Lord of all.

Let us bless the Lord and worship Him in whose Name dwells the power to change lives! He has changed our lives and caused us to live for Him!!

2. Hymn: It Is Well With My Soul:

Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, a wife, four daughters & a son. He was also a devout Christian & faithful student of the Scriptures.  His circle of friends included Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey and various other well-known Christians of the day. At the very height of his financial and professional success, Horatio and his wife Anna suffered the tragic loss of their young son. Shortly thereafter on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost every real estate investment that Spafford had.

In 1873, due to the fact that the deal fell through on the sale of his property, Spafford scheduled a boat trip to Europe in order to give his wife and daughters a much needed vacation. Spafford sent his wife and daughters ahead of him on a luxury steamer named the S.S. Ville du Havre. While in the middle of the Atlantic, the ship was rammed by a British iron sailing ship, the S.S. Lockhearn. In just 12 minutes the steamer sank; 226 people lost their lives.

Being kept afloat by a piece of debris, an unconscious Anna was one of the passengers that were rescued. Spafford lost his four daughters while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Spafford was planning to join his family in Europe where he expected to meet up with D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey on one of their evangelistic crusades. While wrapping up his affairs, Spafford received a horrible telegram from his wife stating: “Saved alone.” With a heavy heart, Spafford boarded a ship that would take him to his grieving Anna in England. Spafford stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship grieving over the loss of his precious daughters. When the ship passed the approximate place where they had drowned, Spafford received sustaining comfort from God that enabled him to write the words of this hymn: ‘When sorrows like sea billows roll … It is well, it is well with my soul.’



When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.



As we reflect on this story and hymn, in spite of what we may have to face, let us say with Horatio Spafford “It is well, it is well with my soul!” “…Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well with my soul.”~ Many of us have crossed over many difficult times in our lives and we question how we got over. He (God) was there with us just like He was with Spafford. “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blessed assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate…”

3. Hymn: All The Way My Saviour Leads Me.

This great hymn was written by Fanny Crosby (1820–1915). When Fanny was 6 wks old, she caught a slight cold & had inflamed eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight completely! It was later learned that the man was not even qualified to practice medicine. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord to fulfill His plan for her life. This is what she said to her mother one day: “Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

Fanny’s spiritual development came from her grandmother who cared for her while her mother worked as a maid. Her father died when she was 12 months old of an illness. A landlady, Mrs. Hawley, helped Fanny memorize the Bible. Often she learned 5 chapters a week!  She entered the New York City Institution for the Blind around 1835, completed training, and taught there from 1847 to 1858. In 1858 she married a musician, Alexander Van Alstyne, who was also blind. Under her own name, as well as under a curious assortment of initials and pen names, she wrote over two thousand hymns, including: “I Am Thine, O Lord”; “Praise Him, Praise Him”; “Sweet Hour of Prayer”; “Blessed Assurance”; “Safe In The Arms Of Jesus “; “To God Be the Glory”. 

“All The Way My Saviour Leads Me” was written in 1874. Fanny needed five dollars one day and she just knelt down and told the Lord about it. Soon after a stranger knocked at her door as he just wanted to meet her. As he left, he pressed a five dollar bill into her hand. “I have no way of accounting for this” she said, “except to believe that God put it into the heart of this good man to bring the money”. “My first thought was that it is so wonderful the way the Lord leads me, and I immediately wrote the poem”.

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

What comforting words to start the day with! May the Lord guide and bless you as you let Him lead you through this day and always.

4. Hymn: O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

George Matheson (1842 – 1906) was born in Glasgow, Scotland, with only partial sight. By the time he was college age, he was totally blind but graduated with honors from the University of Scotland. Earlier, Matheson had been engaged until his fiancé learned that he was going blind and there was nothing the doctors could do. She told him that she could not “go through life with a blind man” and broke of the engagement. He went blind while studying for the ministry and his sister was the one who then took him under her wing and became his eyes. She learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew in order to help him study. He had been a brilliant student and some say that if he hadn’t gone blind he could have been the leader of the Church of Scotland in his day.

George Matheson lived with his beloved sister while he turned to the pastoral ministry. He was blessed by the Lord with the responsibility of St. Bernard’s Parish Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he regularly preached to over 1500 people each week. But he was only able to do this because of the continued care of his sister. Finally though, the time came for her to get married. Who would care for him now, a blind man? Not only that, but his sister’s marriage brought fresh reminder of his own heartbreak, over his fiancé’s refusal to “go through life with a blind man.” “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” was written on the evening of Matheson’s sister’s marriage. His whole family had gone to the wedding and had left him alone at home. “I was alone in the manse, the night of my sister’s marriage. Something happened to me which is known only to myself and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. The whole work was completed in five minutes.”(June 6, 1882). What was the “severe mental suffering” that caused Matheson to write words that express such a longing for deep love? He did not tell. However, as we read the hymn, we see him express that the only love that lasts a lifetime is Gods’ perfect love.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

5. Hymn: What A Friend We Have In Jesus

Irish born Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiancée died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a rela

tive of one of his students. Once again, Joseph’s hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza contracted tuberculosis and died before the wedding could take place.Although one can only imagine the turmoil within this young man, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him. Soon after Eliza’s death Joseph joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching for a Baptist church. From that time on Scriven developed a totally different life pattern. He took the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus literally, giving to him who asked and not turning away from him that would borrow. He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went. He was especially known for carrying a bucksaw and cutting firewood for people in need.

Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not afford to return to Ireland to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his many poems entitled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across Scriven’s poems. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph’s poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
What more is there to say, indeed what a friend we have in Jesus! Let us start the day by carrying everything that burdens our hearts to Him in prayer. May His Peace rule our hearts.

Bible Principles for Daily Living

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As we go through our lives, there are some principles that will help us on our faith journey.

PRINCIPLE 1:

  • KNOW GOD. Daniel 11:32b “but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (NASB). An intimate and genuine knowledge of God leads to an unshakable TRUST & CONFIDENCE in Him; that when we come up against life’s challenges and temptations, we are able to stand firm and obey. Often we become despondent with life and disappointed with God because we do not truly know who God is (Sovereign, Faithful, unchangeable etc.). A church sister of mine, when faced with sickness, instead of just moping around and giving up hope, displayed great strength when she said, “My God is bigger than that”. In that moment of potentially debilitating fear, she drew on her knowledge of her BIG God and instead of fear and dispair, she hoped. Let us endevour to truly get to know the God whom we have believed and be fully persuaded that He is able…God Bless you, have a great day and take time to KNOW GOD.

PRINCIPLE 2:

  • LOVE GOD: We are not only called to KNOW God but we are also called to LOVE GOD: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). I have found in my own life that the more I grew in my love relationship with God, the easier it became to serve and obey. In John 14:5, Jesus suggests that His disciples love for Him is the motivation for keeping His commandments. That is not so hard to fathom. If we look at our own love relationships, when we love someone, it becomes easier for us to go the extra mile for them; to make the sacrifices. Do we go the extra mile when it comes to God? Do we obey easily? Do we really LOVE God (more than these)? Our love for God is reflected in the quality of our service and in our obedience. O, that the children of God will truly love him and that love be reflected so that the unbelievers will see our commitment/devotion and our faith will be a witness (because we practice what we preach). Will you let it begin with you?

 

PRINCIPLE 3:

  • REMEMBER GOD: Navigating our way through life can be a lot more meaningful and less frustrating if we: KNOW God; LOVE God and REMEMBER GOD. Humans so quickly forget. We forget the things God had done either when things are wonderful & we no longer need a favour from Him or we forget when things become terrible and then worry sets in. Moses admonished the Israelites, “TAKE CARE NOT TO FORGET THE LORD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, THAT PLACE OF SLAVERY” (Deut 6:12). Remembering what God has done not only keeps us grateful; it helps us meet the vicissitudes of life with the full assurance that God has done it before, so he certainly can do it again. I have experience worry flee as I reminded myself of ALL that God had done before. Take a minute or two to look back over your life and REMEMBER the things that GOD has done and watch fear, worry and despair flee.

Coping with Worry & Depression: What Does the Bible Say? Part 2

Day Four

Can worry alter our circumstances or change our lives for the better?

Luke 12:22-31
Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on…..For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Jesus’ point is clear: Worry accomplishes nothing. It cannot supply the very least of our needs or wants, so we should strive to eliminate it from our thinking. Our energy is much better spent focusing on God’s way of life (which has real, tangible benefits) and soon-coming Kingdom (which will ultimately satisfy our most deeply felt needs).

So if there is nothing to be gained from worrying and anxiety, how does it really affect our lives? Proverbs 12:25: Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.

Anxious feelings that are not properly dealt with cause us to have the unhappy and disheartened feelings associated with depression. In contrast, focusing on good and positive things makes us glad and cheerful.

 

Day Five

What should we focus on?

Proverbs 15:13 states: A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

The Bible uses the term heart to describe the innermost source of all that we think and do. Focusing on positive things leads to a heart filled with optimism and confidence, while focusing on worry only fills the heart with pessimism and uncertainty.

Jeremiah 17:5-8: Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord……”Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Worry and anxiety are often the result of our being overly focused on our physical capabilities and limitations—what we or others can do humanly—rather than on the awesome and limitless capabilities of God, and what He can do for us and through us.

Day Six

When I am faced with tremendous worry I must admit that it is hard not to but that is when I rely on myself, but when I trust God, He helps me believe me, and encourages me through His Word. Some of the stories that do this are:

David in Psalm 34:4-6- I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.Even though David suffered severe anxiety at times, he kept learning and relearning that trusting in God to provide for his needs and deliver him from difficulties would resolve his problems. No matter how big the problem is, God can solve it (Psalm 40:1-2).

Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10- For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us…Paul understood that God is the only true source of help. Paul faced many anxiety-inducing situations in his ministry and travels, but consistently trusted that God would provide deliverance from these situations that were beyond human control.

And the story of Jesus in Matthew 26:37-39- And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

When He experienced tremendous anxiety over what He was about to suffer during His trial and crucifixion, Jesus wholly committed Himself to the will of God. He knew that the direction God had set for His life would ultimately produce the best possible outcome. Even if suffering had to be endured for a time, He trusted that it was a necessary but brief step on the path to a permanent, glorious future.

 

 Day Seven

Instead of worrying, the Bible tells us to spend our time praying. If we prayed as much as we worried, each one of us would have a whole lot less to worry about. Most times we confuse planning for tomorrow to worrying about tomorrow. Planning for tomorrow is time well spent however worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Careful planning is thinking ahead about our goals, steps and schedules trusting in God’s guidance. This gives us confidence in God and in the process helps alleviate worry. Whereas when we worry, it is consumed by fear making it difficult for us to trust God wholeheartedly.

Is God interested in all our daily problems and things that concerns us? Yes. He’s interested in every detail of our lives. That means we can take any problem we have to Him without hesitation!

Whenever we pray, we should always pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude, it actually increases our immunities. It makes us more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy people. But people who are ungrateful are miserable because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. So if we cultivate the attitude of gratitude of being thankful in everything, it will reduce stress in our lives.

What is the result of not worrying, praying about everything, giving thanks, and focusing on the right things? Paul says in Philippians 4:7 we will then “experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus.”  Wow!  He is guaranteeing us peace of mind? Do you realize this is exactly what everyone seems to be looking for? We’ve got it right here. So like “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help”.–1 Timothy 5:5; just “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.–1 Peter 5:7; “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall”.–Psalm 55:22

Coping With Worry & Depression: What Does the Bible Say!? PART 1

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Day One

 

What Does the Bible Say About Dealing With Worry?

 

Life’s daily challenges and troubles very commonly lead to feelings of worry. However, the Bible provides very effective tools for avoiding worries as well as responding to these emotions when they occur. This week’s devotion will focus on worry and how we deal with it from a biblical perspective. Worrying often simply means that you are anxious, apprehensive, troubled or fearful. These emotions are very common—we all face them from time to time. Thankfully though, the Bible contains the keys to successfully dealing with these types of feelings. What does God want us to do when we face these challenging thoughts?

 

Proverbs 29:25 says:“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. There is a right and healthy fear of physical and spiritual dangers that keeps us safe. But when our minds focus on improper fear (being fretful or frightened) of physical things rather than proper fear (reverence and awe) of God, worry is the sure result. Likewise, allowing our minds to focus on doubts and uncertainties will fill us with anxious care. As 1 John 4:18 says, “Fear involves torment.”

 

Worrying consumes huge amounts of time and energy that are totally unprofitable. We often realize too late that we will never receive tangible benefits in return for effort spent worrying. Anxiety cannot correct a past mistake, prevent a future calamity or supply us with anything that we don’t already have. James Russell Lowell said, “Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which will never happen.” As you explore the Bible, you will find that God wants you to experience the tremendous joys of life as He created it, without the detrimental effects of anxiety.

 

 

 

Day Two

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:4-7

 

In these verses, God gives us several commands:  Always rejoice.  Be reasonable.  Never worry.  Come to God with your requests about everything.

 

Why would God give us such extreme commands?  It is easy to look at these verses and think “that’s not what God really expected!  It can’t apply to me… that’s impossible!” At times in my life, I can look at those commands and become discouraged. Our hearts is prone to worry about so many things… various health complications, stress at work, finances, the “unknown” in my future, etc.  I often find it easier to complain rather than to rejoice.  My thoughts are often not reasonable.  I forget to come to God in prayer.

 

Today was one of those days for me.  I woke up worried about everything.  My heart immediately welled up in fear.  “God, this doesn’t make sense… why is this happening? Won’t you step in and fix this?”  On and on the cycle goes… and I quickly find my heart overwhelmed at my circumstances and discouraged because I’m not obeying these commands to not worry and to come to God in prayer.

 

I’m grateful that these “impossible” promises are surrounded by amazing promises of God.  I’m not merely commanded to rejoice in the middle of hard circumstances just because; I am commanded to rejoice because I remember that my God is near.  I’m not commanded to just “buck up” and deal with my anxious heart; I’m commanded to do that remembering that God welcomes me to come to Him in my need.  He wants to give me peace. He wants to guard my heart.  That’s why I don’t have to fear, complain or worry… my God is near and He cares!

 

 

 

Day Three

 

Worrying seems to be a trait common to those who like structure and predictability.  I confess I worry until I can bring my troubles to the Lord, but I didn’t realize that my worrying was actually a demonstration of my lack of trust.  Then Proverbs 19:3 caught my eye during my daily Bible reading:

 

“The foolishness of man perverteth his way:  and his heart fretteth against the Lord.”  Proverbs 19:3

 

The word fretting means agitated from worrying.  We all worry, but fretting seems so much more intense and longer lasting. We can liken fretting with a dog chewing a bone.  He gnaws and gnaws and gnaws but seems to accomplish very little in breaking down a good strong bone.  Fretting accomplishes nothing worthwhile.

 

Unconsciously seeking a way around what God is doing, fretting signals a desire to wrest control from the Almighty.  It is as if we are saying to Him, “step aside, I can do better.”  Fretting reveals our ignorance of God’s just nature and righteous character.   (Acts 3:13-14, 1 John 2:1).

 

Playing the “what if” game leads to reactions ranging from mild fear to total terror.  The Apostle Paul understood fear.  Think about how many times he entered into a city wondering if his testimony of Jesus would lead to beatings, stoning, and imprisonment.  Yet despite his sufferings, he refused to give in to fear.  His secret is found in Philippians 4:7:“The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

 

 


 

 

Inspirations from Nehemiah

DAY 1: NEH.1:1-11

Nehemiah had a genuine concern for his fellow Jews back in Jerusalem, so much so that he, not only inquired about them (vs.2-3), but, was moved to tears and to petition God on their behalf (vs.4). He appealed to a covenantal God of love (vs.5) acknowledging his own sinfulness as well as theirs. He pleads on the basis of God’s Promise and Call (vs.8-11) to finish the work He had set out to do in establishing the nation of Israel.
Let us take time today, to reflect on the fact that we live in an area having the most number of churches per square mile in the world (Jamaica), but which has, comparatively, so little impact on society. Are we moved by the state many of the churches are in with so much wrong teaching and ignorance of the Word being promulgated by them? Do we cry out for the many being led astray not by the world but by preaching that does not interpret the Word correctly? As we seek God this morning let us take time to cry out to God for His churches. But let us start first with ourselves, confessing our own neglect of the Word and the effect that has had on our lives. May we be moved from heartfelt emotion to God ward petition.

DAY 2: NEH.2:1-8

Nehemiah in his concern for the state of his fellow Jews doesn’t just pray for them but decides to do something about it by approaching the king with a petition(1:11). By the providence of God that opportunity arises only some 4 months later (2:1-3). Nehemiah in trusting God to move the heart of the king literally puts his life on the line. For him, as a servant, to appear before a Persian king with downcast face could have been considered an act of treason! Crippling fear is a natural response in such circumstances. But Nehemiah in spite of that speaks out with courage born of a trust in and an intimate relationship with his God. Respectful yet tactful, he makes his request known to the king amid silent prayer (vs.4-8). Nehemiah meets success because as he says, ‘the gracious hand of my God was upon me’ (vs.8).

Today, let us face the challenges ahead with prayerful consideration knowing full well that we are His children and walk under the direction of His providence. Bear in mind that He who turned our hearts towards Him is the same One who moves the hearts of all men, high and low. May the gracious hand of our God be upon us.

CHRIST ENDING THE LAW or FULFILLING THE LAW? IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

“For truly I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18; NAS).

What did Jesus mean when he spoke these words? Is it that Christians are expected to keep all the rigid Old Testament laws or is it that He (Jesus) will accomplish the law so that we are no longer required to do so? This may be one of the most difficult problems to reconcile in Christian doctrine. It has grave implications for our soteriology and the practice of Christianity. On the one hand, Christ is supposedly reinforcing the Law and its functions while on the other hand, Paul is purporting that Christ has brought an end to the law (Romans 10:4), cancelling its requirements by death on the cross (Colossians 2:14).

Firstly, in one’s attempts to bring reconciliation to these seemingly contradictory passages, it must be taken for granted that all of scripture is God breathed and therefore inerrant; without error or contradictions and that God’s revelation (His Word) is consistent with whom He is. Consequently, there is no contradiction that appears between what Jesus explained about the fulfillment of the law and what Paul explains in more lucid terms. Jesus Christ has ended the requirements of the law which was meant to bring justification.

Understanding the Law

Additionally, to further engage the argument, it must be understood by all, what is meant by ‘The law’. According to Fee and Stuart (2003, 164), the term Law has multiple connotations when it is used in scripture. One such connotation is that law in the plural form may refer to those more than six hundred specific commandments that the Israelites were expected to follow as a sign of their loyalty to God. In the singular, however, the law can refer to the Pentateuch, i.e. from Genesis to Deuteronomy. It may even refer to, what some writers in the New Testament refer theologically to, the entire Old Testament religious system. Conner (1980, 193) in his book, The Foundations of Christian Doctrine: A Practical Guide to Christian Belief, speaks of a concept of divine law, which he says God gave as a standard of righteousness for all to follow. He goes on to say that without the law there would be no order and everything would be chaos.

However, one must understand that the law is a paradigm. It is hardly a complete list of all the things that one could or should do to please God. The law presents, rather, examples of what it means to be loyal to God by, as Conner puts it, following His standards. The law was mean to lead men to faith in God; it was a guide to salvation. Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia puts it this way, “Therefore, the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24; NAS). This is why nowhere in the Old Testament is it suggested that anyone was saved by keeping the Law. Rather, the Law was a special gift to Israel, to differentiate them from their pagan neighbours in moral and spiritual conduct but it could not justify them.  Again, Paul alludes to this in Galatians 2:16 “…a man is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no one will be justified. In other words, we have been vindicated of any charge of sin as it relates to our failure to keep the Law (Ryrie, 1995) because of what Christ has done. This is what is meant by Christ has put an end to the Law.

Christ has ended the Law

Wilkinson and Boa (1983, 395) in their commentary on the book of Galatians, describe the theme and purpose of the book as a corrective teaching on justification by faith apart from works of the Law to counteract the  teachings of Jewish legalists who were influencing the believers to trade their freedom in Christ for bondage of the Law. They went further to show how Paul’s discourse in chapters five and six were written to show that liberty from the law does not mean lawlessness as his opponents might have opined. The believer does not need the law to make him righteous he is declared righteous by his faith because Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law, thus, ending it.

Moreover, for us to fully understand what is meant by Christ bringing an end to the law, therefore, justifying us through faith (and not the Law), we will have to understand the concept of justification. The teaching of Romans 3:24 that justification is given or imputed to us, or as we may put it simply, “given a mek up” so that we can be considered righteous before God is a teaching that resonates throughout the teachings of Paul. Paul continually makes the point that this is not a position in Christ that is earned through legalism but one that is accessed by faith. And this faith itself is not of the conscience of man but find its origin in God (Romans 12:3b). Further to, the anonymous writer to the Hebrews, or Pricilla (some scholars have suggested) refusing to reveal her identity, says in 9:12-14 presents Jesus acting as the propitiation or sacrificial lamb, satisfying the penalty for sin, which makes it possible for us to receive righteousness without having to pay or work for it. The righteousness that is revealed is from God not our efforts because again we all stand guilty before God Romans 3:10-18, 23. Speaking of God’s sovereignty in salvation, Paul supports this notion again in Romans 9:16.

According to Wilkinson and Boa, from Romans 1:18-3:20, Paul builds a case for the condemnation of all people, by God. He shows that Jews and Gentiles seek to be in right standing (be justified) by using relative standards not realizing that God’s requirement is absolute perfection. Paul knows, posit Wilkinson and Boa, that the bad news (condemnation) must be understood before the good news (justification) can be appreciated. The passage on justification picks up on man’s need for God’s provision, since man is unable of attaining this perfection on his own. The first 11 verses (Romans 3:21-31) of the discourse reveal that in Christ, God is both Judge and Saviour. The Lord is not unjust when he declares that sinners are in right standing with him because He bases this pronouncement upon the death of Christ on their behalf.

Furthermore, Warren W Wiersbe (1989), in explaining justification as seen in the passage begins by alluding to God’s nature. He says that God is absolute in what He is in Himself and relative in how He relates to men. One of His absolute attributes is love and when he relates that love to us, it becomes mercy and grace. In His mercy God does not give us as we deserve and in His grace, He gives us what we do not deserve. It is, therefore, not difficult to understand God can make us right before Him even if we do not deserve that pronouncement. The Greek word translated freely, can also be translated without cause as seen in John 15:25. We are justified without cause. In other words, there is no cause in us that merit the salvation of God. Justification is being put in right relationship with God by God himself. It finds its origin with God is independent of any human effort. Justification guarantees us peace with God because God’s demand for justice was satisfied in Christ’s death.

In this regard, as we grapple with the notion that Christ is the end of the law, it may augur well for us to think of the liberty that He wrought for us through His death and not necessarily about thoughts of lawlessness. Because even with the law, as Paul asserts, sin increased; there was lawlessness (Romans 5:20). As we encounter Christ in Galatians, we need to understand that He ended the Law in that He freed the believer from bondage to the Law (legalism) and to sin (license) and has placed him or her in a position of liberty (Wilkinson and Boa, 1983; 396).

Conclusion

What, then, did Jesus mean by His statement in Matthew 5:18? According to Ryrie Study Bible (1995) Jesus might have been making reference to the fulfillment of everything in the Old Testament. In the preceding verse Jesus said that he came to fulfil the Law not institute lawlessness and so one gets the Understanding that Jesus was making reference to His purpose in coming and the accomplishment of the cross; pointing to what Paul says in Romans 10:4, that by His death on the Cross, Christ ended our adherence to the Law to be declared righteous. Our righteousness is now dependent on faith in Christ just as Abraham’s was before the Law.

Reference List

Conner, Kevin J. The Foundations of Christian Doctrine: A Practical Guide to Christian Belief; BT Publishing, Portland, Oregon, USA. 1980.

Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart: How to Read the Bible for all its Worth. Zondervan Publishing Company; Grand Rapid, Michigan, USA. 2003.

Wiersbe, Warren: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Chariot Victor Publishing, Colorado Springs, Colorado; USA. 1989.

Wilkinson, Bruce and Kenneth Boa: Talk Through the Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 1983.

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.